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Monday, June 27, 2016

How the Battle of the Bastards is Like Seven Noble Knights

The photos in this post are publicity stills for Game of Thrones
I think most GoT fans were thrilled with Season 6, Episode 9, "The Battle of the Bastards." It held a special fascination for me because portions of it echoed my novel, Seven Noble Knights.

When Jon Snow was riding around with his troops, I realized for the first time that with the new hairdo and tidy beard, and especially wearing piles of furs, Kit Harington is a dead ringer for my hero, Mudarra. I watched with keen interest to see this Mudarra doppelganger play out some of the battle scenes from Seven Noble Knights. I'll go over them in the order they appear in my book.

This terrifying surround tactic takes place in Chapter VIIII, although I dare say it's even worse in Seven Noble Knights because the numbers are more drastically mismatched. You'll be wondering how they get out of it! So as not to spoil my novel, I'll just say it doesn't happen the way it does in GoT.

If I wasn't sure Seven Noble Knights had snuck onto the small screen without anyone's knowledge, this scene sealed it for me. In Seven Noble Knights, my heroes are unhorsed and overwhelmed, faced with markedly similar scenes to this one, and you're still rooting for them against these incredible odds.

When Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton meet the day before the battle, I thought I was watching a scene from later in Seven Noble Knights, when Mudarra proposes single combat to decide the battle. This is something nice guys proposed in the Middle Ages to spare lives and resources. Again here, GoT doesn't follow the plot of my book, and Iwan Rheon doesn't look like my bad guy, Ruy Blásquez, either.

But wow, the good guy side of the aisle was insanely similar to what I had imagined. I don't know if I can explain what it feels like to have something you've written acted out on film, even unintentionally. In this case it was immensely exciting and satisfying, with a little bit of disconcerting because I know no one on the GoT staff has read Seven Noble Knights.

Let's hope this isn't the closest scrape Seven Noble Knights has with the moving pictures medium.

I'll be putting excerpts from Seven Noble Knights at the link as soon as I receive my galley proofs (yes, it's at that exciting stage!). You may see a battle scene that looks a little familiar if you're a GoT fan.

A few days remain in the Goodreads giveaway of two signed copies of Awash in Talent. Enter for your chance today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awash in Talent by Jessica Knauss

Awash in Talent

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Release Day and Excerpt: The Trouble with Antlers by A.J. Culey

Happy release day to this first installment of A. J. Culey's Shifter High series! Enjoy an excerpt of this zany teen adventure.

A.J. Culey was not born a shifter, much to her dismay.  Despite her limitations as a human, she enjoys spending time with cats, bunnies and other animals. She hasn’t met a shifter yet, nor has she had any antlers spontaneously appear in any classroom she’s taught in, but she hasn’t given up hope that it might one day happen. In the meantime, she has fun writing about the possibilities.

In a high school full of shifters, it's the one inquisitive human who poses the biggest threat.

When a human is the only applicant for town veterinarian and moves to Shifterville with his teenaged daughter, Amelia, the town residents conspire to keep the humans in their midst from discovering their secret. If only they can keep Melvin away from Amelia.

Melvin Moose has a problem. Anytime a girl gets too close, his antlers go on walkabout, popping out of his human head at the most inopportune moments. As if that weren’t bad enough, a human girl just enrolled at his school, and if she catches sight of his unruly rack, it’s all over for Shifterville.

Warning: This book contains typical teen language, which does include the occasional swear word. It is also full of rampant, teen hormones and the subsequent fallout.

Excerpt from The Trouble with Antlers (a.k.a. Melvin’s Rampant Rack)

Melvin was late for gym class. Again. Life kind of sucked lately.  Ever since he hit puberty and his antlers grew in, they were a huge load to bear.  Literally.  They’d already popped out twice this morning, once when Laney Queen-of-the-Universe Siamese gave him that haughty look and tossed her hair over her shoulders. 
It wasn’t his fault! Her silky hair brushed his nose and he got a headful of heady girl-cat scent and out they sprang. 
All the kids in the hallway laughed (except the two he knocked down with his headful of dorkiness… and the other two kids he flattened when his antlers pulled him to the ground in an amazing feat of gravity working against him).
The second time was when sweet, little Kelly Mole blinked up at him from her book as he walked by her in English class.  She was a naked mole rat for heaven’s sake, but did his antlers care?  Of course not!  They were moose antlers and they sensed girl and that was all it took.
Mrs. Saber snarled at him to get his rack under control and that sent the entire room into gales of laughter. 
It had taken him ten minutes in the bathroom to will those antlers into submission and now he was late for gym, where he’d be forced to dress out in fur, thus giving those antlers free reign again. 
Barreling down the hall, internally ranting at the horrors of his antlerhood, Melvin never even scented the new girl, the human, coming around the corner.
Every single adult in school had taken the time to lecture him about avoiding the new girl. One glimpse of his antlers and the secret of their shifter town, a secret their town had guarded for centuries, was toast.  But he wasn’t thinking about that.  He was worried about being late and cursing his antlers as he barreled around the corner. 
He caught a glimpse of bright blue eyes and then their bodies slammed together in a tangle of arms and legs.  He reflexively caught her in his arms, her scent barreled over him and BAM!  Out sprang the antlers from hell. 
The only good news? 
They knocked New Girl out with one blow, sending her unconscious to the floor, possibly ensuring she never knew what hit her, possibly ensuring the town’s secret was safe. 

