Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to keep dead bodies sweet

How to keep dead bodies sweet
By Gunnar

There’s a dichotomy in the very idea of a cozy mystery. See, most cozies (or any other mystery) involves solving a murder or other violent crime, and murder is a messy, ugly, grotesque affair. There’s all that blood, bodily fluids, violence, and after a while the stench—okay, okay, you get the idea. And that’s the problem: readers who like “sweet” stories don’t want all that nasty stuff, even though it’s inherent in murder. So what’s a writer to do?

Focus on the characters and the puzzle, not the crime. Readers of cozies aren’t here for the gore. They want to meet interesting characters who do interesting things, and track the clues, watch the plot unfold, as the mystery is solved. They want to match wits with the writer, hoping they’ll lose. If you have an overwhelming urge to write every detail of the murder in progress, consider trying your hand at a thriller or police procedural, where such in-depth violence is accepted and even sought.

In the same way, keep ugly descriptions discreet. Don’t spend too much time telling readers about the spray of blood, the savage injuries, or the victim’s terror. Heavy descriptions weigh down cozies, which are supposed to be lighter reading. Instead, try using suggestion when a description of violence is necessary. Here’s an example from my historical mystery, Deal with the Devil:

“Not as bad as the other.” Arnussen indicated the mush that had once been a young girl’s chest. “Not as much bruising on the face, either.”
“Still a lot of rage, though. How many times do you think he stabbed her? Twenty, thirty?”
“Something like that.”
Hackney forced himself to examine her nude body, the blood splatters on the headboard, the bruising and overkill, and implant all of it into his memory. The only thing he touched was her dark hair spilling over the pillow.

Through the imprecise nature of the detectives’ dialogue, the reader gets the impression of a brutal crime scene, without having to endure the details. Even though Deal isn’t specifically a cozy, the technique is the same.

Explore the emotions rather than the actions. In the example above, did you get the impression Sergeant Arnussen isn’t as affected by the crime scene as Detective Inspector Hackney? Well, that was my goal, at least. Arnussen’s not hard-hearted or unfeeling, by any means. But every time Hackney examines a murder victim, a little piece of his soul dies. By demonstrating his sadness, by inviting the reader to experience that emotion with him, I keep the focus on the characters rather than the crime scene.

With romances, writing “sweet” generally means keeping any sex scenes offstage. With mysteries, it’s the violence that requires discretion. Handled properly, even the grisliest murder can be turned into a cozy, by keeping the reader’s attention on the characters, the puzzle, and the emotions, rather than the ugly stuff. Such subtlety can keep the worst dead body sweet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Writing a mystery series: golden arcs

Writing a mystery series: golden arcs
by Meg Mims

What does it take to write a mystery series? An eccentric detective like Sherlock Holmes? A domestic cat like Sneaky Pie (Rita Mae Brown) or a quirky dog like Chet (Spencer Quinn)? Maybe focusing on an interesting job like a coffeehouse barista, or a tea shop owner, a haunted bookshop owner, a minister’s wife, a clutter expert, a miniature house maker, knitter or a cleaning woman?

Ask Sue Grafton about writing her way through the alphabet with her PI Kinsey Milhone series (also Carole Nelson Douglas in her Midnight Louie cat series), or Janet Evanovich’s Plum by the numbers. What’s the key? Keeping a reader’s loyalty, for one thing, despite lackluster plots – but one major trick is to create a “series arc” for the amateur or professional sleuth, the featured animal who assists the hero/heroine, or for the entire cast of characters.

Take Stephanie Plum. Sure, you remember her escapades with Joe Morelli and Ranger – but readers also keep returning to learn what’s new with Grandma Mazur, Lula and her poor, suffering parents. Take Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse series which takes Clare Cosi, long post-divorce, back into her ex’s arms and then out again, flirting with the cop and then deepening their relationship. Or take Coyle’s Haunted Bookshop series, which explores a ghostly link between owner Mrs. McClure and the dead-but-not-gone detective Jack Shield.

Let’s examine the “character” arc vs. a “story” arc vs. a “series” arc. In every book, a hero or heroine should undergo a change – either learning something about themselves (besides solving the mystery, of course) or resolving an issue, or making a decision over the course of the story. The “story” arc is basically the mystery (or any genre) plot – from inciting incident to developments to twists and turns to the black moment and climax/confrontation with villain and the resolution. The “series” arc expands beyond that.

If your amateur detective has a secret past, one way to extend a series is to drop hints about it over several books before uncovering that secret. The character may not even be aware of that secret – take Kinsey Milhone. Part of her basic character is her “loner” status, yet Grafton drops hints of Kinsey’s dead parents, the aunt who raised her and then drops a bomb – she does have family after all. Cousins who drag her into their lives, and force her (indirectly) to deal with the past.

