Thursday, September 4, 2014

Registration Open for ThrillerFest X - 2015


Early registration opened today for International Thriller Writer's ThrillerFest X -2015!
 
The conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt, New York City from July 7-11, 2015. These are the best rates you'll get - don't delay.

The 2015 ThrillerMaster is Nelson DeMille. Spotlight Guests are Charlaine Harris, Greg Iles, and Huge Howey. It's going to be a blast!


Register for ThrillerFest X

 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes


Every year, for the month of May, New York Times and USA Today Best selling Author Brenda Novak runs an online auction for diabetes research. The auction takes a full year to plan and pull off, but it’s a labor of love—an effort to help all the people who, like her youngest son, suffer from diabetes. Her very first auction ran in 2005. It started small but has grown every year by leaps and bounds, and has raised over $2 million for research.

The Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research is the biggest online event for diabetes research in the world. Each year, with the help of generous donors
which include some of the biggest and brightest stars in publishing, like Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Diana Gabaldon, Michael Connelly and John GrishamBrenda offers up over 2400 fabulous items, creating a shopper’s paradise. 

But the auction is more than your every day charity gala. It’s a blast to participate in
a real community. Shoppers quickly become donors and donors quickly become shoppers. 

Authors, there's still time to donate! To make a donation or for more information, email Brenda's assistant, Anna, at anna@auctionfordiabetes.com.

I've been a donor to this auction for several years, and this year my item this year is a $100 Amazon Gift Card.


The auction starts MAY 1ST and runs for a month. Check it out, and bid on my item! But don't bid on the item I have picked out ... I want that one all to myself. :)

Connect with Brenda and the Auction:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brenda_Novak
Twitter-Auction: https://twitter.com/bnovakauction
Website: http://www.brendanovak.com/


Hugs, 
Dakota

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Fling: A New-to-You Author

Spring is here! For those of you still coping with snow, rest assured that Spring arrived on March 20 at 12:57 P.M. EDT, even if it hasn't shown its fair face in your location yet.
http://supernaturalunderground.blogspot.com/Time for a spring fling! To a dedicated reader, that means books. What, you were expecting shopping for frilly, pastel Spring clothing and new shoes or packs of garden seeds? Hah! We readers have our priorities straight!

I participate in a group blog called Supernatural Underground.  We are a terrific group of authors who focus primarily on the paranormal genre. I'm pleased to be in such outstanding company! There are often giveaways on SU. I'm going to introduce all of us quickly, in alphabetical order. Click on our names to visit our web sites and follow us on Twitter with the links after our names. Get to know us better!

Amanda Arista (@pantherista) was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel. The summer of second grade, she read every book in the young adult section of the library. So she started making up her own stories and hasn’t stopped since. She writes the DIARIES OF AN URBAN PANTHER series.




Dakota Banks (@dakotabanks) writes the Mortal Path dark urban fantasies, paranormal thrillers with a splash of romance. With Ancient Sumerian mythology brought forward to the present, a three-hundred-year-old woman tries to redeem her soul by saving as many lives as she's taken. The third book in the series, DELIVERANCE, won the 2012 USA Best Book Award for Fantasy. As Shirley Kennett, she writes suspense thrillers in the PJ Gray series. As D.B. Ayers, she's published HONOR'S JOURNEY, a middle grade historical novel.

A.A. Bell (@ThePoetTrees) is the winner of the prestigious 2011 Norma K. Hemming Award for Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Themes (Race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.) for her debut novel, DIAMOND EYES, and for her second, HINDSIGHT. She's the first to ever win the award twice. As Anita Bell, she writes children's books, and was the first author to win an International “CrimeStoppers Award" for a children's crime series. 


Merrie Destefano (@MerrieDestefano) writes edgy urban fantasy: Vampires and fairy tales, Bladerunner meets Jim Butcher. AFTERLIFE (where everyone gets nine lives) and FEAST (edgy urban romance) leave you wanting more. Her first book of short stories, WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT, is highly satisfying, and the title tells all.  She writes for Young Adults too, and can teach you how to draw fantasy characters.


Jocelynn Drake (@JocelynnDrake) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Days series and The Asylum Tales. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard, frowning at her monitor, or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cats, Harley and Demona, walking her dog Max, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game.


Kim Falconer (@kimfalconer), a bestselling SF/Fantasy author, writes the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, epic stories that seamlessly mingle science and technology with sociology, environmentalism, philosophy, and magic. Astrology has been a part of her life for over 30 years and she teaches and consults in this field. Born in Santa Cruz, California, she lives and writes in the far eastern coast of Australia, sharing her dwelling with two black cats and a pair of Torresian crows. (!)

Leigh Fallon (@Leigh_Fallon) was born in South Africa, raised in Dublin, Ireland and moved to Cork in her 20s. Her debut paranormal romance in the Carrier series was discovered on Inkpop, a website for writers of teen fiction. Within weeks, book one of the in the series, CARRIER OF THE MARK, hit the coveted top five spot and was reviewed by an editor at HarperCollins. A few emails and some hysterical screaming later, she signed her first deal with HarperTeen. The second book in the trilogy is SHADOW OF THE MARK.

Jeaniene Frost (@Jeaniene_Frost) is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of vampire stories in the Night Huntress series, Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to eighteen different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she swears like a sailor, rarely cooks, and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car.

Terri Garey (@TerriGarey) is the RITA© award winning author of six novels, two series, and various novellas. Her devilishly delicious tales from the dark side have been described as "sweet yet smouldering" by Publishers Weekly, and "sultry and upbeat" by Library Journal. Despite her choice of spooky subject matter, Terri prefers to avoid graveyards, especially on Halloween.



