News and author-stuff, Writing

Welcome Shade for Love!

Yay! I can finally say that the Shades are really out in the world. 🙂


This series has been a long time coming. If you’ve been around for awhile, you might have seen promises of the Shades of Beckwell back in 2019. Which was when it would have appeared, except… life. I am definitely a “planner” – I love checking off boxes and scheduling things. But with a combination of factors, 2019  – and the of course, 2020 as many people experienced – became swallowed by a void of “well that didn’t go to plan!”

Here, long at last, we have Shade for Love. Plus, since I felt I owed readers for having to wait for so long, two novellas as well! That’s the plan for this series, to alternate longer books – like Shade for Love – with shorter pieces, like Alchemy and Trolled. It means you get more content more frequently, and I’ve found that I love the variety of getting to play with these shorter stories. Plus, more stories! The shorter pieces focus (so far at least) on characters that might be a bit outside the central story line, kind of a “what else is happening while the world is ending?” kind of pieces, and some alternative perspectives. It also allows me to flesh out and play in the world of Beckwell, and I hope you enjoy them as well.

Click here to find the buy links for Shade for Love.

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? You can sign up here. That’s how you get a hold of Alchemy. 🙂

Did you know that I also love hearing from readers? You can always reach me here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books, the characters – and maybe who you think MUST get their own story. Trust me, there are lots in the works!

Thank you for celebrating with me today. Here’s the full cover for Shade for Love, and I look forward to touching base with you here again soon. Until then, wishing you a wonderful week and the ability to find the everyday magic in your world.

Sincerely, Shelly

News and author-stuff, The Paranormal

New Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance!

Look, it’s only a week later, and I’m back!! (Yes, I’m impressed too, lol!) Anyway, I have good reason to be back, because I get to tell you about an exciting new book that’s out Oct. 22, 2019. It’s another fun read, an urban fantasy romance, and I’m super excited to read it too!

Without further ado, here’s the blurb and info so you can go one-click it yourself:

Hell has come to collect, but Gisele Walker has no plans to pay the debt.

Being a paranormal bounty hunter in Baltimore is flirting with death, even for a half-demon like Gisele. An orphan with no memories of her childhood, she’s spent the last decade working for the foster father who saved her from the city’s streets. But when he partners her with Shade, an infuriatingly handsome demon who’s keeping secrets, all of her jobs start mysteriously going sideways.

Determined to ditch Shade, Gisele takes a contract to steal a magical curio and accidentally opens a portal to Hell. As a nightmarish ghoul hunts her for the curio, and parts of Baltimore burn to the ground, she finds that joining forces with Shade may be the only way to undo the mess she’s unleashed.

But just as a white-hot attraction between them ignites, Shade’s secret is exposed. The contract is nothing more than a ploy to lure Gisele to Hell’s royal court, where her devilish brother and aunt lie in wait. It’s a family reunion that has her wishing she’d remained an orphan with missing memories.

To save herself and Shade, Gisele must face her past and venture into the twisted, dark heart of the demon court where she nearly lost her life so long ago.

Fans of Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh wont want to miss this spellbinding urban fantasy debut by Writers Guild of America nominee and RWA Golden Heart finalist Megan Starks!

“Starks doesn’t waste a moment launching readers into the heady, paranormal world of her action-packed debut. The complex mythology and feisty characters will hold readers’ attention. This is an enjoyable fantasy from an author with a lot of promise.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Haunting. Original. Addictive.” —Emily Colin, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Thief

“House is a smoldering, sexy thrill ride from start to finish.” —Angela Ku, Goodreads reviewer


Doesn’t it sound amazing? I definitely look forward to this one. 🙂

Here’s the buy links so you can check it out yourself:


Magical World

I write this post sitting in my living room using only the light of the windows since the power is out due to a snowstorm, and I can’t help but think: we live in a pretty magical world. And I don’t mean magic like witches and wizards and the paranormal (though those are definitely cool too!), but just this world. Nor do I mean to say we live in a perfect world. But even still, I think we can still take moments to remember that there is magic around us in so many amazing forms.

I’m inside my house, and though the heat is out and it’s just below freezing outside, I’m safe and warm. I mean, technically if the power’s out for any longer, I can light a fire like our ancestors used to have to, but it’s still an option here. Although I live in the country, I can still easily and quickly travel into nearby cities for whatever I need in relative speed and comfort. A tiny device like my phone or tablet can hold entire libraries worth of books and resources, at my fingertips. Although my phoneline is technically down, I can still contact the outside world using my cell.

Heck, thanks to this modern world, we’re being introduced to new ways to publish, share, and make our mark on the world. I no longer have to slave over handwriting versions of a very limited book, nor do I have to seek out a printer, nor a publisher. You don’t have to know me to buy my book, to find out about it. It exists in a nebulous realm of the electronic world where you can push a button, it will be printed, and someone will get it to you, not even at great expense. Think of all those options we have, how much easier our lives have been made with these conveniences and modern marvels, because while we might barely give them any thought, they really are marvels.

