Monday, January 27, 2014

When life influences fiction

Most of us have seen the coffee cup and magnets that warn people to be careful or they might end up in a writer’s novel. I know I’ve been asked several times if my characters are based on any “real” person. Until now I’ve always said no. But in Journey of Wisdom, I decided to immortalize someone very dear to me.
We rescued Shadow, our dog, from a shelter. He quickly became part of our family. He checked on the kids every night, let them dress him in clothes, and was the most loving, faithful dog ever. He grew sick 2012. The vet said, besides exploratory surgery, there was nothing we could except hope the antibiotics worked. They didn’t.

I was working on a scene in Journey of Wisdom and suddenly, it just seemed a perfect place to honor the world’s best dog. This is a short excerpt:

The fire began to falter, having consumed Mohan’s offering. He stood, too tired to move. His will was gone, as though it too was eaten by the flames. Something moved behind him. Mohan spun on the balls of his feet, drawing his sword.
A dog limped out of the forest near the clearing’s edge. Its dark gray coat was matted and wet in places. The dog paused several wheels away from Mohan. It whined once and wagged its shaggy tail. Mohan groaned. It was wounded, probably from the Rugian attack. He walked forward to put the mongrel out of its misery.
The dog looked up with dark, sad but hopeful eyes. Mohan slowly stretched out his hand. The dog whimpered softly and licked Mohan’s fingers.
“You’re the only one left.” Mohan’s voice broke. Where once there was laughter, family, there was only death.

And no, Mohan doesn’t put the dog out of his misery. The dog helps ease his... which is also a testimony to Shadow.

He whistled, and the dog raced between the trees toward him. It was only recently that the dog would let Mohan out of his sight and even now not for long. His habit of trailing Mohan and his gray coloring had inspired his name: Shadow... Adoration lit his dark eyes. Mohan patted the dog’s shaggy head. Shadow still had a slight limp but more than enough energy. “We’ll be home in a few hours. Are you ready to meet your new troupe?”

Shadow touched my family with his loyalty and love. I thought it a fitting tribute to let him stand by Mohan’s side and do the same.

We still haven’t been able to buy another dog. Recently, however, we did let a kitten into our home. Baby steps.

Do you have a pet that is part of your family?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Interview with Shawna Reppert

Today, I am pleased to share my blog with Shawna Reppert, the other Shawna at Carina Press. ; ) Shawna graciously agreed to an interview. Without further ado, here she is. 

You’ve been quite successful with your short stories. What made you decide to pursue publication with Carina?   ~  I had been shopping The Stolen Luck to fantasy publishers for a while, and getting the same sort of response.  ‘We love your characters, we love your writing, great plot, but we have no idea how to market it.  A writer friend of mine told me about Carina and how they publish (among other things) male/male fantasy romance (at the time I didn’t even know that was a genre!) I sent it off to them, they loved it, and they knew how to market it.  Working with them has been a fabulous experience.

You have an interesting background taking care of less than average animals. Tell us about an interesting experience.  ~  One of the great privileges of owning a high-percentage wolf hybrid was watching the whole wolf-pack dynamic work.  They are such great negotiators and problem-solvers!  I was visiting a friend who also had a hybrid, and since it was summer, we left the door open so the wolves could wander in and out.  Seamus (my wolf) and Loiosh (hers) were out playing in the fenced yard while we were in the living room talking.  Loiosh came in first, and since I was sitting on his spot on the couch, he came and sat on me.  Which was fine, not the first time I had a lap full of wolf. 
Seamus came in later, and looked at me and at Loiosh.  Now, Loiosh was dominant to Seamus, so Seamus wouldn’t challenge him directly, even though Loiosh had *his* mommy.  I could practically see the gears turning in his head.  Seamus went over and put his head in my friend’s lap.  Well, Loiosh couldn’t have that, so he went over to displace Seamus.  Who gracefully yielded, and came over to sit across my lap.  Which is what he wanted all along.
It’s also fascinating to observe wolves. . .any canine, really.  Their sense of smell and their hearing is so much keener than our own that they are almost experiencing a completely different world, something I try to showcase when I have a werewolf character in wolf form.

