Christmas at Butchart Gardens

Sharon Ashwood
December 29, 2014  •  No Comments

Poinsettia window

Every year I try to make it out to Butchart Gardens to see the Christmas lights. Sometimes the weather is too rainy or cold but this year it was perfect–cool but clear.

Here is their poinsettia window:  2014-12-27 15.16.48

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, that’s only part of the fun. They also have a very cool diorama with train sets that is extremely popular with little kids and grown-up kids but resulted in blurry pictures. But the best part of the display is the outdoors stuff, because it’s like walking through an after-dark fairyland. It’s possible to imagine all sorts of unearthly adventures in the glittering, secret darkness. After all, isn’t it the delightful trickery of dazzling illusion what the otherlands is all about? Here’s a taste for you (or as good a taste as an iPhone can manage!):

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Bound by Blood

Sharon Ashwood
December 8, 2014  •  No Comments

It’s lovely to share the stage with a guest now and again, so please allow me to introduce fellow author and urban fantasy writer Margo Bond Collins!  Her latest Night Shift novella, Bound by Blood, promises that sometimes the monsters in the dark are real…

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BBBebookcoverAs a child, Lili Banta ignored her grandmother’s cryptic warnings to avoid children outside their Filipino community in Houston. When many of those other children fell ill, Lili ignored the whispers in her community that a vampiric aswang walked among them.

Years later, Lili returns to Houston to work for the Quarantine Station of the Center for Disease Control—but she is plagued by dark, bloody dreams that consume her nights and haunt her days. When a strange illness attacks the city’s children, Lili is called in to find its source, and maybe even a cure.

But in order to save the city, she must first acknowledge the sinister truth: A monster stalks the night—closer than she ever expected….

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Character Interview: Dr. Lili Banta

1. Lili, quick. Describe yourself in seven words or less!

Filipino-American, Texan, doctor, epidemiologist, scientist.

2. Tell us something about your current hometown.

I recently moved back to Houston. I went to medical school in Maine because I wanted to get as far away from home as I could—but eventually, I was ready to return. I’m staying with my mother—my Inay—until I find a new place. That might take longer than I initially planned, because my ex-boyfriend just called me in to consult on a strange case at his hospital.

3. What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?

When I was a child, my grandmother warned me about the aswang hunting the children at my school. An aswang is a woman who turns into a monster at night and attacks women and young children. I didn’t believe in them . . . but I might be changing my mind.

4. What’s your favourite food?

I love the traditional dish adobo from the Philippines. My grandmother—my Inang—made it with chicken and peppercorns, cooked in soy sauce and olive oil, and lots and lots of garlic. At the last minute, she took it out and pan-fried it to get the edges just crispy enough. Mmmm.

5. Can you tell us a little about what to expect in Bound by Blood?

When I get called in to consult on Will’s case, we’re all surprised by what we discover. I don’t want to give away too much, but my past and Will’s present case are all tied together in ways we never expected.

6. Can you tell us something about yourself we don’t learn from the book?

My father died when I was very young—I don’t even remember him at all.

7. What is your author Margo Bond Collins like?

She’s kind of quiet until you get to know her—she likes to sit back and watch for a while before jumping into any kind of social situation. But then it’s hard to shut her up! She grew up in Texas, and after living all over the country, has come back to North Central Texas, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and a bunch of pets.

8. Name five items in your purse or pockets right now.

Two IDs: one for the CDC in Houston, the other for Houston General Hospital. My car keys and cell phone. A scrunchie to tie my hair back. A pen. And that’s pretty much all my lab coat pockets have room for!

9. If you had one chance to change anything about your life, what would it be?

I wish I had believed my grandmother—that I had figured this out before someone got hurt . . .

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Excerpt

Sitting straight up in bed, I gasped and threw myself back against the headboard, the thud dying away along with the remaining shreds of my dream.

But the word still ricocheted through my mind.

Aswang.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t thought of the term in years—not since I’d left Houston for med school in Maine, determined to get as far away from home as I could.

But this resurgence of the same, odd illness that had swept my city years before was apparently also dredging up the old stories from deep in my subconscious: the aswang, a vampiric woman who lived a quiet life by day and fed on children in the night, flying back home on bat-wings just before dawn.

My unconscious mind had clearly also expanded on the idea, casting me in the role of aswang and adding schizoid conversations with a chorus of internal voices.

Great. I’m insane in my dreams.

And I’m a monster.

Shuddering, I wiped my hand across my gritty, raw eyelids.

