Thursday, September 14, 2017

Magic Thursday--Janni Nell shares an excerpt of her new cozy mystery Secrets, Spells & Murder

I've been promising to write a paranormal cozy mystery for years and I've finally done it. Here's a sneak peak at Secrets, Spells & Murder.

Chapter 1
The day before Silver Moon Falls had its first murder, the townspeople woke up as usual, had breakfast, kissed their loved ones goodbye and went to work. I did likewise except for kissing a loved one, since I lived alone. After locking the door to my cottage on Appletree Lane, I began the walk to my shop carrying a newly made batch of Green Thumb spells.
On the way, I stopped to pet old Mr. William’s dog, while across the road, Erin called to her kids, just as she did every weekday morning, “Get in the car or you’ll be late for school.” As Erin pulled out of her driveway, she gave me a friendly wave. I waved back then turned the corner and set off down Main Street.
It promised to be a beautiful day. Wisps of white cloud trailed across the sky, and the breeze was heavy with the scent of the woods. I was all kinds of lucky to call this beautiful part of northern California home.
As I passed The Awesome Bean coffee shop, Sara Carter called out, “You want your usual this morning?”
“Please.” A few years ago, The Awesome Bean had been called Carter’s and they made the worst coffee in the entire universe. In an effort to improve their business, Sara had visited me for a custom-made spell. I worked hard at it, but even I was surprised by the results. Not only did she suddenly have the best coffee ever, the spell remained strong years later, which is unusual. As a thank-you, Sara has given me free coffee ever since. Win-win.
I was waiting for my cappuccino when Mayor Danny Blain stopped by for an Americano. He was around fifty, with strands of silver in his hair and eyes of muddy brown. Although of average height, he had an above-average physique and off-the-charts charisma. He was the mayor of both Silver Moon Falls and the larger town of Silver Moon Junction. Too bad he had no love for witches and our craft.
He acknowledged me with a curt nod. “We want to review your permit.” He meant the permit to practice witchcraft, which was at the discretion of the local council. Mayor Blain had been trying to close my shop for years. So far he’d failed, but that didn’t mean he’d stop trying. I wondered whether he’d change his mind if he knew that Sara’s coffee tasted so good because of my spell. I was tempted to tell him, but then he might decide to close the shop down and I couldn’t do that to her.
“I’m happy to meet with the council and discuss the matter,” I said, with a smile to let him know I was prepared to be reasonable.
He eyed the box I was carrying. “What’ve you got in there?”
“Just some Green Thumb spells. They’re very popular this time of year.”
“Hmm. Green Thumb, eh? People just throw it around their yard and a garden springs up?”
“It’s more like a really good fertilizer. Garden beds still have to be prepared, seeds planted and watered. But flowers are more abundant and they last a lot longer.”
“And that’s all it does?” he asked suspiciously. “I thought it was supposed to be magic.”
                I could’ve told him the spell completely eliminated weeds, disease and pests, but Sara was calling out, “Coffee’s ready, Maddie.”
“Excuse me.” I hurried to the counter to get my drink.
Sara handed it over. “Have a great day.”
“Hope yours is even better.” I waved to Sara, relieved to escape from the mayor, and headed off to work. 
My shop—Maddie’s Little Shop of Spells to be precise—was nestled between Kylie-Ann’s hairdressing salon and the Silver Moon Bakery. The aroma of cinnamon buns tickled my nostrils. Unable to resist, I bought one, holding the bag in my teeth as I juggled my coffee, the box of spells and keys to my shop. After opening the door without spillage, I dumped my box on the counter and bit into the delicious bun. I’d deal with the calories later by jogging to the falls. 
When I’d finished the bun and coffee, I got to work unpacking and displaying the Green Thumb spells. The entire back wall of the shop was lined with shelves containing everything from Happy Household spells, which were designed to create a soothing home environment, to Memory spells for finding missing objects. The jars and bottles had pretty labels handwritten by my assistant, Autumn, who burst through the door at that moment in a chaotic whirl of curly auburn hair, sunshine yellow blouse, pink-checked skirt and ballet flats.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” she said. “You want me to help stack those shelves?”
“Sure,” I said.
Autumn wasn’t a local girl. She’d blown into town one day with nothing but a small bag, a mysterious past and the desire to change her life. I’d decided to give her a chance, and I’ve never regretted it.
While she finished displaying the Green Thumb spells, I headed out back to the storage room, where a small round table and two chairs stood near our rarely used coffee machine. On the opposite wall were more shelves filled with carry bags, bottles of water, cleaning products, a box of tissues and special orders waiting to be picked up.

