Friday, March 31, 2017

World Building

One thing readers of fantasy look for is a journey to a magical world that is unlike the mundane world we all inhabit, so building that world is one of the most important tasks of a fantasy writer and also one of the most fun.
There are two basic types of world builders, sometimes called architects and gardeners. Before they even begin to write the story, an architect takes days, weeks, months outlining every intricate detail of their world from economics to politics to magic. They will create whole notebooks full of climate data, geography, types of inhabitants, religious systems, and even holidays. There are two basic dangers to this type of world building. The first is using it as an excuse to delay beginning the actual story. It can become a distraction/procrastination tactic to combat a writer’s anxiety about whether or not they are truly good enough to be a writer. (An anxiety nearly all writers share.) So a writer needs to know when to stop world building and start writing. The second danger is to use every detail imagined within the novel itself. You spent time creating it, so you need to share it, right? Wrong. The writer will always know more about the world that actually appears in the story itself. As an author, you only reveal as much of your world as the reader needs to know. The details of the world should emerge gradually as they are needed for plot and character development, not be dumped on the reader because the writer created a cool aspect of their world that doesn’t matter to the story itself.
The second type of world builder is often called a gardener. A gardener will have the seeds or the very basics of their world in mind and allow that world to grow as they write the story. They don’t know everything about their world when they begin, but allow it to emerge as the story needs it. This type of world builder also faces potential problems. The first is a shallow or insufficient developed world with too many aspects of it unexplored. A shallow world will not satisfy the reader. The second problem is continuity errors. The author may claim one thing about the religion on page 5 that is contradicted by the scene on page 94 that doesn’t mesh with what they bring out on page 296.
Either method can work and work beautifully as long as the author is aware of the dangers and guards against them. The problems of both methods will be inevitable in the first draft and is one of the many tasks that will need to be addressed in revision.
Some people believe that since they are creating something that doesn’t exist, they can do anything they want with it. This is true only to an extent. When you are creating a new world, you are asking your readers to suspend their disbelief for the length of the story. The reader knows that dragons and magic don’t exist, but during the time they are emerged in your story, they should be willing to pretend they do. In creating a suspension of disbelief, the author will find the reader a willing accomplice. Fantasy readers come to a fantasy novel with an absolute willingness to loose themselves in a make-believe world. If they didn’t want to temporarily believe in unicorns and fairies, they would have chosen a different genre. But the reader will turn against the author if the author doesn’t create a believable world, and once a reader loses their suspension of disbelief, it is almost impossible to get back. They probably won’t finish the current novel, and they certainly won’t read another by the same author.
So how does an author keep the readers’ suspension of disbelief? The following 4 rules lay that out. (Note: The only unbreakable rule of writing is, does it work? However, if these rules are followed, it will work most of the time.)

Rule #1: Your world needs consistent rules. Unicorns can’t be drawn only to virgins at one point in the story and then come to your non-virgin main character at the moment she has need of a unicorn. Dragons can’t need 100 lbs of meat a day, but exist in a desert without much life. Fantasy doesn’t mean illogical. Readers will readily believe something that they know not to be true, but they will balk at anything that insults their sense of logic.

Rule #2: Anything in your world that also exists in the real world either needs to be consistent with what the reader knows of reality or have an explanation for why it isn’t. So if you’re including such aspects that you have little experience with, you need to research them. One glaring examples of this problem are horses. Horses are a staple of epic fantasy, but few in the modern world have had much interaction with horses. They aren’t like cars with legs, which you can ride all day with only brief stops to load them with fuel and simply park and forget about at night. They are living beings that need a lot of care and have restrictions on their physical strength and endurance. If you are going to include horses in your world, make sure you understand horses.

Rule #3: Include diverse people. No group of people (or elves, fairies, or dwarfs) is all good or all bad. If you have a large enough group, you will some assholes in the mix, some truly caring and good people, and a whole lot of people with varying degrees of assholeness and niceness. Nor will they all think, believe, or act the same way. You may decide in your world that dwarfs are obsessed with mining gold and gems, but if your novel has a large enough sample of dwarfs, there should be some who prefer to play the lute or carve pictures into the rock walls of the caves. A society of only knights and nobles also couldn’t exist. It would also need farmers and artisans.

