Summer Dreaming

Summer and island dreaming go together like strawberries and chocolate. Heaven! So it’s perfect that I have the cover for Fantastical Island to share with you, today, in the middle of my summer. Isn’t it stunning? Designer Lou Harper is amazing.

old school, kindle unlimited, fantastical island, pnr, Jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance, urban fantasy

Fantastical Island

Someone is hunting the fantastical creatures of Catalina Island.

When a magical amulet gives marine biologist Naomi Twain the power to see through glamours it plunges her into a world of danger and intrigue. Fantastical creatures are everywhere, but hidden, on Catalina Island—and someone is hunting them, putting at risk a unique, magical ecosystem.

Corey Madrigal is bathing a behemi, a flying miniature pig, when Naomi crashes into his life. With a natural talent for seeing through glamours, he feels a responsibility to the creatures of his island home, creatures who were the friends of his childhood. Now, he’s a Hollywood special effects artist, and he’s going to be an amazing ally for Naomi in her quest to capture the hunters of the island’s fantastical creatures.

But the hunters have their own agenda.

And then, there’s the ghost…

Intense danger, wild storms, and passionate loyalties put to the test. Fantastical Island is a stand-alone adventure in the Old School series. Pre-order it today for 99c. Releases February 21.

Back in the Real World…

It gets hot on the west coast of Australia, to the point that I think I hibernate (if that’s the word?) in summer rather than winter. As I stay in the cool of air conditioning, I’m getting some reading done. Not so much of other things.

I’m a wicked person who was too lazy to take a photo, but I made the most delicious pancakes the other day and ate them with fresh raspberries. Mmmhmm. Why didn’t I know about the magic that is buttermilk earlier? It is so good in cooking. I suspect it was the mystery ingredient that made the wonderful Puffin Donuts that I remember from childhood especially delicious.

Kindle Unlimited Discoveries

kindle unlimitedA quick apology. I’m not sure how to fix this, but the covers aren’t quite lining up with text in emails of this post, so you may have to scroll back to see the book I’m reviewing.

Burning Man by Alan Russell is a bit of a change of pace for me. This is a police procedural with tiny hints of being something more, both thoughtful and paranormal. The moral dilemmas in the story aren’t belaboured, but they’re real. I didn’t always agree with the hero’s choices, but the fact that I’m still thinking about them indicates how well written the book was. I expect that I’ll read more in this series – I love Sirius the dog.

kindle unlimitedSmart Bitches, Trashy Books did a post on Kindle Unlimited books and there are some great suggested reads in it and in the comments on it. I picked up Rachel Sharp’s The Big Book of Post-Collapse Fun and just had to read and read, laughing at the snarky humour, empathising with the heroine. It was gripping. About being far from perfect, but surviving anyhow.

kindle unlimitedFire’s Stone by Tanya Huff stays with the theme of imperfect characters growing and learning. A brief warning, it includes an alcoholic character. It’s also complicated as to relationships. The happy ever after is not the hero and heroine riding off into the sunset. But it was a vivid, fascinating fantasy adventure.

kindle unlimitedSpeaking of complicated situations – the hero and heroine of Demelza Carlton’s science fiction romance, Halycon, have really intense back stories, but somehow I read on, trusting that Demelza could deliver happiness for them.

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My Lighthouse

There may or may not be a lighthouse in Fantastical Island, but I can’t resist ending this mid-summer post with a picture of “my” lighthouse. This is the light my family drove past so often on the way to town. It’s still a working lighthouse, just south of Fremantle.

I’m really tempted to share the story of the ghost who haunts it – the second lighthousekeeper’s cat, but … there’s no ghost! Sometimes real life just isn’t as exciting as fiction 😉

 

 

Fantastic Book Sale PLUS Chance to Win 1 Year Kindle Unlimited Subscription

I try to post on a Tuesday. That’s me: attempting to impose structure on chaos. But there’s a huge scifi and fantasy sale happening this weekend (one that includes Phoenix Blood) so I’m posting today so you don’t miss it. There are over 100 ebooks at 99c each.

 

I like this first weekend after the New Year. We can all relax – or are you rushing into 2017? Do you do New Year resolutions? Do you share yours to increase your commitment to them?

I’ve given up on New Year resolutions. Maybe I’m just too tired? It is soooo hot here. Pass the ice cream, please. Has anyone ever made an ice cream igloo? I could totally live in an ice cream igloo – at least, until I ate it! LOL The Alaskan version of Hansel and Gretel.

