Monday, August 29, 2016

Mark Noce Blog Tour - My Review for Between Two Fires

Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

My review:
Lady Branwen is Wales' last hope to unite divided kingdoms, but it means marrying a man she's never met. The Hammer King is a powerful warlord, and surely he will drive off the Saxon invaders and bring peace to the land again. From the beginning, Branwen's marriage is shadowed by assassination attempts and a spy within. Yet she must choose between duty and love when she falls for a hedge knight named Artagan. But can she save her people and be true to herself at the same time?

A magnificent historical romance that has renewed my love for the genre. Long ago, I became a fan of The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It's been a long time since another medieval tale has captured me in the same way, but I found the magic again in Between Two Fires. It's masterfully written with beautiful detail and wondrous settings. The action is intense and the mystery clever.

Right from the beginning I was hooked, and it is because of the fantastic characterization. Branwen is a strong and admirable heroine. She might be young when she's married, but she has to grow up fast to survive. Artagan might come off as a flashy flirt, but there's so much more to him under it. The whole cast of characters is many layered, and they make this world even more brilliant.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book in a giveaway, and I was under no obligation to review it. But when something this amazing comes along, I want to share it with the world! I cannot wait for more from Mark Noce.

Buy the book:

Praise from Bestselling Authors for Between Two Fires
“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter
“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.

Social Media Links:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Prepare yourself for the Dorn Sisters

Because we couldn't wait until the first big snowfall...

The first three books in the Totem series are now available for pre-order!

Release date: October 17th, 2016

It’s a dark day when someone murders one of their own.

Release date: October 31st, 2016

It’s not only the dead who whisper upon the wind.

Release date: November 14th, 2016

No one messes with Saskia Dorn's family and gets away with it.

Join my newsletter by putting your email address into the little widget on my sidebar and be among the first to get exclusive Totem excerpts and giveaways.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Time To Get Your Game On!

Final Score: Part 1

Book 5 in the Game On Series

by Kyra Lennon



 Leah Walker and Radleigh McCoy have overcome a lot of personal demons to be together, but what happens when everything they’ve worked to build is threatened? With wedding plans in full swing and Leah settled into her role as a stay at home mum, life is just about perfect. However, an unexpected job offer sparks tension between the couple, and when someone from Radleigh’s past shows up in Westberg with a life-altering revelation, Leah and Radleigh’s relationship is shaken to the core. Just when Leah and Radleigh seemed to have it all together, their happy home is ripped in two, leaving them both with some tough choices to make. Will they be able to overcome their problems and make it down the aisle, or will outside temptations make them say goodbye forever? 

Amazon US | Amazon UK


About The Author

Kyra Lennon was born on the South coast of England, and to this day, still lives by the sea. Fiction writing has always been her passion, but she also has numerous articles on a variety of topics published on prolific websites.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Five for August 19th, 2016

1. Hello, everyone! It's been a while since I've had a Friday Five. Things have been super busy in my world, and then every single person in my household got sick. Not with just a little cold either. Horribly sick. My poor husband still hasn't recovered from his terrible bronchitis after a month. With all of that, I'm way behind where I want to be writing-wise. I'll be blogging only once a week for the next two months in an attempt to catch up.

2. My little guy started grade one, and he's loving school. Grade one is a big jump not only for him, but for us as parents too. It's so different than the fun and play-as-you-learn activities kindergarten. Reading and math assignments, spelling tests, social studies, and science.

3. I revealed the first three of my Totem series covers this Wednesday. It finished up my summer series on the mad science of book covers. I'm immensely pleased with the way they turned out, and I've gotten terrific feedback about them. Now I need to come up with taglines and blurbs. Yikes!

4. I finished revising Totem #3, and I'm ready to start writing the first draft of Totem #6. I'd hoped to be one more book ahead of this, but I'm pushing onward still shooting for my mid-October release date.

5. For the first time in over eight weeks, I'll have a quiet weekend. I have my local critique group meeting, but that's it. I'm going to rest and enjoy some quiet time with a good book.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - the final Totem covers!

We're here! Thank you so much for joining me on this mad journey. I've gotten excellent feedback on this series of blog posts. I hope I've given some of you the courage to experiment with graphics yourself.

Make sure you've caught up on all the parts of the mad science of book covers to see my bare elements before I hacked them to pieces and glued them together!

Part 1 - knowing the book cover elements of your genre.
Part 2 - the basic elements.
Part 3 - image shopping and backgrounds.
Part 4 - cover models.
Part 5 - fonts and the remaining elements.

Remember back at the beginning when I said not to form a definite picture in your mind of what you wanted as your cover? When you see my covers, you'll understand why. I had to make several last minute changes, but wow, they worked out so well. It makes me giddy just looking at them!

I'm also going to include covers that did not make the cut. This way you can see why I wasn't around much last week. I had to tap into that creative madness.


Dark Dawning with our lovely protagonist, Ametta Dorn. I was lucky to find this cover model. She is Ametta to a tee! And thankfully, she fit well with the background.

Troubles: I had a golden eagle in the background. It's an important part of this story, but it didn't stand out. It also took away from the overall mysterious effect. After I had some other eyes on the cover who agreed, I removed the bird. In fact, I removed all the totem animals from the covers. It made them cleaner and allows your eyes to focus on the people. The biggest decision I had to make was the color of the background. If you remember the original image, it was gold. And I loved the gold. I still do. Blue or gold, blue or gold. When I saw all three covers together, I knew it had to be blue.

Watch out behind you, Ametta! There's a bad hunter silhouette! I think he has a gun. I'm not sure. He could be roasting marshmallows.


The middle sister with her geeky tendencies, Kinley Dorn. I had several poses of this one model, and I'd been set on using another one. But when I got frustrated with it, I tried this pose and wowed myself. It's kind of ethereal, and it suits her so much.

Troubles: the model, oh yes. I wanted to use the image of her standing there with her arms crossed in a black tank top. But it wouldn't work with the background. The lighting on the model was yellow, and no matter how I played with it, it wasn't working. I originally avoided the above image because of the hair. It's difficult to trim around fine strands of hair, but when I darkened the background, it matched the color of the model image's background. I didn't have to trim!

Secret fix: Remember when I told you to buy model images that had three-fourths or their entire bodies in the pictures? That one isn't a full body shot. In fact, she was cut off above the eyebrows. I added in the top of her head. Can you tell?

Months ago, I thought a snowy swirl at the bottom of the cover would look neat. What the heck was I thinking?


Don't tick Saskia off! I think the glare says as much. It's not the original model I wanted, but she has all the attitude I needed.

Troubles: Another last minute model change. None of the images of the model I chose for Saskia worked with the background. This time, they were just too bright. I was tempted to go buy another one, but I went through my image file and spotted this woman. Not quite what I imagined Saskia to look like, but she has the power and strength. Plus, the black jacket! I had to add on the top of her head too.

Oh man. That snowy swirl is hideous! And the middle model... a little stunned looking. Plus, I tried putting a tattoo on her. Ha! Thankfully with the model on the final cover, her hair covers her neck and chest, so I didn't have to worry about tattoos. Does the fox look like it's flying?

Whew. We made it. And nothing blew up! Well, maybe I did a few times, but I'm getting pretty good at putting tops of heads back on.

What do you think of the covers? Also, are you interested in seeing similar posts when I put together the covers for the remaining six Totem books? Yes, there are nine books in total! The next three will feature the heroes. The final three will have... uh, the couples or their animals. Maybe? I don't know! I need to write them first.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - the mad science of book covers (part 5)

Slip on your labcoats and adjust your goggles. It's time for another session of the mad science of book covers!

Here's a quick review:
Part 1 - knowing the book cover elements of your genre.
Part 2 - the basic elements.
Part 3 - image shopping and backgrounds.
Part 4 - cover models.

I'm going to cover the rest of the base elements, and I'll do my best not to rattle on. Though I think I could do a whole series about choosing fonts for the covers. Fonts haunted me for weeks while I designed the Totem series.

For my urban fantasy series, the basic elements for the covers are: mood creating background, silhouetted villain, unsmiling protagonist, and something to tie all covers together for the series. Possibly the shifter's animal.

