Say what now…?

I know, Shadow Babies, I know. I have no doubt that this one is going to throw people for a bit of a loop. At first glance it’s hard to see how a Tay Tay song fits into an urban fantasy writing background, but bear with me here.

First off, this song has a killer beat. Actually, I haven’t been using it for scene writing at all, I’ve had it cranked for all of the insane admin I’ve been doing lately!
A quick glance around the site will tell you that changes, they are a comin’! Over the last couple of months I’ve been handling a new book release, a website redesign as well as transferring to a brand new web host, a newsletter overhaul and some huge upcoming goodies that you guys are (hopefully) going to go crazy for. Shhhhh… spoilers.

And secondly, I can totally picture Vanessa getting drunk on red wine and singing this song into her hairbrush microphone when she’s home alone, lol.

…Ok, maybe that’s just me. I did that. No shame.

So here it is, to get you pumped for the week ahead…

Taylor Swift – …Ready For It?

 

If you haven’t already bought it, now is your chance. The CREATURES boxset is now available for FREE through Kindle Unlimited. 21 amazing stories from bestselling urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors for you to sink your teeth into.

Just click on the photo below and you will be taken directly to the Amazon page.

Happy Reading!

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Let me first just start off this blog by saying, “WOOOOOOOO!!!”

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let’s get on with things.

After a ton of hard work, a very long year, and the honour of working with some amazingly talented authors, the CREATURES box set made it onto the USA Today Bestsellers List yesterday.

This was my first time in a box set and it was certainly an eye opener. I have never seen such a flurry of activity in my life. From the early stages when everyone was quiet and just kept their head down writing, all the way to yesterday afternoon, where there were 21 women cyber screaming at each other at the top of their lungs trying to keep each other calm while we waited for the list to be posted.

I learned so much and I made some wonderful new friends.

Will I do another boxset? Honestly, I don’t know if my heart could take it! The last eight months were such a rollercoaster of emotions. I think that I will definitely have to take some time to step back, take a breather and focus on the next book in the Vanessa Kensley series along with the upcoming Highlander series.

Become a USA Today Bestselling Author was definitely on my author bucket list and I am beyond thrilled  to have achieved it.

I just want to thank all of you for your support of my writing and the CREATURES box set. We couldn’t have done this without your help.

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So we’re coming up on Christmas FAST, which means this will probably be my final blog post for the year while I spend the next 10 days navigating turkey, out of town family, and prepping my writing and business goals for 2017.

On top of all that I have to remember to make my New Years Castile soap. Because castile soap is at its finest when it has been cured for at least a year, it has become a bit of a tradition for soapers to make a batch of castile soap on New Years Eve.

Mmmm soap.

Stephanie Marks -  Queen of the Nile Soap

Stephanie Marks - Queen of the Nile Soap
My soap isn’t a true castile, which is pure olive oil. But the oil blend I use, olive/avocado/palm gives it enough properties of a castile that it really benefits from a year long cure as well.

I love making soap while I’m not writing. It uses a completely different creative part of my mind. Sometimes it’s nice to quiet the voices, put a pause on the world building and build something with my hands instead. There is something incredibly soothing about measuring out oils and lye and watching everything come together.

Speaking of which. It’s the holiday season, which means I can’t talk about pouring and measuring and not talk about BAKING!

Now, I love to bake but this year there isn’t a square, pie or tart in sight at my place. So instead of posting my recipe for butter tarts, I’m giving you my mom’s recipe for lemon bars instead. She has made them for Christmas so many times over the years now that they pretty much signal the heart of the holiday season for me:

Lemon Hazelnut Bars

Base:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup salt

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or pecans

Topping:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tbsp grated lemon peel

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tsp baking powder

*sifted icing sugar optional

Base: Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

Combine flour, sugar, salt in food processor. Add butter and nuts. Process to fine crumbs. Press firmly into 13″ x 9″ (3.5L) cake pan. Bake at 350F (180C) for 18 minutes.

Topping:

Combine first 5 ingredients in food processor until smoothly blended. Pour over base. Bake for 23-28 minutes or until edges are starting to brown and filling is just set. cool. Cut into bars. If desired, dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

*Note: If food processor is unavailable, mix base with pastry blender and mix filling with wire whisk.

*Note 2: This is not my mother’s original recipe, she got it out of a magazine. Unfortunately she cannot remember which one. As soon as we figure it out I will update this post with the appropriate credits.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 46 minutes

Makes: 4 dozen bars

Freezing: Excellent


Writer Radio

Because I have so much planned for 2017 I’ve been working on a few books at once this December. And I’m drowning in the feels! Being immersed in the relationship drama of your characters in one book can be crazy enough. But three different couples, with three different problems all trying to fight it out inside your head? Wow. That can actually get a bit exhausting. Of course I like the tension in my books to be about much more than just the boy/girl stuff. Conspiracies, back stabbing, murder, vengeance, and saving the world all come with their own  different levels of intensity. When your story has any kind of love story within it, it has to have conflict. It it’s too easy it just gets… boring. So I was really thrilled when I realized this song worked as great writing music for each of the different projects I’m working on. Because love, pain, confusion and (hopefully) reconciliation are so universal.

I’ve been loving this song by Britney Spears right now and it seems completely fitting. Because, you know, So. Much. Drama. So for the final installment of Writer Radio 2016, I give you…

Britney Spears – Inside Out

Hello, hello! I knew you couldn’t stay away for long. Alright, Shadowlings, we all know that there was no way I could leave this Brit out of the Top Five. That’s right, you know who I’m talking about. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you, the one… the only… William the Bloody!!

I’m pretty sure I can hear your screams of joy from here, and you know what? I’m right there with you. So let’s get down to it.  

If you’re between the ages of 25-35 there’s a good chance he was one of your first vampire crushes. (The first probably being the King of Brood. Yeah, we see you, Angel. Wait your turn.)

Who is he?: Spike aka William the Bloody

Where can you find him?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and) Angel

Why he’s awesome…

First of all. He’s cool. Like, SUPER COOL. I mean, you know you’ve basically hit the pinnacle of awesome when Billy Idol bites your style. Long before the crooning bad boy hit the scene, Spike was the original platinum blonde bad ass.

Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

He also wears a fantastic leather jacket that he stole off the body of a dead slayer. How hard core is that? First I’ll kill you, then I’ll steal your cool clothes.

Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike preaches truth pretty much 24/7. He is brutally honest. Not only with other people but about himself as well.

Spike Quotes - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike and Giles - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike and Buffy Quotes - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spike loves fiercely, with the whole of his being and to the point of insanity. Spike and Dru were the kind of villain couple for whom you rooted to live happily ever after.

Spike and Drusilla - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike and Drusilla - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Awww. They’re just so cute!

And then just in case we didn’t fully comprehend the lengths to which he was willing to go for a woman he loves… He goes and puts himself through hell (almost very much literally) in order to reclaim his soul, just so that he can be the better man he thinks the woman the loves deserves. And why? So that MAYBE she can finally love him back. 

Spike gets his soul - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

And like so many of the best multidimensional bad guys that came before him… In the body of a soulless serial killer beats the heart of a poet.

Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike made the journey from bad guy to savior of the world really REALLY well. You just had to respect the struggle. And sure, it was forced on him at the beginning but in the end he WANTED to be better, and he clawed himself back from the abyss to prove it.

Spike and Faith - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As you can see, Spike is pretty much all around awesome. He clever, he’s funny, he’s complex AND he’s hot. Pretty much the whole swoon worthy vampire package. 

This post could probably go on forever so I’m going to wrap it up here with some Spike eye candy for you all to enjoy on this Tuesday morning.

Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And in closing…


Because… yeah. James Marsters (the actor that played Spike), might be the only man on the planet whose cheek bones rival those of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Did you watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Spike vs Angel, who’s you pick? Do you have a favorite Spike scene, quote or full episode?

Whooooooah! Chill out shadow babies, I know what you’re about to say. “Steph, are you crazy? Klaus isn’t a vampire he’s a HYBRID!”

I know, I know, no need to shout. Klaus is a hybrid, and I’m not about to deny that. But he’s HALF vampire. And when he looks this good…

 Klaus Mikaelson 
are you sure you want to argue about it, or do you just want lots more Klaus?

Hahaha, that’s what I thought. More Klaus it is!

So….

Who is he?: Klaus Mikaelson

Where to find him: Vampire Diaries/ The Originals

Why I love him? Oh let me count the ways.

Klaus is complex. Like, CRAZY complex. In the Vampire Diaries universe, he is one of the original vampires. As in, one of the very first vampires in all of creation. So he is OLD, rich, and pretty much indestructible. He also has one of the most deep seeded cases of daddy issues I have ever seen. Ok, he has siblings and they all have daddy issues but he has even more reason for it. But, more on that some other time. The point is, family means everything to him. For him it’s about family loyalty above all, even if he does twist his ideals in some pretty messed up ways.

 The Mikaelsons 
The family that plays together…

 Rebekah Mikaelson 
Will probably end up pissing him off some how, staked, and carted around in a box for a few decades of “time out”. But only because he loves them so much and they just keep on disappointing him. Poor guy.

He is arrogant. Ridiculously, painfully arrogant. But he kind of has reason to be, and somehow he pulls off all that attitude really REALLY well.

 Klaus Mikaelson 
But all of that violence, arrogance, and recklessness is really just the symptom of a person that has spent centuries just trying to be loved.

 Klause Mikaelson 
Awww, he looks so sad.

Klaus Mikaelson is a complete and utter monster that destroys the lives of everyone around him in a regular basis, but has a depth to him that does not make him a caricature of a “villain”. His history and motivations allow you to empathize with him and fall for his charm even when every smart part of you is screaming, “No, no, no, don’t do it!”

 Klause Mikaelson and Caroline Forbes 
Look at her face. That girl doesn’t believe a single word that’s coming out of her own mouth right now. She’s half in love already.

Klaus is one of my favorite vampires because when you watch him he makes you feel ALL the emotions. Anger, annoyance, disgust, pity, sorrow, lust. Klaus is the kind of character that gives you emotional whiplash but when watching the show you love every second of it.

Plus, look at those eyes!

 Klaus Mikaelson 
 Klaus Mikaelson 
And that smile just promises all kinds of trouble.

 Klaus Mikaelson 
So how about you? Have you watched either Vampire Diaries or The Originals? On a scale of 1-10 where does your love for Klaus fall?

 Blood and Hunger, The Vanessa Kensley Series 
As of today, Blood and Hunger is now available for download on the Kobo site for those of you with Kobo ereaders.

Living in Canada means that it’s quite the toss up when it comes to who I know that may own a Kobo vs a Kindle. Now more of you can get your vampire urban fantasy fix.

Can’t wait to download your copy? Just follow the link to the website here.

Alright. Trying to decide which vampire to feature for my second installment of “My Favorite Vampires” was REALLY hard. It was like trying to pick which chocolate to eat next out of a Rogers Chocolates box. You want to just stuff them all in your mouth at once. But since that’s not very ladylike (and you could choke), you have to choose which one to savor first.

So after some serious thought, I decided that I wouldn’t mind taking a few nibbles out of Henry Fitzroy. *wink*

Name: Henry Fitzroy

Where you can find him: Blood Ties (TV show)

Henry Fitzroy is a 470 year old vampire, and the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. That’s right, our boy is a prince. And isn’t that a face you would love to have on your money?

Henry Fitzroy
One of the things that I love about Henry is that even for someone creeping up on 500, he hasn’t gotten jaded with time.

He sees the beauty in the world around him and is an a very talented artist.

Henry Fitzroy

He’s not afraid to let people in and know him.

Henry Fitzroy

He’s such a smooth talker.

Henry Fitzroy

And he’s so sweet. Even in full on vamp mode you kind of just want to tap him on the nose and say, *boop*.

Henry Fitzroy - Blood Ties

This is a vampire with zero angst. He’s just an all around wholesome and nice guy. But don’t get me wrong, he’s not a wimp. If you’re in trouble you DEFINITELY want Henry in your corner. But he’s one of my favorite vampires because he CARES.

… And also because he’s SMOKIN’ hot.

So for your viewing pleasure, I’m going to leave you with some Henry eye candy to help you get through your day.

Henry Fitzroy - Blood Ties
Henry Fitzroy - Blood Ties
Henry Fitzroy - Blood Ties
Rawr!

Have you watched Blood Ties? What did you think of Henry? Comment down below or on the Facebook post and let me know.

Who will be next on the list? Check back soon to find out!

Happy Thanksgiving, Darlings!

fowlcarcass

While Canadian Thanksgiving was back in October, I hear you crazy people are getting your turkey and pie on TODAY! So I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for my readers. I couldn’t do this without you guys. Thank you for your encouragement, support and enthusiasm. I hope you all have a warm and wonderful day.

P.S. Please send pie…

To kick off my series of posts, entitled oh so cleverly as “My Favorite Vampires”, I have decided to start with the Queen of Mean: Pam.

Name: Pamela Swynford De Beaufort

Where you can find her: True Blood (TV Show)

 Pam - True Blood 
Why Pam?

Let’s be honest here people. Pam is my spirit animal. I’m a pretty friendly person, but Pam is the person I would probably be if I didnt care about being liked, or keeping friends, or holding down a job…

How can you not love her? 

First of all, the woman’s look is ALWAYS on point.

 Pam - True Blood 
Seriously. I mean sure, I could totally look this good all the time if I was immortal and had all the time in the world… or maybe not.

 Pam - True Blood 
I know that red leather dress just landed on the Christmas lists of at least half of the people reading this post. If anyone rocks this at their holiday staff party please send me pics!

 Pam - True Blood 
She can even rock a pink tracksuit.

Pam is never one to shy away from her feelings.

 Pam - True Blood 

She is a successful and professional business woman.

 Pam - True Blood 

She’s a caring friend.

 Pam - True Blood 

And has an endearing, yet seldom seen, vulnerability.

Pam - True Blood 

She is also one of the most fiercely loyal characters I have ever seen in a show.

 

She’s pretty much just all around awesome. 
The show True Blood has ended, but if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, do it, do it now! You won’t regret it. It’s based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

And for those of you that watched it and loved it, I hope this was a fun look back on one of the show’s best characters.

Do you have a favorite character from True Blood? Comment below and tell me who you love!