Avelynn On The Road… Blogosphere Style

Join me for some blogosphere fun!

Join me for some blogosphere fun!

I’m thrilled to announce the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour Schedule for Avelynn!

Pop in, follow along, and join in the fun. There will be prizes and giveaways too!

Monday, September 7
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, September 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, September 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Thursday, September 10
Interview at Unshelfish
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, September 11
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, September 12
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Sunday, September 13
Review at Genre Queen

Monday, September 14
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, September 15
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Friday, September 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, September 19
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews

Monday, September 21
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, September 22
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, September 23
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Thursday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, September 28
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, September 29
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Wednesday, September 30
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, October 1
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Friday, October 2
Review at The True Book Addict

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It’s Book Birthday with @authorwren and VEXED!

Please welcome Wren Michaels and her sexy new book, VEXED, to the page! Take it away, Wren!

Thanks for sharing in the release of my first full-length novel! I hope you enjoy reading about Kena and Luc as much as I enjoyed writing them. There’s plenty of action, adventure, romance, and Vodou for everyone!

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I did a little Q&A about the book:

Q) How did you dream up the dynamics of your characters? Originally the story was going to be completely different when I wrote the first 5000 words or so of the book. But after I came back from the 2014 Romantic Times convention in New Orleans, I was inspired to write something with a Vodou/NOLA flair. So the book took a twist and became so much more than I ever imagined. I wanted a strong heroine and an alpha male. But Luc ended up being more of an Alpha/Beta blend. He’s not really one or the other. He’s quite complex. Kena ended up being a witty heroine who took things into her own hands.

Q) Do you have any habits that get you in the writing frame of mind? Music is my biggest influence. I listened to mainly instrumental gaming soundtracks while writing. But one of my Critique Partners burned me a CD of music she thought would be perfect for this book, and it was filled with great songs by The Black Keys, Rolling Stones, Zepplin, Jack White and Muse. It ended up really making scenes come alive for me.

Q) How much real life do you put into or influences your books? In this book I tried to make the characters reflect their Vodou based deities. I did take some artistic liberties and spun a few things, but I did a lot of research to make sure a lot of the intricacies of their actual descriptions and quirks made it into the story.

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Vodou stole her life. A gay ghost stole her boots. And the man who stole her heart stole her memories. Kena plans to get it all back.

Ex-cop Kena’s life is filled with regret, beer, and Cheetos. That is, until her ghostly roomie sends her dumpster diving, leading her to a sexy stranger named Luc and a fate she’d rather not remember. As Kena’s memories resurface, so do her feelings for Luc, the man she’s secretly been in love with for the last thousand years. And he needs her for more than a stroll down memory lane.

Vodou spirits, known as Loa, have been trapped in human form, and are trying to make their way back to the spirit world. But Luc’s brother is possessed by a vengeance demon conjured at the hands of NOLA’s crime syndicate kingpin. Saving him means damning herself to a spirit prison in a loveless, arranged union with the very man she’s supposed to rescue. But not helping Luc’s brother sentences him to death, leaving New Orleans in the hands of black magick, and losing Luc forever.

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excerptCHANGEOFHEART

After stripping out of the wet clothes, I wrapped the towel around myself and wandered out to his room. On the bed lay a white long-sleeve button-down shirt. With a hard swallow, I dropped the towel and picked up the shirt, pulling it to my face. I took a long, hard sniff. Laundry detergent. Of course. Did I think it would smell like him?

Like he’d give you a dirty shirt to wear, Kena.

Thankful he didn’t witness me in idiot-mode, I slid myself into the shirt and was caught mid-button when he knocked at the door.

“Are you decent?” He pushed the door open a crack.

“I’m clothed, if that’s what you mean. Decent is debatable at the moment.” Purposely leaving the top three buttons undone, I worked my way to the bottom button as he walked in.