I was checking the stock when the bells above the door jangled announcing the arrival of a customer. I heard a woman laugh and say, “What a very strange shop. We just had to come in.” She sounded amused in a superior kind of way, as though she was too smart to believe in magic.


Secrets, Spells & Murder now available for 

Google Play



Janni Nell is the author of fun paranormal mysteries. Before she became a writer, she worked as a personal assistant, receptionist and sales clerk. Now she is happy to spend every day creating stories. When she isn’t writing, you can find her at dance class, Pilates or walking the dog. She is hard at work on her next book.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Magic Thursday--Excerpt of Dead Lady Vanishing

Tash and Joe are back! Mystery, humor and romance combine when they investigate the ghostly goings-on at spooky Wildfinch Hall.

Dead Lady Vanishing is Book 2 in the Bolde and Baulsey paranormal mystery series. Here’s a sneak peak:


My flashlight illuminated the name Wildfinch Hall. Really? Somebody had been reading too many Brontë novels. And we weren’t even in Yorkshire. I wondered whether Heathcliff was at home.
“Stop messing around,” yelled Clover. She was already on the other side of the gates. Unlike me, she could walk right through them. “Come on.”
“The gates are locked,” I said, directing my beam onto the padlock and chain.
“Then climb over.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d trespassed at Clover’s insistence and I guessed it wouldn’t be the last. Sticking the flashlight in my pocket, I surveyed the curls and scrolls of wrought iron, which appeared to provide plenty of hand- and footholds. It wasn’t until I grabbed hold that I realized the metal was dangerously slick with rain. I slipped and banged my knee. Sucking in a breath, I tried again, more carefully this time. As I made my way up, the gates wobbled. The wind whipped around, threatening to toss me on my ass, but I clung on. When I reached the top, I swung one leg over and then the other. For a second I balanced on top then I jumped down, landing with a crunch on the gravel driveway.
Jagged lightning split the sky. For a moment it was bright as day. A large building—we’re talking Pemberley or Downton Abbey—stood on the crest of the hill at the end of the driveway. The scream must’ve come from there.
As I started toward it, Clover called, “No, this way,” and set off across a wide lawn dotted with swaying trees.
Forgetting about the pelting rain, my wet shoes, and the chill that turned my breath misty white, I went after her, flicking on my flashlight again as I ran.
“Is the woman still screaming?” I panted.
“No.” She sounded worried.
“Maybe you’ve gone the wrong way. The scream must’ve come from the place on the hill.”
“It didn’t.” She continued to move away from the house.
“You do realize I’m soaking wet,” I grumbled. Honestly I wished I’d stayed in the cramped car. At least that had been warm and dry. But Clover wasn’t sympathetic. Probably because, no matter how hard it rained, she was bone-dry. One of the advantages of being a ghost.
                I stepped in a puddle halfway up my shin and swore loudly. Mud squelched as I pulled myself free. Clover had gone on ahead. I trudged after her.
Suddenly she yelled and pointed, “Over there. Near the wood. It’s some sort of building.” She moved fast, gliding over the grass. I hurried after her.
The building had been constructed in the style of a mini Roman temple with stone walls on three sides. On the fourth side a short flight of steps led to a porch with a roof supported by columns. By the time I reached the steps, Clover was moving across the porch toward a wooden door. She could easily have passed right through it, but she suddenly stopped and took a step back. Had she met some kind of resistance? I moved closer so I could hear what she was saying.
“What the—?” She squared her shoulders. Then, raising her voice above the storm as though she was speaking to someone, she said, “Who are you? Why did you scream?”
As she listened to the answer, she tapped her foot like she did when she was pissed. “I’ll mind my own business when hell freezes over! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”
Frustrated that I could only witness one side of their exchange, I yelled, “Clover, what’s going on?”
But all her attention was on the other ghost. She looked it over from head to toe. “You’ve been here a while, haven’t you? When did you die? Nineteenth century?...No, I won’t go away. I heard a scream. Was it you?” Her hands rested on her plump hips, feet apart, in the determined stance I knew so well. She clenched her fists and demanded, “Get out of my way.” A second later, she doubled over. Had she’d been gut-punched?
“Clover!” I rushed up the steps.
“Stay back,” she warned, but I kept going. Her assailant was a ghost. It couldn’t hurt me. Not physically anyway.
I'd almost reached her when her head snapped back. Had she been punched in the jaw? She lashed out, one-two, with her fists. Then suddenly her hands were pinned behind her and she was being pushed toward the door.
“Let her go!” I launched myself at whoever was holding her and swung a punch. I’d never fought a ghost before. I was shocked when my fist sank into something thick, viscous, and bitterly cold. I yelped as the icy sensation crept up my arms and entered my chest. It was hard to breathe. For one terrifying moment, I heard the faraway sound of a woman screaming in torment.
Clover struggled to escape whoever had pinned her arms behind her. She yelled, “You have no right to—” Her voice was abruptly cut off as though someone had her around the throat. I wanted to help, but the icy cold that had settled in my chest moved up through my neck and into my skull. I’d had brain freeze before but this was much worse. I fell to my knees, cradling my head in my hands, moaning. What was happening to me? I couldn’t think straight, could hardly move. I huddled in a pathetic mound, willing the pain to go away.
Clover was in trouble…I had to help her…somehow. With a huge effort I managed to raise my head. I saw her throw a punch then suddenly she was down on her knees, her back arched, head bent way back. Her bright blue eyes locked on mine. I heard her panted breaths, saw her struggling to defeat her opponent, but she couldn’t do it alone.
“Tash! Help me!”
I was on my knees, ice-cold, shivering. My head ached like a thousand knives were stabbing my skull. I could barely move, but somehow I had to help her. Slowly, terribly slowly, I forced myself to move, straightening my back, moving one leg into a half-kneeling position. Then, with a supreme effort, I pushed myself upward. Ignoring my pounding, throbbing head, I launched myself at Clover, twisting a little at the last moment, hoping I’d knock down her assailant. It was like hitting a wall of ice. I staggered backward, lost my footing on the edge of the porch, and tumbled down the steps onto the wet grass. Rain poured onto my face, making me cough and splutter. Groggy and disoriented, I rolled onto my hands and knees.
Clover called out to me again, but her voice sounded faint and very far away. I struggled to make out the words, but all I heard was a name. “Rosalind… ” Then suddenly my head cleared, just like that, and I was no longer in pain. I leaped to my feet. Scooping up the flashlight I’d dropped, I raked the beam over the place where I’d last seen her. All I saw was the little Roman temple looking dismal and forlorn in the sheeting rain. Clover was gone.


Dead Lady Vanishing is available now                    

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 A-Z Author Name Reading Challenge

Love reading challenges?

Well we have one for you this year.

Place your reading against the First letter of either the DarkSider Author's First or Last Name and you can go into the running of winning a $25 Amazon gift card.

For details go to the Reading Challenge page.

~Happy DarkSider Reading~

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Darklight On ... Eleni Konstantine

Today's Darklight On is ... Eleni Konstantine

Welcome, Eleni

How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?

When I was a little girl, my mum brought me these gorgeous illustrated fairy tale books. I felt as if I'd been transported to other worlds. That was it, I was hooked. I continued to read and watch in all genres but spec fic continued to have a special place in my heart. 

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?

I am mainly an organic writer - aka pantser. My first draft is what I call my outline draft - I liken it to a plotter's outline. It is where I work out what the story is and where it is going. I go back and layer it. Having said that, I do have certain sign posts, which grow and change as I go along. 

Having said that, I have worked on stories where I've known more of the plot but I still find things to surprise me along the way. For example, a whole new character and subplot popped out of the blue while writing one of these plotted stories.

Do you have a favourite of your characters?

I've been with my character Irini for the longest time. She's in a yet unpublished novel that I've been working on and off again for years. Mainly off unfortunately. She's strong though she doesn't see herself that way and has the ability to heal others but not herself. 

What are you currently working on? 

I'm doing the final go through on Irini's story and I hope to work on some flash fiction as I do that. I've had a very tough few years personally so it has affected my creativity. I think once Irini's story is submitted, it will free a lot of my brain space!

What is your favourite part of the process of writing? 

When it really flows. You write and write the story takes over and before you know it, you have a chapter. I prefer it to the pulling teeth approach that is currently haunting me. J

What can we expect from Eleni Konstantine in the future?

I'll be doing an online course by Cathleen Ross (via RWA) on self-publishing and aim to have one of my Musa titles self published not long after that. 

Who are your favourite authors?

So many fabulous story tellers out there. Those who inspired me initially were Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Jennifer Roberson, Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Erksine and David and Leigh Eddings. Now I've added JK Rowling, JR Ward, Rachel Vincent, Jennifer Crusie, Nalini Singh, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, JD Robb, and many more including Australian writers - Anne Gracie, Nikki Logan, Barbara Hannay, Marion Lennox, Anna Campbell.

And let's not forget our own DarkSiders - Keri Arthur, Denise Rossetti, Erica Hayes, Shona Husk, Christina Phillips, Maree Anderson, Anna Hackett, Mel Teshco, Rebekah Turner, Peta Crake, Kylie Griffin, Kylie Scott, Janni Nell, Lilliana Rose, Cathleen Ross to name just a few…

I have many more people to discover. It's a hard job but someone has to do it. J

What are you currently reading?

Darkness Rising - book 2 in Keri Arthur's Dark Angels series (dark urban fantasy)

Misted Cliffs - book 2 in the Lost Continent series by Catherine Asaro (fantasy)

Welcome to the Jungle - graphic novel prequel to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series (urban fantasy)

I'm listening to - The Spider Goddess - book 2 in the Pandora English series by Tara Moss

I DO read a lot of series. J

Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or TV series?

Anything by Joss Whedon. He's done wonders with The Avengers. And going on the super-hero theme, I'm loving The Flash and Arrow ATM. Other shows include Grimm, Dark Matter and Killjoys

Do you have advice for emerging writers? 

Don't compare your journey to anyone else's. Your journey is your own and it will happen at its own pace. Don't be discouraged.


Thanks, Eleni!

Enchanted is a fantasy short story

Katharine’s life has become static. She has no friends and her workaholic husband hardly notices her. 

Enchantment and fascination comes in the form of a mysterious painting.

Available from Alfie Dog Fiction

About the Author

Eleni Konstantine is Fantasy and Paranormal fiction writer, with a number of shorts published. As a child, her mother gifted her with many books, including illustrated fairytales, and she was hit by the writing bug. That and a love of Greek mythology, and Eleni was destined to become a writer.

Eleni lives in Adelaide, Australia, with her family and feisty American Staffy.

You can find Eleni at her Website / Eleni's Taverna Blog / Eleni's Library Blog

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Darklight On ... Shelley Russell Nolan

Today's Darklight On is ... Shelley Russell Nolan

Welcome, Shelley

Writing the next book

I recently read a great post by fellow Darksider Donna Maree Hanson on drafting a trilogy. It was an interesting read and highlighted some of the problems faced when writing a story that needs multiple books to be told. It got me thinking about where I am up to in my Reaper Series and how the story can evolve from book one to book three.

When I first came up with the idea of a series about a murder victim who is resurrected by the Grim Reaper after she agrees to work for him, I originally planned for Tyler’s story to be told in three books. I got to work on the first book, Lost Reaper, and after a couple of masterclasses, mentoring from Louise Cusack, and a structural edit from a freelance editor, I was ready to submit it to publishers. I had a rough outline of books two and three and thought I was all set to go.

Lost Reaper was published with Ormiston Press in Oct 2015 and in discussions with my editor, the fabulous Sandy Curtis, we decided it would be better as a two book series. So I got to work writing the second book, Winged Reaper. While I was working on the first draft I got the idea for what I thought would be a stand-alone spin off, with a different heroine but a couple of the characters from the first two books as well. 

When it came time to submit Winged Reaper, Ormiston Press was winding down operations and introduced my work to a new publisher, Helen Goltz at Atlas Productions. I soon had a two book deal to republish Lost Reaper (out now) and publish Winged Reaper (released 1 Oct). During the edits for Winged Reaper, Helen made a comment about a possible direction for a third book. 

My brain went fuzzy. I already had an idea, didn’t I? My brain, as it always does, went off on a tangent and suddenly I was incorporating my idea with Helen’s and a whole new picture emerged of what book three would be about. I’m busy outlining Rogue Reaper as I write this and am looking forward to seeing how Tyler will overcome the next set of obstacles to land in her path. 

There is a storm brewing in Easton and Tyler Morgan is going to be smack bang in the middle of it.

Winged Reaper Blurb

Secrets, lies and the Grim Reaper: a recipe for disaster!

Twenty-five-year-old Tyler Morgan is only alive—technically reborn—because the Grim Reaper offered her a job. Now she has to find a way to stop her ‘boss’ from starting a war that threatens the survival of mankind.

