Dariel's World

Hi. I'm Dariel Raye, an interracial/multi-cultural paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and psy/suspense author, and every day of this journey is a learning experience. I'm also a counselor, musician, and animal lover. My stories are about all-conquering love and romance, and I enjoy hosting other authors as well. Enter a world where werewolves, vampires, multi-shifters, vamp-like Nephilim, Vodouin Fey, and all things paranormal capture our hearts...

You might also like to visit my website.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fridays With Friends: Katie Jennings is Back With a New Title and an Interview!

My friend, Katie Jennings is back today with a new series and a bit more information about herself! I'm excited about having her here, and this new series sounds really exciting! There's a trailer near the end of the interview so you can get a taste of it :-)

Katie Jennings

1.     When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality?

I’ve loved to write since I was in early high school.  Before that, reading was my escape, and I suppose it eventually morphed into this need to create my own characters and visualize my own stories in the written word.  It wasn’t until 2010 though that I really sat down with a lot of determination and told myself that I was going to write a book series.  I had always envied authors and wanted to give it a shot and see if I could be one.  So I just started pouring out ideas and formulating a plot, and it became the Dryad Quartet.  I haven’t looked back since.

2.     What 3 things would you like readers to know about you?

Firstly, I’m a die-hard romantic.  Anything involving romance in any shape or form will captivate my interest almost immediately.  Second, I am obsessed with astrology and signs, and routinely reference my Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs and Love Signs books while creating my characters.  Third, my favorite super hero is Iron Man, especially when Robert Downey Jr. is playing him ;)

3.     Oh, my! We have two more things in common. Astrology is one of my favorite tools for building characters, and I, too, love “Iron Man” and Robert Downey, Jr. J Tell us about your books. Genre, titles, any favorite characters? What can we look forward to from you in the near future? WIP’s, upcoming releases

My current series that is available is the Dryad Quartet.  It is a contemporary fantasy series that blends our world with that of ancient mythology, incorporating characters like Mother Earth and Father Sky, the Muses, the Fates, the Furies, etc.  I also introduce my own characters, the Dryads, into the mix.  They are beings that control the elements, so there are Air Dryads, Fire Dryads, Earth and Water.  Each book in the series is about one of the Dryads, beginning with Air, Capri.  My favorite character from this series is Rhiannon, as she was molded somewhat after myself.  Plus her relationship with Liam (the Water Dryad) holds a special place in my heart J

The series that I am in the process of publishing/working on is the Vasser Legacy series.  It’s much darker, deadlier, and sexier than the Quartet books ;) and falls more in the genre of drama/family saga/romantic suspense.  The first novel in the series is called When Empires Fall, and it introduces readers to the Vasser Hotel family empire, and the newest generation of Vasser heirs who run the family business.  They fall into scandal as their great grandfather’s suicide is revealed to have actually been cold-blooded murder, and the book highlights the struggles they face as their empire crumbles before them.  Toss in more murder, forbidden passion, and even more shocking revelations and you have When Empires Fall!  My favorite character from this series is Madison Vasser, and as readers will see when the book is released, she is a very strong-willed, cunning and dark character, and I had a ridiculously fun time writing about her. 

Readers can read an excerpt from When Empires Fall on my website:  http://www.katieajennings.com/news.htm

4.     Is there a common thread in your books? How do your values show up in your writing? What do you want readers to take from your writing?

It wasn’t intentional, but I noticed that when I finished the Dryad Quartet series and began working on the Vasser Legacy novels that I tend to write a lot about family.  Namely, the unique relationship between parents and children, and between siblings.  In the Quartet books, each of the Dryads have either a strained relationship with their parents, or one that has to begin from scratch.  For example, in Breath of Air, Capri spent her life in the outside world, never knowing who she was or where she came from.  But she finds her way back home to Euphora, where her family and fellow Dryads are.  She meets her father essentially for the first time, and has to learn to trust and love him.  In Firefight in Darkness, Blythe’s father returns to her after years of being banished, and she has to adjust to his inherent flaws and temper as she tries to repair their relationship.  A Life Earthbound focuses on Rhiannon’s past, and we learn the particularly awful and cold relationship she has with her parents, and the reasons she is so cold herself.  Of Water and Madness culminates all of the relationships together, showing both how they have progressed and how some things will never change.  It’s quite intense at times, really, and I’m proud of the dynamic interactions I’ve created between the characters and their parents.  Same goes for the Vasser Legacy novels, which are entirely about the family and the relationships between the complex and expansive Vasser clan.

