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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Time to Breathe

I usually don't post too much of a personal nature on here. While obviously, this blog is in my own "voice" and there's a lot of "me" in my writings (as with any author), for professional reasons, I do like to maintain some distance between day job-me and smut writing-me. And it's that day job that has been keeping me away from the blogging lately.

Once upon a time, I was a teacher. (I don't remember if I've mentioned that here or not before; if not, now you know!) As I did not teach one of the "core" subjects, it could be difficult to find work, but I always prevailed. Except for when I didn't. I got laid off at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, as did my brand new then-fiance.

He eventually found another full-time job, but I did not. I did some substitute teaching whenever I could, but quite frankly, it sucked. The stress of unemployment plus planning a wedding took its toll on my health, both mental and physical. Something needed to change, because I wasn't satisfied waiting around for the phone to ring to offer me jobs that didn't exist.

We got married in July 2011. I went back to school in October of that year to start training for a brand-new career (that had NOTHING to do with the field of education) in the hopes that I would one day work full-time again and bring home a decent paycheck so we could be more comfortable. It's not where I ever saw myself in that stage of life, but since when does everything work out the way it's supposed to?

I finished my program in April of this year, interned for a bit, and now I'm finally at the point I've been looking forward to since June of 2010 - I'm working again! My hours are inconsistent, and I don't always know what I'm walking into, but feels good. Really good. However, now that I'm devoting a large chunk of my time to being back in the work force, that means there's less time for other things.

It was during that period of unemployment and poor health that I rediscovered my love for writing. After having some fun with fanfic for a while, I started writing Searching the Skies soon after returning from my honeymoon, and started submitting it around the time I began school. I do try to see the silver linings in most situations, and having writing as a serious hobby (that sometimes even flings some cash my way) helped a lot.

Even with the increased workload, I'm still writing as much as I can. I know I've been slacking off a lot here with the blog (and the blogosphere in general; my apologies to the people who are used to seeing more comments from me!). As much fun as it is, when it comes down to writing fiction or writing here, the fiction is going to win most of the time. I've got some awesome stuff coming up in the next few months, and the list of stories I want to write never seems to get any shorter.

So even if I'm quiet here, rest assured that my writing persona is still alive and kicking. I do enjoy having a space where I can share any writing insights I've gleaned (or just run my mouth for extended periods of time, like in this post). I'd rather be busy than bored, and I've found that the more my mind is working, the easier it is for me to write a bit every day. Lucky us!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hump Day Hook!

Happy Hump Day! I know I've been kind of slacking with the blogging lately, but every now and then, real life gets crazy busy. To help make it up to you, I'll share a superfun longer excerpt from Defying the Skies (sequel to Searching the Skies), which will be released soon! Once you get your fix here, don't forget to check out the other hooks!

“I guess that’s the problem with climbing the ranks,” Geneva joked. “Once you get high enough, the military thinks you’re irreplaceable and that operations will cease to function if you’re gone from your post for too long.”

Marcus smiled. “Well, they’re right about one thing.” He kissed the top of her head. “You are irreplaceable.”

“Oh, her absence is definitely felt on the ship,” Ash said to him, grinning. “All those young soldiers assigned to laundry duty had to get their thrills somewhere else when her panties weren’t tumbling down the chute.”

Geneva kicked him in the shoulder. “You’re terrible!”

“Terrible, but undoubtedly correct.”

“That’s not very nice, teasing those poor boys like that.” Marcus said. “I mean, they’re probably curled up alone in their bunks dreaming of you every night, and you couldn’t even leave them some dirty laundry?”

Her attempts to suppress her giggles were unsuccessful. “You’re just as bad as he is. My underwear is not nearly as fascinating as you make it out to be.”

“You know that’s not true.” Marcus ran his finger along the thin band of exposed skin between the bottom of her shirt and the top of her pants. “And forgive me for being forward, but instead of arguing about these things, shouldn’t we be making the most of the time we have together? With or without your panties, of course.”

“He’s a wise man,” Ash said. Another set of hands joined the provocative exploration.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hump Day Hook!

Okay, fine, you all win. I'll give you a tiny bit of resolution for The Edge of the Sphere for this week's Hump Day Hook. This is from the "interlude" between Parts Two and Three. (You might notice a trend with each section ending similarly.) Happy reading, and don't forget to check out all the other authors and their hooks!

