25 March 2014

The Shifters are Back! Dannika Dark releases Six Months

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.
~ Anaïs Nin

Beginning in January and continuing throughout the year, I’m participating in the One Page a Day writing challenge. Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014.  I may need therapy by December.  Oh wait…

he second I saw the man Trevor was salivating over step onto the curb and adjust his mirrored shades, it triggered a memory. As did his spectacular body beneath his tight, long-sleeved shirt—nary an inch of skin showing. Not to mention his chiseled face that had a light dusting of whiskers around the chin—a face I’d thought I’d never see again.

Only now, fully dressed, he gave off more of a paramilitary vibe. Maybe I’d forgotten the scary aspects about him, but his looks still lingered in my mind all these months later.

“I think I know him,” I said under my breath.

Four months ago, I gave Lexi a ride home. Reno Cole, Austin’s brother, was outside throwing horseshoes in the yard without a shirt on. A thin sheen of sweat covered his broad torso, which was the only thing I noticed since he was wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat. I had a “stupid” attack and almost tripped in front of him. I’d never felt more intimidated by a man’s presence in my life. I felt cowardly and my mouth refused to work, and when it finally did, I mentioned something about the heat like I was a walking weathergirl. Reno’s fit body spanned just over six feet, but his expression was tight and menacing. I shamelessly fled the scene, but the tire on my car wedged into a pothole. He stalked over as if he might rip my car door off and pummel me for messing up their driveway.

But he didn’t. He pushed the car free and I never saw him again.

Fingers snapped in front of my face and Trevor gave me a killer smile. “Nice to see you still have a pulse. I was beginning to think your libido took a permanent vacation.” 

The long wait is over!  Dannika Dark has released the second book in her “Seven Series”: Six Months.  As a beta reader for the third book in the series, Five Weeks, I am especially excited to read this latest peek of the Mageri world.

Image Credit: D. Dark
April Frost is a compassionate young woman with a steady job and ambitious goals. But the harder she runs away from her past, the more it threatens to destroy her. When three strangers enter her life, April is forced to face her demons and it’s a battle she may not win.

Private investigators in the Breed world are men who take risks, and Reno Cole is no exception. As a Shifter, he’s expected to control his inner animal. But lately his wolf has been venturing dangerously close to the city, and he’s about to discover why. When Reno is reintroduced to a family friend, the attraction is immediate. April captivates him with her secretive eyes and resilient spirit. 

She’s also in trouble, and despite the fact she’s a human, Reno can’t turn his back on her.

April is caught between two worlds: One that threatens to bury her dreams and another that could fulfill them. Can she trust the wolf at her door and find the courage to overcome her demons?

If you’re a fan of paranormal romances, you will enjoy Six Months.  If you’re a fan of Dannika Dark, you’ve probably already pre-ordered it and finished it in one sitting. 

Although I am team Logan Cross/Chitahs all the way, I have a soft spot for Shifters.  Especially wolves.  And here in the DC area, it’s snowing. Again.  Perfect weather to curl up with a good book.  And a Shifter.

Ms. Dark, you do have a way with words.  And love scenes. Bring it on!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What do you like about paranormal fiction?

About Dannika Dark
 This is the segment where you learn a little more about who I am, so here's what I can tell you:  I drink copious amounts of vitamin water placed precariously close to my laptop while writing. These are two healthy habits I have no intention of breaking. I'm a transplant living in the south, but I was born in the 70's to a military dad who moved us around the world.

When I'm not writing (which is all the time), I'm hunting down Indie music, watching movies, reading, eating Tex-Mex, discovering new ways to humiliate myself bowling, and burning up my laptop battery on the Internet. I have a relaxed, easy-going personality and don't like drama. I live with a cat who thinks she is a dog, or a goat (she eats plastic, so I'm not sure which).

Throughout my life, I've had insomnia. Counting sheep never worked and eventually I would imagine those sheep were the sole source of food after an apocalyptic battle where only thousands survived. I made up stories in a futile attempt to bore myself to sleep. The problem was, I got so wrapped up in my "head stories" that I would continue them through the following nights, changing it up each time to make it more exciting. Eventually, I started writing my ideas down - creating short stories, and then I discovered my love for poetry.

It's almost embarrassing how many spiral notebooks and stacks of paper I have of poetry and lyrics.

Another passion: digital art. I design all my book covers, marketing, and series art. I'm a very visual person and pursued photography as an avid hobby for many years.

I am not a YA author (I feel like I have to state this only because I've had a few people ask), but I think it's wonderful there are so many books available to teens in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal. 

I am finally doing what I have always wanted to do: giving my characters a pulse through writing full time. I focus on adult urban fantasy romance, but I don't like labels and I enjoy blending genres to break out of the confines of predictability.

But it's what I love to do.

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06 March 2014

The New Fireside? Social Media and Storytelling

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.
~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Beginning in January, I am participating in the One Page a Day Challenge.  Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014.  I may need therapy by December.  Oh wait…

his week, I’ve been talking about the social media fasting trend, offering a different perspective.

Today I would like to look at this trend from yet another angle – that of storytelling.