Rule #4: Your world needs to be structured in such a way that it addresses real world realities, such as food, clothing, shelter. If a society is to exist, human needs must be met. If they aren’t, society is unstable and won’t last long.

What's your favorite fantasy world? Please tell us in the comments below.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Guest author, Holly Evans

I met Holly on Twitter. She has a tendency to post adorable pictures of kittens, puppies, and other baby animals, which first attracted me to her. Then I became intrigued by her mention of her novels starring a gay tattoo magician. I had to check them out, so today, in addition, to my unusual author spotlight, I'm writing a review of the first novel in her Ink Born series, Stolen Ink.

Stolen Ink

I’m Dacian, a tattoo magician, and my life went from my biggest concern being finding a pretty guy to fall into bed with at the end of the week to everything falling apart around me. 

There are two problems in my life.

Number one – I’m an ink magician, the thing of myths. A lot of very powerful people would love to get their hands on me, and I have no intention of letting that happen. 

Number two – A tattoo thief came to my city, and the magical community has decided that I’m the guy to stop them. 

Somehow, I have to catch the thief without letting my secret out of the bag, and that’s even harder than it sounds.


I absolutely loved this book. First, Holly has created a truly innovative world that drips with magic. It is urban fantasy in the sense it's set in a large city with contemporary level of technology, but it most certainly isn't our world.Tattoos pick their wearer, and the tattoo magician's job is to call them forth, not create them. The creatures can then leave their tattoos and become corporeal. Most people have magic of one kind or another and humans share their world with elves and other mystical creatures. It truly isn't like any other urban fantasy world that I've read (and I've read a lot of urban fantasy). More importantly to me, Holly has people her world with fantastic characters. Dacian is sexy, intelligent, and intriguing, but my favorite character is Kyra, his tattoo cat. I love cats to begin with, but Kyra is a feisty one who literally claws the eye out of the bad guy to protect her people. How can one not adore such a creature? The plot contains an appropriate amount of mystery, danger, and intrigue. After finishing it, I immediately pre-ordered Book II, Blood & Ink, and I believe you will, too. I highly recommend Holly Evans and her Ink World. 


I gestured to the tattooing chair. “Strip down to your pants. I’ll paint the design of the tattoo that’s trying to break free. Should you choose to accept it, then I’ll bring it forth and tattoo it. It will be painful. The more powerful the tattoo, the more pain you will endure. You will find its presence in the back of your mind once we’re done. As this is your first tattoo, I must add that, if you do not like the design, you cannot choose something else. Should you try and do so, you’ll be risking disfigurement or even death. Do you understand?”
He gave a short sharp nod before he carefully unbuttoned the black jacket and folded it, taking his time to ensure that the shirt was properly folded and crease free next to the tattooing chair. I could almost see the skin of his back shimmering where the tattoo fought to be free. It covered his entire back and wrapped around his ribs. Keirn would owe me a few drinks once I was done battling something of that size.
“Sit with your back to me, and I’ll paint on the design,” I said.
He nodded in acknowledgement and straddled the padded leather chair, his strong back facing me. Taking a deep breath, I opened myself up to the threads of tattoo magic. My own tattoos wriggled and clawed, trying to be free. I mentally growled at them to be quiet. There was work to be done. Kyra yowled at me. The cat had never been one to do as she was told. Aris, however, stilled, his form tightly coiled against my spine. The soothing warmth of the magic flooded my being and tugged my hands towards the brushes. My instincts took over, removing all superfluous thought. I was verging on nothing more than a vessel for the magic. It was a dangerous dance, but one I loved more than life itself.
             The tendrils of magic flexed and coursed down the brush. There was nothing but the painting. Everything else slipped away as I lost myself to the art, caressing the threads and edges of the creature that was buried within the man’s very existence. It didn’t need coaxing, it practically exploded through the colour. I stepped back and wiped sweat from my brow. My hand froze halfway down to my hip when I saw the art on his back. It was there in glorious colour, clear cut lines and heavy muscle. There was no denying it, no escaping the fact that he had a dragon desperately clawing at the fibres of his being.


