B2BCyCon2017, Scavenger Hunts, and Publicity Hounds

A Round-Up of the Weekend

The B2BCyCon event is at an end, but the fun isn’t over, and I’m left wondering what’s happening next.

After spending the best part of two months coordinating over seventy authors, putting together scavenger hunt quizzes, arranging genre tours, and fighting technical issues that could have derailed my planned discussion panels, I’m finding myself with a lot of spare time all of a sudden.

But, that’s not going to stop me working on the post-event activities that will help me get stuff ready for next year, and improve on what we did as a genre.

Things That Went Right:

  • We ran THREE very successful discussion panels, (despite some technical issues on my end). I’d like to thank everyone who took part, either as a panelist, or watched from the sidelines, and commented in the chat. Those videos are still available.
  • The Scavenger Hunt has received a LOT of very POSITIVE feedback. See the breakdown below for some interesting stats.
  • I saw a lot of our genre members interacting with the readers, and other writers, which was great to see, especially from those new to the event.
  • For those of you who took part in live events, discussions, or dropped in to see me fumble my way through running discussion panels for the first time… THANK YOU! This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to do these events, and why I volunteered to do so much behind-the-scenes work this year.
  • Brain to Books launched it’s first anthology collection, with stories provided by participating authors – including “April Fool (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels #0.5)”. The proceeds from “Book Dreams: Volume 1” will be funneled back into funding the 2018 CyCon.
  • We were BY FAR the BIGGEST genre at the event, and event though I didn’t manage to reach EVERYONE, I think we all learned a lot along the way.

Things That Went Wrong:

  • For me, it was technical problems on Sunday, that almost canceled the last of the discussion panels.
  • Also, I should NEVER send emails when I’m tired, especially without checking that I changed everything I needed to.
  • The biggest thing we’re looking at behind-the-scenes, for next year, is ways to clean up communication channels, and better represent the various events being run.

The Scavenger Hunt – A Breakdown

The First Lines Scavenger Hunt has apparently been a success on a number of levels. Even though it’s still running until Saturday, I thought I’d give you a breakdown of the stats so far (as of 4/10/17).

  • We had 77 Visitors
  • 13 of those visitors completed the whole quiz
  • The average completion time was 40 minutes, meaning people spent time actually visiting the book pages
  • Of those who completed the quiz, only 2 got a wrong answer (and ONLY one wrong). I’ll NOT be disqualifying them from the prize draw as a result of this, because right answers was never really the goal.
  • 9 of the 13 have agreed to signup for newsletters from the participating authors.
  • On a 1-to-10 scale, 9 people rated this quiz a 10, 1 rated it a 9, 2 rated it a 6, and 1 rated it a 4. From my perspective that means we had an enjoyable quiz, in a format that people found interesting enough to do again.

So in conclusion, I would DEFINITELY run this event again, even if we don’t get any more participation. That said, PLEASE feel free to pass the word around that the quiz is still running, and will close on Saturday night. Here’s the link: https://timothybatesonauthor.typeform.com/to/tshdCP

It Gets Better…

Even more interestingly though… This little quiz drew very positive comments from someone I have followed for a while, and whose opinion I trust. Joan Stewart (AKA The Publicity Hound) is a blogger, publicity consultant, and mentor, who has helped a lot of small businesses and self-published authors become better at marketing what they do, and who they are.

The Publicity Hound puts out a twice-weekly email, with tips, blog posts, videos, training classes and dog videos. In Tuesday’s edition of her email, there was a section on using quizzes as a means to get people’s attention, along with an invitation to have a quiz featured in her blog.

Well, I sent out the information about the Scavenger Hunt quiz, along with a link, and Ms Stewart was very interested in featuring it. I’m very excited by this development, not just because the quiz was really an interesting experiment, but because The Publicity Hound emails and blog posts go out to a massive audience.

We are just discussing some final details, and I’ll post the link if/when it goes live on her blog.

Some Thoughts From Other Participating Authors

Here are some thoughts from other B2BCyCon participating authors:

If you took part in the Cyber Convention, either as a reader, or as an author, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments.

And here’s those discussion panels for you…


Book Spotlight: Claiming My Valentine (Anthology) – Pre-order Now!

 

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Enter the hot sexy world of New York Times, USA Today, And Award Winning Bestselling Authors!

Tami Lund, Julia Mills, C.D. Gorri, P.T. Macias, P. Mattern, Crystal Dawn, A.R. Von, Savannah Morgan, Audra Hart, Ariel Marie, Josette Reuel, Amanda Kimberley, Heather Kirchhoff, Daniella Whitehorse

Do you like steamy tales of passion, desire, seduction, and love? Step into a steamy romance with Claiming My Valentine, a collection of 14 sexy paranormal stories guaranteed to make your heart pound and your Kindle melt this Valentine’s Day . . . .

