Dariel's World

Hi. I'm Dariel Raye (#darielsblog), an interracial/multi-cultural paranormal romance and urban fantasy author, and every day of this journey is a learning experience. I'm also a counselor, musician, and animal lover who likes to share Indie Author tools and resources, so I'll periodically segue into things music, animal, marketing, or psychology-related. The stars here, though, are books about all-conquering love and romance, and the authors who write them. Enter a world where werewolves, vampires, shifters, angels, and all things paranormal capture our hearts...

You might also like to visit my Dark Paranormal Romance Series Site. Zaidi Features Date Request

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Zaidi Features: Jami Gray Chats About Her "Big Easy" Experience, Palm Reading and All!


My friend Jami Gray is visiting again with some intriguing info about her visit to New Orleans. Personally, I love the above-ground cemeteries. Jami's also got a free book for a limited time (until August), so don't delay and miss out. It's "Shadow's Edge," and a great opportunity to get started on this series. Here's Jami...


It’s All in the Lines

I’m a writer of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romantic Suspense, which translates to—I not only believe in the strange and unusual, I’m generally promoting it.  During my first trip to New Orleans I managed to tick a few things off my bucket list. Of course I’ll be back, because there were too many things left unvisited—cemeteries, the swamp, plantations, just to name a few.  However, I did make time to visit Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (http://www.voodooneworleans.com) for a palm reading.

First to give you a sense of setting—in the French Quarter, especially the closer you get to Bourbon Street and Royal Street, the smell can knock you into the next life faster than a horse drawn carriage. Cobbled streets lined with bars, shops and art galleries crouch below balconied homes.  There are relator signs letting you know if a condo comes with it’s own ghost or not. (Kid you not!)

People abound, on the sidewalk, in the shops and bars, and on the streets themselves. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try forcing a car down those narrow strips.  My hubby, BFF, and I made our way down the sidewalk when we saw the sign: Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. 

We stumbled up two cement steps, brushed by a couple with a stroller heading out, and found ourselves surrounded by strange masks, chicken feet, hand crafted mojo bags, gris-gris, and voodoo dolls. Any and everything designed to help you maneuver your way through the modern karmic world.

Immediately, I’m drawn to the colorful collection of candles nestled next to the beautiful, but strangely disturbing alter to the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau. There are gris-gris, cooled wax, bits and pieces of past offerings while signs stand guard and warn customers “NO TOUCHING”. Not to mention the shop’s proprietress who reiterates the point to one or two customers who somehow miss the signage.

For all the strange items cluttering the walls, shelves and ceiling (oh yes, there were things hanging from the rafters—voodoo dolls, masks, hand-made crosses), there was a quiet peacefulness to the shop.

Eventually BFF and I make it to the back, and submit our names for a palm reading. We patiently wait our turn, debating if we want to pick up some chicken feet or a decorative skull (yep, that’s me).  

Our readings are individual. I slip inside to find a white haired woman who could have been any one of the many authors invading New Orleans that week. Her smile is sweet and she has the steadiest gaze I’ve ever encountered.  She reads my palm, giving me some interesting insights.
Then she picks up a well-worn stack of playing cards with, of all things, playing kittens on the back. They dance through her hands. I keep my questions silent and let the cards fall where they will. She used a standard Tarot layout the first time, but with each following draw, the layout changes. It’s been awhile since I’ve dusted off my own Tarot deck, so I’m not sure which patterns she used, but what she gave me—hmmm, the future holds some interesting times.

Nope, won’t share, because I’m a firm believer readings are to be kept personal.  I will tell you, I’m curious to see how much she gave me comes about.

My BFF and I did compare notes, because you have to enter some of these readings with a dose of skepticism.  Yet, there was enough individual predictions in the readings to make us both believe there may be nuggets of truth.

Now, is it a chicken and egg thing? Will our futures fall as predicted because that’s what we believe will happen? Or will it happen that way because that’s the way it’s supposed to? I’ll leave the answer up to higher powers to answer, for now I’ll keep on, keeping on and we’ll see what the future brings.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…


THE KYN KRONICLES (Urban Fantasy series w/Black Opal Books)

WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, Kyn Kronicles .5
(Things That Go Bump For The Holidays Anthology)

The magic of the holidays can be hell…

Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong.  What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, because revealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2
Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand. 