Colleen Gleason (@colleengleason), a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has written more than two dozen novels in a variety of genres  – most of them with some sort of supernatural element. From vampire hunters in Regency England to dystopian romance (as Joss Ware), Colleen has run the gamut. Her most recent release is ROARING MIDNIGHT, a spin-off of the internationally bestselling Gardella Vampire Chronicles, in which she brings the vampire-hunting family to Roaring Twenties Chicago.

Helen Lowe (@helenl0we) is a Fantasy/Science Fiction author, poet, interviewer and blogger. She won the prestigious Gemmell Morningstar Award for THE HEIR OF NIGHT, the first novel in her The Wall of Night epic fantasy series. THE GATHERING OF THE LOST, the second in the series, was described as a "a classic right up there with the likes of George RR Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE" by SF Site. Helen has twice won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Excellence in SciFi-Fantasy: for her YA novel THORNSPELL and for THE HEIR OF NIGHT.

Kristin Miller (@KM_Miller) is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes the dark and sexy Vampires of Crimson Bay series featuring a blood war between vampires and shape-shifters and the Seattle Wolf Pack series, with her latest release GONE WITH THE WOLF. In addition to paranormal romance, she also writes contemporary and  historical romance and romantic suspense.

Nicole Murphy (@nicole_r_murphy) has been a primary school teacher, bookstore owner, journalist and checkout chick. Her urban fantasy trilogy Dream of Asarlai's last book is ROGUE GADDA. As Elizabeth Dunk she writes contemporary romance. As a journalist, Nicole has won awards for her writing; she has also had more than two dozen short stories published, the most recent in BLOODSTONES, an anthology of urban fantasy. Nicole lives her love of science fiction and fantasy through her involvement with the Conflux science fiction conventions. As Elizabeth Dunk, she writes contemporary romance. She lives with her husband in Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia.

Pamela Palmer (@Pamela_Palmer) is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels including the Vamp City, Feral Warriors, and The Esri series. When Pamela's initial career goal of captaining star ships failed to pan out, she turned to engineering, satisfying her desire for adventure with books and daydreams until finally succumbing to the need to create worlds of her own. Pamela lives and writes in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Jaime Rush (@Jamierush) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden series about humans with the essence of gods who walk the knife’s edge between the glamour of Miami and a place filled with dark magick and dangerous beauty. She also writes the Offspring series: Dangerous outcasts with extraordinary psychic powers who must band together to fight an enemy out to destroy them. As Tina Wainscott, she has published eighteen romance novels, mostly suspense and many with a touch of paranormal.

Kerrelyn Sparks (@KerrelynSparks) is the bestselling author of the paranormal romance Love at Stake series, which has hit as high as number 5 on the New York Times list and 22 on the USA Today list. Her most recent release is THE VAMPIRE WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. She also writes historical romances. She lives in the Greater Houston area with her husband, children, and a house full of garlic.  So far, there are no vampires in her family. Werewolves are another matter entirely.

Wasn't that a blast?! You followed all of us on Twitter, right?  Right? You might find a New-to-You author among us who could turn into one of your favorites. Check us out!

Hugs,
Dakota

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Women in Mystery E-book Deals

"http://www.openroadmedia.com/womensmysterymonth"

Open Road Integrated Media is celebrating genre-breaking female mystery authors this month with a special sale. Learn about these writing pioneers and snag some ebook deals. Shirley Kennett, my alter ego, is in some exceptional company here. I'll have to tell her to keep up the good work!

Gray Matter, first in the PJ Gray series, is on sale for $1.99 in e-book format.

“Kennett is a writer of rare skill, and Gray Matter is a deftly plotted novel bristling with suspense. A rip-roaring good read!” —John Lutz, author of Single White Female and many other outstanding mysteries

“Fans of Patricia Cornwell’s work will be hooked on this heart-stopping and harrowing thriller. The finely drawn characters in Gray Matter are both complex and terrifyingly convincing. Rated Excellent.” —Romantic Times

Friday, February 28, 2014

Win a Mortal Path Swag Bag!

Check out my post about the fourth book in the Mortal Path series, Bloodletting, on the Supernatural Underground Blog. You can win this terrific Mortal Path Swag Bag (tote bag, three signed paperbacks, calculator, bookmarks, magnets, and pens) just by commenting on Supernatural Underground.

The last day to enter is Wednesday, March 5, 2014. International entries welcome, but an international winner will receive a $35 Amazon Gift Card rather than the swag bag. Go for it!

Supernatural Underground

Friday, September 13, 2013

Free Review Copy of Honor's Journey

Author DB Ayers (a very close friend of mine, so close we have the same fingerprints) has released an indie book for kids. As with any indie book, promo is a tough go. Accumulating reviews on Amazon is an important first step, one that ♥you♥ can help accomplish. Doesn't that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling? If you haven't done your random act of kindness for the day, well ...

Have kids? Know anyone with kids? Ever been a kid? You can have a free review copy of Honor's Journey, suggested for boys and girls ages 9-12+. 

R.L. Stine says it's "a terrific read," and if you know anything about kids, you know who R.L. Stine is.

Set in the 1700s, Honor's Journey is the story of the love Native American twins (boy and girl) Hawk and Fox have for the only two horses their tribe owns, and what happens when their father makes a peace treaty that gives away one of the horses—and pledges Fox as the future bride of another chief’s cruel son.
Full of action, adventure, and emotional involvement, and sure to please both boys and girls.

Click here to get your free review copy,
your choice of Kindle, Nook, or PDF.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happify Me!

As a blogger, I was invited to participate in Happify, an online program based on scientific principles to increase my happiness level. I'm going to share my experiences, at least in general, with the program, since I'm assuming that's why bloggers were selected for the beta trial. I'm very interested in the scientific basis for happiness but just a little skeptical of what Happify can do for me. Going in with an open mind, though!  

Disclosure: Happify is providing me with free access to premium features. There is a free version available. 

I'll check back with you later after I've dipped in one or more toes. 

Happify S.T.A.G.E.™ Diagram
Happify's S.T.A.G.E.™ framework will help you master the
five skills of happiness. http://www.happify.com



My first step is to pick a track to start on, from choices like "Nurture Your Body and Soul," "Cope Better with Stress," "Be More Socially Connected," or "Appreciate What You Have." (Note: All of these tracks are free.) After the brief survey I did, my recommendation was to start with "Cope Better with Stress" - no surprise there! :-)

Which one would you choose?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Giveaway! $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Certificate

$50 Giveaway for Time of Death

I write the PJ Gray series of virtual reality thrillers as Shirley Kennett. The recently issued ebook version of Time of Death was chosen to be featured in the Kindle 100 for July! It's on sale for $1.99 until July 31st at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online retailers.

I'm pleased to offer a giveaway of a $50 Amazon or B&N gift certificate to celebrate the sale. Last I checked, Time of Death was #43/100 in its Kindle category of Crime Fiction. I'd love to see it go to #1!
"Kennett's writing is taut and unyielding, and like great baseball pitchers she throws the curves fast and with uncanny accuracy. Reading Time of Death was like watching someone juggle plates while skateboarding down a steep hill. You aren't sure how it will end, just that it will be spectacular. I loved every minute of this book and look forward to her next."
- Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
"The hook in Kennett's PJ Gray series, starring a St. Louis psychological profiler, is the use of virtual reality software to recreate crime scenes. The high-tech wizardry is fine, but what really makes this series go is the fiery relationship and strong personalities of the costars, gutsy protagonist PJ (Penelope) and her Andy Sipowicz-like boyfriend, Leo Schultz, a police detective. This pair could be solving cases with legal pads and pencils, and readers would still be drawn to them. A top-notch series that satisfies both readers seeking page-turning suspense and those looking for characters so real you almost expect to see them at the local diner."
- Booklist
Please pass the word!

Enter the drawing: http://shirleykennett.com

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Maliha's Christmas


Nocturnal Book Reviews has a charming Christmas feature: authors sharing how their characters would spend the holiday. I'll be up on December 17th, with the Mortal Path's Maliha Crayne decorating her tree alone (all together now - awwww). Giveaways? Of course! You can win the now famous (or infamous) Mortal Path Swag Bag.

Visit Christmas With Dakota Banks to enter to win the Swag Bag. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deliverance wins Fantasy Award


I'm excited to share the news that Deliverance, the third book in the Mortal Path series, has received the


"Deliverance is wonderfully unpredictable, full of breathlessly exciting action scenes. Readers will be hooked till the very last page, and then will rush to pick up the others in the Mortal Path series." - RT Book Reviews

"A great concept and a fun read; an original story with just the right blend of action, suspense, mythology, and romance." - Book Bitch 

"Readers who like their paranormal romantic suspense novels to feature nonstop action, twisting plots, and deadly heroines will devour the clever and compelling Mortal Path series. Assassins, demons and danger, oh my!" - Lisa Gardner

"DELIVERANCE is a gut-kick of a read, with non-stop action and as inventive a world as I have ever seen."
- VICKI PETTERSSON
"DELIVERANCE delivers everything I love in suspense fiction: great characters who jump from the page; a smart, layered plot, and pacing that screams. This is the kind of book that makes you look forward to a rainy day." - JOHN GILSTRAP

"Deliverance is a gut-kick of a read, with non-stop action and as inventive a world as I have ever seen." - Vicki Pettersson

"Deliverance is filled with action, suspense, raw honesty, and great drama. It is definitely the most high-stakes installment in the series yet and I could not put it down. Dakota has done a marvelous job of creating an untenable situation and forcing Maliha to deal with it." - Tynga's Reviews
"I applaud Ms. Banks on delivering an action-packed book with a very intriguing story idea that is not your typical paranormal."
- BITTEN BY PARANORMAL ROMANCE
"Deliverance is sizzling hot and full of the trademark action that accompanies this fantastic series. I absolutely loved this book! The plot is outstanding as usual, full of twists and turns and incredible revelations. FANTASTIC. This series is definitely one of my favourites of all time."
- BOOKAHOLIC BOOK CLUB

"[A] fascinating and refreshingly original series. ... Dark Time is a complex novel bound to grab you by the throat and not let go until the final page is turned. The world presented here is brilliantly portrayed and Dakota Banks does a masterful job with her descriptive imagery. I could not put this book down. A Five Klover Recommended Read."
- CKS KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
"The heroine of this story, Maliha Crayne, is a combination of Jason Bourne meets Lara Croft. She is strong, loyal, witty, and pretty much an all around kick-ass person. Is it possible to be jealous of a fictional character? Because I definitely am! I loved it! Banks delivered in all aspects for me."
- I SMELL SHEEP
"The heroine of this story, Maliha Crayne, is a combination of Jason Bourne meets Lara Croft. She is strong, loyal, witty, and pretty much an all around kick-ass person. Is it possible to be jealous of a fictional character? Because I definitely am! I loved it! Banks delivered in all aspects for me." - I Smell Sheep