Explore your deepest desires and hidden fantasies as they come to life in these tempting tales of love! Claiming My Mate features Shifters, Dragons, Werewolves, Bears, Vampires, Fae, Ghosts, Angels, and more!

*All Proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Add to Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon US : AU : CA : DE : UK

Barnes & Noble : iBooks : Kobo : Smashwords

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Table of Contents:

  • Broken Light, Lightbearer Prequel Part 2 by Tami Lund
  • Claiming Cupid by Julia Mills
  • The Dragon’s Valentine by C.D. Gorri
  • Claiming My Angel by P.T. Macias
  • Sex Slave to My Vampire Billionaire Stepbrothers: An MC Valentine Romance by P. Mattern
  • Searching for His Mate by Ariel Marie
  • Blazing Desire by Crystal Dawn
  • Heart of Ink by A.R. Von
  • Hearts, Flowers, & A Dead Husband by Savannah Morgan
  • Darkheart’s Valentine by Audra Hart
  • Love Burns by Josette Reuel
  • Forever Cherished by Amanda Kimberley
  • Forever Yours by Heather Kirchhoff
  • A Fae’s Mate by Daniella Whitehorse

The Dragon’s Valentine by C.D. Gorri

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…..Callius’ golden Dragon eyes landed on each of his brothers. He opened his long snout full of rows of razor sharp teeth and loosed a roar of blue and red flame against the whited-out sky.

He would miss them. They were his flesh, his blood, and his constant companions these five-hundred years. But he understood.

Agreed. Take care, my brothers. As head of our family this is my pledge to you, I will find a castle and I will find a mate! Then I will send for you.

Choose wisely, brother. The diamond rose is special.

Farewell and much luck to you on your quest!

Yes! May you be successful!

Callius and his brothers parted ways. It was a bittersweet parting, but the idea that one day they would be a Clan of their own kept Callius on a steady course. His purpose grew stronger with every passing moment.

Soon an idea of Castle Falk began taking shape in his mind’s eye. Not an old stone mausoleum like the one he came from. No, he wanted something new and modern. With a pool! Ha! That would be something!

But first things first, he reminded himself.

Find a mate and claim her.

“Dammit,” Fred struggled under the three cases of booze she lugged up the cellar stairs to The Thirsty Dog.

Being a Werewolf had its perks, but none of them helped her as she banged her elbow on the door frame while exiting the musty old cellar. If anything, she only hit it harder. Ouch!

It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t see over the cases of long necks, was it? What could she do about her height? Not a damn thing!

So, she was kind of short for a Werewolf. She stood about five-foot five inches tall. Cool for a normal, but next to her six foot plus Packmates, she was tiny.

Her weight was good, she remained a solid buck forty, mostly muscle, and that was without working out. She got enough exercise between her two jobs and full moon runs with the Pack.

Yup. She was one busy woman. But that’s how she liked it. Keep moving, stay busy, no worries. That was something her older brother used to say…”

Claiming My Angel by P. T. Macias

claiming-my-angel-cover-pt-macias“Hell, fucking hell!”

Jared drinks down the last of the whiskey in the glass. He sits on the bar stool watching the dance floor. He looks up and gazes into Angel’s beautiful glowing violet eyes. He frowns and turns around.

Angelique smiles, her small even white teeth gleam, and her dimples flash. She walks anxiously towards Jared; she extends her long legs in a graceful gait. Her beautiful long shiny black hair flows down her back past her waist. The coral dress drapes softly over her luscious curves.

Her smile freezes on her face as she sees him turn away from her. Her glowing violet eyes tear up, and she turns away blushing. Her translucent white shimmering skin looks like a pink pearl. She takes short quick steps, her back straight, and her head held high. She walks over to her friends blinking rapidly to clear her violet tears away.

“What the fuck! I can’t stay away from her, I see her everywhere, and this is insane. She’s a fucking Angel! How in the hell could I even think of touching her again!”

He runs his left hand through his dark locks and clenches his right hand. He narrows his eyes and looks at her through the mirror behind the bar.

I can’t allow them to see me cry because they don’t have a clue that I love Jared McKenzie. Geeze, my best friend Cindi is his sister, and I don’t have the nerve even to mention it.

The moment that I looked into his beautiful gray eyes, I fell in love. I was his, and the incredible bonding happened. Our souls are one. Mercy, he’s my mate.

I was sent by the Angel sentinel to heal him. I monitor his fragile soul; I poured some mystical love and life into him. I nurtured him back to life when he was dying in that cave alone.

Blazing Desire by Crystal Dawn

Fancher breathed in the sweet scent of the bubble bath mixing in with the aroma of Skye’s arousal and their combined scent from their recent joining. Everything was perfect right now if he didn’t think about what the future might bring.