Why? Subplots deepen a story as well as round out the hero or heroine. The series avoids plodding through “the usual suspects” and storyline to give the reader a more realistic picture of the character’s life. Read S. J. Rozan’s Lydia Chin and Bill Smith series of PI mysteries for a masterful series arc. Even these two characters keep secrets from each other, due to their complicated family relationships and cultural differences, despite being partners for years.

One of the strongest ways to build a series is to choose a specific location, a la “Cabot’s Cove” in the Murder She Wrote series (just as popular with readers as with television viewers). JoAnna Carl created “Warner Pier” based on a small town in western Michigan for her Chocolate shop mystery series and explores interplay between the town residents. Charlaine Harris introduces readers to “Shakespeare” in Arkansas while Carolyn Haines explores “Zinnia” in the Mississippi Delta area. The writers mine their own experiences of living in these areas to infuse the flavor and hook readers.

Writers who are willing to invest their time, energy and loyalty to a series might find themselves weary after several books. Think Arthur Conan Doyle, who killed off Holmes and then had to resurrect him after he “died” at Reichenbach Falls! But you can’t knock reader loyalty.

It might just carry a writer all the way to the bank.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writing a mystery series: the recurring character tease

Writing a mystery series: the recurring character tease
By Lindsay Downs

When our readers don’t have their noses buried in one of our books they might have their eyes glued to the TV. It doesn’t really matter what show they watching, most of the shows all have one thing in common. Repeating main characters.

NCIS, NCIS: Los Angles, CSI (all three cities), Rizzoli & Isles, Castle and Blue Bloods, to name just a few, all have the core actors. Isn’t that what brings the viewer back week after week? Following them week to week, watching them grow, develop?

So, why not give our readers a similar experience, the same main characters story after story. In my case - Emily and Dakota.

The whole idea is to get the reader to not only want the next book but to tell their friends, as many of us do with a TV show or movie we like. You can do this by constantly developing the lead characters.

Recently, I read the David Baldacci book Deliver Us from Evil. At the time, I didn’t realize this was the final book of a two part series. Unfortunately, for the author, not me, I learned enough about Shaw, the main character, so I didn’t need to buy the first book. Sure the information was scattered throughout the book but still, if some had been held back then a sequel would be interesting to read.

What I choose to do, and it might be wrong, is in short stories give the reader bits and pieces about my main character, Emily Dahill. In at least one case it was an experiment, as I was not sure how the reading public would accept a heroine and a collie for the heroes.

In my debut Army mystery, Emily Dahill, CID Part 1, the stories weren’t written in the order they appear in the book. The first, “A Body in the Snow,” was really the test story. Here I introduce the heroine and hero, and a periodic recurring villain a/k/a the brown-haired man. In this story I give you a little insight into her, even let you see a humorous side to her.

With “Right Place, Wrong Day” I showed a no-nonsense side of her plus my editor’s favorite scene of Dakota not misbehaving, not really acting as a dog but asserting his control over the situation, thereby giving a little insight into him.

With the third story, “Dog Gone Fishing,” I took a real gamble and told the story mostly from Dakota’s POV. I should point out this had my editor confused until she realized he was a main character. Hence, Emily and he are both on the cover.

Once I had the two main characters they still needed to meet, accomplished in “Final Mission.” I didn’t want her to wake up one day a CID special agent and I wanted my test audience to see the progress from MP to agent. This ended with her hooking up with Dakota.

As you can see, just like in TV shows, I continued to develop my characters, which is important. Don’t let them become stale. By keeping them growing and expanding you will keep your reader interested in them. And yes, even Dakota is growing and maturing.

The whole idea is to make the reader want to read more of and about them. Not just a rehash of old experiences and events.

One way to do that is to put them in difficult and or dangerous situations, as I did in “A Body in the Attic” with Emily. Make them act outside what you think the reader will expect.

Writing the series featuring these two characters allows me to carefully build them as a person would build a house, piece by piece. Each of the stories builds on others. In one story you might learn what color hair she has. Another, the length. Her eye color in a third. In “A Body in the Attic” the reader finally learns how tall she is.

This story starts out in the CID office where the reader meets the other members of her team, in name and technical skill. You learn a little about what the office looks like but I don’t bore the reader with extraneous data. As the series progress and one or more of the characters are in the office, then and only then will you get a better picture. Is this right or wrong? Truthfully, I’m not sure, but it’s the way I write, even if each of the stories was 65K or larger. I know some time I will have the characters back in the office and will give the reader more information.

In other Emily Dahill, CID stories I’ve had the opportunity to give you the reader an insight into her mindset. For example, in the YA, “Tears,” you get to see how she interacts with a bullied teenage girl.

All of this is carefully orchestrated. And that’s the advantage of writing a series especially when the stories range from 1K-23K.

