15 June 2015

Shards-An Interview with the Authors that Stole My Title

Not that Fiona and Matt knew that I was thinking of naming my latest book Shards, but I'm still going to pretend to be really upset for about ten seconds.


Okay, I'm finished.

Today we have the writing duo of Matt and Fiona. Their second book, Shards *cough* is out and about in the world.

They foolishly asked me to host them on my blog. Silly kids.

Here's the giveaway that you absolutely need to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shards is the second book in the Prospero Chronicles. The first is Splinters. You'll want to read that too.

Here's the Skinny on Shards:

When autumn descends on Prospero, California, Ben Pastor hopes that the normality of the new school year may offer a reprieve from the town's recent paranormal horrors. Mina Todd, however, knows all too well that there are no reprieves and no normality in this town, especially after she starts having crippling, unexplained hallucinations of the dead. But even she can't prepare for what the coming year holds. 

On top of a brewing civil war that threatens all of humanity, inside the walls of Prospero High, Ben, Mina, and their expanding network face a sinister campaign that aims to destroy their friendship, a newly human Haley Perkins struggling to readjust to life, and an assassin of untold power who is picking off human rebels. 

Ben and Mina's one hope may rest with a mysterious figure hiding in the woods outside of town; a living legend who may know how to stop this dangerous new breed of supernatural foe. That is, assuming the figure doesn't first kill everyone himself. 

And now, this is what Matt and Fiona have to say for themselves:

Only using colors and sounds, describe how you feel about mornings.

Matt: Blackness. Moans of despair. Clock radio talking. Clock radio smashing. The deranged laughter of one running freely away. Light blue sky. Resigned sighs of someone remembering responsibility and getting ready for work.

Fiona: Clock radio display red, whining mumbles about how I want to cuddle with Matt forever, Coffee with just enough milk brown.

If you got to pick the shape of a stress ball (one of those squishy ones that you can squeeze in your hand when your plot isn't working) what would it be?

Matt: I could really go for one in the shape of my enemies heads on a pike. I mean, I'd have to get some enemies first, but it would be really cool.

Fiona: I've actually been trying to find one in the shape of the companion cube from Portal. I can't believe they don't make them. I rely on stress balls, but I don't really project what's frustrating me onto them. I wouldn't want one in the shape of something I feel like crushing. They're more like little friends who don't mind siphoning off my aggression so I don't have to deal with it. A companion cube would be perfect to attach to and anthropomorphize in a creepily unwarranted manner.

Obviously you can write. Name one talent you wish you had? Why?

Matt: Now if you asked for superpowers, I'd have a good million answers for you. For this, though, I'm drawing a little more of a blank. I guess I'd like to be able to sing better than I do, at the very least it would get fewer complaints from the neighbors every time I take a shower.

Fiona: Ooh, tough choice, there are a bunch of these. Practically, I'd probably choose speed reading without reduced comprehension. I'm a very thorough reader (i.e slow), which is a great help when it comes to absorbing examples of writing done well down to the most detailed level, but my to-read list is forever overflowing, and I hate how strict I have to be about prioritizing what makes the list. Less practically, vocal mimicry! It's a skill that's always fascinated me and that I have none of whatsoever.

Has your favorite color ever influenced a major decision in your life?

Matt: While my favorite color is purple, I cannot say it's decided much of my life, sad to say.

Fiona: Unless you count what color I picked for my prom dress, wedding dress trim, or first car as important life decisions (I don’t), probably not. It's green, though.

Why horror? Why not unicorns and lollypops?

Matt: This one's probably my fault. I was the horror guy first and then I brought Fiona over to the dark side. For me it's a simple story: I was the kid who was afraid of everything, especially those scary-looking "horror" movies, and yet despite my general fear I had a fascination with the genre. I read Goosebumps books and watched old Universal monster movies and 50's b-movie classics. I was fascinated with how movies are made, the topic of movie makeup especially, and would devour books on the subject. Then one day I read a book about a famed horror movie makeup artist (Tom Savini, for the curious out there), was intrigued by some of the stuff he'd done, and one thing led to another and I found myself tracking down some of his films, then other classics, then I was a horror junkie. I love embracing my fears and sharing them with others.