He stepped into the tub first because he knew it would be a little slippery and he intended to help her in. He held out his hand and she took it so he could hold her steady.

She shivered in his arms as he helped her to slide down into the tub before he slid down behind her. It felt wonderful to be in the hot relaxing water with Skye’s back presses up against him. If she would just move up and sit on his lap it would feel even better.

He poured some soap in his hands and lathered up. His hands massaged her shoulders and she moaned and relaxed. He continued down her back and then worked on the other side.

“That feels amazing.” She admitted.

“I like the feeling of your silky skin under my fingers too. Do you want to sit on my lap?”

“Why? Do you have a surprise for me?” She teased.

“I do and it’s a big one.” He chuckled.

Forever Cherished by Amanda Kimberly

Through physical and emotional struggles Keme and Chepi will unite two opposing tribes with love.

“My name is Wisakachek, and I have lost my way from my tribe. It is now too dark for me to travel. Would you mind if I camp with you for the evening?”

“No not at all. Please join us.” Keme said.

“Thank you. I was going to try to press on, but I smelled your dinner and the delicious aroma compelled me to stop. You see, I have been traveling for a couple of days and I have not had luck finding anything to eat.”

“There is a bear claiming the deer meat around here, I am afraid.” Keme stated flatly. “You can have some of ours.”

“Do you have a little to spare for my tribe? I was the one hunting, and like I said, it’s been awfully hard to hunt.”

Keme did not want to give up the little meat they had for the tribe, but he was confident that the gods would provide them with meat by dawn. “Yes. We can share some of the hunt with you.”

“But Keme—”

Keme raised his hand to Matchitehew before he finished his sentence.

“You are both too kind. In exchange for your kindness, I would like to offer you a gift in return.” Wisakachek said.

“A gift?”

“Yes. I’d like to offer you the power to hunt for your tribe without the fear of being hunted yourself.”

“And how do you propose that? Are you a magical medicine man or something?” Matchitehew chuckled.

“Something like that, yes.” Wisakachek said with a smile as he continued, “I am the spirit god who is the guardian over an ancient and magical art known as shape-shifting.”

“Shape-shifting? You mean like being able to change yourself into anything at will?” Keme persisted.

“Not exactly. The art of shape-shifting is the animal form of a wolf.”

Keme’s eyes widened.

“A wolf is a powerful creature! It can bring almost any creature to its knees! Maybe not the grizzly that has been giving us trouble, but a wolf is powerful. I could harness its power to feed my entire village! They would never go hungry again. That would be wonderful!”

Love Burns by Josette Reuel

loveburn-cover-josette-revelCan a dragon claim Hyacinth’s heart this Valentine’s Day or will love burn her, yet again?

Just over a year ago, Hyacinth’s life had imploded. Her then fiancé and now ex, Tom, was found in flagrante delicto with the next door neighbor. There was a time that Hy would’ve said that she and Tom had a future, but when she ended the relationship she was more embarrassed than sad. Since the breakup, Tom seemed to find every possible reason to bother her – unnecessary meetings with her boss and eating lunch at her favorite restaurants – and reminded her that she would never find anyone to love her overly ample frame.

Even though she was better without him, it had been difficult when she packed up and moved from where she had lived with Tom. She had been comfortable in her life with him.

Since the breakup, she simply went to work, went to the bookstore, the grocery store, and home. As a foster child, she had grown up in many different homes, so even today she had few friends. It was a learned mechanism for her, distancing herself from others kept her from getting hurt. Somehow Tom had forced himself past her barriers and she had broken rule one in her survival guide. Hyacinth was determined not to let it happen again.

Then it did. Lightning struck. That day six months ago when her gaze lifted from her computer screen and fell into the deep blue eyes of a god.

The sizzle that sped up and down her body was everything Hy had ever read about love at first sight. Her heart raced so fast that it felt like it would burst from her chest. Her mouth went dry and she became a blathering fool.

*

Hyacinth Seirres had just typed the salutation of Mr. Trollmann’s letter when the chime alerted her to someone entering the office. She quickly saved the file and placed her hands on her desktop, ready to help their visitor.

Her gaze slid over her desk and landed on tailored black dress pants, which were not unusual for her boss’ clients, but when her eyes roamed up the dark wool covered legs the journey lasted longer than average, which was unusual when compared to the average men she normally spoke with. The man standing in front of her could not be described as average in any way. He was extremely tall, well built, and dressed immaculately. Continuing her visual journey, she encountered a trim waist and a silky cotton green shirt before finally landing on a masculine face. Hy’s perusal of the man only took a few seconds, but when she gazed into the deep ocean depths of the man’s eyes, time lost all meaning.

Desire raged through Hyacinth’s body and her mouth went dry as flames caressed over her skin.

“I’m here to see Mr. Trollmann.”

The hum of the deep vibrato soothed her.

“Miss?” She watched in stunned silence as a hand reached forward and a single finger caressed under her chin. “Are you alright?” He asked as his finger applied pressure and pushed her mouth closed.

“Brann Drahgue!” Mr. Trollmann rushed from his office and clasped the man in one of those classic man hugs. “It’s been ages since I’ve spoken to you, what brings you to my humble corner of the world?”

Laughter rang out through the room.

“I wish it was for a visit, but I need your services.”

“Come this way.” Hy’s boss now wore a grim expression as he waved his friend to precede him. “Hyacinth, please hold my calls.”

It wasn’t until the office door clicked shut that Hy felt her brain reboot. That was when several intense emotions surfaced in rapid fire succession.

Mortification. Desire. Lust. Embarrassment. Curiosity. And, a feeling of rightness that she had never felt before took hold and wrapped her tightly in its comforting embrace. All for someone she just met.

Forever Yours by Heather Kirchhoff

I spin around, stalking away from them. I’m not paying attention to where I’m going, and I accidentally run into someone. I step backwards, almost losing my balance, but the person grabs a hold of me. His touch feels very warm. It almost felt like there was something more…but it’s more likely just my imagination.

“I’m sorry,” I mutter as embarrassment rushes into me. I look up at who I ran into, and my face suddenly feels hot.

He has shaggy black hair, with dark green eyes. His skin is a light tan. His cheekbones are sharp, while his jaw is square. His lips are thin. He must be about six feet tall compared to my five eight. His arms are well defined, but they aren’t overly muscular. I can only imagine what his body is like underneath his turquoise T-shirt and black jeans.

Whoa, slow down there, I think to myself, shaking my head as I try to clear my thoughts. No need to go that far.

“Are you okay there, princess?”

It takes me a minute to realize I’m staring at him with wide eyes. I wouldn’t be surprised if my mouth was dropped opened wide, with drool pooling out of it.

He looks irresistible.

Like, the kind of guy I never thought I’d see in person.

My heart stops beating as soon as his eyes meets mine. My mouth feels dry all of a sudden, and I can’t find any words.

He smirks at me, and throws me a wink. Oh man. My stomach flips upside down when he does that.

Stalk the Authors Here:

~ Christine Gorri ~

Website : Newsletter : Facebook : Twitter

~ Amanda Kimberley ~

Website : Newsletter : Blog : Facebook

~ AR Von ~

Website : Facebook : Twitter

~ Tami Jarecki Lund ~

Website : Facebook : Twitter

~ Heather Kirchhoff ~

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~ P.T. Macias ~

Website : Facebook : Twitter

~ Ariel Marie ~

Website : Facebook : Twitter

~ Josette Reuel ~

Website : Newsletter : Facebook : Twitter

~ Crystal Dawn ~

Website : Facebook

~ Savannah Morgan ~

Website : Newsletter : Facebook : Twitter

~ Daniella Whitehorse ~

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~ Audra Hart ~

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~ Julia Mills ~

Website : Facebook : Twitter

~ P. Mattern~

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Book Spotlight – “Child Of The Night Guild” (Releasing January 17th) by Andy Peloquin

Overview

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

Buy Now : Goodreads, Amazon (Kindle), Amazon (Canada)

From the Author

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!

Links

Website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Amazon, YouTube

Author Spotlight – J.N. Sheats

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Introducing J.N. Sheats

I’m a paranormal author, but before I published my first book I was a freelance illustrator and designer. Today I do all three. I love creating covers and new graphics for not only myself, but other authors as well.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Sure, my latest book was released in October 2016, and it’s titled Lineage, the first in the J.J. Morris mysteries.

The book centers on the small town of Portstown, and Joey Morris. A teenager that has lived a unique life moving around ever since she was eleven. Now that’s back in her family’s hometown she has settled into a nice flow of life, until mysterious wild dog attacks start.

This book is full of paranormal goodies, everything from murderous hounds, to wandering spirits.

Who is your intended readership?

While the book itself focuses on characters in their mid teens, my readership is more adult. My books tend to be rather dark, haunting, and violent with adult themes for a more grownup audience.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

8th grade, I had a dream which I thought would be an awesome book, and from that day forward I was writing in notebooks. Never thought it would ever go anywhere, and for a while it went onto the back burner but not anymore.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

I have too many favorite authors to list them all; as for inspiration I pull it from all over. From movies, watching people interact, or family drama. I never know where the idea for my next book is going to show up.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Write, just write. Don’t worry about genres, or fitting into this type of writing style or following this outlining process. Just write whatever you want, be true to yourself and your characters.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

I do have a quote I love. I stumbled upon it when I was studying animation, but I feel it applies to writing or any creative art.