1.                  Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a passionate little red-headed woman originally from England, but I now live in Co. Kerry, Ireland. I’m only 5’2, but I make up for my lack of size with my huge personality and attitude. When I’m not writing Urban Fantasy, I usually reading it or wandering around the local area taking in the views and seeing what inspiration pops up.
I’m probably a little bit too interested in sharp pointy things, fae (particularly those with sharp pointy teeth), and fast cars. I plan on having a Dodge Challenger in the future – that deep growling v8, yum!
2.                  What are your biggest literary influences? Favorite authors and why?
I’m honestly not sure who my biggest influences are. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde definitely had an impact on my writing. I tend to explore that man and beast line and dynamic quite a bit. The Night Circus also had an impact; it really encouraged me to embrace my poetry side.
As for favourite authors I adore Seanan McGuire. Her clear love of mythology shines through in her books and makes for engaging, deep, and fascinating Urban Fantasy. Maggie Stiefvater’s books are poetic, sumptuous, and beautifully crafted with real emotion. S.M Reine’s worldbuilding is fantastic, and I adore Gail Carriger’s way of balance humour, action, and romance.
3.                  Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I think there are a lot of assumptions thrown around that speculative fiction is nothing more than idle escapism. It isn’t worthy of those who wish to think.
It’s a worthwhile genre because of the scope! That step away from reality opens up the possibilities for exploration. We can explore the very fibres of humanity, psychology, through shifters. We can ask ourselves how society is put together and look at possibilities of the future through sci-fi. The potential to explore philosophy, psychology, sociology, and more is huge! No longer are we constrained about the hard and fast laws of reality; we can use the realms of our imagination to ask ‘what if?’
And yes, we can offer people the opportunity for escape. We can give people who feel trapped, lost, and worse, a place to have adventures and to explore who and what they are. We can provide safe spaces and spaces in which to think and be happy. Is it really so wrong to give people an escape from the grey drab of day to day life?
4.                  Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
Yes and no, lol. My most recent book is Blood & Ink, but as that’s book 2 in a series, I can talk about book 1, Stolen Ink.
Stolen Ink is an Urban Fantasy that follows Dacian, a gay tattoo magician. It’s set in a fantasy kitchen sink, meaning that there are lots of types of magic, magical creatures, etc. The entire cast is LGBT+ (primarily gay with some bi and an ace character).
Dacian wants a quiet life, but everyone around him has other plans. He’s not a typical hero, but he’s an absolute sweetheart.
5.                  Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Tyn. He isn’t in a published book, but I love him. He’s broken, he’s had a horrible start in life, but he has a heart of gold. He comes across as a bit of a jerk sometimes, but he’s my little kitten, and I adore him. He’s a Cait Sidhe (a fae cat), and he shows up in Blood & Ink.
6.                  Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day? 
I’m a developmental editor – I look at the big picture stuff, plot, character development etc. So when I’m not writing, I edit other people’s books for them. I might be a tad too passionate about books and writing…
7.                  Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?
I have Blood & Ink currently up for pre-order, that goes live on May 5th. I’m currently book 3 in the Ink Born series; Ink Bound will go live in early August. Then Seers Stone is book 1 in a new Urban Fantasy series, that’ll go live in early November. Seers Stone follows Kaitlyn, a treasure hunting alchemist, and her books are set in the same world as the Ink Born books. I’ll likely keep writing a bunch of series in the ink world for a good few years now. It’s huge; there’s so much to explore!
Where can we find you online? 
Twitter: (Jamie's note: If you like adorable baby animals, you need to follow Holly.)

About the author:

Holly Evans is an urban fantasy author with an unhealthy fascination with blades, a deep love of hellhounds, and would love one day to wake up as a fae. When she isn't wrangling rogue characters and trying to tame her muse, she's researching shiny new ninja moves. During her spare time she fights crime and rights wrongs on the streets of Prague.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Guest Author, Amanda Labonté

Welcome my guest today, Amanda, a fantasy writer from the island of Newfoundland.

Amanda Labonté lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she gets much of the inspiration for the characters and places about which she writes. As the co-owner of an educational business and mother of two she spends much of her day with kids of all ages. They give her some of the best reading recommendations.


