Play at a Price (FORTE Blog Tour)

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Have you heard about Xchyler Publishing’s newest release? ^^ Well, yes or no, you haven’t heard it from Ever On Word yet, so settle in and have a look, ‘cause here’s what’s up:
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Forte_The BookForte_Author

www.jdspero.com

Facebook, Twitter: @jdspero, Goodreads

Forte_ReviewI got the opportunity to read this book early, and it was both an interesting and a frustrating experience for me.

Interesting, in part, because of the unique way the story incorporated some familiar figures from Greek mythology. In all my years of fascination in that area, I’ve never seen Hermes and Hephaestus portrayed quite like this, so that was an inventive spin. I also enjoyed the story’s location. Call me a sucker for a canal and creepy old houses in the mountains.

Frustrating, largely, because of the protagonist’s poor decision-making. I can perfectly understand loneliness and wishing to feel accepted. We’ve all been there. But I have little patience for those who think popularity is worth turning your back on your passions, blatant self-delusion, and either compromising your principles or going flatly against them. My number one thought for most of the novel was, “Sami, grow a spine!

By the finale, though, there was hope for her. Hope for a number of the characters with their own sets of flaws. The story closed on a high note, and overall, the book’s got atmosphere. I wager there’s an audience who can gain much benefit and pleasure “Forte”, particularly if they like a narrative permeated with athletics, or the arts – or, like Sami, desire the best of both.

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Feel free to grab your copy today (Kindle or paperback), and/or enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Official Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/569741183164962/

Blog Schedule:

An Enticing Tease

Remember that time I joined in the cover reveal for Holloway Pack short story “Enticed”? Well, as of last Thursday, the cat werewolf’s out of the bag! Happy release tour to friend and fellow author J.A. Belfield, and happy birthday to Ethan!

Or is it?

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Gifts aside, Ethan’s morning hasn’t been anything to write home about. Sure, life is good, the pack is staying out of trouble, he finally has a mate who boils his blood … in a good way.

Except Shelley hasn’t called. Hasn’t come by. Didn’t even bother to join her son and his girlfriend for Ethan’s annual I’m-a-year-older breakfast.

What Ethan doesn’t know is that Shelley has plans. Plans that have been in progress for weeks. Ones that Ethan will never see coming, and that she’s banked on him not knowing a thing about.

She can only hope her secrecy doesn’t force his inner wolf to the surface—at least, not too early.

Enticed: A Holloway Pack Mini can 1) be read as a standalone, and 2) now be obtained via these locations:

Enticed on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo iTunes | Enticed in print

The e-book is FREE, or you could slap down a few bucks to get it in print.

Not enticing enough for ya? Suppose I slip in an excerpt to show you what you’re in for…

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Sinking down onto the edge of my bed, I worked a finger under the flap and took out a regular old birthday card with a chimp on the front and a simple ‘Happy Birthday’ printed across its top in bulky orange letters. Nothing romantic. No hearts. No confessed feelings. No nouns pronouncing who the recipient might be to the sender.

Though, what could she get one with, anyway? To my boyfriend? My face screwed up at that title. My mate? Somehow, I doubted they did those at Hallmark.

Even so, I found myself opening it, like some part of me hoped she had more to say with her own words than with those fabricated by some anonymous message maker.

Four envelopes marked 1, 2, 3, and 4 had been tucked inside.

Moving those out of the way revealed more of Shelley’s neat handwriting across the inner fold of the greeting card. A cryptic note of: ‘What? Did you think this was it?’

I frowned, my eyes scanning downward to another little note.

‘Pssst, in case you can’t figure it out, the envelopes are number-ordered for a reason. Open them. You know you want to.’

“What the hell’s got into you, Shel?” I muttered, though my lips twitched even as I set down the card and three of the envelopes, and ripped at the flap of number one.

No card sat inside it. No note. Just a tiny black rag of … I grabbed it between my two fingers and slid it out. Lace?

Lifting it to my nose, I sniffed. A faint whiff of Shelley lingered on its surface, but otherwise, it just had that new fabric smell I’d have expected from the stiffness of the strip.

Setting it aside, I lifted number two, tore through the stuck-down flap, and peered inside.

A couple of glossy photos peeked back, and I withdrew them. Stared at the first one. Tried to figure out what the hell the pinkish-but-not-pink, creamy looking whatever the shot seemed to be of. I shuffled out another from behind it—same thing. Kind of. Except the second one had a couple of ridges.

