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Friday, March 1st, 2019
Interview with Paranormal Author Nicki Ruth

Interview with Nicki Ruth

Today I’d like to welcome paranormal author Nicki Ruth.

According to Nicki, she is a romantic at heart who loves a bit of history, a splash of adventure, and all things paranormal. She enjoys stories about vampires, werewolves, and other shifters, with a healthy dose of romance. Her first book, Dark Blooded Desires, started as a dream and ended as a dream come true. She is currently writing on her balcony that overlooks a parking lot.

Nicki, hello and welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I started writing in 2017 after an intense, steamy dream which included a lone vampire looking out into the vast blackness of space. That turned out to be my first book, the first six chapters I wrote in one night at 1 am. This, despite not having any creative writing background. A friend of mine asked their friend that edited professionally to take a look at what I’d done. I was blown away when they said I had the gift of story-telling (my punctuation is another matter. LOL)

Then 2018 came and took a pretty bad turn. I hated my job, my relationship imploded, and along with an emotional medical issue, I was incredibly overwhelmed. But I continued to write and it was my best therapy. It turns out that writing is my escape from the world and a major stress reliever. Now I want to provide an escape for my readers as well.

Dark Blooded Desires is the first book in the Bonds of Damurios Series. I scooped this next bit from your blurb: “Debut author Nicki Ruth weaves an action-packed vampire thriller that mixes blood, magic, and sizzling romance set in a new futuristic fantasy world.” By the sounds of this, you’ve twisted and woven several genres together, which I love as a reader. What was the spark behind your story?

I love dabbling in all types of myth and lore. You’ll often find me glued to the history or discovery channel with my own “what if” scenarios. But I wanted to go in another direction from typical vampire lore for my story. I started with Babylonian history which I briefly sampled. Many have asked, but aren’t vampires supposed to be cold, aren’t they dead. Well mostly. In my world, they have their own “blood” planet similar to our “water” planet, Earth. I kept their immortal, non-aging life and supernatural ability since that’s the best part of being a vampire (right?).

But I really start borrowing from Hindu and Japanese mythology, as well as my unique twist on the ‘genie in the bottle’ lore in book 2. As the series progress, I’ll also be throwing some gods into the mix so it’s going to be fun!

Vampires! What is it about vampires that made you want to include them in your writing? What’s the attraction?

What’s NOT to love about vampires! They’re my absolute vampire paranormal species. When I was a child I fell in love with Bram Stokers’, Dracula (the movie), and was heartbroken when (SPOILER ALERT!) he died. I wondered why Dracula couldn’t have his love? And what if he survived and had his happy ever after?

I prefer the True Blood type of vampires than the Twilight types, and I keep that theme in my books. My vampires are not afraid to shed blood and can be quiet ruthless. Who doesn’t love a vampire who would do anything for his/her love?

What sort of research did you do during the writing of Dark Blooded Desires?

I researched a good bit of mythology from Greek to Hindu to Aztec. This was no burden for me as I love history. But it does take up a lot of time. I once spent three hours researching male Babylonian names. Three hours!
I also rewatched Star Trek (the Chris Pine version) to re-familiarize myself with some futuristic concepts. This too was also no burden since I’m a Trekkie. I already read a lot of vampire stories, so I knew what I wanted to do with my vampires.

Who is your favorite fictional vampire and why?

OMG. Just one? I mentioned Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but for books I loved Kresley Cole’s Lothaire; Xadist from JR Ward’s BDB, and Eric from True Blood.

As you can tell if you’re familiar with these characters are very flawed and can get a bit bloody. LOL.

I understand you have a free prequel to Dark Blooded Desires. How do readers get their hands on this?

The free prequel, A Vampire Loves Forever, is available on my website, www.nickiruth.com. You can also look out for it in upcoming Bookfunnel or Prolificworks promotions

What is the best place for readers to learn more about you and your upcoming paranormal romances?

These days it would be social media. I’m usually active on Instagram and Facebook and tend to post updates there first. I’ve also had a couple of readers email me directly, and I was glad to answer their questions.

My Instagram is authornickiruth and Facebook is Nicki Ruth

Thanks so much for visiting today, Nicki!

Dark Blooded Desires He was just a ruthless vampire out for vengeance. Until her.

Alone, asleep, and adrift. That’s how Alexios finds the woman he takes aboard his ship. But she’s not all she seems. Her face is a reminder of a past he’d long tried to forget. A reminder of his failure to save those he’d sworn to protect. But he’s on a mission to find and kill his sire for years of torment. He can’t allow the beautiful creature to distract him from his centuries-long vendetta. Even though her teasing smiles and taste of her blood lights his body afire.

