"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Monday, October 26, 2009

Authors By Authors will be going on hiatus for awhile!   

However, I will be posting different contests and promotions for other authors from time to time.   I wanted to thank everyone who has been a guest, and let you know that all previous posts will remain!    If you need to contact me, I can always be reached at howell.kiki@gmail.com
Kiki Howell 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review of Awakening the Blood by Tara Nichols

Reviewed By  Jenna Alexander 

I have read a lot of paranormal fiction. Probably not as many as some people but enough. I especially love vampire fiction. Tara Nichols has done what I thought was not possible – created a unique scenario of characters.  
Since this is part of Tara’s excerpt I know I am not giving away too much when I say – the main male character is a statue! A Statue! Well, he is a vampire that has been locked in an immobile state for decades by his wicked mistress.  
Awakening the Blood was a fantastic read. It starts out with a wonderful scene of action and sex in a graveyard. What reader could ask for more!?  
Sometimes when I am reading I feel that authors take their storylines and blob them onto the paper. A reader gets a blob of action, then a big bite of back story, then a big chunk of sex.  They are choppy blobs and pieces of story that could be arranged and rearranged in any order. This is absolutely not the case with Nichols work. She moved from creepy, to steamy, to laugh out loud funny, to page turning action seamlessly. Her elements flowed and mixed well together.  
Meara and D’iamonte are lovable but strong characters. It was great to see their affection grow as the story progressed. Oh – but my favorite characters in the book are the little creepy critters. I love these guys! How clever and fun to throw them in. To me this marks a really good writer. Could these little mini gargoyles, rats, and beasties been left out – sure, but they add another layer. They make the story BETTER. And isn’t that what the reader wants?  
(I actually think Tara should create a little creepy critter plush toy and give it away for a prize to one of her readers or at book signings.  Ha ha) 
The final element I will talk about is the tone or mood of the book. Like I said, Nichols starts off in a graveyard. This definitely sets the mood for the story and it stays consistent throughout. Even when Meara, the main character was defending herself with a wooden spoon against the little critters the intensity remained. So I was laughing but worried at the sametime. This is seriously hard for a writer to accomplish. 
So – big thumbs up for Awakening the Blood. I certainly hope there is a sequel in the works.  

Click To Purchase From Amira Press
Click For Tara Nichols Website
Click For Jenna Alexanders Website

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interview with Jamie Booth & Kit Zheng

For those who may not be familiar with them, Jamie Booth and Kit Zheng are (in their own words), "a pair of rogues who are best known for stealing the shoes off homeless people and occasionally trying to cause mayhem in the boys' clubs of sci fi, fantasy and horror. Results have been mixed thus far, but that's not stopping them."

Wit and modesty aside, both are talented authors in their own rights. Most recently, they teamed up on "The Tale of Tom Katt & Martin Rue," a novella that appears in the cat shapeshifter anthology Here Kitty, Kitty (Torquere Press).

What was it like working together on this?

Jamie Booth: I think we worked together really well. It seemed to happen quite easily. At first we discussed possible methods of working—as we’re basically living on opposite sides of the globe, it seemed like it could be a challenge with time differences and so on if we wanted to, for example, do dialogue by IM as we did discuss at one point. But once we started writing, we just passed it back and forth and the whole thing fell into place very naturally.

Kit Zheng: It was a lot of fun and Jamie always came up with the freshest ideas for things. Originally I was trying to go it solo and I was stumped, so I was just chatting with Jamie about some ideas... and next thing you know, we'd started to build a mythology together. Things just grew out from there.

It sounds like the process was an organic one, which is always great—but maybe even more important when you have to coordinate with someone else. What turned out to be the greatest challenge for you?

JB: I’d say the time difference was probably the biggest challenge, and the fact that we were both so busy with personal business when we took the project on—trying to co-write a novella and move house at the same time isn’t something I’d recommend to anyone!

KZ: Yeah, the time difference and our schedules were definitely the biggest challenge. Originally we wanted to map out everything via IM conversations, but that never happened because life had sort of exploded and all plans sort of fell apart.

JB: It was definitely a lot of fun, though.

That's a great segue to my next question: What were the rewards or advantages of working together?

JB: Working with another writer whom you really gel with is incredibly rewarding as you always have someone to get enthused over your storyline with you, to bounce ideas off and generally keep each other motivated.

KZ: Writing with someone else is like having a built in audience, collaborator, [and] cheerleader as well as, of course, a co-creator, so it's much easier to keep motivated. I also think a cowriter challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, and to break some of the bad habits that we've all got ingrained in us. You're just so easily confined by what you know and a cowriter brings their own experiences and knowledge to the table, changing everything in a good way! Jamie definitely did this and made the story something it never could have been with just myself alone.

How did your individual writing processes change, and what (if anything) stayed the same?

KZ: I never work from an outline, especially not from a detailed one, and we totally had to for this, especially once it became apparent that we weren't going to be able to do any real-time collaborative writing. And for once that was liberating, to have that guide, rather than [being] constricting. The process worked out very differently than I'd pictured, but I think it made the story grow in a way that I'm not sure passing dialogue back and forth might have done.

How interesting! That puts me in mind of a roundtable interview I read years ago with some fairly successful film directors who had started doing straight-to-video projects on the side. One of the questions was why they'd choose to do such a thing, and a couple of them said that the restrictions and requirements of the generic formula actually freed them up to be creative in other ways they might not have thought of otherwise.

In your case, of course, it was the structure of your outline rather than the genre, and the way that outline was called for by this particular collaboration. Has your experience been that every collaboration is different, or are there commonalities?

JB: This is the first time I’ve written in collaboration with Kit, although we’ve read over each other’s work and discussed plots and so on together for years. It’s definitely been a different experience than collaborating with other writers who I’ve worked with. I think for me, the deadlines have been tighter on this one so there was definitely more motivation, out of the desire not to let Kit down.

KZ: I found this quite different than other collaborations as well. My other collaborations have always been for nothing in particular, careless fun; so yes, the deadline changed a lot—added a level of stress which I think would have led to a lot more conflict if we were two different people.

I guess the one thing in common is that when collaborating, we tend to take ownership of certain characters—I mean, I'll still write some of Jamie's character and Jamie will write some of mine, but we were sort of "in charge" of coming up with their initial design/personality/etc... That seems to happen with every collaboration I've been in. I guess it's just easier to split it up like that—maybe keeps the characters more consistent?

That makes sense. I've done character creation that way as well in collaborations, though it my case I think it came from a roleplaying background. On a related note—you've touched on this a little, but I'd love to hear more about how you divided the writing on this.

JB: Initially, we each came up with our own character to write. The original idea behind this was that we could IM each other for more realistic dialogue and then write scenes around that; but in the actual event of writing, we ended up writing alternate chapters, passing the story back and forth, and then just adding or editing each others chapters as we saw fit. There weren’t really any hard and fast rules we adhered to. It worked well doing it that way,.

KZ: Yes, we each took certain chapters. At first we wrote almost independently on those chapters. Again because of the whole scheduling madness, we just wrote this in an entirely counterintuitive manner. Like writing out a rough version, almost a sketch, and passing it off and the other coming in and changing whatever, fleshing it out more and more with each pass. I remember there were bits where I was writing things like, "Character says something to the effect of X here," then write a response, and Jamie would come in and write up the line. And sometimes it'd work with what I'd written as a response and sometimes it wouldn't, and so on the next pass I'd fix that or smooth it out, and Jamie would do the same. In a way I think that turned out more integrated and more controlled [or] coherent than if we'd been [writing in] real-time, passing it back and forth line by line, if that makes any sense. It was very organic, but in a sort of structured way. Like growing vines into a shape over a wire skeleton.

Makes perfect sense—and that's a great image. So, getting into the story itself: "The Tale of Tom Katt & Martin Rue" appears in a shapeshifter collection, Here Kitty, Kitty. Shapeshifter narratives most commonly are associated with the paranormal genre, and those elements certainly are present here—but it's by no means straight genre. To what extent were you deliberately blending fairytale, paranormal, and romance, or was that a natural result of the story you wanted to tell?

JB: The blending was pretty deliberate as there was a certain atmosphere that we initially wanted to create.

KZ: We definitely wanted it to be a blend of those three things. Definitely set out with the fairytale-esque atmosphere in mind. It was sort of... I know that modern interpretations of the were-(insert animal here) are all—bring to mind a certain kind of thing like (oh god) Underworld or whatever, shiny and slick and Hollywood to the max, but that whole thing is so much older. You find shapeshifting animals in so many stories across so many cultures. I like that we tried to bring some of that "old school" back. I mean, the concept of a werecat is a little silly anyway, so how do you bring some legitimacy to that? We tried looking at what's come before, steeped in tradition and folklore.

I love that you wanted to call on older traditions, too. In fact, as I was reading and thinking about the story afterwards, it seemed to me that in this marvelous blend of genres, the most dominant is not the paranormal but the fairytale. From the dark edges of tone and atmosphere to the structural tropes (the journey, the riddles), and perhaps most of all the clever meta-narrative interludes—the tale told within the tale—there's something classically fairytale about this. Insofar as it's possible to identify a starting point, did you begin with the characters or with the plot?

JB: We came up with the mythology behind the characters before we thought up the plot. We were researching and looking into cat mythology in regards to legends and folklore – traditional ideas such as cats sucking the breath from sleeping humans – and it all built up from there. We wanted to try and get a new spin on the idea of cat shape-shifters. Our initial thoughts were ‘werecats’ as opposed to ‘werewolves’ but then we hit upon the fairytale angle and we both got really sucked into the idea. We were basically trying to take existing traditional folklore and re-tell it in our own way, with our own characters –

[After coming up] with the background mythology for our cat boys, we then each created a character. Discussing Martin and Tom as characters and how they’d react (and clash!) with each other played a large part in developing our plot.

KZ: It's fun to look at our old emails... how we sort of got all excited about the world/mythology and then by the boys.

Without giving anything away, I love the solution to the third riddle. Did you always know what it was, or did you—like Tom and Martin—have to work towards it?

JB: When we initially came up with the plot we had a vague idea that this is what we were working towards, but the finer details definitely took time to form and work through.

KZ: I think we were sorting out the riddles, etc. even midway through the story. And some stuff just happened. I remember the bit about the twine: I think I'd sent the initial riddle-game bit to Jamie with some sort of note [that] there needed to be more to that scene but I couldn't think of anything. And Jamie sent it back, and there was that delightful scene where they're playing with the twine. It was like magic. Suddenly the thing worked. I think I'll start sending Jamie my stories whenever I'm stuck.

More of that organic process at work. Well, it looks like our time is nearing an end, so I'll wrap it up with the old standby: What can we look forward to from each of you after this? What are you working on now? Any plans to collaborate again?

JB: I’m currently being kept busy writing a paranormal genre novel, and I’m due to have two micro fictions published in a biannual UK magazine called Flash this October. We’ve got no immediate plans for future collaboration, but I’d certainly be up for writing with Kit again, maybe something more paranormal or horror oriented?

KZ: I've got a mystery/thriller/eroromance novella that's been picked up, but I don't know when it'll be out. Other than that, I'm working on a sci-fi noirish mystery novel, a fantasy novel, and a zombie/family drama short story, all of which ought to be complete in oh, 2099 or so. I'd love to work with Jamie again. I think we should go all out horror this time. ;) That's sort of the genre that brought us together.

Sounds like you've both got a lot to look forward to on your plates. On a personal note, I'm really happy to hear you're thinking about the possibility of working together again (and I bet I'm not alone!). Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today, and best of luck with your stories.

~ interview by Mallory Path

"The Tale of Tom Katt & Martin Rue" appears in Here Kitty, Kitty, available now in print and eBook from Torquere Press.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Interview with Roxanne Rhoads, Author of Eternal Desire

Okay, I went poking around the internet and have come up with these questions.   First the basics… 

1.     Why vampires?   And, what gave you the idea for http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/
 Vampires-they are just so appealing. Forever young, immortal…sexy. What’s not to love? 
Seriously, I dealt with a lot of death at a young age. By the time I was 12 I had probably been to more funerals in my short life than most people attend in their whole life. When I found Interview with a Vampire at a yard sale, I was probably 10 or 11, I was instantly drawn into the world of creatures that never die (almost never). 
I was already a fan of the paranormal-ghosts, witches and the like, but Anne Rice’s vampire seduced me into the world of the night creatures. 
Fang-tastic Books came about from my love of vampires and books combined. I was reading so many books one night I decided I should start reviewing them and promoting them. I was already reviewing a few books here and there for other sites but I wanted to really focus on vampire and other paranormal/urban fantasy books so I tried a few vampire related names and decided on Fang-tastic Books. And now it seems to have grown into a pretty popular site for other fans of the paranormal book genre. 

2.     Watching your new Book Trailer Video for Eternal Desire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuJ6niYhgJg  what made you choose New Orleans as your setting?
 I love New Orleans. The history, the magic, it is so compelling. I think part of my love for New Orleans stemmed, yet again from Anne Rice’s books, but I’ve been there and was so drawn to it. I really want to go back, and not just for Mardi Gras. To explore and really get into the history of the city. 