Only when looking at the third did I notice the faint porous-like indentations, the delicate downy-looking hairs, and realised it was a close-up of … “Skin? Lace … and skin?”

Despite my narrow-eyed frown, my lips curved. Shelley was definitely—definitely—up to something.

And experience warned it would be something really bad.

Or something painfully good.

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And now for the giveaway. *wiggles brows*

Enticed Giveaway

Prize: 1 Signed Print Copy of ENTICED for your reading pleasure

1 ENTICED 6×4 Cover Art Print for your viewing pleasure

1 Thornton’s Viennese Truffle Bar to enjoy whilst you devour Ethan

Enter here!

/End steamy spotlight ;D

More Wilderhark Launch News!

It’s the last day of Launch Week for “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”. (Have you bought your copy(ies) yet? All retail links conveniently grouped here.) That means one more day of fun new guest posts going live on my virtual book tour’s blog stops. (Full tour schedule to be found here.) It’s also the last day to enter my giveaway (details likewise found here), so rack up those raffle points while you can!

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Now, hold onto your hats, ‘cause I’ve got an announcement for you. (Are you hat-holding? Don’t blame me if the winds blow them off. Those of you who’ve already devoured your copies of “The Surrogate Sea” know quite well what winds are like.)

I’ve mentioned here and there that the next, second-to-last book in the Wilderhark Tales series will be not a full novella, but a collection of shorter stories. Now I’m excited to tell you that there’s another source of Wilderhark short stories coming your way.

Launching today, it’s Channillo, a brand new digital publishing platform for series of short stories, essays, articles, book chapters, journals, poetry… and what shall hereby be known as The Wilderhark Talettes!

Think of Channillo like a magazine, except you get to pick and choose which regular features you want included in your subscription. Quoting Channillo:

[We are] a place for avid readers to enjoy high quality and original work on an ad-free platform … Membership plans start at just $2.59/month. Channillo pays each writer (or chosen charity) based on the number of members subscribed to their series. By subscribing to Channillo series you are directly supporting your favorite writers!

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So here’s the deal, y’all: Subscribe to my Wildehark Talettes series today, and it will not only get you a new short story based in the Wilderhark world once a month (how awesome is that?!), it’ll also earn you another 10 raffle points in the “Surrogate Sea” Launch Week Giveaway! **Just let me know with a declaration of “Subscribed!” in the comments below.** Feel free, of course, to browse Channillo to see what other series on offer strike your fancy. And fellow writer-types, if you’d like to start up a Channillo series of your own, you can apply just like I did, and if they approve your proposal, you’re in!

/End announcement. Thanks to everyone who’s so far made Launch Week for “The Surrogate Sea” such a grand one! And if/once you’ve had the chance to read the book, I’d super-duper-so-very-much appreciate it if you’d leave a review on the retail sites. <3 in advance for taking the time.

Something in the Water (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn reads the introduction, as provided by author Ginger Mann.

The siren of the Jilted River; permanent resident of the Hollows. She is lovely in face, with a voice that can stop a man cold in his steps. However, if she keeps at him for long enough, we may never see him again.

Allyn looks from his script, to Will Scarlet, to the audience. “This will go badly.”

“Welcome, Jilted River siren lady!” Will greets the woman center stage. “So glad you could join me. First things first – do you actually have a name? ‘Cause ‘Jilted River siren lady’ runs a bit long.”

“Name?” She moves toward her chair, not walking to it but instead, almost flowing. Her dress makes a silver train around her wrists and feet. “I haven’t been called a name for over a hunnert years. Seems I remember my fiancé once called me ‘Brenda’.” She stares at him blankly. “How ‘bout Brenda.”

“Brenda works! So. A fiancé, huh? Who was the lucky guy?”

Brenda’s eyes shoot daggers at Will Scarlet “Lucky? Did you say lucky?” She clasps her hands together, letting them disappear into each other. Her form is that of a gorgeous young woman with raven hair, coal black eyes, and bright red lips. And, inexplicably, she is dripping all over the floor of the set.

“…Or possibly not so lucky,” Will backtracks. “By the way you stop short of calling him your husband, I assume the wedding somehow fell through?”

“Heh. It fell through, all right. It fell right on through the growwwwnd,” Brenda drawls, leaning back into her chair. “I didn’t do nothin’ to deserve what he did. Loved him with all my heart, adored him like nobody else ever before. Used to sing to him, and show him off to my girlfriends. We were gonna sing right to each other in the weddin’. There I was, all dressed up in my corset and such, holdin’ my flowers, waitin’ on the banks of that river. An’ he shows up and runs off with my singin’ bridesmaid.” Her face starts to shift, and lose its shape.

“Yikes…” says Will – though whether he’s referring to the scandal, Brenda’s face, or both is anyone’s guess.

Seeing her image on the set monitor, she quickly reforms herself into a pretty teenage girl. In a higher, sweeter voice, she finishes, “But, Will, that was nearly a hunnert years ago now. Let’s leave the past in the past, okay, honey? We’re here right now, that’s all that matters.”

“That sounds like a, uh, very healthy way of looking at things. Moving merrily along, then. I notice you and I happen to have a few things in common. Both of us legends around our local forests – Sherwood for me, woods out in the Appalachians for you. Both of us looking bloody good for our magic-enhanced ages and irresistible to unwary hearts…”

Looking at Will appreciatively, her eyes travel the length of his finely clad body. Her arms begin to transform, lengthening and tapering at the ends. Vines begin growing out of her open hands, slowly winding their way down her chair leg and creeping across the floor toward her host. Almost imperceptibly, a forked tongue darts out of her mouth.

From off-camera, Allyn ahems. “Um, Will…”

“I’ve got this, thank you,” Will waves him off, then carries on addressing Brenda. “I gotta say, though, a state park’s underground river sounds like it could be an even cooler place to live than an immortal Renaissance Faire.”

Leaves from her growing vines begin to tickle the ankles of her host. “Oh, you should hear the birds! In the morning when they wake up, singing and hopping around.” She leans in closer. “Do you sing?”

“Uh, not according to Allyn,” says Will, squirming back in his seat. “But, um… I was going somewhere with this… Disappearances! There seem to be a lot of people going missing in your area.”

Vines travel up the sides of his legs, and begin to tickle him under the knees.

“And— ah-haha! You’re a friendly one, aren’t you? But y’know, given that sirens are the sort to lure people into iffy circumstances with vocal beauty even certain minstrels I know might be hard put to match, I can’t help guessing you might be involved. With the missing persons, I mean.”

Vines have grown quickly over the back of Will Scarlet’s chair, and their leaves now begin to stroke him on his cheek.

“You, uh,” he says, his focus clearly dissolving as he leans into the leafy touch. “You wanna give us a hint as to your motive behind all the kidnappings?”

All foliage disappears instantly, and her eyes open wide. “Kidnappin’? I didn’t know about no kidnappin’s. I just stay down in my little river valley an’ take care of my birds. They sing real purty. Ever hear this song? Oh, the cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles when she flies . . . I sure love how yer eyes are getting’ all dreamy, Mr. Sparrow. Er, I mean Mr. Scarlet.”

“Will!” Allyn snaps off-camera.

The host’s head whips around. “Wha—? Hang it, Allyn, you broke my concentration! What were we talking about?”

“There were vines—”

“Never mind! New question.” He turns back to Brenda, grin cocked. “What do you look for in a man?”

Vines mysteriously reappear behind Will Scarlet, and remove his hat. “Oh, I look for all sorts ‘a things. Fer instance, does a man look good in blue? An’ does a man have a purty singin’ voice? What kinds ‘a songs d’you know? Wanna sing a duet?”

“Blue? Singing?” Will frowns. “Just my luck; she likes the Gant-o’-the-Lute type. Well, fine, since singing’s such a big part of your shtick: Do you have a favorite song, or type of music?”

The tips of the vines stroke Will’s hair sensuously. “I just loooove the songs you love, Will Scarlet. Why don’t you sing one for me, an’ I’ll chime on in? I got a real knack for singin’ with men, you know. I can make you forget all about yer talk show an’ ever’thing else that ever bothered you. D’you know this song? Black, black, black is the color of my true love’s hair . . . His face is soft and wond’rous fair . . . You gotta sing with me, Will Scarlet, or this don’t work!” Brenda’s eyes begin to smolder.

“Time for the final question,” Allyn says firmly, braving a step into frame despite any risk posed by his blue-clad, black-haired appearance. “Tell us, Brenda: What is your author Ginger’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?”