“As an artist you have 10,000 bad drawings given to you at birth. Now spend your lifetime getting them out!” ~Sheldon Borenstein

Change the drawings to drafts and it rings true for writers.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I have too many hobbies. Aside from writing I illustrate/draw, garden, make jewelry, cook, read, and watch tons of brain rotting television.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I have a lot of little projects in the works, including a short fantasy series that will be released monthly in a special newsletter, called Divine Legacy. As far as my next big project, that would have to be Dreamscape, JJ Morris #2.

I always have goodies to tease people with. How about a look at the new character coming in Dreamscape?

Riann

A shy college student that comes face to face with the Dream Conductor and lives to tell about it. Frightened by the Conductor’s plans for her and others like her, Riann seeks out Joey for help. But the Dream Conductor is known for manipulating people, and using them for their own evil deeds. Can Riann trust herself and her judgment or is she putting Joey and the others in danger?

Catch the first 5 raw unedited chapters of Lineage on my blog:

Inside the Insanity

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

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About The Author:

J.N. Sheats is an artist turned author. Living in Maryland with six wild cats, and her husband, J.N. spends her days designing covers and teasers for other authors. At night she is at the mercy of her demanding characters, and their wild fantasies.

Dark Paranormal Fantasy is her preferred genre of writing, but anything is game. Maybe even a lovely romance novel or two in the near future.

When not writing, designing, or drawing, J.N. spends her time doing a host of other activities. Including: gardening, jewelry making, cooking, and watching far too much television.

Catch what’s up in J.N. Sheats’ crazy life with the links below. Stalkers welcomed. 😉

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Blog : Newsletter

Get exclusive sneak-peeks and more of Dreamscape, JJ Morris #2, on my patreon.

BECOME MY PATRON

Follow the progress of Dreamscape and all writing/art projects. Plus, first looks at raw chapters, prizes, deleted scenes, and much more!

“A dream is but a lie humanity embraces with eager submission—longing for it’s devious reality.”

~The Dream Conductor, Dreamscape~

 

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Enter To Win A $100 Amazon Gift Card – Check Out This Cyber Convention Sampler

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So You’ve Seen My Post About The 2017 Brain To Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo – Confused?

Well, here’s your chance to get an sample of what you can expect from the main event.

Angela has collected together authors from a number of genres, to bring you some amazing books and events.

I’d love to list all the events and giveaways, but the nice thing about how this is all set up, is that you can go from one event to another, just as you would in a regular convention. So… Here’s how to get everything!

Get Access To All The Events & Giveaways

Enjoy three days of fun, games, and prizes

Click Here!

Author Spotlight – C.L. Schneider

C.L. Schneider is an author that some of you might already be familiar with from my “Crown of Stones” Series Spotlight back in February.

I’ve had the pleasure of being in email contact with her, despite her upcoming deadline for her current project. It was a pleasure reading her responses to the questions, and finding out we have a lot of interests in common. We share a love of Jim Butcher’s work, and both believe in the power of networking.

Without the work of Jim Butcher, and Dean Koontz, I would very likely never have had the courage to start consider writing in the first person, and immerse myself as fully in my characters as I do. But, it’s the power of networking that allows me to discover some amazing indie authors, bring them to your attention, and give their readers a chance to discover my own work.

So, without further delay, it’s time for you to meet the wonderful C.L. Schneider…

Introducing C.L. Schneider

C.L. Schneider grew up in a small Kansas town on the Missouri River, in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel was penned at sixteen on a type-writer in her parent’s living room. A self-published author of adult epic and urban fantasy, C. L. currently resides in New York’s Hudson Valley region with her husband and two sons. Her trilogy, The Crown of Stones, is an immersive epic dark fantasy that follows the trials of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

My name is C. L. (Cynthia or Cindy) Schneider, I am a self-published author of epic and urban fantasy. Originally from a small town in Kansas, I now live in New York’s Hudson Valley Region with my husband and two sons, a hound dog, a kitten named Holly, and Skittles, the grumpy old cat who hates her. I’m a stay at home mom turned full time writer. I published my first novel (The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price) in late December of 2013. Holding that book in my hands for the first time was the best Christmas present ever!

Most of my day is spent at my laptop, or letting the various animals in and out of the house. Coffee, wine, chocolate, and my cell phone are never far out of reach. My guilty pleasures are zombies, Netflix, shopping, torturing my characters, and Twitter (where I am using talking about zombies, Netflix, shopping, and torturing my characters).

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My last release, in February 2016, was The Crown of Stones: Magic-Borne. The final installment in The Crown of Stones Trilogy, Magic-Borne wraps up the story of Ian Troy and his dark journey to embrace the one thing he fears most: his own power.  Only then can Ian have a hope of stopping the war, healing the racial divide among the realms, saving the people he cares for, ending the slave laws, and curing his people’s addiction to magic. But the freedom and peace he seeks will only come through great personal sacrifice. Will Ian pay what fate requires?

Magic-Borne was as much an emotional journey for my characters as it was for me. I had lived and breathed Ian Troy and his world for quite a few years. To say it was sad to wrap up the trilogy and say goodbye, is an understatement. It also felt amazing. Ian’s story with the Crown of Stones is complete, but there are definitely more stories to be told down the road, with these characters and in the world that I created for them.

Who is your intended readership?

I write for anyone who likes dark character-driven epic and urban fantasy with lots of twists and turns. My writing is for adults. I don’t shy away from mature themes.  I write flawed characters and anti-heroes, whose decisions are sometimes far from good. My intention is to tell an entertaining story that draws my readers in and makes them feel.  Whether they laugh, cry, or curse me, as long as I’ve sparked some emotion, then I’ve done my job.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I caught the writing bug when I was a child. By the time I was sixteen, I was dreaming of becoming a published author. I started writing my first full length novel that summer (which is currently sitting in a box in my closet). I never stopped writing after that, but school, career, and family happened, and my dream was put on the back burner for many years. When my children were old enough to be in school full time, I was finally able to devote myself to writing full time. That’s when The Crown of Stones Trilogy was first born.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

One of my favorite authors, who had a large influence on my early writing, is C. J. Cherryh. I discovered her books when I was in my early 20’s and read everything I could get my hands on. Her Gate series (The Morgaine Saga) is amazing, and I fell in love with her Rusalka trilogy. Her character-driven stories just swept me away and taught me so much about developing flawed characters.

Later on, I discovered Jim Butcher and Simon R. Greene, and I devoured their books. I had always enjoyed reading and writing in first person. It felt more natural to me. Yet, I was told to avoid writing in it, because it was hard to do well. Reading Jim Butcher and Simon Greene, and seeing how they handled first person, gave me the courage and confidence to write the way I always wanted to. Their influence allowed me to tell a traditional epic fantasy story with a more contemporary voice.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

  • Write every day if you can. Flexing your creative muscle on a regular basis will help you find your own voice. Even if it’s only a few lines and you delete it the next day, it makes a difference.
  • Don’t just read in the genre you’re writing in or only read epics because that’s what you like to write. Read across all genres. Read short stories, novellas, epics, poetry. Not only can it be a source of inspiration, it’s a great learning experience. It will help you get a feel for things like character development, pacing, for how other authors handle certain points of view. There is so much you can learn just by reading another’s work.
  • Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. It’s a comfy place, but nothing will ever happen if you stay inside.
  • Share your stories and ask for feedback. Connect and network with other authors. They are a goldmine of resources and inspiration, even friendship.
  • Write fearlessly. Don’t just write outside of the box, throw the box away. Never be afraid to push your limits.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I’m a Netflix junkie. Does that count?? I enjoy baking, walking/hiking, and reading. I love the movies, and I’m a bit of a foodie. My husband and I both are. From food trucks in Hawaii to fine dining in Quebec, we love the presentation and experience of finding new and exotic foods and drinks to enjoy.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

My current work in progress is Nite Fire, the first book in my new adult urban fantasy series. Nite Fire is told from the POV of female protagonist, Dahlia Nite, an empathic shapeshifter from a parallel world. The series is present day and set mainly in the fictitious, Sentinel City (an urban hot-spot for the unexplained). It will also feature travel to parallel worlds, including Dahlia’s home, Drimera, which is very different from our own. Though ruled by dragons, Drimera is mainly populated by lyrriken; a half-dragon, half-human species capable of shifting between two forms: full human and a human-dragon hybrid. Bearing some of the gifts of their dragon fathers, lyrriken are capable of using a higher percentage of their brain then humans, giving them the ability to manipulate their bodies in ways we would consider magical.

Dahlia fled her world for ours over ninety years ago after being condemned to die by the powerful dragon queen, Naalish. Dahlia spends her life here living on the road, hunting the creatures that cross illegally into the human world to do us harm. When a series of brutal killings disguised as spontaneous combustion strike Sentinel City, Dahlia knows the killer is one of her own. Worming her way into the investigation, she teams up with a human detective to solve the case, while struggling to maintain the lies that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries.

As Dahlia searches for the truth behind the murders, the bit of peace she’s found in this world starts to unravel.

Nite Fire will be released in 2017.  If you would like a sneak peek, you can find an early excerpt of the first chapter on my website on the My Playground page.

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#1 : Magic-Price

COVER Crown of Stones Magic PriceIan Troy is one of the Shinree, a fallen people with an inherent addiction to magic. Scorned and reviled for the deadly side of their spells, the Shinree are bred as slaves. Their magic is suppressed by drugs and used only as it serves the purposes of the other races.

Descended from a long line of soldiers, Ian is conscripted into the Rellan army and made to fight in their longstanding conflict against the ruthless Langorian invaders. The downfall of Rella imminent, Ian goes against orders and turns to the Crown of Stones, an ancient Shinree relic of untold power. Ignorant of its true purpose, Ian uses the crown to end the war, and pays a terrible price.