I want readers to feel as though they know my characters.  I want them to feel like they have just spent time walking hand in hand with them, listening to their troubles and hearing their hopes and dreams.  Characters should be so real and intriguing that you feel as though they are new friends that you made while you read the book, ones that you will carry with you for a lifetime.  I know there are some really amazing books out there that I have read where the characters are so unique, so special, that I will never forget them (Harry Potter being a big one!).  I really hope I have accomplished that with my work as well.

5.     What do you look for in a good book?

Romance ;)  I have a hard time reading a book that doesn’t have at least some sort of romance in there somewhere.  It is what connects me to the characters and makes me want to keep reading.  But I prefer romance that’s at least a little bit complex.  If the characters get together too quickly I lose interest.  I prefer really complicated, messy, dirty and fiery relationships (which readers will see in When Empires Fall…).

6.     What are some of the best social media, marketing, and publicity tips you’ve come across?

Biggest and best tip out there is to develop a brand for yourself.  This needs to begin immediately, preferably before you even publish a novel, and can include anything from a website with specific colors, logos, text, etc., a Facebook fanpage with similar graphics, a twitter account to begin building followers on, a blog that looks similar to your website to share updates and news about your work, and more.  For example, my blog, Facebook page, and website all showcase my book covers from the Dryad Quartet, not only because I’m proud of them but because they are recognizable and people will associate my name with those images.

7.     What are some things you know now about writing and being an author that you wish someone had told you at the very beginning?

I wish I had taken a good crash course in marketing and social networking before publishing my first book.  Instead, like a lot of authors, I’ve had to learn as I go.  When I published, I had no website, no blog, no Facebook page, no Twitter, nothing.  I went in blind and stepped off the cliff and, of course, was met with very little success right off.  But as I learned and researched the marketing aspect of being a self-published author, suddenly my sales began to rise, I got on bestseller lists on Amazon, established a nice sized base on Facebook and Twitter, and even created a blog to help other Indie Authors share their work (www.ILoveBookTrailers.wordpress.com).

8.     Along that same line, what are some of your favorite resources?

My favorite resource is Facebook.  It is the easiest platform to use to not only network with the Indie Author community, but to share my work and ideas and successes.  There are several really good Indie Author groups on Facebook as well that I am a part of, and the knowledge and inspiration that comes from the people in these groups is invaluable.

9.     What lifts your spirits when you’re discouraged?

Talking to my mom, haha.  She’s not only my biggest fan, but she is the most supportive person in my life other than my husband.  I know I can talk for hours about my ideas and fears for my books and she will listen, encouraging me to keep trying and to not be afraid to put myself out there.  I don’t know what I would do without her.

10.                        What tips can you offer towards building and maintaining a strong support system as a writer?

The best resource for this is the Indie Author community itself.  There are hundreds of thousands of awesome people out there who are self-publishing, and the community is so supportive.  I did most of my initial networking through World Literary CafĂ©, and I strongly suggest any and all authors check them out. 

Catch a glimpse of Katie's upcoming release by clicking on the link below!

Thank you so much for participating in Fridays with Friends! J I wish you continued success, and of course we’ll be talking online. Maybe I’ll even eventually build a FB page!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The First Novella in My New Dark Sentinels Series is Live At Kindle!

Please mark your calendars! Addition to my book tour: August 23rd - Cherie Reich 
"Sable" went live today at Kindle! Yes, two whole weeks behind, and a few kinks I wasn't expecting because of my health, but the first novella in my hot new series is LIVE! Here's a reminder...

