ALL IS FAIR IN LOVERS’ WAR now on Lightning Quick Reads

My newest post on Lighting Quick Reads is now available to read. Actually, it’s been available since the 17th, but I didn’t want to run a second post on the same day Group 15 got their version of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud Chapter Three showcased. If you missed that project, here’s a link to the beginning.

As for the LQR post, I really like this main character. Not because he’s a great guy. He’s not! Wait until you meet him. But I like his voice, and how he’s ever so slightly out of touch with reality. See what you think.

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ALL IS FAIR IN LOVERS’ WAR
or How I Got Schooled In Love

Dagger

Through the window of the taxi, I could see a tear in her eye. She still had feelings for me. When she rolled down the window, I knew I would take her back the second she said, “I love you.”

Thunder cracked, and the downpour of rain splattered her face. She looked ready to burst with emotion, and she said, “If I ever see you again, you will regret ever meeting me!”

She rolled up the window and the taxi sped away. I thought it was a tear in her eye–I guess I was mistaken.

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From the moment I met Mariana, I knew she was “The One.” She had everything I was looking for in a woman: intelligence, a sense of humor, light-brown hair flowing halfway down her back, perky breasts, a Russian accent–I didn’t even know I was looking for a Russian accent until I met Mariana.

I got a job right out of college designing set pieces for plays. Skip ahead a few years to when I landed a job to create the set for MACBETH. I delivered it to the theater the day of the first dress rehearsal. Enter Mariana.

Mariana had gotten her first acting role as the Third Witch. I should have guessed I would fall in love with a witch.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the theater when the cast arrived, but I had gotten a late start that morning. Nelly, a girl I had been seeing for a few weeks, got suspicious that I was cheating on her. Her suspicion aroused when my phone rang. I had gone to take a shower. The caller’s name was Tiffany, and she introduced herself to Nelly as my girlfriend.

In my defense, Tiffany was not my girlfriend. Nelly was. Tiffany was just a girl I had met at a bar a few nights before. I had drunk too much to drive, and she lived within walking distance. I don’t even remember giving her my phone number.

Nelly didn’t give me a chance to explain. I’m finishing my shower when her hand reaches in and turns off the hot water. I scream and turn off the cold. I can hear her yelling about “some slut on the phone,” not wanting to be “the other girl,” and “we’re through!”

I grab my towel and follow her into my kitchen. As she slams the door and leaves, I finally figure out what has happened. I step onto my second story balcony and waited for her to appear outside.

“Nelly, come up here so I can explain,” I say. But she grabs a flowerpot from the patio below and throws it at my head. I duck and the pot shatters against the wall behind me–covering me with soil.

Nelly climbs into her car and peels away, and I have to take another shower. This in turn makes me late setting the stage, and gives me the chance to meet Mariana. To quote MACBETH, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” If I had known how bad showering would soon become for me, methinks I may have quit bathing.

 

You can read the rest of the story on Lightning Quick Reads.

Lightning Quick Reads for February: Love

When I signed up for Lightning Quick Reads, and I saw the theme schedule, I got a little nervous when I saw the February theme of Love. Mainly because I don’t write about love. At least I haven’t… until now. Come on over to LQR, read my first love story, and please, while you’re there, leave a comment to let me know what you think. Who knows, maybe I’ll start writing romance novels. Then again, maybe not.

Erin Rhew Interview About The Outlanders Plus Book Reviews

I have one of my favorite virtual friends back today. This time we talk about her newest release, The Outlanders (The Fulfillment Series Book 2), her future writing plans, and for more fun, I throw in my review of the book. I also never got around to giving her a review for the first book in The Fulfillment Series, The Prophecy, and I know how important reviews are to authors, so I’ll put that in here as well. So sit back, learn about the first two thirds (plus a little extra) of an enjoyable young adult fantasy series, and help me welcome Erin Rhew. Oh, and if you hurry, there’s a giveaway happening.

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So we have a “love triangle” with Layla, Nash, and Wil (Though I’ve always considered them more of a “Love V.” Think about it.) Do you have any favorite or least favorite love triangles from fiction?