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.


SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3
Even wild hearts can be broken…
Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.
If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4
Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?


Coming Fall 2015:

A collection of Kyn shorts, including WRAPPED IN SHADOWS



PSY-IV Teams (Paranormal Romantic Suspense series w/MuseIt Up Publishing)

HUNTED BY THE PAST, PSY-IV Teams #1
Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past…

Changing the past is impossible, a fact ex-marine, Cynthia Arden, understands all too well. Struggling with the aftermath of a botched mission, a panicked phone call brings her home to face a killer’s game. Unfortunately, the distracting Kayden Shaw returns as well, the one man she thought would stand by her, until he chose his job over her.
To survive, will Cyn risk her heart or lose the man she loves and her life?


Coming Spring 2016:

TOUCHED BY FATE, PSY-IV Teams #2
Trusting him with her secrets is dangerous. Trusting him with her heart could be fatal.

As a specialized consultant for the Department of Defense, Risia Lacoste understands the bargaining chip of a well-kept secret. When her current assignment threatens to unearth her deeply buried skeletons, she’s forced into a high-stakes game of lies and loyalty where even her ability to foresee the future can’t predict the winner.

Darkness lies under the skin of every man, and PSY-IV Team operative and touch empath, Tag Gunderson, has the demons to prove it. Scarred by betrayal and disillusionment, he’s not Risia’s top pick for a partner in the game, but he’s all she’s got.

As the game draws them deeper into a pit of intrigue and their list of enemies grow, will Risia trust Tag with more than her secrets or will his demons destroy them both? 





BIO:    

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.




You can find me at:

Black Opal Books:    www.BlackOpalBooks.com 

Muse It Up Publishing:  http://museituppublishing.com

Website:     www.JamiGray.com






Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI




BUY LINKS:
You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:




Or you can use the following:

THE KYN KRONICLES:

THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Wrapped in Shadows .5 Kyn Kronicles)






Shadow’s Edge: Bk 1 of Kyn Kronicles





iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-edge-kyn-kronicles/id482595056?mt=11




Shadow’s Soul:Bk 2 of the Kyn Kronicles






iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-soul-kyn-kronicles/id541827836?mt=11





Shadow’s Moon: Bk 3 of the Kyn Kronicles











Shadow’s Curse: Bk 4 of the Kyn Kronicles












THE PSY-IV TEAMS:

Hunted by the Past: Bk 1 of PSY-IV Teams








Google Play:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Flasher Friday: "Timeless"




Flashing again! One-hundred words to create a story using this pic as our inspiration. Take a look at my friends' takes by clicking here.

Timeless

Look at them, flocking around like vultures to a bloody carcass. I knew I shouldn’t have come. They turn my stomach, and that’s not easy to do.

Thankfully, I had Ben change everything before it was too late, leaving his entire estate to the daughter we invented – I invented.

He was a good man. The only man I’ve ever really loved enough to settle down with and live this fa├žade.

A song, prayer, speeches, lies about how much they loved him, nice, but give it a break, people.

Little do they know, I watched over their father until he died. I’d had to leave long before because he wouldn’t let me turn him. He kept aging. I didn’t.

C’est la vie, or, say o se dla a (such is the afterlife).



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Zaidi Features: "Three Jewels" and "Diamond In the Rough" by Chris Kalyta




Synopsis
Three Jewels, an erotic adventure set at the beginning of Ancient Egypt's 3rd Dynasty, takes place in a land populated both by primitive people taking their first steps toward civilization and by mythology.  Evil Set has risen in Nubia and turns his gaze upon the gleaming treasure that is the Land of the Nile, and all he comes across fall under his spell.  As chaos threatens the very existence of Egypt, can Imhotep, King's Vizier, free his sovereign and all those he cares about from the iron grip of this immortal foe?  And what of the task set for Imhotep by the First Queen of Egypt?  Can he select one wife from three innocent women, knowing that the two he does not choose will be put to death?