Dr. Akila Marshall is a veterinarian with a calling – save as many stray animals as possible. The only child of wealthy, yet distant parents, she’s convinced that love is not for her. Until…

Sable’s search for his twin sister leads him to Akila. Born into a rare species of wolf shifters whose main purpose is protecting others, he has always been forced to fend for himself, but Akila’s loving, protective nature draws him – and not a moment too soon. Together, they must learn to trust each other enough to overcome a new, deadly enemy. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Talk Wednesdays

Welcome to Book Talk Wednesdays! Today's featured guests are Britt Bury, with "The Darkest Day," and Patti Roberts, with "The Paradox series." Everything is paranormal. Extra treats today include an excerpt, a book trailer, and the day would not be complete without FREE books! As usual, links are close by. Enjoy!

The Darkest Day by Britt Bury
Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills fo persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world's last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells' greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.
A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .
           Website: www.BrittBury.com

Aht, aht, ah Pookah,” the creature tsked while wagging his finger. Izel gasped when the sickly palm on her throat squeezed. Kelvin saw red.
The Alp’s yellow flesh was littered with rot and open sores. His eyes and fangs were black, and oozed a foul smelling bile. Kelvin was grateful Izel couldn’t see the grotesque creature at her back. He kept his eyes locked on the Alp’s hands. One flick of his wrist, and the creature could snap Izel’s neck.
Kelvin tensed, his muscles flexed, hand gripping his dagger.
“I know what you’re thinking Pookah, and I’d advise against it,” it hissed, keeping its hideous eyes on Kelvin. “Mmm, I haven’t scented a human this pure in ages.” The Alp bent its head, running its vile tongue up Izel’s neck. Kelvin heard her bite back a cry of horror before her body noticeably began trembling.  
“Let her go, beast,” he warned, “and I promise I will make your death quick.”
The Alp smiled, tar dripping from its fangs. “You call me beast?” Titling its neck, the creature ran its nose along Izel’s cheekbone. “Do you know what kind of company you keep mortal? That,” it lifted his chin at Kelvin, “is a beast.” It inhaled deeply. “The last being I devoured had fifty percent mortal blood. A rare find you know?” It nuzzled her ear. “But you sweetling, I’d wager that you are full human, are you not?”
Kelvin looked into her beautiful eyes. They were glossed over with tears, and the sight of her terror cut his heart in half. An odd feeling came over him. An emotion he’d never experienced in his long, long life. Fear. Not of the Alp as a foe, but of what the Alp currently threatened.
Protect her.

Two Worlds.  One Ancient – One New.
Over vast passages of time, the Grigori would be called many things. In Greece they called them, Vrykolakas. In Romania, Strigoi.
In earlier times, there were others. Other blood-sucking demons, that preyed on the innocent. In ancient Babylonia it was Lilitu and her sistren, who instilled fear among the Babylonians.
In the new world they would go by another name. Vampire.
Two all-powerful – Angel – houses continue to fight a brutal war for supremacy – in the ancient world, and in the new.  The Fallen House of Grigori and the Royal House of Bulguardi.  The prize…  Mortal Souls.
Spanning over centuries, this is a story about love, loss, and betrayal.
The New World – Grace is a little girl struggling to understand the catastrophic events that are forcing their way into her otherwise seemingly normal, if not sometimes, strange world. Haunting visions and untimely deaths of others are a constant reminder that life and death are only a heartbeat away. Grace’s story will indeed leave you asking… Who, When, Where? WHAT!
My name is Juliette. Nine hundred years ago, I died. Today, I am alive…
Paradox – Progeny Of innocence (book 2)
Paradox – Bound By Blood (book 3)
“I have loved and lost in so many different ways. And I have died endless deaths…  So when I ask myself the question today, who am I? My answer is…I do not know.”


So what’s it all about, this Paradox Series?  Glad you asked!

