Saturday, April 9, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- H -- Hannah Hunter, author of the ALPHA WARS series

Welcome to Day 8 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Hannah Hunter, a fellow member of my writers' group Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

Hannah writes paranormal werewolf romances. Not only werewolf romances, but billionaire hero romances. And not only billionaire hero romances, but BBW -- that's Big Beautiful Woman -- shapeshifter romances.      

Today we're taking a look at Hannah's book ALPHA WARS Book 6.

I'll let some of Hannah's readers introduce you to the story:

Friday, April 8, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- G -- 5 on Friday -- Set 312

Welcome to Day 7 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

This year's challenge schedule includes five Fridays, and here at A Piece of My Mind, Fridays mean music.

For Day 5 -- E -- I wrote about my health issues and how re-establishing a gentle exercise routine with my chronic-pain body has been a powerful tool for recovery.  

Simple walking has turned out to be so instrumental to my new relationship with my body. One thing for which I've been so grateful is the greenbelt park system stretched all along the residential neighborhoods in my city. In just a few steps, anyone here can be transported to the healing energy of woods and fields.

This picture was taken on the trail system at the top of my street, only five minutes from my front door.

This week's musical set is inspired by the many restorative walks I've taken along the city's greenbelt park system.

1Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox 

2Walking on the Moon - The Police  

3I'm Walkin' - Fats Domino

4Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and The Waves 

5 - Walk of Life - Dire Straits 

If you'd like to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- F -- Furies of New England series Book 3 DARK FURY

Welcome to Day 6 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Nicola R. White, a fellow member of my writers' group Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

Nicola writes kickass paranormal romances for new adult readers. What is new adult? you may ask. It's a crossover genre between YA and the broader spectrum of adult fiction (YA featuring high school aged protagonists who are routinely called upon to save the world because the adults are bringing grandma to her doctor's appointment or searching for furnace parts at the hardware store.) New adult focuses on all those things that the 18-to-30 year old crowd wrestles with: moving to a new city, landing that first real job, navigating roommate relationships, redefining one's place in the world.     

Today we're taking a look at Nicola's third book in her Furies of New England series, DARK FURY which released this past February.  

The Furies are ancient female dieties who act as champions of justice and vengeance. In Nicola's series, four friends discover they have somehow become hosts to the spirits of the Furies. As each of the main characters carves out a relationship with the Fury residing within her, the books' romantic suspense storylines give the Furies more than enough excuses to emerge.

In DARK FURY, Rachel Underwood's dream of attending Harvard University finally comes true when she walks onto campus as a mature student. It's been a long journey, but she's finally made it -- no longer fresh out of high school but with a few years under her belt. Too bad she also has a Fury lurking inside of her.

Tisiphone definitely complicates Rachel's confusing attraction to FBI agent Ethan Graves, who has lurked on the edges of the Furies' activities in Books 1 and 2. Will Rachel get a chance to sort out her own feelings for the disconcerting agent, or will Tisiphone leave Rachel and Ethan to burn in the fireball of her breakout quests for retribution?

Nicola's first book FURY'S KISS wrapped up the series' first instalment with the four friends making peace with their new roles and assembling a Furies team with an Avengers or an X-Men feel to it. I loved it. My own vampire character Peredur in VAMPIRES SAINTS AND LOVERS has a similar identity crisis when the saint inside of him takes over, so I really love this aspect of Nicola's series.       

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- E -- Eastern Passage Boardwalk

Welcome to Day 5 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today also marks my 14th week back at my full time day job following a year-long medical leave.

I have several linked conditions which make working outside of the home a challenge: the most difficult one is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, as any office environment is filled with things that trigger my symptoms (toner from printers and copiers, fragrance from people who enter the reception area who weren't aware that we have a scent-free environment, detergent and drier sheet residue from uniforms worn by delivery drivers, hand sanitizer, just to name a small handful.)

I also have chronic pain from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, as well as the more familiar allergies and asthma.

Following a severe reaction to new carpet and vinyl wallpaper five years ago, and then another severe reaction to the last flu shot I received (four years ago) my day to day health had declined to the point that when renovations were scheduled for my office, my doctor placed me on medical leave in order to preserve what little wellness remained.

During that time, I received treatment for my strange assortment of connected conditions. I embraced everything the clinic had to offer me, all of which required me to be in the driver's seat. The only piece of the treatment which one could regard as something that wasn't internally motivated was going for dry sauna detox treatments, which I'm still doing a year later.

The biggest part of the treatment schedule was to alter my own relationship to my body. To be honest, when I arrived at the clinic (for a second time, having been treated there a decade earlier following a previous health crisis) I didn't really have a relationship with my body. In fact, I never referred to my body as my body.

I would say this thing when referring to the malfunctioning deadweight to which I'd been saddled. I did everything in my power to override any signals coming from that thing, especially signals like exhaustion, illness symptoms and most especially pain signals.

The clinic asked me to start listening to my body, to truly inhabit it and to start a relationship with it.

When I had to start moving this creaky, pain-racked body around while staying put for all the sensations that go with exercise -- even little old people exercises like they gave us at the clinic -- I can tell you it was not pretty.

Luckily for me, I descend from a long line of very stubborn Acadians. If I was going to have a successful return to work, if I was going to have a successful return to anything, really, I had to begin with moving this body to keep it going.

Also luckily for me, I live in an area where there are many gorgeous parks beside lakes, weaving through forests and along the ocean. One of the places I ended up going for my Fitbit-powered walks was the boardwalk in the Fisherman's Cove area in Eastern Passage.

I've spent many walks along this boardwalk, breathing in the sea air and re-establishing my body's sensory networks.

It has given freely of its energy and beauty. For Day 5 of the challenge, take a walk along the Eastern Passage boardwalk with me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- D -- The Devil from THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Welcome to Day 4 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to my good friend Shawna Romkey, a fellow member of my writers' group Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

Shawna writes paranormal and fantasy novels for the YA (young adult) and new adult reader. That can be a bit of a misnomer, however, as I'm in my early 50s and I love her series.

Today we're taking a look at Shawna's Speak of the Devil series, which just wrapped up this past February with THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

I'm a massive fan of her first two books in the series, and I'm currently checking my mailbox because I recently ordered a paperback copy of THE DEVIL YOU KNOW for my keeper shelf, as I'm more of a page-turning kind of gal, rather than a swipe, swipe kind of ereader.

This series has a cast of Midwestern high schoolers who thought their biggest problems had to do with losing their friends in a fatal car accident -- which, granted, is way up there on the coping scale.

However, the human characters are only part of the crowd, which include hunky, broody angels, the ancient female powerhouse Lilith and of course, the Devil himself.

Book 1 lets loose an earth-bound battle between heaven and hell, while Book 2 takes us straight to the original Dark Side.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW brings main character Lily's living on borrowed time thing back to the table as she battles to save her warrior angel boyfriend Luc before that pesky Devil decides to renovate God's earthly handiwork and wipe out all of humanity.

If you need the stakes to be higher than whether Lily's senior prom dress is the same exact one as the homecoming queen's, Shawna's Speak of the Devil series is just what you've been waiting for. If you find yourself wondering why you find a character like the Devil so irresistible, just remind yourself that he's the King of Seduction and go with it.     

Monday, April 4, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- C -- Coyote Bluff

Welcome to Day 3 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Paula Altenburg, a fellow member of my writers' group Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

Paula writes in two genres: contemporary romance, and western-flavored dystopian paranormal romance.

I'm a huge fan of her paranormal Demon Outlaw series, and for anyone who is a fan of Cowboys and Aliens, I highly recommend Paula's newest paranormal western PALE MOON WALKING.

Paula sets her story in a small Nevada town called Coyote Bluff where the charm of its quirky cast becomes a character in its own right.

I'm a longtime fan of indie films and series set in towns where the place and the inhabitants meld into one unforgettable entity. I never fail to fall head over heels for these towns, and Coyote Bluff ranks up there with the very best of them.

Throw in a mash-up of the western genre with secret government experiments, a sheriff who is actually the kick-ass heroine, twisty plotlines and unexpected humor and you've got a great introduction into masterful world building.

You may feel like you recognize Coyote Bluff when you first step into the story, but you'll soon discover you've fallen down an entirely different rabbit hole. Just make sure you hold onto your Stetson on the way down.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A to Z Blog Challenge -- B -- Beauty and the Beast Story NOT YOUR AVERAGE BEAUTY

Welcome to Day 2 of this year's April blog event -- the A to Z Blog Challenge!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Michelle Helliwell, currently serving as president of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Our writers' group Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada just celebrated 15 years together this past September.

This is Michelle signing copies of her debut release last June at her book launch for NOT YOUR AVERAGE BEAUTY, a Beauty and the Beast inspired Regency romance.

What does that mean, exactly?

Well, retelling a myth or a fairy tale in a new way gives readers two things that they desire every time they open a book: a sense of familiarity in a genre sense, meaning that if they open a romance they expect to find a Happily Ever After by the end, or if they open a thriller they expect to find the murder solved by the end. Yet they don't simply want to read the same old, same old. They want something fresh, something new.

Stating in the book's back cover blurb that it's a Beauty and the Beast story sets up certain expectations in the reader:

- a dark, troubled hero (check)

- a heroine who looks past the obvious to see the real situation (check)

- a curse (check)

- an imposing estate with an impressive library (check)

NOT YOUR AVERAGE BEAUTY takes us into a world where we're longing to go, and delivers characters we're certain that we want to meet. Retelling this story in her own voice gives Michelle Helliwell's readers that freshness that we also desire.

Is this the furry, grotesque 'beast' from the classic fairy tale or the animated musical? No, rather a member of the nobility who suspects he has been cursed to act out in a mindless, beastly fashion.

Do the cups and saucers talk? Is there overt magic involved? Is there perhaps an underlying folk belief in curses in a rural British village, instead?

If you're already a big fan of Once Upon a Time as I am, then you already know the allure of settling in for a fairy tale retold.