I wouldn’t consider it a traditional love triangle (maybe I’ll say love “V” instead…heehee) since supernatural powers are at play and affect the feelings/beliefs of the characters. If I did have a love triangle, I wanted it to be well done (I hope I succeeded—LOL!). I wanted both men to be wholly worthy instead of one good guy and one traditional bad boy.
My favorite love triangle in fiction is the one from the Infernal Devices series. Tess, Will, and Jem…happy sigh. And thanks to the world Cassandra Clare created, the outcome could not have been happier for the reader.
I don’t like love triangles where one guy won’t accept his fate and tries to bend the girl toward his will.

I can’t say I’m a fan of Samson, though I give Elder Werrick an easier time than you. Who are some of your favorite and least favorite characters, not counting the big three?

LOL!! I actually like Samson. His snark is my homage to Percy Jackson. 😉 I like King Rex a lot. I love how he’s strong but gentle. My fiancé, Deek, likes Queen Cataleen, but he always likes the villain because he finds them so layered. 😉 And I like the Voltons. Their calm, cool, collected attitudes appeal to me—particularly Mars and Holt.

I really don’t care for Werrick. He’s an example of “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And though I tried to make her sympathetic because of her life, I have trouble liking Mia. I feel like I should like Mia, but I just don’t.

Well, you’re the author, so I guess you’d know. But sometimes characters surprise even the author. One day you may learn Samson has a bit of a back stabbing personality, and Werrick has some separation anxiety issues he’s trying to work through. If he keeps meeting with his counselor, he’ll handle it.

Chapters 21 through 25 were my favorite of the series so far. Give us a hint of one thing well get in Book Three: The Fulfillment.

Wow, thank you!! Parts of those scenes were definitely difficult to write.

Hmmmm…here are two hints: One of the three kingdoms will fall in The Fulfillment. And an important character will behave rashly with serious consequences.

Do you have an approximate release date for The Fulfillment?

It’s written, but I’m still matching it up consistency-wise to changes made in The Prophecy and The Outlanders. I hope to submit to my publisher early next year. So, I’m hoping for a later summer/early fall release date.

Have you given any thought to your writing life after The Fulfillment Series?

I already have several projects in the works—a young adult futuristic thriller and another fantasy novel, with a twist.

What writer’s style do you most admire?

Rick Riordan. I absolutely, positively love his style. I want to BE Rick Riordan! LOL!

Oh! I knew this one. I should have asked a better question. Here, I’ll ask one of myself instead:

Team Wil or Tem Nash? Wil’s all right, but if I have to pick one I’ll take Nash.

Rapid Fire Randomness:

Volton Mars/Veronica Mars—any correlation? Nope, I never thought of it until you said it. I actually would have gone for Vulcan with Volton. 😉

Alterations reminded me a bit of Compulsion in the Vampire Academy series. Agree or disagree? I don’t think they’re exactly alike, but the difference is negligible. Compulsion is more related to forcing people to do things. The Alterations implant images. I think it’s a little different.

Layla—is she named after the Derrick and the Dominos song? No. Her name appeared in my head out of nowhere. I found out after I named her that it meant “Dark Beauty.” Perfect and random.

Pick a fantasy series: Song of Ice and Fire, Sword of Truth, or Wheel of Time.
100% Song of Fire and Ice. 😉

I hear winter IS coming. No seriously. The next book is titled The Winds of Winter. That, amongst other things, leads us to believe it may happen.

Here’s an excerpt from The Outlanders:

Everything about Mia felt wrong. The girl, who looked so much like Layla, just happened to be where Samson could find her and came with him to the home of her enemy without any resistance? Whole generations of Ecclesiastics searched for entire lifetimes and never found the Fulfillment, yet Samson encountered two potentials in short succession. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her unease, but something tickled the back of her mind, inching toward the surface with painstaking sluggishness.

“I don’t understand why she would just come with you to Etherea.” Layla struggled to keep her voice level and calm to avoid raising Samson’s hackles.

“She didn’t have anywhere else to go. Vance killed her family in Vanguard.”

Layla made a mental note to confirm Samson’s version of the story with the information Nash managed to extract from Mia. “If she’s a Vanguard, why would she come with you to Etherea?”

“You came here,” Samson shot back, his inexplicable protectiveness for the mystery girl heightening her concern.

She treaded with care. “Well, some insane man in a black and purple robe stole my brother, so I didn’t really have a choice.”