1.                  Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a writer and business owner living in St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s far east coast. I have two awesome kids and a husband who also doubles as my beta reader. My first novel, Call of the Sea, is a YA fantasy which has recently been picked up by Engen Books as a series. In addition to writing, I also enjoy reading and reviewing books, avoiding house cleaning, and discovering new shows to binge watch on Netflix.
2.                  What made you want to become a writer?
I knew I wanted to become a writer from the time I was in eighth grade. I had a wonderful English teacher who thought I had potential and encouraged me to write. Even though I didn’t always get positive feedback on my creative writing, this early interaction really helped set me on a path to wanting to share my writing with others.
3.                  Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
Probably the weirdest thing I do is when I have really bad case of writers’ block or a plot point is really bugging me, I go take a shower. I know it sounds strange, but it can really help sort out my thoughts, especially when I am under a deadline.
4.                  Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I think the misconceptions about speculative fiction come from within the writing community, rather than the reading community. Fans of speculative fiction are amongst the most dedicated and voracious readers. I love writing for this audience.

One of the main misconceptions about speculative fiction is that these writers don’t have to work as hard, since they are making up a new world or using magic as part of their plot. I would say that this might make speculative fiction more fun to write, but it doesn’t make it easier. Consistency is just as important, and just as problematic, in an alternate reality as it is in our own.

As for the value of speculative fiction, I think that’s most easily seen in how deeply readers feel about books written in genres like fantasy and science fiction. These stories resonate deeply with readers and have proven lasting power.  

5.                  What gives you inspiration for your book?
My inspiration for Call of the Sea came from my surroundings. Though the specific communities are fictional, the setting of the story is a very real place. The Cape Shore is a beautiful area with breathtaking sea views. It’s exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find fantastical beings.
6.                  What was the hardest part of writing your book?
By far, the hardest part of writing this book was balancing my time. My daughter was very young when I was trying to get the Call of the Sea manuscript ready to submit. Then, when I did manage to carve out some time, I had to fight the self-doubt that I think plagues all writers. Is this any good? What if no one ever reads it? I still have to fight the self-doubt demons, I think it’s something all writers have to deal with.
7.                  Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?
I have been working on an e-book serial called Supernatural Causes. It’s a paranormal medical mystery about a university student who moonlights as an intern at a hospital for vampires, werewolves, and witches. Supernatural Causes will be released in four parts, which we’re calling ‘episodes’, starting in April, 2017. I am also working on Return to the Sea, the sequel to Call of the Sea, which will be made available April 2018 through Engen Books.
Where can we find you online? (please cut and paste links):
Twitter: @amlabonte

Call of the Sea

While twins Alex and Ben are at sea, they get into a fight, and Ben disappears suddenly from the boat without so much as a ripple in the water. Determined to find his brother, Alex begins the biggest adventure of his life, armed only with a mysterious musical talent and the help of a local girl named Meg. But his best hope for finding his brother might come from  the alluring and dangerous girl he finds amidst the frothing ocean waves.


Come to me, she called, she called.
Come to me my one, my only…
The melody played at the edges of his consciousness. The gentle sound of woodwind instruments with the occasional infusion of something deeper, a low, sonorous percussion. He floated along on the feeling of a familiar dream — until it became louder, more pronounced, overpowering his other senses.
Come to me my one, my only…
Alex sat up in bed, his heart racing, and looked toward the open window. This was not how he’d envisioned his first night home after being away for almost a month. Knowing exactly where the sound was coming from and what he had to do, he ducked out from under the lower bunk and fumbled in the dark for a T-shirt. He pulled the stretch cotton over his head while sneaking into the hallway, making as little noise as possible so as not to wake the household.
He paused halfway down the stairs as the wooden clock in the living room chimed the hour. One … two … three … four. Far too early to be up. Moving on, he used the light over the stove in the kitchen to find his sneakers and was almost to the back door when he heard Poppy muttering.
Doubling back to the first floor bedroom, he listened outside the door and thought about checking on him but decided against it. Poppy frequently woke in the middle of the night, but he didn't wander. Anyway, the music was getting louder, giving him a headache. He needed to get moving.
He left through the back, careful not to let the screen door swing shut. The predawn air was pleasantly warm, and the walk would have been almost welcome if Alex wasn't hearing a song to which everyone else remained deaf. He followed the driveway out onto the main road and down the hill that led to the beach path.
Oddly, as he got closer, the music became softer, as though some cosmic power had been shouting for his attention, and now that he'd answered, it was all right for it to whisper. By the time his feet slid onto the beach rocks, the melody had blended so subtly with the sound of the waves that he might have imagined it.
Except that if he turned back now, he knew it would start all over again.
The tide was out, revealing the narrow strip of sandy beach that was actually a piece of the ocean floor. It made a path to the horned rock, nicknamed for the horn-like appendages that protruded from the ocean side of the boulder. The novelty of the rock was that when the tide was in it was surrounded by water, but when the tide was out it was completely accessible. The trick was not to get caught when the tide changed.
He sank down on the strip of sand, facing the ocean, and felt the sense of relief that came with answering the music’s call. It was a clear night, and he could see the stars and the crescent moon. He took a deep, cleansing breath, tasting the salt air. The music had completely dissipated now, and it was easy to think that it had all been an illusion. Closing his eyes, he listened to the natural, rhythmic sound of the waves.
He’d missed the ocean while he’d been away.

