Official Synopsis and Sneak Peek: “Witch Hearts”

Ladies and gentlemen, very soon I will be releasing my second novel, an adult paranormal thriller titled Witch Hearts. Today I want to share with you the official back cover synopsis, as well as a photo my cover artist and I designed for the book. If you love shows such as “Criminal Minds” or movies like “Kiss the Girls”, I think you’d enjoy the read! (One of my beta readers says: “It’s like a longer episode of Criminal Minds but with witches and ghosts!”)

Witch Hearts by Liz Long, Spring 2013

How does a witch stay safe if a killer can get through her protection spells?

Witches like Ruby and Courtney can take care of themselves. So when Courtney is murdered, Ruby’s world crashes to a halt. The only thing keeping her grounded is the return of Courtney’s brother, Cooper. He seeks revenge, but Ruby wants to help other witches stay alive. To do that, she’ll have to reunite with her old coven’s High Priest, who also happens to be her cheating ex-boyfriend.

If that wasn’t awkward enough, when the killer gets too close, Cooper temporarily moves into Ruby’s place while a police officer tails her every move. Cooper’s presence distracts Ruby as they fight their desire against their need to stay safe. Then Courtney begins to haunt Ruby’s dreams and secrets are spilled, things from Cooper’s past that could get them both killed. The killer continues to stalk Ruby and the more she discovers, the more she fears she won’t be able to keep her heart in her chest.

Spellbook
Fun fact: I set up and shot this photo in my basement. If you can’t tell, that’s a spellbook in a pool of blood. The charm on it is a real Wiccan symbol for “protection” and as you can guess, is meant to be ironic. I hope that gets you guys excited to read Witch Hearts, on sale soon!

“Witch Hearts” – Chapter 1 (Video)

While love is great, thrillers are more my speed. And nothing says Valentine’s Day like hearts – that pairs well with a supernatural thriller about a killer taking witches’ hearts, right?

One of my editors offered up a spot to read in one of her writing sessions a few weeks ago, so I managed to cough up a little courage and give it a go. If you can ignore my enthusiastic hand gestures – and if I can get over berating myself for not speaking slowly or loud enough – I invite you to watch this 3 minute video of my reading. It’s the first chapter of my spring release, Witch Hearts, and while you may have to turn up your volume a little bit, I sure hope you enjoy it!

Love Is (Not) All You Need…When It Comes to Characters

I love Love. Really, I do! I’m a happily married kid who secretly loves romantic comedies despite a predictably sappy ending. But when it comes to writing stories (and this might be a major moment), I disagree with the Beatles. Love is not all you need. Love at first sight? I have a hard time not rolling my eyes. The girls who sit at home by the phone (I’m dating myself–the girls who wait for their text messages or smartphones to light up?), I want to sit down and have a heart to heart with them. And damsels in distress? You can’t hear my sound effects, but my reaction is a little like this: Gross.

It’s my opinion that characters should progress in a natural way when writing. When writers introduce characters, we usually know how they’ll interact with each other. We know all about the love interest (regardless of how big a role they play) and expect a certain amount of emotions to come into play. It’s up to us to show the relationship develop, to make the reader believe, no matter what the storyline, that this protagonist and love interest want/need/should be together. We want readers to fall in love with our characters, with their history and future, to take concern when problems arise, and to cheer when a protagonist succeeds. When it comes to writing love, however, we have to make the reader absolutely cheer for them.

I knew my protagonist would have love interests. It helps create interest, round out other characters with their reactions, and hopefully make you like the story that much more. My thing was that I really didn’t want it to be the focus of the story; I wanted people to cheer for Lucy and whatever love interest she had, but more importantly, I wanted readers to cheer for LUCY. I want people to see her as strong and independent. She’s okay being by herself because it’s been that way the last half of her life. She stands up for herself, tries to protect others, and has no patience for knights in shining armor. That was my own personal rule: Lucy can find love, but it won’t become her everything. It would enrich her life (or drive her nuts), but it wouldn’t define her. (I plan to do a post on female protagonists being all “I am Woman, hear me roar” soon, too.)

My other problem is that I want love to be believable. I found when writing a magical circus that I wanted to stick to some rules and logic should applied to all of them to better help readers catch up to an already established world (also another post on that later). I’ve never believed in love at first sight and I made Lucy very practical. She’s 23, trying to establish a place for herself. That means that boys, while a nice bonus, are not all that matter to her when what she really wants is to be a part of the Donovan family. Writing her with one love interest was almost easy to me, because I knew their relationship so well. I’ve noticed other readers are rooting for them, because they can believe in it, yet they understand that it wouldn’t become Lucy’s entire world under any circumstances. What can I say? Girl’s got priorities.