Check out A.J. Culey's writing at her website. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awash in Talent by Jessica Knauss

Awash in Talent

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Interview with Cara McKinnon, author of Essential Magic

JK: What is Essential Magic about?

CM: Essential Magic is the story of Etta Mae Cook, a backwoods witch from Appalachia. But underneath the fantasy trappings, she’s a woman who has been stifled most of her life, and who is finally breaking free and trying to live the life she’s always wanted. The book takes place in an alternate late-Victorian era, so in practical terms, that means she has uprooted herself from the mountains of North Carolina and sailed to London, where she hopes to learn magic from her distant relatives, the Fay clan.

Immediately upon arrival in England, though, some powerful people take an interest in her, including Queen Victoria. And her family is not as welcoming as she’d hoped. Clan Fay has been waging a silent battle for years with the future of magic in the balance, and Etta could be the piece that upsets the scales.

And right in the middle of everything is Malcolm Seward, a mage who has given up magic after an accident involving his sister. He and Etta feel a powerful attraction, but for many reasons decide they must resist its pull…until it grows so strong they give in, and discover that together they are able to do things they’d never imagined apart.

JK: How did you get the idea for the story?

CM: I am an obsessive planner. I outline everything in advance, do lots of research, create pinboards on Pinterest, and generally organize the story to within an inch of its life. So this book is a bit of an anomaly for me. I sat down in November of 2015 to write the sequel to another of my projects, a book about a kitchen witch, which I had already outlined and planned. But when I started writing, it wasn’t about the kitchen witch. Etta Mae Cook stepped from the passenger car onto the platform at Waterloo Station and stumbled. That’s still the first line of the book.

I didn’t know who this woman was or why she was in London, but by the time I got to the end of the first chapter, I was hooked on her tale. So the answer is – I honestly do not know! She came to me. Of course it required lots of research and revision to get the book ready for readers, but that’s another story!

JK: Your undergraduate degree is in mythology and folklore. Can you tell us about some of the myths and folklore that inspired your book?

CM: Of course! I love stories, and I think that folklore is the lifeblood of our civilizations. Every culture has stories, even in the modern era. Now we call them urban legends, and we pass them around as clickbait and memes. And we believe in them as fervently as any ancient civilization believed in the fairies or gods. Admit it – you’ve reposted/blogged/tweeted something that turned out to be debunked later. We’ve all done it. We’re drawn in by the narrative, and we accept it as true.

It helps to put folklore in that context first, because we have a tendency to believe that people in the past were somehow different from us. That we’re much more advanced and wouldn’t make the same choices they did. Yet we do every day!
That’s one of the reasons why I can’t stop writing fantasy. Fantasy has a bad reputation in some places because it’s “escapist,” or “soft,” or “nostalgia for something that never existed,” but I think fantasy taps into those deep stories that underpin human existence. It’s important that we remember the sense of wonder and possibility that magic creates. It reminds us that we’re a tiny speck in a limitless universe – and yet even that tiny speck is an important piece of the whole.
Essential Magic is set in a specific era of history when in the real world society was obsessed with the occult, spiritualism, and fairies. The Grimm brothers gathered their tales during this period (earlier in the 19th century), Hans Christian Anderson wrote his stories, and folklorists across the world collected the oral traditions of hundreds of native peoples.
So I’ve taken all of those things and made them real in the world of my series. Fairies and ghosts really exist. As do gods and goddesses, although they might wear different shapes and be called by different names depending on what culture they’re visiting at the time. Magic is real, and some people are able to use it.
I wasn’t inspired by any one particular tradition of magic, myth, or folklore, but you could say I was inspired by all of them!

Essential Magic releases tomorrow and is available for pre-order at the following retailers:

There will also be print versions available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.

Cara McKinnon writes fantasy romances because her heart pumps equal parts magic and passion. Her love of history caused her to set her books in an alternate Victorian era, with surprisingly few changes from the real world. She lives on the East Coast of the United States with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.