"[A] fascinating and refreshingly original series. ... Dark Time is a complex novel bound to grab you by the throat and not let go until the final page is turned. The world presented here is brilliantly portrayed and Dakota Banks does a masterful job with her descriptive imagery. I could not put this book down. A Five Klover Recommended Read."
- CKS KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
"The heroine of this story, Maliha Crayne, is a combination of Jason Bourne meets Lara Croft. She is strong, loyal, witty, and pretty much an all around kick-ass person. Is it possible to be jealous of a fictional character? Because I definitely am! I loved it! Banks delivered in all aspects for me."
- I SMELL SHEEP
"[A] fascinating and refreshingly original series. ... Dark Time is a complex novel bound to grab you by the throat and not let go until the final page is turned. The world presented here is brilliantly portrayed and Dakota Banks does a masterful job with her descriptive imagery. I could not put this book down. A Five Klover Recommended Read."
- CKS KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
"The heroine of this story, Maliha Crayne, is a combination of Jason Bourne meets Lara Croft. She is strong, loyal, witty, and pretty much an all around kick-ass person. Is it possible to be jealous of a fictional character? Because I definitely am! I loved it! Banks delivered in all aspects for me."
- I SMELL SHEEP
"There is plenty of action, drama and suspense in Malihas life as she continues to fight for redemption. The Mortal Path books are filled with unique adventures that leave your mind turning. With every book comes more understanding of her situation and what she might deal with in the future."
- URBAN FANTASY INVESTIGATIONS
"I love this series! It is jammed with action and adventure that moves quickly from one harrowing event to another. Maliha is a strong kick-ass woman who survived not only the control of a demon, but earlier, burning after a false accusation of being a witch. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers as well as action and adventure fans...and more!"
- BOOK READERS HEAVEN
"I applaud Ms. Banks on delivering an action-packed book with a very intriguing story idea that is not your typical paranormal."
- BITTEN BY PARANORMAL ROMANCE
"Deliverance is sizzling hot and full of the trademark action that accompanies this fantastic series. I absolutely loved this book! The plot is outstanding as usual, full of twists and turns and incredible revelations. FANTASTIC. This series is definitely one of my favourites of all time."
- BOOKAHOLIC BOOK CLUB
"DELIVERANCE is a gut-kick of a read, with non-stop action and as inventive a world as I have ever seen."
- VICKI PETTERSSON
"DELIVERANCE delivers everything I love in suspense fiction: great characters who jump from the page; a smart, layered plot, and pacing that screams. This is the kind of book that makes you look forward to a rainy day." - JOHN GILSTRAP

Monday, October 1, 2012

Halloween at the (Paranormal) Haven


ParanormalHaven

Oh my, it's October! Time for my favorite event of the year, Halloween at the Haven, at Paranormal Haven. A solid month of giveaways and guest posts from great authors! Somehow I managed to slip in - my date's October 27th. I'll be giving away a Mortal Path Swag Bag and talking about something Halloween-y.

To get you in the mood, here are some easy Vampire Cookies you can bake. The recipe is on Baking Bites. You take one yummy butter cookie, plop some raspberry jam on it, then put on a top butter cookie. Use a toothpick to poke holes that look like a vampire bite in the top before baking. I have tried this recipe and it is delicious!!

Vampire Cookies




Sunday, August 19, 2012

The PJ Gray Series by Shirley Kennett

Open Road Integrated Media

Before I was Dakota Banks, I wrote as Shirley Kennett (my real name). The PJ Gray books are suspense/police procedurals/techno-thrillers. Formerly available in hardback and paperback, they will now be brought into the digital age by Open Road Media. I just signed the contract a little while ago, and I hope to see the e-books released by the end of 2012.

Penelope Jennifer Gray, known as PJ, is a newly divorced psychologist making a fresh start with her twelve-year-old son in St. Louis. A pioneer in the field of computer simulation studies, she has been hired to set up a new division within the St. Louis Police Department. Through cutting-edge techniques of virtual reality, the Computerized Homicide Investigations Project, or CHIP, recreates real-life crimes by placing the user in the mind of the perpetrator. PJ creates life-sized reenactments of homicides, ones in which she and her detective can immerse themselves and try out different scenarios.

PJ is teamed up with Detective Leo Schultz, a veteran cop fast approaching burnout, who isn't comfortable working with women or with computers. Their working (and personal) relationship has a long way to go to resemble a team.

Titles in the series are Gray Matter, Fire Cracker, Chameleon, Act of Betrayal, and Time of Death. Gray Matter was picked up by The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club, and it was an Alternate Selection of The Mystery Guild. Fire Cracker was also picked up by The Literary Guild, Doubleday, and The Mystery Guild.

"Kennett is a writer of rare skill, and Gray Matter is a deftly plotted novel bristling with suspense. Its characters are real and contemporary, and its premise is gripping and unique. Not since Red Dragon has a more menacing serial killer roamed metropolitan St. Louis. A rip-roaring good read. Let's see more of PJ Gray!" - John Lutz, author of SWF Seeks Same (movie: Single White Female)

"Fans of Patricia Cornwell's work will be hooked on his heart-stopping and harrowing thriller. The finely drawn characters in Gray Matter are both complex and terrifyingly convincing." - Romantic Times

"Columbus Wade [in Chameleon] is something special: a chillingly realistic creation--not a typical psychopath who happens to be a young boy but a precocious, fun-loving, immature young boy who happens to be a psychopath. A very unsettling and very compelling novel." - Booklist

"The hook in Kennett's PJ Gray series, starring a St. Louis psychological profiler, is the use of virtual reality software to recreate crime scenes. The high-tech wizardry is fine, but what really makes this series go is the fiery relationship and strong personalities of the costars, gutsy protagonist PJ (Penelope) and her Andy Sipowicz-like boyfriend, Leo Schultz, a police detective. This pair could be solving cases with legal pads and pencils, and readers would still be drawn to them. This time [in Time of Death] single mom PJ is keeping an eye on the online gaming addiction of her teenage son and trying to decide what kind of commitment to give the lovably exasperating Schultz. Meanwhile, the police are struggling with a series of brutal murders that may be tied to a serial killer. Schultz hits the streets in search of clues, and PJ fires up her virtual reality program to relive the grisly crimes. A top-notch series that satisfies both readers seeking page-turning suspense and those looking for characters so real you almost expect to see them at the local diner." - Booklist

"Kennett's writing is taut and unyielding, and like great baseball pitchers she throws the curves fast and with uncanny accuracy. Reading Time of Death was like watching someone juggle plates while skateboarding down a steep hill. You aren't sure how it will end, just that it will be spectacular. I loved every minute of this book and look forward to her next." - Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine



I have a book outside the PJ Gray series to be released as an e-book. Burning Rose is a standalone thriller with high stakes, exotic locations, unforgettable characters, and a generous splash of romance.

“Lots of action keeps the characters on their toes as they travel the world. The exciting conclusion in the South American jungle leaves [freelance journalist] Casey with far more than an exclusive story. Readers who enjoy a good puzzle with pieces that never quite fit will have fun with this suspenseful thriller.” — Booklist

“[Burning Rose is] tightly woven, intricately complex and fascinating to follow the various plots that Kennett has successfully created. The finish of this book is dramatic and wonderfully satisfying. If you enjoy thrillers, Burning Rose, as the back cover says, showcases ‘Shirley Kennett at the top of her game.’ Unforgettable!” — Book Reader’s Heaven
 


Shirley Kennett on the web:

Website: http://shirleykennett.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirley.kennett1
Twitter: @ShirleyKennett


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ninfa Hayes Interview and Book Giveaway

Ninfa Hayes is a terrific debut author and I'm very pleased to grab a bit of her time for an interview here. And to have a GIVEAWAY of her first book!

First, a short bio.
Ninfa lives in Manchester, UK. Originally from Italy, she's half Spanish, half Italian and British by choice and marriage. Reading and writing have always been a big part of her life and for this she thanks both her parents for passing down the literary gene and the passion for a good story.

Ninfa is big on networking and co-runs an array of Facebook pages and blogs about books and all things supernatural. She also reviews books for the Facebook Bookaholics Book Club on a regular basis. If you'd like to find out more about Ninfa and her stories, you can check out her contact information at the end of this interview.

Some information about Ninfa's book, Bites. (You can see my full 5-star review here.) Bites contains two great stories.


Story 1 - "Last of the Blood"

When the sweet scent reaches me, I know I have found what I'm looking for.

My hands reach out in the darkness to the unaware girl. She's warm and soft, and doesn't even get to scream before I'm drinking deeply from her, her struggles too feeble to bother me.

Only the blood counts. 

I've never tasted anything like it. Gloriously sweet, thick and strong, and full of life.

I drink until the hunger subsides, until the body that I hold so close to me hangs lifelessly in my arms. Only then I see. Only then I recognise it, and the agony … oh, the agony is more than I can bear!

Story 2 - "Demonica"

Tonight is the Midwinter Solstice Ball, the most important night in the Daemonic Court's calendar.

This is the night when new disciples are chosen, when demons come out to play, and all bets are off.

As it happens, tonight is also the night I become Queen.

Bites

Irina is about to become Queen of the Daemonic Court and Damon is on the run from his own nature …where will their paths take them?

Two short stories that will seduce you with romance, danger, sensuality … and Vampire bites.

 Ninfa, I’m so glad you could visit my blog! Could you please tell us a little about yourself? 

Thank you so much for having me Dakota, it is truly my pleasure :) Well, what can I tell you, I'm 36, a sweetsaholic, married with a 3 year old little monster of a girl, and I live in Manchester, UK with my family, which also includes two lovely cats: Jemima and Shelley. As you know, I have recently published my very first book, Bites, an anthology of 2 novelettes, and I am over the moon about it. I've always loved writing, but never really thought anything would come of it, so to be able to share my stories with so many others has really been a dream come true for me :)

What led you to write a vampire-themed book? After all, there are so many of them out there! 

It wasn't really a conscious decision for me, I suppose it just happened, lol. I know there are a lot of Vampire stories out there, so it was never a supernatural creature I wanted to particularly explore. Then I wrote a short story called "Forever", which just happened to be about Vampires, and I received so many lovely comments about it, and so many requests for more information on the characters, that I decided to expand it and explore that particular world. That's how "Last of the Blood" was born. After that, I realized that no matter how many Vampire stories were out there, I sort of wanted to give my own take. I think it doesn't matter how many times you write about a certain theme, nobody can do it through your eyes! :)

Bites is fantastic! The first novella, "Last of the Blood," was a page-turner for me. Could you give us a little background on the story?

 I originally wrote "Forever" ( which is now the Epilogue for "Last of the Blood"), to enter an online writing contest. I didn't win, but I received a lot of compliments about it, and also a lot of requests to expand it. People wanted to know more about Catherine and Damon, and about their stories, so it got me thinking about how they had met each other and what their background stories were. Even though "Forever" was, and is, narrated by Catherine, it was Damon that seemed to really have a story to tell. He popped into my mind fully formed and very loquacious, so I just started writing another short story about how he became a Vampire and "The Covenant" was born. But it still wasn't enough. I needed to tell the story of how he had met Catherine and how they ended up being where they were, so I kept writing. The result is this very dark, very melancholic story. It was a strange journey to take, as I had never thought of writing from a male perspective, but I guess you can't argue with the people in your head, lol. For me, "Last of the Blood" was a pleasure to write. The plot just flowed smoothly in my head, and since I had the end, before I even thought of the beginning, it was interesting to discover how the pieces of the puzzle fit with that particular resolution. Also, I think Gabriel is probably one of my favourite characters to write, and even though he only has a secondary part, he's definitely one of the most vivid characters in my head :)

I was fascinated with the second novella, "Demonica", goes back to the beginning, to Eden. Very creative! Why did you want to do an origin story?

I didn't! Lol. "Demonica" was supposed to be a very short story (in fact, it was born a single scene), and there was nothing in the original draft about Angels and Daemons and Eden. It literally was to be a very hot and sexy scene, with Irina as the Queen of the Daemons, and her lover coming back to Court, having been accused of killing the previous Queen. The story/scene was going to be about Irina's lover (originally called Simon!), coming back to court to clean up his name and prove that the whole plot had been concocted by Irina's "Pet-Project", Malcolm, who was jealous of their relationship and wanted to get rid of Simon. But whenever I started working on that story, it just did not work in my head. "Demonica" went through version 1, version 2, version 3, version 3.1 and so on, and it was actually painful to write. Giving birth to my daughter was a walk in the park compared to it, lol. So how did it become an "Origin Story"? I literally gutted the first 3 versions, kept the characters and descriptions that I liked and could work with (Ivan, Irina, Queen Serena, Malcolm and the idea of Irina's lover in particular) and tried to think of a setting where they could interact in an epically fantastic way. The images in my head were very grand so I had to give them a larger than life setting.

Then on my way back from work one day I was listening to Rhianna's version of "Love the way you lie" featuring Eminem in my car, and one line from those lyrics seemed to stick in my head. "Even angels have their wicked schemes..." That was it, the cartoon-like light bulb just lit up in my head. I wrote the Prologue and set the scene in Eden, and the rest just fell into place. I realized who the characters were, and then some of the little twists in the story just worked their way in as I was writing it. There really wasn't a lot of planning behind it, Irina just took my hand and walked me through her story, and we were both very surprised when a certain angel made his appearance, but it just made sense :) Needless to say, the final version of the story is my proudest achievement to date ;)

 I found your writing style to be lyrical, your descriptions excellent, and your characterizations well done. In other words, Bites seems like the polished production of an experienced author writing with an assured hand, not a debut offering. How long did it take you to write it and are there other manuscripts gathering dust that you used for practice? 

Wow, thank you very much for the incredible compliment, I have a huge grin splitting my face right now :D

Overall, including edits, Bites took about 6 months to write and polish. I must say, a lot of credit goes to my amazing editor and publisher, Dianna Hardy at Bitten Fruit Books, for her insight on both stories and her support throughout the whole project. As a new author, I was very nervous about the process, and about not being able to deliver a good manuscript, but she was easy to work with and for, and always open to my silly questions, and I feel very blessed that I was lucky enough to work with her.

I have to say, "Last of the Blood" is pretty much what you see on the book, but "Demonica" has another 3 versions knocking about on my laptop. Previous to Bites, I had been writing other projects and short stories, so I guess that was good practice,lol. Also, I read A LOT, and one of my favourite authors, the lovely Kelley Armstrong, whom I was very lucky to meet a couple of years ago, was gracious enough to give me the best advice on how to improve your writing: READ! Nothing more instructive than to see what other authors are doing and how they're doing it. By reading other people's stories I was able to decide what style, point of view and genre worked best for me, and hopefully I have done myself justice enough with my first endeavour :)

It seemed to me that both of these novellas could be expanded to novels, especially "Demonica", from which I catch a whiff of a series. Is this it for these two stories, or do you have more development in mind? 

I never say never, although it most definitely won't be "Last of the Blood." I really have no plans to pick up that world or any of the characters. For me that story has been told and I'm very happy with the result. "Demonica" is different I guess. The story is very much open and there are different things I could do with the characters. I have ideas, but no plans so far as I have other projects I'm working on right now. My publisher has requested a short story with Irina involved in a sexy threesome, lol, but that won't be happening, sorry guys.

I'm flirting with the idea of mixing a new concept with characters from "Demonica".  It's very first stage but I think you'll be seeing more of Irina and her boys, although perhaps not as a main character. ;) I can tell you the new project is provisionally called "Bare Light" and it will be aimed to an adult audience. :)

You have a background as a book blogger and reviewer. Do you think this has helped you in your writing debut or made it more challenging by constantly seeing other authors’ books? 

I'd like to say that didn't play a role in my writing process at all, but who am I kidding?! I was very conscious of the fact that I was crossing into the Dark Side, and I think since I found out I was to be published, it has made reviewing books more difficult because I am very aware that someone, somewhere is doing the same to my book. I've always prided myself in giving honest opinions on what I read, but I think it never sank in until I, myself, was biting my nails waiting for my reviews to be published. I also feel that being afraid of bad reviews meant being very through when editing and really asking myself questions like "What else would I want to know?" See? "What else can I tell my readers?" So I guess there were ups and downs to being a reviewer myself, but I wouldn't change that for anything. :)

Tell us briefly about your writing process. Notes? Synopsis? Just start right in? All of the above? 

Lol. It really depends on the story I'm writing to be honest. For Bites I had no synopsis. "Last of the Blood" was just getting stuck into it. "Demonica" had random notes, but again, it was mostly free flow. I have a project called "Witch's Brew" for which I have done a synopsis, another called "Goddess" that has a whole folder full of photos...as I said, it depends on the story I'm writing. Some need visual prompts, others need notes, and then there's the "Just do it" kind, where I just sit down and write and the plot stays safe in my head, mulling and bubbling over as if in a big cauldron, until the words are ready and seasoned enough to be written down :p

Down to the nitty-gritty: Which story do you like better, and why? 