The Ancient World. Paradox is narrated by a girl called Juliette.  Nine hundred years ago Juliette died. Today, she is alive…
The New World.  Grace – A little girl trapped between Heaven and Hell reliving the torturous past of others…

For a limited time I am offering a free ebook copy (in all ebook formats) of Paradox – The Angels Are Here.
You can download the latest version from smashwords free – HERE
Your coupon code is – YS94C
The latest version is also available now on AmazonHERE for 99c

Book 2: Progeny Of Innocence is currently free on Amazon as a promotion to the lead up of the release of book 3: Bound By Blood. Due to be released October 2012
Book trailer for book 3 – Bound By Blood HERE

Enjoy the video below!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Lasting Impression by Katie Jennings

It's a pleasure to have multi-published author of the Dryad series, Katie Jennings, here with me again today! You might remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted Katie's Dryad series for Book Talk Wednesdays. Speaking of that, the latest installments in the Dryad series are available now! Today, Katie is going to give us a few pointers about book covers. Perfect, because I have a related surprise coming up in a couple of weeks that might interest you. So, here's Katie!

You never get a second chance to make your first impression.  At least, that’s what my dad always told me, and he’s completely right!  Think about your life in terms of the products and services you are exposed to on a daily basis…which ones stand out the most to you?  Which ones really take off and which ones fall into the dark depths of obscurity?  I’ll answer the question for you:  the ones that succeed are the ones that draw in potential buyers with a clear, instant impression.  In other words, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Or, in our case as authors, a book cover is worth every single word you ever wrote in a novel.
Think about it.  You’re perusing the aisles at Barnes and Noble, or scanning the Bestseller’s list on Amazon.  What catches your eye?  What appeals to you?  Obviously, for every consumer the answer to that question is different.  Which is why as authors we MUST know our market.  We MUST know who we are trying to sell our books to. 
As an example, take my book cover for Breath of Air, which is the first book in my contemporary fantasy series The Dryad Quartet.  On the cover you see a girl, her face hidden so that the reader (I’m marketing to females, FYI) can easily slip into the main character, Capri’s, shoes.  Much emphasis was put on her hair, so that readers can identify that Capri is the light, airy blonde in the book with a soft nature and sweet disposition (note:  the bird on her shoulder is both representative of her “Snow White” qualities as well as her gift of Air).  In the first chapter of Breath of Air, you learn that Capri can control birds, so having the bird on the cover was key.
Also note the castle in the background.  This gives potential readers a clue as to the “type” of fantasy book Breath of Air might be.  It’s clearly not set in a grungy New York alleyway or a sweltering Florida beach with palm trees.  No, according to the distant image of the castle, the book will take place in a strange land, both elegant and extraordinary.  It lends to the concept that Capri feels like something of a “princess” fallen into a realm she had never before imagined.

Okay, so the imagery is all very important, right?  But what about when your book is shown in tiny thumbnail form in the midst of thousands upon thousands of other books?  What is it that will cause readers to click on your thumbnail before someone else’s?

For me, anyway, it’s the coloring.  Coloring is very important, but keep in mind that this varies drastically by genre.  Is your book a thriller or horror?  You should have dark colors, maybe reds and grays, and there should be plenty of contrast.  Or, alternately, do a lighter version with big, bold text and contrasting images in stark black and white.  Convey an emotion through the colors you use.  If it’s a romance novel, the softer the colors and more dramatic the imagery (a woman with flowing hair, arching back, delicate hands, etc) the better.  Readers will notice the book first by color, then by image.  Think about your market and the readers you want to attract, and what colors may catch their eye.

So what about your title font?  What I recommend is looking up other books in your genre, and seeing what other authors have done.  Fantasy and romance books generally have loopy, calligraphy-like text.  Thrillers tend to have bolder, stronger, harsher text.  It is important that you get the text right.  Make the extra effort and surf the free font download sites, and hunt up some new fonts to use.  As long as it’s easy to read and available for commercial use, you should be good.

Lastly, I offer you my most important, crucial bit of advice, even though it will only appeal to some of you.  But here it is anyway, because I honestly cannot stress this point enough:  If you have a book series, make sure that each and every cover in that series is CONSISTENT with the other covers.  And I’m talking style, imagery, title text placement, author name font and placement, etc.  

Readers should be able to easily identify that those books go together.  It breaks my heart when I catch authors not following this important rule, because they are not imagining their books sitting side by side on a shelf.   And that is how we must look at our work.  We must think of ourselves as not just self published authors, but as good enough to be up there with the big boys, our books sitting right beside theirs.  If we lose those high standards for ourselves, then the reputation for self published authors suffers. 

So please, keep all of this in mind as you create your covers, and good luck!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Praise of the Scene

            Okay, nothing poetic or intense today. Unbelievable, right? No, just a quick post about some of my favorite movies. Sunday afternoons are perfect for this, and most of these sites have trailers for your enjoyment just in case you haven’t already seen them all. Of course, I have a lot more favorites than this, and they are in no particular order, but I’ll start with 21 because I like that number. You’ll notice a common theme, but there’s still a bit of variety:
1.     Kiss of the Dragon – Jet Li
2.     Man on Fire – Denzel Washington
3.     Silence of the Lambs – Anthony Hopkins
4.     The Book of Eli – Denzel Washington
5.     Office Space – Ron Livingston/Jennifer Anniston
6.     How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days – Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey
7.     Independence Day – Will Smith
8.     Ryan’s Daughter – Sarah Miles/Robert Mitchum
9.     Unleashed – Jet Li
10.      The One – Jet Li
11.      Fearless – Jet Li
12.      Romeo Must Die – Jet Li/Aaliyah
13.      Meet Joe Black – Brad Pitt/Anthony Hopkins
14.      Hearts in Atlantis – Anthony Hopkins
15.      Instinct – Anthony Hopkins/Cuba Gooding, Jr.
16.      Bodyguard – Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston
17.      The Edge – Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin
18.      Legends of the Fall – Brad Pitt/Anthony Hopkins
19.      Troy – Brad Pitt
20.      Far and Away – Nicole Kidman/Tom Cruise
21.      ShadowBoxer – Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Now, tell me some of yours…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Free Are You? Really

            We generally speak of freedom in its broader sense – national freedom, freedom from slavery, freedom from abuse and oppression, freedom to believe as we choose, to partake of whatever religion we choose (or not), and the list is endless. What about the freedom to be who we are? I know – you’re thinking, what a silly question, but when you really think about it, one of our greatest challenges is to live our lives outside the rules forced on us by our loved ones, families, religious upbringing, gender expectations, even society as a whole. Often unspoken, these rules become a part of us – play into our choices, even direct major life decisions before we even realize we have become imprisoned by them. In fact, if we are not careful, we find ourselves in our 40’s or 50’s wondering how the hell we got into the mess we’re in.
            Despite a master’s degree in psychology and years of experience as a therapist in mental health, substance abuse, and college/career counseling, my realization did not come until well into adulthood as I listened to my clients– a reoccurring theme - nearly every decision most adults make is influenced by the values and expectations of our parents. I would add friends to that list of influences, but actually, even these choices are often influenced by parents. As an introverted, artsy youngest child, I managed to escape a great deal of assimilation, but over time I came to realize that some of the stifling, freedom-sapping values and fears of my loved ones had managed to imprint themselves despite my individuality and apparent lack of concern for what others thought.
Although some of us have a special place in our hearts for “bad girls” or “bad boys,” we cannot deny the innate desire to have our parents’ approval even in this very personal arena. Beliefs about who we are, what we are capable of accomplishing, and what constitutes success in our lives is too often determined by life influences over which we had no control. We did not choose our family members, and a large part of establishing real independence and freedom only comes when we reevaluate beliefs and make conscious choices about what we value, and develop our own definition of personal happiness and success.
So my challenge to you this Independence Day is to reevaluate your life choices, make sure they’re yours and no one else’s, and develop a list of new goals uniquely you. Your list can be as long or as short as you like, but your goals should be set within the next year. Doesn’t mean you have to complete the goal within the year, but get started – take the necessary steps to reach the goal as soon as possible. They can be big or small, but they must originate with you. Take control over the influencers in your life. That is, choose mentors and friends who support you and your dreams. There is no greater gift you can give yourself than spending some time getting to know and love yourself more, surrounding yourself with more positive energy, and planting your feet on the path to personal happiness. This is freedom. It’s a personal thing. Happy Independence Day!