She hungers for blood, and him.

Davina, if that’s even her name, wakes up having no clue of who she is. All she knows is that dreams of fire, blood, and destruction stalk her waking moments. Something sinister churns within but she refuses to succumb to its dark desires. Only Alexios, the handsome vampire Captain, calms the roiling waves of her urges and kindles her passion.

The answers are closer than they think.

When Davina loses control, it becomes imperative Alexios help her control the darkness within. But ancient forces plot to destroy them both and time is running out. Will they solve the mystery of who she truly is and stop her from becoming the monster she fears? Or will the world be ruled by her dark blooded desires?

First in the Bonds of Damurios Series, debut author Nicki Ruth, weaves an action-packed vampire thriller that mixes blood, magic, and sizzling romance set in a new futuristic fantasy world.

Purchase Dark Blooded Desires from Amazon (or borrow from Kindle Unlimited)

Monday, February 25th, 2019
The Writer’s Map ~ An Atlas of Imaginary Lands

The Writer's Map

I adore maps. All maps, but especially antique and fantasy maps.

A few months ago, I spotted a book called The Writer’s Map, An Atlas of Imaginary Lands. The cover drew me in, and I had to check out a copy. The book, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, features a series of articles by experts in the map-drawing arena. And of course, it’s full of colorful illustrations of maps from books such as Treasure Island, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other maps from popular classics.

I particularly enjoyed the section about the creation of the Marauder’s Map from the Harry Potter series and the design of the original letter inviting Harry to attend Hogworts.

I think this is a book that most readers and writers will love. I certainly did.

You can check it out here at Amazon.

But, given the price showing of $249.94, you’ll probably want to check your local library or The Book Depository where the price is much more reasonable.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
The Emotion Thesaurus is Here. Grab your copy today!

As writers, we all have our favorite writing methods. For instance, some swear by Scrivener, while others write in Word or Google docs. Some prefer to draft longhand, using colorful gel pens and notebooks.

Most of us have a favorite writing book (or ten), too. These books have helped us understand storytelling better, demystifying certain aspects of writing. Well, today I’m taking part in welcoming a new writing guide into the world: The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition).

You may have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original’s lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier. It quickly became a bestseller.

Now, there’s a bigger, better second edition. Angela and Becca have added 55 NEW emotions such as Euphoria, Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. (And that’s not all that’s new, either…the book is almost twice the size as the original.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in checking it out, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find information here.

One more thing to tell you about…are you ready for this?

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Wish you could attend a free writing retreat, go to a conference, snag a seat at a workshop, or have your professional membership to a writing organization paid for? Of course you do!

Well, at Writers Helping Writers, one lucky winner will get one of the above, up to a $500 US value.

This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter!

Monday, February 18th, 2019
Cruising Through the Panama Canal

Although I’ve visited Panama before via land (around thirty years ago) and peered at the canal from the shore, I was looking forward to actually sailing through. A small part of me wondered if I might get bored—I mean, an entire day of canals then lake then more canals before we hit the ocean again. I needn’t have worried because there is a lot to see and photograph.

We watched the men driving the mules, which are large vehicles that are used to keep the ships centered in the lock. They’re a bit like train locomotives since they run along tracks on the edge of the canal. We spotted birds and crocodiles sunning themselves on muddy banks and we watched the canals fill and empty of water, lifting and lowering our ship. It was also interesting watching the ship that sailed in the adjoining canal.

Here are a few facts about the Panama Canal:

1. The canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

2. It was built by the Americans and opened in 1914.

3. Complete control of the canal passed to Panama at the end of 1999.

4. Each ship is charged a toll, depending on their freight weight or passenger capacity.

5. The toll must be paid before the ship enters the canal.

6. Gravity feeds the flow of water that raises the level of the locks.

7. The average transit time to pass through the canal is ten hours but this can depend on the volume of shipping.

8. Pilots board each ship at the start of their journey through the canal.

9. The French attempted to make the canal first and lost over 20,000 workers to tropical diseases. Yellow fever and malaria in particular.

10. Once the Americans took over, they still lost 5609 workers to disease and accidents.

11. Nicaragua was also considered as a place to build the canal. The volcanoes in Nicaragua were part of the reason Panama was the preferred choice.

12. A swimmer swam the canal in 1928. He was charged 36c for his weight of 68kg. The toll charge for most ships is in the hundreds of thousands. The toll for our cruise ship was around $300,000.

Bridge of the Americas

Almost at the canal. It’s time for our adventure to start.

Ferrying lines

Despite our high tech times, these two men row out to the ships with lines. The big ships dwarf the tiny boat.

Entering the Miraflores Locks

Entering the first lock – the Miraflores. I was wondering how we’d fit as the lock didn’t look very wide!

Inside the canal lock

We’re partially inside the lock. It became more obvious that we would fit, but it was a tight squeeze.

One of the mules

One of the locomotions or mules that are used to guide the larger ships into the locks.

Crocodile Enjoying the Sun

A grazing deer

Some of the wildlife we saw while on the canal.

Inside the canal

We’re just about fully inside the canal and ready for the gravity-fed water to lift us up a level.

The gap between the canal wall and ship

Mind the gap! Check out the tiny gap between the wall of the canal and the ship. The rail tracks are those used by the mules.

Mimosa Time

Mimosa time! It was hard work watching and photographing the trip through the canal.

Gutan Lake

This is Gutan Lake, the man-made lake between the two sets of locks.

Gutan Lake Traffic

This is a shot of some of the other shipping traffic waiting on Gutan Lake for their turn to go through the locks. If you’re in a hurry, you can pay an extra fee to get through faster.

The last set of locks

This is the Gatun Locks, and it was easier to see because the locks went “downhill”.

Almost through the Panama Canal

Almost at the Atlantic Ocean. The final part of the Gatun locks.

Traveling through the canal on a cruise ship was a fun way to experience the workings of the Panama Canal. In truth, I thought the engineering and technical stuff would get boring, but the day went surprisingly quickly and I enjoyed it immensely. If you ever have a chance to do this cruise, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 14th, 2019
A Valentine’s Day Promotion – Romance Titles, Calorie Free!

Valentine's Day Promo

Over 50 romance titles on offer at FREE and Bargain prices. Fill your reader today with some calorie-free treats.

Binge on Romance Treats for your E-reader

P.S. While you’re there, sign up for the Feed Your E-Reader newsletter. Each month readers receive a free romance!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019
A Stroll Up a Dormant Volcano #Adventure2019

Adventure 2019

The city of Auckland is built on and around a field of volcanoes, which I think accounts for my fascination with volcanoes. One day, I will use volcanoes in a romance. Somehow.

I’ve been lucky enough to see most of our New Zealand volcanoes, including the more active ones farther south of Auckland. (White Island, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, Tongariro)

On one memorable trip we visited an active volcano in Guatemala. It was almost dusk and we stood next to the glowing lava flow. The conveyer-belt glide of the molten lava, full of rocks and popping gases, and the heat that came off that shimmering ribbon lives with me still, despite the passing of years.

On Auckland Anniversary day, we had friends visit from Winnipeg, so we marched them up to the top of one of our dormant volcanoes—Mount Eden. Mt. Eden is interesting because it has a perfect crater and the view of the sprawling city below is fantastic.

Auckland weather was on its best behavior and the views were stunning. From the summit, it is easy to see the other dormant volcanoes that stud the landscape. One Tree Hill, Mt. Hobson, Rangitoto Island, and Mt. Victoria to name a few.

Mount Eden, Auckland

The crater as seen from the top of Mount Eden.

Auckland harbor bridge and Sky Tower

View over downtown Auckland. Spot the Auckland Harbor Bridge and the Sky Tower.

Rangitoto

This is Rangitoto, which is the youngest volcano in the Auckland region. It erupted around six hundred years ago.

Other dormant volcanoes

The grassy hills are also dormant volcanoes. These ones are visible from the top of Mt. Eden.

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is yet another volcanic cone.

Drinks to rehydrate after our sightseeing

Drinks to replace the liquid lost while sightseeeing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

If you ever visit Auckland, this spot is the perfect one to get an overview of the city with 360 views. From here, you can see both coasts (the Manukau and Waitemata) but a warning—if the day is windy. Hold onto your hat!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
The Emotion Thesaurus – An Updated Issue on the Way!

Getting emotion into a romance is one of the hardest jobs of a writer. Stringing words together to make a story seem real and rounded, one that draws the reader into the world the writer has created is plain hard. A few years ago Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi wrote a book called the Emotion Thesaurus. I, along with many other writers, embraced this book, making it part of my craft library. Since then Angela and Becca have written several other guides just for writers on topics such as positive traits, emotional wounds in characters, and settings.

This year, they announced they’d done an updated version of the original Emotion Thesaurus, adding new entries and giving us new emotions to help with our book writing.

The Emotion Thesaurus, the updated version, is due out on 19 Feb 2019.

The Emotion Thesaurus

You can pre-order your copy at online retailers.

Monday, February 11th, 2019
Writing Update for February: What Is Coming Next?

Writing Update

2019. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know I started with a holiday, but writing was never far from my mind.

This is what I’ve been working on and these projects will be available for readers very soon.

So just how did the Mitchell family from my Middlemarch Shifters series get to Dunedin?

My Scottish Lass is a prequel to the series and answers this question. In this novella, you’ll meet Rory and Ainslie, ancestors to the present-day Mitchell family. This prequel will only be available for those who subscribe to my newsletter. If you’re already signed up to receive my newsletter, watch this space. Currently, I’m waiting for the cover.

Stranded with Ella, book 4 in my Military Men series:

I’ve just delivered this manuscript to my editor. It features Dillon Williams, brother of the heroine from book 1 in the series. We meet Ella Liddington-Walsh who is the opposite of pragmatic Dillon, yet they fit.

Currently working on:

Last week, I started working on Black Moon Dragon, which is book 3 in my Dragon Investigators series. The hero for this one is Manu Taniwha who we met in Blood Moon Dragon, book 2. The heroine is Jessalyn Brown who is part human and part dragon, although this comes as a huge surprise to her.

A freebie:

If you’re a contemporary romance fan, check out Secret Lovers. This is the first book in the Love and Friendship series and it is set in Auckland, New Zealand. Right now, you can get this book at your favorite retailer for free.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
Cooking Class in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico #Adventure2019

Cooking Adventure 2019

Our cuisine in New Zealand is a fusion of European, Asian and Pacific influences with an emphasis on our fresh produce and seafood. We don’t get much in the way of Mexican food in New Zealand, and Mr. Munro and I decided to attend a cooking class when our cruise ship visited the port of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. We both love to cook, and this seemed like the ideal way to immerse ourselves in Mexico food.

I eat a mainly vegetarian diet with a little seafood, so we were in luck when our visit coincided with seafood day at the cooking school.

Chef Enrique runs these cooking classes from his home. According to him, one day he was lying in his hammock and he thought there must be a better way to earn a living. He loved cooking and food, he liked meeting and talking with people and the idea for his cooking school was born.

The class starts with an excursion to the local market to buy supplies. We visited a tortilla factory where the tortillas are made from corn. Our next stop was the fish market where we purchase a white fish, octopus and prawns. Eek! Who buys octopus? What does one do with all those tentacles? Well, I can confidently tell you that I’ve learned how to deal with an octopus, and even better, it was delicious.

A grinding machine at the tortilla factory

First stop – the tortilla factory where corn is ground into a paste to make tortillas. Something learned. I had no idea that proper tortillas do not contain flour.

Red snapper at the fish market

The fish market was spotlessly clean with not a fishy stench in evidence.

We purchased fresh vegetables and fruit including tomatoes, avocado, limes, lots of fresh herbs, chilies, and pineapple gaining tips along to way as to what to look for in fresh produce.

So many chilies!

There are so many varieties of chilies of all colors and sizes. Chef showed us his collection of dried chilies and I have no idea how he keeps them straight. Many, many chilies.

Starting to fill up the shopping trolley

We soon filled this trolley!

Our shopping done, we piled into our van and headed off to Chef Enrique’s home to start cooking. On our arrival, we were introduced to his family, given an apron to don and made to feel at feel. Mi casa es su casa. Drinks including tequila were available but most of us wanted to learn and stuck to the non-alcohol drinks in order to concentrate.

Chef put each of us to work. I squeezed limes and chopped onion while Mr. Munro cut the fish into cubes for the ceviche.

Chef and his family

Our fresh cooking ingredients

Our fresh ingredients are ready for class to commence.

The first course consisted of ceviche, guacamole, fresh pineapple with spices and two sauces. Our second course was a cactus salad, prawns, octopus, and more sauces. Our meal ended with a slice of beautiful caramel tart made by Mrs. Chef. It was glossy and almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Chopping the snapper

Mr. Munro chopping the red snapper for the ceviche.

Making the ceviche

The ingredients for the ceviche.

First course ready to eat!

This is our first course, and it was yummy!

Experiencing the tortilla press

The tortilla press – an amazing gadget but not one we use a lot in New Zealand.

Octopus and prawns ready to eat.