Synopsis
In this retelling of the Cinderella story set around 3600 B.C., timid Issamun must cast off her life as a slave if she is to help stop the resurrection of an ancient evil that threatens all of Egypt - and possibly the world.  As the family that owns her plans to use the supernatural might of the fallen Set to overthrow the Pharaoh, Issamun must discover who she is, what she seeks in life, and whether she would be wise to aid the brave warrior who has come alone to put down the schemes of her masters.  Is it possible to resist the soul-numbing power of Set if he does re-awaken?  Is it possible to kill a god?  And what horrors will Issamun have to endure to save those whom she cares for?  This erotic fantasy-adventure takes the reader back to a time when mankind was just beginning to carve out civilization from the wild and unfathomable chaos that was the world.  The world of Diamond in the Rough is one of magic and mythology, of semi-civilized ancients and cruel barbarians.  This tale is a sequel to Three Jewels.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Movie Review: "Jurassic World"




Movie Review: “Jurassic World”
Finally saw “Jurassic World” a few nights ago, and first, please allow me to vent. Some critics can be such asses. Too many of them think being a critic means they have to say something negative. What ever happened to giving credit where it’s due instead of nit-picking over pettiness? That’s a rhetorical question, of course; no one knows, but somehow the profession has disintegrated into a bunch of bitter cynics who obviously wish they could accomplish whatever art they’ve chosen to criticize. Point is, anyone can criticize. It’s base, human, and requires no legitimate expertise. Vent over. Back to the movie…

Guess you’ve ascertained that I enjoyed the movie, and critics did not give it the marks it deserved, in my opinion. The highest rating “Jurassic World” received was a seven-point-five, along with negative comments about the characters, and most critics gave it lower scores. What? It was a fabulous movie for what it was. You don’t go to a showing of dinosaur fantasy fit to please children as well as adults, and expect to receive the depth of character found in movies such as “Silence of the Lambs,” "Sophie's Choice," or “Ryan’s Daughter.”

“Jurassic World” was well-acted, fun, action-packed, and satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I’d seen Chris Pratt in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” another surprisingly fun film, he never caught my eye like he did in his performance as Owen, a military man who managed to train Velociraptors (actually, the creatures referred to as Velociraptors in Jurassic movies are modeled after the much larger Deinonychus Raptor).

Another nice surprise in the film was the strength of the heroine, Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of the infamous actor/director Ron Howard). She managed to not only keep up with Pratt’s character, but even saved him at least twice (in a white suit and heels, no less). As for the dinosaurs themselves, for the first time, they are depicted as living beings I found myself caring about – personified, you might say. Close-ups of the dinosaurs while being trained and afterward, helped amp up the emotional intensity of the movie.

“Jurassic World” also sported a few more sexy eye-catchers. B. D. Wong, an award-winning actor, and Omar Sy, a Frenchman who makes the most of his African appearance by sporting the appropriate accent, are both very easy on the eyes, and I’ve always been a fan of the versatile, talented Vincent D’Onofrio. The young cuties, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson also bear watching. It will be interesting to see where their careers are headed.


So now, where does “Jurassic World” go from here? The ending reeked of eventual sequel, so time will tell. As for me, I plan to purchase the DVD as soon as it’s available. Yeah, yeah, I know I could just purchase it on Amazon Prime or Vudu, but I’d like to be able to watch it even when I can’t stream. This is one of those rare movies I can watch over and over, much like “Independence Day.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flasher Friday: "Monument"




Time for another Friday flash. I'm a few hours late this week, but couldn't miss this one. Hope you enjoy, and take a look at my friends' posts, here.

Monument

“Do you hear anything?” Eva whispered.

“No.” Ahman stared straight ahead, his bright blue eyes the only light inside the shelter.

Eva struggled up, pressing against him for leverage, her large belly throwing her off balance as smaller stones shifted beneath her.

“Eva, wait! We don’t know what’s out there?”

Taking a step towards the only exit, a man-sized hole blasted from their make-shift closure, she turned back. “You can wait here if you want. I need to see what’s left.”