It is part of the very nature of stories that they be shared.  You could argue that your story ~ your experience ~ by itself, teaches you and forms you.  But that would be a very boring story.

Because the most exciting stories involve more than one person: a protagonist, an antagonist, and a situation that throws them together.  Now you have two stories: the one from the POV of the protagonist and one from the POV of the antagonist.

But wait.

There is also the stories of the people that the protagonist has come in contact with and the those of the people surrounding the antagonist.  Those stories also touch the current one, informing it, changing it, possibly ending it.

The Sociability of Stories
In one of my favorite movies, V for Vendetta, the main character, V, played by Hugo Weaving, tells Natalie Portman’s character, Evey:
"Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself."
This is the essence of storytelling ~ they are meant to be told because both the teller and the listener gain from the telling.  Anyone who has ever sat in a support group of any kind knows this.  Keeping a story locked away inside of you ~ whether it is your personal story or someone else’s ~ is suffocating for both you and the story.

There has never been anyone like us onstage before.  And there will be no one like us after we have made our final bows.  The voice, the passion, the angst, and the ecstasy that we bring to our stories is unique ~ and needed.  Someone may find their truth in our stories.

But they can only find it if we share those stories.

Storytelling on Social Media
Stories were traditionally handed down orally.  Usually around a fire, people would gather to hear stories of brave deeds, tragic deaths, lessons learned, entertaining and informing the rapt listeners.

The Boyhood of Raleigh
Sir John Everett Millais, 1870
It’s only been since the invention of the printing press that stories come to us printed on a page.  And now, with the invention of the eReader, stories come to us “printed’ on a digital page.

We no longer huddle around a fire, listening to an itinerant storyteller; we hunch over our smartphones, “liking” and “sharing” one another's stories.  As I said yesterday, we could choose to use the tool of social media to post, click, and upload stupid, inane things. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that.  The choice is ours.

What kind of story will you share today?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

How do you share your stories?  Will you join me in sharing insightful stories this month?

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05 March 2014

Before You Fast from Social Media: The Seven Devil Problem

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Beginning in January and continuing throughout the year, I’m participating in the One Page a Day writing challenge. Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014.  I may need therapy by December.  Oh wait…

veryone vilifies social media these days.
Quite a few of my friends are even fasting from it for Lent.   

As I mentioned yesterday, I had also considered giving it up for a month.

We all saw how well that idea went.

You would think that my experience of a bad case of withdrawal would have sealed the deal for me.  I’m a distraction addict, so naturally, I should give it up, kick the habit.

But not all addictions are created equal. 

Take someone who is addicted to food.  Should they just stop eating?  No, of course not – that would be ridiculous.  It isn’t food that’s the problem ~ it’s their attitude towards and use of it.

So it is with social media ~ the problem isn’t social media per se.  It’s our attitude towards and our use of it.

The Seven Devil Problem
De-cluttering, detoxing, fasting ~ all these are good things and all the major religions and philosophies teach some form of it.  And most of us could benefit from some type of detoxing or fasting regime.  But in our zeal to sweep out the old, bad habits, we forget something very important:

When you get rid of something, you now have an empty space.  And empty spaces tend to get filled.

I can’t speak for any other teachings, but in Christianity, this very thing is warned against:

"When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Matt. 12:43-45)

We take out the bad, but what do we put back in its place?

Fasting, detoxing, de-cluttering, and giving up something is all well and good, but it’s only going up the mountain.  You can’t just stop there.  At some point you will have to come back down.  Not planning for your descent is like saying you’ll wait for an avalanche to bring you back down. 

That is insane.

So is fasting without planning to put something positive in the empty space. 

When Social Media is Good, It’s Very, Very Good
So, you’ve told us that you are disappearing from the web for the next 40 days. 

Great.  Before you go, tell us what you are doing instead.  Are you spending that time with family?  (And screaming at family doesn’t count.)

Are you a writer who’s doing the disappearing act?   What are you going to write while you’re “away”?  Are you an artist?  What are you creating in the next 40 days?

Tell us ~ we want to be inspired too.

And therein lies the positive side of social media.

When many of us think of social media, we think of over-sharing.  This meme sums it up nicely:
Image credi: Core77

But social media is just a tool.

This shovel I have?  I can use it to dig out a new garden in the spring, or I can use it to kill my annoying neighbor. (Not really, my real life neighbor is quite nice.)   

The tool itself is neutral.  It all depends on how we decide to use it.

If you are posting those annoying pictures of cats, etc., maybe you do need to give up Facebook and use that time to become involved in a hobby.  Or volunteer at a shelter.

If you are clicking on those annoying political posts and sharing them, then you need to get off Facebook for a good while too and do something fun with real people.

You can fast from clicking and sharing the inane, and instead click and share the extraordinary. 

Or the beautiful.

Or the positive.

The point is, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Gmail, etc., are all tools that can be used to encourage, to make initial connections, and to set up face to face meetings.  If you aren’t making meaningful connections outside of your social media clicks, then the problem isn’t social media.  You just need to take the next, face to face step.

It could be the start of a beautiful, supportive real friendship.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you giving up FB or other social media for Lent?  What are you filling that empty time slot with?

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