Friday, March 4, 2016

Guest Post: Lisa Morrow

Today, I have fellow author Lisa Morrow on the blog to chat with us a little about her process and books. I recently read Lisa's The Sea Goddess, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick fantasy read. Anyway, without further ado, here's Lisa!

Rosie Somers told me her readers love to hear about how authors are inspired, so that’s the topic of my blog post today.  I hope you enjoy it!


How does inspiration strike?  Is it like lightning?  You’re walking along and suddenly an idea hits you out of nowhere!  Maybe, some of the time, but ideas tend to come to me in a number of different ways.

1.      A Seed is Planted

a.      Someone approached me about writing a story about a female superhero.  Over the next few days, I started and stopped multiple stories before an idea formed. At the base of it, it was what the woman’s power would be, but it slowly grew.  I’d create a flawed character, who is constantly given horrible choices to make, but there’s rarely an answer that is clearly the right one. 

b.      That night, I wrote until one in the morning.  Over the next couple of weeks, I went back to the story every few days, reading and editing.  Then, I sent it to a few close friends and family, got feedback, edited it, and made changes.   Next, I submitted to my critique group and did the same.  And thus, my story was created.  (It’ll be coming out in a few months, in an anthology with other writers).

c.       This story is one of my favorites to date.  Usually, I think of a character first, and fall in love with him or her.  It creates someone who feels like a real person, but I also often have trouble being too “cruel” to my beloved character.  Starting this way, I was able to throw some truly tough curve balls, which made for an exciting and unexpected story.

2.      Changing Perspectives

a.      My series, The Protectors of Tarak, is set in a place where women are typically forced into traditional roles.  Their only escape is if they have magic and are able to become a Protector.  One night I was thinking about how different it would be to have a female character who lives in a world where she has the same freedoms as a man.  So, I focused on another part of my world, The Bloody Isles.  This place is rougher… a combination of Ireland and ancient Vikings (which is a blast), and Dessi’s series was born.

3.      Something Shiny

a.      Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of villains who are “hot.”  This always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I don’t want every “bad guy” to be wretched looking, but my sense of right and wrong starts pinging.  It isn’t fair, bad people shouldn’t look good… which is how the series I’m currently working on sparked to life.   I see something or notice something, and as I’m washing dishes, or going through my day, an idea starts to form.

There are plenty of ways ideas come to you, but the most important thing to do is to actually sit down and start writing when inspiration strikes.  Halfway through, you may realize… “uh, this kind of sounds like Harry Potter,” or something equally popular, and you’ll be kicking yourself for the wasted time.  Or you may realize, “ugh, this idea kind of stinks.”  But then, you’ll have other times when you start writing and realize that your idea is awesome.  And in that moment, all your hard work will be worth it.


Want to read an awesome young adult fantasy novel?  Check out “To Kill a Wizard” by Lisa Morrow (free with Kindle Unlimited):

When eighteen-year-old Rose is chosen to join a mysterious order of women known as The Protectors, she hopes to escape a forced marriage and a miserable life. Instead, she unveils the dark secrecy surrounding The Protectors, and uncovers the horrific truth behind their power source. With her loyalty in tatters and her best friend’s life held hostage, she must learn to unlock the powerful magic slumbering deep inside her.

 But time is running out.

 The Undead Wizards, a dangerous enemy, have re-emerged from the Underworld, plunging The Protectors and the kingdom into a brutal war. Unfortunately, The Fates' decree, that Rose is the answer to the war, may cost her more than she ever imagined. To win, she must decide whether to join them and betray the man she loves, or risk the annihilation of all she holds dear.


About Lisa Morrow

Lisa Morrow is a life-long reader who treasures fantasy in all forms. Being a middle child in a large family gave her a unique perspective on the world, but few experiences compare to her time spent studying abroad in Cambridge, England and wandering throughout Europe.

After her travels, Lisa settled down in Arizona to teach junior high English, and later, to spend time with her young children, husband, and cats. To some people, her life may seem quiet. But to her, every day is spent in a world colored by the imagination of children, and fantastical worlds created by her very own mind.