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Buy Links

Only $.99 via Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Blood-Night-Shift-Novella-ebook/dp/B00PB3AIGC/

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Blood-Night-Shift-Novel/dp/0990743365/

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About the Author 

MargoBondCollins

Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them.

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Connect with Margo

 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.MargoBondCollins.net

Blog: http://www.MargoBondCollins.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin  @MargoBondCollin

Google+: https://plus.google.com/116484555448104519902

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/

 

 


More Horsemen

Sharon Ashwood
October 19, 2014  •  4 Comments

2014-10-18 15.30.12

I’ve been prodded to give some more info on what’s happening with my series.  So sorry I’ve been slow off the mark!  Here is the latest: the next two Horsemen books are POSSESSED BY A WOLF and POSSESSED BY THE FALLEN. They are written and turned in. Release dates are May and July of 2015, but of course these are subject to change.

WOLF features (of course) Faran Kenyon and Lexie Haven, and I really adore this book! They’re such great characters and an impossible couple. But talky. They wouldn’t shut up. Nevertheless, it has my favourite ending of any romance I’ve written and, no, I won’t say why.

I turned in FALLEN at the very end of August and I have to say I’ve been in recovery mode. I wrote 7 books in short order and was a little burned out by the end of it. Since then, I’ve been catching up on life things–appointments, visiting, cleaning, and whatnot–while I’m thinking about what comes next and writing down ideas for new characters.

 


Whizz! Bang! Whoosh!

Sharon Ashwood
July 19, 2014  •  1 Comment

Also known as May, June, and July flying by at breakneck pace. Summer is supposed to be a time to slow down, but this year it just keeps on galloping.

So, after being absent from the new releases pile for some time, this season this season I’ve brought to you:  Lord Dragon’s Conquest (novella, March), Possessed by a Warrior (novel, May), Possessed by an Immortal (novel, June) and Valkyrie’s Conquest (novella, July).  You can’t say I’ve been lazy!.  All of these are from Harlequin Nocturne and are available in digital format.  For those who like paper, the novels are available in paper direct from Harlequin and in a 2 for 1 paperback in some select stores.

Vasnetsov_samoletIn the meantime, I’ve written and submitted Possessed by a Wolf and Possessed by the Fallen, which completes the four volumes of the Horsemen series. Currently, I’m in rewrites of Fallen, which I hope to wrap up in fairly short order now that I’ve got myself back on task after a brief holiday. I’m excited to be working on this grand finale of the series, which gives me a bit of room to stretch my imagination. Those of you who know my books are aware there is nothing I like better than an alternate dimension to play with and the Realm of the Dark Fey is packed with creatures and castles, towers and princesses and adventure. I can’t wait to share it with you!


Ten ways to know if you’ve read too much PNR

Sharon Ashwood
February 8, 2014  •  No Comments

1. You’re vaguely disappointed when your date has a tan
2. Staking your roses takes on a whole new meaning
3. You know the moon phases the way others know what’s on TV
4. You scream when you catch your kid with foamy toothpaste mouth
5. You wonder which of your classmates discovered the New World
6. You can’t bring yourself to buy silver jewelry
7. You only drink merlot
8. You worry about the guy who lives in the basement apartment and works nights
9. You fantasize about the guy who lives in the basement apartment and works nights
10. A story with strictly human characters seems . . . just wrong.


The Demon Lord of Kitty Badness Speaks

Sharon Ashwood
February 3, 2014  •  2 Comments

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Superiority—by which I mean being feline—is a burden. For one thing, I’m obligated to observe the staff struggling with meaningless day-to-day activities while my needs go unmet. Case in point:  the Human Entity plays on the keyboard while my food bowl has been empty for FIVE ENTIRE MINUTES.

Nevertheless, I am a compassionate lord. I assist with the keyboard, mostly by blocking it from view. I can do this with the television also.

There are times I wonder how many great works of literature have been assisted by kindly efforts such as these. Humans owe so much to their protectors. In fact, I see a paper product stalking the house. I will immediately stalk it through the hallways, ripping shreds from its hide until there is nothing left but softly quilted entrails, which the Human Entity then collects while cursing like the peasant she is.

It is sad to lead such a life as mine, wherein the most heartfelt service is cuttingly ignored. Pity my wounded yet noble spirit.

Until later, my treasured devotees.

 

 

 


The Demon Lord Plots Chaos

Sharon Ashwood
August 25, 2013  •  No Comments

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The Demon Lord of Kitty Badness lurks on his cat tower.  This definitely needs a LOLcats caption!


New book news – with actual titles!