Oh gosh! This is like "Sophie's choice"! How can you ask me to choose between my two babies??!??! Lol! I'll be very cliché and tell you that I love them both for different reasons, but if I really, really, really had to choose, I think it would be "Demonica", simply because I feel "Last of the Blood" is a more mainstream story, one that people can enjoy guilt-free. I think "Demonica" is a little more controversial, so it's one of those that people might take one way or another. I write Fantasy and "Demonica" is definitely Fantasy, even though I've borrowed Mythology of Origin from several traditions, but I have had some feedback on it where I was told it perhaps "Hits to close to home" when it comes to some religious beliefs.

It was never my intention to be controversial, I just wanted to explore things from a different point of view. We all know why "Good" is better, but why is "Bad" bad? That was my motivation for writing "Demonica" from the point of view of someone innocent who actually wanted to go explore "Darkness". Incidentally, "Irina" means "Peace" and it was a very conscious decision to pick that specific name. Peace can only come when Darkness and Light come together and find a balance, and I think that was the only message I wanted to send out, if any :)

Bites is listed as Young Adult. When I read the stories, I felt that they were for older YA, though there is no such classification yet. What are your feelings on your target audience? 

We toyed with a lot with tags, my editor Dianna and I, because as you say, Bites seems to fit in an "Older YA" category because of the dark feel of both novelettes. Truth is, there is a very fine line between Adult and Young Adult nowadays. Series like The House of Night by PC and Kirsten Cast often speak of adult themes and have a high sexual content. Bites is not as overtly sexual, but there are references to sex and violence and I am aware that some parents might not see it as suitable for younger readers.

My parents never dictated to me what to read when I was younger. I was reading Agatha Christie and Stephen King when I was 8/9 years old, not exactly children's books but I loved them, and I'm grateful I was allowed to make my own choices. To me, anyone could pick Bites up and enjoy it, regardless of age, but I know that is my personal opinion only. I think Bites is generally aimed at an older audience, so 17 years old +, and I like to think it appeals to both teenagers and adults alike, as there are many levels to both stories, that can be explored. I hope my readers agree :)

Is there anything else you’d like us to know? What’s next for you? 

I'm currently finishing the first draft of a double team project with my Bookaholics Book Club partner in crime, the lovely Misty Price. The story is a full length Young Adult novel called Divine, and it's the story of two sisters who grow up separate, not knowing of each other's existence, until they start developing special abilities and discover they're the daughters of Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, and that there's a prophecy that was made when the youngest was born that has Olympus all rallied up against them. Divine is full of mythological references, and it's a fun and light read with adventure, romance and some twists and turns that will hopefully keep readers entertained. As of this moment, we haven't submitted it to any agents or publishing houses, but if all goes well, we might have something in the pipeline for it to be released next year, so keep your fingers crossed for us. ;)

In terms of solo projects, I'm working on finishing the first book of my House of Avalon series, Morgan's Legacy, another YA story, and Witch's Brew, an adult book that will kick-start my Chloe Parker, Supernatural Hunter urban fantasy series.... oh so many project and so little time! Lol.

Now the most important questions!
Jellybeans or chocolate? 

Chocolate! With Peanut Butter whenever it's possible :p

The Hunger Game or Game of Thrones? 

I can haz both plz? 

Cats or dogs? 

Cats! They rule! :) 

Thunder or lightning? 

Lighting.

Spicy hot, medium, or mild? 

Mild... I'm allergic to chilly and intolerant to black pepper so hot and spicy is a big No No for me :p

Learn more about Ninfa Hayes below (and remember that name - you're going to be hearing a lot of it!).

Blog: http://www.bookaholicsbkcl.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Ninfa76
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ninfa-Hayes/231118400279030 


Win one of THREE copies of the e-book of Bites, plus swag from Ninfa. Each winner will receive a bookmark, a quote postcard, and a personalized thank you card! 

Books will be from Smashwords, where you can choose the correct format for your e-reader or a PDF for your computer. 

Just leave a comment below with your email included, so I can reach you if you are a winner. The giveaway ends June 30th. Winners will be randomly chosen on July 1st.   

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Name a Character in Dakota Banks' Next Book


In Deliverance: Mortal Path Book 3, I offered the opportunity to name a character in the book. The winner was Jill Bakkum, who appears as a medical doctor in the book. Congratulations, "Dr." Jill!

It was a popular idea, and I'm planning to do the same for Mortal Path 4, working title Bloodletting. You heard it first here, but remember at this stage of the writing, titles sometimes change, so don't hold me to it. :-) In case it isn't obvious to you, that is a fake book cover on the right. F-A-K-E. I just like seeing "Mortal Path Book Four."

You can enter on July 1st right here on this blog. There will be a new page available at that time.

The rules are simple. You must be 18 or over (no real children in my R-rated books, no way, forget it). You can choose any character name you want unless it's obscene, and I'm the judge of that. And you must agree to die, possibly in a gruesome manner, in the book, and not be upset about it later, as in sue me for damaging your tender psyche or something. The role you play is completely at my discretion, but the only things for certain are that you'll have a multi-page, speaking role and that you won't be in the next book. You'll have to sign a short release covering these points.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Mortal Blog badge

Here's the new blog badge I just made tonight - what do you think?


The Mortal Blog by Dakota Banks

If you're interested in grabbing mine, copy the code in the white box below the badge and insert it in your blog where you'd like the badge to appear. You can make the badge smaller by changing the width in the code, currently set at 168px.

I love and collect book- and writer-oriented blog badges, with a link to your blog! If you have one I don't already show on the right side of the page, let me know by posting a link to your blog as a comment below or emailing the link to dakota@dakota-banks.com, and I'll be happy to post yours. ~♥~

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good News Review: Bites by Ninfa Hayes


  • Paperback
    Publisher: Bitten Fruit Books (May 9, 2012)
    ISBN-10: 0956719252
    ISBN-13: 978-0956719256
  •  Kindle
     Smashwords
    Print Length: 93 pages
    Publisher: Bitten Fruit Books (March 25, 2012)
    Price: $1.99
From the Book's Description

Story 1 - "Last of the Blood"

When the sweet scent reaches me, I know I have found what I'm looking for.

My hands reach out in the darkness to the unaware girl. She's warm and soft, and doesn't even get to scream before I'm drinking deeply from her, her struggles too feeble to bother me.

Only the blood counts. 

I've never tasted anything like it. Gloriously sweet, thick and strong, and full of life.

I drink until the hunger subsides, until the body that I hold so close to me hangs lifelessly in my arms. Only then I see. Only then I recognise it, and the agony … oh, the agony is more than I can bear!

Story 2 - "Demonica"

Tonight is the Midwinter Solstice Ball, the most important night in the Daemonic Court's calendar.

This is the night when new disciples are chosen, when demons come out to play, and all bets are off.

As it happens, tonight is also the night I become Queen.

Bites

Irina is about to become Queen of the Daemonic Court and Damon is on the run from his own nature …where will their paths take them?

Two short stories that will seduce you with romance, danger, sensuality … and Vampire bites.


Good News Review

Bites consists of two dramatically different stories, each one a dark and atmospheric gem, a bite of pure reading enjoyment. Ninfa Hayes displays the strength of her writing skills by picking such diverse story lines and succeeding so brilliantly with both.

In "Last of the Blood," Damon Blackwood, born in London in 1896, lives a soulless childhood in an orphanage. Enlisting as a soldier in World War I, he experiences the horrors of war at an early age. One night is different: Damon is approached by a trio of Vampires, led by the powerful Master Gabriel, who recruit him into their Covenant. Damon settles in to his new way of life.

Gabriel says we give them the best time of their lives. They are well fed, well dressed and loved, almost worshipped … until the last drop of their blood slithers down our throat. Then they're nothing more than a nuisance. 

I don't know when I stopped caring, and just embraced it; when the last shred of humanity fled in the face of the being I have become. 

It feels good not to care. 

Gabriel was right to choose me.

Trouble is brewing inside the Covenant. Gabriel becomes obsessed with the Countess Nataliya, whom Damon believes is evil. Gabriel claims Nataliya for his own, making her immortal. Damon feels he can no longer stay with the family he's deeply attached to, and strikes out on his own. The rest of the story covers Damon's travels and his attempt to deal with the chain of events that Nataliya sets in motion.

When I'm about to reach the Underground station, I hear the first sirens and screams. I can sense the Vampire minds stirring ... Tonight, London will run with blood. 

As I enter the station, a pain so strong hits me that I fall to my knees. 

My eyes are full of tears, and I wail in anguish, as I experience the first Vampire death.

An outstanding, bittersweet story for older YA and adult readers, "Last of the Blood" is a creative and engaging vision of the intimate lives of vampires.

In "Demonica," Ninfa turns her imagination to a legend of origin, a very early time when Eden exists along with humans on Earth. Eden is in a magical location flanked on one side by the home of Darkness, of Lylith and her progeny of incubi, succubi, vampires, and werewolves. On the other side of Eden lies the home of the Light, the Angels, the faithful servants of the Gods. A son or daughter of the residents of Eden is chosen each year to join the Darkness or the Light. The choices made in Eden, over time, will determine the fate of the humans on Earth. Will the Light or the Darkness become more powerful?

The story is told in a refreshing point of view by Irina, a sixteen-year-old girl of Eden whose mother expects her to be chosen by the Light. Irina has her own feelings and desires, though, and from the beginning she and her mother have different expectations.

Every year, Daemons and Angels come for us, to choose the worthiest amongst the Children of Eden and ask them to serve. Good girls go to the Celestial Court, my mother used to tell me … but honestly, who wants to be a good girl when you can have fun?

On the day of the Midwinter Solstice, the knock on the door isn't Irina's betrothed, a boring young carpenter, to claim her in marriage. Instead there's a Daemon at the door, come to claim Irina for the Daemonic Court. It turns out that Irina is no ordinary recruit for the Darkness; she bears a birthmark of a fleur-de-lis, Lylith's mark, on her shoulder. Irina's entrance into the Daemonic Court stirs loyalty and jealousy, and later lands her in the arms of an Angel. There are warring factions on both sides, Angels and Daemons, and Irina's presence triggers momentous events.

In spite of its short length, "Demonica" has remarkable complexity and depth of backstory, and I could see it becoming the start of a series. First, though, I'd like to see it written at novel length to have more time to explore the ideas presented. For older YA and adult readers. 

To summarize, I feel that Bites is a terrific debut, a dark pair of stories that will grab and keep your attention. Ninfa has a gift for vivid description that pulls you into the scene. My favorite of the two was "Demonica," although "Last of the Blood" was a close second. I highly recommend Bites and eagerly await more stories from Ninfa Hayes!

Outstanding!


About the Author

Ninfa Hayes lives in Manchester, UK, with her husband, daughter, and two gorgeous kitties, Jemima and Shelley. Originally from Italy, she's half Spanish, half Italian and British by choice and marriage. She loves books and is a total bookaholic! Reading and writing have always been a big part of her life and for this she thanks both her parents for passing down the literary gene and the passion for a good story.

Ninfa is big on networking and co-runs an array of Facebook pages and blogs about books and all things supernatural. She also reviews books for Bookaholics Book Club on a regular basis. If you'd like to find out more about Ninfa and her stories, you can follow her on her Facebook author page, Ninfa Hayes.

An interview with Ninfa is coming soon!