The Past Life Paradigm

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Hello, lovelies.

I wanted to talk about Ria. Oh, Ria. That poor girl had no chance at a normal life. Between her abnormal birth, sharing a soul with her mother, and being the reincarnation of the Atlantean goddess, Meleia, it’s no wonder Ria’s got a shit storm to work through.

With that in mind, I wanted to give y’all a peek at Ria’s past lives as they are a major part of her story. So here is the quick list:

Meleia—goddess of chaos (8100 BCE)

Isura—Mesopotamia (5512 BCE)

Bianca—Italy (4027 BCE)

Niabi—Japan (1377BCE)

Colista—Greece (184 CE)

Sura—Germany (481 CE)

Benny—Spanish (714 CE)

Valarie—French (933 CE)

Zyanya—China (1212 CE)

Sophia—Ireland (1416 CE)

Layla—Scotland (1632 CE)

Dashay—Jamaica (1799 CE)

Tatiana—America (1969 CE)

It’s a long list. Thirteen past lives in all, which is linked to the chaos from her original form, or maybe because thirteen is an unlucky number. Either way, it’s my favorite. (I’m a serious lover of Friday the thirteenth—the day, not the movies. Although…)

Now, the author honesty. I don’t know much more about these women than I’ve created them in the books. Well, with a few exceptions. Ria’s mother, Tatiana, is forming herself in my fire story, featuring Ria’s father. I know a bit more about Bianca and Colista and Layla than I’ve let y’all in on.

I feel as though Layla is my most interesting of the women—the most independent and vulnerable. Maybe it’s because she reminds me a bit of Cinderella—of Drew Barrymore’s version in Ever After—and of Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice. She takes on her role as the eldest-daughter-turned-mother when her parents died in the Great Plague of Edinburgh along with two of her siblings.

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At thirteen, she had to navigate a devastated city to feed her three remaining brothers and sisters. And for the next four years, she struggles to do so every day, until she meets a man who eventually takes care of her…but he vanishes a decade later.

If you haven’t guessed it, and maybe you haven’t because you don’t know Ria’s story, but that man was Gene (whom I like to think of as my Mr. Darcy), and Layla is the spitfire that pops up when the two of them are fighting.

This is because of the fire in Layla from the life she was dealt and her ability to adapt. Ria has a lot of the same characteristics but could learn a lot from Layla still.

Before I turn this into some twisted circle of babbling, let me wrap this up.

Want to know more about these past life connections? Feel free to ask me questions!

And check out the first novel in my series, it’s on sale for 99 cents to celebrate my upcoming installment in the series on May 9th.

Rebirth 99 cent Promo

Did You Know…About Imprinting?

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Imprints seem to span further than the notable reference to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. First, they imply a biological connection between the sex of a parent and the gene passed down, which results in learning and development.  If you want to know more of the science, check this out, but I’m no expert. I merely gleam some reference to Ria and her past, especially her connections with her mother.

Second, we have the psychological imprint. The two types 4sgpxfi-mediumof psychological imprints refer to bonding with one’s parents or parent-like figures. The sexual imprinting suggests the stage of our development commented on by Freud, that we favor our opposite-sex parent and often create a template for future partners based off of them. Whereas, bonding imprints take place in new born creatures that bond to the types of animals they’re surrounded by at birth, thus they pattern their behaviors in a similar fashion.

I once again find connections between Ria and Boden’s relationship and what the term imprint implies. When her powers were budding, Boden used his influential magick on her—beginning their imprint. A few hours later, he drank his blood, deepening their connection, and shit got crazy from there.