He halted mid-stride and looked at me. His chest rose and fell in quick spurts, training his eyes over me from head to toe. Veins traversed the length of his arm as he clenched his fists at his sides. “I don’t wear underwear, so I apologize I have no bottoms. It’s all I had that was long enough to cover you.” His position relaxed as he leaned against the mahogany armoire.

“Anything’s better than cold, sopping-wet clothes.” I ran a finger through my hair, now slowly drying into loose stringy curls.

“So, are you going to tell me what happened tonight?” Folding his arms across his broad chest, bulging muscles stretched the navy-blue fabric barely covering his biceps.

I shook my head. “Not until I get some honesty from you, big guy.”

With a tilt of his head, he donned a sly grin. “You haven’t asked the right questions.”

“Is this a game for you? Do you enjoy messing with people’s lives? Do you get off on some fucked-up high being in total control?” My fingernails burrowed into the palm of my hand. Everything in me wanted to slap the shit out of him and then ride him like a cowboy.

He pushed off the dresser and walked over to me, lowering his head coming to a stop inches from my face. “You’re the one in control and yet you refuse to acknowledge it. You refuse to let your mind accept it. Stop playing and start being.”

“What do you want from me?” I yelled, a little louder than intended.

“I want you to be you. I want you to”—he stopped and dropped his gaze to my lips, and then slowly made his way back up to my eyes—“come back.”

“Kiss me.” The words rushed from my lips without another thought. My heart hammered so hard in my chest I thought it would shatter my rib cage.

His breathing quickened. A low growl rumbled in his throat. “Don’t do this to me, Kena.”

“Don’t do what? You’re the one doing things to me.” I slammed my hands against his chest and he sailed across the room, his back hitting the dresser behind him. “Shit! I’m sorry.” I reached out for him with a trembling hand.

Fuck, I’d done it again.

He shook his head and straightened himself up. In a blur of movement, he shot across the room and grabbed onto either side of my shirt, yanking me up to his face. “You want me to kiss you?”

“Yes,” I said in more of whooshing sound than a word.

He pressed his lips against my neck and his fingers curled into the fabric of the shirt, pulling me onto my tiptoes. “You don’t even know who I am.”

“I don’t care.” Words no longer made sense to me, only his touch spoke a language I could understand.

He laughed as he pushed me against the wall. Gripping the back of my head with the entire palm of his hand, he splayed the other across my cheek, his thumb resting against my jawline. Tilting my head back, he hovered his lips over mine. “You will.”

His lips crushed against my mouth.

With a sweep of his tongue, he devoured me into a kiss the likes of which I’ve never experienced before in my life. He punished my mouth with his tongue, sliding it over mine in a delicious dance of ecstasy and aggression. His hold on me was not that of violence, but of passion. The way his fingertips eased against my face, yet held me there as if he was scared to let go, revealed a vulnerability. He may be a man of few words who knew how to play the vague card, but his body and actions gave him away.

I arched into him, and he pinned me back against the wall with his hip. Clawing at his shirt, I ripped it out of his jeans and slid my fingers over his heated skin. A surge of energy rushed my fingertips as they glided along his body, electrifying me.

“Fuck, Kena,” he hissed, pulling back from the kiss.

In a movement so fast it blurred everything around me, he shot out the door, slamming it behind him. He left me gasping, clinging to the wall behind me just to remain standing. My legs wobbled like Jell-O as I stumbled to the bed and collapsed. He sucked all the air from my body and replaced it with an ache, a driving need for more of him.

What the hell was he?

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abouttheauthor

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Wren Michaels hails from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin where beer and cheese are their own food groups. But a cowboy swept her off her feet and carried her away below the Mason-Dixon line, where she promptly lost all tolerance for snow and cold. They decided they’d make beautiful babies together and they got it right on the first try. Now Wren lives happily ever after in the real world and in the worlds of her making, where she creates book boyfriends for the masses to crave.