Prawns and octopus ready for eating.

We had a fun day, and if you’re ever in Puerto Vallarta please check out Chef Enrique at Cookin’ Vallarta and his cooking class. You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, February 1st, 2019
Interview with Debut Author Zoe Ashwood #paranormalromance #werewolf

Interview with Debut Author Zoe Ashwood
Today, I’d like to welcome debut author Zoe Ashwood.

According to Zoe, she is a translator by day, a romance writer by night, and a reader always. Her stories feature grumpy men, kickass heroines, and lots of kissing. Sounds great, right? So let’s dig in and learn more about Zoe’s debut release Trust the Wolf.

Zoe, congratulations on the release of Trust the Wolf, which I understand is your very first book. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

Hi, Shelley, thank you so much for having me here! Yes, Trust the Wolf is my first published novel, though it’s not the first book I ever wrote (we won’t talk about that first attempt, though, haha!).

I’ve been writing since forever, though my attempts at journaling and teenage poetry were seriously bad. But then I found out about NaNoWriMo and decided to give it a go in 2014, when my first son was two months old (crazy, I know). That book will never see the light of day, but I did win NaNo – and caught the writing bug. It’s been so much fun!

I’ve been a huge fan of paranormal romance before the genre even became popular (showing my age here!) What is it that drew you to write paranormal romance?

Oh, I think it’s because it’s a mashup of fantasy and romance, my two favorite genres. I love reading both, I’ve always been a fantasy reader but only discovered genre romance in college. I love worldbuilding, though I kept the world of the Shift series fairly simple. But the creative freedom that paranormal/fantasy genres offer is just something that speaks to me. Honestly, though, my love for this specific genre probably began by reading Twilight – and then searching for books with, um, steamier content.

What do you find is the hardest part about being a writer?

Having the discipline to sit down and write instead of browsing Facebook! Also editing. Editing is hell. I had to delete so many crutch words from my most recent WIP! I invent new ones with every first draft I write.

Trust the Wolf features werewolves. How much research did you do during the writing of your book? Have you ever had a close encounter with wolves?

No, I’ve never been lucky (or unlucky?) enough to have a close encounter with wolves. My shapeshifter world has various species of shifters, though, and I have seen a bear in the wild more than once! It’s not something I’d want to repeat, though, they can get pretty scary. And I did lots of research – mostly through internet, about wolf (and bear) eating habits, mating habits, pack life etc. I watched documentaries. I like doing research like that!

Often, in social situations, writers meet people who say “I wish I could write a book.” What is your best advice for an aspiring paranormal romance writer?

I think it’s super important to find your tribe. I have two critique partners who have been with me for more than two years, and my work is better because of them. We support each other, sprint together, and chat a lot (even though we all live on different continents). And I would recommend learning as much as you can about the craft of writing because knowing what you’re doing makes the actual doing part easier. There are loads of free resources floating around, especially writing blogs and podcasts. Some of my favorites are Well-Storied, Helping Writers Become Authors, and The Creative Penn, and for romance writers specifically Jami Gold’s blog and beat sheets. My favorite writing books are 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron and Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes.

I understand you have a free prequel to Trust the Wolf. How do readers get their hands on this?

Yes, Bearly Married is a free 30k-word novella with a full happily-ever-after story set approximately 25 years before Trust the Wolf. It features a couple that appears in the present-day series! It has a marriage of convenience, bear shifters, and 90s wedding dresses.
You can get it by signing up for my newsletter here: https://zoeashwood.com/newsletter/

What is the best place for readers to learn more about you and your upcoming paranormal romances?

My website is a good place to start – it has all the links to my social media and information about my books. https://zoeashwood.com

Thanks so much, Zoe!

Trust The Wolf by Zoe AshwoodReaders, here is the blurb for TRUST THE WOLF. Check it out today.

You never forget your first wolf.

Emilia’s first encounter with Jason is memorable: it’s not every day you see a stranger change into a wolf. Her attraction to him is undeniable, but the secret he shares shakes the foundations of her life.

Jason’s need for Emilia unnerves him. It’s his job to report shifters without proper ID, yet he can’t make himself do it this time. The decision bites him in the tail when he discovers exactly who she is. He must keep his distance—or there will be hell to pay.

Their fates entwine when rogue shifters learn of Emilia’s identity and will stop at nothing to get to her. Emilia and Jason will have to fight together or risk losing everything.

But most of all? Emilia must learn to trust the wolf.

Purchase Trust the Wolf (also available in Kindle Unlimited)