It would be wonderful to experience that kind of intelligence in action. I was in love with Lipizzan stallions when I was younger. Tell us about yours.  ~  Oh, my.  Do you have a few years?  (OK, I’ll try to keep it brief.)  I’ve had Pluto III Canada (barn name Celeborn, AKA His Lordship, AKA The Bright Center of the Universe) since he was a baby.  I bought him as a young foal.    He’s great to have around. . .such a huge personality, and so full of himself. And he is a great ambassador for the breed.  He is so gentle that, when I took him to horse expos, I was able to let little kids into his stall to pet him.
We used to show, but neither of us found it as much fun as I had anticipated, and when the economy tanked and the bottom dropped out of the rare breeds market, it was no longer economically practical to promote him as a breeding stallion.  (Though he is still available for breeding.) Meanwhile, we sometimes play at warhorses with the Society for Creative Anachonism, which he thinks is great fun.  And when I was injured in a car accident last year, and was so stiff and sore that I could barely climb on, he was so incredibly careful and considerate of me, and way more generous and forgiving than he usually is under saddle, because he knew I was hurt and he had to take care of me.
If any horse geeks among the readership want to drool over his  stats, pics, video, etc., his website is

I love the names of your animals! Is your background Celtic?  ~  By blood, not a drop.  But the Irish are great at adopting people.  Hang around the ceilis (dance socials, parties) often enough, and you’re one of them.  One of the musicians said that, since Celts originated in Germany, and I’m almost half German by ancestry (via Pennsylvania Dutch), that makes me kind of a Celt.  Personally, I think that might have been stretching it.
Seriously, I have always been drawn to Celtic history, music and culture.  At the risk of sounding a little flaky, I think it’s a past-life thing.
And it is an odd coincidence that my parents gave me an Irish first name when there’s no Irish in the family.  Actually, my eldest two siblings named me.  I think my eldest brother had dated a girl with the name; anyway, he liked it.  And my eldest sister jumped on the bandwagon and decided that would be my name.  I was the youngest of seven, so my parents were out of names and just sort of went with it.

The youngest of seven? I'll have to pick your brain later. I have seven children too. At times, it's tough balancing them all. Do you have a favorite character?   ~  Isn’t that kind of like asking  a mother who her favorite child is? 

I honestly thought that when I wrote it. So yes, I'd say that's an unfair questions. ; )  ~  I’d say my favorite character is usually the one I’m writing at the time, though members of my writing group have accused me of being in love with Raven from Ravensblood.   I do have a thing for tall, dark and handsome, keen intelligence and dry humor.    (Is it wrong to be in love with your own protagonist?)

No, it's not. In fact I'd say it's a requirement if you want the readers to fall in love with him. What’s your guilty pleasure?  ~  I don’t believe in feeling guilty about pleasure.  But one of the less-productive things I do when I’ve had a bad day is re-watch Doctor Who episodes, either new or classic.  If I really want to spoil myself, I will have a pop-tart while watching Doctor Who, as this was my Saturday treat when Doctor Who was on PBS when I was a kid.

Sound doctrine! : ) What’s your ideal day like?   ~  Sleep in, write some, ride some, dance or listen to music (or both) in the evening with some good whiskey and good friends.

I know you’re a fan of Irish music. Does music influence your writing?   ~  Oh, yes.  Sometimes directly— I put out  a collection of three flash (short-short) stories thematically connected by the power of music.  The collection is called The Three Tunes, a well-known  ceili  (Irish social) dance, so named because it is danced to a set of three traditional tunes.    My short story ‘We Don’t Serve Your Kind’ has a taste of Irish pub culture, and a bit of music as well.  Music makes at least a cameo appearance in most of my work, as in the bar scene that opens Ravensblood, and my current work-in-progress has a harpist protagonist and bardic magic is central to the plot.  And the protagonist to my short story The Beast Within (also a main character in the werewolf steampunk/Victorian detective novel I’m shopping) got his surname from a dance we were learning in class the night before I sat down to write it. (I have a hard time coming up with names sometimes)
I think the music also influences my writing on a deeper,  less explicable level.  Since I’ve been spending more time going out to music, I’ve had more and more people describe my writing as ‘lyrical’.  And there’s been many times that I’ve gone into dance class totally stumped as to the direction I wanted a story to go in, and by the time I was driving home from class it was all clear.