Win A Year’s Subscription to Kindle Unlimited

kindle unlimited

Romancing the Dragon is running a special January competition – a chance to win a year’s subscription to Kindle Unlimited. Just click “I Want It!

Kindle Unlimited Discoveries

I have to admit, with The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes it was the cover that caught my attention. The story reminded me a bit of The Magnificent Seven with the group having to get itself together first before they could act. There was plenty going on and the world building was an interesting jumble, but I doubt I’ll continue with the series.

The Artifactor series by Honor Raconteur is proving a delight. Sevana is a grumpy (and kind), clever young woman. It’s a gentle kind of fantasy, nothing too terrifying. The series begins with The Child Prince.

A friend also has a cute cozy mystery series in Kindle Unlimited. You can start the series with Throw a Monkey Wrench by Karen Chester.

Inspiration and Motorcycles

The heroine of my work-in-progress has a motorcycle. This is a big stretch for me as I find motorcycles a lot like horses – nice to look at, but scary to ride. Fortunately, a neighbour has provided some inspiration with his vintage British motorcycles. It was a lightbulb moment for me! Beulah (heroine of Storm Road) will no longer be getting a Harley – although I could be persuaded to give her a Ducatti which I think has a nicer sound. But no, she’ll have a vintage British Triumph and like it!

It’s fascinating what a bit of research throws up. Did you know that Fonzie from Happy Days rode a Triumph?

Phoenix Blood Delighting Readers

phoenix blood, jenny schwartz, pnr, paranormal romance, kindle unlimited,I put so much of my heart into writing Phoenix Blood that I’m as much relieved as delighted by readers’ enthusiastic response to it. Thank you so much for your reviews and comments and Facebook likes. An especial thanks to those of you who’ve recommended it to friends.

Phoenix Blood will remain at 99c as a series starter. Fantastical Island is currently at 99c as a pre-order and that’ll be its launch price (it’s out February 21), but after that it’ll be $2.99 which is the price of my Collegium series novels.

Salads and Other Healthy Things

I’ve been kind of sticking with my plan to eat more salads. The difficulty is that I LOVE bread, so I’m often tempted away from my healthy intentions. There is a Turkish bakery too close which does an amazing flatbread. I buy it hot from the oven – ignoring the inherited advice that bread hot from the oven will make me explode! Well, maybe my great-gran didn’t quite say “explode”, but she thought still-warm bread was bad for a person.

During my salad experiments I’ve discovered that fennel, mint, tomato and cucumber are fantastic together. Simply toss them in a bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Adding feta cheese is luxurious.

I’m trying to walk around the neighbourhood, but the hot weather means that’s best done in the early mornings – precisely the time when I prefer to work. Decisions, decisions. Oh, who am I kidding? Work wins every time.

However, it’s the weekend, so maybe I’ll make it to the beach? Whatever your plans for the weekend, have fun and be safe!

 

 

Happy 2017 & a Book Forecast

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 is kind to us all. So many people had it tough in 2016. I’m hoping for a year of peace, joy and creativity. I’d like us all to flourish.

One of the things I mark the beginning of a new year with is reaching for my not-so-crystal ball (try, my coffee mug) and predicting publishing trends. Basically, I guess which genres will be hot, what length of books people will like to read, etc. I’m generally wrong ;) But I enjoy it.

I’ll also list the books I’m looking forward to reading this year. Some feel as if I’ve been waiting AGES for them. I’d be interested to hear the books you’re eagerly anticipating.

Finally, I need to buy a collection of poems to read through 2017. I did this with Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Other Poems last year and it was a thoughtful counterpoint to my daily rush. Although I might just randomly pick a collection or anthology of poetry simply because it’s on the shelves of my local bookstore, if you have a suggestion of what I simply must read, please share!

Book-related Predictions for 2017

I think djinns will finally break out as a subgenre of paranormal romance. We’ve had shapeshifters, vampires and angels. Djinns are a powerful, untameable force and will crash the paranormal romance shelves at some point. I’ve been writing about them since 2010, but (would you know it?) 2017 is the year I don’t have any djinn stories planned. If you’d like a free angel and djinn novella, my Fire Rose is free. For a serious history of the djinn, I recommend Legends of the Fire Spirits by Robert Lebling.

I’ve been predicting a return of gothic romance for a while now. Do you remember Barbara Michaels’ modern gothics like House of Many Shadows? I think those sort of books are sneaking in as romantic suspense with paranormal elements. But they need to loudly claim the “modern gothic” title with the whole heroine-in-jeopardy, brooding hero, enticing villain (and which is which?) trope.

