Top 10 Literary Villains (Or Maybe Anti-Heroes)

This is something I posted a while back over on another blog as part of a tour, but it’s always fun to give things an airing a little while later – and who doesn’t love a Top 10 list? There’s a lot of heroes in my books who turn out to be villains, or at the very least, an anti-hero. So without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Literary Villains (Or Maybe Anti-Heroes).

 

  1. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

There’s an argument that Heathcliff isn’t always a villain – he’s maybe the villain on this list who is most a product of his circumstances. He is a tortured soul, thanks to Catherine, but I just can’t forgive how he later twists Catherine’s daughter into a cold, distant person like himself. But, there’s something of the hero in him at the start of the book, so I can’t condemn him completely as a villain.

Lookit the brooding. The TORTURED BROODING, PEOPLE!

Lookit the brooding. The TORTURED BROODING, PEOPLE!

 

  1. Marquise de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Seductive, witty and charming, the Marquise also plots what is a horrific downfall in a young woman’s life, ending with her eventual disgrace, the death of Valmont, and the Marquise’s own disgrace. There’s a calculated, cold edge to her words in the book (which is made up of letters between the two main characters) that comes through even in her charming moments, and always leaves me with a shudder along my spine.

"Tell me you did not just diss me to my face. Tell me you didn't."

“Tell me you did not just diss me to my face. Tell me you didn’t.”

  1. O’Brien from Nineteen Eighty-Four

A villain who lives up to the backstabbing nature of one, O’Brien is first portrayed as a good person, one rebelling against the Inner Party, when in fact, he’s completely on their side. With a determined calculation, he easily weaves Winston and Julia into their own demise, eventually ending in breaking Winston’s spirit. And what could be more evil than breaking down the inner psyche of a person?

Just look at the plotting...or he's forgotten what he was going to say.

Just look at the plotting…or he’s forgotten what he was going to say.

  1. Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians

This woman was the stuff of nightmares for me as a child. Surely there can’t be anything more evil than seeing puppies, and instead of wanting to cuddle them, wondering if you can get matching gloves out of them after making the coat? Aside from her obvious cruelty and nastiness to those around her, Cruella just can’t be forgiven for wanting to commit a monstrous act against innocent animals.

The face of pure evil.

The face of pure evil.

  1. Long John Silver from Treasure Island

A mixture of father-figure and cutthroat pirate, this is another character who flits that line between good guy and bad guy. There’s something likeable about him at the start of the book; taking a young boy under his wing, doling out worldly advice while whistling down mast-lines. But in the end, like all the characters on this list, he shows a darker side and shows that bad guys finish last.

That is a pretty nifty balancing act.

That is a pretty nifty balancing act.

  1. Patrick Batemen from American Psycho

Here’s a villain…who might not be a villain. We have no idea, thanks to the psychotic mind-set and hallucinations that Patrick suffers from, but there’s no doubt that his mind is at least villainous. A shallow, modern version of a villain, this character brings to light all the bad traits that most of us have at one point or another experienced – greed, envy, the list goes on.

Patrick had finally got sick of waiting on the so-called customer service line on the phone. "Second in line? I've been here for seven hours!"

Patrick had finally got sick of waiting on the so-called customer service line on the phone. “Second in line? I’ve been here for seven hours!”

  1. Moriarty from The Final Problem by Arthur Conan Doyle

No list would be complete without the ‘Napoleon of crime’. The somewhat chilling aspect of Moriarty is that he was based off real-life villains (most notably Adam Worth), giving him an edge of something we might see every day on the news. This is a criminal mastermind, who while an absolute bad guy, you can’t help but admire for his intelligence and skill. Although he actually only appears in one book, you can’t mention Sherlock Holmes without remembering this nemesis.

"Maybe I wouldn't be so evil if I went into colour..."

“Maybe I wouldn’t be so evil if I went into colour…”

  1. Mr Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

What I love most about this villain is that while he actually has a physical appearance in the novel, he is also a clever metaphor for the duality of all people – a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side. Over the course of the novel, Dr Jekyll actually tries to cease becoming Mr Hyde, but his efforts are fruitless, again showing how difficult it is to stop being a monster once you become one. A great villain in a great book, and one of the best images to describe humanity.

Peeping at keyholes. It doesn't get much worse than this, people. Oh, wait...

Peeping at keyholes. It doesn’t get much worse than this, people. Oh, wait…

  1. Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist

The drunk, abusive, murderer of prostitutes-with-a-heart-of-gold only misses out being number one on this list by one place. This villain gets a scathing description in Dickens’ novel, and there’s little to no redeeming features about him. A gritty look at the actual kinds of people who hung out in dark alleyways during the Victorian period, he’s a villain that reminds us of a gloomy and frightening past that wasn’t actually fictional at the time this book was written.

Someone really needs to introduce Bill to shampoo. I'm just saying.

Someone really needs to introduce Bill to shampoo. I’m just saying.

  1. Claudius from Hamlet

Let’s see…murders his own brother by poison to gain a throne, then marries his brother’s widow and then plots to murder his nephew. That’s pretty damn evil. The unfurling of this villain throughout Shakespeare’s play starts with him shown as a pretty decent king – until Hamlet’s ghost appears. His motives become clear, and his only remorse is private, sealing his fate. His villainy also famously ends in pretty much everyone but a dog called Tom and a maid picking berries in the garden ending up dead, as the poison gets a thorough splashing over young Hamlet and his mother.

"So I said, 'new drapes? Sure, if...um....if they're poisoned.' Er, wait. Forget I said that. Everyone drink up."

