Ksenia Anske has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Ksenia Anske. I live in my writing cave and hardly ever climb out.

But I do blog right here: https://www.kseniaanske.com/blog/,

and I do terrify writers into writing and readers int reading on Twitter https://twitter.com/kseniaanske

and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ksenia.anske daily.

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

There is life outside of writing? KIDDING. Writing is my life. And reading. And, of course, chasing my readers with a chainsaw to convince them (gently) to buy and read and review my books. It actually keeps me in great shape. Or coffee. Coffee is my life as well. Practically 18 hours out of my day I divide into 2 parts: first half of the day goes to my art (writing), second half of the day goes to my business (selling what I wrote).

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

It’s been 5 years already. Wow, yes. 5 years. Seems a long time, but often it feels like I’m only starting. I’ve written fantasy, dark fantasy, YA, and am going to be writing my first thriller and romance next. Though my readers tell me my books touch on magical realism and horror, and they know better.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Oh, Russian fairy tales, mostly. I grew up on dark stories, and I write dark stories. Of course, the big names like Chekhov and Kharms and Akhmatova and Nabokov. Most recently Tolstaya and Petrushevskaya. And in my 20s I’ve discovered Stephen King and decided I wanted to try writing scary stories too. Little did I know I’d really be doing it, and in English to boot—not my first language (I’m from Moscow, Russia).

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I’m revising the final draft of TUBE, a dark fantasy novel about a woman who goes back into her violent past to win over her abuser by visiting compartments on the train (creepy, cold, and drafty). I started it as part of my 2015 Amtrak Residency Program, and 3 years later the book is almost done. It’s launching on March 17th, 2018. Be scared.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I used to just sit down and write. Not anymore. Now I don’t write down a single word until I plot my novel to death. Have gone into too many dead ends with TUBE, so learned my lesson. Plus, I love plotting. I get such a thrill. It’s like solving a puzzle and then sprinkling in clues for the reader to discover. Nothing could be more exciting.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

Discipline is my strength. I won’t quit until I’m done, no matter what. And discipline is my weakness, as well. Sometimes I won’t be able to bend and adapt because I’m so dead-set on finishing a project. It’s a balance. My readers tell me they love my sentence rhythm and how I make them feel. I do hope my books give them delicious nightmares. That is certainly my goal.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I jump on every rooftop and shout about my books until I lose my voice, then do crazy dances for my readers’ entertainment. Well, actually, I market my books from the very start, before I even start writing them, as soon as I have an idea. It’s the only way. I’d type up a whole essay here if I were to give advice. Email me with detailed questions. But here is one thing I’ll tell you: share your process. Share everything with your readers, and if you do that, you’ll also market your book, so by the time it’s done, your readers will want to buy it and read it if only to see the result of your very hard work.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Never quit—NEVER EVER QUIT NO MATTER WHAT—and write and read every day. If you do this, if you write for only 1 hour daily, by the end of the year you’ll have a book written. Build discipline, hole up and write. Don’t listen to anyone. It’s your art. You’re the only one who knows how to make it. I believe in you. You can do it. Get on it!

 

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Siren Suicides

Siren Suicides: Second Edition  by Ksenia Anske  description:

On a rainy September morning 16-year-old Ailen Bright flees her abusive father by jumping off the Seattle Aurora Bridge. Instead of a true death, in the water she finds several silver-skinned sirens who convert her to one of their own. As a newborn siren she is dead, supernaturally strong, and hungry for her new sustenance—human souls.
Ailen refuses to kill…at first. With time she must face the agony that comes with starvation, while being relentlessly pursued by a siren hunter. An enthralling and dark look into the mind and heart of a suicidal teenager, this urban fantasy follows Ailen’s struggle to figure out the meaning of life, her confusing feelings for her best friend Hunter, and her desperate battle for her father’s love.

