Midnight Enchantments: Sharon Shinn

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters we love who fill our lives with magic!

Midnight Enchantments: Sharon Shinn
by Devon Ellington

Sharon Shinn’s writing enchants me in a way few other authors manage. I picked up WRAPT IN CRYSTAL at one of my favorite bookstores in Niantic, CT a few summers ago. I thought it looked interesting. I picked it up when I got home. When I put it down, several hours later, I was completely disoriented and shocked to find myself in the apartment. I’d lost myself in her world so completely that my home surroundings felt unfamiliar.

I got my hands on as much of her work as I could. MYSTIC AND RIDER had recently come out; I grabbed it and gobbled it up. Quests and love and magic and politics. What could be better? It remains on my list of top ten favorite books of all time. The opening chapter is one of my favorite chapters of all time — even though she tells it through the viewpoint of a character we don’t meet again in this book. And the second book in the series, THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE — the ending breaks the romance genre convention (where her books are usually shelved, even though they’re fantasy) in a heartbreaking way, and yet, there is no other way the book could have ended and been true to the characters. I bawled for a couple of hours when I finished it, but for the right reasons! 😉

I’m fond of all the TWELVE HOUSES books, and the stand-alones I’ve read so far. I’ve read some of the Samaria series (where Archangels and humans co-exist), and whenever I hear she’s included in an anthology, I rush out to get it (which has introduced me to some terrific new-to-me authors).

TROUBLED WATERS is her latest release, so of course, I pre-ordered it and read it almost as soon as it arrived on the doorstep. Shinn’s characters are filled with love and growth and intelligence and compassion, even when the world has dealt them a rough hand. Their hearts are always larger than their situations and obstacles, and that is central to their success. Shinn peoples her dynamic, vibrant worlds with complex and fascinating characters. Immersing yourself in one of her worlds is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have as a reader.

–Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction, and teaches writing both on-line and in-person. Visit her website here.


Midnight Enchantments: Mary Abshire

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who add a touch of magic to our lives

I’m really pleased to introduce you to Mary Abshire, whose latest release is LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL. Mary was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions, and share excerpts from the book with us:

Devon Ellington: LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL is the fourth novel in your series. What inspired the series? Can they be read out of order, or do they have to be read in order?

Mary Abshire: Well, I suppose inspiration came from books I read. I wanted a strong, yet very conflicted female as my protagonist. I love vampires, but I didn’t want to write solely about them. So I thought about what I could write that would be different. I hadn’t read any books about half-demons with special abilities. Good start, I thought. The whole good vs. evil topic is one of my favorites. So as I considered how to incorporate good vs. evil in my books and what kind of special trait to give my protagonist, I came up with the idea she could send souls to hell. She thinks she’s destined to go there because of her demon blood, and it will take someone special to convince her otherwise.

Can they be read out of order? Yes. I’ve had a few reviewers read them out of order and said they were fine. I try to write them as stand alones, or at least mention parts so the reader doesn’t feel as if they’ve totally missed something.

DE: I love that Alaska has “no vampires.” What made you choose that direction? Does that make things easier or harder for Drake?

MA: I chose Alaska because 1. They are on the run; and 2. It was the least likely place vampires would look for her. Vamps don’t like the cold because, well, they are cold. Naturally, Drake has a difficult time with the climate, but he has his honey to warm up to.

DE: How do you find your “life by day” feeds into your writing life? Do you get inspiration from working frustrations that you then play with and expand into paranormal, or do you use the writing as a complete escape?

MA: Writing is a complete escape for me. I work for the government and it’s pretty stressful. I did use part of my job responsibilities from a previous position and incorporate them into Jessie’s job, or rather, the human job she had in Indianapolis.

DE: Do you have a regular writing process/schedule to stay on track that you’re willing to share with us?

MA: The last month has been very different for me. Previously, I did have a routine schedule. I’d write in the evenings and on the weekends. Lately, I haven’t had time to write much. I’m hoping my schedule will return to nights and weekends in November. As for the process, I make up chapters in my head as the story develops. I always have the basic plot. Then slowly, I work out the details.

DE: What is your favorite thing about the writing life? The most frustrating?

MA: My favorite thing about writing is writing. I love to just write and get the ideas out of my head and flowing into words on the screen. I have so many ideas. What’s frustrating is the lack of time to write, and the editing process. Yes, I’m grateful when it’s over because the books are always better. But the editing process is usually down to the wire and trying to decide what to do that is best can be frustrating. Should this be cut? Do I need to rewrite this scene or chapter? Do I add to improve clarity? Do I change this in three places within the book? Always things to think about. But edits are necessary and do improve the quality of the book. It’s good to have an editor’s insight.

Thanks, Mary! And now, an excerpt from LOVE CONQUOERS ALL EVIL:

“So now that I’m here, what will you have me do?” I asked.

“That is a good question. What shall I do with you?”

I glanced over my shoulder at him. In Jeremy’s image, I could look at him and
not feel any emotion. When he appeared as Drake, my heart ached.

“I could keep you here as my personal slave, which intrigues me, or I could
send you back,” he said.

My lower lip quivered. Both options made me want to vomit. Bottom line, I’d
never see Drake again. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. Stripped of hope
and the man I loved, nothing could cheer me up.

“I admit, you are a valuable asset to me in the living world. However, the longer
I stare at your beautiful body, the more I want to keep you for myself.”

“I don’t care what you do with me. Just decide,” I said, staring at the tranquil
sea. Decide and let me move on.

He chuckled. “Jessie, you are one of my favorites. I can sense the fight still
within you. I like that.”

A dark shadow loomed from above, drawing my attention away from the
conversation. Shielding my eyes from the bright sun, I glanced up and found a massive
pair of wings in the sky. I peered closer. The wings connected to a man’s body. Holy

The winged man dropped like a cannonball from the sky to the beach. He
smacked the ground hard, creating a tremor that made my teeth chatter. The glasses on
the counter shook, spilling tea over the rim of one of them.

“What the . . . .” I said softly.

“Indeed,” the devil said. He passed me and headed for the winged man.

I ran to catch up, staying off to the side of the devil. My feet slipped in the sand
and I flung out my arms, trying to keep from falling. A few feet ahead, the man kneeled
on one knee with his head down. His large brown wings contracted toward his body.
Where on Earth, er—hell, did such a creature come from?

The winged man slowly lifted his head and rose. He had short, blond hair shining
in the sun. Muscles graced his bare arms and chest. A pair of tight pants covered his
lower extremities and legs. I marveled at his large size. Even without his wings spread,
he was a robust creature, and well over six feet in height. Something else I noticed
about him. He had a soft sheen around him, a glow that magnified his beauty.

Buy Links:
Noble Romance Publishing Website

Amazon Kindle ASIN# B005HZKEK4

All Romance Ebooks

By day, Mary is a government employee. At night, she’s a Paranormal
Romance and Urban Fantasy Author. She lives in Indianapolis with her
loving husband, witty daughter, and ridiculous cat.

Her interest in dark, mysterious, and dangerous creatures started in her
youth. Sci-fi and horror shows were her favorite. During her teenage years,
she read every Anne Rice book available, had a plethora of pen-pals she
wrote to, and enjoyed 80’s new wave music. In her early twenties, she
dabbled with writing, but never pursued it as a career. Fifteen years later,
she decided to write again. After writing a few full-length novels, she came
to the realization that she couldn’t stop. What started as an interest grew
into love, and is now an addiction.

She is a Pro Member of the RWA, a member of ESPAN (Electronic Small
Press Authors’ Network), Savvy, and the Paranormal Romance Guild. She
enjoys reading, writing, and chatting with others who have similar passions.
On occasion, you can find her at a trance club.

Love Conquers All Evil is the fourth novel in the Soul Catcher series.
Mary’s urban fantasy novel, The Awakening, is scheduled for release
January 2012 from Lyrical Press.

Where to find Mary Abshire:

Midnight Enchantments: Jeri Smith-Ready’s Ciara Griffin

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who fill our lives with magic

Midnight Enchantments: Ciara Griffin
by Annabel Aidan

I picked this book up on a whim: WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready. I wanted an urban fantasy read; I wasn’t sure what to pick up. I saw this, I thought, hey, music, double-con, could be fun. I was looking for brain candy after a stressful few weeks, and I found something with more substance than expected.

Ciara Griffin’s lived her life as a con. Now, she’s trying honesty as a policy. She gets a job at a radio station. Only the DJs are vampires, and they’re stuck in whatever era they were turned. They know the music from their era, but the station’s going down the tubes, and Ciara has to figure out how to save them. Her plan — the ultimate double con by using honesty — yeah, they’re vampires, that’s why they work at night, only you know there’s no such thing as vampires, right? — works so well that some older vampires are getting tetchy. And a nervous vampire is a dangerous vampire.