“So I said, ‘new drapes? Sure, if…um….if they’re poisoned.’ Er, wait. Forget I said that. Everyone drink up.”

So there’s my list! Even as I wrote this, I thought of a lot more, and I’m not even decided on the positioning of each one. So who have I missed out that you would put in the list? Who are your greatest book villains?

 

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Female Writers in History,and the World’s First Novel

Growing up in the western world, when I was at school, I was taught that the world’s first ‘true’ piece of writing lay in the epic poem Beowolf. The poem itself is a wonderful glance into the history and thoughts of ancient people, and in how they considered the world around them. Beowolf, the hero, must slay the monster, the monster’s mother, and finally, a dragon, before he is mortally wounded and dies after becoming King of the Geats. It’s a great story, and has created much debate over whether its origins lie in Danish or Anglo-Saxon oral traditions, complete with its memories of Danish paganism. But can it’s origins lead us to the world’s first novel?

The simple answer is no – and this is a fact I only learned recently! Which is why I’m sharing it. 🙂 The Tale of Genji is considered to be the world’s first true novel, a classic piece of Japanese literature written sometime in the 11th century. And an important factor of the novel is that it was written by a woman. Murasaki Shikibu was a noblewoman who lived around the peak of the Heian Period. A sad fact of this is that we in fact cannot be sure of her real name – Murasaki Shikibu is a nickname.

Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu, by Kanō Takanobu

Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu, by Kanō Takanobu

At the time Murasaki was born, women were excluded from writing Chinese, the official language of the government in Japan. However, Japan was at that time, also becoming more distinct in its own right, gaining its own cultural and national identity, and written Japanese was becoming a way for noblewomen to write in their own hand. Unusually for the time, Murasaki was raised in her father’s household, when most women would have been raised in their mother’s households – but her mother had died when she was young. Murasaki also came from a long line of poets, on her father’s side. In The Diary of Lady Murasaki, she wrote, “When my brother … was a young boy learning the Chinese classics, I was in the habit of listening to him and I became unusually proficient at understanding those passages that he found too difficult to understand and memorize. Father, a most learned man, was always regretting the fact: ‘Just my luck,’ he would say, ‘What a pity she was not born a man!'”

The Tale of Genji follows the story of a son of an emperor, Genji, who is politically moved from the line of succession. He has something of a difficult start in life, with his mother dying when he is young, and the story follows the course of his romantic ventures, ultimately ending in a somewhat miserable ending. (Look it up, there are some beautiful illustrations to go with it, and the story itself is a fascinating glimpse into the complex politics of Japan at that time).  There are, of course, many other factors in whether Murasaki was the only author of the novel, and whether she wrote it off-hand, or if it was commissioned. But it remains the world’s first novel, and it was written by a woman.

Yūgiri ("Evening Mist") from Chapter 39 of The Tale of Genji

Yūgiri (“Evening Mist”) from Chapter 39 of The Tale of Genji

This is an interesting point to take in, because it would be several centuries before a woman was again able to write a book that would be read by others, at least in the western world. As Christianity gained a foothold in Europe, women were increasingly deprived of rights and education. However, some literature remains from that period written by women, and it is from them that we know much about women in the middle ages. Women found a voice through religion, and a few published their prayers and reflections when they became nuns or abbesses, the most powerful career choice a woman could make at that time. These include ladies such as Clare of Assisi, Bridget of Sweden, and Catherine of Siena. However, writing about more unorthodox religious experiences, such as visions, were less acceptable, although they still exist. There are even, if searched for, glimpses into courtly love and politics. The Alexiad was written by the Byzantine historian and princess Anna Komnene, daughter of Emperor Alexius I in 1148, and Marie de France and Christine de Pizan also contributed in this fashion.

Later in the 17th century, a woman even wrote an early example of what would come to be known as science-fiction – Margaret Cavendish, then Duchess of Newcastle, wrote The Blazing World, a fantastical adventure where a young woman travels to another realm that can only be accessed via the North Pole. Another book, La Princesse de Clèves, was anonymously published in France in 1678, but it is thought to have been the work of Madame de La Fayette, a minor noblewoman. It is an interesting novel, because it was the first ‘psychological’ novel, that entwined subplots with its characters, and provided a realistic outlook on life at that time, as opposed to the usual romantic damsel saved by the hero, ending in a happy marriage.

The title page from The Blazing World

The title page from The Blazing World

A portrait of Margaret Cavendish

Moving on to the Enlightenment and early 19th century, there are still many women to be found who added a large chunk to the literary world. The most famous of these, of course, is Jane Austen, whose works are known throughout the world. Her novels are regarded as having huge historical significance for their social commentary – but also, at a time when women were not encouraged to be clever or to have opinions, her wit and dry realism offers a viewpoint that at least some women at this time were not regarded in this way.

Jane Austen, as drawn by her sister Cassandra

Jane Austen, as drawn by her sister Cassandra

Another less well-known author from this period is Anna Laetitia Barbauld, an English poet, children’s author, literary critic, and essayist. She had a successful writing career, but it ended abruptly in the early 19th century when she published Eighteen Hundred and Elevena criticism on Britain’s part in the Napoleonic Wars. She was also a teacher at Palgrave Academy in Suffolk, and was politically involved with the issues of the day. (Her own story is really interesting, and you should definitely click and find out how much this lady achieved in her lifetime). In 1818, another famous work of literature was published – Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheusby Mary Shelley. It was also one of the novels that contributed to the Gothic literature that was emerging at that time. She’s most well-known for this novel, but she in fact wrote many more books and articles, such as the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837).