Siren Suicides   3 STARS

The best thing about this book is how wonderful the writing style is. Anske does a beautiful job of drawing you into this world, and making it so vivid. She doesn’t just tell you what a room looks like, you discover it through the characters interactions, their insight and emotions, and it’s all done with ease. I loved her new take on sirens, how you become one, and the fact that she harkens back to the original Greek mythology with the names, and that she didn’t make the mistake of turning them into mermaids with a fishtail. The best part of this book though was the very beginning before Ailen turned into a siren. Seeing into her mind, and knowing why she loves sirens so much, and her still suffering from the loss of her mother, it was something that was tangible and understandable. I’m glad that Anske didn’t in any way romanticize suicide. She gives you the harsh reality of what it would be like hitting the water, what it does to your body, and how it feels to drown and the regret the victim goes through during it all. But once Ailen becomes a siren it’s like everything went into overdrive. It felt like everything was so on the nose with the whole siren bit. And as the story goes the way it circles around death can be extremely depressing and worrisome. I will say that right there at the end it finally began to really flow and Ailen goes through some real self-discovery and there is a lot of character growth that helped make this a book worth reading in the end.

 

Redemption (Sea Assassins)

BOOK 1: Betrayal by Danielle Hardgrave

Redemption   description:

Sophia Davies is having the time of her life.

She lives with her two best friends in a city she loves and every day is a new adventure. Case in point, stumbling into her bedroom after a great night out and finding her ultimate childhood crush waiting for her.
But things have changed since the last time Sophia saw Nate. For starters, she now knows what he does for a living. And there’s the whole shark shifter thing…

Nathan Redman is burning.

He thought his mistakes would fade away with time, but the closer he comes to taking leadership of his clan, the more they sear into his skin. Revenge is the best cure for any wound, which is why Nathan’s heading out to see an old friend.

It’s nothing personal, really.
Getting close to Sophia is no problem. Killing her on the other hand…

BOOK 2: Redemption  4 STARS

This book was far more developed than the last, and perhaps it’s because Nate is to be next in line as clan leader, and so we get a closer look at what the lives of shark shifters tend to be like. Which is cold and cruel. It really helped you understand Nate, and what he was going through, and really how he felt about the humans he’d been around. It was interesting how he didn’t get why the others found silly things fun and amusing, and him trying to figure out why he ever hesitated to kill Sophia. And Sophia is awesome. She’s fun and really relatable in trying to figure out what’s up with their relationship. Liking Nate. even though her sister has given a veiled excuse to stay away, and wanting to see him in shark form really makes her a fun counterpoint to Nate’s very serious and brooding personality. I also really liked the addition of her friends and all that’s going on in their life and the quirky things they do. It made this story feel more alive, than the limited view we got with Betrayal when we basically only had the 3 main characters to get to know. Really though, the ending of this book, what the hell is that? I’m not even sure I want to know, but I do know I won’t rest until I find out.

Betrayal (Sea Assassins)

Betrayal by Danielle Hardgrave  description:

On a calm November evening, a ship disappears off the coast of Washington without a trace…

When Darcy Davies finds a handsome man washed up on the beach, he’s three things: injured, naked, and rude. And he’s got a few demands. Somewhere safe. No hospital.
Tell no one.

While Darcy takes him in, she’s no fool. She knows he was involved in whatever happened at sea that night. But is he a victim or a villain? One thing’s for certain—even if he’s not a danger to her person, this sexy stranger is a danger to her heart.

Gabriel Barnes can’t tell which is more of a pain in his side—the curvy brunette who plucked him off the beach, or the literal pain in his side.
Gabriel’s secret will be hard to keep in such close quarters, especially with injuries that are healing much too fast. But he’s got bigger problems.

It wasn’t an accident that brought him here.
It was a betrayal.