Mia stared at the young man before her with a mixture of curiosity and weariness. She understood why others found him so handsome—rich, dark hair and those shocking green eyes. If she succeeded, he would be her…she stopped herself, determined to keep her mind clear. She had to give off an air of mystery, to lure the Ethereals into her web so they followed her plan. More than anything, she needed them to follow her plan, so much depended on it. She could not slip up. She could not make a mistake.

Taking a steadying breath, she refocused her thoughts and slid her amethyst colored eyes across the prince in front her. She wouldn’t even think his name or give any indication she already knew about him. She had to forget how much she’d been told about him…how much she’d been told about them all. Feigning ignorance factored into her plan.

“Who are you?” he asked, after spending an inordinate amount of time regarding her.

She noted how his gaze bounced from her eyes to her hair and back again. As planned, her appearance intrigued him. Though he’d asked a different question, she heard the real one layered beneath it. He wanted to know why she resembled the proclaimed Fulfillment. That question would then lead him to an inevitable one…could Mia be the Fulfillment instead of Layla? And if she were the Fulfillment, what did that mean for him? For Wil? For Layla?

“I’m Mia.” She almost grinned, pleased she’d answered his question but given him nothing more. When his lips twisted, her grin broke into a full smile at his evident irritation. “And you are?”

He hesitated. “Nash, brother of the king.”

“The injured king?” He flinched, a subtle movement most might miss, but she caught it.

“According to our friend, Samson, you’re an Outlander.”

“He found me in the Outlands.” The less Nash knew, the better.

Frustration flickered across his face, marring his otherwise handsome features. She smiled to herself, not trusting his patience should her lips turn up yet again.

“Sooo,” he dragged out the word. “Are you an Outlander?”

“No. I’m a Vanguard.”

Nash cocked his head to the right. “Why were you in the Outlands then?”

“I went to escape Vance’s oppression.” Mia stared at the wall behind him until her vision blurred. She willed tears to form. Given the pressure she’d been under, summoning them proved easier than she expected. When the familiar tight burning started near her lids, she blinked at the prince. He shifted in his seat. Mia wanted to snort at his reaction. Tears always made men uncomfortable. “Vance killed my family.” She paused and swallowed, hoping he believed she needed a moment to collect herself. “I ran as far as I could and ended up in the Outlands. Samson found me.”

Nash cleared his throat and shifted again; she increased the flow of her tears in reply.           “What do you know about the Outlands?”

“Very little.” She sniffed. Looking as pathetic as she could manage, she attempted to wipe her eyes, an impossible feat given her bound hands. Nash frowned as his gaze landed on her restraints. She bid him to unbind her hands, and for a moment, she believed he might. To her disappointment, he gripped the side of his chair until his knuckles turned white and left her tied up. Mia ground her teeth.

“Do you believe you are the Fulfillment?” Nash kept his voice steady despite the turmoil she read upon his face.

Mia waited a moment to respond, both to further escalate his frustration and to collect herself. In this moment, she needed to be most convincing, to begin what she’d been tasked to set in motion. She gestured with her chin, drawing Nash’s attention to the blazing “F” upon her upper arm. The dark purple birthmark matched the shade of her eyes.

“The First Ones speak for themselves.”

Nash shook his head. “It’s too obvious.”

Mia’s head jerked back. She struggled to maintain her composure as his reaction, so unexpected, derailed her careful planning. Her mind racing, she grappled for a response.

“Too obvious?”

“Yes. See, Mia—” His clear distaste tainted the sound of her own name. “I know about the First Ones.”

“Who do you think you are? An Ecclesiastic?” She smirked at him, acting like she retained complete control, but her insides knotted. She couldn’t lose her ability to direct the conversation.

To her surprise, Nash laughed, though she noted no pleasure in it. “The Prophecy states, ‘In a time of war, when the land is divided amongst the two, she, with raven black hair, purple eyes, and a special blessing from the First Ones shall bring peace.’”

“I think everyone in the three kingdoms and in the Borderlands is familiar with The Prophecy.” Mia rolled her eyes for effect. “What’s your point?”

“My point is, the special blessing wouldn’t be something as simple as a birthmark. If it were, the First Ones would have just said raven black hair, purple eyes, and an ugly purple ‘F’ on the upper arm.” He flicked his hand toward her arm. “Special blessing is vague, indicating something mysterious. There is nothing mysterious about your birthmark.”