Ginger??? she hisses, taken aback. “You mean that guurrrl? I don’t get t’know gurrrls. They got nothin’ fer me, and I got nothin’ for them. All I care is that she can’t sing, so I leave her well enough alone. But I also know she’s one big liar. She don’t look a thang like that picture she put out on the internet. She’s dressed up like some high falutin’ city slicker, but everybody ’round here knows she’s just a crazy ol’ lady on th’ yonder mountain. She raises chickens over there, funny lookin’ chickens. They’re all round, like little basketballs. It ain’t right, but that’s no business of mine. There. That secret don’t cost you nothin’, Will Scarlet. You get it just ’cause I like you.” The vines criss-cross over his chest, hugging him to the chair. One leaf tickles his cheek flirtatiously.

Will casts a glare at Allyn. “You didn’t do it right! You left out the all-important ‘Or would you rather kiss me?’!”

A snake crawls from her mouth and travels across her watery lips, licking it like a tongue. “Oh, Mr. Scarlet, I thought you’d never ask. Not that I need you to.”

She lunges forward, arms open wide. Her mouth engulfs his entire head in a surge of water. Vines melt away with her body, and a giant fountain overwhelms Will Scarlet, submerging him before anyone can do more than cry out in alarm.

One second later, a gush of water flows down the storm drain and away from the set. “Good-bye, Will Scarlet,” Brenda’s voice echoes from the pipes. “Good-bye for now.”

An utterly disheveled Will sits in his sopping wet chair, drenched hatless head to toe, mouth agape. A long moment passes with no sound beyond the drip, drip, drip of water and the labored breathing of a man nearly drowned. Then, “I say, Allyn?”

“Yes, Will?” Allyn says through gritted teeth.

“How ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

Squelching with a huff back to his spot off the stage’s center, Allyn recites, “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment was brought to you by Ginger Mann’s ‘Jilted River’ a short story included in The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology.

A teenage girl, Trystan, arrives at the Hollows with her widowed forest ranger father and her twin brother. Two hikers are lost, and the family is there to help. She remembers the Jilted River siren, but she tells herself that it’s just a story. Then, the rescue mission ends badly: one hiker disappears, and two men, including Trystan’s father, vanish on the search. Terrified, Trystan must solve a dark mystery and bring everyone home, before it is too late.

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“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will, wringing out his shirt. “Thanks even to you, Brenda. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

From Sea to Surrogate Sea

Ladies and gentlemen,

fairytale fans of all ages,

it is with great pride and pleasure that I now reveal to you

the cover of the sixth installment of The Wilderhark Tales.

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The Sea’s storm brought them together, and the Sea’s rules will keep them apart, unless the mute but melodious Muirigan can find another to take her place, freeing her to pursue the human man she loves. But when her plan collides with the schemes of the sly South Wind, a princess’s agenda to look for love in all the most fantastic places, and a prince whose head and heart have been long years at war, the result is a tragedy of errors from which the world might never recover.

The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)coming Tuesday, March 24, 2015!

(Now on Goodreads, for your “want to read” shelf-building pleasure.)

My dear readers, I almost wept when first my eyes beheld the cover artwork for this book. Yana Naumova has outdone herself, and is even now hard at work on the art for the remainder of the series. My darling novellas wouldn’t the same without her. I am all gratitude.

As stated, “The Surrogate Sea” releases on March 24, kick-off day for the now-traditional Launch Week celebration. Several good buddies have already signed on for the blog tour (Tuesday 24 – Monday 30), but there’s always room for more! So if anyone reading this wants in, give me a poke in the comments or via my contact page, and I’ll get the materials to you in good order. The same goes for anyone game for an advance read ‘n’ review of the book; hit me up!

And This Week Only…

..In honor of the upcoming release of Book 6, you can get the Kindle e-book of Book One for just 99 cents!

That’s right – “The Swan Prince” Kindle e-book can be yours (or your friends’, or their friends’…!) at a delightfully discounted $0.99. Because while Book Six can absolutely be enjoyed on its own, the series is best experienced from start to end. ^_^

Which of the Wilderhark Tales covers have been your favorites so far? ^^ Sound off below!

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[Re-]Release the Werewolves!

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Heya, Ever On Wordians. Throwing out an extra post, this week, on behalf of fellow author friend J.A. Belfield and her Holloway Pack prequel novella!

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Werewolf Sean Holloway treats the village marketplace like a sexual buffet, though his charm does little to win over his latest entrée of choice. Whether because of Jem Stonehouse’s unique scent, her headstrong nonchalance, or the fact he is forbidden to see her by his pack’s rules, Sean wants her.

When Jem is nothing but flippant toward his advances, he pursues her with vigour, stealing moments alone with her without a libido-driven agenda.

The new and heady experience for him drives their relationship beyond romantic interest, and straight toward love.

That is, until Jem learns the truth about Sean’s heritage. Knowledge of the existence of werewolves leads to only one outcome: death.

In this prequel to Darkness & Light*, we are taken back in time, to the very beginning of Jem and Sean’s love-across-the-centuries relationship.

Did it end there? Or did Sean defy his own pack to save the woman he loves?

*Can be read as a standalone.

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Whoa! I only just now realized what’s going on with that guy’s shadow on the cover. Coolness!

To celebrate its re-release, “Instinct” is FREE for a limited time – from release day on Friday, January 23rd until Sunday, February 1st. So if some werewolf romance sounds good to you, grab yourself a copy, lickity-split!

Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N | Kobo Smashwords

Goodreads

And don’t forget to leave a review for a chance to enter in J.A. Belfield’s giveaway, in which you could win a $10 Amazon gift card and an e-copy of “Eternal”, the sequel novella to “Instinct”.

A Book’s First Breath

If you’ve read my latest Wilderhark Tale (or snuck a preview of the next installment in the series), you know I love me some fantastic elementals. For that reason, the opening story in upcoming fantasy anthology “The Toll of Another Bell” struck a particular chord with me.

For my stop on the “Toll” blog tour, I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with that story’s creator. Give it up, readers all, for Jodi L. Milner, author of “Breath”!

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Me: Regale us with the tale of your decision to submit to Xchyler Pub’s fantasy anthology. Did you have the idea for “Breath” in mind beforehand, or did you craft it especially for the contest’s theme: “Out of This World… True Story”?

Jodi: “Breath” was one of those stories that flowed out of the ether back in 2013. I had to write it down but then didn’t know what to do with it. When I saw Xchyler’s call for entries for their fantasy line I felt it was worth a try, and I’m super glad I did. Being part of the X team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing career.

Me: Which of your story’s characters is your favorite? …shows up most clearly in your head? …was easiest/most difficult to write?

Jodi: Wow, this is tricky. Each of my characters represents one of the world’s creative elements, earth, wind, water, fire, and life. If forced to pick, I’d say my favorite of the bunch is Terran, the earth guardian. He’s the strong silent type, and I find those very appealing. The most fun to write were the twins, Ventus and Aquata, the air and water guardians. Fauna, the main character was the hardest to write because I felt enormous pressure to make her emotional responses feel authentic.

Me: Your own contribution aside, which of the stories from “The Toll of Another Bell” did you most enjoy reading?

Jodi: Again, that’s tough. Each story is so very different that it would be unfair to select a favorite. In this anthology you can find everything from whimsy to horror, and so many different facets in between. The writing is excellent (if I’m allowed to judge) and reading through its pages is a journey that will not soon be forgotten.

Me: Is “Breath” your debut published work?

Jodi: Yes, “Breath” is my first baby to grow wings and take flight and it has been so thrilling that I can’t wait to publish again.

Me: Whilst creeping on one of your blogs, I saw you’ve got a trilogy planned – the Stonebearer Series. What can you tell us about that? ^^

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Jodi: I think most authors have that one project in the background that they always keep working at with hopes that one day their talent will grow to match the ambition and scope required to do it justice. The Stonebearer Series is mine.  It is my first serious attempt at writing an epic fantasy novel series and hopefully one day I’ll feel it’s ready to be published as well.  The story itself is wrapped around a world where a secret society of immortal magic users is challenged by a demon who threatens to push it into extinction.

Author Bio:

Jodi Milner lives among the most epic vistas of the Rocky Mountains in Utah and uses them for inspiration when writing fantasy. When not shepherding her children, she dreams of magic and getting a good night’s sleep. She’s published fiction and poetry in the online literary magazine Soft Whispers.

Website | Blog | Facebook Twitter Google + | Goodreads |LinkedIn Pinterest

Jodi L. Milner, one talent of many (including yours truly) featured in “The Toll of Another Bell”!

For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic!

^ For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic! ^

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The book is currently up for preorder! There’s a tour-wide giveaway happening here and now, and the anthology’s Release Party is this Saturday; I hope to see you all there for the fun and games!