I’m kind of vampire’d out. I admit it — so many vampires, so little time, and I don’t believe they’re all that sexy. But this book had a really fresh and unique take on the genre, and the characters were interesting enough to make me give a damn. It was a lot of fun, and it made me want to read more of her work.

Plus, she has both cats and a retired racing greyhound, which make her A-okay in my book. Yeah, I’d like Ciara to take up some more of my shelf-space! 😉

For more information on this and Jeri Smith-Ready’s other work, visit her website.

–Annabel Aidan  writes romantic suspense with a hint of magic. She 
publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and nonfiction. She 
spent over twenty years working behind the scenes on Broadway, in film and 
television, mostly working wardrobe. Her plays are produced in New York, 
London, Edinburgh, and Australia. If you run towards her undoing buttons, 
she will tear off your clothes and flip you into something else — and then 
read your tarot cards. Visit her on the web at 
www.devonellingtonwork.com/annabelaidan.html and explore her worlds. 

Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who bring magic into our lives.

Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers
By Cerridwen Iris Shea

Remember Compuserve Forums? That’s how long it’s been since the first time I read a Tim Powers novel. I was on a readers’ forum in Compuserve, and I wanted an interesting book, something unlike anything I’d ever read before. One of the other forum members, knowing I read tarot cards, suggested Tim Powers’s novel LAST CALL, where one of the major plot actions is high stakes poker using tarot.

I loved the way Celtic mythology of the Fisher King wove within the urban fantasy context set, in all places, Vegas. I love the way tarot wove through it. I couldn’t put it down — I read it straight through. The magic within the book had its own momentum. You couldn’t see how Scott could win against these odds, and yet couldn’t bear him to lose.

It’s one of those books I’ve been afraid to re-read in the intervening years, afraid I won’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. The breathless joy with which it captured me might never be recreated. But I know it’s in a box downstairs, waiting to be unpacked in the new house, and I know, when I finally unpack it, I’ll re-read it.

Quite a few years passed before I read the other books in the trilogy, EXPIRATION DATE and EARTHQUAKE WEATHER. I enjoyed them, but none of the others packed the punch to me of LAST CALL.

I’ve read many of his other novels through the years. THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, with a premise of Byron and Shelley dealing with vampires, and THE DRAWING OF THE DARK, about a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians were my favorites. DECLARE, on the other hand, just annoyed me. I felt like he was hitting me over the head with a religious two by four, and I didn’t like it. And then I felt guilty about the reaction, because I’d always held his work in such high esteem.

You can learn more about LAST CALL and Tim Powers’s other work here.

–Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn Worldwide for sixteen years. She writes the Merry’s Dalliance Pirate Fantasies, and teaches workshops all over the world. This is her busy season. Visit her website: www.cerridwenscottage.com

Midnight Enchantments: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Character: Death

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of authors, books, and characters we love, those who fill our lives with magic.

Midnight Enchantments: Terry Pratchett’s Death
by Devon Ellington

I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Not only do they fill me with true delight, I think he’s one of the most brilliant social satirists we have. He takes his alternate, well-built universe, makes it reflect enough familiarities so we’re not entirely lost, and then shows us the absurdities of many of our assumptions and prejudices. He uses humor to make us pay attention.

A friend from a writing class gave me MORT for my birthday one year. She couldn’t believe I’d never read Terry Pratchett. In MORT, a kid named Mort who never really fit in, becomes Death’s apprentice. I was next guided to WYRD SISTERS, which gets some of its inspiration from MACBETH, and from there to MASKERADE. MASKERADE makes fun of many things, including taking digs at PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS, and MISS SAIGON. I read it backstage between cues when I was working on MISS SAIGON, and I laughed so hard and so loud they were ready to drive me to Bellevue when the curtain went down! And from there, I just read whatever Discworld novels I could get my hands on, as fast as I could get my hands on them.

One of the most persistent characters in the Discworld novels (and in all our lives), is Death. Death is quite a character — thoughtful, resourceful, intelligent, kind when appropriate, gets the job done. AND HE ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. One of my favorite novels in the series is HOGFATHER, where Death steps in to take over when the Hogfather (a Discworld variation on our Father Christmas) disappears. His genuine puzzlement when he sits down and takes small children on his lap to hear their wishes for Hogfather Night and how that does not go well, is both touching and hilarious.

Death is logical. Death knows when our time is up. Death likes a good conversation as much as the next fellow. Death does not suffer fools gladly. Death is practical. Death has a sense of humor, albeit a (ahem) deadly one.

Personifying Death the way Pratchett does makes the inevitable more palatable, somehow. The method of your personal death may not be particularly pleasant, but Death is there to give you a hand up to your next destination. The destination is determined by the way you’ve lived your life, and what you BELIEVE you deserve, but you are not alone. And so many of us don’t want to die alone.

Death will always win. But sometimes he likes to put his feet up by the fire and have a cuppa, just like anybody else.

Find out more information on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels here.

–Devon Ellington is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest release, under the Annabel Aidan name, is the romantic suspense, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, available in print and digital versions from Champagne Books.

Midnight Enchantments: Diana Bishop & The Family Homestead

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters we love, whose lives are filled with magic.

Midnight Enchantments: Diana Bishop & The Family Homestead
by Devon Ellington

There are so many wonderful elements in Deborah Harkness’s A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES it would be hard to pick my favorite. I love that Diana is a scholar, and she’s immersed in research and searching for a lost manuscript. All elements that book lovers everywhere fantasize about. It felt like the best bits of POSSESSION (a novel I adore) beautifully melded with urban fantasy.

Diana is smart, resourceful, witty, caring. All the things we want and need in heroines we admire. She’s put aside her magic because she wants to earn her place with her non-magical abilities. She wants what she achieves to be her achievements, and not “just magic.” Yet it is only as she accepts that she is the magic and the magic is her — there’s no separation, she has to accept her whole persona — that she truly blossoms. It’s not JUST that she falls in love with Matthew, a man worthy of her, in spite of the whole complication with him being a vampire and all. It’s that she accepts the power within as part of her, not separate from her, and then she can truly grow.

My favorite part of the book, however, is the Bishop house. The family homestead that adds and subtracts rooms in preparation for guests. The house that LIVES, along with certain spirits residing within it. The house is its own entity. It is a character, not just a location. It is humanized, personified, a character in its own right. What better way to truly demonstrate the effect that environment has on character?

It gives a whole new meaning to a term I often use in class, “emotional geography.” The house thinks, feels, intuits, acts, much like a person does. Yet it is a house. We talk about the “vibe” or the “feeling” of a house or a home — this house take it to an even more tangible and extreme level.

Diana is wonderful and inspirational, and I can’t wait to see what she and Matthew do next. But the HOUSE is my favorite character in the book!

You can find out more about Deborah Harkness and the book on her website.

–Devon Ellington is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest paranormal suspense, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, is available under the Annabel Aidan name from Champagne Books.

Midnight Enchantments: Jane True

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, characters, and authors we love, who make us believe in magic.

Midnight Enchantments: Jane True
By Devon Ellington

I had no intention of buying TEMPEST RISING. I was in the bookstore, I’d used up my gift card, I HAD my stack, thank you very much.

And then I saw the cover.

Totally unique. Totally different from the dark and sometimes dour covers of urban fantasy. Even when they’re well-done, they can start to look the same when you look at a whole wall of them.

Not this one. Swirls of blue and pink and purple.

I picked it up. Hey, it took place in Maine! I have family in Maine, I enjoy Maine, there’s not much outside of Stephen King that’s written about Maine. And it’s about a half-selkie. Not a 3,445th vampire novel, or the 657th werewolf novel. I was starting to hit my fill of even the good ones, and REALLY sick of the not-so-good ones. A selkie. A water creature. Yeah, there was a vampire and a shifter, etc., but the protagonist was a half-selkie. Who lived in Maine. And the book had a cool cover, and the copy sounded like there might even be some humor in it. Not just snark, but wit. Charm. HUMOR.

So I bought it, and I was embraced into Nicole Peeler’s delightful world of Jane True.

Another bright woman who’s compassionate and loyal to her friends. Another misfit, who finds her place the bigger picture by learning and accepting her heritage.

One of the things I find interesting about the evolution of female characters is where they get their power. Years ago, it was from external sources — be it a husband or inheritance, or the cinder girl who turns out to be a princess. As women claim their power, the characters now find the power from within. They aren’t claiming externals. They bring forth internals. They grow, develop, learn, experience. They still quest — albeit differently from male characters. They have companions and obstacles. But they are now, as male characters often do, finding that the power resides WITHIN, not without, and has to be honed and trained and cajoled and controlled and celebrated. In fact, once they stop fearing inner power and trying to over-control it, once they celebrate it and let loose, they achieve their goals and needs.

Fictional characters or not, there’s a lesson in there for all of us.

Learn more about Nicole Peeler’s delightful Jane True series on her website.

–Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a full-time writer and sometime teacher. Her website is http://www.devonellingtonwork.com