While he contemplated his situation, the benevolent angel that had saved him from himself beamed at him, an affectionate glow filling her eyes. With his mind firmly made up, he draped his arms around her shoulders, holding her tightly, and kissed her forehead. “Anything for you.”

She leaned her head against his chest and hugged him with the same fervor. They stood together for a silent moment on the windswept rock in an indistinguishable tangle of limbs as the clouds overhead grew darker and darker. He knew she was right. They couldn’t stay there for much longer, and he released her so she could lead them onwards. She took his hand and raised it to her lips, squeezing it as she did so. “Let’s go,” she said.

Her fingers laced through his, Liora led him to the precipice. There was nothing visible through the mists below them, save for a few streaks of intermittent light. Stephen felt his palms grow moist and his throat become dry. He turned his head to the side and saw her looking up at him, the shifting expressions in her eyes still able to convey so much. Gradually he inched closer to the edge, his trust in her implicit, and he flashed her what he hoped would look like a confident smile. Pushing his fears aside, he gripped her hand as they stepped into the flickering abyss.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway! Being Amber (New Atlanta #1), by Sylvia Ryan

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Both danger and sex are inescapable in the Amber Zone. 

Jaci Harmon was born a Sapphire, but after she’s summoned to receive her final designation, the testing reveals she carries a gene slated for eradication. Within a day, she’s sterilized and dumped in the Amber Zone, where the damaged are corralled away from the rest of New Atlanta. Scared and alone, Jaci would rather die than face her future as an Amber.

Born in the Amber Zone, Xander Dimos is a product of a lifetime spent under the oppression of the Repopulation Laws. Decades of suffering have taught the Ambers to make the zone a place where touch, sex, and unconditional acceptance ease the pain of their fate. Jaci has a lot to learn about her new home, and it’s Xander’s responsibility to guide her through the differences and the dangers safely.

With the simmering undercurrents of sexual chemistry growing between them, and in the midst of discovering the Gov’s true motives, Jaci and Xander must overcome his secret and accept their love as undeniable…even if the time allotted to share it is short. 

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains explicit sex scenes and/or situations (including BDSM, light bondage, anal play, sex toys, and f/f/m and m/f/m menage) and adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers. 

“Let me go.” Jaci shot him an acid glare she hoped would burn and eat at him like he was doused with drain cleaner. She was mad and she had to stay mad at him, or she’d never be strong enough to do this. It would also help immensely if he was angry at her too. Today, she wouldn’t be able to survive the nurturing, protective man she loved. 


She was a mere second away from tears when she turned away from him so he couldn’t see her face and headed for the door. 

With a long stride Xander pinned her between his body and the door. “No, you’re going to sit over there and listen to me.” His voice was low, dangerous and right next to her ear. 

With her hands still cuffed behind her back, the stray thought that they must be dangerously close to touching parts of him she’d never touched before made an unscheduled and unwanted appearance in her mind. 

Then, as if he were psychic, he took a step back, grabbed her cuffs and led her into a chair. “You are going to listen to me.”

“Why? You want to make excuses for the necessary lies? The sex that wasn’t sex? The woman in the hall?” she spat. 

Xander paced past her chair, eyes flaring, jaw muscle working, then stood silent for a long minute.

“Where have you been?” he asked her calmly. 

“None of your damn business,” she hissed back. 

“It is my business. I’m supposed to be protecting you.” He watched her as she took the time to inhale slowly, calming herself, and pulling it together before she spoke. 

“Protecting me?” She snorted. “You stupid ass.” She was calmer now, except for a slight quaver in her voice that betrayed the devastating explosion of feelings lurking beneath the surface. “You hurt me more than any psycho that’s out there. You pretended to be my friend, made me think I would be okay here. When I was at the most vulnerable and painful point in my entire life, you hurt me, Xander. You should have told me. You should have told me you have a girlfriend. You should have told me you and Jordan were nothing but my temporary bodyguards, not my friends.” She cleared her throat and looked down at the table in front of her. “You knew I was falling in love with you and you took advantage of that.”

There's a lot of great stuff going on in this book, along with some things I wasn't crazy about. Time to elaborate!