Now, after poking around the internet about you, my questions are… 

3. I enjoyed your post at The Erotic Woman Blog, http://www.theeroticwoman.com/erotica/add-romance-your-bedroom-feng-shui.  So, where did you get your knowledge of Feng Shui?   What is your favorite book on the subject?   And, what is your favorite cure? 
Feng shui-I studied tons of books and articles, can’t really remember many of the books now. I know I read quite a few by Lillian Too. 
One that I still have is Easy to Use Feng Shui: 168 Ways to Success. 
I love using copper in the kitchen for success and prosperity.  
My very favorite Feng Shui tips are incorporated into the bedroom- red for passion and items in multiples of two to symbolize the couple.

4. On Twitter, http://twitter.com/RoxanneRhoads, you posted book videos on YouTube you have as favorites by authors like Kerrelyn Sparks and Jeaniene Frost.   Who is your favorite Vampire Author?   Do you have a favorite vampire book, or are you like me and can’t narrow it down? 
I can’t say that I have just one favorite book or author there are so many. Jeaniene Frost, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kimberly Frost, Chloe Neill…these are a few that immediately pop into my head though there are so many more. And the books-I just love so many.  
I must admit right now (this could change with the next book I read) two of most favorite series are The Southern Witch books by Kimberly Frost and The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I think I’ve been frosted. 

5. In your Bio you use the following terms to describe yourself: freelance writer, erotic romance author and poet, story strumpet, tome loving tart, sexual connoisseur, creature of the night.   Pick one, and tell me more about why this is you? 
Tome loving tart- every surface in my house seems to have at least one book on it or every near to it. Books (ie. Tomes) were my first love and will probably be my forever love. And me, well I am a bit of a naughty tart and I loved how the description fit me to a t. ( pun intended tome and tart-ts) 

Now, just for fun…
6. Favorite TV show, and are you a fan of TrueBlood? 
Unfortunately I don’t have HBO so I’ve only had the chance to watch two episodes of TrueBlood which left me undecided and confused. I plan to get TrueBlood on DVD so I can watch the whole thing and really understand what’s going on. 
A few of my favorite shows are Bones, Being Human, House, Castle and CSI (though I miss Grissom). 
A vampire show I truly miss is Blood Ties. 

7. As the Kitchen is sometimes referred to as the heart of the home, describe yours.   For example, walls are yellow, decorations have a celestial theme, what appliances are on the counters? 
I love my kitchen because it took years to finally remodel it and get it just the way I want. It is designed to be a modern version of an Old Italian country kitchen. The walls are deeply textured and painted in earthy green tones with a faux finish to give it depth and even more texture (like old plaster). The cabinets are a natural wood color and I have grapes and grape vines, wine bottles, olive oil bottles, and country baskets as decorating accents. My dining nook has an old fashioned simple dining room table that is heavy duty and will last a lifetime. 

Last One!
8. Can you share a paranormal poem with us? 
Here’s one of my vampire inspired poems of a female vampire stalking her prey-told through the voice of the victim. 
Sinewy steel and marble grace
stilettos clicked across cobblestone
She moved in and out of the shadows
She stalked me, my soul on her lips
Surreal passion drenched me in sex swirled thoughts
Desire bubbled and boiled, I couldn’t say no
Her grip was a silk covered vice
Pleasure penetrated my weakness
I tried to fight, I screamed at the blood covered moon
The liquid eclipse only mocked me
I flowed like a fountain into a river
Drained I gave into her embrace
Eternal beauty stopped my heart
As I stared into the lifetime of her eyes

You can find Roxanne at:

Buy Eternal Desire here: 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Review of Eternal Desire by Roxanne Rhoads
Reviewed by Kiki Howell

After reading Eternal Desire, I would have to call Roxanne Rhoads a master of words.   Each sentence flowed into another with a nice blend of old elegance and contemporary style which I think is important in this type of paranormal writing to best blend the modern day setting with the ghosts and vampires of another time.   I have to give you an example from the beginning of the story, “a shadowy figure in my dreams, whispering of longings and ancient secrets. I never saw his face, but his voice lingered in my soul. He was an invisible guardian, calling to me…”

Roxanne easily sets the tone of Halloween time not only with her words, but with her vivid description of New Orleans.   While I have never been there, after reading Eternal Desire, I now feel like I have.   The dark streets with the vibrant party energy, the streets and the stores, as well as the activities and smells all came together to build this place where the unbelievable could so easily become believable.   It was the perfect backdrop.