Where to Find Me…


Twitter: @LisaMorrowBooks


Amazon Page:



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Chapter Seven


Soundtrack: Illusion, Zedd (feat. Echosmith) 

My mystery biker, whom I’d officially started considering mine by Monday morning, had been on my mind all weekend. The only thing on my mind. Eli. Who was he? I definitely didn’t know anyone named Eli, but I was bound and determined to find him. So determined, in fact, that I left for school a good twenty minutes early so I could start my search first thing.
Student parking was practically empty when I pulled into the lot, so I took the closest spot to the quad I could find. With any luck, maybe Eli would be hanging out there. That’s where all the rockers, and most of the chopper guys, hung out together. And judging from the way he’d been dressed at my party, they were probably his crowd. Would I even recognize him when I saw him? I had no idea what he looked like.
The quad was already bustling with activity. I passed the skaters first, trading tips and tricks while lounging on the low wall bordering the courtyard area. A couple of the boys looked my way as I passed, and one girl lightly smacked one of the boys across the shoulder in a semi-playful way. He immediately dropped his gaze and mouthed, “Sorry,” to the girl who was presumably his girlfriend. Definitely not my Eli. He wouldn’t have been so friendly with me if he already had a girlfriend, for sure. I scanned the rest of the group on my way by, but quickly dismissed them. There was a lot of black in their attire, but no leather, and no one with the innate appeal I had sensed from Eli.
It was the same with every group of loitering students. No one gave off what I was quickly coming to think of as Eli vibes. Finally, I reached the rockers and bike guys at the far end of the quad. The scent of cigarette smoke and something thicker, earthier surrounded them, but no one was visibly smoking. As soon as I entered their immediate circle, all conversation stopped. And all eyes were on me.
I suddenly felt out of place in my Schouler floral dress, and my Wang heeled sandals. I’d spent hundreds on the shoes alone, and at least an hour picking out my ensemble this morning, but I suddenly felt terribly underdressed for the party in front of me. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to slip into Eli’s worn leather jacket and maybe lend myself some credibility with the kids currently eyeballing me like I was a lost tourist.
The urge to turn tail and flee was strong, but I’d come this far. Might as well jump in with both feet. “Hey, do you guys know Eli?” I address no one in particular.
A series of blank looks spread around the group. Some kids shrugged; one shook his head. Finally, a large boy with the beginnings of an adorable mustache asked, “What grade’s he in?”
Good question. “I uhm… not sure.”
“Sorry,” Stache said and returned his attention to the petite girl with dyed black hair sitting next to him on the grass. With that, everyone else in the group went back to whatever they were doing before I walked up. I’d been dismissed.
Well that could have gone worse. For now, I would have to let it go, go back to square one, and think of a new plan to find Eli. But I was determined to find him.
Getting to school early was becoming my new routine—if two mornings in a row could be considered routine.  Just like yesterday, I made a circuit around the quad looking for Eli before giving up and heading for chemistry. The room was empty when I got there, and I took a minute to enjoy the novelty of being the first student in the classroom. It was the first time in four years of high school. Knowing me, it would probably be the last as well.
Not long after I took my seat, other students started trickling in. Roman arrived a full five minutes before class was due to start, and he acted like it was his standard arrival time. What must that be like--to be studious and conscientious and actually early to class every day? I couldn’t wrap my brain around it, but I knew just looking at Roman that I was sorely unprepared for whatever would follow senior year. He was probably all set, probably had his ideal colleges all picked out and all of his applications filled out and ready to go. Heck, he probably even had his college schedule all picked out for next fall. I could barely think about college without feeling like I was going to break out in nervous hives from the pressure. Nope, better to think about it later, much later, when I actually had to.
“You’re here early,” Roman greeted as he sat down in the chair next to mine.
“Yeah, I was uh…looking for someone.” Did I want to tell him about Eli? It wasn’t like Roman would be able to help me find the guy. I highly doubted they ran in the same circles; where Roman was all clean cut lines and freshly pressed clothes, Eli had been all casual hotness and dangerous allure. They probably didn’t even have common friends of friends.
Roman raised an eyebrow in question, but didn’t ask whatever it was he was wondering. But something in his soft honey-brown eyes held me captive, almost daring me to spill my guts to him.
The warning bell rang, breaking whatever spell Roman had cast over me in that moment, and I looked around the room, now almost full of students. The teacher was still out in the hallway, though, guarding the door like a sentry ushering in the last of the prisoners before the prison gates closed. I looked past Mr. Carson, out into the hallway, and my eyes landed on black leather. A boy I didn’t know was walking past the open classroom door, and he was wearing the same kind of jacket Eli had been wearing at my party. I leaned forward in my seat, trying to get a better look at him, but he was out of sight before I could take in anything other than that jacket, dark jeans, and heavy black motorcycle books. Just like the one Eli had left on my front steps.
At that realization, I was out of my seat like a shot and heading straight for the hall.
“Where do you think you’re going, Ms. Lennox?” Mr. Carson’s voice stopped me in my tracks just over the threshold.
I needed to think of something quick, before I lost any chance of catching up with maybe-Eli. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m not feeling well at all. I think I need to use the bathroom.”
He eyed me suspiciously, but didn’t call me on my excuse. I took his silence as acquiescence and made a beeline in the direction the boy had headed a moment ago. And there he was, turning the corner toward the math wing. A few seconds later, I skidded around the corner just in time to see him disappearing into a classroom two doors down.
And then the late bell rang.
“Late again, Katie?” Mrs. Harper, my guidance counselor, and the one administrator who always caught me late to class was standing barely a few feet away, arms crossed over her chest, eyeballing me like a disobedient child.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Harper. I was actually in class already, but I needed to go get something. I thought I had enough time before the bell rang.” I tried to look apologetic and sincere. After all, it was the truth. “Could you maybe just write me a pass back to class?
“Sorry, Katie. You know the rules. I can’t let you slide anymore. You’re going to have to go to ISS.”
Crap. Not only did I miss maybe-Eli, but now I was going to have to spend all of first period sitting in In School Suspension and miss Chemistry. And all my stuff was still in the classroom. Clearly this was not my day.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Release Day: Perfekt Control by S. T. Bende



Genre: Upper YA Paranormal/Fantasy (Norse Mythology)

Release Date: TODAY!! February 9, 2016

Back Cover Copy

Rule the realms.

Brynn Aksel is a valkyrie—a battle goddess tasked with protecting both the God of War and the future of Asgard. She fends off giants and dark elves with an iron fist, a glossy smile, and no less than perfekt control. She’s focused one hundred percent on rising through the valkyrie ranks, and not at all on her lifelong crush on Henrik Andersson—the one guy in all the realms who could be her undoing.

Henrik serves as War’s other bodyguard, and he’s too focused on protecting their shared charge to realize that Brynn’s a girl. When an unprecedented surge of darkness abducts the Goddess of Love, Brynn’s already-steely focus is singularly directed on her new assignment—accompany Henrik to recover the realms’ source of light before the cosmos descends into chaos.

While battling demons, dragons, and the not-quite dead, it becomes clear that immortality does not equal invincibility. And when Hel herself puts a hit on Brynn, the valkyrie has to decide if staying in control is worth losing everything for . . . or if it’s time to rule the realms.

Buy Links
Add PERFEKT CONTROL to your Goodreads TBR

Perfekt Control Excerpt:

“Sorry we’re late.” Elsa rubbed her hands on her leggings. “There’s a teensy situation at the portal.”
Every god in the room snapped to immediate attention. The mortal simply stopped breathing.
“What do you mean ‘a situation?’” Henrik pushed off the couch and stepped slightly in front of me. I jumped up and moved around him so we stood side by side.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“We’re not exactly sure.” A V formed between Forse’s brows. “It’s been sparking for the last hour. Tiny electric currents are shooting off the outline of the portal, traveling roughly three meters on due south, then disappearing before they hit the ground. We don’t understand what’s absorbing the energy. We would have come over sooner, but we didn’t want to ruin the party.”
“Disappearing?” Henrik’s frown matched Forse’s. “That’s not right. If the portal’s being activated, the current should flow to the dirt and ground itself. At least, that’s what it did last time.”
“I know. I wouldn’t believe it unless I saw it.” Forse shifted in the entryway.
I tapped Henrik’s exceedingly firm shoulder. Great Odin’s ravens, how much was he benching these days? “Um, could your blocker be doing it?”
“Huh? Oh! Right.” Recognition dawned in Henrik’s eyes. “I installed the prototype of a new blocker that should provide an extra level of security.” Henrik glanced at Tyr. “But I haven’t locked down the tech. Maybe it’s short circuiting because of the rain?”
“It’s not raining yet,” Elsa countered. “Forecast says tomorrow. You sure that’s it?”
“No.” Henrik paused. “We should go check it out.”
The front door burst open, knocking Forse out of the way. He caught his footing and turned, shielding Elsa with his body. Tyr, Henrik and I leapt into action. I threw myself in front of Mia and herded her back into the living room, while Henrik opened the weapons closet and threw a sword at Tyr. Tyr plucked it out of the air and stood en garde, while Henrik aimed the crossbow he’d chosen at the intruder.
Oh, skit. Here we go again.