Sharon Ashwood
August 18, 2013  •  17 Comments

So it’s been a little while since Frostbound was released, and readers have been asking what I’m up to.  First off, all four volumes of the Dark Forgotten series are still available in ebook form from all the usual suspects. Second, my contemporary paranormal work has found a new and very welcoming home!

Some of you know that I am now signed with Harlequin and have a new paranormal romance series for their Nocturne line. They’re James Bond-style vampire spies (and a werewolf) saving the world one hot but enormously gifted and independent babe at a time. These are very fun books, with plenty of danger, humour, sexy interludes and all the features that make paranormal romance a good time. As usual, there’s a dollop of fantasy involved because fae are like that.

The titles of the first two Nocturnes are Possessed by a Warrior and Possessed by an Immortal and they are set to release in the spring of 2014. The question of who is exactly possessing whom is, of course, an open question throughout the stories.

In addition, I’m doing some novellas for Harlequin’s Cravings ebooks (dragons!).

And finally, you may notice that my web site has a new look. A while back I asked for some feedback on what web designs work for readers and I passed those comments back to my designer. I think she’s done a fabulous job!


Virtual renovations

Sharon Ashwood
May 9, 2012  •  3 Comments

Few things are more daunting or more exciting than a cunning plan. Daunting, because I’m a bit short of cleverness, not to mention cunning, when faced with the world of internet technology. It outwits me on a regular basis.

That doesn’t mean I get away with ignoring it. And, unfortunately, there is only so much I can designate to other people. The sad truth is that while I can ask a technician to build a web site for me, I still have to tell them what I want to include. Now there’s a good question.

Web site? Yes, I have one already, but it was made before my Dark Forgotten series came out. With the advent of a new string of books, heroes, adventures, and the rest, I thought it was time for a makeover. What I want to know first, though, is what parts of a web page readers actually want to see. Do you care about what writing courses I can teach? Whether the text is white on black or black on white? Where do you click to first?

Answer this survey in a comment and you will be automatically entered into a prize draw for one of my books—your choice of title. If you answer all five questions, you will double your entries—yes, two chances as a reward for being thorough!

1. When you visit an author’s web site, do you look at their blog?
2. What are the first two pages you look for?
3. What pages do you ignore?
4. What turns you off about a website?
5. What features do you like so much that you bookmark a site that has them?

I’ll draw the winner in one week, so get your answers in!

This contest is also open to my newsletter group.


The loneliness of the long-distance synopsis

Sharon Ashwood
May 2, 2012  •  No Comments

There is plenty of advice out there on how to write ‘em. Keep it short and simple, no more than two pages. Keep the tone of the work you’re going to write. Use the present tense. Be focussed on the key points of the book.

None of that is bad, but it’s only conditionally true. In reality, the right way to produce a book outline is a) any method that will get it from your brain to the page in a coherent and meaningful fashion and b) it has to be in a form that your editor/agent wants to receive it. The bottom line is that they want to find out, with as little effort as possible, what you’re going to write about.

These two points, in my opinion, cut out a lot of stress. I long believed myself to be the worst synopsis-writer on the planet, and so laboured long and hard to produce a perfect specimen for my editor. Two pages, not a word over. I tracked the romance arc to perfection, touching on all the grey, black and purple moments. Began and ended with catchy phrases and had many a chuckle in between. It was great, she said, but what happened in the story? She knew everything but the details of the plot. I was about to protest that all the books said that was the one thing that didn’t matter, then fortunately stopped myself. The only thing that mattered is that she wanted to know, and I had to tell her.

The next outline I stuck to just the facts. I wrote was a ten-page blow by blow, chapter by chapter account with separate sections on character background and world-building. Crazy? Overblown? Flying in the face of received wisdom? Perhaps, but she loved it. For her, the supersized synopsis was the right approach.

Ever since, I’ve tended toward these monster-sized tomes, some of which top 5K words. Yes, it gives the editor more to quibble about, but I generally get far less push-back in the end. My agent loves them, too. Plus, they can give far, far better feedback when they know the specifics of your proposal and if there’s something they just don’t feel will work, it’s better to have that discussion before you write the next 90,000 words.

This does not mean that every editor or agent out there is going to adore this method. That two-page rule came from somewhere, so a goodly portion of publishing professionals prefer it. The point is simply that it pays to ask the simple question: what does your editor/agent like? The guidelines on their web site might be a company rule, but if a publishing house has a herd of editors, their individual tastes could be quite different. If you have a chance to ask, do it. Throwing the rule book out the window did me a world of good.

In some ways, that’s the hardest lesson to learn in an industry where advice is plentiful and hard facts are rare as cream puffs at the Hunger Games. Always ask what actually works.


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