Tell me what you think in the comments below.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Michelle M. Pillow on the podcast

Ever wondered about the personalities behind your favorite books? Victoria Danann's new podcast with Riley J. Ford has an incredible lineup of authors booked through the spring. No question is out of bounds. Check it out!

Michelle M. Pillow!

New York Times (#8) & USA Today Bestselling Author
Author of All Things Romance

As long as she can remember, Michelle has had a strange fascination with anything supernatural and sci-fi. After discovering historical romance novels, it was only natural that the supernatural and love/romance elements should someday meet in her wonderland of a brain. She's glad they did for their children have been pouring onto the computer screen ever since.

Michelle loves to travel and try new things, whether it's a paranormal investigation of an old Vaudeville Theatre or climbing Mayan temples in Belize. She's addicted to movies and used to drive her mother crazy while quoting random scenes with her brother. Though it has yet to happen, her dream is to be a zombie in a horror movie. (She came close as a refugee extra on SyFy's Z Nation, airing Fall 2016!)

For the most part she can be found writing in her office with a cup of coffee in pajama pants.

Come say hello! I love talking with readers on social media!

Bestselling series: Dragon Lords (dragon-shifters), Lords of the Var (cat-shifters), Warlocks MacGregor (contemporary-set Scottish magic), Lords of the Abyss (merfolk), and more...

Proof of Michelle M. Pillow's NY Times & USA Today listings are provided here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wrath of the Ancients Cover Reveal

by Catherine Cavendish 
Genre: Horror/Suspense

Pub Date: 10/24/2017


Egypt, 1908
Eminent archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Vienna, 1913
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which was featured in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Cat’s novels include The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, and Dark Avenging Angel. She lives with her long-suffering husband and black (trainee) cat. They divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest Author, Kev Heritage

Meet my guest today from far off England. I met Kev on Twitter. He writes science fiction and fantasy and has had trouble settling on a career. If you like what you read, please comment. Remember each comment enters you to win a signed copy of The Bull Riding Witch when it is released or a $25 Amazon gift card.

When Kev isn’t penning difficult, third person descriptions of himself for on and off-line publications, he mulls away the hours writing bestselling science fiction and fantasy novels, or watching telly, or going down the pub. Or doing the one-hundred or so other things he likes to do instead of actually writing.

Kev has worked as a driver's mate, factory gateman, barman, labourer, telesales operative, sales assistant, warehouseman, Student Union President, university IT helpdesk guy, British Rail signal software designer, premiership football website designer, mobile banking content team lead, gigging musician, graphic designer, stand-up comedian, sound engineer, improv artist, magazine editor and web journo. Although he doesn't like to talk about it.

He was born in the UK in the previous century. Originally from the picturesque county of Derbyshire, Kev now lives in the seaside town of Brighton. He is a Twitter aficionado, tea drinker and part-time stand-up comedian.


1.      Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
I’m a ‘pantster’! Although it’s not something I mention at parties due to all the strange looks.

My technique—a laughingly inaccurate term—is the mental equivalent of waking up with a vague feeling of wanting to go somewhere but without any clue of an actual destination, how I’m going to get there (if I’m going to get there), how long it will take or whom I’m going take with me on the way.

There’s lots of other metaphors. And they all sound the same. It’s the most frustrating process which relies on my mind making connections between seemingly random events, characters and plot points. Usually with a few deaths thrown in for good measure. Add the fact that I write supposedly ‘well-crafted mysteries’ and the process becomes a hell of my own making.

The actual process?