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I’m Gambling on the Outlaw

Join me today between 4:00 – 5:00pm EST for the Facebook release party of Gambling on the Outlaw! I’ll be giving away a copy of my book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day! Fun starts at 12:00pm noon EST! Lots of authors giving away lots of cool prizes all day long! :D

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Genre: Historical romance

Length: 84k

Nevada is no easy place for a woman, especially for Beth Caldwell, a gambler’s widow with an independent streak. When she refuses to marry the local cattle baron-who wants to add her land to his empire-Beth ends up with a powerful enemy. But it’s not until she finds a handsome outlaw hiding in her barn that her trouble really begins.

Isaac Collins survived the Civil War only to find himself the scapegoat for stagecoach robbery and murder. With nothing left to lose, he gambles everything on revenge…and barely escapes with his life. He stumbles back to Beth’s place, and as she nurses him back to health something tender and heated grows between them.

But in Nevada, sometimes everything can ride on one high-stakes game of chance…and Beth’s rejected suitor will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

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Excerpt

I squared my shoulders and entered the room, determined to behave myself properly.

He was sat up in bed with several pillows piled behind him for support, looking every bit as if he belonged there, enough so that last night came to mind and I was tempted to crawl in and snuggle up next to him. But I gave myself a mental shake. He was quickly turning me into a silly schoolgirl.

I am a strong, independent woman.

I had other women depending on me and I couldn’t let some male drifter, a wanted man no less, distract me from my responsibilities.

I placed the tray on his lap and backed away as quickly as possible, taking a seat in the rocker I’d spent so much time in the last few days.

“It seems your presence is causing quite a stir around here. My friends don’t quite know how to react to you.

“What about you?”

“What about me?”

“You said none of your lady friends knows how to react to me. What about you? Do you know how to react to me?”

The taste of his lips on mine leaped to mind unbidden, along with the feel of his hands on me, and that’s all it took for my double-crossing heart, and my equally rebellious body, to react with lusty desire. I’d assumed I’d never again be lucky enough to find a man who made me feel that way, and yet here he was, already in my bed.

Although I wanted very much to shift from the rocker to the edge of the bed and assist him with his breakfast, perhaps feeding him bits of bread with creamy butter that he’d have to lick from my fingertips, I opted for maintaining at least a modicum of decency and kept my rear end rooted to the chair. I suspected where Mr. Isaac Collins was concerned, me and my good sense were in a heap of trouble, because my body had clearly declared war against us.

“Just how would you expect me to react?”

He’d been watching me, waiting for my answer, those warm brown eyes regarding me from under a fringe of dark lashes, making my belly flutter like a flock of hummingbirds had nested inside.

“A smart woman would be on her guard. She’d be concerned and maybe even afraid, and she’d send me on my way, happy to see the back of me. And I took you for a smart woman.”

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abouttheauthor

marg

Margaret writes romance and science fiction, and lives in the vast Northern Plains where it’s quiet, mostly empty, and conducive to letting her imagination run wild. When she’s not writing you’ll find her in a college classroom teaching English, or working as a literary agent for an amazing agency…and of course enjoying time with her family.

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It’s Coming!

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Gloaming

The Gloaming

Gloaming: Evening twilight; shade or dusky light; or even as an adjective as in: gloaming-sky, gloaming-hour, etc.

If you are of Scots heritage, you may recognize this word. I first heard it at one of my husband’s family gatherings. It was part of a poem: ‘roamin’ in the gloamin’. At the time, I’d no idea what it meant, but it sounded cool.

Our wonderful Old English Dictionary has ‘gloaming’ blossoming into written usage sometime in the eleventh century, possibly even before, which means it’s quite possible the characters in Avelynn, set in 869, might have looked up and admired the gloaming-sky. Or perhaps they took a walk in the dimming of the gloaming-hour.

Here’s a wee excerpt from Book #2 in the Avelynn series (still untitled because coming up with titles is hard! :)

Alrik laughed, seemingly amused at her antics, and let her perch on his lap for most of the evening. Gil tried valiantly to engage me in conversation, but as the candles burned lower, my discord grew. Incensed by Marared’s grating laughter and the deep rumble of Alrik’s voice, I pulled Alrik aside, feigning a need for fresh air.

We walked side by side under the weak light of a waning gibbous moon. The wind was sharp, and the damp chill from the sea sent shivers down my spine.

“What is it, Hjartað?”

“Marared desires you.”

“I have known her for several years. We are good friends.”

Friends my ass. I scowled at him, the force of my displeasure obscured by the gloaming around us. “I’d just as soon you not fawn over her so much.”

He roared with laughter. “The vixen is threatened by the mouse!” He reached out and played with a lock of my hair, his fingers brushing the skin above the kirtle’s neckline.

To be continued … ;D

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Avelynn

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Farrago

A Farrago of flowers from my garden :D

A Farrago of flowers from my garden :D

Farrago: A confused group; a medley, mixture, hotchpotch.

The OED dates common usage about 1637. Old enough for me to include in my Avelynn novels, which are a farrago of different story elements.

An author takes a farrago of plot, characterization, setting, and theme, mixes them all together, waves a magic wand, and viola, they have a novel! I am often fascinated with the ‘method’ of writing a good story. There are a lot of books on the subject, and in truth, I have just bought four more. However, in saying that, I’m terrible at figuring that ‘method’ out. I write intuitively, which is a fancy way of saying, I have no clue what I’m doing as I do it. As I write out the farrago of ideas rampaging around in my head, they weave their magical way into scenes and chapters complete with tension in the right places, pacing that ramps up to a climax, and character motivation that drives the action … all without knowing how I’m doing it. The story just comes out that way.

This is all fine and dandy in a first draft but quickly becomes a problem when it comes time to edit and I realize something somewhere is off. Without a guide or a detailed treasure map outlining the elements of story and how and where to use them, during the editing process, I’m not always able to figure out what the issue is that just isn’t working. It’s like an Easter egg hunt in a mansion. They could be anywhere!

This is where wonderful people called beta readers come in. These hardy souls are a farrago of readers from all walks of life—friends, editors, agents, friends, people you beg and cajole off the street—who critique your manuscript. You hand them your words, and they return with feedback that will help you zero in on those mistakes, those rapid misfires, those ‘what the hell was I thinking’ passages. They help turn a farrago of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs into something someone somewhere might actually enjoy reading one day.

Writing is a process, but I love what I do, and I love the people who support me every step of the way in this wild process… including you dear reader… whoever you are… reading these words… right here… right now. I do this crazy gig because of you. Thanks for being here.  :)

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

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Embrangled

Embrangle The Latest Word is: Embrangle: To entangle, confuse, perplex.

The Oxford English Dictionary has embrangle coming into common usage in the 1600s but its etymology dates back to the early 1500s with brangle, which, I’ve decided, is a cool word all on its own and may have to write a post on it, too—when we come back around to B. :D

Here’s how we use it:

They were embrangled in the nets.

I am embrangled and torn between conflicting difficulties.

I like this word. So similar to the physical act of entanglement but with the added definition of a mental struggle. This is a word that even upon first glance, the reader should be able to determine its meaning based on its use in the sentence, even if they’d never happened upon the word before in their life (which I hadn’t until I read the entry).

Characters are often embrangled within their plot lines, and as an author, I am often embrangled in the plot itself. I have a rough outline, but as I write the story, it fleshes itself out and twists and turns and takes new and unexpected forks in the road—some of which are entirely pointless and must be deleted. And far too often, half way through the story, in the murky, messy middle, all the plot holes and character motivational misfires start to rear their ugly heads. This is because I am a pantser—someone who basically flies by the seat of their pants when writing—as opposed to a plotter who meticulously plots out every scene, every arc, every development BEFORE they add a single word to the story. There is something to be said about plotting, and I’m going to try and write my next book with this approach because I am convinced, after Avelynn #2, that pantsing is NOT an efficient way to write a book!

In the murky, messy, pantser middle, I am often embrangled. Big time. The second book in the Avelynn series was very difficult to fix. I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (a monthly writing challenge that takes place every November whereby we write 50,000 words in 30 days) most of which steered me off coarse and embrangled me in plot snares and character black holes that were almost impossible to recover from. The novel followed so many divergent threads, that I got to the point where I wasn’t sure what the premise was, or even what the main point was anymore!

With characters, to embrangle them in messy plot choices and make them clamber out of the carnage is what makes a story great. We can’t have characters riding along on sunshine and roses, we have to make the struggle, we need to throw story curves and plot bombs in their path and make them dodge or take a hit and recover. That’s what’s so fun about writing books. Creating conflict and fascinating surprises and developments that seem to come out of the blue, or that have been building for chapters and acts. To embrangle is to drive the story forward, and there’s a satisfying almost sadistic glee to the whole thing. ;D

I’ve finished the first draft of Avelynn #2 and am currently working on fixing up the wayward threads as I work my way through my round of edits. Hopefully, the embranglement from this point forward will be limited to what I’ve created for my characters and the rest of the edits flow smoothly. Cross your fingers for me. :)

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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Dear Newbie Self

Marissa Campbell

If I had to go back to the beginning of my career and give myself one piece of advice, it would be….

I can’t narrow it down to just one thing, as there are two really important messages I would love to press upon my newbie self!

The first is the importance of hiring a good editor. My first book was co-authored and self-published, and we thought that appealing to wonderful, well-intentioned friends would be a great, cost-effective way of catching our errors. We were wrong. Of course, they found many, but our first edition went to print with an embarrassing amount of typos and grammar glitches. I cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a good editor. Even when I sought traditional publishing with my second book, I hired editors to do substantive and copy edits. It was money well spent and gave my manuscript a professional, polished feel. Without that effort, I would never have found my agent!

The second piece of advice I would give myself is to never, ever, think a first draft, or a second draft, or even a third draft is the final draft ready for submission. I get it. I’m impatient. We’ve spent months, years, or even decades working on this project, and once we finally reach ‘the end,’ we just want to shout our book baby to the mountain tops and send it out in to the world. But our pour babies can’t even roll over yet, never mind crawl or walk! I’m the first one to admit, I need immediate gratification, but where publishing is concerned, this is one area where we have to slow down, dig in, and sharpen and hone that manuscript until it is a shimmering piece of literary beauty. No rushing this part. No thinking, maybe mine is good enough. Let it sit in a drawer. Hide it under your bed. Let it stew and settle for a few weeks to a month, then pour through it again. You’ll be surprised what you find and grateful you didn’t send it out before it was ready!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

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The Good Martyr Edmund

New Historical Fiction

In my debut historical fiction, AVELYNN, we learn about a terrible Viking attack on East Anglia and the vicious killing of king Edmund. Here’s an excerpt:

Aelfgar cleared his throat and spoke louder. “Our king was seized from his hall and dragged behind the pagan’s horse to the forest’s edge. He was tied to a tree, stripped, beaten, and whipped until his back was flayed open.”

Whispers of outrage quivered through the room.

“Ivar then brought forth his best archers. He told them to make their mark anywhere as long as they did not inflict a fatal wound. Our goodly king was entirely covered with arrows, like the bristles of a hedgehog, yet he still lived.”

It would appear the good Martyr Edmund hadn’t quite forgiven the Vikings for his death if #3 Sweyn Forkbeard is any indication. :)

Have a peek at the Medievalists’ list of the shortest reigns of the middle ages.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

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Sharp Resin of Rebirth

I smelled the dampness of the earth (1)

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