Another well-honed trick Mrs. Rhoads employed was to use universal themes that in or out of context can easily apply to all.   I believe this gives a reader a starting point of comparison to help them really connect with the story.   For example, when comparing Quillon and Christian, her duo of heroes, she says “I felt myself being torn between a shadow and a stranger.”   We have all felt like that at some time being torn between our ingrained thoughts—the shadow, and something else new to us from the outside world—the stranger.  In doing this the reader should now know exactly how Liz Beth, the heroine fells.

In between the desperately hot scenes, for me the story weaved in-between the obvious and the mysterious well or enough that just when you think you have it figured out there is still enough lingering doubt to press you forward.   However, I was left with a few questions unanswered, which is okay, because I loved the story and therefore am hoping for a sequel.

Eternal Desire Blurb:
Liz Beth, a paranormal researcher, is haunted by a vampire who may or may not be real. She arrives in New Orleans the week of Halloween to search for the elusive vampire of her dreams, Quillon, and instead encounters a handsome stranger, Christien, with whom she begins a passionate affair with.

Soon she is torn between her dream lover and a flesh and blood man, both of whom are a mystery to her. The closer it gets to Halloween the wilder things get. LizBeth gets closer to the truth about Quillon while Christien has her under his own spell. Will all be revealed at the Ball or will the masks stay in place?

In New Orleans at Halloween anything is possible.

Roxanne Rhoads
Freelance Writer, Erotic Romance Author, Poet, Book Reviewer



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review: The Prettiest Girl in the Room by Mallory Path (Queer Dimensions)

Title The Prettiest Girl in the Room, from the anthology Queer Dimensions
Author Mallory Path
Editor James EM Rasmussen
Buy Link (ebook) Smashwords | MBaM | Mobipocket | Amazon.com
(trade paperback) Amazon.com | Barnes&Noble

I really liked this story. I'd love to just leave it at that, because I think it's worth plunging into all-unknowing, but I suppose that won't do for a review. But let me just put that out right from the start. I really liked this story.

There were so many elements I'm already a fan of and that have actually been on my mind a lot lately: a hard-boiled hero with a good heart; a futuristic city's seedy underbelly; pretty faces that are more than they seem; and a sci-fi story with a touch of noir. I won't lie, those things have been on my mind because I've been writing a story with similar themes, but Mallory Path has taken them places that are so uniquely hers.

She plunges us directly into the dirt along with Duster Mann, our hero, into a place known as "The Curls" (a body comes to The Curls for two reasons: to fuck or to die). Duster seems to be on the prowl; he spots what he likes in a trio of girls and immediately approaches one of them in particular. He pays for a favor and then another. Things unravel into a tangle of sex and secrets.

The greatest power of this story is without a doubt in Path's characters and their gradual reveal. As the story proceeds each of them is bared--some only a glimpse, like the flash of Faye's knives as she stands, twirling her skirt--and some stripped down, raw and vulnerable. Lyre in particular struck me direct in the gut. I think Path nails certain moments with Lyre in particular that left me clinging to every word. And Duster, who was so powerfully moved by a long ago encounter that he's carried those feelings to this day.

Path is an expert at drawing out characters I ache for, characters I easily sympathized with, who were more beautiful for being flawed. And she does it in a short time, never wasting words. She always manages to find that sweet spot, showing just enough to intrigue, to make you care. It's a skill to be envied.

Like everything else in her writing, Path uses her sex scenes to full advantage, opening her characters up, using those awkward, exposed moments to further her story and her characterization. It's an easy trap for an author to let her or his story fall apart when sex comes into the picture--it's a compelling topic, a powerful one, and can overwhelm. But Path uses her intimate moments to truly get intimate with her characters, to show us more of who they are--as such moments can do in real life--even while she writes prose that is undoubtedly erotic and sensual.

But she has also sketched out a world that I want more of--The Curls, of course, but other places too. What exactly is Duster Mann's job, with his data-goggles and thumb-scanner, that brings him all over the world? And who exactly is Lolly, with her encrypted mark and shifting presence? And every name seems to be a pseudonym, another mask.

The end of The Prettiest Girl in the Room leaves potential for more, and I'd definitely love to see more of either these characters or this world. Don't get me wrong--the story is a whole, and stands alone--but it also makes me feel the way I imagine Duster once felt, having glimpsed something that made him ache with something like love at first sight.

In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.