I think audiobooks will continue to attract readers. It’s not something that works for me. If I’m driving, that’s music time, and if I’m focusing on tasks around the house, I love silence [hear that, Mr Barney Barkalot? sorry, sorry, off-topic, but my neighbour’s dog is a very alert little poodle]. Amazon has a read-aloud function on its kindle ereaders called VoiceOver. As people get accustomed to thing’s like ipads’ Siri, I wonder if automated audiobooks will boom? Not such a happy thought for voice artists.

What will be the next break-out comfort hit? This article on the Danish concept of Hygge was interesting for how editors scan pop culture to contract books for emerging trends – and thus, create those trends. In 2017 it wouldn’t surprise me if the trend merged cozy with survivalism. Preppers Go Cozy! And I’m only being a little bit tongue in cheek. People want to feel happier about their lives while also feeling as if they’re better prepared for the unexpected.

Books of 2017

Etched in Bone

I read and re-read Anne Bishop’s The Others series, and the final book in Meg and Simon’s story will be released in March. If you’re also a fan (it won’t make much sense if you’re not, sorry), here’s an excerpt from Etched in Bone. There is self-harm in the series. It is sensitively handled, but just a trigger warning for you.

White Hot

I’ve been waiting for White Hot by Ilona Andrews FOREVER. Sorry for the all caps, but seriously, Burn For Me was fantastic, and then the sequel, White Hot was delayed. But it’ll be out in May. Woohoo!

The series is better than this cover suggests. The hero actually leaves his shirt on most of the time 😉

The Unyielding

Shelly Laurenston (she also writes as GA Aiken) is one of my favourite authors. Yes, her books are sexy and violent, but also funny and with a powerful sense of family and friendship.  Each time I finish one, I can’t wait to read the other characters’ stories. Finally, this is “the angriest Viking’s” romance. Ahem. Stieg would probably like another word used than “romance”, but suck it up, bad boy 😉 Lots of fun. The Unyielding is out in March.

Writing Update

Woohoo! I’ve started work on Storm Road. I’ve been waiting for Beulah’s story. No, you haven’t met her, yet. She wasn’t mentioned in Phoenix Blood. But I’ll give you a hint. Storm Road returns to North Carolina and there’s an old apple orchard in the story. There’s also a sternly sexy JAG lawyer! Oh yeah. Major Dean Fortescue is awesome. [Currently, Beulah doesn’t agree – He’s frustrating her plans].

paranormal romance, kindle unlimited,

Flowering Extravaganza

The local gumtrees are currently going mad. I snapped these on Friday. A good thing I’m not allergic to bees as they were BUZZING in this bonanza.

Fantastical Island – From the Waste Paper Basket

I’m not sure if you’ll find this interesting , but in writing Fantastical Island (out Feb 21) this was the opening of the first draft – which I’ve thrown out. The final draft opens very differently.

“Ye-uck,” Naomi Twain whispered her disgust as she lifted her boot out of a pile of bison poop. She knew better than to become distracted while hiking on Catalina Island, but then, she wasn’t exactly hiking. Not tonight. She was stalking.
She scrubbed her boot through a patch of rough grass. Cleaning it when she got back to her rented room in Avalon would not be fun. For now, she just needed to ignore the smell and keep going. She had a limited window of opportunity before the tide turned and her quarry escaped her, swimming back out to open water.
Sea serpents were one of the more common fantastical creatures that called the island home—or that’s what the fifty year old field report that had brought Naomi here said. Undoubtedly a lot of things had changed in half a century, but sea serpents were resilient. They, of all the island’s fantastical creatures, ought to have survived the changes in the island’s habitat and climate.
If the sea serpents’ nesting pools were empty tonight, then Naomi would really worry.
She tripped over a tussock of grass and staggered ungracefully, but didn’t fall. She straightened and readjusted her backpack, circling back. The waxing moon and stars provided limited illumination, just enough to deepen shadows and hide holes in the ground. She crouched. If it had been a jackalope’s burrow that she’d fallen into, she’d have counted a wrenched ankle well worth it. But this was just an ordinary hole in the ground.
“Damn.” She could hear the sea ahead of her. The land sloped down to a rocky coastline, too dangerous to reach by boat even in daylight; hence this trek. She rubbed her ankle before stretching it. Not really wrenched. Just a warning twinge. She’d been lucky.
She had to scramble down the last bit of hillside, clinging to the tough grass and finding footholds. She landed on the narrow, rocky beach and breathed a sigh of relief as her ankle survived the jolting impact. The sea glittered. Dots of phosphorescence and reflected moonlight danced on the waves. A cool wind brought the scent of the sea and left a tang of salt on her lips. She slipped off her backpack and reached up, stowing it securely above the high tide mark. Then she began inspecting the rockpools.
Sea serpents were lesser fantastical creatures, which meant that the traces they left were easier to see. The glamour that hid them was thin. Naomi had seen sea serpents’ nesting pools and their discarded empty shells in Sydney, Australia. She knew to look for fragile rainbows in the rockpools, the shimmering iridescence being the sea serpents themselves.
A crab scuttled near her left boot. She stepped around it and reached the first rockpool, about as big as her arms encircled. It was dark, the water in it still. But it wasn’t the most likely nesting pool. She edged around it toward the sea. Waves hit the outer edge of the beach, hissing against the rocks there, murmuring as they withdrew.
It had taken her longer than she’d hoped to trek across the island. The tide would turn soon.
She walked to the furthest rockpool, one as long as her outstretched body from fingers to toes. She bent over to study the algaed edges, then the centre, before trying to peer into its depths.
No rainbow iridescence flashed.
A wave licked over her boots. Sea spray was dampening her jeans. She studied a second pool, then a third, retreating back toward the land as the tide turned.
There! Hope surged as she glimpsed a rainbow shimmer in her peripheral vision. She swivelled toward the fourth pool and saw a rainbow slither into an incoming wave and swim out with it. A sea serpent. Small, perhaps as long as her forearm, but a sea serpent. Were there any eggs in the nesting pool? Any discarded shells? Baby sea serpents were only as long as her thumb and lacked the adults’ iridescence, but their eggshells, although fragile and fleeting, were detectable.
She rolled up her right sleeve and plunged her arm into the water. Her fingers investigated the edge of the rockpool, feeling the roughness of the rocks and the slimy algae covering them. She carefully worked around a feathery anemone and flinched from the warning tap of a crab’s pincers. Perhaps it was the same one that had scuttled by her boot?
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
At the unexpected voice, Naomi fell forward into the rockpool. She swallowed water and felt the burn of it in her nose. Ugh. She’d panicked and breathed in water like an idiot. She managed to get her arms under her and braced herself before she hit the rocky bottom face-first.
A strong hand grabbed the collar of her jacket and hauled her out. Water streamed from her. She was completely soaked.
She sat back on the rocks on her butt and wiped water out of her eyes. She spat saltwater toward the incoming tide. It was inelegant, yes, but better than continuing to choke and splutter. Gradually her breathing and heartbeat settled enough that she could pay attention to her attacker/rescuer. She started with his boots.
Worn leather boots, showing darker where water had splashed them, led up to jeans over muscled thighs to a fisherman’s navy-blue sweater, and so, to a face Naomi recognised.

Fantastical Island is out February 21, and available now for pre-order. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Fantastical-Island-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01N56RZ7Z/

Fantastical Island, kindle unlimited, Jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance, pnr,

Release Day for PHOENIX BLOOD & a Very Special Book Sale

New Paranormal Romance Thriller PHOENIX BLOOD is Out!!! and only 99c

phoenix blood, jenny schwartz, pnr, paranormal romance, kindle unlimited,Phoenix Blood is live! Finally. I’m so nervous yet excited to learn how you feel about it. For me, it was an intense book to write. I love stories of wounded heroes, but Phoenix Blood turned into so much more. This is a roadtrip with magic, where the emotional journey is every bit as exciting as the fantastical adventures.

Phoenix Blood is 99c or free to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Blood-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01M0DLOKL/ 

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33010658-phoenix-blood

In a grim biker bar with wizard mercenaries on her tail and a “found” amulet around her neck, Sadie Howard needs a miracle. What she gets is the man who broke her heart nine years ago.

Marcus Aurelius is a changed man, in more ways than one. The preppy, confident medical school student is now a hard-bitten, magic-wielding assassin. He’s also a man on a mission. He has debts to pay and old wrongs to right before he dies—sometime this week.

As the secrets of Marcus’s heart are revealed, Sadie learns that nothing is as it seems and that the man who broke her heart also saved her life and paid in agony for her freedom.

With wizards trying to kill her, phoenix blood burning in Marcus’s veins, and a villain who’ll stop at nothing to acquire the amulet Sadie has promised to a friend, their roadtrip is a one-way ticket to extraordinary adventures. The question is, who will survive?

jenny schwartz, kindle unlimited, pnr, paranormal romance,

Fantasy Romance Free & 99c Books

There are so many great books in the Fantasy and Paranormal Romance promotion and with the mix of free and 99c novels, you can give those Amazon giftcards you received for Christmas a work out even as you save money.

Kindle Unlimited Holiday Book Blast

If you’re celebrating with a Kindle Unlimited book this season, a group of authors have showcased their books at Celebrate With a Book – me, included.

Kindle Unlimited Discoveries

I really enjoyed Audrey Faye’s The Fixers of KarmaCorp series. Just waiting on Raven’s book. It felt a bit like Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction. It’s thoughtful, yet easy reading and with an entertaining storyline.

And then there’s Michelle Diener’s new release, Sky Raiders. Michelle is a gorgeous person as well as talented author. I caught up with her for lunch a couple of months ago and had a sneak peek at the cover then. So beautiful with its mix of fantasy and science fiction.

I also finished the Harry Potter series which I’ve been reading in Kindle Unlimited. I’m really annoyed with the ending. I’m sure after so long it’s not a spoiler to say there’s a big battle, but the lead up to it and the way Harry “resolves” it (I didn’t find it a credible solution) doesn’t justify the deaths in a children’s series for me. Seriously peeved with the ending.

Thank You for 2016

To those of you who’ve known me for a while and those of you who only discovered my books this year, thank you for being part of my writing and reading year. 2016 surprised us all, sometimes shocked and saddened us, but good stories, well told, and a community that treasures them is part of how I keep my faith that the world is filled with amazing and amazingly kind people and that there is always hope.

I hope 2017 brings you joy and peace, and that from tiny to immensely daring, all our dreams come true.

An Australian Christmas and Memories

Christmas in Summer

I have to thank Maria for the suggestion to talk about an Aussie Christmas. To me, celebrating Christmas with sunshine and beach weather is normal. I grew up in a small semi-rural area about a mile from the beach and on Christmas Day a “Santa” would ride around in the back of a truck and throw lollies for the kids. I think he was actually a friend’s dad, but we never questioned this tall, lanky Santa’s visit.

If you want to imagine an Aussie Christmas feast, just think of your favourite celebratory summer treats. Then add more seafood! My neighbour is going out before dawn catching (or trying to catch – they’re evading him and his traps this year) rock lobsters – or what I call crayfish.

But I don’t want to talk about food – which is what I always end up talking about. What can I say? I love eating!

I popped into Fremantle, Western Australia, to show you the church where I like to attend a Christmas service – forget Midnight Mass! When it’s a sticky, hot night and you’re crowded into an unair-conditioned church, the magic vanishes. Or faints. I like to attend the very first mass of Christmas Day at St Patrick’s Basilica, Fremantle. It’s not my local church, but it is where my great-grandparents, nana and mum all attended. For me there’s a wonderful sense of belonging.

Christmas makes me nostalgic.

So this is St Pat’s. It has dragons on its presbytery roof. The red brick building is the presbytery. The photo is taken looking into town. Olive trees provide the shade.

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This is St Pat’s.

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Just down the road from the basilica is the port. Fremantle is a port city. You can see a cruise ship docked there in the next photo. Wind back sixty odd years, and this is where my great-grandparents, grandparents and mum disembarked from a ship from Germany and touched Australian soil for the first time. They were displaced persons, Poles transplanted from home to Germany by WWII. They came here to start new lives. Being in St Pat’s I remember all the people who’ve come here with desperate hope and I pray that somehow we can build a better world, one where people aren’t forced out of their homes by war.

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Fremantle port – or part of it.

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They’re not the best pics – sorry.

I was also hoping to share a video of our city’s Christmas pageant, but couldn’t find one. It’s normally broadcast. Think of a 4th of July parade but with a Christmas theme, or Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on a smaller scale with Aussie craziness, and you’ll have an idea of the Perth Christmas Pageant. Floats, marching bands, dance schools. It’s fun.

Christmas Giveaways

Sorry I forgot to mention these two giveaways earlier! Both are running till Christmas. The first gives you a chance to win a $100 giftcard. Woohoo! Thanks, Romancing the Dragon. The second from Paranormal Romance Lovers has a different couple of authors offering different prizes each day.

Trying to Catch Up

I’m a bit behind on my writing schedule, so I have to dive back into Fantastical Island because Storm Road is calling me – that’s the next book in the Old School series.

I hate having to share some photos and run – I’d love to hear your Christmas traditions – but unless I want to rely on chocolate (and for the sake of my waistline I don’t dare) I need to catch up on my writing before I hit some deadlines hard. Then chocolate will be inevitable! Chocolate, the secret magic of writing.

Consequently, I won’t be sending a newsletter next week. You’ll hear from me when Phoenix Blood comes out December 27, and after we’ve all survived the festivities. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xmas