Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's in a Name, by Guest Blogger Michael J. McDonald

I always wanted a cool name. Interesting, mysterious people seem to always have cool names. Or is it their cool names that make them interesting and mysterious? Having something approaching Asperger’s syndrome (complete with glasses, a derth of social graces and obsessive Star Wars fandom) I grew up with a tactile relationship with language. Words had shapes and textures and tastes (and colours, but that probably won’t make sense to anybody else). Some words felt tough, rocky, like a brick, while others slipped and rippled over the tongue like silk.
I would have loved a strong name that lingered in the mouth, that you could really feel as it ran between your teeth. Interesting, mysterious characters in books and on TV always seemed to have those kind of names: Captain Picard, sharp consonants forcing a proper, disciplined enunciation that stood so appropriately for the man himself; Milady D’Winter, a rising and falling singsong of a name, with the stiff stab of a hard constant buried in the middle and hinting at her treacherous nature.
Writers, too, seem to benefit from a strong moniker. Stephen King is a name that hits the ear like a book slammed onto a desk. An obnoxiously thick book, usually. J.K. Rowling sounds like an author who isn’t kidding around. And then there’s me, with one of the most common first names in the English-speaking world and a surname associated with scary clowns and French fries.
Hopefully my plain-Jane-name will not constitute too much of a handicap in getting noticed in the stormy seas of publishing. I do on occasion think of taking up a nom de plume, but having been previously published in a few places, I’d rather not divorce myself from that past. Besides, I kind of like my name, dull as it is. It also provides the impetus to provide my characters with names that stand out themselves, names that ring with their own traits and give a taste, so to speak, of just who that person is. In my novel UnderWorld, recently published on Smashwords, we meet a cast of characters thrust into a dystopian steampunk civilisation, forced underground by the poisons left behind by powerful weapons of war. Mathilda, a servant to the royal family of Liberi, finds herself at ground zero of the Great Calamity that sparked the deadly conflict, and as a survivor learns that she possesses a power to heal and protect the ones she loves. This power passes to her daughter, Nikana, who is raised in the regimented drudgery of the UnderWorld, always dreaming of seeing the sun. Despising school and withdrawn from her peers, she eventually runs from the oppressive tedium and the constant, watchful gaze of Doctor White, reaching a door that leaks the golden light of day. Nikana yearns to break loose, but hell follows with her.
Michael J. McDonald's Bio: Writer, reader, ranter; Michael J. McDonald likes an eclectic range of things, but not bananas. He started writing stories before he could write by hand, sticking printed words together to form the sentences in his first days of school, then bothering the teacher to print off more so he could complete his epic. Things have come full circle, as due to injury he finds himself again unable to write by hand, but thanks to the magic box on his desk his prose continues to flow. Unless somebody is wrong on a forum.

Being a grumpy misanthropist with a cane leads to a particularly disillusioned undercurrent in his writing, but it's not all doom and gloom. Sometimes he lets most of the characters live. Though sometimes they'll wish they didn't. Michael has been published by Quantum Muse magazine, Wherever It Pleases e-zine, Books To Go Now and the University of Glasgow Student Association. He is currently working on a sequel to Underworld and a more adult novel that is a cheerful story of teen angst, rebellion and death.
Please feel Free to Check out More about Michael J. McDonald:
Underworld at Smashwords –

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Come Meet New Author Theresa McClinton!

Hi Danica! Thanks so much for inviting me to your amazing blog today!
My name is Theresa McClinton. I’m twenty-six years old, live in central Ohio with my husband, three kids, cat, and bunny rabbit. Yes, I know. I’ve got a lot going on. On top of all the normal chaos in my house, I’m also a YA paranormal romance writer. Actually, that’s the calm part of my life! 
I was never a big reader. In fact, when I was a kid, I would much rather someone read to me, rather than on my own. Why? It was a combination of several factors. The main one was that we moved around so much in my childhood, I barely had enough time to adjust to one school before we packed our bags and relocated to another. This pattern left me with less motivation to pick up a book, because all those big words were just too intimidating. I’ll tell you a secret. To this day, I am a terrible speller. (Thank God for word processors!)
But when we did settle down, it was on the glorious island of Kodiak Alaska. See, when my mom married my amazing stepfather, he had been living on Kodiak for thirty plus years. So instead of staying in Washington, where we didn’t really have any reason to dig in our heels and stick around, we relocated. By then, we were used to it.
Fast-forward seven years, and I just completed my freshman year of high school. Again, we move, this time to North Carolina. Here is where my interest in reading and writing really sprouted and bloomed.
I’ll never forget sitting in English class, listening to my teacher talk about the subtle undertones in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. My eyes suddenly opened, and for the first time in my life, I saw the true potential in books.
Not just books, but stories. Epic ones. Stories so submerging, you forget to eat. Books that force you bring it to the bathroom because you can’t bear to set it down, but you really have to go! Stories that not only kept you completely entwined, but emotionally invested. I learned to love books, their characters, their stories, and I learned how to care if one of them was in pain. In fact, with some really fantastic stories, I’ve hurt with them.
Fast forward another two years, and I’m tearing through novels. Now I’m involved with my high school newspaper, The South Wind. Not only involved, but I’m a features editor and features reporter. Another year later, I applied for an internship at our local newspaper.
With my hopes high and my ears more wet than a baby seal, I waltzed into the newspaper, ready to tackle the project of becoming a real life newspaper reporter; the one with scarlet red lipstick and six inch stilettoes.
Too bad that once I was done with my internship, I loathed journalism. On my last day, I passed through the double doors, walked across their oddly set parking lot, unlocked my little Toyota, and made a decision.
No more editor-in-chief breathing down my throat, no more writing about things I was deathly bored with, no more being assigned projects. I was going rogue. I was going to write novels.
Eight years of a crazy life later, here I am! Self taught, motivated, and completely in love with what I do, I get to play with my kids during the day, and weave paranormal romance stories at night. It’s the best life I could ask for.
Please feel free to visit with Theresa on her website, where she talks about her upcoming debut novel, The Stone Guardian. 
Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Be Released This Week...