First and foremost, the setting and the premise are superb. Ms. Ryan's post-apocalyptic USA is detailed, developed, and well within the realm of believability. The world-building alone is enough reason to pick up this book. The concept of the people cast to the bottom rungs of society banding together to make their lives as fulfilling as possible is appealing (and not unlike the beginning of The Hunger Games, which I love). These people have been dealt a crappy hand, but they're not going to let it get them down.

Main character Jaci was extremely well-written. You feel for her, you shake your fist at all the trauma she's been forced to endure, and you root for her to be successful. Everything about her rang true, from the stages of her grief to her reactions to everything that's thrown at her. She comes across as strong and capable, all while maintaining a certain delicate air.

Male lead Xander fell a little flat for me, unfortunately. Part of it could have been due to Jaci being portrayed so well, but I think what turned me off to him was that it seemed like he didn't fall in love with Jaci for who she was, but rather what she was. To bolster this point, according to my Kindle, it's not until the 49% point where Xander actually stops to consider what Jaci might have been like in her old life before tragedy struck and he acknowledges who she was before he met her. It felt to me that he was falling in love with more of an idea than an actual person, and that seems like shaky ground for a lasting relationship.

The part that bugged me the most, though, was that the men are supposed to take care of the women are men and women are women. Yeah. This is my own personal preference, I'm sure, and regular readers of this blog know about my feelings towards stereotypical gender roles. I couldn't help but cringe a little each time this arrangement was discussed and there was a reference made to the men and "their females".

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and if you're into dystopian settings and love that defies the odds, definitely pick this one up! Though some parts left me a little lukewarm, Jaci's character and the way the plot picks up in the final third of the book make this a solid 4-star.

(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Being Amber is available at: 
Amazon | ARe | B&N | iTunes 

Book Trailer: 

About the Author: 
Sylvia lives the life of a run-of-the-mill wife, mother, and professional in Midwest Suburbia, USA. She reads voraciously and loves to lose herself and fall head over heels for the alpha males in her favorite novels. 

When she gets the chance to shed the prim and proper persona of average wife and mother, her secret identity, Sylvia Ryan, emerges. This alter ego strives to write original ideas in extraordinary settings for her readers to remember long after the book has been read. Her dream is to transform her racy thoughts and naughty nature into tangible works of erotic fantasy for others’ secret identities to enjoy. 

Connect with Sylvia Ryan 
Email | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

This is Not Trope-tastic Thursday

After thinking it over for a bit, I've decided that Trope-tastic Thursday is going on hiatus for the summer. It's been a fun weekly feature, and it does help me feel like I'm not totally slacking off on the blogging, but one of my freelance writing jobs just started up again and my summer music gig is also just around the corner, so something's got to give.

I promise to be a good little blogger and actually try to write non-themed posts here more often. I'm still merrily writing away on my works-in-progress, and the list of stories I want to write never seems to shrink. I'm sure there's plenty of post fodder to be found in there. I'm the type of person who does better when she's busy, but I also try to be careful about committing to too much at one time. Don't take this as a "Goodbye, cruel internet!" or a /RAGEQUIT post. ;)

I'll do my best to keep things interesting around here, and I hope to resume TTT around mid-August or so. Until then, watch out for those sneaky little writing traps!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hump Day Hook!

Happy Hump Day! Last week I posted an excerpt from The Edge of the Sphere, the conclusion of Part One. The book isn't totally linear, and there's a lot going on simultaneously. This week, I'll post the last couple bits of Part Two. Enjoy, and don't forget to check out the other hooks this week!

Liora, by Oviot
She stood in front of the sphere, almost close enough for the entire length of her to be pressed against it. Closing her eyes, she thought of nothing but Stephen. She remembered his soothing voice, his fond caresses, and the way she had broken through to him to allow him to unleash his passion on her willing body. It was all so vivid and realistic in her mind, and she hoped it would be enough to reach him.