Mia’s heart pounded as she felt the tables turn and the conversation slip away. “And there is something mysterious about her?”

The word her hung between them for a moment. Mia took another deep breath, worrying she’d pushed him too far. Beneath his shirt, she saw Nash’s muscles ripple and hoped she’d managed to touch a new nerve.

Mia clenched her teeth. She hated acting this way, so out of character, but she had to press on. No one could know the truth. She had to win this game…

TheOutlanders_ErinAlbert_AuthorPhoto

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.” A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.

Find me online:

 

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Erin-Rhew-Books/182769448541270

Website: www.erinrhewbooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23265671-the-prophecy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23302633-the-outlanders

Buy The Prophecy: http://www.amazon.com/Prophecy-Fulfillment-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00O1IVMPO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412178669&sr=8-1&keywords=the+prophecy+erin+rhew

Buy The Outlanders: http://www.amazon.com/Outlanders-Fulfillment-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00O2I8X50/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412178701&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlanders+erin+rhew

OK. That turned into quite a post. If you’re still with me, you either really like Erin’s books, or you want the reviews . . . or both. So here they are.

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The Prophecy:

Let’s start off with this whole love triangle thing because it bothers me–in fiction in general, but not in The Prophecy by Erin Rhew, and that’s why it works, and it’s one of the things that makes this book so good. Every time you turn around in modern fiction, one female gets in the room with two males and you’ve got a love triangle . . . and they don’t even have to all belong to the same species. Erin Rhew wrote a compelling, plot driven, fantasy novel, and the so called ‘love triangle’ is just one element of the plot. And instead of getting thrown in because it’s almost expected in YA fiction, it’s necessary to move the plot. Not only does Layla not know if she loves Wil or Nash, she’s not sure if she’s supposed to love Wil or Nash to make the prophecy come true. And yes, guys, if I haven’t made my point clear, this isn’t some sappy romance.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, The Prophecy has action, adventure, humor, and yes, even a little love. If I have anything negative to say, it’s just that the story seemed to jump ahead a time or two, which I found distracting because I wanted to know what happened in the lapse.

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The Outlanders:

I started out thinking I was going to like this book less than The Prophecy. It started slower, and I could tell by the general tone, it wasn’t going to have as much action as its predecessor. I was right about everything . . . except the part about liking it less. I thought it was great! The deepening of the plot more than made up for the lack of action. And the ending, watch out! The Prophecy ended on a major cliffhanger. Not only does The Outlanders end on a cliffhanger, but all the loose ends you think are getting tied up toward the end of the story, well, they all come untied.

Now if you’re still with me, you’re just looking for something free, so here’s a Rafflecopter giveaway. A $50 gift cards, signed copies of The Prophecy and The Outlanders. That sort of thing. But hurry, it ends at the end of the day November 1.

Review and Interview of Kai Strand’s Worth the Effort

Today I’m honored to be part of Kia Strand’s release tour for her novella “Worth the Effort.” I agreed to read and review her work, and she agreed to submit to an interview about the story, so we’re both happy. Here’s the review, and if you read on afterward, you can see our fun little discussion about coffee, love, publishing, and of course… writing. When you’ve finished, don’t forget to click the link for the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Woth the EffortElla discovers a homeless teen boy living in an alley behind the café where she works, and at first he frightens her. But as time goes by she gets to know him and in the process of overcoming her fear, she also attempts to shatter the high society expectations her parents have for her. But just when she thinks she’s getting to know Ayden, she discovers his shocking secret. This story will have you turning pages to see what happens next, and even though it’s a complete story, it will leave you wanting more. And since it’s a Kai Strand story, expect a last-minute twist to keep the ending from dragging on or becoming boring.

Here’s my interview with Kai. If my less-than-award-worthy reviewing ability didn’t convince you to try “Worth the Effort,” maybe our conversation will.

Kai StrandSince you live in the Pacific North West, and Seattle is known for coffee (among other things), and coffee plays a central role in Worth the Effort, what kind of coffee do you like and how do you take it?

I adore this question! Thank you for asking it. I am a coffee drinker. 24/7 when I can get away with it. My favorite brand is Starbucks. I like my coffee STRONG and usually black. I rarely drink flavored coffee, but when I want to spoil myself, I throw some dried orange peel and a snap of cinnamon stick into the grinder with the beans. When I REALLY want to indulge, I’ll mix chocolate milk into the brewed cup of coffee. (Picture Homer Simpson drooling here)

I’m not much for flavored coffee myself, but I do love some Highlander Grog when I can get it.

For a novella, Worth the Effort has many layers of depth: themes of poor versus plenty and breaking with norms/expectations contribute to this depth. Did you set out to write a story as such, or did the layers build on their own as you wrote?

This is a tough question. I don’t know that I set out to tell this story in particular. What I did know was that I wanted a high school girl to fall for a homeless boy. It was very, very important to me that people see the underage homeless population. As the story developed I realized I needed – no wanted – more dynamics in the story itself. That is when I decided these kids needed some surprises. The irony is, that when I was doing some research for the basis of my story, visiting a transitional living shelter for teens in my area, I was told a story of a boy with a similar enough background to my fictional Ayden that I knew beyond a doubt that I’d chose the right story to tell. I actually got shivers when I was told his story. Still do!

At first, I thought this was going to be a story of love(ish) at first sight. After reading it, I realize it’s not, at least not for Ella. Do you believe in love at first sight or do you think it’s just a tool to move some plots?

I’m sorry we aren’t sitting at my local Starbucks so I could fully answer this question. First and foremost I had an instant and powerful reaction – attraction – to my now husband. Was it love? No. But I’ve never had the same experience with anyone else. So there is SOMETHING to that feeling. Different people may have a different definition for it. Second, and I’m saying this mostly because my oldest daughter would cry foul if I didn’t mention it to the world when I’ve had some very in depth conversations with her about teen love…I don’t think teen love is a real love. WAIT! PLEASE LISTEN! I think it is very real for the people who are feeling it. I think it is possible (though rare) it will mature into a lasting love. But I don’t think it is formed on proper life experiences or even with a realistic sense of time, for that matter. Can it break a heart? Absolutely. Is it everlasting? If so, why not wait and see…?

You wrote this story in first person present, the other stories of yours I’ve read have been written in third person past (my more natural writing style). Did you find it difficult to write this way?

Oh, Eric! Can I just thank you for recognizing this? It was very hard for me to write in first person present. My poor editor was like, “Wait? Why are we switching to past tense here?” and I was like, “Cause this is HARD!” Ella’s story needed to be immediate. But it was my first time writing this way. I laugh when I hear others write this way all the time and have a hard time writing in third person past. Imagine that—she asked. *wink*

In my opinion, the worst part about being an author is either promoting, or the fact that I can no longer read anything just for its entertainment value. I can almost hear my high school literature teachers in my head asking, “Why do you think the author did this?” It greatly slows down my reading time, and it frustrates me (at times), but there’s nothing I can do about it.

You self published this novella, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s this first work you’ve self published. Tell us a few things you learned while self publishing.

I learned that writing is hard. Oh wait, I already knew that. I learned that it takes a team to write a book, writer, cover artist, editor. Nope—knew that already. I learned marketing…no, already did that too. Okay, I learned book formatting. Honestly, I did so much research prior to deciding to self publish that I don’t really remember what I didn’t know before. Prior to making the decision to self pub these novellas, I read a lot about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ so there weren’t a lot of surprises. At this point I don’t intend on leaving traditional publishing completely. I enjoy the overall experience of traditional publishing, but being a competent and capable person, I wanted to take advantage of the additional revenue stream. Especially on smaller work, like my novellas.

So this was Ella’s Story, and you tell us that Ayden’s Story is yet to come. Give us a hint of something we’ll learn with Ayden’s Story.

Ayden is the whole reason behind these two novellas. Therefore, in his story we will get to really know him. We will see even more clearly why he’s homeless. We live on the streets with him. We learn about some of the resources that are available to him (that he takes advantage of) and most important, how Ella impacts his life – which, I admit is big – and we’ll wonder if he can rise to the occasion. It was so much harder to write his side of the story than I expected it to be. I just figured I’d write the same story from his point of view, but well…that was boring! So I chose key scenes to dip into so readers can see what he was thinking when they happened. Other than that the story has to follow his life, which is nothing close to Ella’s.

Thanks for joining me, Kai, and I hope someone comes across this and finds your story interesting. But for a little more motivation, here’s a Rafflecopter giveaway.