Best-selling author Danica Winters newest novella, The Vampire's Hope is to be released September 13, 2012.  We couldn't be more excited to read Danica's latest work.  Make sure to keep watching this blog as giveaways are soon to come for this incredible novella!

Available September 11th through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books To Go Now, and all major book retailers!

In The Vampire's Hope, Ellie Smith, an emotionally stunted dancer, finds more than she bargains for after her human life is taken by the vampire, Master Liam.  Once inside the Vampire’s underground lair, the Keres Den, she meets Ian, an immortal Viking warrior, who is infiltrating the soulless prison. 

As Ellie begins her training, she learns that the dark tunnels around her are filled with even darker secrets.  As the truth of her existence come to light, she is faced with a choice—does she let her past dictate her future, or can she begin to feel again?

For your reading pleasure we have been authorized to share an excerpt.  Please enjoy and feel free to let us know what you think! 

Excerpt from The Vampire's Hope:


The couple in front of her stood under the bar’s lopsided mistletoe, their lips pressed against each other in a gesture of Christmas spirit.  On the man’s lapel was a white rose, smashed against the woman’s full breast.

The sight made Ellie Smith laugh.  Ellie was the same age as the two lip-locked party goers, yet they were so much younger.  They wore the white rose of hope—probably hope for love that would undoubtedly turn bad, or hope that the holidays would bring them the gifts of eternal bliss… those na├»ve fools.

The couple parted and their cheeks glowed with the pink twinges of arousal.  The sight was more than she could handle and she looked away.  They were luckier than they knew.  They probably did not have any idea what it was like to be without a bed for the night, without a home, without purpose, and without hope.

To her left a thick-set, redheaded man approached.  His shoulders were erect and he walked with a stride that conveyed power.  Catching Ellie’s eye, he smiled the grim smile of subtle manipulation. 

Whatever he wanted, he wouldn’t get it from her. 

A blonde man with an arched smile stepped out from behind the threatening redhead and sat down at the table.  “Hello, Elpis.  Welcome to The Ravena.” 

The way he said her name made her skin crawl. 

The blonde waved his hand at the rows of booze and the surly bartender.  “I hope you like the bar.”

The bar was like any number of others, just another stop in her constant travel through the dark world of the forgotten. 

“Thanks.   I have no idea how you know my given name, but I’d rather you called me Ellie.”

“Sorry, Ellie.”

“Are you the owner of this place?” 

The blonde motioned to the dangerous-looking redhead behind him. 

She knew she should fear them, but there was nothing inside of her heart.  “I need a job.  Are you hiring?  I can dance.”

The blonde laughed. He looked over his shoulder at the red-headed man.  “She doesn’t have a clue.”

He turned back to her as if he had said nothing to the man who was clearly his boss. “My name is Ian.  And this is Master Liam…”  He pointed at the rigid redheaded man.

“What are you after?”

The club’s music filled the silence between them. 

Ian smirked.  “Master Liam would like a dance.”

Ellie gazed over Ian’s blonde hair and his features—his eyes were the same blue as the sea, and his face was wide and rugged.  He looked like a portrait of a Viking. 

Master Liam extended his hand in a silent command to dance.  She looked back at the handsome Viking.  Liam was a threat, but so was Ian.  Was it better to go after a powerful man who she wasn’t attracted to in hopes of getting a job, or was it better to forget her chance of getting hired and stay with the handsome Viking? 

For once Ellie wondered what it was like to feel something—anything. If she was normal, would she blush? Would her lust move her nearer to him?  Instead, she only felt the dull emptiness inside of her breast.  Was there truly life without emotion? 

Ellie slipped her hand into Master Liam’s. He led her to the dance floor, but she could sense Ian’s eyes upon her.

Master Liam moved in a stiff, archaic way and his hands never strayed from her waist.  Not that she minded.  It was nice not to be groped.  What kind of dancer would Ian be?

She looked back at her table.  Ian stared at her with a hunger in his eyes. She dropped her gaze.  If he wanted her, he didn’t act the part.

Master Liam said nothing to her as she looked up into his face.  His eyes were filled with lust and they slowly danced their way to the farthest recess of the dance floor.  His cold hands forced her head back and she stared up at the ceiling.    

He pushed her against the wall. 

He slowly bent down, taking each movement in his own unhurried time.  He inhaled and blew his chilled breath against the skin of her neck. 

He wasn’t the man she wanted, but a job was a job—however she had to get it. 

She drew in a breath and her pulse quickened. 

His teeth pierced her skin, and she started to shriek, but his hand clamped down over her opening lips.  She struggled but as he drained her, weakness won.  A fire burned where his teeth dug into her flesh.  Acid filled her veins.

With her last thought, she envisioned the white rose on the stranger’s lapel.  No emotion, no hope…

About the Author:
Danica Winters is an award-winning romance author based in Montana. She is known for writing paranormal romances that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and often a touch of magic. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Montana Romance Writers, and Greater Seattle Romance Writers. She is a contributor to magazines, websites, and news organizations. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, the outdoors, and the bliss brought by the printed word.

Please feel free to join her on her Facebook Fan Page, or Visit her Website!