What if anything surprised you when you were writing The Stolen Luck?  ~  I actually had no intention of it being any kind of a romance.  I was interested in the central question of how far even a good person will compromise his morals and values to protect the people and land he loves. The romantic attraction between the two characters came about from the classic question writers must ask themselves:  how can I make this situation even more difficult for my protagonist, but the more I delved into the characters, the more the attraction between them felt inevitable.  Now, of course, I can’t imagine the book without it.

And now for an unrelated question. In your opinion, in a battle between a lycan and a vampire, who wins and why? ~  It all depends on how the writer writes the lycan, and how they write the vampire.  As long as it’s internally consistent to the story (and as long as the vampires don’t sparkle) it’s all good.  I myself have written two different versions of werewolves for two different universes.  I have one vampire story on a back-burner, actually a novelization of a rather cryptic nineteenth-century ballad.  But if my vampire and my werewolves met (necessarily through the intervention of a TARDIS), they would be on the same side, so the point would be moot.

Cover blurb for The Stolen Luck:
How far will a good man go to save his home and loved ones?
Lord James Dupree must recover his family’s stolen Luck, the elven talisman that has protected the Dupree lands for generations. Without the talisman, the Dupree vineyards are failing and creditors are closing in. The Luck is his only hope of saving his home and his family from poverty and ruin.
Despite his abhorrence of slavery, James wins an elven slave in a game of cards. The slave, Loren, provides the only chance to enter the Lands Between and recover the stolen Luck. Despite James’s assurances and best inten- tions, Loren does not trust his new master and James finds it all too easy to slip into the role of slave master when Loren defies him.
As the two work together through hardship and danger, James finds himself falling in love with Loren. And when a hidden enemy moves against them, he must choose between his responsibility to his family and his own soul.

Cover blurb for Ravensblood:

In a life of impossible choices when sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils, can a dark mage save the world and his own soul?
Corwyn Ravenscroft.  Raven.  The last heir of an ancient family of dark mages, he holds the secret to recreating the Ravensblood, a legendary magical artifact of immense power.
Cassandra Greensdowne is a Guardian.  Magical law enforcement for the elected council— and Raven’s former apprentice and lover.  She is trying to live down her past.  And then her past comes to the door, asking for her help.
As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he had turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wants a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not be a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.
Raven discovers that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.
He becomes a spy for the council that William wants to overthrow, with Cassandra as his contact.
Cass and Raven have a plan to trap William outside his warded sanctuary. But William is one step ahead of the game, with Raven’s life, his soul, and the Ravensblood all in danger.

Author bio:

 From earliest childhood, Shawna Reppert has had a passion for stories– for reading them and for writing them. She obtained a BA in English with a Writing Option from Penn State University and has participated in numerous writing workshops and seminars given by the likes of Charles de Lint, David Farland and Elizabeth Lyon. Two of her stories have won honorable mentions from Writers of the Future. Previous short stories sold to 10 Flash Quarterly and to Everyday Fiction. Several ‘indie’ short stories are available for sale at Amazon, and her story ‘The Beast Within’ appears in the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 2 edited by Phyllis Irene Radford. Her first novel came out as a Carina Press e-book in May 2013 and is also available in Audible format.  It won a silver medal in the Global E Books Awards and is currently a finalist for an Eppie.

In college, Shawna volunteered at a raptor rehabilitation center, which became valuable background for her short story The Sword and the Kestrel. Shawna has always had an affinity for wolves, and used to keep a wolf-dog hybrid as a pet, giving her first-hand experience to put the wolf in her werewolves. Her current four-footed children are a Lipizzan stallion and an orange-and-black cat named Samhain. She enjoys Irish social dancing and is an ardent supporter of live Irish music. Shawna also likes to play with the Society for Creative Anachronism and can sometimes be found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her.
A Pennsylvania native, she currently lives in the beautiful wine county of Oregon.