I come up with a mystery without knowing what the solution is. I have a few islands to aim for. I start with a bang, usually with some cool action and some other ideas about set-pieces – more cool action scenes—and off I go.

During this process, I’ll meet characters, and it’s them who shape everything. I name them using an alphabetic list using everyday names like Arthur, Bill, Dave, Ada, Bella, Claire. This stops me wasting time thinking of cool names that may not suit the character before I’ve discovered who they are.

The rest is seeing where I go and hoping that the mystery will reveal itself. Yes. I use hope!

For instance, writing my space murder mystery, Vatic (calling it a ‘murder mystery’ is a vast understatement), my hero was constantly frustrated by how nothing made any sense. But that wasn’t him! It was me, voicing my own perplexed frustration on the written page.

So why do I put myself through this?

It’s for those moments when I make the connections, when out of nowhere I find a unifying thread that brings everything in the mystery together. A kind of lying in the bath Eureka moment.

2.     Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I suppose some people prefer the real world to be re-enforced in their reading. Maybe they want something safer and set within recognizable boundaries. I don’t like boundaries. Never did.
I read my first sci-fi at age twelve and—it was mind-blowing. A very personal experience. I was a closed-off child who found making friends difficult (nothing’s changed, haha). Sci-fi and fantasy was a wonderful escape from the real world that I couldn’t really get along with. For me, books were all I needed.
Anyone who reads my novels will immediately understand the concepts I’m working with. Lust, death, power etc. My puzzles happen to be in space—this is because out of all the many genres, science fiction is the most imaginative genre, and it gives scope to my expansive imagination.
3.     Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
And it’s not a mystery! Hurrah! Although there are some mystery elements that cropped up during writing, which are left unresolved—meaning that if the novella goes down well, there’s scope for sequels. And besides, I couldn’t help myself.
I wanted to write a bubble-gum sci-fi. Something a little cheesy. Something fast-paced, tongue in cheek. And a short. A little holiday away from another more serious project I’d been sweating over.
It turned into an assassin story starring the eponymous Quick-Kill Jane. Written in first-person present, Jane’s character arrived almost immediately. Her voice is the one that drives the novel. It was a real, sit down and let Jane do her stuff kind of thing—and she didn’t let me down. A real joy to write—and even I was shocked by the ending. That pantster vibe again.
The novel starts off on a backwater planet in the backend of nowhere, with Jane plying her trade as an assassin and enjoying every moment of it. But things don’t go the way she expected. Haha. Leading to a series of events that even Jane, with all her driven, borderline genius capabilities, cannot escape from.
Here’s a snippet…
Amsterdam City is ahead, silhouetted against the dark night sky and lit up like an electric red thistle. The lower gravity means that it boasts some of the tallest high-rises and skyscrapers in this forgotten solar system. But the money has long-gone, leaving decades ago to invest itself in the ‘next big thing’—which happened to be space habitats.
Amsterdam is Plenty’s first and only city, its buildings mimicking the red of the surrounding landscape. The conurbation was once considered a marvel. But now? It’s nothing more than a crumbling prison, home to thirty or so million people wishing they were someplace else. No towns, no resorts… nothing. Just a few outlying industrial farms and the spaceport. The locals—who I do not count myself a member of—call it the Forgotten City. And I can’t wait to put it out of my memory.
I enter via the ring road, taking the turnoff that brings me outside Angie’s apartment. At this time of night there’s little traffic. I cast my eyes up to Angie’s windows. The lights are off and alarm bells start ringing. She should be waiting for me, all dolled up and a meal prepared. A celebration. Tonight, of all nights, she’d be there with the lights on. And she ain’t the type to throw a surprise party. Besides, she’s like me when it comes to friends… she can’t see the point. That’s why we get on so well. That, and our disinclination towards men.
The foyer is an oasis of light on the dark street. Just inside I spot Joe, the robo-doorman. He’s seen better days. His once colourful costume is faded, as is his absurd top hat. I push open the doors and head for the elevator.
The metallic face inclines towards me. The eyes sunken and slightly sad. “Are you here to see Miss Angie?” he asks in servile bass tones.
I see the gun in his hand long before he can raise it against me.
I snap out my laser and play the beam over his face, which collapses in on itself. The cooked bio-circuitry smells like a pie in the oven. Which reminds me… I’m hungry. Whoever’s upstairs waiting for me hoped Joe would to do their work for them.
I flick the laser’s beam over the rest of Joe’s twitching artificial body. He collapses into nothing more than a few whirring, metal cogs and smoking servitor modules. I never did like the condescending bastard. Good riddance. If I had my way, I’d melt all these robotic half-breeds to glass and laugh while I did it.
My next action is easy. I get in the elevator and arrive on Angie’s floor a few seconds later. I step out, make my way to her apartment and knock. I shout, “Honey, I’m home!” and sidestep a hail of bullets that turn the door into plastic shreds.
I power up the laser again and play it at head-height across the wall. It punches through the extruded pseudo-cement like, well, like a high-powered industrial laser through a cheaply-manufactured living module. I look into the smoking ruins of the room. Angie is tied up in a chair, her hair singed from where the laser caught it. Good girl, she’ll survive. Shame about her apartment. I guess I won’t be eating anytime soon.
For my attacker, it’s another story. He lies on the floor, his head a burnt mess.