Time counted for my rules, too. If each book is one city they visit (as is my hope), then I had to stretch out my time. I needed to keep a schedule of days for their show, because I didn’t want everything happening within three or four days; I wanted to show that the circus is in town for a while and in doing so, give Lucy time to fall for a boy or two in a realistic way (3 weeks might not be long either, but it’s better than insta-love in 3 days). By having my main character constantly think things through (thinking it’s nuts to fall in love instantly), realize her biggest priorities (clearing her name of murder), and stay focused to who she is (she wants nothing more than to be a great Firestarter), I feel I’ve kept her pretty real. At least I’d want to be friends with her because she’d try to come up with a plan if in trouble or at least not ditch me when a cute boy’s around.

M. Leighton and Courtney Cole both are great examples of terrific love stories. I love the main characters, their relationships with their favorite men, and the outcomes of their situations. The thing was with their stories, however, is that the characters already  knew their loves, had a history with them in particular ways. I think it could be easier to write love that’s, say, developed over the years through friendship (a best friend’s older brother), as opposed to strangers who just met twenty minutes ago. Lucy meets all these people for the first time and while she’s very attracted to a boy or two, she’s realistic enough to put herself first (think of it as career-oriented).

Teens are a little harder, as I’m finding out in my YA piece, because my main character Nova is also logical. That is, her circumstances have made her that way. After she loses someone close to her, she pushes her old self away (her old self being an energetic, normal, boy crazy teenage girl), and her priorities simply change (justice/vengeance). Boys are still super cute of course and she’d enjoy a makeout session, but her thoughts are otherwise occupied with finding a killer. However, with her being a teenager, and trying to move on with her life, I’m finally giving her a love interest that is wonderful for Nova, but doesn’t hold her back from her…evening activities. I want people to root for her, to come back from a dark time in her life and find light and love that’ll keep her on an even keel.

My point is, I think writers should tread carefully when writing in love and relationships. It’s one thing for one-night stands or whatever. I’m talking about “can’t live without you, would kill anyone who hurt you” kind of love and if you ask me (and several other readers I know), we don’t want to see insta-love. We want to see an organic relationship develop, even if it’s under extreme circumstances. No matter who saves my life, I won’t fall in love with them the next day; teens might feel “insta-love,” but it still needs to be explained well in order for the reader to believe it–and support it.

Author Interview (Readers): Michelle Muto

Today we’re interviewing Michelle Muto, the author of The Book of Souls and Don’t Fear the Reaper. If you’d like to read my review on the fantastic Book of Souls book, please check that out here. And now without further ado!

What was your inspiration behind The Book of Souls?

I wanted something fun to read. I recall that the great Toni Morrison once said, “If you want to read something that hasn’t yet been written, you must write it.”

Who would play Ivy? Nick? Raven and Shayde? And especially Spike the lizard turned human?
Maybe Scarlett Johansen for Ivy.

I’m not too sure who’d play everyone else. I’d LOVE to hear who readers think would play Spike. I need some gorgeous guy who’s a bit off the wall funny in a naïve sort of way.

(Blogger’s Note: Because Spike is cute and blonde and because I watched a cute, blonde kid in a movie last night, my vote’s on “X-Men: First Class” actor, Lucas Till, who played Havok. He’s adorable and by my research (and by that I mean Google), he seems like a fun kid who can show off a silly side. Let’s show a photo:)

What do you think makes Ivy different from other teen witches?

I’d say that the whole story has a lighter, more fun feel to it. So much YA is dark these days. I wanted Ivy’s story to be unusual, a little crazy.

Please, oh please, explain Devlin (the cutest supernatural pet ever)—your inspiration, your favorite passage he’s in, if you can include him in all your other books…

He’s going to be in ALL of Ivy’s stories. The inspiration is actually my own dog, Ronan. Well, except for the fire breathing part, he’s darn close to Devlin himself. I had already dubbed Ronan a Beezlepup years ago. He’s always into mischief. Favorite passage? I think my favorite is when Devlin is hiding under the bed when Spike first disappeared from the guest bedroom. Or, maybe the scene where he’s trying to get Midnight down from the tree.

Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite passage from the book?

The scene at the end when Ivy and Nick’s walk out of the building together.

Do you have more plans for Ivy and her friends?

I do! Things have gotten a little more serious in Northwick, but don’t worry. There is still a lot of craziness from the crew.

Where can readers find their own copy?

Currently, they can find it on Amazon (who has it on exclusive until the end of April. Then, Ivy and company will be available on B&N and even iTunes!

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Lost-Souls-ebook/dp/B004QWZ8LO
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Souls-MacTavish-Novels-ebook/dp/B004QWZ8LO
Print versions outside the US – CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3711611

Readers can always connect with me on:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichelleMuto
FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Muto-Author-Page/154882381238003
My Blog: http://michellemuto.wordpress.com/

(She’s also on Goodreads here)

Michelle, thanks for agreeing to be on my blog! I can’t wait to read the next installment for the Ivy MacTavish series, in addition to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and all your other great books. Don’t forget, we’ll have her author interview for writers up on Friday so check back for Michelle’s indie publishing tips as well as her advice to every aspiring author.