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

A portrait of Anna Laetitia Barbauld

A portrait of Anna Laetitia Barbauld

The Victorian period, for all its constraints upon women, still produced many novels and works of literature by women. Some of the most famous are the Brontë sisters. My favourite of these three female writers is Charlotte Brontë, mostly for her novel Jane Eyre. It was the first novel where the the female protagonist, Jane, was plain, somewhat serious, and spoke her mind, showing her intelligence and often sparring verbally with the male anti-hero, Mr Rochester. He himself was far older than her, not seen as particularly attractive, and was flawed from the outset. In short, it was a framework of what we would consider to be vital parts of modern novels; that characters should be flawed and realistic, and that real life often offered up a more thrilling story than glossed-over fiction. It is a reminder of her period, however, that when the novel was first published, it was published under the pseudonym Currer Bell. (The ‘Bell’ surname was also used by her sisters for their novels. An important note of the novel (as with many in the Victorian era) was that it promoted proto-feminism, and explored sexuality and religion – three things that the Victorians at the time used to explain that it couldn’t possibly have been written by a woman.

Portrait of Charlotte Bronte

Portrait of Charlotte Bronte

Other prominent female writers at this time included Christina Rossetti, best known for her narrative poem Goblin Market, which is often described as having many references of sexual imagery. Another poet at that time was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote from the tender age of four, and it’s largely thanks to her mother (who compiled these poems) that we still have them today. Aside from contributing largely to the world of literature, she was also a campaigner for the abolition of slavery, and her work helped influence reform in child labour legislation. There is also famously George Elliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, who was also an editor and critic as well as being a novelist. Wanting to have her work taken seriously, and also wanting to break away from the stereotype of female writers at the time writing romances, she made the decision to publish her work under a male pseudonym, much as the Brontë sisters did. The novel that sticks most in my mind from her works is Middlemarch, a novel that has eight intersecting though separate volumes that follow a cast of characters. The novel covers a range of themes, from the status of women and marriage, to education, religion and political reform. It also touches on several historical events, referring to them throughout. While reviews at the time were mixed about Middlemarch, it is now considered to be one of the greatest works of fiction in the English language.

'George Eliot' when she was 30, by François D'Albert Durade

‘George Eliot’ when she was 30, by François D’Albert Durade

Cover from Book 1 of Middlemarch

Cover from Book 1 of Middlemarch

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of female writers in history (and I haven’t even included the 20th century here, otherwise this would be a really big article!), but many of them have been forgotten or are less spoken of than their male counterparts. Women have been writers since ancient times, many writing even though education was withheld from them, was deemed ‘unfeminine’, or considered to be less than capable in taking part in politics and social life. I also think it’s a testament to each era that many of these women were openly supported and encouraged by men who were not afraid to speak out and seat women as equals by their side – usually men who were intelligent, educated men themselves, many also adding hugely to the great volume of literature we still have today, including the husbands of many of these women.

At the present, there’s a huge shift coming for equality, for both men and women, and it’s interesting to look back on history and see all the tiny chinks that have brought us up to this moment. There’s still a long way to go, but I reckon we’ll get there eventually. And it’s also wonderful to see that women contributed so much to literature, the vehicle of so much change. 🙂 What’s your thoughts on this? Who are your favourite female writers from history?

For a near-exhaustive list of female writers since ancient times, check out A Celebration of Women Writers, a great website that details many female writers and their works. 

Bittersweet Cover Reveal!

Bittersweet
Bittersweet Trilogy #1
By- Tyffani Clark Kemp
Genre- Mature YA Sci Fi/Romance
Expected Publication Date- ?
 
Welcome to Mother Cora’s, where the offspring of the Kaveesh learn to coexist with humans.
One hundred and twenty years ago, the Kaveesh came to Earth to save the dying planet from a disease that gorged itself on anything in its wake. Buildings crumbled to dust. Soil and plant life were consumed. Two-thirds of the Earth’s population perished.
The only thing the Kaveesh asked in return was to help save their dying race. Breeding programs began and the half-breeds were born.
Lirabel is a half-breed and an overachiever. Despite a few setbacks, she’s scheduled to graduate early from Mother Cora’s and become the Half-breed Ambassador to the Humans.
Enter Jonas. They were best friends until he broke her heart and disappeared five years ago. Now, he’s back, but Lirabel couldn’t care less. There are more important things to worry about…
Like finishing her last year of school and becoming ambassador. Or the half-bred students losing control of their Kaveesh strengths who are being sent into quarantine. Or how the breeding programs are still up and running.
And somehow, Jonas’ bittersweet return is connected to it all.

Continue reading

Rehab is for Witches – Out Today!

Hey, all! 🙂 I know it’s been a while since I posted. Life and work has been crazier than ever the past few months, but I’ve made time today, to let you all know about a fabulous new anthology that I was lucky enough to be a part of!

~*~ BLURB ~*~

Welcome to Little Raven: an unsullied, beautiful woodland hamlet in the heart of the Midwest. The sort of place where furry creatures romp about and spend their days bursting into song.

Actually, that’s a giant pack of lies.

Little Raven is a town…for witches.

And some of those witches might have bent the rules. A teensy bit. When six magical miscreants dabble with black magic, they end up together at Incantations, the town’s rehab center for witches gone awry. It’s a slap on the wrist for naughty witches. Pretty much a daycare center so they don’t wander off and start turning people into newts on a whim. Each witch must work through her addiction to black magic, and follow the tenets designed to lead them back to the path of the straight and narrow, as boring as that sounds. Even if following the tenets sucks worse than a group round of kum-bay-ya. Which sucks. Horribly.

We will admit we are powerless over magic—that our lives have become unmanageable.

We will make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the Goddess as we understand Her.