The surface gave way to her first cautious prodding. Inside, the waves of a soft summer’s breeze teased her hands, skimming over the cuffs on her wrists. They beckoned her to enter. She withdrew the quivering extremities, and cast one last look around the basement of her home. Before she could change her mind, Liora stood on her toes and spread her arms out wide. In a daring freefall, she tipped forward into the depths of the sphere.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: Author Avatar

Trope: Author Avatar

Description: Not limited solely to books, the Author Avatar is a version of the creator of a work inserted into the work itself. This can work in a number of different ways. Sometimes the Author Avatar is the narrator, giving opinions on what's going on in the story. Other times, he/she just makes a cameo appearance as a minor character. Every now and then, you get a character who is obviously the creator's favorite and can do no wrong, leading to the dreaded Mary Sue (which yes, can happen in canon works).

Examples: Charlie Brown/Charles Schulz, Dante in the Divine Comedy, Liz Lemon/Tina Fey in 30 Rock

Pros: It's important to have a distinctive voice when writing, so why not use your own? Aspiring writers are frequently told "write what you know", so it makes sense to write it from your own point of view, regardless of whether you're blatant about it or try to camouflage it. I only chose three examples for this post, but there are plenty of others out there. If authors from James Joyce to Stephen King (and everyone in between and on either side) have done it, it can't be a terrible technique, right?

Cons: Make your Author Avatar unrealistic and flawless, and your audience is going to rebel. They'll probably rebel loudly. Somewhere along the way, you're going to have to write a character that isn't a version of yourself. Don't let the Author Avatar become a crutch!

Would/Did I Use It?: No, I have not. When Searching the Skies, my first book, came out, some of my friends wondered if Geneva and I were one and the same. We're not. I promise. Sure, there's probably a little piece of myself in all my characters, and some are more similar to my personality than others, but I have yet to write a character who is just like me or is supposed to be my voice. I wouldn't rule it out completely, but as of right now, I have no plans to put myself in any of my writings.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hump Day Hook!

It's time for everyone's favorite day of the week! I realized in flipping through past Hump Day Hooks and my labels/tags, I'd never dropped any hooks for The Edge of the Sphere in this weekly feature. Shame on me! Let me get on that right away! ;)

As always, don't forget to read all the other fantastic hooks this week!

The surface of the water had been transformed into something unlike anything he had ever seen. Its clear depths had been replaced by a silvery blue fog that twisted and churned below him. He climbed on top of the rock to take a better look and was struck by a cold gust of wind. Staring into the mystical haze, he sought to see down to the bottom, and came up empty.

He stood up and cast a final look around. Nothing had been explained, and there were still far more questions than answers. He didn’t know if he was risking his safety, or even his life, with what he was about to do. His instincts to shy away from potential danger were not easily silenced. Still, his mind was completely absorbed by thoughts of Liora, and he knew he had to take his chance. Without even the briefest farewell to the world and life he knew, Stephen took a deep breath and stepped off the rock into the darkness.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Tour & Giveaway! Donor, by Ambrielle Kirk

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It's no secret by now that I love fantasy universes and anything that pushes the boundaries of the imagination. Today, I'm pleased to promote Donor (Dresdan Coven #1), by Ambrielle Kirk. Enjoy the excerpt, click through the links, follow the tour, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Elaina was once a tracker of Dresdan, an ancient species of vampire. For years, she served District 5, whose prime agenda is to create a new race of humans. As a result of misguided politics and greed, the District becomes corrupted from the inside out. Before Elaina can expose the truth, District 5 discovers that her blood type contains the elements to create a successful hybrid. She becomes the hunted, but protection is found while in the presence of one vampire…

Vicq won’t rest until he destroys District 5 and their immoral experiments are halted. Too many Dresdan have been captured and exterminated, threatening their existence and painting them all as animals. As he plans his attack against District 5, master vampire Russo orders his death for violating a prime law of Dresdan. But Vicq is not ready to cease existing…especially since he’s found salvation with Elaina.

With very few on their side, Elaina and Vicq must cultivate a plan to ward off their enemies. In the process, they find lust, love, and new meaning to their special bond.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains explicit sex scenes and/or situations and adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.

When Elaina spun around, the next events happened like flash animation in rapid succession right before her eyes.

The Dresdan caught the humans by surprise, rushing up behind them and grabbing them both by the throat. They were stunned and—like her—unprepared for this ravenous predator.

Just as she was about to make a break for it, a gun fell from one of the victims' hands and skidded across the pavement. The other man gripped a rope. Had these two actually been pursuing her?

She scurried backwards nearly tripping over her own feet, yet her eyes would not leave the scene.

The vampire must have held them in a death vice. All she saw were the whites of their eyes, and a large dark shadow behind them. The creature honed in and struck the first victim in the jugular, sucking the life right out of him. The second victim's arms and legs began to shake and then he was completely still.

Damn. The Dresdan had drained one while choking the other.

It tossed their limp carcasses in the grass along the sidewalk. From deep behind the shadows, he eyed her—the main course. Deep crimson eyes burned bright like fire. The ends of the trench coat it wore fanned outward with the breeze. It was moving toward her.

Her legs finally obeyed and she fled, the wind whipping across her ankles as if urging her to hurry. She shrugged off her long pea coat in an attempt to run faster. Her heels knocked the pavement, echoing against the stone walls.

Every day she parked on the same level, but tonight it seemed like she had to cross mountains to get to her SUV. Taking the elevator was not an option, of course. Standing still for even one second would be disastrous.

Elaina heard the familiar swooshing sound the Dresdan made just before they shifted from one place to the next. The sound was closer than before. He was gaining in on her.

Her heart pumped frantically and her lungs burned from exertion. She picked up pace, pushing herself to reach her destination. Her Tahoe sat in the corner. The last one on the right within what was now a desolate parking garage. If she died tonight by the hands of a vampire, it was likely that no one would find her body until morning when it was cold and rigid with death.

The moment she thought she'd reached her SUV successfully, the Dresdan unfolded in front of her, blocking her path. He was huge, and her eyes leveled with the lower portion of his chest.

Before she could raise her gaze higher to confirm, he reached for her. He grasped her by the waist and lifted her off her feet. She opened her mouth to scream, but a gloved hand clasped over her lips.

Elaina kicked her feet, connecting sharp-heeled pumps to her captor's shins. She might as well have been fighting with a sumo wrestler. His grip was firm. Her cries were muffled by his grainy leather glove and she focused on wriggling out of his grasp. No mistaking what he was now. The spicy ancient aroma gave him away.

Dresdan, for sure.

Her captor lowered her heels to the pavement and his massive frame pushed her back into the metal pole behind her. The hard beam felt alien digging against her spine. Her eyes turned left and right looking for a savior. Someone. Anyone. Still, he pressed his palm to her mouth, preventing her speech. The SUV was only a few feet away, but she'd failed to reach it.

Elaina strained to peer up at him, but the height of her captor prevented this. Only the black shirt stretched over his taut chest muscles could be seen from her line of sight. He bent down further so close that his chin touched her forehead, and then he inhaled deeply.

Oh, my God. She would die. Tonight.

"When I let my hand up, you keep your trap shut," her captor hissed into the side of her face.

She sucked in another breath and clasped her fingers onto the chilly metal behind her. Her heart drummed like the consistent cadence of a marching band. Dammit, she was stronger than this! Had she turned into a wimp after all this time?

"You got that?" it demanded when she didn't answer.

She squeezed her eyes shut and nodded her head.

"You scream...we'll both be executed."

His harsh warning tone frightened her, but she bounced her head in agreement once again.

Executed? Those were the only words that registered.

He straightened his posture and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. She parted her lips, taking a gulp of fresh air. It burned her lungs as she recovered from lack of oxygen.

Gradually, she lifted her chin, then her eyes to identify the brute. Red glowing orbs glared down at her. The rest of him—a black shadow in the night.

On her next exhale, she released a belated scream.

Available at:

About the Author: Multi-published author Ambrielle Kirk writes erotic, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. Ambrielle lives in Atlanta, GA where she works in the accounting and finance industry. She holds a Master's Degree in Accounting. Since graduation she's worked in the public and private accounting sectors. She is the wife of a loving husband, and the mother of a beautiful girl. She works and writes full-time. A bestselling author in several sub-genres at ARe and Amazon, she has also earned a 2012 Swirl Award in the paranormal category. She's a PAN member of RWA, FF&P special interest chapter of RWA, and co-founder and treasurer of Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural special interest chapter of RWA. Ambrielle Kirk is also an admin at the blog, IRMC Books.

Connect with Ambrielle Kirk

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