A decade later, still tortured by the aftermath of that day, Ian lives as a bounty hunter in self-imposed exile. Having renounced his magical heritage, he curbs his obsession with a steady stream of wine and regret. He struggles to put it all behind him, until a fateful encounter with a pretty assassin brings Ian’s past crashing into the present. Targeted by a rogue Shinree, and a ruthless old enemy, Ian is forced to use magic again. His deadly addiction is rekindled and his life of isolation is brought to a swift end.

With the land he gave up everything to protect once more in jeopardy, and his people’s future at stake, Ian becomes embroiled in a violent race for control of the Crown of Stones. To save the realms and those he cares for, Ian must embrace the thing he fears most: his own power.

Buy Now: Kindle, Paperback

#2 : Magic-Scars

Final cover Magic-ScarsMagic doesn’t wound the same as a sword.

The story of Ian Troy continues in Magic-Scars, the second installment in C. L. Schneider’s riveting epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones.

Captured by his old enemy, King Draken of Langor, Shinree magic user Ian Troy was sentenced to prison. Tortured and drugged, robbed of his will, his memories, and his magic, Ian was made to do unspeakable things. Rescued, as his body slowly rids itself of the drug, Ian realizes he has returned to an unfamiliar world gripped with fear. In the wake of his fall, those he cared for were left to their own grim fates. Draken has seized control of the realms and named himself High King. His brutal rein has sparked a desperate rebellion that Ian now finds himself a part of. His one task: recover and repair the Crown of Stones, in hopes it will tip the balance in the revolution that is brewing. In pursuit of the reason behind the artifact’s strange loss of magic, Ian is driven to release an explosion of retribution and power that leaves him irrevocably scarred.

Struggling to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was, Ian strives to understand the growing number of magic-scars adorning his body. He searches for the truth behind his link to the Crown of Stones and uncovers shocking secrets buried for generations beneath the sand. To become the weapon the resistance needs, he must assume responsibility for his magical inheritance. But can he curb the destructive appetite that comes with it?

The price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.

Buy Now: Kindle, Paperback

#3 : Magic-Borne

MB final coverIn one fell swoop, the resistance was shattered. Lives were taken. Hope was lost. Peace slipped like grains of sand through his fingers. So did the Crown of Stones. Now, forced into hiding, Ian Troy grapples for a way to save the realm—and free its people—from the sadistic clutches of Jem Reth; Mirra’kelan’s new self-appointed emperor. Plagued with the knowledge of a tragic future, he strives to influence events and save those he cares for. But his magic has betrayed him, and Fate has other plans.

Marked by the crown, hindered by the transformation spell contained within, each cast brings Ian one step closer to becoming more beast than man. Each move brings the death and destruction foretold in his vision inexplicably nearer. With Langor on the brink of war, and King Malaq’s plan for peace hanging in the balance, Ian returns to the ancient past; seeking an end to the eldring spell and a means to thwart Jem’s growing domination. What he finds there sets off a chain of revelations that leads Ian places he never thought to go.

Entrusted with the future of his race, Ian becomes the linchpin for lasting change. But how much weight can one man carry? And how much is he willing to sacrifice in the name of peace?

Buy Now: Kindle, Paperback

Where to find C.L. Schneider:

Website, Amazon, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Facebook

Want to read some of “The Crown of Stones” series, before buying?

Check out the prologues @
clschneiderauthor.com

Author Spotlight – S. Cushaway

S. Cushaway is an author who likes to stretch the boundaries of genre fiction. She came to my attention through the Brain To Books Blog Tour request service, and initially described “Salt In The Water” as a sci-fi/western/adventure book. Now this intrigued me enough to inquire further, because I remembered how Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series was considered cross-genre by many.

When I asked Sarah to describe the book further, she said:

Salt in the Water crosses a few genres (it has elements of light cyberpunk, weird west, adventure, and – while I hesitate to call it post-apocalyptic, perhaps post-post apocalyptic might be a better term). Primarily, however, it is a science-fiction fantasy with a heavy western theme. I’ve had a few beta readers and ARC readers compare it to Deadwood with a sci-fi/fantasy backdrop, or more recently – the HBO remake of Westworld. It’s a very gritty, dark story – not for YA audiences. However, I’ve also gotten consistent feedback from readers across multiple genres that the story, while a sci-fi western, was not intimidating or difficult to delve into – I tried to make it accessible to readers of any sci-fi or fantasy genre (a bit how like the Dark Tower draws fans from across the board – the story isn’t similar, but “ease of use to reader” could be compared to that).

So with a description like that, how could I not hand over to Sarah, to tell you a little more about herself?

Introducing S. Cushaway

Sarah Cushaway lives in the snowy wastes of northwest lower Michigan with her husband (co-author Jeremy Ray) and their young daughter. She has a passion for historical fiction, but enjoy reading and writing many genres, including fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and speculative fiction.  Sarah began writing at a very early age, inspired by such books as the Little House series, Watership Down, the Hobbit, and Animal Farm.

When not busy working on writing the next books in the “A Lesser Dark” series, she enjoys spending time with her family and two grumpy cats, dabbling in art and music, and trying to hide from the snow eight months out of the year.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’d like to begin by thanking Timothy Bateson for the opportunity at an author spotlight- getting the word out as an indie-author is always an uphill battle, so spotlights like these are invaluable! As for a bit about – myself I’m a straight-up nerd. I was always penning little stories or narrating stories in my head as a kid, and later got into online play-by-post roleplaying and story-telling through MMORPGs.

Music plays a big role in my creative process – I wrote Salt in the Water, my debut novel, on a steady diet of obscure Gothic Americana/Dark Folk music and coffee. I think coffee makes up at least 50% of any author’s food pyramid.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Salt in the Water – A Lesser Dark: Book I–  is our (my co-author and myself) debut novel, and a mish-mash of several different genres. When the initial idea for the main character, Kaitar Besh, came to me years ago – the setting was definitely high fantasy. However, as I sat down to do the outlining (yes, I’m an outliner) and initial drafts, I found the idea of a strange genre mashup incorporating science fiction, fantasy, and – of all things- a western, to really fit the tone we wanted for the book. It’s a story that takes place far from the bastion of civilized society, where technology means the difference between life and death, and where mysterious dangers lurk through a red, arid desert called the Shy’war-Anquai. The book is multi-POV, but centers around a veteran scout named Kaitar Besh, who is battling the demons of his past as well as all the threat surrounding him and his companions as they brave the wastelands on a rescue mission.

Who is your intended readership?

Anyone who enjoys a good story – particularly fans of dark fantasy, weird westerns, science fiction, and “grimdark”. While my story is (of course) vastly different than, say, The Dark Tower, Westworld, even Firefly, we’ve worked very diligently to ensure it’s as accessible to all readers as those books/shows.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think it’s always been with me. As a kid, I’d be narrating my day in my head as if I were telling a story or writing it for someone. I was (and, time allowing) a voracious reader. I tackled some pretty hefty books at a young age, and while I didn’t always understand the subtext of some of those stories then, it definitely made me -want- to write great stories that would make a person feel and think differently about the world.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

There are so many “favorites”, it’s hard for me to choose just one. However, I think the book that really struck me as a kid was Watership Down (and yes, the crazy cartoon-movie that terrified pretty much everyone, too). Recently, I’d have to say The Stars Look Down, by A.J. Cronin. I know those are some oddball favorites for an author writing a sci-fi/fantasy western, but any great book teaches me something, and helps me be a better writer, no matter the genre.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Read, first and foremost. Stray outside your comfort zone and read all kinds of books, because the art of great storytelling isn’t limited by a specific theme.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

Nothing too hilarious or specific, but two supporting non-POVs, Eli Vorensi and Kira Bolgarv, got their start some years ago as characters my co-author/husband and I casually roleplayed in World of Warcraft. Yes, we are really that geeky.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I do like to scribble (some of those sketches can be seen on my Facebook author page), and I also dabble in music. Admittedly, I don’t have much time to do either these days, so my drawing tablet and bass guitar are sitting in a corner, collecting dust.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

The next project is getting the sequel book, Ghosts in the Glass, to an editor. The manuscript is finished and needs one final pass before it’s ready for a professional nitpick.

As for book secrets – I won’t give spoilers, but I will say that colors and certain objects/symbols are a large part of foreshadowing. Motifs are fun.

Sarah is has an ARC campaign for “Salt in the Water”

Get Your Copy Before October 13th

After that date, it will be unavailable until October 27th, when it officially releases (for purchase) on Amazon. So, be sure to request your Advanced Reader Copy, before it’s too late.

A Lesser Dark:

#1 : Salt In The Water

There are a thousand ways to die in the desert—desperate outlaws, deadly predators, murderous elements, and betrayal. . .

Kaitar Besh, a veteran scout as legendary for his cynicism as his skills, is ordered to brave the deadly Shy’war-Anquai desert one last time. Escorting Leigh Enderi—a greenhorn Enforcer with a reputation as shady as his own—he soon realizes the ghosts of his past have come to haunt more than his nightmares.

When the mission breaks down in the wake of bitter hatred and mistrust, even Kaitar’s fabled skills may not be enough to bring them home again. Stranded in the red wasteland without contact, food, or water, they uncover a betrayal that could bring all they hold dear crumbling to the dust. . . and tear down the wall of lies surrounding them.

Where to find S. Cushaway:

Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook