Sharon Ashwood | Unleash the hellhounds!

Sharon AshwoodFROSTBOUNDImagine meeting someone who was young, handsome, protective, and handy when it came to fixing a leaky tap or taking out the villains. He’s the go-to guy in the community for problem solving and leadership. Everybody likes him. He oozes competence and has a great sense of humour.

Unfortunately, he’s not only from the wrong side of the tracks, but is the wrong species entirely. Just to complicate things, this alpha male with the Ruger Blackhawk is the only person standing between you and an unknown killer who just beheaded your roommate.

This is what happens to Talia Rostova, the fugitive vampire in FROSTBOUND, the latest in my Dark Forgotten series. When she meets Lore, the hellhound Alpha, the first thing he does is chain her to his bed for safekeeping. It makes perfect sense to him—even if she does a lot of yelling—until he stops thinking of Talia as simply a vampire and a murder suspect wanted by the cops.

FROSTBOUND is an adventure story, but it’s also a very sensual tale about forbidden love and personal choices. For those who haven’t been following the series, it’s a stand-alone book. For those who have, you’ll recognize a lot of the secondary characters and settings.

Of course, we visit the Castle, the prison where so many non-human creatures were held for centuries. It started out as a separate, garden-like world, but after the magic in it started to get old and run down, it turned into a dungeon.  I describe it as Escher meets a B horror movie—flickering torches, endless twisty stone corridors, and something vicious around every corner.

This is the world the hellhounds grew up in, slaves to the more powerful demons.  Lore engineered his people’s escape, and Frostbound finds him striving to create a stable community for the hellhounds.  As Alpha, he is expected to wed a female from his pack, for they believe there can be no young without a mated Alpha pair.

But then he meets Talia, one of the undead, and knows she is the one female he can love. After leading his people through so much peril, can he turn his back on them to be with her? Will she even allow him to make that kind of sacrifice?

The road for these two is difficult and deadly, and Talia’s own secrets threaten to shatter both their worlds before the last enemy is staked.

Read an excerpt:  http://www.sharonashwood.com/frostbound-excerpt.php

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjEmIDCwEcc

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Sharon Ashwood

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Spotlight on Sharon Ashwood

Who are the dark forgotten?Sharon Ashwood

No, it’s not the contents of the sock drawer.

My stories are set in present-day Fairview, a university town in the Pacific Northwest. It’s like any other North American city, but things are changing fast. The supernatural beings among us have been out in the open since the year 2000, which has created both fascination and fear among the human population.

But that’s just half the story. Long, long ago, all the various supernatural species lived side-by-side with humans. Then, nine sorcerers got together and built a supernatural prison dimension called the Castle.  They desired to be the most powerful beings on earth, so they put all other magical creatures into the Castle dungeon.  This included were-beasts, vampires, hellhounds, demons, dragons, unicorns—you name it.  It really didn’t matter if the other species were hostile to humans or not; they were killed or imprisoned for the crime of having magic.

Of course, a few monsters got away and survived in the shadows, and they became the modern vampires and werebeasts that “came out” in Y2K. They’ve just made peace with the humans and are starting to get a slice of the good life:  credit cards, cell phones, and cable TV.

And then the Castle opened a portal right in downtown Fairview. The creatures in it are the Dark Forgotten, imprisoned for thousands of years in a dungeon filled with flickering torches, endless twisty stone corridors, and something vicious around every corner.

Who should be rescued from the prison, and who should remain under lock and key? Who is evil, and who was merely guilty of magic? It’s a tough question, because the modern vampires and werewolves don’t want a whole new element coming in and ruining everything they’ve worked for. On the other hand, can they leave innocent beings locked up forever?

There are no easy answers for my characters, but there is plenty of passion and a lot of humour. After all, what happens when a large, evil rabbit escapes to haunt a tourist attraction? Do werewolves chase the postman? Does your house insurance cover demonic possession? And what happens when one of the Castle’s immortal guards falls in love with a single-mom slayer and has to choose between an eternity in darkness and a passionate affair that spells his death?

RavenousSCORCHEDUnchained

RAVENOUS begins the journey. Remember, one kiss is all it takes to lose your soul.

Read an excerpt of RAVENOUS.

SCORCHED delves into the world of the prison. Welcome to the Castle. The price of admission is your soul.

Read an excerpt of SCORCHED

Watch the SCORCHED video on YouTube

UNCHAINED breaks free onto bookstore shelves July 6!

Been there, slain that.

Read an excerpt of UNCHAINED:

Watch the UNCHAINED video on YouTube

For more information on all things dark and forgotten, visit www.SharonAshwood.com. For more information on the history and creatures of the story world, check out the Monsterpedia.

If you’re experiencing a supernatural infestation, check out the do-it-yourself monster removal advice page.

If you think you or a loved one might be a demon, take the Demon quiz

If you are a fire demon and require anger management advice, click on Anger Management Tips

Sharon Ashwood | It’s All Relative

AUTHORJunior! Don’t chain your uncle in his coffin again!

The Dark Forgotten series is about a lot of things: passion, adventure, mystery, and learning to live with a world that’s gone in an utterly unexpected direction. It’s also about families, whether we’re talking blood relatives, vampire clans, or a pile of hellhound puppies.

At the centre of the stories is the Carver family. They’re witches who have served the people of Fairview for hundreds of years, but tragedy has scattered the current generation. One of the themes of the series is how the Carvers reunite and heal. Of course, every family member does this on their own unique terms, and you wouldn’t believe who some of them bring home to dinner. Kids these days!

TITLEAt the beginning of Ravenous, Holly Carver is the one left running the family ghostbusting agency. Her parents were killed in a car accident, and her sister, Ashe, has gone to live in Spain. Holly’s grandmother, though still full of spit and vinegar, is in a seniors’ residence. It’s up to Holly—and her scrumptious vampire partner, Alessandro Caravelli—to save the day when a portal to another dimension starts spewing demons, hellhounds, and other surprises into their quiet, Pacific Northwest university town. (And people thought the casino ruined the neighbourhood. They had another thing coming.)TITLE

Unchained is Ashe’s book. She was the one who tore the Carver family apart, and hers is the biggest debt to pay. Now a widow, she’s come home to Fairview with her ten-year-old daughter, determined to make peace with her sister. Ashe’s been working as a slayer for years, but she hangs up her stakes and takes a job at the library in hopes of a fresh start.

At first, all goes well. Ashe even starts to get along with Holly’s fangy beau. The problem is that monster-hunting isn’t a job one can exactly quit. There’s always a ghoul hiding under somebody’s bed.

Then a last chance at happiness comes in the form of Captain Reynard, a dashing immortal guardsman. He’s hunting for the thief who took his soul and needs Ashe’s expertise. With so much tragedy in her past, Ashe is afraid to risk the safety of her family—but refusal means Reynard will die. All Ashe can do is pray that she doesn’t fail everyone yet again.

Choices are everything.

Ashe and Holly’s half-brother, Brendan, has chosen to deny his magic and live a completely human life. But will that hold up when his own children start showing signs of the gift? Holly is following in her grandmother’s footsteps and living as a witch in all but one respect: she’s not going to marry one of the nice boys from a good witch family. She’ll live with one foot on the dark side. Ashe’s choice is between her roles as a mother and as a hunter. She destroyed her own magical gifts long ago, but her daughter is on the cusp of getting her own powers. What Ashe decides will profoundly impact her child’s future.

They say we can’t pick our relatives. That might be true, but we do choose whom we call family. Does it really matter if your brother-in-law is Undead, as long as he treats your sister right? So what if the best man was a fire demon? The Carvers’ journey is about learning what matters most: Love.

Although it is a little weird holding the family barbeque after dark. I’m just saying.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Watch a video from UNCHAINED

Click to read an excerpt

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Sharon Ashwood | Celebrate With A Scorching Good Time

SHARON ASHWOODSCORCHEDDecember 1 is the launch of Scorched, the second installment of my Dark Forgotten series. Without giving away too many details, the action picks up about a year after Ravenous ends. It’s a stand-alone story, but most of the characters from book one return. Those interested in the fate of Fairview’s police detective, Conall “Mac” Macmillan, will have all their questions answered.

Mac is a delightful character to work with: smart, gorgeous, down-to-earth, sense of humor, and basically an all-around good guy. Nevertheless, the agreement between the International Union of Fictional Characters (Paranormal Romance Division) and the Fellowship of Twisted Authors, Inc. gave me a free hand to make his life metaphorical and literal hell. That’s part of the deal that brings you, the readers, the best possible stories. The fellowship stands behind their Tortured Hero Guarantee

To read more of CELEBRATE WITH A SCORCHING GOOD TIME and to comment for a chance to win a copy of Scorched please click here.

Sharon Ashwood | When Your Brand New Book Leaves Home …

Launching a book is a peculiar business.

First, the concept of “launch” is a bit different from the writer’s end. She’s already sent the manuscript away over and over again – to the editor, to the copy editor, for page proofs, and on and on. And yet the darned thing keeps coming back like a pesky cat and, sadly, editors are about as easy to ignore as a yowling Siamese hanging from the screen door. What began as infatuation with one’s literary child quickly morphs to irritation. That’s a sure sign Baby Book has hit the difficult toddler stage.

But books grow up too fast. When it finally launches, the author doesn’t actually have much of a role to play anymore. Sure, a party is nice, but all the stuff that matters is all beyond her control, subject to grand and incomprehensible market forces. Baby Book is all grown up, out in the cold, cruel world and about to encounter fast cars and loose readers. Will the universe be kind?

Click here to read the rest and enter Sharon’s one day blog contest.

Sharon Ashwood | Making Paranormal Sandwiches

There’s a lot to be said for the submarine sandwich. There can be as much bread, cheese, veggies and cold cuts as the maker desires. If you want two kinds of cheese, go ahead. Mayo and mustard? Why not? The only limit is appetite.

Which is all good until your boss points to a sandwich box made for the usual peanut butter and jelly sized affair. That moment of “hmm, how am I going to get this sucker in there?” sums up my experience of writing the paranormal romance. I have to tell a many-layered story as clearly and efficiently (and as briefly!) as I can.

For any author, there’s a lot on the kitchen counter when they’re building the universe of their book: there’s character, plot, and setting, plus:

  • In a romance, there’s the whole fall-in-love experience.
  • If it’s a historical novel, the author needs to bring the past alive, right down to the horseshoe nails, gun smoke and corsets.
  • If it’s science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal, there’s the whole supernatural universe, with its vast array of creatures, rules of magic, and other cultures to explain and make compelling.
  • For a good paranormal or urban fantasy romance, where you have most of the above, your metaphorical book sandwich is a definite clubhouse. Yum, and don’t hold the pickles.

But wait: just because an author has a lot of ground to cover, that doesn’t mean they get more pages to tell their tale. In fact, many editors are careful to put the word count they want right in a writer’s contract. How many words? Not enough! Why do they do this? Long books cost more to print (and the reader pays for that) and also not everyone wants to read a really long book.

Having a word limit does challenge an author’s skill, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s made me write smarter—but inevitably, things get left out. When the dust settled from writing my February 09 release, RAVENOUS, I had a spare demon and an entire unopened box of vampires. Plus, there was a lot to say about my universe and the people in it that I hadn’t even begun to cover. It was like I’d been whittled down to, well, half a sandwich. Thank heavens there’s a book two!

What’s an author to do with all their leftover ideas? One solution to the world-building overflow is to take all that extra content and post it on the web. Games, maps, character interviews and background histories are popping up on web sites more and more often—and that’s not the only outlet for extras. Marvel Comics has picked up some popular authors and are releasing comic books based on writers like Laurell K. Hamilton. If TV shows and movies have tie-ins, why not books? Can action figures be far behind? In trade magazines for the book industry, I’ve seen this many-pronged approach hailed as the future of reading—books aren’t just on paper anymore, but require a multimedia event.

As an author, that’s a lot to explore. So far, I have my own Monsterpedia page at www.sharonashwood.com/ that fills in snippets of information about the RAVENOUS world. I’m sure I’ll do other things as the series goes along. Overall, I’m glad there are so many ways to communicate with readers, and I enjoy blogging, and multimedia content is fun to experience and to create. But what about the story?

This “book plus web” approach is nifty from my side of the fence, but would more book and fewer extras work better for readers? Or is the opposite true? I like to think of novels as one-stop-shopping or, to go back to my original metaphor, the full meal deal. Is that view out of date?
What about you? Thumbs up or thumbs down on putting important book series information on the web? Should it be web-only, or just repeat what’s already on the page?

Sharon Ashwood