Third, the newly famous theories from the paranormal romance world focuses on shifters, or werewolves, and their strong bonds with humans. Stephenie Meyer’s books popularized this involuntary lifetime attachment with her werewolves. Their imprints mean the werewolves protect and please their mates for the remainder of their lives. But she wasn’t the first to use this type of connection. Laurell K. Hamilton used this in her Anita Blake series between both the shifter characters and the main human female, and a link between this woman, a necromancer, and newly risen vampires. Sherrilyn Kenyon also creates a bond between her shifter characters in her Dark Hunter and Were Hunter series, where shifters mate for life, literally marking them for their mate and their mate only. The men cannot cheat, and the women cannot reproduce without their mate. Their bond is ultimate and complete.  Even further back, the story of Honan and Delsa created this type of bond as the characters transverse the before, the life, and the afterlife together, fated to find each other again and again. In fact, this is theorized to be Meyer’s inspiration as a Mormon story. This guy writes about it more in depth. Interesting stuff.

Fourth, paranormal investigators theorize that because we are made of energy and leave almost undetectable traces everywhere we go, we thusly leave an energy stamp, like a fingerprint, in places we spend a great deal of time or energy.

This is the final nail, so to speak, is their transfer of powers—when both the imprint and her newly acquired glamour explode in a coffee shop. It takes an elemental to sort it out, but traces are left. Too much of their energy swapped.

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Ultimately, I called it an imprint for a lack of a better word. Boden and Ria formed this bond without my intent and not really with theirs either. Unless you take Boden’s cackling as any sort of sign.

In book three of Ria’s story, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted, we explore their bond more deeply, but the name refers not only—just majoritively—to Ria and Boden. It also refers to her past selves, and thus, her connections to her parents, her soul, James, and Gene.

 

Want a free look into the Broken World and access to more super secret book stuff? Download “Maiden of the Underworld” here.

 

BONUS CONTENT: The Official Blood Phoenix: Imprinted book trailer is live. ❤

Fucking finally, it’s here!

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I keep hearing people talking about strong female characters, which I am ALL for. I have plenty of them myself. But lately, the focus has been on their flaws. Well, here’s something I don’t quite understand…why doesn’t EVERY character have flaws? They should. I mean seriously, who wants to read about a perfect person being perfect? Boring.

I’d rather have my powerful girl be a loud mouth, righteous, know-it-all with serious insecurities than have her simply kicking ass all the time. I mean she still kicks ass all the time, but she’s never sure if she’s going to survive. What fun would it be if we KNEW she would survive? Even if we’re pretty sure of it, the battle better fuck her the hell up. And she’d better change from it. Because my god, who wants to see people make the same mistakes for the same reasons and have the same conversations again and again in a story.

I’ve seen it. Two books, same exact conversation repeated ten times. TEN. What the fuck, people. WTF.

All right, reeling in the rant.

Reeling it in.

And breathe.

So, want a fucked up, neurotic, half-cocked heroine to follow as she pinballs around an oppressive paranormal world? Then buy your ass some Blood Phoenix novels, because Ria trudges through a shit storm of death, blood, and trials that causes her to lose her hair. Literally.

Boom, the cover! I hope you like it because I sure the fuck do.

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I have a bit of story for you. Let me give you some context. Ria and her battle buddy, Tahe, just completed their first mission scouting out some wolves in a Syracuse BBQ joint. Tahe stole a car for Ria to drive…for her first time, resulting in a nasty crash and a bit of PTSD from Ria’s renegade fight.

Enter Chapter Eleven:

Tahe whimpered beside me as I came awake with the hot fumes of barbequed meat and blood clogging my sense of smell. Her breath fast and shallow, her nails dipped into my forearm. “You awake, red.”

“Yeah.” A mallet pounded on my temples in a steady staccato, and I rubbed them as the cracked windshield came into view.

“Good.” Her breath caught. “Need some help.”

Terror strangled me when I turned to her. A piece of metal pinned her to the seat through her abdomen. I jumped back, hitting the door handle with my shoulder blades.

“Oh shit.”

Harris blinked at me from the passenger seat, dagger handle jutting out of his chest and blood dripping from the corner of his mouth. “You bitch.”

Red.”

I jerked back to reality and the blood spreading through her top. I peered around quick, looking for the phantoms of Harris. Nothing but woods.

“Ain’t nothing to go off the deep end about. At least it ain’t wood.” Tahe took another shaky breath. “How far out the back is it?”

The metal came out clean on the other side. “A few inches.”

“Doable.” Wetness garbled her words.

“Okay. You need to stop talking unless it’s necessary. Let me see if I can pull it out the front.” A single hole of a few inches in diameter punctured the windshield on her side, and the metal looked like one of the posts off the guardrail. The end still had a flat wire where it connected to rail and left Tahe enough room to grab hold of it with one hand. I hoped there were no jagged pieces inside that would tear her further when I pulled it out, but if it did, I’d need something to stop the bleeding.

My door was crushed shut. “I’m going to see if there’s anything in the trunk to tend the wound once you’re free, but I have to break my window. Turn away so I don’t spray you.”

Pulling my sleeve taut against my elbow, I hit the glass three times before it shattered. A small chunk fell inside, but the rest remained intact with spider-line fractures that I pushed out.

The trunk didn’t have a whole lot of useful junk: just fluids, a jack, and a spare tire. Crap. I needed to call for help. My phone proved useless with its smashed screen. Double crap.

My giant savior it was then.

Also check out the Transmundane Press Blog for an excerpt from Chapter Ten.

Like what you read? Enter the giveaway to win the complete Broken World Collection.

 

 

Drop the Deets: My tip for eliminating pesky dialogue tags

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Hi, I’m Alisha, and I don’t like dialogue tags.

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Aware that a great many readers and writers could give two shits about when, where, how often, and which dialogue tags are used, they rile me up.  Plain and simple.

Let me show you why.

First, to clarify, dialogue tags are necessary. They keep us on track when characters have extended conversations. And if said or asked is used to do this, they essentially become invisible. No problem here. Use them to assign a speaker—sparingly.

Now, where I get to be a bit of an editing snob: if your readers can’t tell the difference between most of your characters when they speak, this means other issues need addressed. However, the below suggestions can help with that stage of revision, too.

Next, cut the fluffy, telling dialogue tags. The ones that say how someone speaks rather than earning the true emotion of the speaker.  I’m talking about growled, mumbled, whispered, and hissing, etc. Side note, don’t have characters’ hiss without at least a few s-words. Yes, I’ve seen it, and yes, it’s infuriating. Or, god forbid, the use of adverbs to indicate these things, like he said wistfully or she said teasingly. Don’t. Just don’t.

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The trick is to drop details between dialogue to nix these and develop scene, character, and tension.

Develop scene by scattering descriptions when a pause is needed. If you struggle setting scene, as I often have issue with, this is a great place for small details: a loud, neon pink duvet; the rubber frog stuck in an inner-tube on the bookshelf; a sun-bleached couch hidden in the tall grass. Be specific, use details that differentiate the scene or that reflect what the characters are thinking about.

This type of detailing helps slow down a tense scene where a lot of dialogue takes place. If you want the tension to grow, let the reader dwell on what’s said by providing sensory input that heightens the feel of the scene.

Also, to slow down and deepen tensions means providing internalization. We don’t simply talk and listen during a conversation. We digest and respond to the other person. Maybe your characters are on the same page, and their blood is pumping, their excited, and they’re thinking, Yes! Yes, finally someone who isn’t a moron. They get it. Thus, when they respond verbally with, “I absolutely agree,” you won’t need to dump why they agree into their conversation. It’s not needed. The reader feels the same.

But maybe, the characters are not in agreement with each other, and they’re trying to navigate unfriendly territory without slitting each other’s throats. Then amidst the conversation, your POV character might think to himself, This guy. How do they keep making this guy? All slick and shiny with his clichéd euphemisms and shoddy tan. Forget this, I won’t buy from him. All the while, the other guy is selling him a used car—persistent beyond normal pleasantries.

If you’ve met people that you connect with or dislike immediately, you know the emotion that comes with this, but readers should get a taste, too. Hence, internalizing. This doesn’t just mean thoughts. It means physical reactions, too. The heat of anger, the cold of fear, the frenzy of adrenaline, the gooeyness of love. Throw some of that in there, too. Steer clear of the clichés with personification or metaphor.

Finally, show a bit more character, beyond scene and internalization are other senses that we can appeal to, other details that we can drop. Build a character slowly through a conversation. First, notice the elaborate ring on the old man’s middle finger that seems to glow strangely when the sun hits it right. Then when he speaks of a long-gone lover, show how his dark eyes shine, glossy with a deep pain that crinkles when he looks away. Catch a whiff of his cologne, astringent with undertones of grease and cedar. Finally, the notch in his ear, twisting his lobe that you didn’t notice under the shadow of his hat until he leaned forward.

We don’t see everything about a person at once. If we did, life would be boring, and when we do it in writing, our stories grow boring. And don’t merely show us things. Make us feel them, taste them, and smell them.

Don’t be afraid to give your characters’ tics—picking at their nails, rubbing their hands together, tugging at their shirt hem—we all have tells for our emotions. The reader might not know exactly why a character keeps spinning their ring around their finger, but the writer should, and they should show it.

Let me know your tips and tricks for eliminating dialogue tags and world-building. Or disagree with me, I can take it.

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Daydreaming in Ink

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I may be a wee bit addicted to planning and notebooks…and pens…and paper…and markers…okay, I’m just a big kid who likes to daydream in ink.

But I’ve finally found a way to make it work in my favor.

See, the internet has blown up with this new planning market in the last few years—for real, go check out YouTube or Pinterest or Instagram and drown in the bombardment of it. I love every bit of it, too, and probably consume more of it than I should, but that’s not really the point…is it?

No, seriously, it’s not. Step off my walnut.

So, I’ve been planning for the last year, mixing a multitude of formats and systems to make sure I break down my big plans and don’t forget any of those small steps…you know, the ones that come back and bite you in the ass at the last second.

Without any further side-tracking, hopefully, let me show you.

Here are three examples of my main project tracker, the one that shows me the entire project from start to finish in one page. It reminds me of my important tasks and allows me to track my progress and mark things out.

The simple ability to fill in my word count or how many chapters I’ve edited in a manuscript helps me feel like I’m accomplishing something even though I know I have a long way to go.

And these babies are new to me this year, after months of struggling to balance my tracking, so I’m excited to finally complete one of these. (Hint: the green one, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted should by full by the end of next quarter, to include publishing and promotion and giveaways and a whole lot of jazz. Squee.) You can see I have a whole lot sitting there in one place.

Here’s another way I help track from month to month to be sure I’m completing the tasks from my project list.

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This I took from Lisa Jacobs. I bought her workbook, Your Best Year 2017, and this allows me to take the chunking from my project plans—in conjunction with my marketing and publishing outlines—and implement them into each week of the month so I know when I need that little shit done by to stay on target.

Let me be honest, I don’t always stick to this. Life happens, shit gets shifted around, but now, I know when I’ve missed stuff and can figure out how to finish those things and keep moving forward.

It also lets me know when I have to let some tasks go. I have big dreams and big plans, and I pile a lot onto my own plate. So when I miss something consistently, I know it’s not meant to happen for a particular project. And that’s fine. I’ll try it next time.

Well, that’s it. That’s how I’ve made my tendency to goof off and doodle and journal into a productive and rewarding practice. Best of all, I really love doing it.

What do you do to plan out your creative projects? Do you have creative energy that you channel in your favor? Tell me about it.

After Happily Ever After: Editrix and Author Alisha Costanzo Talks Secret Agents and Creative Impulses

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If you haven’t heard about the After Happily Ever After anthology, this interview series is a front row seat into the creative minds of the authors who have re-envisioned the fairy tale world beyond the final credits. However, as we reach the close of the series, we now have the opportunity to turn our attention to the guiding forces behind the anthology — the editors themselves!

Welcome author and editrix Alisha Costanzo to the blog!

Costanzo Author Pic Editrix and author, Alisha Costanzo

How did you begin your writing journey?

Honestly, I always have a hard time pin-pointing a beginning, and I wonder if other authors feel the same way. I’ll start here. I had sixty-seven imaginary friends before I started public school. My mother made me a cocoon in the far corner of the living room to hide and read Goosebumps

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Guest Post: Clocks and Constancy by Ali Abbas

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Clocks are the standard by which we measure consistency. When something is “like clockwork” it is precise, beautiful in its predictability, constant. We admire that sense of everything being in its place.

Clocks give us an aspiration. In a tiny space, with almost impossible delicacy, gears and springs are pinned and layered, and in their alchemy comes the certainty that tick will follow tock. If only we, too, could be that way.17455094_10100852450155299_637820079_o

The lead character in Like Clockwork feels that way. Raymond Burntwood has spent his life at sea in the mid-nineteenth-century navy. Space is at a premium, no square foot is wasted, and the slovenly and unkempt are not tolerated. Is it any surprise that he finds a kindred spirit in Ariana Grahyart? Her lonely upbringing on a remote estate in Northumberland has been eased by her love of clockwork. She is meticulous and measured; no move is made that is not the design she has laid out.

Humans, of course, are not like that, mostly. We err, we forget, sometimes we forget ourselves, our codes and morals, caught up in a moment, swept away by an emotion.

Like Clockwork is a story of when absolutes and errors collide. What happens when a clock goes wrong, one spring dislodging all the gears and sprockets. Do you force all the
components back in, the springs deformed, the gears missing teeth, or do you discard them for new ones? A clock is a thing; there is no emotion or sentience attached to a spring.

People? Well, people are not quite so easily dealt with.

Check out Ali reading an excerpt from Like Clockwork.

Bio: Ali Abbas is a writer, photographer, and carpenter from London. He has travelled widely but still lives in the suburb where he was born. By day, he masquerades as an accountant, but no one is fooled.

Follow Ali on his website, at his blog, on facebook, or on Goodreads.

 

Closing Circles: My ultimate project timeline

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This last week, sick with some extra ick had its grubby grip on my faculties. Luckily, I had a blessed four-day weekend and spent some much-needed time writing in a personal project.

I’m pretty much the example of why writers shouldn’t have multiple projects going at once. I jump back and forth across multiple works, add to that the editing and the teaching, it may make a bit of sense as to why I operate like plate spinner.

I will say that I typically only write one project at a time—at least, one book. Short stories, sure, I can juggle a few. This is also the product of my master’s degree in creative writing. Deadlines are deadlines after all.

So why the hell am I talking about it? Because too often, we writers and editors spout advice and our own stories with a great deal of confidence and certainty. I don’t want to come off like my way is the right way or the only way. It’s simply the way I do things, and my process changes depending on my project.

But in all of them, planning has come in handy—even though I consider myself a punster.

Ultimately, I wanted to share the new way I track my projects for the year.

 

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This is my yearly projects at a glance, so I know when I should be doing what. This includes the planning, writing, editing, pre- and post-marketing, when to ask for help, and when to launch. This baby has all of the basics.

You’ll notice I limit myself to four projects on any given month. They’re in varying places of production to keep me from trying to create too much at once or edit too much at once, etc.

I will also be tracking the realities of my work ethic and ability to keep to deadlines. So far, I’m pretty close.

But it is just January.

How are you staying on track for your 2017 closing circles goals?

Closing Circles: A peek at my four-step planning process.

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If you follow my business partner, co-editor and co-publisher at Transmundane Press, you’ve heard of this process of closing circles. If you haven’t, you should really follow him.

Anyways, here’s Anthony’s plan:

  • Figure out what projects are worthy of completion
  • Organize and Prioritize
  • Follow through

His goal is to clear his slate before starting new projects.

