Black Swans, Snakes and Books

Wildlife Encounters

black swans, Jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance,I visited a pretty and popular lake last week. I hoped that while I was there I’d have a chance to photograph black swans. Here in Australia, black swans are common. It’s the white ones that I consider rare. It makes me wonder about how many things we take for granted are strange to outsiders. Like me growing up with the phrase, “Have you fed the chooks?”, which just meant, someone needed to take the scrap bucket out to the chickens and empty it. Yep. Aussies call hens, chooks. It can even be a sign of friendship to be called an old chook!

Back on topic. I did get the photo of black swans. A happy black swan family was enjoying the sun, the cygnets nearly adult. But I also encountered a whole lot more…

tiger snakes perth, Jenny Schwartz, That’s right. Snakes!

I’m not so fond of snakes, especially the poisonous ones that Australia specialises in. A guy walking his dog (don’t worry, the dog was safely away from the snakes) identified them as tiger snakes. I’m not a hundred percent convinced (they could be brown snakes or dugites for all I know), but it did open the door to an interesting story.

Enter the hero of this story, a seagull.

gull and tiger snake, Jenny Schwartz

Just off the coast is a small limestone island named Carnac. It’s a nesting place for a noisy seagull colony. It’s also home to a whole lot of tiger snakes. Seagull parents defend their nests by pecking out the eyes of resident snakes. Today, I could see this gull thinking about whether to fight these snakes. However, his nest wasn’t nearby and the snakes are juveniles, so our gull hero let them go.

I took my photos and prudently retreated, too.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

magic binds, ilona andrews, paranormal romance,Today is release day for Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews. It’s going to be hard to concentrate on my work. I think I’ll probably shut down the computer early and dive into my kindle. I love the Kate Daniels series and I feel like I’ve been waiting for Magic Binds for ages.

 

Dawn of the Infected by Eileen Cruz Coleman

Dawn of the Infected, zombie, apocalypse, I’m such a cowardly custard about reading horror, but Dawn of the Infected by Eileen Cruz Coleman was raw and immediate. I think the first person, present tense style helped with that. How would an ordinary person respond to the apocalypse? To be honest, I doubt I’d be very effective as a fighter. But maybe I’d be magic like the heroine of Dawn of the Infected? There’s lots happening in this prequel novella: angels, vampires, fae.

A Leap of Faith by Trisha Ashley

leap of faith, trisha ashley,One of the things I love about ebooks is that every so often a book I loved, but which has gone out of print, makes a return. With A Leap of Faith by Trisha Ashley, it’s been re-issued. I have an old paper copy from when it was called The Urge to Jump and I’ve recommended the novel to loads of people – but it was hard to get a copy. It’s a great example of using present tense to establish a strong narrative voice. If you like quirky and opinionated British women’s fiction, A Leap of Faith is fun.

The Jinx Hamilton Witch Mysteries by Juliette Harper

jinx mysteries, juliette harperThe Jinx Hamilton Witch Mysteries by Juliette Harper are fun! They’re an easy-read amble in a cozy North Carolina town with witches and ghosts and a magic shop. Like eating chocolate 🙂 They were a lovely, fortuitous discovery last week.

 

Alchemy Shift – Cover Reveal Soon!

Alchemy Shift will be out October 27. Mark your calendars, because this bear-shifter hero is tough, honourable and utterly lovable.

covering

Superstitions. Modern Magic. Tempting Fate.

Superstitions

I’ve been thinking about superstitions because I’m wondering if one of the heroine’s of my 2017 series, Old School, is going to have some superstitions in her life. It made me question if I have any.

superstitions, kindle unlimited, paranormal romance, Jenny Schwartz,At first, I would have given a definite “no”. I once owned (or was owned by) a black cat. I walk under ladders (or more usually widely around them since I’m a klutz and I don’t want to knock anyone off a ladder). I never throw salt over my shoulder or worry about Friday the thirteenth. But then I remembered … I have superstitions about tempting fate.

If I’m talking about things going well, I tend to either say or do “touch wood”. Or I simply won’t talk about something that’s sailing along (like a story I’m writing that is awesome in its characters and plot twists) for fear of “jinxing” it.

So, while I’m okay opening umbrellas inside and breaking a mirror only annoys me because then I have to clean up the mess, I find that I am superstitious. How about you? Do you have any superstitions in your life?

Modern Magic

I don’t practice magic, so this isn’t literally about magic, but about how magical thinking is adapting to our computer age. When I talk about algos (the algorithms that rule our life – they’re the things that Facebook uses to decide which posts from our friends we see) I could be talking about magic. I have no idea how they work, but I’m superstitiously convinced that they have to be appeased.

For instance, I won’t type the word -s-pa-m- for fear it summons it! Similarly, I have a gizmo-thingie on this website that scores me on how well I’m writing this post. I suspect the score is a load of rubbish, but I still bow down before it in the hopes of magically writing a post that Google searches then show to everyone!

So any time we’re uncertain, magical thinking rushes in to fill the gap. In a world of chaos and change, we try to impose order.

Fighting Fate

I don’t believe our destinies are fixed. I think we have the power to change our lives and others’. For me, superstitions are defensive. We’re cowering before Fate, trying to avoid the worst times.

We need to take the fight to Fate.

And this is why I love reading fiction. Fiction tends to be quest stories where characters charge into battle (real or emotional) and us readers run with them. In the safety of fictional universes we experience the power and price of challenging destiny. I hope that every fictional happy-ever-after makes us a little more willing, or confident, that we can seize happiness, too.

Hats & Magpies
hat, jenny schwartz,
I was going to model it, but my hair is a mess & I have panda eyes from hayfever. Not my best look!

I’ve bought myself a new hat! Isn’t it stylish? Spring is here and I intend to walk around the neighbourhood as the weather warms despite … do you have birds that swoop people where you are? Everyone talks about Australia’s dangerous snakes and spiders, but our Australian magpies can be vicious, too. I’ve had one swoop, strike me, and draw blood – and it’s currently nesting season! Danger!Danger! Hence, the sturdy new hat. (And for those of you who think I’m exaggerating, magpies really are dangerous).

magpies, superstitions, Jenny Schwartz,I’ll leave you with one final superstition, from England, concerning magpies:

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a funeral
And four for birth.  (Wikipedia)

Or as I prefer:

Don’t bother counting, just run!

Wildflowers from Space!

P.S. I’m not sure I believe it, but the exaggerated claim is that the spectacular wildflowers I mentioned a couple of weeks ago are visible from space. Whatever the case, my home state sure knows how to put on a show 🙂

 

 

A Haunting London Romance – Free – Sky Garden

Jenny Schwartz, kindle unlimited, romantic suspense, sky garden, haunting London romance,My haunting London romance, Sky Garden, is free September 6-8. It has a slower pace than my paranormal romance novels, so it’s a book you need to be in the mood for.

On the rooftops of London, you can be anyone.

A year ago, Lanie Briers escaped a serial killer. She grew up in a theatre family and her act was mediumship, but not anymore. Life, now, is a hidden retreat above a quirky Edwardian museum, where she waits and watches.

Nick Tawes is an unexpected intrusion. He’s a landscape architect filming a television series on roof gardens, and he intends to build one in Lanie’s aerial territory. He has his own demons, old aristocratic family troubles, that lure Lanie out of her refuge and into living again.

But as summer progresses and the sky garden grows, Lanie’s enemy is closing in—because some secrets must go to the grave.

Sky Garden is free to celebrate its lovely new cover – and because I like giving away books.

Current Projects

Alchemy Shift is well in hand for its October 27 release. It will be real wrench to leave this book. I want to move in and live with its heroine’s family. The Cosmatos Clan of Astoria, Queens, are awesome!

A woman, her sword, and the were-bear who’ll steal her heart.

Alchemy Shift, Jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance thriller, kindle unlimited

Future Projects

2017 is the year I go Old School – that’s the series’ name. Old School introduces a world of secrets, sorcery and seduction. Stay tuned to hear more about the first book in the series: Phoenix Blood, a paranormal romance thriller.

How do you make your porridge?

Perhaps it’s because I’m writing about a were-bear in Alchemy Shift (you know, Goldilocks and all that), but I’m thinking about porridge. How do you make yours? I’m old-fashioned. I put rolled oats and cold water in a saucepan for a few minutes and let them soak. Then it’s a pinch of salt and stir, stir, stir over a moderate heat; adding milk till I get the consistency I like. Maple syrup is yum to serve it with. Otherwise a dash of vanilla essence while it’s cooking and sugar on the top makes it delicious, too.

Now, the big question? Do you add fruit to your porridge? The idea is ugh to me, but if you do, what fruit do you add?

Confession: I tend to eat my porridge for lunch. At breakfast I’m too lazy to make oats. Toast! The only way to start the day.

Best London Mystery

tiger in the smoke, allingham, Jenny Schwartz, thriller London,I know that claiming a book as the best London mystery ever is a big call, but Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham is a classic. Set just after World War II it takes place in the infamous smogs of London that the Clean Air Act eliminated (mostly). It’s a thriller with more about characters than gruesomeness and when I first read it years and years ago, it transported me to London in its grimy, emerging-from-war hopefulness. A wonderful book with one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever read. Charlie Luke isn’t the hero of the book, but he’s vital, vibrant and all the things I aim my own characters to be. With Margery Allingham as my gold standard, I aim high!

Strong Women Winners

For those of you who entered the Strong Women Giveaway, it closed August 31. Kate and Angel each won the two grand prizes of $1,000. Congratulations!

An Instafreebie Thrill!

Instafreebie is making my steampunk adventure, Clockwork Gold, a feature book tomorrow. I’m so thrilled. If you haven’t grabbed your copy, it’s free right now.

Winter’s Over

I caught up with my critique partner at our favourite beach cafe yesterday. The weather was brilliant. The sun was warm, the wind fresh (a polite way to describe blustery) and it blew away my hayfever. It’s wonderful to chat and laugh with someone who gets our weirdest thoughts, isn’t it? The photos below are the Indian Ocean rolling in.

coastal romance, indian ocean, floreat beach, DSC04692 DSC04703

Surviving a Release Week

With Hollywood Demon releasing last Saturday, this week is a bit of a blur. I don’t think that sending a new book into the world ever gets easier, emotionally, but I am learning how to cope. One of the important strategies is to force myself to work on a different project — I’m working on the second draft of Alchemy Shift. The other strategy is vital: to get out of the house and away from the computer. At a minimum I’m stretching my legs with walks around the neighbourhood. It’s spring time which makes it exciting times for my hayfever!

**By the way, and totally off-topic, do you have any natural remedies for hayfever? At home, I have an air filter in my study and that is bliss, but I can’t live my whole life in my study!

Huge Speculative Fiction Sale – all books 99c Sept 3-4

Patty Jansen runs spectacular science fiction and fantasy promotions with some best-selling authors involved. Often the books promoted are free. This time Patty put the call out for 99c books. I’ve included Hollywood Demon, sneaking it in before it goes full price. Other people have significantly dropped the price of their books. It’s an impressive collection and it’s just for Sept 3-4, so mark your calendars!

science fiction and fantasy sale, book promotion,

Re-visiting Childhood

A few days ago I was driving through the area where I grew up. It used to be a semi-rural community, but all the houses have been demolished to make way for an industrial estate. My primary school is gone. Memories are all that remain — except! Just beyond the industrial estate is a pocket of open ground. One swamp has survived major earth-moving activities (my great-uncle’s property became a limestone quarry!) and opposite the swamp a flock of sheep was grazing. I’m not sure how well the photos will show for you, but I can’t resist sharing this proof that not all the freedom of my childhood is lost.

enjoyable distractions, Australian sheep, rural childhood,
Flock of sheep – it looks rural and idyllic, doesn’t it?
Swamp. It used to be filled with water, but now it's just paperbark trees and grass.
Swamp. It used to be filled with water, but now it’s just paperbark trees and grass.
Cooking Adventures

Actually, I have no cooking adventures this week. Given how stressful I find release weeks, I’m just grateful that I’m not eating takeaway – which is a lazy woman’s comfort food 🙂 Do you have a favourite comfort food? This winter I came up with what I’m calling a Mexican soup, although I doubt it’s Mexican at all. I should make it.

I fry a chopped onion in olive oil, salt and pepper. Once it’s translucent-to-golden in colour, I add a generous amount of cumin and smoked sweet paprika and a pinch of dried chilli, and stir through the onions for maybe ten seconds. You don’t want the spices to burn. Then I add two cups of water (or thereabouts, none of my measurements are accurate), a chopped sweet potato (the orange kind) and a drained and rinsed (I’m so fussy!) can of cannellini beans. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour or even two. Then blitz with a stick blender — is that what you call them in America? — you want a puree. Put the pot back on the stove and add sweetcorn kernels cut from two fresh cobs. Cook for ten minutes. Be careful! The puree might bloop! like a mini-volcano, or stick to the bottom of the pot. Watch and stir. And then … deliciousness. It tastes even better reheated the next day.

Free Contemporary Romance Collection

Jenny Schwartz, cafe nix, contemporary romance free,Cafe Nix is a collection of short stories by Escape Publishing authors, including me. It came out a couple of years ago, but Amazon has been stubborn about setting it free – which is what we all wanted it to be. We want to give it away! Now, suddenly, Amazon has come to the party. So, grab your free copy, today.

Ainslie Paton was the genius and the person who slaved to bring Cafe Nix into the world. She’s also funny and smart and writes intense adult romances that showcase her quirky Aussie humour. This was a fantastic project to be part of: sometimes I’m the luckiest person.

Real Life Paranormal Stories & Investigations

I haven’t had a chance to go through this page on paranormal resources, but I want to! Just the link at the bottom of the page to haunted rocking chairs made me blink. Have you ever encountered the inexplicable? I don’t think I believe in ghosts.

Winners of National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of 2016 Contest

I’m more an armchair traveller than a real one, so I love looking at other people’s travel photos. These National Geographic prize winners take that to the next level. Amazing!

You might have guessed that in a release week I’m easily distracted and a bit random. I think I’d best stop rambling and get back to work on Alchemy Shift.

Final Reminder

Hollywood Demon is only at 99c for a few more days, so if you haven’t grabbed your copy or you’ve been meaning to mention it to a friend, don’t delay!

Jenny Schwartz

 

Hollywood Demon Release Day

Hollywood Demon, Jenny Schwartz, kindle unlimited, illuminati in hollywood, demonic Hollywood, paranormal romance,

It’s finally here! Release day for Hollywood Demonand to celebrate, Hollywood Demon is at the special launch price of 99c – just for a few days. As a little frosting on the cake, Author Book Deals is featuring my first Collegium book, Demon Hunter, today, along with other great 99c specials.

Blurb for Hollywood Demon

Feel the Earth move!

A camera can’t steal your soul—but a demon can! Mark Yarren suspects a demon has found a way around the spell his great-grandfather cast to prevent demons sucking souls through the camera’s lens. Digital photography dangerously omits the silver wash that was photography’s century-old defence against Hell.

Mark is Hollywood royalty, descended from the early Hollywood stars: the studio bosses and directors, the producers and actresses. Now he lives alone in his palatial Beverly Hills estate.

Well, not quite alone.

Clancy Ramirez is back! She’s tried life in New York, in Iceland, and in Hawaii, but she missed California. She missed the grumbling roar of the San Andreas Fault with its leagues-deep molten geology. Clancy is a geomage and she can make the earth shake—or grow still. But California isn’t her territory. She has no place intruding or tapping its energy.

But a demon shackled for a century is breaking free, and Collegium rules, old heartaches and strained family loyalties will break, too.

The Big One is coming.

***
Hollywood Demon is a completely stand-alone novel in “The Collegium” series.

Reading Order for The Collegium Series

Now’s a good time to check: have you read all of The Collegium series?

Demon Hunter
Djinn Justice
Dragon Knight
Doctor Wolf
Plague Cult
Hollywood Demon

and out in October, Alchemy Shift

A Huge and Heartfelt Thank You

Hollywood Demon, Jenny Schwartz, kindle unlimited, paranormal romance,Thank you so much for picking up Hollywood Demon, telling your friends about it, sharing posts and reviews (reviews are more precious than diamonds), and generally making the sometimes lonely job of being an author one of sheer joy. I appreciate your kindness more than I can say.

As always, happy reading!

Jenny

Jenny Schwartz

 

Cornbread, KU and Other Matters

First up, thank you to everyone who shared tips and encouragement on how to make cornbread. You can see below the result of my efforts on Saturday. Not bad for a first attempt! And it was so yummy. I’ll be baking this, again. A special thanks to Valerie for her tip that I preheat the pie dish (I don’t have a skillet). The edge was crusty and perfect. The recipe was from Sally’s Baking Addiction (although because I was too impatient to wait for the melted butter to cool, I added the buttermilk before the egg).

cornbread

Hollywood Demon is out on Saturday and I’m trying not to hyperventilate as I hope and wish and dream that it launches well. I love Clancy and Mark, the couple in this story. He was her first crush.

Free Books Alert!

The Urban Fantasy (and Paranormal Romance) Sale is offering free books this Friday and Saturday (August 26-27). Definitely check them out – the sale includes my collection of paranormal romantic suspense, Dare. However, if you can’t wait for Dare to go free, you can pick up my collection of sensual steampunk and fantasy, Indulge, free right now (till August 25). It has a snazzy new cover – do you like it?

indulgecoverx

Kindle Unlimited

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber — and if you are, I envy you so much. Amazon won’t let Australians join this subscription service and my book budget suffers as a result (hello, Instafreebie!) — there’s an urban fantasy and paranormal romance focused event hosted by author Roz Marshall happening now. You can browse some amazing books.

kindle unlimited paranormal romance

Wildflower Season

It’s nearly spring in my corner of the world, and that means the wildflowers are out. If you’re ever in Perth, Western Australia, in September you should not miss the Kings Park Festival, which is held at the city’s botanic gardens. I’m not sure I’ll make it there this year. I hope I do. I was there in 2014 and it was fantastic. West Australian wildflowers are unique in the world.

bellflower
Bellflowers
blackkpaw
Black kangaroo paws
Instafreebie

With your encouragement last week, I’ve dived into Instafreebie. I’ve picked up:

Amy Hopkins – Dream Stalker
J. L. Hendricks – Eclipse of the Beginning
Rogenna Brewer – Sealed with a Kiss
Mark E. Cooper – Way of the Wolf

free steampunkAnd I even put a copy of my steampunk novella, Clockwork Gold, up on Instafreebie with a new cover. That was pushing my tech skills to their limit! The cover looks sexier than the story is. Clockwork Gold is me re-imagining West Australian history (which I studied cough-cough years ago at university).

 

Strong Women

If you’re into giveaways and contests, please don’t forget to enter the Strong Women in Fiction giveaway before it ends August 31. There are two big prizes of $1,000 each.

And that’s it from me, until Saturday – which is Release Day for Hollywood Demon! Will I survive the anticipation and excitement? 🙂

paranormal romance, Jenny Schwartz, kindle unlimited,

Hollywood Demon is out Saturday August 27 and available for pre-order now at 99c.

Earth-shaking News

Clancy Ramirez, the heroine of my August 27 release, Hollywood Demon, is a geomage, which means she can make the earth shake or grow still. And Clancy wants to come home, to one of the most famously unstable regions in the world – California.

jenny schwartz, hollywood demon, paranormal romance, kindle unlimited,California fascinates me not just because of its complicated geology, but because its climate is a lot like where I live in the south-west corner of Australia. I feel a kinship to California. We both have that coastal vibe, sunshine and zany people. But … California has earthquakes!

When you’re writing a paranormal romance or any kind of suspense novel, it helps to tap into people’s fears. Doing so raises the stakes. Vanity Fair has an interesting survey on what Americans most fear. But there’s no way I’m writing about your boss! That’s a total mood-killer 😉 I didn’t consult this survey or any other one when I was plotting Hollywood Demon, I just knew that for me, having the earth move beneath my feet is all kinds of terrifying because it doesn’t end there. Roads buckle, gas lines catch fire, water supply breaks down, chaos!

But then, the demon muscled into the story and it went in another direction. It’s still vitally important that Clancy is a geomage (fascinating magic), but the story is set in Hollywood, and in Hollywood it’s all about appearances. Are people really who they seem?

Mark Yarren, the hero of the story, isn’t over the tragedy of his broken engagement. But not for the reasons Clancy thought. Here’s a tiny snippet to tease you:

He stopped at a red light and turned to her. “That ‘everything’—her movie roles, her incredible beauty, her star quality—were part of the contract. Phoebe sold her soul to a demon. When the demon came to collect it, at the site of the car crash, she tried to give him my soul, instead.”

“No,” Clancy protested instinctively. Mark and Phoebe had been in love. Phoebe couldn’t possibly have tried to trade his soul for hers. It couldn’t be true.

People aren’t always who they seem, especially in Hollywood!

***

Instafreebie. I’m still exploring this site, but it seems to offer free books. Do any of you use it? Do you like it? Have you found any great books there?

***

On a non-writing topic, I really want to make cornbread. I’ve never eaten any and it sounds delicious. I’ve found this recipe for cornbread, but before I try it, does anyone have any tips?

***

And finally, names! People think naming children and pets is difficult – and it is! – but pity the poor author who is constantly on the hunt for names (and has to google that they’re not real and famous people). So I tend to bookmark sites like this one: common names by profession. Plus the American Social Services Administration does popular names by birth year. So helpful!

rose