Weak and in need of fresh souls, the Grim Reaper has sent his Wraiths to Tyler’s hometown, Easton, and by the time he gets his fill, it could turn into a graveyard.
Tyler’s resolve is tested when old secrets surface and a new betrayal has her questioning where her loyalties lie.

Supported by the intriguing detective, Sam Lockwood; the handsome, wealthy Chris Bradbury; and sources she never expected to come to her aid, Tyler must fight her way to the truth if she is ever to find the strength to harness the powers she has inherited, and vanquish the Grim Reaper forever.

Buy Links: Amazon AU / Amazon US

About the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Thanks, Shelley


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Darklight On ... Marie Dry

Today's Darklight On is ... Marie Dry

Welcome, Marie


I was going to do this blog about craft, but I woke up this morning and for some reason thought about a writer’s career path and all the choices they have to make. Maybe it was J.K. Rowling and a few other well-known authors who shared their rejection letters recently that steered me in this direction. I thought getting rejection letters and having to meet deadlines would be the hardest part of being a writer. Instead I found the decisions you are faced with the hard part. And writing when life gets in the way contributes to the reasons why writers make certain choices. 

The first choice I was faced with, came at about 2010. Suddenly everyone and his friend and neighbour was talking about self-publishing. The stigma was gone from it and that was when E.L. James sold millions of copies worldwide with Fifty Shades. Everyone also wanted to write romance. Like every other author, I also struggled with the question of, should I exercise the option to self-publish. I thought the writing and editing courses I took would mean I would put out a polished, well edited book if I do decide to self-publish. Looking back I realize, the fact that I thought that a few editing courses could replace an editor working through my book, showed that I was not ready for self-publishing. 

I still struggled with concepts like show and tell, character development, inciting incident, Point of View and Deep Point of View. Still I couldn’t wait to hold my book in my hands and see my story in print. I kept trying to convince myself that even though several editors rejected my book, the story was so good I would have readers falling over themselves to buy my book if I do self-publish it. Any author struggling with doing a day job, writing at night and caring for relatives will know the attraction of self-publishing and earning more than the small percentage you get when you sign with a publisher. At the time I also didn’t realize that self-publishing means you run a business and you have to be on top of every aspect of publishing.

In the end I promised myself ten years of learning my craft and working hard at getting a contract. My thinking was that I wanted to force myself to try harder, dig deeper into my characters each time I get a rejection. Although I wrote stories my whole life, at that stage I’ve only worked at getting published for three years. So I promised myself ten years of working at my craft and sending manuscripts to publishing companies, improving it with every rejection, even though I was very tempted by the self-publishing option.

It took me seven years to reach my goal. Seven years of writing every day even when sometimes I had to work until late at night at the day job. No matter how tired I was, I’d come home and sit down and write for an hour to make sure I don’t lose the habit of writing every day. Then of course came the hard part. Do I write the rest of the books in the series of the book that was accepted? Should I try to put out other series, single title, or maybe I should try for a big publisher? What about writing category for Harlequin. Should I rather put all my energy there?

Learning the craft of writing is child’s play compared to these kinds of choices. Up to now I put out one Zyrgin warrior a book a year because I simply didn’t have the time at that stage to write more. And I’m a slow writer, a snail could beat me without even trying. Thinking back, I wish I had written the rough drafts of the first six and edited them and put them out closer together. Though that is hindsight and in the end I am satisfied with the choices I made. I have a file full of rejections and I’m so proud of that file. It means I worked hard, I never gave up and in that same file I have my acceptance letters.

I put in many hours for that one book a year I put out, but I tell myself that is all right because my all-time favourite author is R. Lee Smith and she rarely put out as much as a book a year. I would read her books even if she only wrote one in every five years. So I’m hoping enough people like my stories that they will wait for that one book a year. Though this year at least I handed in two manuscripts. I’m hoping to be able to do three next year.

I’d love to hear about other authors career paths and difficult decisions. What was your journey and are you happy with the choices you made and the results you achieved? What difficult choices are you struggling with? And from readers I’d like to know if they would read an author’s book if they put out one book in every five years.

About the Author

Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her. 

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published. Her book Alien Mine was released by Black Opal Books in June 2014.


Thanks, Marie

Amazon Buy Links:  Alien Mine / Alien Under Cover / Alien Betrayed

Social Media:  Website / Facebook