However, not all characters are meant for a series and that’s fine. You have to choose what’s right for you, as I did with the Emily Dahill, CID series. To date, I’ve got something like fourteen short stories either finished or in some stage of being completed, along with story concepts for six full books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mystery genres: part two

Mystery genres: part two

In addition to mysteries, there are several other genres considered part of the crime fiction stable, each with its own format and reader expectations.

Thrillers are page-turners. If the classic mystery can be summed up as a whodunit, then thrillers are will-they-get-away-with-it stories. Usually the reader knows who committed the crime, as well as how and why; the thrill involves pitting the good guys against the criminals in a race against the clock, with a prize at the chase’s end. The prize can vary and possibilities include money, state secrets, military hardware, gold bullion, priceless artwork, and a person’s life or freedom. The broad category of thrillers is divided by subject matter and focus: medical (Robin Cook’s Coma), legal (just about anything by John Grisham), psychological (Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho), political (David Baldacci’s Absolute Power), espionage (“Bond. James Bond.”) and war and the military (Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare).

Techno-thrillers, a relatively new addition to crime fiction, were invented by Tom Clancy with his ground-breaking novel The Hunt for Red October. Here the focus is equally divided between the Soviet sailors’ attempt to defect, and the technical features of the new submarine they’re taking with them. This split focus, with its analysis of a technology’s inner workings, separates techno-thrillers from more traditional war and military thrillers, which may use the same technology but refrain from discussing it. A related and often overlapping genre, near-future speculative thrillers, creates the technology and projects it a few years or decades ahead, with the writer exploring how his creation can change the world. Note that, while Clancy created the technology of the Soviet submarine, he placed his story in the near past rather than the future. Also note that the “crime” in these categories of crime fiction are generally between political entities rather than individuals.

Suspense or adventure novels focus on what happens next, as the characters attempt to survive some disruption in their previously smooth and orderly world. These novels stretch the definition of “crime” yet again — a popular category, survival after an airline crash in the wilderness, may be caused by clearly criminal elements such as terrorism or hijacking, or by pilot error or a careless mechanic neglecting to fasten down a cargo container. No matter the cause, though, the characters must cope with the disaster that follows. War, espionage, and the military are common features in these novels (Alistair MacLean’s The Guns of Navarone and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels of the Royal Navy), as well as natural disasters (crimes by nature), such as Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm.

Caper stories tell the tale of a crime, from planning through execution and the subsequent aftermath, most commonly from the perspective of the perpetrators. The true caper involves a high-stakes game, with a superbly valuable prize protected by supposedly impenetrable security, and a team of experts determined to take it down. Common but not universal features include a charismatic team leader who organizes the heist, in-depth planning and practice sessions that are often organized by numbers or rhymes, and something going horribly or comically wrong at the penultimate moment. Capers can be funny (Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder series) or serious (Ocean’s Eleven, Kelly’s Heroes), featuring professional criminals (John Godey’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) or private citizens with a grudge against a corporation or political entity (Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang). They require great imagination and involve a tremendous amount of work, including in-depth plotting, from the author, but are among the most popular of all crime fiction genres.

Romantic suspense adds a kiss and some personal chemistry to the crime fiction blend. Any category of crime fiction — mystery, espionage, thriller, war, caper, even techno-thriller — can be turned into romantic suspense if the hero and heroine are making eyes at each other. They may team up to more efficiently fight criminals, the political process run amok, a corporation or organization, to survive a war or natural disaster, or to steal a priceless Rembrandt. Less commonly, they may be on opposite sides of the fence, with one a criminal and the other a detective, and one of them must change sides in the name of love. Because this is a split genre, the two plotlines, the romance and the crime fiction, must roughly balance each other in intensity and quantity. If the suspense plotline carries more weight, the ending can be questionable, but if the romance plotline is more important, then happily-ever-after must prevail.

Finally, crossovers spread the elements of crime fiction into other genres, most recently including science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror. A police procedural may be set in an urban world of angels, a team of vampires may plot a caper to rob a blood bank, a time-traveling amateur detective may find herself up against a werewolf Jack the Ripper. In crossovers, anything and everything can happen, but the crime still must be solved.

While some mystery writers deplore these obviously speculative concoctions, others remember that in the 1920s, the ultra-realistic police procedural originated as a backlash against the unrealistic cozy. It’s possible these spec fic crossovers are another example of new genres breaking free, giving rise to new story opportunities for writers — and lots of new fun for readers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mystery genres: part one

Mystery genres: part one
by Gunnar

“What’s in a name?” Juliet asked the velvet night. A rose, after all, would delight us with its scent no matter what we called it.

But in the crime fiction genres, the name tells us a lot about what we’ll find between those covers. Mysteries, for example, range from delightful cozies to hard-boiled police procedurals — but a thriller is something else entirely and romantic suspense something else again. And capers aren’t only found in the woods, you know. So for your delectation, here’s a brief discussion of the categories that are generally lumped together under the heading of crime fiction.

Mystery is the original and classic of these genres, invented by Edgar Allan Poe with his 1841 short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” These are detective stories, where a crime’s been committed and someone must figure out whodunit so that justice may be served, and the reader’s fun lies in pitting wits against the book’s main characters, the detective and the villain. Arthur Conan Doyle made these stories popular in Victorian times with his celebrated consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, and a slew of brainy writers made them the most fashionable books to read in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. In the United Kingdom, everyone was reading Agatha Christie (first published in 1920) and Dorothy L. Sayers (1923). In the U.S. Ellery Queen brazenly told his readers when they should have solved the mystery, if they’d been paying proper attention. (This “Challenge to the Reader,” introduced in 1929, was a page near the end of the novel where the author stated that only one solution was now possible.)

But even as these writers perfected the classic mystery tale, the genre began to shatter. These brilliant stories, so perplexing and challenging, were also cerebral and unrealistic. Murders happened, but in the most bizarre of manners and always (always!) offstage, with no visual violence to mar the serenity of the tale. They happened in locked rooms, where no one entered or left, in theater companies, in art galleries — in civilized places rather than dark alleys. Amateurs drawing on their life’s experiences out-detected police professionals, usually in English country villages or Manhattan parlors. And would a murderer really hang around the scene of the crime long enough to strip the victim and replace all his clothing the wrong way around? (The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen, 1934. All the furniture in the room was reversed, too.)

Dashiell Hammett didn’t think so, and he was a Pinkerton operative so he should know something about this. In 1923 he began writing a different type of detective story, one with a focus on police stations, private detectives, forensics, weaponry, and the law. He was followed by other writers who felt the same: Earle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane. Their stories were dark, violent, often stark commentaries on modern city life, and distinctly American. Although these stories fascinated a different audience, they became just as popular as their gentler counterparts.

Today these two different categories of mysteries form the two ends of a genre spectrum. On one end is the so-called cozy, with an amateur detective and the violence covered by a lace tablecloth; on the other end is the hard-boiled police procedural, with autopsies on cold metal slabs. Most modern mystery novels fall somewhere between these bookends, with varying degrees of realism, police involvement, and on-screen violence. Cozies tend to focus on the puzzle, with the story’s climax coinciding with the revelation of whodunit, while police procedurals may reveal the criminal’s name earlier and instead focus on the take-down and evidence collection. Female readers tend to lean toward the cozy end of the spectrum, male readers toward the hard-boiled end, but like all other generalizations, this one shouldn’t be considered absolute.

"To Dr. Lee McClain of Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Program, for insisting I learn all this no matter how much I whinged."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Contemporary Romance With Sweet Spice

Astraea Press has multiple subgenres of romance but also mystery, ya and middle grade. But one thing every book has is an author who creates with a voice signature to themselves. Delaney Diamond offers up her latest release of sweet with a spicy female lead and conflict that keeps the book moving. Check out Worth Waiting For

Historical Fiction Dominates

Historical Fiction is reported to be dominating e-readers and grocery store shelves. Well until the shelves become empty. Astraea Press has it's own Historical Section. And we are chomping at the bit to announce Felicia Rogers There Your Heart Will Be Also. Check  it out and when your hooked hit the buy link at the bottom. You won't be sorry.

Halloween YA Releases
Halloween isn't just for the kiddies it's for the parents and the teens too. Well here at Astraea Press we are busting with excitement with our YA Halloween Releases....Check em out...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Expert Advice on How To Right a Proper Fight Scene

What makes a fight scene engaging and exciting? This is something we writers often struggle with. As a martial artist of 13 years, I'm often asked how to write a leaner, meaner fight scene. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Genevieve Iseult Eldredge. I edit for Astraea Press under the pseudonym Aribeth Kingsleigh. I hold a black belt in traditional Chinese-American Goju-Ryu karate and weapons mastery. I have also studied kenpo, small circle jiu jitsu, judo, and kung-fu. But enough about me. Onward to the fray!
While there are many different techniques for writing a better fight scene, I’ve found that writers seem to face some common challenges. Based on what I’ve seen and experienced as a writer and editor, here are my Top 10 Do's & Don't's for building a better fight scene.

10. Don't: Use an Ace when a Two will do.     
Blasting the bad guy with a Howitzer when he doesn’t need to be blasted with a Howitzer is overkill. Overkill is risky because it can make your hero look like a bully. Instead, make the punishment fit the crime, and you'll fulfill the reader's sense of "rightness."

9. Don't: Be afraid to hurt your characters.
That scratch the epic hero sports after the end battle? You know the one—that tiny bit of blood that serves to enhance the hero’s good looks rather than prove he had to actually fight to win. Well, it’s not as cool as it looks. While there will be times when the fight is effortless for your hero, it’s important to balance that with struggle. Readers like heroes that have to earn their victories. Ask yourself: how heroic is it if it's easy?

8. Don’t: Restrict your characters’ powers.
Don’t give your hero a power (flight, time travel, invisibility, super strength, smoldering eyes) only to take it away every time it might become useful. Instead, let your hero use the power successfully at least once, both to show the reader how it works and to display your hero’s quality. Later, instead of restricting the power, you can make its use have dire consequences—your time-traveler might end up in Jurassic Park instead of Central Park.

7. Do: Be careful in making your character an expert.       
Make sure she can pass as an expert. If your protagonist is a martial artist, make sure you know enough about the martial arts to make your fight scene believable. Interview an expert, go to a dojo and ask questions—people love to talk about their interests—but don't ever fake it. Readers are smart and savvy. The second your expert does something novice, it will destroy the credibility of your fight scene, your hero, your book, you. Reader trust is delicate. Treat it with care.

6. Do: Balance your forces.   
And not just because I suggest it, but because Dwight Swain, author of Techniques of the Selling Writer suggests it.  Your hero is only as strong, smart, and savvy as your villain. If your villain is weak, then having your hero defeat her isn’t very heroic.

5. Do: Keep your level of reality consistent.
 If your fight scene is hyper-realistic, then keep in mind people can take a lot less punishment than Hollywood would have us believe. Any fight with a weapon will be over quickly. Any blow to the head can result in a concussion that can take weeks or even months to recover from. Likewise, if your fight scene is stylistic, keep it stylistic. Characters like James Bond and Neo and Trinity—heroes in epic-style fight sequences—can take far more punishment than normal people. Consistency is key.

4. Do: Remember, magic trumps everything.    
Magic, as long as it is consistent, is a powerful “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Physics, reality, science—it all takes a backseat to magic. Gandalf shouts, “You shall not pass!” and the Balrog falls. No one asks why because it's maaaaagic! But, take care. Magic must have rules and consistency. No one likes a hero who can do everything or to whom things come easily. Keep in mind ways to limit these powerful forces. Even Harry Potter needs his wand to cast spells, and he often struggled with his magic.

3. Don't: fake the facts
Do your research. Know that your heroine’s katana is meant to slice not to hack, and that the .44 Magnum has too much recoil and muzzle blast that it’s generally not used for law enforcement. Does that mean that your hotshot cop protagonist can’t carry a .44 Magnum? Nope. What it means is that you should address that his carrying the Magnum is unique—something that can aid you in the fight scene and character development. Win! The key is not to fake it. Always, always, preserve the readers’ trust in you.

2. Don't: Be afraid to experience.
When in doubt, act it out. If your hero’s opponent is taller, get someone who is taller, and walk through the fight scene slowly and safely. Go to museums, pick up swords and try on armor. Get a feel for what it’s like to swing a long sword, a claymore, a polearm. There’s a big difference. Writing an epic battle? Try LARPing. Throw yourself into the fray to see what it’s like. What town doesn’t have a rod-and-gun club? Interview weapon aficionados. People love to talk about their hobbies and interests. Use that as a resource! The best way to understand a weapon is to seek out an expert who can instruct you in its safe usage.

1. Do: Use short sentences and short paragraphs
Describe only what is essential. I can tell you from experience that in the thick of a fight, you don't have time to notice that "his eyes were blue, the color of wood smoke and he had a salt-and pepper beard lightly dusted with--" Um, no. Unless you’re telescoping time in your scene, you don’t really notice fine details when you’re under attack. In addition, long paragraphs signify to the reader that more time is taking place—a fact that can slow your fight scene down to a crawl. Longer paragraphs take longer to read and thus, they tend to leech tension.  Short sentences increase tension, and tension is of the utmost importance in a fight scene. No reader will put the book down in the middle of a tense fight scene where the hero’s life hangs in the balance. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Keeping the reader reading.

So, that's it, folks—10 Do's and Don't's of a Writing a Better Fight Scene. 
Feel free to question and comment here or follow me on FaceBook or Twitter (@girlyengine).

And a “thank you very muchness!” to Astraea Press for having me. Check out the newest AP releases at

Check out these great Astraea Press titles with complex characters, original plots, and you guessed it fight scenes. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dragons and Wizards Make Their Mark In YA

Astraea Press is thoroughly proud announce our latest YA release by S.G. Rogers. The Last Great Wizard of Yden. Check out this amazing cover and blurb. The click the title, purchase and download this promising new hit.

After his father is kidnapped, sixteen-year-old Jon stumbles across a closely guarded family secret--one that will challenge everything he has ever believed about his father and himself.  A magical ring his father leaves behind unlocks a portal to another dimension, but in using it, Jon unwittingly unchains the forces of evil.  A crisis develops when a malevolent wizard transports to Earth to kidnap one of Jon’s friends.  With the help of some unlikely schoolmates, and a warrior princess from Yden, Jon embarks on a dangerous quest to free his friend and his father from the most vicious wizard the magical world has ever known.  In the end, Jon will be forced to fight for his life as he attempts to rescue the last great wizard of Yden.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Sadie Therapy, An Author's Inspiration

Sweet Sadie Therapy
By Kay Springsteen

Sadie is a 3-foot tall, 28-pound bundle of pure delightful energy. She’s pretty typical for a little girl just over 2 years old. But she has one thing that sets her apart from most of her peers. She shouldn’t be here. In the autumn of 2008, my son and daughter-in-law were in a horrible car accident, when Jared lost control of their car and went over a mountain embankment. They became airborne and came to a stop only when their car struck a boulder the size of a small truck.

The passenger side of the car took the brunt of the impact and before they got out, the car caught on fire. Faced with the fear of fire, Jared had no choice but to pull his wife from the wreckage himself. By the time help arrived, the fire was out. Nicole was taken to the hospital via helicopter and Jared followed by ambulance.

My daughter-in-law told the hospital staff that pregnancy was always a possibility but a pregnancy test was negative. Therefore, Nicole was taken for x-rays and an MRI. With many broken bones and some internal injuries, Nicole required multiple surgeries to repair the bones in her right arm and wrist. She was also placed into a splint for a broken ankle. Aside from experiencing the impact itself, Nicole was exposed to anti-inflammatory meds, pain meds, anesthesia for the surgeries, and radiology procedures.

Six weeks later, we found out Nicole was pregnant—had been pregnant through the entire ordeal of the crash and her recovery. Doctors warned us that the odds of the pregnancy resulting in a full term healthy baby were slim. And yet, the pregnancy continued. My daughter-in-law took care of herself and saw the doctor faithfully, and still we were warned that there could be problems with the baby after she—we found out we would have a girl in December—was born.

But on May 6, 2009, Sadie Katherine Ann Tate entered the world at a petite 5 pounds 8 ounces, and went home soon after. She is now a livewire who enjoys spending time with the people she loves, loves to read with Mamaa’ (that would be me) and loves to play and run like any other 2-year-old. I think all children are sweet toppings to the sundaes of our lives, but having a baby in my life who beat a lot of odds to get here makes her the chocolate sprinkles on top of the whipped cream. Whenever I feel a little blue, I have only to spend an afternoon with my granddaughter. A little Sadie Therapy goes a long, long way.

Releasing today Heartsent, features Sadie on the cover, along with my daughter, Sadie’s Aunt Mary. I suppose when she’s a teenager and realizes we used her as the cover model for a baby boy, she might have something to say…then again, she does like fixing the car with Daddy.

With her strict no-dating-within-the-department rule, Firefighter Lina Standish has a nickname in the Salem Hills Fire Department: Lina “Standoffish”. But Firefighter Kevin Daly has had his eye on Standoffish ever since a locker room incident nearly a year earlier, and now he plans to break all her rules. With the help of his niece and a hot-air balloon, he gets Lina’s attention and she agrees to “hang out” with Kevin as friends off duty, to take it slow and see where things go between them. Then Lina's life is turned upside down by a surprise miracle who doesn't even have a name. Kevin’s ready to step up, but is Lina?

Friday, October 7, 2011


High school has never been effortless for social misfit Juice Zander and her sophomore year is proving to be no exception.  Having a new boy in homeroom actually pay attention to her might be a start to all that changing.  But there are some big issues brewing.  That fact that Shane Elliot has revealed himself to be a ghost isn’t her biggest problem.  Neither is the fact that he wants her to help him find a “host body” so he can be a real teenager again.  It’s not even that when she does find a possible donor for her supercute ghost, it’s another so-not-ugly guy who for some unprecedented reason likes her.  No, her real problem is that after years of platonic friendship, she discovers one of her best buddies has feelings for her, and she’s afraid those feelings might be mutual.
 Enlisting the help of her tight group of best friends, Juice sets out to 1) find the perfect host for her ghost, 2) figure out her surprising new relationship with her longtime friend and 3) maybe discover she’s not such a social misfit after all.

The Ugly Duckling Debutante

Since childhood Sara has lived with the reality of being ugly. Something her awful family never ceased to remind her. After her sisters run off to Gretna Green, she's left with one choice—go to London and take their place for a Season. It's up to her to marry well and save her family from financial ruin.
A distant aunt decides it’s in her best interest to sponsor Sara for the season and help her snag a husband by any means possible.
Nicholas Devons, Earl of Renwick, is a retired rake and consequently bored with life. He’s given up beautiful women and carnal pleasures. Desperation makes him decide to give his massive fortune away and marry the first country girl he sees.
Lucky for Sara she's that girl. Unlucky for Nicholas, he's to be her new tutor in the ways of the tonTwo waltzes, one masquerade, a violent carriage ride, and two duckless ponds later.... and all that's left is a fun twist on one of the oldest stories ever told.

Jamais Vu

A gunshot echoes thrusting Darby Lambert into a near death experience.  Inside the confines of an ambulance, she meets “the man in white light”.  He takes away the guilt, but makes her question everything. “You will see them,”  he whispers, as he catapults her back into the real world where she is plagued with dreams of demons, nurses, and rock stars. 
Why has He sent her back? Does she have the courage to rectify her sins? Given the chance, could you erase it all?

Halloween Release: The Ghost of Herbert Grezley


If you venture into a cemetery late Halloween night, better watch out for bumps in the night and Herbert Grezley or anything else lurking in the shadows of the tomb stones.

For Petes Sake


Simone has fallen in love, deeply and irretrievably, but not with a boy. The centre of her life is a pup she has rescued from death row. Love has filled her life with problems. She has to talk her parents into letting her keep him. She has made rash promises on her heart, her life and her honor, anything to keep her pup.

Pups need to be fed. Pups dig holes, kill chooks, exercise their teeth on whatever is breakable, and howl all night because they are lonely. Simone puts up her age to get a job paying enough to support him. There are more problems keeping her new job secret from her parents and fighting with her best friend and being impressed by a romantic boyfriend who has not yet discovered she is fourteen to his nineteen years.
When disaster strikes, she finds that her best friend’s advice to ‘tell the truth and shame the devil’ to her parents actually works. And the solid down to earth relationship with her gang of supportive friends is even more appreciated.

The Hidden Door


High schooler Daphne doesn't have any plans for Halloween night until her friend Riva calls, begging her to join their group of friends on a hunt for an answer to a local legend. Daphne hesitates when she learns that her ex-best friend Justin will be there. He is the boy who broke her heart. Still the pull of her lifelong obsession with the mystery on the local university's campus makes her agree to go for the evening.

 Justin has been obsessed with the legend of the Hidden Door his entire life.  The legend involves a headless gargoyle, a curse, and a promise of eternal luck for those who break the curse. To break the curse one must find the gargoyle's head. No one knows where the head has been hidden, but that hasn't stopped Justin from searching most of his life.

 To complicate matters someone has been terrorizing the town and the campus community, masquerading as a vampire. While on their search Daphne and Justin must confront their feelings for one another, and try to keep one another safe as they try to solve the mystery and break the curse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Blog Hop Winners Are....

  1. First Place Winner, Ronda aka Queen Tutt, will receive their choice of 6 Astraea Press eBooks, a shout out on our social media, in addition to a critique of the first three chapters of a manuscript
  2. Second Place Winner,Molly, will receive their choice of 4 Astraea Press eBooks.
  3. Third Place Winner,Tina, will receive their choice of 2 Astraea Press eBooks
All winners have been notified and have 72hours to respond. If not others will be chosen. 

Thanks so much to all our new followers and we hope you love our novels and content on the blog and social media accounts.

New Release Historical Fairy Tale

Astraea Press proudly release The Ugly Duckling Debutante available now where all eBooks are sold.


Eden Bridgeman

"Sara is now the only hope for a good marriage in a family that has abused her since childhood. Against her wishes she's sent to London with a Aunt and since she is so "wicked" looking the plan is to put her into a compromising situation to force some poor titled gentleman to marry her. If not for a lifetime of humiliation and her acceptance of her outward appearance, she would have died of humiliation. But things aren't always what they seem. Enter in Lord Nicholas, notorious seducer and rake, who has sworn off women in favor of celebicy and religion. His dark secrets keep him from opening his heart to anyone, especially a woman. Sara, his aunts protege` threatens everything he's come to believe in, especially his believe he's incapable of love. But when he puts himself in a compromising situation with Sara forcing them to marry, his secret comes out of hiding, and I promise you, the twists this book take had me standing up with my hand over my mouth in shock. Honestly. I read a lot and I didn't see this coming, at all. Not only is it a great romance, with some great sexual tension, but it has a thread of redemption and hope that lacks in most historical romances. This is a book you don't want to miss. But a warning, don't start it till you can finish, it's addictive" 

 Since childhood Sara has lived with the reality of being ugly. Something her awful family never ceased to remind her. After her sisters run off to Gretna Green, she's left with one choice—go to London and take their place for a Season. It's up to her to marry well and save her family from financial ruin.
A distant aunt decides it’s in her best interest to sponsor Sara for the season and help her snag a husband by any means possible.
Nicholas Devons, Earl of Renwick, is a retired rake and consequently bored with life. He’s given up beautiful women and carnal pleasures. Desperation makes him decide to give his massive fortune away and marry the first country girl he sees.
Lucky for Sara she's that girl. Unlucky for Nicholas, he's to be her new tutor in the ways of the tonTwo waltzes, one masquerade, a violent carriage ride, and two duckless ponds later.... and all that's left is a fun twist on one of the oldest stories ever told.

Monday, September 26, 2011

And so this round ends....

And so the Autumn blog hop has ended. While we are sad we are super excited to have so many new Apeeps in our arsenal. We LOVE our readers. Now it's time for prizes. Winners will be announced Wednesday on the blog September 28th, 2011. Stay tuned for those winners and for more contests.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Samantha Combs Explodes

Samantha Combs does it again with her next YA novel Ghostly. Release for merely hours and the five star reviews are pouring in. Astraea Press is proud to release Ghostly.


Reviews by Anne

" Ok y'all I just got finished reading Ghostly by Samantha Combs and I still stand by what I said months ago, I will own all of her books. This story is so sweet and heart warming, it brought tears to my eyes. Samantha has done a fabulous job of telling a story of friendship, love, devotion, and acceptance. Juice Zander and her friends have quite the eclectic group they are the "misfits" of their high school but clearly the only ones with open minds and large hearts. I love how the characters keep their composure even when faced with a paranormal twist, how the group of friends stood by one another no matter what was going on and how in the face of a blossoming romance friendship was still more important than being selfish. I enjoyed how this story told of coming of age, of realizing who you are even when your confused and that following your heart is always whats best for you and be honest. Honesty may hurt but it lets people know they can trust you no matter what. The characters are unique and diverse but get along none the less, they have good morals and strong wills and that makes this book perfect for teens and adults alike. Samantha did a famous job on this book and the end will bring a tear to your eye. 5 out of 5 stars for Ghostly by Samantha Combs."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Between The Pages Blog Hop Tour: Astraea Press Publishing House

We are so very excited to be participating in the Fall Between the Pages Blog Hop Tour. Before we get to the post and prizes we have to go over the rules first.

Tour Rules
1) HAVE FUN!!!


3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, Sept 19, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, Sept 26, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted Sept 27! ***




***Hosts have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules***

Now for the fun part..Fall and Books.

Autumn is an amazing time of year. Halloween, cooler weather, apples, pumpkins, and for your paranormal lovers the releases seem to kick out more in that genre this time of year. But all and all whenever we think about autumn at Astraea Press we think about books. Maybe it's back to school, maybe it's cooler nights, and shorter days that open up to reading by a fireplace or with a cup of cider. All we know is we love it. And what better way to celebrate that love than be giving away some of our amazing reading material.  

Before we can get to the prizes we have to go over the requirements. They aren't hard at all. 

  1. First follow our blog and leave a comment or ask a question on this post. Make sure to leave your email so we know how to contact you if you win. 
  2. Second go to our Facebook page here and like us and leave a comment letting us know.
  3. Third go to our Twitter page here and follow us. 
  4. Fourth Share the hop with your friends.
Time for Prizes 

  1. First Place Winner will receive their choice of 6 Astraea Press eBooks, a shout out on our social media, in addition to a critique of the first three chapters of a manuscript
  2. Second Place Winner will receive their choice of 4 Astraea Press eBooks.
  3. Third Place Winner will receive their choice of 2 Astraea Press eBooks. 
Here are just a few of our titles to check out. Go here to get a head start of picking out your favorite books. 

A gunshot echoes thrusting Darby Lambert into a near death experience.  Inside the confines of an ambulance, she meets “the man in white light”.  He takes away the guilt, but makes her question everything. “You will see them,”  he whispers, as he catapults her back into the real world where she is plagued with dreams of demons, nurses, and rock stars. 
Why has He sent her back? Does she have the courage to rectify her sins? Given the chance, could you erase it all?
Fired with a determination to find the reason why the Moon affects his planet so badly, Berannes gains the magical skills to transport himself there. On misty, sparsely-populated Lume he discovers the sorcerer Tironsar, bent on completing his mysterious Lodestone, which may give him supreme domination over many worlds; and the lovely princess Falmorwy of the Far Galaxy, who is somehow involved in the sorcerer’s plan.
 Berannes finds his dreams of becoming a hero don’t always turn out the right way. The two “star-horses” may be allies, but they carelessly order him around; and dwarfish Dron and Lalmi also have a different agenda for him. Even his growing love for the princess brings him inner torment, as she insists on returning to the perils of the sorcerer’s Citadel on a quest for further information. And always he is conscious of the fact that time is running out—fast!
Michael Drake, a part-time private investigator and part-time jazz club owner, starts the day as he has many others, doing a favor for a friend. In doing so, he falls right into the middle of a torrid affair. As Michael tries to decide whether or not to tell his friend of his wife's indiscretion, she is murdered. Through no fault of his own, Michael is entangled in a murder plot that reaches back to his days in college. The problem lies in the fact that, in clearing himself, he may implicate the friend that he intended to help. That is only the beginning when murder and passion collide in a small south Louisiana town. When the true killer is revealed, Drake must deal with the consequences and the lives he helped destroy.

Don't Forget to go back Here and hit the other blog hops. Happy Hopping.