My plan is a long-term plan, a now-until-2030 plan. Everything I start is important enough to finish. The steps are a bit different. It’s just the way I think and plan and process. Which is not to say that I don’t have small, lingering unfinished stories and projects, but they’re on my list. And when the time is right, I will finish them.

Here’s my plan:

  • Brainstorm and list making
  • Create a timeline
  • Break list down into actionable tasks
  • Follow through

I use a series of planners and white boards and post-it notes to help me. I’ve mentioned and posted videos about the system called bullet journaling, but I’ve never shown mine.

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So, here’s my system.

  • Brainstorm and list making

I do this in several places, like I said above, I have notes and lists everywhere.

Much like Anthony, I need to decide which are priorities and which projects can wait, but for this part of my process, I prefer to jot down EVERYTHING lingering in my mind. Every connection I can make between characters and plot points that might generate an interesting story. I don’t want to dismiss anything.

I know this seems counterintuitive for closing circles and finishing projects, but if I don’t know the possibilities available, I can’t plan my future properly.

I also use this system to keep track of my marketing plan and ideas.

And here’s one of my planning partners, Tecnn, and yes, he’s as big as he looks at 28 pounds of black, furry flubber. He loves to help me read, write, and edit as well.

 

  • Create a timeline

I work with a strict timeline for my series, and I have a lot of characters that demand stories. And they all take place at the same time.

Here’s a peak at my ideal write/publish plan until 2030.

For business purposes, I keep another timeline of my writing with other publications, including Anthony’s, to keep our press on schedule. This also allows me to know when I can devote time to writing, editing, and marketing for each project.

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  • Break list down into actionable tasks

Obviously, the next thirteen years is a long time to plan out, so I work in the next five years, the next year, its quarters, months, and weeks.

You can see how I brainstormed my next year’s projects and the major steps needed to complete them. Then I divided these steps into quarters so that I know when I need each step completed by. From here, I work out my quarter and my month, becoming increasingly smaller and more specific until I come to my weekly planning.

 

  • Follow through

I track my progress to keep myself accountable. I can only re-write the same task so many times before I feel guilty for not having it done already.

Weekly planning works the best for me as I can slip the rest of my life into the days on the left and keep a tracking page for the week on the right. Note how I track when I work on my craft, my job, and my goals. I also categorize my weekly tasks: business, create, plan. The rest is personal tracking for my health and my family and my home.

Finally, I also break down projects, like my novel or blog post planning and tracking. Honestly, if I hadn’t had this process for AHEA, I’d probably still be editing and planning rather than marketing and selling, which again, I also track. I have to note everything or I don’t remember what works and what doesn’t.

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Share your process for planning and completing projects with the hashtag #ClosingCircles.

The Almost-Death of an Over-Zealous Editor: the After the Happily Ever After official release

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It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

<Collapses on the floor from exhaustion. Mumbles to self and takes a nap.>

I’ve been taking a lot of those lately as I’ve neared the end of the semester and the completion of this gigantically massive anthology. If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen this cover and heard me talk about this project and its size.

Well, it’s finally here, and I damn-near killed myself doing it…Anthony, too…

But, I am so, so proud of this beast. I’m proud of the cover art, of the interior art, of each and every story, and that I finally completed my submission…four days before publication. Yeah.

My authors have especially made me proud. They’ve joined together to create a community, and the genuine appreciation that they’ve shown Anthony and me for the work it took to wrangle this beautiful thing together…it truly was a pleasure to get to know them and watch so many grow.

And one last thing before I flee to the sleepy languor that is a completed project and a closed circle. Thank you to those who supported the Kickstarter. Thank you to those who bought the first twenty signed, Limited-Edition Hardbacks. And as a thank you, we’re selling the e-book at a discount until New Years.

Here it is: Limited-Edition Hardback  |  Paperback  |  Kindle

As a thank you to Claudia Quint, who has been holding interviews with the other contributors on her blog, here, we’ve created our first-ever special author feature in our Transmundane Press Newsletters. It’s coming out tomorrow, so sign up now.

Hugs & Kisses, lovelies.