Fiona: I've always seen the exploration of the psyche in a more controlled, targeted way than reality allows for, as one of the main purposes of fiction. Happy, harmless things don't compel me to understand them by whatever safe means possible the way fear and more complicated feelings do.

Which monster (fictional or otherwise) would you be the most terrified to face off with?

Matt: I'm going to stick to the fictional on this one since the real-world monsters (the people, I mean, in this case) are too terrifying and depressing to put more words to. Fictionally... Chucky. Just Chucky.

Fiona: Probably Anthony Fremont. I’ve got major control freak issues, so all-powerful villains that can only be dealt with by asking nicely scare the expletive out of me. That or Count Vertigo from DC, if he counts as a monster. Losing the feeling of gravity working as it should is the surest, quickest thing to dissolve me into a gibbering loon.

What can the readers of Splinters expect from Shards?

Matt: Ben and Mina are going to be tested, hard. They're not sure if they're really friends or more allies, and when put in the pressure cooker that is high school their friendship will be sorely tested, especially when the Splinters do everything in their power to tear the two of them apart (mostly figuratively, slightly literally).

Fiona: All that, and then there are the Shards themselves, which are basically the Splinters’ altered, enhanced, and mentally unstable warrior class. With the Splinters fighting each other as well as the Network, they're bringing out their big guns, and the Network are stuck in the crossfire.

What part of the first book did you enjoy putting into the second book? (ie characters, a relationship, funny lines...)

Matt: We planned this as a series from the start and always try to put a few slight references from future books into whatever we're working on, so it's fun to actually build up characters we only introduced in passing before into some of the major forces to be reckoned with. Also, it's now fun to see where Haley is, after getting over her problems from the previous book.

Fiona: Yeah, We slipped in some setup for a few of the big villains of Shards back in Splinters, so now that gets to pay off. And having already done the setup for Ben and Mina themselves and their relationship, we now have room to go deeper.

In ten words or less, describe what writing a second book is like. Be creative.

Matt: Like Jenga, moving old pieces, adding new ones, don't fall!

Fiona: Take the best parts, make them better, add new wrinkles.

If you had one minute to pitch your story to a movie producer (one that would of course make an awesome movie out of it) what would you say? (This is the part where you wow us with how awesome your book is!)

Matt: It's a YA book that doesn't talk down to its audience, aims its content to both genders equally, has flamethrowers and intrigue and bigfoot and this guy with a hook for a hand and gossip and bullying and distrust and alien abductions and some really cool characters (some new, some old)... well, if I have to say a lot more than that to get you interested this book probably isn't for you.

Fiona: Complicated and badass heroine. There are never enough of those. Non-objectified male characters as well, and plenty of monster fighting action. Like Matt said, this is a story for guys and girls. Most importantly, we've got a lovable supporting cast and a colorful, creepy little world that people can get lost in. And the stakes for our lovable, mismatched band of rebels are only going to rise.

If you would like to stalk either of these two (don't say I didn't warn you) try these avenues.





02 June 2015

Summer in Snow Valley

Today we're hosting a brand new, little bundle of novelettes. Which, P.S., makes it sound as cute a a pair of toddler shoes.

The following is what happens when you let too many romance writers go out to dinner together. I guess we all get to reap the benefits, right?

If you haven't checked out the original, Christmas in Snow Valley, then click the title. We're talking enough clean romance to make you gag in the sweetness. In a good way, 

#1 Bestselling Authors of Christmas in Snow Valley, have teamed up again with six wonderful summer novellas that are sure to make your summer sweet and sassy!

Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson

On the night Caytie Holbrook intends to break up with her cheating boyfriend, he blindsides her by announcing their engagement at a dinner party. When Caytie discovers her father is in on the scheme, she runs away from her home in Beverly Hills to hide out at her uncle’s ranch in Snow Valley, Montana. While Snow Valley is a beautiful place, Caytie only plans to stay until her twenty-fifth birthday when she’ll inherit a trust fund her grandmother left her, allowing her to pursue her dream to move to Italy. That is until she meets Jace McAllister, an incredibly sexy—although somewhat grumpy—cowboy who threatens to disrupt her plans.

Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis

Cameron Elliott has come to Snow Valley to coach Annalisa Drake in the Miss Snow Valley pageant, and prove to her demanding boss that she deserves a place at the prestigious Westbrooke Agency. But Annalisa’s handsome and protective big brother, Kyle, is determined to keep his sister from becoming a reluctant beauty queen. As Cameron tries to win Kyle over, Kyle insists some things are more valuable than a title and as crazy as it sounds, Cameron might just believe him.

A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts

Annie Stirland has endured a lifetime of teasing, embarrassment, and isolation due to her speech impediment. When irresistible cowboy, Luke Wilson, seems to be falling for her, she’s certain he’s too good to be true. A tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend proves she’s right. What man can resist sheltering someone they once loved? Annie knows she should walk away, but Luke isn’t ready to give her up.

First Love by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart 

Janet Snow doesn’t expect to get caught in a full-blown make out session at her brother’s wedding. Especially not with Michael Hamilton, the boy she’d written off ten years ago. Even though they both agree to no complications, Janet's not sure they can stick to it given their past. After a trip to the hot springs, a helicopter ride, and a proposal, even the most cautious single mother would start to wonder if true love really is just about the timing. Now Janet has to make a choice—play it safe or trust that her first love could also be her last. 

Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit

Rebecca Dash loved spending her teen summers swooning over Jane Austen and helping her aunt at the Starry Skies Bed & Breakfast in Snow Valley. But as a recent college grad, she’d rather write sappy romance novels than go out with guys that make her a nervous wreck. When a team of fire-fighters set up camp on the lawns of the B&B and Captain Wade catches her eye, Becca soon learns that there’s more to a happily-ever-after than a flirty fireman with muscles the size of the Montana hills.

Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell

Mercedes O'Shay has sworn off gorgeous men because they have a tendency to break her heart. When she meets her new neighbor, Chet Bauer, she immediately puts him in the Do Not Date category based on his well-defined muscles and stunning blue eyes. But the more Mercedes learns about the cowboy who reads classics and forges iron, the more she realizes the heart doesn't see in black and white; it sees light and shadows.

Excerpt from A Touch of Love

“Do you ever write down what you’re thinking?” Luke asked.
Annie's eyebrows arched. He loved the way she did that.
“Would you write for me? What you’re thinking?”
She shrugged her shapely shoulders and studied him for a few seconds before pulling out a notepad. She wrote for a few seconds then handed it to him.
I’m thinking that this cowboy is a nice guy who’s uncomfortable with my silence.
“I guess you got me there. I don’t really talk too much, usually just swear at the cattle. So I’m not a nice guy at all.”
She took the pad back, wrote, and handed it to him again.
You’re definitely a nice guy. I knew that when you bought the thoughtful gift for your sister. Why do you want to take me to dinner? Feeling bad for the new girl in town?
He grinned. “Nope. Feeling intrigued by the new girl in town and wanting to get to know her better.” He handed the pad back to her.
You don’t have the time to get to know me better, it would take hours for me to get anything out with my stutter.
He laughed. “Sweetheart, I’ve got the time and the desire to get to know you better. I really do love the sound of your voice, but if you’re more comfortable we could communicate like this.”
Her grin widened. How about we give it a few days? I don’t go to dinner with men I don’t know.
“How about I come back tomorrow and see you so you don’t have to go to dinner with a man you don’t know?” He paused. “Dang. Tomorrow we’re checking the range cows. Friday?”
She looked dubious.
“I’d like an appointment Friday at five for...” He looked over the list of options. “A foot zone. If you’re available, I’d like to take you to dinner after.”
She wrote quickly. Reading your feet will definitely help me get to know you. Are you sure you’re ready for that kind of disclosure?
A surprised laugh escaped him. “You can tell stuff about me from rubbing my feet?”
She pointed at the word reading.
“Reading my feet?”
She nodded, looking very smug.
“Okay. I have nothing to hide. You’re sure we can’t go to dinner tonight?”
She waved at him.
Luke inclined his head. Annie was a challenge. He liked her more each minute.