4.     What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
For me it’s the writing itself. The ideas that emerge from writing. That I can create something from nothing just by tapping plastic. And (trying not to be self-reverential) I’m sometimes truly amazed at the finished product. At what I’ve achieved.
I suppose to put it a single statement… I’m surprised by the magic of it.
5.     Titles have always been extremely difficult for me. How do you come up with yours?
I have only one stipulation for a book title, and that there is no other book title like it out there. It must standalone in a Google/Amazon search.
Second to that is that there is no major product, band or brand that shares the same name.
Book titles either come fully formed like Vatic or Blue Into The Rip, or I agonize over them for weeks on end. Sometimes over-thinking—like I did with The IronScythe Sagas and ‘Quick-kill and the Galactic Secret Service’.
I must have had about ten different names for my latest novella. The story wrote itself, but the title didn’t. It all revolved around the name of my main character.
She started off as ‘Deadly Jane’ and became ‘Dead-Eye Jane’, Red-Eyed Jane’, ‘Can’t Kill Jane’. It went through a series of names to do with colours. What a pain. I even went onto an online random assassin name picker for fantasy games. Nightmare.
In the end, I found I liked the two ‘k’s in the centre of Quick-kill. That, and a relatively empty Google search for the same name, made me just give in and go with it.  It’s grown on me, although it jarred for a few days.
6.     What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
‘A writer writes’ – not sure who said that. Did anybody? I say it a lot to myself. I remember when I used to talk about writing rather than actually writing. But it’s a true adage. If we don’t write, we ain’t writers. I write for at least four hours every day. The hours increasing over time as I’ve slowly overcome the dreaded ‘procrastination’.
7.     Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?
I’m presently writing Vatic 2 – not sure of the title yet. But it’s early days in the first draft but something will suggest itself. It will need to be a single word preferably with two syllables.
Vatic is already on his way to solve another messed up space mystery… Hoorah! Your favourite ‘Skilled’ is trapped on a berserk spaceship and in a mean, mean mood about it, so don’t get in his way!
My Sequel to Blue Into The RipBlue Into The Moon is presently at the ‘aaaaargh!’ stage. That’s just how I feel about it at the moment. But it’s near done.
So what does Blue get up to in part two? Well, he goes to the Moon for starters. There’s murder, a Tourney and an asteroid made out of sapphire. But the big thing is his first kiss! Yeah. It’s all happening to Blue in Phase two of cadet training.
In the next month or two, I have a story out in a Samuel Peralta anthology, Chronicle Worlds: Drifting isle. My first foray in steampunk. My story is of course a mystery! What else could it be? Very noirish. Called: Murder, Lies and No Goodbyes. No release date for this just yet. But I’ll let you all know. 
Where can we find you online?
Please feel free to contact me on any of the following links. I will certainly find time to reply.

Twitter: @KevHeritage
Facebook - Mostly Kev Heritage:
Barnes & Noble: My B&N Books

If Kev's interested you, his book can be purchased below, and remember to comment.

The Fortune Teller's Secret: Boor Tour and Giveaway

The Fortune Teller's Secret
A Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery Book 2
by Ron D. Voigts
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

A dead man on a Ferris wheel and a cold-case murder take Cavendish Brown into a world of carnival freaks, ghosts, and killers.

