Monday, September 30, 2013

Witches, Stitches & Bitches: A Three Little Words Anthology and A Visit from Amazing Editor Shannon Page


Exquisite revenge and knitted doppelgängers; heartbreak and happy endings; unicorns, doomed dogs, and penitent frogs; steampunk fairies, conflicted stepmothers, and baseball—you’ll find it all here. Our literary alchemists weave a spell of fascination, drawing you deeper and deeper, tale by tale, until escape is impossible. But you’ll enjoy every minute of the plunge.

These sixteen deft and delightful stories involving witches, stitches, and bitches run the gamut from darkly disturbing to just plain fun. They will each take you out of the ordinary and into the world of magic, where older, weirder, or merely other rules apply. And just when you think things are all sewn up... some bitch may have a surprise for you.


1. How did you get started writing?

I can’t remember not writing...I grew up on a commune without TV, among very few other kids, so reading was my chief source of entertainment. Consuming stories quickly led to the desire to create stories. My earliest efforts were crayon-on-construction-paper illustrated tales (and yes, my mom still has them). I kept a journal from the age of eleven, and wrote pretty much obsessively through high school.

But my first serious attempt at writing publishable work came after I read a witch novel where the ending utterly, thoroughly, completely disappointed me. (And no, I won’t tell you what it is! It was a perfectly fine book, it just... didn’t work for me.) I thought, Oh no, that’s not how it’s done. And I set out to do better. And now, almost ten years later, I’ve got a couple dozen published short stories, a forthcoming collection, and five and a half novels on their way, from two different presses.

 2. What were you looking for in the WSB anthology?

I know this is not helpful, but I have to say it first: good stories.

So let me elaborate. I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what kinds of stories I was looking for. I knew we wanted to keep to the “a witch, a stitch, and a bitch” theme, but that can be interpreted in so many ways, so I left myself open to whatever struck me. I chose light, silly stories, and dark, disturbing ones. Stories for adults and YA stories. Long ones and short ones. But what they all had in common was this: they held my attention all the way through.
They entertained me. I wanted to see what happened next. They let me stop being “editor” and slip into being “reader”.

I read every single story submitted, all the way through. When I mentioned this online, several more seasoned editors gently (and kindly) laughed, saying, Oh, don’t do that, it will make you crazy; you can tell a bad story right away. And, while that was largely true, I wanted to see what people were writing. I wanted to know why stories don’t work, and understand that in detail. Which leads into the next question:

 3. As an editor, can you give some helpful hints about what not to do that will give prospective writers a better edge on getting published?

I’m going to give a couple of “don’ts” and a “do” here, because they’re equally important.

Especially for newer writers: don’t overwrite. What most of the stories that didn’t make it into the anthology had in common was way too much explaining, especially of character motivation. If your characters are fully alive and realized, their reasons for doing things will be obvious; they will arise organically from your story, in the action and the characters’ interactions. So much can be revealed in dialogue and in small, telling details. Trust your reader: we get a lot more than you might think.

Another “don’t”: some of the stories didn’t grab me because they didn’t seem to be about anything. Sure, plenty of things happened, but there was no progression—nothing the main character learned or grew from. No way in which the world changed (and I don’t necessarily mean the whole wide world). Sometimes this is called theme, but I don’t want to get all high school English on you here. But a story, even a light and silly one, has to feel important. There have to be stakes for the characters, and it all has to mean something. Otherwise, it’s just not a satisfying read.

And here’s my biggest “do”: Read. Read, read, read! Now, this might be my no-TV bias here (I still don’t have one), but I don’t see how anyone can write well if they don’t read. Read widely and broadly, and pay attention to what other authors are doing—both the ones you like and the ones you don’t. Absorb how sentences go together; see what is revealed and what is only hinted at. Listen to how language works—read aloud. (Read your own work aloud too: this is astonishingly useful.) If you can pick up how punctuation and grammar work, this is a bonus, and your editors will thank you. J But I think the only way to learn how to write an effective story is to steep yourself in many, many other stories.

 4. What are your favorite witchy books or movies?

Well, not being much of a “watcher,” I can tell you about favorite books.  

I am currently reading Mindy Klasky’s Jane Madison books, and they are an absolute kick. I really enjoyed M. K. Hobson’s Native Star and its sequels. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is lovely. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is astonishing—I’ve read those several times. Galen Beckett’s trilogy which starts with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is really, really good. I love Cherie Priest’s southern gothic books, starting with Four and Twenty Blackbirds. There are so many more, but those leap to mind right away!

 5. If you could have one witchy talent what would it be?

I am tempted to say “add more hours to the day”! But, if I let go of being a grownup for a minute, I remember how much I always wanted to fly. To just lift up my arms and soar. Being the grownup I am, though, I approximate that feeling by swimming.

 6. What is next on your writing and editing horizon?

I’ve got a dark fantasy/horror novel, Eel River, coming out from Morrigan Books some time in the next few months.  And then the first book in my Nightcraft Quartet, The Queen and The Tower, comes out next spring—the story of a young witch in San Francisco who just wants a little more adventure in her life... but, of course, be careful what you ask for!

On the editing front, I’ll be doing another “three little words” anthology for Evil Girlfriend next spring (though we haven’t picked the words yet!). I also edit for Per Aspera Press; on my plate there I’ve currently got a YA werewolf series with an interesting twist, plus a single-title novella about a young man’s interesting relationship with his dead twin brother.

 7. Heels or flats?

Ha! I have a great collection of gorgeous heels, but, alas, I almost always wear my Keen sandals. You can tell I live in Oregon.

 8. Car or broomstick? (trick question...for me it's both!)


 9. Pizza or sushi?

Sushi, most definitely! Amusingly, I just had sushi for lunch today. And sashimi: even more wonderful.

 10. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mint chip, usually, though sometimes I’m a sucker for pistachio. Then, just to be peculiar: here in Portland we’ve got an artisanal ice cream company called Salt and Straw. They have a strawberry, balsamic vinegar and black pepper flavor that OH MY GOD you just have to try it to believe it.   

Thank you Shannon for visiting with us on the blog today! I am reading the anthology now and loving every page of it! I appreciate the writerly advice and am looking forward to submitting another story to the new lineup of anthologies for 2014. I can't wait to read your upcoming works!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Medium Rare Blog Tour and Giveaway

Medium Rare
by Meg Benjamin



There are no skeletons in her closet…only ghosts

Rose Ramos was a reference librarian, until she inherited her grandmother’s house—and the family talent for connecting with the other side…

Moving into the lovely Victorian in San Antonio’s King William District is a dream come true for Rose—and also a nightmare. That’s the only explanation she has for the man hovering above her bed. But Skag is a ghost who’s been part of Rose’s family for generations. And now he’s all hers.

When Evan Delwin, a reporter out to debunk the city’s newest celebrity, posts an ad looking for a research assistant to investigate a famous medium making his home in San Antonio, Skag suggests that Rose apply for the job. Delving into the dark side has its own dangers for Rose—including trying to resist Delwin’s manly charms. But as the investigation draws them closer together, the deadly currents surrounding the medium threaten to destroy them all…

Excerpt Three:

Suddenly, she heard the sound of paws galloping along the driveway, monstrous claws clicking on the asphalt. She fumbled for the key she kept in the old mailbox at the door, jamming it into the lock and twisting for all she was worth.

Close behind her, something yipped as she shoved the front door open, half falling through, trying to shove it closed with her shoulder. A large heavy projectile struck her chest with the force of a missile, blowing the door wide and throwing her down full-length just inside. She looked up into an immense mouth full of yellowing fangs. Threads of drool hung a few inches from her face.

She tried to twist away, pulling as far back as she could beneath the dog’s weight. Dread clenched her stomach as she closed her eyes. “Ohgodohgodohgod.”

“Rose!” Skag’s voice echoed through the hall. “That’s a hellhound. Stay absolutely still! Do not move!”

She couldn’t have moved if her life depended on it, which, of course, it probably did. The dog’s huge paws still held her shoulders flat against the floor. Its breath blew hot against her cheeks, smelling of old meat and open graves. She struggled to breathe under its weight, tensing for the moment it would clamp its teeth on her throat. She heard the faint creak of its jaws as they opened wider.

And then something large, damp, and utterly disgusting swiped across her cheeks.

She peeked through her lashes up into the dog’s face. Glowing orange eyes stared back as the animal prepared to lick her again.


Review: This story was a delight to read. A librarian moving into a haunted house and finding out she has a ghost with an odd sense of familiarity that is completely funny and horrible at the same time. When Skag (the ghost) decides to pick a modern television personality who also happens to be a serial killer to manifest into, Rose is left wondering if she just inherited her dream house or her worst nightmare. Enter Evan, a sexy reporter and you have a powder keg just waiting to burst wide open as the forces around Rose converge and the gates of the paranormal world stake their claim. The Hellhounds and ravens were a lovely touch and I loved the voice of the writing. I hope this isn't the last book we see in this series.

4/5 Great read!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Meg Benjamin is writes contemporary romance for Samhain Publishing and paranormal romance for Berkley InterMix. Her books have won an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the New England Romance Writers Beanpot Award, and the Holt Medallion among other honors. Meg lives in Colorado. Her Web site is and her blog is You can follow her on Facebook (, Pinterest (, and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at

Meg will be awarding a $15 Amazon gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and E-copies ofMedium Well (the preceding book in the series) to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour. So make sure you leave a comment and your email address for your chance to win.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fairies In My Fireplace Release Day Blitz

Fairies in My Fireplace
Monster Haven Book Three
R.L. Naquin

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Carina Press

Date of Publication: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 9781426896279

Number of pages: 226
Word Count: 86,000

Cover Artist: Kix by Design

Amazon      BN     Carina Press

Book Description:

Sometimes it’s the monsters who need to be saved…

A migration of mythical creatures has begun, and more and more of them are landing on Zoey Donovan's doorstep. As the only Aegis left in the country, it falls to her to protect the Hidden and keep them safe—and her house has become a sanctuary for water sprites, goblins, harpies, djinn and more.

Keeping track of her boarders is a full-time job, and Zoey's already got her hands full trying to run her wedding planning business. Good thing she has a resident closet monster to keep her organized, and a hot Reaper boyfriend to help her relax every once in a while.

But she can't keep up monster-triage indefinitely, and as more Hidden arrive, it becomes clear that someone—or something—is hunting them. In the midst of planning an event for a notoriously difficult client, Zoey's got to figure out who's behind the hunt…and she's got to stop them before there are no Hidden left.

Chapter One

As I inched across the roof of my house, the harpy nestled against my chimney regarded me with suspicion. I’d have let her stay there, but the mailman could be coming up the street soon. With all the weird things he’d already caught glimpses of on my property, I didn’t think he’d go for some half-assed explanation that she was a Halloween decoration. Especially since it was April.

I drew closer to her, and she pressed herself against the bricks. By human standards, she couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen, though maybe harpies had a different rate of aging. She was all boobs and hair and feathers. And she stank. She also clutched my car keys in her sharp, grimy claws.

I stretched my legs out on either side of the roof peak and sat back, straddling it. The harpy relaxed. I laid my hands on my thighs in as nonthreatening a manner as I could muster. I kept my voice low and casual—as casual as I could while squatting, two stories up, with cedar splinters poking me in the ass.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of here,” I said. “Are you okay?”

She frowned. I truly hoped harpies understood English, since my regular translator, an eight-month-pregnant brownie, was unavailable. The height wasn’t a problem—brownies don’t fall, they float. The climb was the issue. Molly didn’t need the strain. Her tiny body was already burdened enough with the thimble- sized life inside her.

The harpy stretched one filthy wing and shook my car keys. Her perky breasts jiggled. I kept eye contact, afraid to get caught staring. Seriously, though, they were impressive. I never felt I lacked in boobage until that moment, but if I had what she had, I’d head straight to Mardi Gras. They’d run out of beads and beer by the time I left.