We've covered backgrounds and the unsmiling protagonist, and I'm leaving out the silhouetted villain. Instead of featuring the shifters' animals, I'm adding in a different totem animal on each cover which they'll be hunting in each book. These I'll blend into the background, and truly, if you don't have the Photoshop skills to do it, this is something that can be skipped. Something I have battled with myself and remain undecided about.

The next vital element is something to tie all the covers together for the series. I knew what I wanted to do ever since I came up with the concept. I wanted frost creeping up over the edges of the covers. Just a touch. It will be the same on every book. Easy, right?

Nope. I tried so many different types of frost. I wanted it to look icy, but it wasn't working. Why wasn't it working?

Instead, I stepped back and looked at it as if it were a puzzle. I ended up piecing together bits from a frosted pane of glass. This is what the original image looks like:

Pretty on its own. Plus, it's a good way to make sure my Totem bear logo is clearly seen on the bottom corner of each cover. The logo will contain the number of the book.

Now you've seen all my bare images. But just as important as the pictures are the fonts you choose. Check out my post about finicky fonts for tips on how to choose yours.

Fonts are difficult for me. I tend to lean toward plain types. That can be a good thing. You want your readers to be able to read your title and name after all.

Seeing the title for my first book and my name, you're probably wondering why did I stress so much over it? It looks simple. And that's good. It's my job to make it attractive and easy for people to read.

If you click on the image, you'll see the title is textured. Like cracked ice or birch bark. It's subtle, but it adds a lot of character to it. I used the craquelure effect in Photoshop.

Choosing colors for the fonts was difficult too. Each of my covers have different backgrounds. There's a wide array of colors going on which make it hard to see fonts of most shades. I hadn't intended to go with white, but it works with everything. The light gold of my name stands out enough but doesn't draw all your attention.

Whew. I didn't blow anything up. I call that a successful mad science session.

Next week, I'll show you the completed versions of the first three covers of the Totem series.

Feel free to ask any questions. Or share your cookies. Cookies would be much appreciated.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Thing That Turned Me

A diverse group of authors, bloggers, speakers and editors has come together to bring you a unique collection of writings: “The Thing that Turned Me,” an anthology revolving around the people, places and things in our lives that ‘turn’ us, or cause us to change in some way.

A patchwork quilt of talent collaborates on this new and exciting project, inviting a singular synergy to the anthology that will leave you turning pages without delay. Works within the anthology range from Science Fiction and Fantasy to Creative Non-Fiction, and beyond. Poetry blends with prose in this variegated ensemble of stories, poems and essays.

“The Thing That Turned Me” is soon to be available in paperback and ebook.

Imani Allen - “Rehema”
Michelle Athy - “The Disappearance of Miss Mary Dawkins”
Madalyn Beck - “Hard to Love”
Diane Carlisle - “The Window”
Alex J. Cavanaugh - “CassaDawn”
Crystal Collier - “The Shadow King’s Pet”
Cathrina Constantine - “Rising Star~Falling Heart”
Michael Di Gesu - “Through Shades of Gray”
Tonja Drecker - “A Glowworm”
Deanie Humphrys-Dunne - “The Journey”
Sherry Ellis - “Finding My Voice”
Elise Fallson - “Deadly Encounters”
Heather M. Gardner - “Before We Break”
Samantha Redstreake Geary - “Don’t be Koi”
Misha Gerrick - “Ryan”
Krystal Hillsman - “Broken Wings”
Celeste Holloway - “Shadows Falling on Rainbows”
Harper L. Jameson - “The Blanket”
Randi Lee - “Off the Horse”
Terrance Dwayne Mack - “When I Went Crazy”
K.D. Martin - “Invariant”
Tyrean Martinson - “Letting Go: A Siren Song”
Melissa Maygrove - “Malice”
Nana Prah - “Finding the Light”
Christine Rains - “George and the Dragon”
Melanie Schulz - “The Reader”
Elizabeth Seckman - “Shifting Sands”
Tara Tyler - “The Day Dave Broke the Internet”
Jenny Vyas - Artwork for “Don’t be Koi”
Michelle Wallace - “Shades of Deception”
L. Diane Wolfe - “Revelation”
Roland Yeomans - “Wednesday’s Child”