The annual carnival comes to Maiden Falls, a small town in the West Virginia Mountains, but everything is not merry.

The ghost of a woman appears to Cavendish Brown, a carnival worker lies dead aboard a car on the Ferris wheel, and a bullied teenager plots to kill people at the carnival with a homemade bomb. More complications arise. Cavendish again butts heads with the local sheriff, Clinton Pike.
Marbella Wellingway, owner of the newspaper where Cavendish works, receives a visit from the Angel of Death. And a Fortune Teller at the carnival knows something that could forever change Cavendish’s life.
With the aid of Jane, a disturbed psychic, and Alexandra, a Goth witch, he must find the killer, help the mystery woman, and risk his life to prevent more deaths.

The Witch's Daughter

A Cavndish Brown Paranormal Mystery Book 1

Investigative reporter and recent widower, Cavendish Brown, is unemployed and floundering. Coerced into returning to his childhood home by the town's eccentric matriarch, Cavendish finds himself involved in murder, deceit, and a not-so-subtle attempt at matchmaking. Joined by Jane, a disturbed psychic, and Alexandra, a young Goth woman with uncanny abilities, they follow leads into the hills of West Virginia to catch the killer. A sheriff who shoots first and asks questions later makes solving the case difficult for the trio. Adding further complications is an ex-girlfriend with a mob hitman on her trail who seeks Cavendish’s help.
Immersed in a never-ending spiral of clues and secrets, he must unlock the darkness that surrounds the enigmatic Jane, stay ahead of the law, and come to terms with his own grief.

Ron D. Voigts lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and sometimes somewhere else. When back in Raleigh, he enjoys time with his family, watches old movies and shoots lots of pool. He has his own private writer’s retreat in La Vale, MD where he spends lots of time working on his next novel while enjoying the mountains and eating ice cream.

From the darkness came a whisper.
“Help me.”
I heard the woman’s voice clearly. Yet everywhere was black. A void. Impenetrable and empty.
“Help me, please.”
Sounds beyond the woman’s plea filled the vacuum. Somewhere a happy tune played on a pipe organ, the music dancing in the wind, a prelude to a circus parade with clowns and acrobats and a dancing bear. Children and adults laughed and cheered. Wonderful scents lingered in the air. Sweet cotton candy and popcorn elicited memories of happy times.
Something else filled the atmosphere. The smells of dampness and dirt mingled, forcing back the joy. Decaying leaves and rot stung my nose. I retched at the stench of death.
Disjointed images, fuzzy around the edges, traveled toward me then fell away into nothingness. A farm tractor. A wood rail fence. And a sign, blurred except for the words “GATE MUST BE KEPT CLOSED.”
With the snap, the darkness returned.
In the black, a speck of light grew into an image, taking form and shape. A woman stood in front of me, dressed gaily in a short ruffled pink skirt below a yellow long-sleeve shirt with triangles of black print. Leg warmers like a dancer might wear were bunched around her ankles. A blue ribbon tied in a bow kept back wild, unruly hair.
Her wide blue eyes stared at me, unblinking. Her lips, painted bright red, pursed.
“Help me.”
A dark wet spot appeared in her brown hair on the left side of her head, growing like a stain. Blood trickled from the edge of her ear and to her throat. Her head twisted, and a deep gash formed on its side.
She stretched out her arms as if crucified and fell backward in slow motion, tumbling away, then crashing with a deep thud. Her head struck the earth and the blue ribbon came loose. She twisted at an impossible angle, arms and legs bent like a broken doll.
A man in a denim jacket hovered above her, clutching a rock. He stared at the blood covering his hand. A shiver passed through him. He released the rock, letting it vanish into the shadows that surrounded everything.
Another man with his back toward me sauntered up to the woman and stopped at her feet. He wore a white T-shirt with a cigarette pack rolled into the sleeve. He scratched the back of his head, mussing his hair. “What did you do, Johnny boy?”
“I killed her!” The man in denim fell to his knees.
The one in the T-shirt took a drag on a cigarette and tossed it aside. “I’ll take care of things.”
Shadows swelled around them and eclipsed everything except the woman’s face. Her eyes opened. Her lips parted. The whisper came once more. “Please, help me.”
“No, no.” I wanted to run and flee this place of death, to be away from these evil men. “No.”