BOOK 1: Betrayal   3 STARS

The best part of this book is how it steps away from the pack. It’s not the same ol’ werewolf and vampire sort of books, though it is in the same world as those stories that Hardgrave has already told. I have definitely never read about shark shifters before, and I liked that they’re not even like other shifters out there. It makes sense as they point out that others are changing from one mammal to another, while they’re basically turning into a fish. This makes for an interesting new look into the world of myth and magic. The biggest step away is that this isn’t like some misunderstood vampire or giant fuzzy werewolf that has the loyalty of a dog. These sharks are cold blooded killers and are raised to be such from the beginning. They don’t even like each other, and have a hard time understanding the softer side of humanity. Gabriel is a killer, and Hardgrave does lessen the severity of such a life style by having him go after folks who are just as bad as him, but it’s still a whole other world and not exactly one anyone would want to get mixed up in. Which is probably why I did like Darcy so much, because she’s a no-nonsense sort of woman. She helps him, in what he sees as greed, because she knows money will help get things that need doing done. She isn’t some sweet damsel in distress wooed by the bad boy vibe, even if she finds him attractive. She’s got her own plans that she’s striving for, and it really does make for a good match. My main problem is that this story is short, and so you don’t get the development or view into this world that would really help make it more real and understandable. Worse though, was the typos and grammatical errors. No they’re not horrible but they do stick out like a sore thumb, and another read through would’ve really helped this story out a lot.

However, it was nice to learn that permie is short for permanent, as in a human that’s always a human.

What’s New Pussycat?

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken  by  Dakota Cassidy

What’s New Pussycat?  description:

Derrick Adams is not happy. His pack of wolves isn’t like all the others. He’s got a brother who found his lifemate in the pound, a cousin who’s a vegetarian and now he has a lifemate of his own and she isn’t barking.
Martine Brooks is in a pickle. Derrick Adams is in a jam.
Pickles and jam. Not exactly a hot combo. Unless the “pickle” is a sultry, sassy cat shifter and the “jam” is a gorgeous hunk of wolf.

Derrick is cursed to die if he doesn’t make the woot-woot with his life mate on the night of the next full moon. Martine’s been held captive by a power-hungry warlock for six long months, forced to do his bidding before finding herself stuffed in a cat carrier and ditched at a 7-Eleven.

After rescuing her from a dumpster, Derrick and Martine strike a mutually beneficial deal: Mate, save a life, walk away—both alive and kicking. Win! Yet, there are kinks in the plan. Like the fact that Martine’s one-time captor is on the hunt, planning to extinguish all of her nine lives at once. Or the fact the curse threatening Derrick’s life is about to throw him a monster curve ball.
But the biggest kink might prove to be Derrick and Martine themselves, two avowed commitment-phobes…who are beginning to wonder what forever looks like.

 

BOOK 2: What’s New Pussycat?   3 STARS

The humor wasn’t as prominent as it was in the last book, though it still managed a light, fun story. However, it’s such an overused and ridiculous trope to have the two main characters be completely against the idea of a forever sort of love, and to then be surprised and unsure why they suddenly think about the other so much and are so happy to be near them. Regardless, it was nice that from the very beginning Martine knew exactly what was going on with Derrick, and happily agreed to be there for him, which did allow for other plot twists to come up. As well as for the fact that they’re in Cedar Glen for the most part, and so we get to see all the characters that were brought up previously and really get to know the strange bunch of paranormals that make up this little safe haven. It really added to the story, and makes for the promise of more books set here a rather appealing one. I want to know what’s to come of all these characters, not just the main ones that are the star of the book. Derrick, of course, is a werewolf, and it was funny for him to be initially opposed to Martine being his potential mate because she’s a cat, and we all know cats and dogs don’t mix. Martine was really the more interesting part, because she’s not just a cat shifter, she’s a witch’s familiar. This is the big driving point of the story, and gives us a lot more magic to deal with than just another shape-shifter to read about. Altogether it was a good story with a surprise ending.

An American Werewolf in Hoboken

An American Werewolf in Hoboken by Dakota Cassidy  description:

Wooing a life mate can be hard enough for a wolf, wooing one while under the threat of a curse even more so.
Wooing a mate while pretending to be her dog? Nearly impossible.

After being drugged and captured by Animal Control, Max Adams is on Hoboken’s doggie death row when his life mate adopts him, takes him home, and promptly names him Fluffy. While JC, in all her new-pet-owner-ness, feeds “Fluffy” vile kibble, dresses him in mortifying dog couture, and schedules to have his manhood removed, Max’s human side gets to know JC. Especially in the biblical sense.

Hopefully well enough to make her fall madly in love, mate with him under the full moon, and move with him to Cedar Glen to live happily every after forever and ever amen. And fast.
Because the curse comes with a deadline…and the clock is ticking.

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken   5 STARS

This book earned every star for all the non-stop laughter it gave me. I was practically smothering myself trying to remain quiet in public, because it is that hilarious. Yet, while it had it’s silly quirks, it honestly brought up some interesting challenges and dangers that a shifter might would actually face in the world. Like being caught in wolf form by animal control, and drugged before you knew what hit you. And the things Max goes through trying to keep JC happy, and unaware that her new dog is actually a man, was so wrong it was… yes you guessed it, hilarious. There are no complaints about this story. From the way the paranormal world works, to why Max is cursed, and all about their little haven in Cedar Glen was just a fun adventure. JC is an awesome girl with a big heart who just wants to take care of her overgrown dog she just saved, and Max is just a man stuck in an impossible situation and trying to figure out which way is up. All the characters around them really filled in the tale, and are something to look forward to seeing again in future books. I’m definitely going to be diving into book 2 as soon as I can.

Sleuthing with the Enemy

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf  by  Danielle Hardgrave

Sleuthing with the Enemy  description:

Somebody just stole a valuable artifact from the Helsen archives, and Annemette Helsen—a very pissed off werewolf—is going to make sure they pay for it.
There’s just one problem: Anna’s only suspect is the arrogant vampire prince, Jonas Weiss. He’s cocky, frustrating, and a little bit sexy. Okay, a lot sexy.
He also claims to be innocent, so the fact that she just broke into his home and attacked him is problematic.
And his price for keeping silent about the whole debacle? Downright devious.

BOOK 2: Sleuthing with the Enemy   4 STARS

This was far more developed than the first book, and you really get a good look into the set up of the supernatural world. We get a lot more of their lore, and how their governing systems work within their hidden community. While Helen and Rune do show up a bit in here, it’s really all about Annemette and Jonas, and I like how this is moving forward from the last book, and showing the significance of the bracelet from the first. Anna and Jonas have some clear chemistry from the beginning, but Hardgrave does a great job of really developing the characters and not just having them jump in together. Anna, especially, goes through a lot of growth in this story, and it really helps you feel for them. That being said, this book has its wonderful moments of hilarity. I found myself giggling and blushing on behalf of Anna with all the awkward situations she gets herself into. Altogether a great balance of action and humor. You should definitely be as happy as I was for Benji to show up again, and that mystery that continues to follow him has me dying to know more. However, there’s 2 big questions I have to ask. First, how is it that there aren’t any cops coming after Rune after that whole thing of Helen reporting him for theft and assault? Second, what the heck is a permie? I mean I get that’s their slang for regular human, but where did that term come from, because it sounds like something you’d call someone with a bad perm job. Would love some explanations. Hopefully it’ll come in the next book, which I will be snatching up as soon as possible.

To Trust a Wolf

To Trust a Wolf   by  Danielle Hardgrave   description:

A list of things Helen Jurist never expected to see in her museum:

1. Viking relics
2. A dangerously seductive Dane with a suspicious interest in Viking relics
3. Werewolves

With the discovery of the Cutler Hoard, Helen may be forced to strike the word “never” from her vocabulary.

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf    4 STARS

I have to admit that within the same old story of werewolves and vampires the part that shines brightest is Helen. Here is finally a heroine that I can relate too whole heartedly. A no nonsense woman, who doesn’t get hysterical at the sight of mythical creatures, but instead takes it in realizes what’s happening and moves forward from there. While she can’t help but notice how handsome Rune is, and is at times swayed by his charm, she doesn’t let him stop her from trying to do what’s right and find the truth. But mostly a woman whose more about research and organization than some magical quest. I just feel like this here is a real woman, or maybe it’s just because that would so be me. And while Rune is a character I did quite enjoy, I believe Benji was far more intriguing. A being whose hypnotic powers felt more like that of the old tales of vampires, and I’m very curious to see what he’s all about. Altogether it was a good book, with some twists and romance to keep you coming back for more, though it does feel like it was over rather quickly. Regardless, I’ll definitely be picking up the next book as soon as I can.

Danielle Hardgrave has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Danielle Hardgrave and I can be found all over the place. I blog over www.caldwellbooks.com, which is the website for my publishing company, Caldwell Publishing. We’ve also got a Twitter and a Facebook, both of which are @caldwellbooks. My personal Twitter is @dhardgrav3.

2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I’m a big fan of naps. Really. They’re something that I plan in advance and get pumped up about. I also love movies, kickboxing, and reading.

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

Like most writers, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. I took a pretty long siesta from writing after high school and only got back into it in late 2015. Since then it feels like all I do is write, since I earn my living as a ghostwriter. At Caldwell so far we only write paranormal romance, but I’ve written in almost every romance genre there is.

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Honestly the greatest influence has been partnering up with my amazing business partner Olivia. She’s ruthless about my inability to correctly use commas and helps me sort out good ideas from bad. I’d be nowhere without her.

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Right now I’m working on the second book in our Sea Assassins Trilogy. It’s called Redemption. The whole series is pretty weird and will continue getting weirder. But, then again, when you write a series about dudes who turn into sharks, what else can you expect?

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I’m all about the outline and character profiles. I find I just got blocked otherwise. Big fan of beat sheets too for early outlining. I have three projects on the go at the moment. One for a client, one for Caldwell, and another that’s more of a personal project. Ideally, however, I’d only have one 😛

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is definitely my sense of humor. I’ve never been any good at writing serious, angsty novels, and I often get bored reading them. Sass is where it’s at for me. My biggest weakness is description. I tend to overthink scenes and either end up with too much or too little. It’s something I’m definitely working on.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

Honestly, I am no marketing guru when it comes to self-publishing. We use social media, but most of our marketing efforts are spent getting reviews. The only tip I have is to keep getting books out! The more you write, the more likely you are to gain readership.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Read lots. Write lots. Rinse, repeat. And don’t give up!

The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper  by  Sarah Addison Allen  description:

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

The Peach Keeper  5 STARS

This is a wonderfully whimsical story, with a hint of magic that makes anything possible, and a mystery to keep you turning pages late into the night. I loved the balance between Willa and Paxton. Willa is haunted by all the things she’s done in the past, while Paxton lives with the regrets of all the things she hasn’t done. And while this does deal with the two falling in love, this book is more about the power of friendship, about why it’s so important to be their for your friends, and how that relationship never has to fade away. It’s definitely not your average sort of novel. The thing I love most about Allen’s writing is that she doesn’t just give you this one story, she gives you a whole world in this town, but it never gets bogged down. She lets you see all these people and all the things that have led them here, and created them, and it really gets you involved in all of their lives. They become people you feel like you knew, and being from a small town I can definitely relate to this sort of world, though I wish we had the strange occurrences that happen there, would’ve been interesting. And while you don’t need to read Garden Spells before this, because it’s not tied into that series, some of the characters do show up. Which is another thing I love authors to do, to have their books all within this same world, which makes each story you read by them just suck you in even further.