We will make a searching and fearless moral and magical inventory of ourselves.

We will admit to the Goddess, to ourselves, and to another being the exact nature of our magical wrongs.

We will make a list of all persons or beings we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

We will make direct amends to such beings whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

We are entirely ready to bow before the Goddess and have Her remove all our defect of character, even at the risk of being entirely stripped of our magic.

But this is just the start. There’s something rotten in Little Raven, something that seeks to take all the magic it can, and devour the inhabitants in the process. It will take the strength and power of all the witches to defeat the darkness seeping into their town, beat it back, and be rid of it forever…and maybe just make it through rehab while they’re saving the world.

~*~ COVER ~*~

RIFW Front

~*~ EXCERPT ~*~

The silence in the circle of witches spoke volumes. Giving a sharp toss of her head, Catherine raised her eyebrows in a, ‘Nothing to say?’ gesture. Someone let out a low sigh. Even Miss Safety-Pin had fallen silent, chewing her lower lip. Catherine licked her lips, gazing around the wan faces as though for approval, tapping her fingers against the side of the plastic chair. She had a sudden mad urge to feel the bobbled surface of the moulded plastic, but her gloves remained on as she waited for someone to speak.

Counsellor Fitzsimmons was the first person to shatter the cloud of melancholy above the group, tapping his pen nervously against the clipboard. It took him a second or two, but his training kicked in once more, and he beamed in what Catherine supposed was meant to be sympathetic. It looked more insincere than his usual grin. There was something off about his smile that she was starting to hate. Every time she came to these sessions, her unease with Fitzsimmons grew, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. “Er…thank you for sharing with us, Catherine. That must have been very hard for you.”

“Yeah, it was super difficult. Now I feel all enlightened and shit,” she spat, scraping back the metal legs of the seat as she rose up. It wobbled but stayed upright, not that she gave it a second glance as she made her way over to the exit. “Prison sounds like a barrel of laughs compared to this. I’m sharing fuck all with anyone else,” she called over her shoulder as she strode away, flicking a stray lock of hair from her eyes. The swing doors squeaked as they opened and closed behind her, a draught filtering through from the motion and running along her spine.

Heels tapping loudly through the tiled reception, Catherine almost didn’t hear the thud and wail of the swing doors opening once more. Pausing, but not turning around, she sighed and snapped, “Counsellor Fitzsimmons, I really don’t need your particular brand of happy-clappy right now, okay?”

“Do any of us? I don’t have the voice for kum-bye-fucking-yah any more than you do.”

The shock of Circe’s cutting tone made Catherine whizz around so fast, her coat fanned out as though in a waltz. Pulling her shades down just enough to peer over the top of them, making sure she wasn’t seeing things, Catherine gave a surprised cough. “Miss me already, Fork-face?”

Circe gave a self-satisfied smirk, folding her arms and tilting her head. “Yeah. Your quips are getting so much better. I might be able to consider one of them imaginative soon.”

Catherine opened her mouth to retort, but instead let out a heavy sigh, pushing her glasses back and pointing at the door. “Well, I’d love to stay and slag you off, but frankly I’ve got better things to do. Like going to jail. Bye.”

As she turned to clack angrily away, Circe reached across and put her hand out in front of her, making it obvious she didn’t wish her to leave. Catherine halted and glared down at the hand, waiting for it to move, but it never shifted. Circe lowered her voice. “Look, I couldn’t really give a toss what you want to do, but I want to do this. I need to do this. And now we’re in the,” her hand finally moved as she made air quotes, “’buddy system’, you need to be here. If you leave, I’m going to fail. And I can’t fail.” For the first time since the group had met up, Catherine thought she saw a light dull in Circe’s eyes, a panicked moment of fear, before it was replaced with the hard-ass glare once more.

Shaking her head, the British witch sucked in her bottom lip, as though holding something tightly in her chest. She was sure there was something. It rammed against her ribs, a lump the size of all her fear and upset. “And what the hell is in it for me? I’m not doing that sharing crap again. I can’t. I don’t know what’s happened to you all, and maybe I’m heartless for not caring. But you all seem pretty okay on the surface.” Wondering if she would regret the move later on, she whipped off her glove, waggling the fingers of her hand in Circe’s face. The other witch winced for a split second at the burnt flesh. “See that? Every time I get undressed on a night, get dressed on a morning, look in the mirror without glasses, I’ve got a reminder. It’s never going to leave me, even if I get through this.” Replacing the glove, Catherine stared down at her polished boots, noting the tiny cracks in the leather. “It’s not the reminder of my problem, or my crime, or even the fact I’ll always look like some sort of nightmare freak. It’s the reminder of a dead friend, and a murderer who got away. If that jumper-wearing prick thinks I’m going to tell everyone about that every time I’m here—“ As her finger jabbed towards the glass doors, her voice cracked on a sob, a sound she didn’t recognise. She hastily swallowed it back, taking in a deep breath to hide the tears that pricked at the corner of her eyes.

Circe’s face, thankfully, didn’t change. I couldn’t stand it if she was sympathetic, I’m not ready for it. Point to Safety-Pin. Instead, she gave a stiff nod and gazed over to the group within. “Agreed. I don’t need to hear it again. No offence. How about this; every time Sweater-Dick asks you to spill your life-story, I punch him for you?”

The question was so unexpected that Catherine let out a dry chuckle, before she could stop it. “Fine, deal.” She sobered. “But seriously, I’m not going there. And for the record, this doesn’t make us friends. At all. We’re not in a fucking Disney movie. I’m not going to repay you by saving your life in some dramatic cliff-fall or something.”

The punky witch gave an unladylike snort. “Trust me, Estee Lauder, we’re not friends. I’d rather poke my eye out with a knife.”

“Easily arranged. You’ve probably got one somewhere on your person.”

Circe grinned, and merrily flipped her the bird before turning back to the glass doors. Catherine steeled herself for entering once more. She hated the idea of going back in. After all, it ruined a perfectly good dramatic exit. Damn it. Get in there, Cath. You know you need to. She pressed her fingers together with a shiver, feeling the pattern of the butchered skin underneath the textured leather.

Keeping her head down, she crossed quickly over to her chair and slumped down into it. To her relief, no one except Counsellor Fitzsimmons paid her the slightest bit of attention, and he merely nodded gratefully at her return. She sulkily hunched her shoulders up and leaned back, preparing to be amused by the spectacle before her. Floaty Trista and Crazy Robie stood in the centre, acting out some banal scenario. Giving a glance over to Circe, she was rewarded with an ugly scowl. Catherine smiled to herself and turned back to falling asleep once more in her chair, folding her arms. See? Everything back to normal.

Taken from ‘A Closet Full of Demons’, from ‘Rehab is for Witches’. Copyright 2014 © Miranda Stork

~*~ LINKS ~*~

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Rehab-Witches-Tyffani-Clark-Kemp-ebook/dp/B00P1Q0B8Y/ref=sr_1_1/177-3955443-3095612?ie=UTF8&qid=1414762571&sr=8-1&keywords=rehab+is+for+witches

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rehab-Witches-Tyffani-Clark-Kemp-ebook/dp/B00P1Q0B8Y/ref=sr_1_1/277-2546130-4627822?ie=UTF8&qid=1414762640&sr=8-1&keywords=rehab+is+for+witches

Cover Reveal – Midnight Masque!

Hey guys! 😀 Today we’ve got a cover reveal from an awesome author friend of mine, Elle J Rossi! Lookit this beautiful cover! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the Josie Hawk Chronicles – she really is one of the best female protagonists you’ve ever read about.

Midnight Masque

Coming October 2014

Nashville is the newest breeding ground for the darkest creatures of the occult. Huntress Josie Hawk will protect her streets—whatever it takes.

Bar owner and paranormal ass-kicker, Josie Hawk, is dealing with the stress of how to introduce her vampire-lover, Keller, to her vampire-hunting father. Meanwhile, the streets are buzzing with excitement over the announcement of a masquerade themed celebration with the up-and-coming stars of country music.

Josie and Keller are forced to abandon their trip into the secret world of hunters when a mysterious crew of cloaked beings emerge from the shadows and threaten to crash the biggest party of the year.

With the supernatural activity escalating to code red, Josie must find a way to stop the insidious evil hidden behind the array of masks. If she doesn’t, the masquerade party could turn into a mass funeral.

Youtube video: http://youtu.be/2OCmF05l2iw

Links to connect with Elle:

http://www.ellejrossi.com

https://www.facebook.com/ellej.rossi

https://www.facebook.com/ElleJRossiAuthor

https://twitter.com/ElleJRossi

Author Feature – Not Juliet!

Hey, everyone! Today we’ve got a special feature from Ella Medler’s Not Juliet – read on to find out more! 🙂

 

NJ banner single

~~~

Excerpt:

Luca buried his face in her hair, trying to save his eyesight. Riella was lethal. She would have made a very successful cage fighter.

“I begged you to leave him alone. I begged you on my knees!”

“He knew it,” he shouted, trying to still her. “He gave up his life to protect yours.”

She still fought, but he could feel her tiring, grief weighing her down. Deep sobs erupted from her chest, replacing her will to fight.

“Come on.” He pulled her to her feet and towed her into the darkness, farther away from the fire and shootings.

They made it to the last trailer just as he heard the grenade launchers.

“Fuck. We need to run like you’ve never run before. Over to that line of trees. Ready?”

“No. Wait. I can barely stand up.”

“Tough. You can complain later. C’mon.”

Luca grabbed Riella’s hand tight in his hand and started for the trees. They ran for their lives, while behind them the campsite turned to churned mud and fire. Trailers and cars alike blew up, and the few people who hadn’t already taken cover ran away into the darkness.

As soon as they were hidden by the first line of trees, Riella pulled her hand out of his and dug her heels in. “Wait!”

“Riella, we’re not safe here. We need to get farther in.”

“I don’t give a shit! You stop and answer me one question, Luca Anziano, or you may as well kill me here and now.”

Luca stared at her for a split second. Dogged determination was shining in her eyes. Hell of a gene to inherit from her father. Why couldn’t she just have his color eyes, or same shape chin instead?

Riella stood, hands on hips, hair wild and twisting in the wind, outlined against the conflagration that had been her and her people’s home, like some avenging angel come to rid the world of its canker.

“Luca,” she panted, “when you told me you loved me… I just need to know… Were you lying to me?”

The metallic whizzing of several simultaneous barrels resonated over the crackling of the fire. Sprays of bullets showered the already destroyed site, catching any stragglers unawares.

“Who the hell sold him a metal storm? The guy’s nuts!”

“Answer me!”

“I’ll answer you on the go.”

Luca grabbed her in his arms and ran. The bullets kept coming and Riella was shouting something over the noise, but not loud enough for him to make out individual words. He ran, mind focused on one thing, and one thing only: to get her away from the danger, to make her safe.

The forest floor was uneven, and it would have been difficult terrain even without having to carry a struggling woman in his arms; with her added weight, Luca felt like he was wrenching each step through a vat full of treacle. His thigh muscles burned, his lungs were on fire, but now he could see the road, and parked to the side, the truck in which Karalius must have brought over his arsenal designed to teach Goliath’s people who’s boss.

Escape was in sight.

From in front, someone opened fire, and Luca stumbled. Before he could work out why, he hit the ground and knew no more.

~~~

Want to read more? Find Not Juliet on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Juliet-Addicted-Romance-Collection-ebook/dp/B00IDC1Q50/

Reaper’s Deliverance Is Released!

Hey everyone! Today the first book in my new Grim Alliance series is released – Reaper’s Deliverance! Scroll down to find out a bit more about it. 🙂

Blurb

When Ryder dies in a horrific motorbike accident, he’s left facing a choice. Go onto his next life, more terrible than his last, or become…a Reaper.

Ryder’s life has little meaning to him. A violent hedonist who left his broken childhood behind, he would rather spend his time chasing women and smashing up bars than consider his future. But when it all comes to an abrupt end, he’s forced to make a decision that changes everything.

Elizabeth is a single mother, and the light of her life, her son Thomas, is terminally ill. With no time for a job, a normal social life, and definitely not a relationship, her world is turned upside-down when Ryder strides in with his biker boots. She’s always known there was something more to the universe than what she can see. But when she learns the real reason for him being in their lives, she has to do something she hasn’t done for a long time. Trust someone.

When little Thomas is threatened by an evil that would misuse his special gift, they must work together, along with a troubled but caring group of reapers. Time is running out to get him back, and Helheim beckons with its black jaws. All of them must fight, and be prepared for the centuries-waiting battle they will kick off.

And will Ryder finally gain his redemption?

Excerpt

The wail of sirens filled the air, followed by the screech of tyres somewhere on the other side of the nightclub. The thump of dizzying music still pounded out from the club, matching Ryder’s heart as it hammered against his ribs. Not waiting to see if the others were following him, he twisted the handles towards the main road through the town, and hit the accelerator, lurching forwards as the heavy clatter of police feet came behind him. Ignoring the shouts and yells, he pulled out onto the road and sped onwards, picking up speed as he pressed his foot harder.

He grinned broadly as the wind he kicked up breezed under the neck of his jacket, sending a rush of cold air tingling down his spine. He narrowed his eyes as he zipped around corners and roundabouts, dipping and diving as though he was on a racecourse. Horns and shouts came and went in isolated blocks of sound as he passed streets full of taxis and club-goers, and he skidded around a red vehicle as it halted in time from an adjoining road. Blood raced through his veins at the thrill, and Ryder let out a joyous laugh, tilting his head back as he became a blur against the muted colours of the quiet neighbourhoods he passed through.

A siren cut through his senses, a mournful wail fast catching up on his tail. Gritting his teeth, Ryder drove the bike harder, gliding around cars as he weaved through the late night traffic. Not again. I’m not fucking going back in, I’ve only been out six months. Sweat formed on his forehead as he felt the throttle of the beast under his legs vibrating across his skin, freezing like ice as it was whipped by the wind. He couldn’t go back inside. Not after the last time. If it was a choice between prison and getting injured, he would risk injury. There were a lot of people in jail he had pissed off over the years, and he would rather not meet them again if he could help it. Coming to the end of the main roadway, Ryder dared a glance over his shoulder, red and blue flashes filling his vision as the police cars narrowed the distance between him and themselves.

He pulled his head back to the road, confusion flooding his brain as he was met with the grill of a large blue truck. A cry of terror ripped itself from his throat as the horn blared loudly into the night, warning him of his impending doom. The headlights of the massive vehicle flashed on and off, blinding him, and he couldn’t stop himself from throwing an arm up to shield his eyes. The bike’s going too fast. The bike’s going too fast. I’ll never stop in time. Ryder slammed the brake down, but the bike squealed with protest as it was forced down sharply from the breakneck speed he had been travelling at. The blue metal bore down on him, and he braced himself for the impact, willing his body to survive, even though he knew it was too late. There was a grinding slam as metal twisted into metal, and the air was knocked from his body as he hit the truck at full speed, feeling as though his lungs had sprung out from his throat. The world tornadoed around him, colours and sounds whirling together in a maelstrom as the bike twisted out from under his legs, throwing Ryder to the ground.

As Ryder Thompson hit the cold, hard ground beneath his cheek, grit digging into his flesh, a burning sensation ripped across his legs and torso, and he gave a gurgle as he tried to cry out, red liquid pooling across his vision. Blinking a few times as the world darkened, he clutched at the air weakly as booted feet charged across to him, blue and red flashing lights meeting his gaze. He tried to move his other arm, but it wouldn’t move when he willed it to, leaving only a cold throbbing as he twitched his shoulder. Voices cried out above him, but they were far away and underwater, burbling in non-coherent syllables as he tried to respond. His tongue was thick against his mouth, and the air grew thinner as he gulped for it, closing his eyelids against the brilliant lights as he gave into the heavy throb behind them…

Where to get your hands on it

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Reapers-Deliverance-Book-Grim-Alliance-ebook/dp/B00LG3BIGK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404305218&sr=1-2&keywords=reaper%27s+deliverance+miranda+stork

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reapers-Deliverance-Book-Grim-Alliance-ebook/dp/B00LG3BIGK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404305174&sr=1-2&keywords=reaper%27s+deliverance+miranda+stork

Amazon CAN: http://www.amazon.ca/Reapers-Deliverance-Book-Grim-Alliance-ebook/dp/B00LG3BIGK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404305257&sr=8-1&keywords=reaper%27s+deliverance+miranda+stork

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Creator of Shadows is HERE!

Scarlet Rain Series

The third book in the Scarlet Rain Series is finally out! Creator of Shadows is out today, and continues the journey of the immortals, as they battle against Feoran and the darker forces behind him. Read on to find out more!

Blurb

When Lorenna is kidnapped by Feoran, the head of the vampyric Clan, it’s a dent in the Resistance. While she was expecting his twisted advances to her, she didn’t expect to feel something for him in return.

But that’s the least of her problems.

The city is more in ruins than ever, the Cuans being cut off one by one to prevent the rebellious humans taking over any part of New London. And after the discovery made at the Factory, armies of clones now walk the streets, ready to kill and trained viciously by their vampire masters.

The rebels must band together in full force, both to rescue their beloved witch from Feoran’s clutches, and to give the final push against the Clan. But a traitor in the heart of their inner circle is plotting with a vampire who wants more than they have, threatening to bring everything they have worked for tumbling down around them.

Can Lorenna gain her freedom to help her friends, and can they finally cut the head off the serpent that is the Clan? Or will humanity forever remain in its iron grip?

The Cover!

Creator of Shadows

Where can I get a copy?

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CAN

Amazon AUS

Kobo

Where can I find out more about the author?

I’m Miranda Stork, and I’m addicted. Addicted to writing and reading books, anyway. And chocolate, but that’s another issue – no interventions, please.

I live in the middle of a forest in North Yorkshire, spending my spare time as the wild woman of the woods, scaring small children and upsetting the sheep. On the days that I feel like being civilized, or I haven’t got any unicorns to ride, I sit down and pour the tumbling thoughts in my head out onto digital paper. Mainly the thoughts and characters come out in paranormal form, with a good smattering of romance, because everyone likes a good cuddle. But you can also find strong elements of thrillers, myths, and even dystopia amongst the pages of all my novels. I’ve wanted to write books ever since I first realised that fairytales were not the newspapers of the fairy kingdom, but the imaginings of actual people who wanted to tell fancy made-up stories to other people. From that moment, I was hooked.

Why do I write? Good question. It might be easier to just keep the stories in my head, or even just to write them for myself. But I want to share them. There is no greater delight for a writer than when a reader devours your book, and declares, “Something in that novel resonated with me. And I want MORE.” So grab your lucky clover and a baseball bat (there’s some nasty paranormal creatures where we’re going), eat the cookie with ‘eat me’ tagged on it, and enter through the tiny door into the world of Miranda Stork…

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Moon Rose Publishing

The First Impression

Now, I’m not talking about general first impressions, of course – but of book first impressions! 🙂 Annnd….I know this post was supposed to be up days ago, but apparently WordPress had other ideas, and didn’t post it for me. So here it is, anyway! 

We all know the important parts of putting a book together. Cover, editor, marketing…but what happens after the reader first clicks onto your Amazon page? They might take a look at the cover, and decide that they love it enough to look further. A cover may not bother them, and they’ll go straight to the blurb. (I made a big post on writing a blurb here.) After they’ve read it, been hooked enough to read a bit more, what next?

They’re going to take a ‘Look Inside’. And that’s where the book either lives up to its promise, or falls a little short.

Because the most important part of your entire manuscript – really! – is the very first line. Anyone who has ever had to write an essay knows that it must begin with a sentence that sums up everything the essay is about, your opinion, or your viewpoint. A manuscript is no different in that it must sum up the feeling of your entire novel, and hook someone is just a few words. First, let’s take a look at some great first lines, then we’ll see what sets them apart. (Just to note, first lines in any book are subjective, but I’ve tried to pick lines from classic books that I think most people will know pretty well, and most will agree on. 🙂 )

 

At least we passed the Snape test.

At least we passed the Snape test.

The Good Stuff

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  George Orwell, 1984

“I am an invisible man.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

“All children, except one, grow up.” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.” Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?'” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

It's a blog, don't worry. We're all crazy around here. But we'll work out these damn opening lines together!

It’s a blog, don’t worry. We’re all crazy around here. But we’ll work out these damn opening lines together!

What’s The Idea?

What makes all these opening lines both so memorable and brilliant? What is it that they all have in common? Well the first important thing to note is that all of them, in one way or another, sum up everything the novel is about. Without having to delve further, the reader already has the seed of an idea of what the book is about. J.M. Barrie’s line immediately encapsulates Peter Pan. Melville’s line open up a complex web of ideas about the narrator, who really, is the character that the book revolves around as he tells it from his own viewpoint. Austen’s famous line also immediately gets to the heart of what the book about, and even without reading further, we almost certainly know there will be a romantic couple somewhere in the novel who do not instantly fall in love. 

So the first thing to consider is ‘does this first line get across the feel of my novel?’ I’m not saying that you have to give away everything in one sentence, but you have to set the tone. Take Orwell’s line, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” For those who have never read it, it’s a science-fiction novel, and it also falls neatly into a ‘modern’ genre; dystopian. This line sets the scene first with its description of the day -cold and bright. ‘Bright’ on its own could bring back memories of sunny days, but not when coupled with ‘cold’. It brings to mind cold, bright places, such as the clinical areas of hospitals, or snowy days outside. It gives a clean, clinical feel to the first line, something quite emotionless and separate from anything comforting. Then there’s the second part of that line – the clocks were striking thirteen. This captures out attention straight away, because we know, in our world, clocks do no such thing. So this tells the reader that this is a strange, unforgiving place with different rules and ideas from our own. We already have the emotionless feel from the first part, so this can only tell us that clocks striking thirteen are not a good thing. This is a carefully crafted sentence, and each part of it, although short, gives the feel of the whole novel to the reader.

 

I must know more!

I must know more!

But What Else?

It can’t be as easy as setting the scene; there must be something more. And there is. It speaks directly to the reader. The quickest way to get a reader to connect with your book is to give them something they can relate to. On the surface, some of them don’t seem like they go too far into this, but unconsciously, you can connect with something in the line. Look at Lewis Carroll’s opening line – didn’t we all feel like that when we were small children? And with Ellison’s line, despite the fact none of us have ever actually been invisible (at least, I hope not!), we can feel the depression and loneliness behind the statement. Maybe it’s because at some point or another, we’ve all felt ‘invisible’ in some way, perhaps for some of us its because we’re the kind of people who empathise easily with people in a difficult situation. 

Leo Tolstoy’s first line actually does this twice. First by suggesting the truth we all know behind any family – that no matter how much you love each other, there will be arguments and fall-outs, and no doubt there’s one or two people in the family who don’t speak to each other at all! But this leads to the other truth he holds up, that we like to have a social veneer over ourselves and our loved ones, to prevent the rest of society from seeing what would be considered to be flaws or immoral ideas. This also encompasses what the novel itself is about, and weirdly, strikes as true today as when it was first written.

 

Go, create beautiful opening lines together. Or apart. Or in a room of people. You can literally write opening lines anywhere. LOL

Go, create beautiful opening lines together. Or apart. Or in a room of people. You can literally write opening lines anywhere. LOL

So To Sum Up…

An opening line needs to be the most powerful sentence you write in the whole novel. It has to connect with the reader, either by evoking an emotion, or by linking it to a universal truth we’ve all felt at one time or another. It also has to immediately sum up the entire book in just a few words. This is the ultimate synopsis, is that it sums up everything that can be expected from the book in one go.

The best way to go about it really, is to write your whole book, edit it, then come back to that first line again. Tweak it and play with it until it covers everything mentioned above – and any reader who loves your first line, is already eager for the rest of your book. 🙂

 

What lines do you guys like the best from novels? What’s your favourite opening line ever? 🙂

Snippet Time – Reaper’s Deliverance

Hey, everyone! 🙂 sorry for the lack of posts over the past week or so, I’ve had one of those weeks where you just don’t stop spinning around with work and family. You know the kind of week, right? Anyhoo, to make up for it, here’s a snippet from my new paranormal WIP, Reaper’s Deliverance, and I’ve got a post coming tomorrow about the first line of any book, so keep an eye out! Enjoy! 😀

(Also, my MC here swears quite a lot, but I’ve beeped them out. LOL)

*****

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

This is a joke. A sick joke one of the others is playing on me. Ryder let out a shaking breath, digging his nails into the soft flesh of his palms as he shook his head vigorously. Thoughts tumbled one over the other in his mind, shifting against each other in a flurry of colours and faces. The fear in the pit of his stomach squeezed at him, and he felt the hairs rising up on the back of his neck in response. Limbs trembling, he staggered backwards, away from the nightmare in front of him. The hooded figure simply crooked its finger again, letting out a deep, mournful sigh.

Ryder blew in and out a few calming breaths, drawing himself up and sticking his chin out proudly. Come on, Ryder, what the f*** are you frightened of? It’s a joke. Making the decision firm in his mind, he swallowed back the bile that threatened to erupt from his throat, striding across the hall confidently. His footsteps echoed sharply back to him, the hard rubber soles of his boots hitting the floor with uncustomary heaviness. Stopping just shy of the two figures, Ryder felt a chill travel along his skin, lifting hairs with it in its wake, as he parted his dry lips and passed his tongue across them. “So, who’s the joker? Is it Greg? Matthew? It was Matthew, wasn’t it?” He let out a dry chuckle, his nerves jumping at the croakiness of his own voice.

When no response came from either of the figures gazing down at him with their dark expressions, anger flared in his gut, his natural reaction to anything being withheld from him. It was a reaction every probation officer and police officer had ever seen from him. Temples throbbing, Ryder glanced from one to the other with wild eyes, screaming, “Tell me who the f*** it was!”

“It’s no use shouting, young man. I’m stood right in front of you, and I can hear perfectly, despite my age,” the cloaked man intoned. His voice boomed across the hall, and the resonance of the tone brought memories of worlds long since passed, of lives come and gone in the blink of an eye. He lowered his crooked arm, the fabric of his cloak whispering as he shifted down the steps to come closer. Ryder lifted his boot as if to take a step back, but held his ground, tensing his jaw. The man paused for a second, holding the staff out for the woman by his side to take. She gripped it silently, grasping the wood with both hands as she brought it before her and rested on it.

The man brought his hands up to the hood, pulling it back deliberately. Ryder bit his tongue to prevent whimpering as the deathly countenance of the figure was revealed. His skin was as pale as snow, both eyes milky-white and blind, no hair on his head. Wrinkles covered his skin, but there was something youthful about the way he held himself. “Gilbert Ryder Thompson, I am sorry to greet you here, for one so young. This,” he continued, gesturing around the grand space with raised arms, “is the Hall of Rest.”

“What is this? What’s going on?” Ryder bit out, taking the step back with his boot as he swallowed hard to coax saliva back into his dry mouth.

The figure fixed him with both milky eyes, and uttered, “My name is Ankou, and this is my wife, Morrigan. We are the Guardians of Death. It is our solemn duty to help those who have died…pass over into their next life.”

The words slammed into Ryder like the truck had slammed into his fragile body. Air seemed to evaporate from his lungs, and he clutched at his throat, wheezing for oxygen as his stomach twisted.

 

Taken from ‘Reaper’s Deliverance’, copyright © Miranda Stork, 2014.