Carefully stepping through the hole, she stared at the iconic symbol, laughing and crying at the sight of neon lights.

The epidemic brought the world to its knees, yet one important religious monument remained.




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Art of Swag




Everybody loves stuff. Include personalized covers, signatures, and a little creativity, and you've got swag.  Now, I must admit, when I started designing swag for my books, it was all about passing out signed cards and sharing pretty covers. I've learned quite a bit since then, so here's some general info and I'll follow up with a few tips to help you make the most of this art.

Before we get into the details, let's talk a minute about the purpose of swag and how it fits into your overall marketing plan. Basically, there are three arms or branches to any marketing plan, from macro to micro: Marketing/publicity, advertising, and sales. 

Marketing/publicity is the big picture - your platform and image. For me and most authors, it's who we are as people. One of the main reasons I enjoy parties and events that allow me to chat with people is that not only is it fun, but I get to know some really great people, they get to know me, helps keep me attuned to what my readers like and don't like, and that's the gist of marketing/publicity. I'll talk more about parties and events in a later post.

Advertising is more direct. These are the "look what I just wrote" posts, "buy it here." Obviously, those don't go over very well unless heralded by a good marketing/publicity plan. That is, unless you're already famous and your name has become a trademark for greatness. At that point, most people don't expect to get to chat with you or get to know you. They just want to get their hands on your next book. It's funny that way. Although they're both on Facebook (or their publicity teams are, anyway), you won't see Nalini Singh or J.R. Ward doing Facebook parties.

Now for the third and most difficult part, sales, research tells us that people have to come in contact with your name/logo/platform an average of seven (yes, seven) times before they seriously consider buying, unless it's an impulse purchase. Everyone is busy, and a name is easily forgotten. It's up to us to remain visible. Those seven times include any and every contact made during the marketing/publicity and advertising stages.

All that said, where does swag fit? According to how you use it, swag runs the gamut from marketing/publicity to advertising and even sales. It can act as a contact staple, help get the word out about you and your books, and it also tells people something about who you are as an individual if you take the time to be creative with it. 

I've read several articles confirming that most paper swag ends up in the trash, so although it's nice to have, I wouldn't concentrate much energy or money producing it. Maybe a cover flat for each book, logo postcards, and calling cards, but that's plenty. From there, be as creative and unique as possible. What is it about you and your books that stands out from the crowd? What's unique or special?




  • Swag should be specifically related to your brand (logo or avatar), sub-genre, or books (characters or particular stories). Cover flats, bracelets, keychains, etc. should be unique to your books.
  • Swag should be useful. The best swag is something readers can use - keychains with lights, mugs, cups, coasters, totes, gift baskets with bookmarks, logo pens, and other goodies. The wonderful Ravannah Rayne does a nice job with the baskets and other creative swag. 
  • As for genres and sub-genres, sex toys and scented bath items, basically anything sensual is always a nice touch for romance authors.
  • Personally, I like coolers for summer (with my book covers or logo, of course).  
  • T-shirts and caps are always cool, but remember, they are higher ticket items, so maybe just for special events like release parties.

  • One of my latest ventures is character-inspired jewelry. For "Dai's Dark Valentine," the heroine, Dai, wants jewels to replace the ones she left behind, so my very creative friend, Tammy Ann Dove created a jewelry set just for her. Dai is a lioness shifter (notice the lion charms), and she has green eyes. 

  •  
Brainstorm and create according to your books, personality, and characters. Swag can facilitate the marketing/publicity, advertising, and sales of your books, so in my opinion, it shouldn't be overlooked, but it's important to remember the purpose of the swag - helping to make your name a recognizable trademark while providing personalized gifts to your friends and supporters. 

In a sense, it does double-duty, and the possibilities are endless. I've dedicated an entire page to swag on my website. You can also find out how to get in touch with Tammy there. For more unique swag ideas, take a look at some Pinterest boards.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Zaidi Features: An Inspiring Interview With Artemis J. Jones




Meet Artemis J. Jones. I met Artemis online a few months ago when I stumbled upon one of his moving flash fiction pieces, "Hair."  When you read it, you'll understand why we've been chatting from time to time ever since. His depth is inspiring, and I believe his stories will continue to be told in a voice uniquely his. Here's our interview...

Interview with blogger and short story author Artemis J Jones


Bio: Artemis J Jones is a blogger who interviews authors about their books.  He also writes short stories and Flash Fiction. Currently he lives in Miami Fl. with his wife Helena, an artist from Medellin Colombia. He is an advanced stage recurrent cancer survivor who believes in the power of nutrition, for survival, happiness, and overall balance of a healthy lifestyle. He’s also working on his first novel.

Dariel: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Artemis: In high school, but at that time, I was well aware of my lack of experience in life, reading, and understanding the craft of writing. My high school teachers told me I had talent and my college professors said the same thing, but I never felt like I had the basis for any good story until recently.

Dariel: What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality?

Artemis: Cancer.  The disease grabbed all my attention and left me sick and weak. I fought it hard for three years, but it is also why I have started to write. Cancer put my life in a place to develop the craft of writing and gave me voice, and an attitude.

Dariel: That is so poignant, Artemis! I’m not a cancer survivor, but as a kidney patient, I definitely understand the impact major illness can have on our perspectives, goals, priorities, and our very lives. Tell me one thing you would like readers to know about you.

Artemis: Life matters, and I will strive every day to put that into words.

Dariel: What role does your family play in your writing, if any?

Artemis: None. I made the same mistake most authors do, they ask their family and friends for input and it’s a waste of time, they’re not interested, their scared of causing flack, and they don’t know how to critique.

Dariel: I know exactly what you mean about family and friends. You said it perfectly. That’s why we build new relationships with like-minded people. What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Artemis: That’s a good question, it’s important. I get involved in life, talk to people, get outside, spend time at the ocean or in the ocean, and watch after my elderly parents who are both veterans.  



Dariel: Yes. Sounds like you embrace the moment. That’s a rare and precious quality. Flash fiction helps keep my writing sharp and succinct. What do you think are some of the benefits of flash fiction?

Artemis: You mentioned the two most important points. Flash is quick reading for our modern world.  It is the opportunity to tell a poignant story in real time.

Dariel: Tell us about one of your short stories, any favorite characters?

Artemis: Dave, from Don’t Play in the Street, is someone I can relate to slightly. Life is making him crazy and he doesn’t see it, he believes he is fearless, but that’s not true.  The story is much deeper than his character. The recurrent theme in the story is fear, looking at fear from different points of view, and the lies we tell to ourselves about fear.

Dariel:  That sounds like a great story! The intricacies of human behavior are always intriguing. What do you want readers to take from your writing?

Artemis:  Awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and define what is most important to maintain your life.

Dariel: That’s quite a challenge. What do you look for in a good book?

Artemis: I’m very careful about what type of books I read. I don’t want to copy another authors voice, but I do want to learn something. I’ve recently read several books by Carlos Fuentes. I like his insight into characters, but I don’t want to write like him.  He’s good, very good, but I need to keep my perspective and voice.

Dariel: I agree. That’s my philosophy as far as mentors go as well. Beethoven felt the same. He stated that he never listened to the music of others. Perhaps shunning the norm helped catapult him to greatness – to a place far beyond his time. What lifts your spirits when you’re discouraged?

Artemis: A date with my wife, and time on the boat. Going out to sea, sailing feeling the
wind.

Dariel: Romantic. I’m sure your wife relishes those moments as well. What tips can you offer towards building and maintaining a strong support system as a writer?

Artemis: I like critique groups and book discussion groups.  Also find an editor that doesn’t write their own stuff. Someone who is a very good reader, and more than a copy editor.

Dariel: Write a descriptive 4-line poem.
Okay, here goes …..
Artemis
Talking, Listening, Writing
Lover of Life
Wanderer of the Seas.

Dariel, thanks I enjoyed this!
AJJ
Anytime, Artemis, and I'm inviting you back now for a feature of your upcoming novel :-)