An arm I didn’t know she possessed snaked out from under her greasy feathers and scratched a nipple before folding away.

She shrugged. “I’ve been better.” Her voice had a husky sound to it, like she’d been gargling with a handful of sand.

At least we could communicate. That was a good start.

“Anything you want to talk about?” I reached out to her with my empathic gift, opening myself to whatever emotions she might be leaking. Nervous energy pat- tered against my skin, tinged with the dark taste of fear.

She shook her head, and a hank of stringy blond hair dropped across her face. She peered at me, waiting.

I thought I heard a car and glanced out across the yard. No mailman yet. The driveway was clear. “Listen, we need to get you somewhere you can’t be seen, okay? You’re welcome here. Just not, you know, right here.”

She chewed on her bottom lip, thinking, measuring me up through her mat of hair. When she finally spoke, it was a whisper. “I don’t have anyplace else to go.”

I let out a breath. “Oh, honey, as long as I’m here, you have a safe place to be. You just can’t camp out on the roof. We’re protected here, but we still have to stay out of sight, okay? We’ve got trees in the back, if you want to stay in the open. There’s room in the attic if you want to come inside. No one will bother you there.”

The bird-woman shook her hair from her face and looked at me with surprise. “I can come inside?”

“Of course you can.” I smiled to reassure her. “And when you’re ready, maybe you can tell me what’s wrong?”

She nodded. “Maybe.”

I stuck my hand out, palm up. “Unless you were planning on a road trip, I could really use my keys back.”

She shifted from one foot to the other and eased toward me. A shingle knocked loose and slid down the sloping roof, crashing to the porch below.

A voice rose up the side of the house where I’d left the ladder. “Zoey! Is everything okay up there?”

The harpy froze, her face draining of color.

“It’s okay,” I said. “That’s Maurice. He’s a closet monster. You’ll like him. Everybody does.”

She looked doubtful. “You have a closet monster here?” She shuddered.

I suppressed a giggle. Like Maurice was a threat to anybody. “We have all sorts here. Maurice helps take care of everybody. I’m Zoey. What should we call you?”

“Viola. Vi, if you want.”

I grinned. “It’s nice to meet you, Vi. If you’ll hand me the keys, we can get down from here and get you settled.”

Vi scooted closer and dropped the keys in my outstretched hand. “Sorry about that,” she said. “They were so bright and shiny. Sometimes I act without thinking.”

I managed to climb down the ladder without hurting myself, and Maurice was at the bottom waiting.

“Why didn’t you answer me?” He frowned. “I was worried. And how much damage did you do up there? Are we going to have leaks when it rains? I’ve got a lot to do already.”

My lips curled in a tired smile. “Just a couple of shingles. It should be fine.” A shadow flitted above us and another chunk of wood dropped to the ground. “I need to run to the attic and open a window for our latest guest.”

Maurice sighed, his large yellow eyes weary, and his face even more gaunt and pale than usual. “I’ll take care of it. I need you to call Andrew. We’ve got a hellhound with some sort of mange or something. I put it in the garage. You’ve also got a pair of water sprites in your bathroom sink, and a family of gnomes is hiding under the back porch.”

I ran my hand through my hair and groaned. “All that showed up while I was on the roof?”

He nodded. “We’re running out of places to put people, Zoey. This is ridiculous.”

About the Author:

Rachel’s head is packed with an outrageous amount of useless Disney trivia. She is terrified of thunder, but not of lightning, and tends to recite the Disneyland dedication speech during storms to keep herself calm. She finds it appalling that nobody from Disney has called yet with her castle move-in date.

Originally from Northern California, she has a tendency to move every few years, resulting in a total of seven different states and a six-year stint in England. Currently, she’s planning her next grand adventure. Rachel has one heroic husband, two genius kids, a crazy-cat-lady starter kit, and an imaginary dog named Waffles.

She doesn’t have time for a real dog.

 Tour Wide Giveaway
3 copies of one Monster Haven ebook, winner’s choice of one book from the series
1winner of all three Monster Haven ebooks