Perfekt Control Bookcrushin Quote.jpg

Perfekt Control Sotnos.jpg

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, S.T. Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (where she became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga and The Ære Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile, and she dreams of skiing on Jotunheim and Hoth.
Find S.T. on Twitter @stbende, her website (, or Facebook ( While you're at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr and @TyrFredriksen -- when they’re not saving the cosmos from dark elves, they love meeting new friends . . . especially the human kind.
Want to connect with fellow Norse god fans? S.T.'s readers have created a Facebook group! Head over to the RagnaRockstars page to chat with other readers, talk with S.T., and get access to exclusive content... including Ull POVs and sneak peeks at upcoming Ære Saga books!

Connect with ST Bende at:

TUR is currently available for FREE to newsletter subscribers!

Skål, y’all!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cover Reveal: Machinations by Haley Stone

Perfect for fans of Robopocalypse, this action-packed science-fiction debut introduces a chilling future and an unforgettable heroine with a powerful role to play in the battle for humanity’s survival.

The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.

A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.

Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.


Pre-order Machinations today!


And don’t forget to add it to your list on Goodreads!






Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento.


Machinations is her debut novel, releasing June 14th, 2016 from Hydra/Random House.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Chapter Six


Soundtrack: Chains, Nick Jonas 


Katie was alone on the terrace when I stepped through the doors. My stomach twisted in a fit of nerves the second I saw her, and I ducked into the shadows behind the french doors. Now, not only was I awkward and shy, but creepy, too. I couldn’t bring myself to step out into the light, though. What if she turned around and saw me? What if she recognized me behind the old motorcycle gear and two-sizes-too-big-for-me leather boots I’d pilfered from my father’s closet? I removed the helmet and checked the mask over my face, testing its security and position under my sunglasses, then relaxed once I’d reassured myself my face was still mostly hidden.
The music spilled out through the open doors, a soft, slow number that existed in perfect harmony with the beauty and peace of the dark terrace. The setting was like a world all our own. I let my gaze rove over her in a way I wouldn’t have had she known I was there—committing her every feature, every curve to memory. I fought the urge to remove my sunglasses to get a better look at her. I needed that extra layer of protection, even if for my own comfort. She was like a princess with the moonlight shining down on her, giving her blonde waves a silvery tone and lighting her skin as if the moon was a spotlight designed just for her. Even though she was facing away from me, looking down at the pool area, I could almost picture her soft, full lips with their pink pout, her gray-blue eyes with their exotic tear-drop shape, her button nose, and high cheekbones. She was perfection. And I was unworthy.
I shouldn’t have come; I didn’t belong here. Doubts crowded in on me, and I shuffled back toward the entrance to the ballroom. Maybe I could escape quickly, and she would never know I’d been here. My too-large boot scuffed the ground, and I froze, hoping she hadn’t heard.
She whirled with a startled smile, probably ready to greet whoever she found there. Her smile faltered when she saw me, but was back in full force when she spotted the helmet in my hand. “Hi!” She called and lifted her hand in a small wave.
“Hi,” I repeated. I hadn’t intended to use a lower register, but my voice sounded deeper, more gravelly. Maybe it was from a subconscious effort to disguise any defining detail about myself. I didn’t belong here. I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Sure, she’d invited me, but Brad had driven the point home that I just didn’t fit in with Katie’s crowd. She was so far out of my league, we weren’t even playing the same sport.
Katie tilted her head to the side, giving my person a slow perusal from head to toe and back again. I needed to say something, anything, to distract her from what was clearly an attempt to identify me.
“Like what you see?” I bit my tongue the second the words were out of my mouth. What was wrong with me? I didn’t talk like that.
Katie smiled that slightly crooked grin of hers. “And what if I do?”
Her words sent a little thrill through me, chasing away the worst of my nerves. Maybe I could pull this off. I was pretty well disguised, after all. Maybe, just for tonight, I could pretend I really was this devil-may-care biker. I could talk to Katie—flirt with Katie—like I couldn’t do when I was just me. I set my helmet down, checked the position of my mask over my face again, and pushed my sunglasses a little higher on my nose. Then I took a step toward her. “Well, then I would say the feeling is mutual.”
Her smile softened into an almost self-conscious smirk, and she lifted a hand to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She smoothed the other hand down the fabric of her dress. “Who are—”
