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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter Solstice, Just in Time for Your Burgeoning Holiday Spirit

As Seven Noble Knights draws near, I hope you fans of contemporary paranormal shenanigans haven't felt left out. Just in time for that little glimmer of holiday joy that rises up from your belly and takes residence in your heart, many awesome Kindle Press authors bring you Winter Solstice.

Whether you like to read Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror, Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense, or Literature, Winter Solstice has you covered. Twelve original stories by masterful authors will get you into the holiday spirit.

In my contribution, "Awash in Christmas Spirit," super-Talented Beth from Awash in Talent finally gets to tell the reader about things from her point of view. She's super enthusiastic to spend her first Christmas in Providence with her family, although her sister, Emily, doesn't make it easy to spread the cheer.

All this and eleven other fun, exciting, even scary stories for the low low price of $0! Yup, this wonderful book is our gift to you this holiday season.

Get it for free at AmazonKoboInstafreebie, or anywhere you like! Get all the latest about the authors at Lincoln Cole's page.

And this just in! Awash in Talent (Kindle edition) is participating in a special promotion and will cost only 99 cents for the entire month of December!

If what you really like is historical fiction filled with violence and romance, be sure to enter for your chance to win one of three softcover first editions of Seven Noble Knights!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meet the Character: Blanca Flor

Who is so beautiful and kind that she could melt even the most hardened warrior's heart?

There are several characters in Seven Noble Knights who began as a throwaway phrase in the source material. An important character named Yusuf came about because Mudarra needed a guide through Christian Spain, and as we saw last week, Justa blossomed out of Doña Lambra having "a single maid" at one point in the story. They both took on their own story arcs, which seemed to develop independent of my intentions, but fit into the novel so beautifully, they look planned.

Blanca Flor, however, is all mine. The epic poem states that Ruy Blásquez and Doña Lambra had no issue, but what if the case was more that after the terrible things their parents did, no one wanted to be associated with them, especially by blood ties? When I write the sequel to Seven Noble Knights, that tension will feature throughout.

Doña Lambra, raging mad by Ayal Pinkus 
I took Blanca Flor's name from other medieval poems and her personality from the questions: What would Doña Lambra and Ruy Blásquez's daughter have been like? Would she be kindhearted in imitation of Justa, who really raises her, or would the hatred between her parents and the world sour her?

Personally, when I think of a female between 14 and 20 years old, I don't see a fully grown woman, but in the tenth century, that was the age of maturity. So I took inspiration for Blanca Flor's look from her mother.

Then I made a sketch with words to evoke when I described her for the first time. It's hard to see pencil in the scan, but here it is:

I was going for the beauty of the mother, but full of kindness.

Here's how the description ended up, from the point of view of Mudarra:

He ducked behind the tree trunk, from where he observed a being who radiated so much brightness he hardly dared to keep watching her, and yet he couldn’t look away. As he stared, he distinguished two long braids the color of gold thread that pulled the hood from her head and whipped from side to side and front to back as the girl-woman changed her gait to suit her mood. Her mantle flew away from her body with each step like the wings of a giant bird taking flight. At her neck, an underdress of a fine, almost transparent fabric protected her fair skin from her tunic's blue wool. The skirt, covered in embroidered whorls, danced stiffly atop soft leather boots. Somewhere below the rapturous feelings the female caused in him, Mudarra thought he would visit a cobbler and have similar boots made for himself. She distractedly passed the empty bucket from one soft-looking mitten to the other as she meandered toward the riverbank. He had never laid eyes on anything like her.

We'll see a lot more of her in the sequel! 

Subscribers to my newsletter will get a truly special treat in December: a prequel short story that shows the defining moment when Doña Lambra went bad, told from the naive point of view of her foster sister and maid, Justa. It's exclusive: no one else will ever have access to this most illuminating story! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Release: Bounty Huntress by Sheri Queen

Today we're celebrating the recent release of Sheri Queen's Bounty Huntress, the first in the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series.

Janda Gray’s a Lykoi—part werecat, part wolf—shunned by both sides of her lineage.

She yearns for the day when she can escape the disdainful glances and leave her home on the outskirts of Sleepy Hollow, NY. When she lands a lucrative bounty hunter contract, she thinks her life is finally turning around. All she has to do is lure her werecat target from the safety of the Hotel Paranormal.
Then she meets a werepanther. Her life will never be the same.

Alexander Holden, second-in-command of a powerful werecat clan, is accused of murdering the woman he was to marry. He must find the real killer to clear his name or spend the rest of his supernaturally long life on the run.
Complications arise after Janda falls for the man she’s supposed to be capturing.