Visit Cara online at her website, at Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Subscribe to Cara’s newsletter to receive special subscriber-only extras, like snippets from upcoming stories, “deleted scenes” from published work, behind-the-scenes information, and chances to receive swag and even free copies of her books.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awash in Talent by Jessica Knauss

Awash in Talent

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, June 13, 2016

Interview with Kindle Press Author Erik Therme

Kindle Press author Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 3 with his twelve-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature. Visit him on Facebook or at

JK: I've spent some time in that literary city of Iowa, too. Please tell us about your latest book.

Erik Therme: Resthaven is about a group of kids who hold a scavenger hunt inside an abandoned retirement home . . . only to discover they’re not the only ones roaming the hallways. I wanted to write something my teenage daughters would enjoy, and I’ve always been intrigued by old, creepy buildings.

JK: What was your journey to publication?

ET: I chased literary agents and publishers for years, and after a very close call with Gillian Flynn’s agency, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and self-publish. Shortly after the release of my first book, Mortom, I received an e-mail from Thomas & Mercer publishing, who had discovered the work and wanted to acquire it. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled. When I finished Resthaven, I knew the story wouldn't be a right fit for T&M (they don't handle young adult), so I submitted the book to Kindle Press. Two months later it was selected for publication, and I was off and running.

JK: How has life been different since winning Kindle Scout?

ET: The best thing about winning Kindle Scout has been the opportunity to connect with the other Scout winners. It's an incredibly supportive group of talented writers, and two of my favorite reads of 2016 have come from Scout authors.

JK: I've found it to be a very talented and welcoming community, too. What inspires you to write in your genre?

ET: I believe an author should write the story they feel compelled to tell, regardless of genre. Mortom began life as a horror story before transitioning into a mystery, whereas Resthaven is more action-driven and targeted toward young adults. Part of the joy of writing is being able to follow your imagination wherever it takes you. That said, everything I write seems to gravitate toward suspense with "twinges" of horror.

JK: Who are some of your favorite authors?

ET: One of my all-time favorite books is Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Stephen King has always been a huge influence, and I'm a big fan of Alden Bell, who wrote the brilliant novel The Reapers Are the Angels. I'll pretty much read anything that catches my interest.

JK: What do you do when you're not writing? If such a time exists.

ET: I have a wonderful wife who loves to travel and two teenage daughters who enjoy games and movies. I stay fit by exercising three times a week, and I'm a sucker for exploring small towns (in the surrounding area) on weekends.

JK: Well, I won't keep you from that any longer. Enjoy!

Great news! The Goodreads giveaway of two softcover editions of Awash in Talent has just begun! Get your entry in before June 30 to join in the fun.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awash in Talent by Jessica Knauss

Awash in Talent

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Debut Day for Awash in Talent with Trailer, Bookmarks, and a Giveaway

Getting ready to talk about my dear book. It's harder than you think! 
Today's the day: June 7! All those who preordered Awash in Talent will magically receive it on their devices today. Order it flat out and starting today, you'll get it instantly! This is a big deal, because Awash in Talent took six years from first idea through writing and editing to publication. If I could've made it appear instantly, I certainly would have. You can also now get your hands on the softcover edition here.

Never before have I felt my writing to be so validated. Awash in Talent is unusual, so I often wondered whether I would be able to rally enough interested people to publish traditionally. Kindle Press made that dream come true with added benefits such as a great community of authors.

There is a lot of celebrating going on today. First, I've celebrated by putting on the shirt I was wearing when I met Manolo García to film a sincere trailer in which I talk about what makes me proud about Awash in Talent. What do you think?

I've also celebrated by creating some pretty nifty bookmarks for my readers to enjoy. Contact me for yours!

And last but not least, I'm celebrating by giving you fair warning of the exciting giveaway I have planned. On Goodreads, a giveaway of two softcover editions of Awash in Talent will begin on June 12. Get ready to get your entry in before June 30 to join in the fun.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awash in Talent by Jessica Knauss

Awash in Talent

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

The Awash in Talent Book Launch Tour is still going on. Find out all kinds of new facts and get answers to your burning questions at these great links.

“Kindle Scout Success” with Kristin Gleeson
“Author Spotlight” with Teresa Roman
Author Interview with Rachelle Paige

"Jessica Knauss—Awash in Talent" with Katherine Hayton

Social issues and the creative process with Seymour Hamilton

Learn whether you should even start writing with author Craig A. Hart

"Jessica Knauss Interview" at Today's Author with Katie O'Rourke

"Writers Reach: Jessica Knauss with Awash in Talent" with Jennifer Skutelsky
About the Kindle Scout campaign with The Crazy Mind