“Want to dance?” I cut her question off before she could ask it, avoiding the awkward place it would have left us when I tried not to answer. I held out my hand like I expected her to say yes.
She didn’t disappoint, crossing the terrace in graceful steps and placing a small hand in mine. I pulled her into my arms in a move I’d only ever seen in movies—and never imagined I’d actually use myself. She seemed to melt against me, molding her body to mine, and laying her cheek to my chest.
Then she took a deep breath and released it on a soft sigh. “You smell really good,” She whispered the words against my jacket. It was all the invitation I needed. I tightened my arms around her and began a gentle sway to the beat of the music. Katie followed my lead, moving with me as if we were one person, fluid, coordinated, perfectly in time with one another.
When the song ended and another began, I didn’t skip a beat, just shifted into a new sway, a new set of slow moves with her in my arms. I would dance like this all night if Katie let me, but I wanted more. I wanted to live this fantasy to the fullest.
I wanted to kiss her.
I was a man on a mission, expertly guiding our dance steps toward the shadows until I had Katie safe within the darkness behind the patio doors. I slowed my dance moves and softly pressed Katie against the brick wall behind her. I couldn’t see her face through my sunglasses, and I took a chance that it would be dark enough to hide my features if I lifted them out of the way, setting them on top of my head. With the glasses out of the way, I still couldn’t make out the details of her face. Hopefully, that meant that she couldn’t make out mine either.
Emboldened by that idea, I slipped my half-mask down under my chin. The air was cool on my face, sending little prickles of awareness across my lips as I imagined pressing them against Katie’s. Finally, I worked up the nerve to make my move.
I dipped my head and laid the softest of kisses across her mouth. I wanted more, wanted to show her in my kiss exactly how I felt about her, but I didn’t have the guts for that. So, I moved slow, came in for a second soft kiss, and slipped my tongue out to tease over her lips. She parted them on a gasp, and I took that as my cue to deepen the kiss.
Kissing Katie was like coming home, it was comfort and sweetness and exhilaration all at once. I swirled my tongue over hers, and she reciprocated, giving as much as she was taking. When I finally pulled back, she nipped playfully at my bottom lip.
“You’re a good… dancer.” She broke the silence, but her soft voice didn’t break the mood.
I chuckled at her compliment. “Back at ya.”
Eventually, the beat picked up, and unable to justify holding her close anymore, I let my arms fall away from her. I was quick to move my mask back into place and pull my sunglasses down over my eyes before I took a step back.
Katie’s expression was almost regretful as she removed her hands from behind my neck and I widened the space between us. “Do I know you?” she asked, eyeing my person with more than just passing scrutiny.
The idea that she could figure out who I was set off a firestorm of nervous energy in my veins, and I shoved my hands deep into my pockets to keep from fidgeting. “No,” I told her, and I wasn’t entirely lying. She didn’t really know anything about me.
“What’s your name?” She stepped forward, and I instinctively took a step backward.
“Eli.” I gave her my middle name, also not a lie.
“Eli…” she repeated, watching me consideringly. “Are you sure we haven’t met? You seem so familiar.”
I had to get out of there before she figured me out. “I, uh, gotta hit the road, but thanks for the dance, princess.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I spun on my heels and all but ran for the terrace doors, snatching my helmet up and shoving it onto my head as I fled. I zig-zagged through the crowd inside the ersatz ballroom, and was out the front door and racing down the marathon of steps in no time flat.
“Wait, Eli!” Katie’s voice sounded from somewhere behind me, somewhere too close for comfort. I was only about halfway to the bottom, and I lost my concentration—and my footing. My foot slid out of my boot, and I stumbled down a handful of steps before catching myself.
I froze, unsure if I should go back for my boot or just keep going. The click-clacking of Katie’s heels on the stone steps as she descended after me made up my mind for me. I righted myself and took off again, limping my way down the stairs two at a time. Dad’s motorcycle seemed a hundred miles away, but I finally made it. I swung a leg over and kicked it upright in one smooth move. The engine turned over easily, and revved dramatically when I took off. I tried hard not to look at Katie on my way by, but my gaze drifted to her without my consent. She stood at the bottom of the steps, her expression both sad and confused, and for a moment, I considered staying, telling her the truth, risking my heart for the possibility that she might feel the same way about me as I felt about her.
But at the last second, I caught site of Brad coming down the steps behind her, and his arrival on the scene knocked me back into my place. Katie and I were from two different worlds, and I’d made a huge mistake forgetting that.

Chapter Seven