Where can readers find out more about you?
Contact email:
Amazon author page

Friday, January 17, 2014


Today I was looking through some quotes for a blog I was writing and I came across three I thought worth sharing. I think they're interesting because they come from three very diverse people. They all come from

The only source of knowledge is experience.
Albert Einstein 

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
C. S. Lewis 

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
Oscar Wilde 

So what do you think? Does one strike you more forcefully than the others?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Series Review

Let me tell you about the Fire and Thorns trilogy from Rae Carson. In one sentence, I wish there were more.

I would have done a book review, but once I started reading, I couldn't put this series down. That's one of the benefits/draw backs of starting a series after it's already done.

Don't worry. No spoilers, just praise.

I love the world, the characters, the plot and now I hate that it's over! I'm not ready to say goodbye! From a writer's perspective I appreciate how finely crafted this book is. The hints of Latin and Hebrew are brilliant. The world building is second to none! There are way too many exclamation marks in the post!!! ; ) I could feel the history just under the story, waiting to be discovered. Rae Carson dug up just enough to make her present day world deep without burying us in layers.

A friend of mine suggested this series when I told her I was in the market for a really good fantasy series and now I'm suggesting it to you.

Just go read it. You won't be disappointed.... but I'd love to discuss it with you once you're done.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Guest blogging

Today I'm over at Eleri Stone's blog where I'm musing about genre, and other things. Come by and check it out.

And don't forget, there are still 16 days left to enter for a chance to win Ealois, Ewen's pendant.

Friday, January 10, 2014


There is still 19 days left in the giveaway for Ealois, the pendant of Wisdom.

Don't miss out! : ) 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Win-A-Book Wednesdays

My group blog, Here Be Magic, gives away a book every Wednesday. Yes, EVERY Wednesday. It's called Win-A-Book Wednesday. What do you have to do? Go and find out! LOL. It's really very simple, like, join, and then read.

Today, we are giving away Journey of Awakening, the book that started it all for me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

USA Today

Sometimes when I get good news, it takes a moment or two to really sink in. Like when my book is mentioned in a USA Today article. I read it, and read it again, and then brought my husband in the room to read it, and then grinned ear to ear. Yes, this is definitely a very good excuse for hot fudge and ice cream. Or dancing in my pjs. Or both. Why not?
Thank you Louann Carroll of USA Today for mentioning Journey of Wisdom as one of the five SCI-FI/FANTASY/TIME TRAVEL new releases.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Guest Blogging

It's not often that I meet another Shawna. The name isn't all that common. I think in my lifetime, I've met two and heard of one other. However, recently another Shawna joined the gifted ranks of Carina Press authors. Shawna Reppert is very talented writer who agreed to swap blogs with me. She will be a guest here on January 20th and graciously hosts me today! Come check out the interview. And don't forget to enter the Giveaway for this gorgeous Ealois replica pendant
Giveaway information is in a tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


New Years is almost synonymous with resolutions.

And it seems now is the time of year many of us make these.  I suppose it makes sense.  New Year, new beginning, fresh start.

res·o·lu·tion  (rz-lshn)
1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.

I've always leaned toward not making resolutions, especially this time of year, mainly because of the pressure to do so. I figure if you're going to do something, why wait? Just do it. But this year, I'm kinda leaning toward reaffirming some old resolutions that have softened somewhat.

For instance, I had started an exercise regime last summer. I lost twenty pounds and two sizes, but although I've only gained five pounds due to holiday indulgence, I haven't exercised in over a month. Maybe two. With all Christmas activities and illnesses I haven't found the resolve to get back on track. I resolve to start exercising every day.

With the exceptions of Facebook, I haven't blogged or been online. But I'm looking at 2 books coming out in the space of 2 months and I'm thinking this is something I need to make time to do at least once a week.

So I resolve to play a bit on Twitter.  

There are a dozen other things I'd like to resolve to do: Eat right, keep the house clean, spend more time writing, spend more time with my kids, spend more time on me, but then I'd fall into the pit of piling on so many resolutions that I can't hope to keep them all. There is only so much time you can spend until you move into the red.

So for me. That's it. Exercise, and twitter. Perhaps an odd combination.

How about you? Which side of the coin do you fall on? Do you have any resolutions this year?