Now she must decide if following her heart is worth risking everything, including the love they’ve found in each other’s embrace.
Love is about making sacrifices. Saving him is all that matters.

Bounty Huntress is the introduction to the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series.
It is also a Hotel Paranormal story.

The Hotel Paranormal is THE place for supernatural beings looking to get away from it all. Beings like werewolves, vampires, elves, sprites, djinn and more check in from all over the world for business and for pleasure—and sometimes for both.

"A beautifully descriptive, fast-paced tale full of paranormal twists and turns with a dash of romantic heat." ~ Traci Douglass, USA Today Bestselling Author

"Thanks to Sheri Queen's smooth, immersive style and her penchant for interesting characters, you'll not only want to follow Janda Gray into the Hotel Paranormal, but will soon be clamoring for your own magical room key." ~Heidi Ruby Miller, award-winning author of the Ambasadora series


Half a block stood between me and my future happiness, but it might as well have been a mile for all the good it would do me. From the alley to the bar there was no cover, no shadows to absorb my presence. I’d scoured the surrounding area for another entry point to no avail. Barred windows and a padlocked backdoor thwarted me. I had one shot at getting inside before anyone could stop me, and that meant waiting until the barkeep kicked the last of his patrons out at closing time. While they were busy getting on their bikes, I’d make a mad dash to the front door. I was grateful the street was deserted at this hour, but it was almost too quiet. One stupid move on my part could mean disaster.
I calculated the distance from where I stood, hidden in the alley, to the bar’s entrance and figured I’d probably be fast enough to make it as long as the wolves were so drunk they wouldn’t notice me until it was too late. It was a long shot, but the only one I had. Wolves were quick, even inebriated ones. Their metabolism burned off alcohol within minutes of downing it, which meant my window of opportunity was about the size of a mouse hole. In my Lykoi state I was faster than a wolf—I’d honed that particular skill long ago with all the times I’d been chased—but I couldn’t go Lykoi. Paws didn’t lend themselves to turning doorknobs, so I’d have to do this the hard way. Nothing new there.
I leaned against the brick wall and let the cool autumn air soothe my restless body. My calf muscles twitched, and my stomach rumbled. It was tempting to give in to the urge to transform and run through the woods I’d passed on the way into town. Maybe even hunt a bit of rabbit. I let out a slow breath and resisted my primal desires.
I counted four bikes outside the bar. Mutther’s might be a neutral, no-colors establishment, but I still had to get past the owners of those bikes. Four big-ass obstacles between me and the portal to the Hotel Paranormal. I knew portals existed in most major cities—definitely in Manhattan—but, of course, my only way into the hotel would be through a wolf biker bar. My luck ranged from bad to stinking bad. I was long overdue for a bit of good luck, but I didn’t look for that to happen tonight. My usual mode of blending into the background to avoid attracting attention wasn’t going to work here. There were no crowds to lose myself in, and the glaring neon sign covering three quarters of the bar’s facade was a beacon spreading a swath of red across the sidewalk. Anyone wishing to enter the bar would be doused in light. This had to be the hotel’s idea of a joke—or a test.

Get Bounty Huntress on Amazon, Nook, or iBooks!

Sheri Queen received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She grew up in the Hudson Valley region of New York—an area she loves to depict as a backdrop for her stories—and enjoys traveling to new places where she is constantly discovering inspirations for her writing. In particular, she loves visiting old graveyards.

You can follow the author at:

Twitter: @SWQueenFlemming

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, November 21, 2016

Seven Noble Knights Characters: Long-Suffering Justa

Perennially overworked Justa 
Justa is one of the characters I added to the mix from the original epic story I based Seven Noble Knights on. In the old draft of the story that no one will ever see, Justa was conceived as a snarky maid for Doña Lambra, the main narrator, and a commentator on the story.

When I started over, I decided Doña Lambra was negative enough. She didn't need a snarky sidekick. So Justa became a sweet girl who longs for a normal life, but her ties to Lambra won't permit the freedom to pursue it. She took on more of the characteristics associated with her name, which is the same as an early Spanish martyr saint, and whose meaning has to do with fairness or justice, and then it turned out that she needed a snarky foil. That sassy role is filled by Gotina, a minor character.

Using the distaff and watching the kid 
Partly because my critique group really liked her character, and partly because it fit brilliantly into the plot, Justa turned into a major character with a fairly complex arc. When I write the sequel to Seven Noble Knights, it will focus largely on Justa, the decisions she makes before and after Seven Noble Knights comes to a close, and their ramifications.

She was born into a family of the minor nobility the same year as Lambra, and she looks enough like her that they could be sisters. In Part Two of Seven Noble Knights, our hero, Mudarra, is afraid she might be Doña Lambra when he first meets Justa. She comes into Lambra's household as a foster child when her parents are killed in a border raid, and lives as if she were Lambra's sister until Lambra's parents are killed. From that moment on, Lambra treats Justa as her personal servant, and Justa suffers it because she has nowhere else to go. The ties created when Lambra's family took her in are not easily broken, but everyone has their breaking point. When Justa finds hers, the story comes to an end.

It's a pretty important role for someone who started out as a snarky maid.

This is artist Ayal Pinkus's rendition of Doña Lambra.
Justa looks a lot like her, but she never gets to throw a fit. 
The last chapter of Part One is devoted to Justa's point of view. She gets to fall in love and dream of possibilities beyond her bad-luck servile situation. The romance may not be coincidental: this is the novel's only Chapter XIII, which is the lucky number my husband and I adopted. In this chapter, Justa lets slip perhaps her most iconic line:

"She may control everything I do, 
but she doesn't have any secrets from me."

Smart readers who subscribe to my mailing list will get to catch a glimpse of how Justa's and Doña Lambra's characters were formed in a prequel story in December, just in time to celebrate the release of Seven Noble Knights!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meet the Characters: Baddies Male and Female and a Treat for Newsletter Subscribers

The Seven Noble Knights ten-copy ARC extravaganza has chosen its winners from 870 entrants! I'm busy mailing the copies out, and have faith that they will find the right readers.

A couple of weeks ago, we were introduced to Mudarra, the hero of Seven Noble Knights. This novel is so epic, there's more than one villain!

The story on which I base Seven Noble Knights contains many historical figures, but the existence of Ruy Blásquez and Doña Lambra has not been fully verified, perhaps because no one, even today, would welcome the possibility of being associated with such vile traitors.

Ruy Blásquez is even a little hard to define as a part
of the statue of his wife in Barbadillo
Ruy Blásquez doesn’t kill a king or even a count. But his heinous crime leaves him with all the power for a generation at the turn of the eleventh century.

The crime is all the worse because it's an assault on the family of Doña Sancha, his sister. There are few stronger blood ties at this time in history. An uncle is expected to take on an almost nurturing role, ensuring that his nephews realize their potential, especially on the battlefield, and for this surrogate father to actively seek their harm smacks of taboo. Additionally, Ruy Blásquez's close association with powerful Muslims taints him in the eyes of his Christian neighbors. His actions betray not only his blood relatives, but also the Christian faith.

Although I tell the story from many different points of view in my novel, Ruy Blásquez’s actions are so hard to understand that I dared not take a seat behind his eyes. The source material writers seem to have felt the same taboo. They make an effort to distance the audience from Ruy Blásquez, referring to him as I do here, always with his first and last names, and usually appending “that traitor” or calling him simply “the traitor.” I took a more subtle route: I made him slippery, hard to get a handle on in general, so that his incomprehensibility in the betrayal is somewhat believable. The reader is left to conjecture that his wife, Doña Lambra, made him do it.

The author couldn't help grinning with
the statue of her villainess in Barbadillo 
Doña Lambra, on the other hand, was too much fun not to try to understand. She’s frustrated because she has to marry Ruy Blásquez and covets the nephews’ superior power. She also feels an inconvenient level of sexual tension around her handsome new nephews-in-law, and when they get into an argument and kill her cousin, she snaps. She has to be a little insane to take such a disproportionate revenge, but she also has to be manipulative or influential in order to get Ruy Blásquez to agree, even if he is wishy-washy. It was delightful creating this dangerous beauty the reader loves to hate. I would imagine how I would handle the situation, and then have Lambra do the greatly exaggerated opposite. Readers get to live many lives; authors even more so!

Curious about Lambra?

Subscribers to my newsletter will get a truly special treat in December: a prequel short story that shows the defining moment when Doña Lambra went bad, told from the naive point of view of her foster sister and maid, Justa. It's exclusive: no one else will ever have access to this most illuminating story! 

Monday, November 7, 2016


As my newsletter subscribers know, Seven Noble Knights now has its own medieval, blood-red cover! 

The first draft had only the knight on the hill crest, but I requested a group of seven in the valley below. Just one knight was not enough for me, oh no.

It's nothing like what I was imagining, but I think it suits the novel. My fondest hope is that it will attract readers instead of putting them off. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Remember to enter for your chance at a short-run advance reader copy of Seven Noble Knights—ends soon—November 13. These copies won't have the blood-red cover, but they will have the map and all the goodness words can convey. They won't be printed this way ever again!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends November 13, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway