Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Spark of Inspiration

The Spark of Inspiration
by Karissa Laurel, author of Midnight Burning

Although I can’t say I thought a lot about it at the time I started writing, it seems natural, now, that Midnight Burning should be an Urban Fantasy. Urban Fantasy is fantasy set in the real world, usually in the modern era. I particularly like the genre’s contrast of magic or paranormal versus technology and modern weaponry, and magical or ancient beings versus modern people. At its foundation, Midnight Burning tries to answer those questions of contrasts: What would ancient beings from Norse mythology be like in the modern world, today?

Let me back up a little, because that’s not really where Midnight Burning started. I guess it really started years ago when I was researching for another book (a book that will never come out of the trunk I’ve locked it in). On a fluke that research lead me to Norse mythology and the legendary event called Ragnarok: an apocalyptic battle that killed off most of the Norse pantheon, including Odin and Thor, who are arguably the most famous Norse gods.

Fast forward a few years and Thor started getting popular again as the Marvel movies took off. I remember watching Thor’s movie (I pretty much love all Marvel movies) and thinking: Hey! Thor’s supposed to be dead. Why do people keep bringing him back to life as if Ragnarok never happened? I’m sure that only proves what a humongous dork I am. As if anyone else in the theater was the least bit concerned about the movie’s historical/mythological accuracy in the face of Chris Hemsworth’s incredible, um… talent.

But that was the birth of the idea, really. If Ragnarok did happen, then were there survivors (yes), and what would they be doing now (keeping a low profile, obviously)? The great part about the survivors of Ragnarok was that they were lesser known and not as clearly defined in the legends, which left me a lot of flexibility to mold them into who I wanted them to be. After that, I struggled with how I could bring more female characters into the project. Unfortunately, Ragnarok also cancelled out most of the goddesses and female deities other than Hel, or Hela, ruler of the underworld. According to legend, she survived the annihilation, for which I’m forever grateful, because she makes an excellent antagonist.

From the start I wanted a strong female protagonist. And I liked the idea of including a solid sibling element (call it the wish fulfillment of an only child author). So, when I investigated the myths looking for sibling lore, I found Sol and Mani and their tragic story, and I knew I had the last piece of my puzzle. Throw in a dash of reincarnation, and a writer’s power to create (and destroy) as she pleases, and Midnight Burning was born.


Solina  Mundy  lives  a  quiet  life,  running  the  family  bakery  in  her  small  North  Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Drivento learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.



Karissa Laurel always dabbled in writing, but she also wanted to be a chef when she grew up. So she did. After years of working nights, weekends, and holidays, she burnt out and said, “Now what do I do?” She tried a bunch of other things, the most steady of those being a paralegal for state government, but nothing makes her as happy as writing. She has published several short stories and reads “slush” for a couple of short-story markets.

Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for speculative fiction. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you’ll find her on the slopes.

Karissa also paints and draws and harbors a grand delusion that she might finish a graphic novel someday.

Follow Karissa Online:

Twitter: @karissalaurel

Monday, July 27, 2015

Which character from the Jane Colt trilogy are you?

Today, over on Across the Board, I blogged about tips for getting to know your characters. One of these involved psycho-analyzing them. And because I never give out tips that I haven't tried myself, I made a Myers-Briggs personality chart for the characters in the Jane Colt trilogy.

To find out which character you are, take this test to find out which Myers-Briggs personality type you are, then look at the chart below (or click here for a larger version). Character descriptions are below the image. I always get INFJ when I do these things, so that makes me Jim X (the retired corporate exec... more proof that I am old). What about you?

Which one are you?

ISTJ - Commander Jihan Vega
Appears in Artificial Absolutes (Jane Colt #1)
Commander Vega is at the helm of a powerful Megatooth warship called the Granite Flame. A stern believer in upholding the law with a no-nonsense demeanor, she abhors waste and inefficiency. However, there is nothing she hates more than collateral damage, and she's been known to bend the rules if the law comes into conflict with her own moral code.

ISFJ - Ines Valentin
Appears in Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2) and Virtual Shadows (Jane Colt #3)
Usually identified only as "the woman with the silver armbands" or some variation of that, Ines keeps her true name and identity a closely guarded secret. She is a member of Tenebrarum, an order of mercenaries with a code of honor. Though she's highly skilled and lethal, Ines only uses her talents to take down the wicked.

INFJ - Jim X. Thiel (and me!)
Appears in Artificial Absolutes (Jane Colt #1) and Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2)
Once the owner of the galaxy's biggest tech conglomerate, Jim X has mellowed out in his older years. No longer ruthlessly ambitious, he often regrets having spent most of his life in pursuit of a shallow definition of success. He now greets the world with an open mind and does his best to understand others.

INTJ - Dr. Revelin Kron
Appears in Artificial Absolutes (Jane Colt #1)
An ambitious genius, Kron uses his considerable programming talents to serve a powerful tech corporation. Since his mind works too quickly for most to keep up with, he constantly seeks new challenges with little thought given to the cost or consequences. He oversees many of the company's programming operations in his role as an executive, and his successes have made him rather arrogant.

ISTP - Riley Winklepleck (Corsair)
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
Riley, who goes by "Corsair" online, considers himself one of the best programmers in the galaxy, if not the best. However, he doesn't trust establishments or governments and uses his hacking talents to push his social justice ideals. Intensely loyal to his friends, Riley loves swooping in to save the day with his super skills.

ISFP - Adam Palmer
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
Mild-mannered and somewhat shy, Adam's only ambition in life is to help others. He spends his days studying the peaceful tenets of the Via religion, seeking enlightenment and hoping to use what he learns to spread the Absolute's wisdom. Though he'll stand up for what he believes in, he dislikes conflict and would never force his values or ideas upon others.

INFP - Devin Colt
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
Devin once dreamed of fighting for the oppressed, but the dangers he faced in his teenage and university years left him too tormented by his mistakes to pursue his causes in his twenties. Instead, he opted to follow his father's footsteps in the corporate world, hoping the safe route would keep the past from coming back to haunt him. But he remains an idealist at heart and won't hesitate to take action when needed.

INTP - The Seer
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
The Seer seeks rational explanations to everything. He is an enigmatic figure online who takes the world literally and often appears to be as analytical as the computers he hacks. Though social interaction makes him uncomfortable, he values human life. He abandoned his life as a corporate programmer in exchange for freedom and independence, and he makes a living as a junk dealer.

ESTP - Agent Elon Adesina
Appears in Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2) and Virtual Shadows (Jane Colt #3)
Agent Adesina is something of a rogue within the Intelligence and Security Agency of the Republic of Kydera, but her willingness to flout the rules garners results. She cares deeply about her missions and teammates, and she has no patience for bureaucratic red tape. At the end of the day, she's the one who gets things done.

ESFP - Jane Colt
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
Jane dreams of becoming a famous composer, but her insecurities led her to join her father's company after university instead of pursuing music. But when she finds herself in trouble, she'll face her fears and do whatever it takes to protect those she cares about. Impulsive and brazen, she often finds herself acting before she thinks.

ENFP - Captain Kelvin "Kel" Proteus
Appears in Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2)
Kel is the captain of one of the few independent transports left; most others have been edged out or absorbed by large corporations. Though he knows he's something of a fool, he nevertheless holds on to his independence in the face of hardship and takes pride in his scrappy operation.

ENTP - Eaglewing
Appears in Artificial Absolutes (Jane Colt #1) and Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2)
Eaglewing uses his smarts to get up to no good. He hires out his hacking skills to whoever will pay, and he has no qualms about breaking the law. He also enjoys using his coding talents to troll the Net for kicks - and show off to pretty girls.

ESTJ - Marcus Streger
Appears in Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2)
Incredibly adept at programming - and most things he put his mind to - Marcus started his own online company at a young age and was eventually able to compete with the big corporations. However, his lack of success in his personal life left him bitter at the universe. Focused and hard-working, he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants.

ESFJ - Sarah DeHaven
Appears in all three Jane Colt novels
Renowned for her delicate beauty, Sarah has the adoration of fans across the galaxy. Nevertheless, she seeks approval from everyone around her and does her best to be liked by each person she meets. She genuinely loves music and hopes to make the universe a better place, both through art and through charity.

ENFJ - Mekaisto "Mek" Juric
Appears in Synthetic Illusions (Jane Colt #2) and Virtual Shadows (Jane Colt #3)
Mek was once a deadly mercenary, but, having retired some years ago, now spends his day managing a bar frequented by mercs and those seeking to hire them. Perceptive and insightful, Mek is intensely curious about the people who pass through his establishment and isn't above nosing into their business. However, he knows better than to interfere once his curiosity is satisfied.

ENTJ - Queen Madara Roxas (The Tempest Queen)
Appears in Virtual Shadows (Jane Colt #3)
A ruthless monarch, Madara has made "the Tempest Queen" one of the most feared names on the Fringe. She uses her position of power to weave complex, long-term plans, patiently biding her time until the right moment to strike.

Friday, July 24, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Game On (Lewis Creek, #2) / Michelle Smith

Cover reveal for Game On, sequel to Michelle Smith's amazing sporty YA contemp, Play On! Pretty awesome, don't you think?

And here are the two covers side by side... Gotta love that font!



Title: Game On (Lewis Creek #2)
Author: Michelle Smith
Release Date: January 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Synopsis: Eric Perry is Lewis Creek's resident bad boy. When he’s named the new starting pitcher in a town that thinks baseball is everything and he is nothing but trouble, Eric knows he has to clean up his act. Lay low, his coach tells him—at least long enough to actually pitch a game. But when a fight with his teammate lands him in jail yet again, his season may be over before it starts…until his next door neighbor, Bri, comes to the rescue. Making a deal with Eric's coach, she offers him one final chance at redemption: community service.

Bri Johnson hadn’t talked to Eric in months. Her boyfriend Matt, Eric’s teammate and the school’s golden boy, didn’t like her to be around Eric. Matt didn’t like a lot of things Bri did or said or wore, which is why she ends it with him the same night he and Eric get into a fight—a fight over her. That night is the reason Bri offers to take Eric with her to the community center each week, so he can keep his spot on the team. But spending time with Eric only makes her life worse, as scandalous rumors start flying and Matt refuses to let her move on. 

While Eric and Bri work closely together at the center, old stories of stargazing, first kisses, and a time when they were friends start to re-connect them. As they open up their secrets and their hearts to each other, they start to see that they are more than what other people think they are—and even more than what they think about themselves.

Meanwhile, check out the first Lewis Creek novel, Play On


Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Carolina, where she developed a healthy appreciation for college football, sweet tea, front porches, and a well-placed “y’all.” She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and fully believes that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

Michelle lives near the Carolina coast with her family.