I’m using the last of the juice left on my tablet (already used up my laptop’s very sad battery), and I’m writing something that could be seen by someone miles away, in different countries, just minutes after I post it. Before the invention of the telegraph, the fact that you had to physically get something in front of someone for them to see / hear about it was just the way life was. Now, think how much the world has changed even since the prevalance of smart phone has changed our lives and society forever? News can be shared the moment it happens. People I’ve never actually met can hear about me, my little book, my little life so easily via things like social networking, and then there’s the entire world of possibilities that the internet opens up. 

Indeed, yes, there is a darkside to the speed and connectedness our modern society has and the world we live in. But just right now, I want you to imagine the magic. I want you to look for it. Yes, there are terrible things happening in our world all the time, and sadly, there probably always will be. And we need to try to alleviate suffering and do our best to make that world better. But I also believe that means we need to sometimes step back and look for the magic, look for the joy this world has to offer. Because it’s there too, if you remember to look for it. 

So I’m asking you now: what magic can you see in the world around you right now? I love comments. 🙂 

Thanks for reading. And hey, want more magic? I’m starting a newsletter where each month I’ll share 5 magical things I see in my world, and I invite you to share those too. Come visit me at to chat, sign up for the blog or my newsletter, or just share some of the magic of the world.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

News and author-stuff, Writing

New Website Almost Ready!

I’ve been working hard (Read: tearing my hair out and cursing a bit), but the new website is almost ready to go!If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably seeing the new digs. What do you think?

You might have noticed that there’s also a new domain name. That’s okay. The old one will be coming back as well (because two is definitely better than one!)

What’s up next around here?

  • I’m working on formatting Must Love Plague, and once that’s all ready to go, I’ll be getting it ready for sale and you’ll get your first peek at the cover (I’ve given you a hint of the cover, but it’s so much better in person.) 🙂
  • I’m at work both on stories to go in the Shades of Beckwell series, plus working on Must Love Famine – because what could be better than a marriage of convenience in modern times…and a very dirty-minded grasshopper companion?

Thanks for sticking around, and I hope you enjoy the new place. I’m settling in, and hope to make it an even better experience for you all the time. So poke around, let me know what you think, what might be missing.

And remember, the world always holds some magic if we look hard enough.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

The Journey to Publication, The Paranormal


Here I am, another week and another gorgeous cover that I get to help reveal!! This one is from my friend and GH sister Asa Maria Bradley, and besides a yummy cover, this is yet another book that is already on my TBR list! The Vikings are coming, and my, aren’t we lucky!

VikingWarriorRising-300Viking Warrior Rising
by Asa Maria Bradley
Release Date: 11/03/15
Sourcebooks Casablanca

Immortal Vikings are among us.

Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.

Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.

But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.

“Asa Maria Bradley creates a swoon-worthy hero who sizzles across the pages in this tale full of passion, blood, and destiny! Sexy, stubborn, and smart lovers clash in a tension-filled race to outwit science and control fate. Bradley is a new force to be reckoned with in the paranormal genre! Move over Highlanders…the Vikings are coming!”
– Rebecca Zanetti, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Dark Protector series

“Strong world-building, and a hero that will make you want a Viking of your very own!”
– Paige Tyler, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the X-Ops and SWAT series

“An intensely thrilling and unique romance that whisks the reader into the intricate, smart, and sexy world of these wickedly hot Viking warriors.”
– Sara Humphreys, award-winning author of Vampires Never Cry Wolf

Add to Goodreads List or pre-order from: Barnes & Noble or Amazon

About the Author
Asa-Maria-BradleyAsa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She also writes romantic suspense and currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Asa graduated from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers MFA program at Eastern Washington University with an MFA in creative writing and also holds a Master of Science in Medical Physics from University of Colorado. She’s a 2014 Golden Heart finalist and represented by Sarah E Younger at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

The Paranormal, Writing

Paranormal Romance Tropes

I did mention last week I was a tad obsessed with romance tropes lately, right? Well, it got me thinking that while romance has some larger tropes, specific sub-genres of romance, like paranormal romance, can make use of the traditional tropes, and also have some unique ones of their own.

So just in case you’re getting to work, here are some of the tropes I’ve commonly seen in paranormal romance:

  • hates what they are / think they’re a monster – I have a love/hate feeling with this trope, but essentially often the hero despises what they are / their powers and somehow wants to escape it, and potentially is saved by the romance.
  • loves being magical – opposite as above
  • fish out of water – not just a paranormal trope, but frequently appears when a human encounters the paranormal world.
  • two species that cancel each other out / fated enemies – very common, especially in vampire stories where there are “good vampires” and “bad” ones. This also encompasses hunted vs hunter stories.
  • fated mates – also very common, and can occasionally become love at first sight or at least “you’re supposed to be mine” for one of the partners (yep, love/hate with this one too.)
  • mates can save each other -this is where they have to find their mate to somehow gain salvation. But it can also be how they overcome their monstrous / magical nature.
  • soul mates through time – essentially, they find each other in every life time, and may or may not remember their past relationships.
  • protectors / guardians -also very common, where you have supernatural creatures protecting humanity OR other supernatural creatures OR the kind of demon-slayer / vampire slayer type archetype. This concept shows up in early mythology about many supernatural creatures, especially werewolves. 🙂
  • inheritance / awakening of unexpected magical / world-changing powers – one day you wake up and discover you’re a fairy…or a demon, or otherwise the most magical person in the universe. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
  • changeling babies -related to above, this is where somehow a magical baby / important species was lost / hidden amongst humanity.
  • foretold saviors of the world -again related to the above, these are the saviors and prophesized “lucky” characters who get to save the world … or doom it.
  • marked / cursed – similar to above, these characters may have been cursed or doomed from very early, or because of their particular actions.
  • dual universe / parallel worlds -whether aliens or
  • big bad magical vs ordinary human – often combined with other tropes (including fated mates and fish out of water), this is where an ordinary human somehow ends up in love with a supernatural creature … and often proves the power of humanity can equal anything magical out there.

I’ve written a few stories with these. Ironically, it’s especially the ones I’m not sure that I like which challenge me, since I try to write a story that turns the trope into something I would like.  And there are so many days I wish I’d wake up and discover I’m magical. Like, maybe I could read minds, or figure out a way to add an extra day to the week. 😉

Your turn! What tropes have you seen specifically in paranormal romances? Which ones do you love, and which do you loathe? Any I’ve overlooked? Love to hear from you. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and hope you all have a great week. Happy writing! And hey, like this post? Why not follow the blog?

The Journey to Publication, Writing

Over the Moon and Surreal Moments: 2014 Golden Heart Finalist

This morning I got the call from RWA® that my novel, “Hidden Magic,” is a finalist in the 2014 Golden Heart Contest. Golden Heart® Finalist (If you’re curious, you can visit the link the all 2014 Golden Heart and RITA finalists here.)

To say I was “excited” is an understatement. My husband was afraid I was having a heart attack. And if I had been, I don’t think I’d have cared. 😉

I’ve had many well-wishes including to “enjoy the ride,” and only now am I starting to get some idea of what a surreal kind of ride it is. Honestly, this week I’ve been trying to ignore the deadline for when contest finalists were announced, and planning on the fact that since I’m going on holidays, it could be consolation for another year when I didn’t get that call. I had already decided this was certainly the last time I was entering the contest. And I’ve been dreaming of attending this year’s conference in San Antonio for four years but doubted I’d be able to attend (where winners are announced and there’s lots of Golden Heart fun). When I got the call this morning, and the lovely caller said she was calling from RWA, I refused to let myself get excited. I wondered if I’d done something wrong, maybe there was an issue with my membership or something.

Even now, as I’m staring outside and its snowing (where the heck is spring?!?), I’m not even ranting and raving. And I can still hardly believe it’s true, more than just a tiny bit of validation, encouragement to keep writing, to keep pushing on improving my craft, and that maybe, I’m on the right path after all.

The Journey to Publication, Writing

Tropes: Love them, Loathe them

Every genre has their tropes, and the sub-genres, too. I must confess that I wasn’t familiar with the term until recently, but I knew what it meant. Google and Wikipedia define it as:

A literary trope is the use of figurative language. For example, the sitting United States administration might be referred to as “Washington”. Since the 1970s, the word has also come to mean a commonly recurring literary device, motif, or cliché.

Here, you have some of the fantasy tropes according to someone on Wikipedia. Fantasy tropes and conventions.

The romance genre is a bit obsessed with tropes, as are the readers. When you pick up a book with say, the “arranged marriage” trope, you have some idea of what to expect. Paranormal fiction has its own tropes, like the vampire who refrains from drinking blood, the werewolf who wishes he were human, the “surprise! you’re paranormal” revelation, and many more.

Now, after reading a bit of discussion on tropes, I’m almost scared to tread into these waters, but I’d have to say that for the most part, I don’t mind tropes – so long as the author doesn’t let them become predictable. And yes, I sometimes avoid books when the blurb contains a trope I’ve had a bad experience with before.

Still, certain story ideas have become “tropes” (ie: almost cliché) because they somehow work well within their genre, whether we like them or not. Perhaps one author did them so well (like Tolkien with his Lord of the Rings), and it forever changed the genre. There will certainly be authors who will try to emulate him, and those who have just been strongly influenced. While certain tropes will rise and fall in popularity like the tides, some remain or return perhaps because of the potential “what if” fun they contain.

What if you were engaged to marry a stranger? This may not have just been hypothetical to historic noblewomen. Many did marry strangers. And perhaps as we look back at this, we try to understand them, to understand their history and experiences, and how it contributes to making us who we are.

What if you were turned into a werewolf and became an uncontrollable beast at every full moon? I can see how this would suck. And I want to know: so what do you do next? What’s your plan?

That’s the excitement of the story for both the author and the reader. How will we answer the lure of “what if”? What journey will we take the reader on? And sometimes, as when it comes to tropes, how do you respond to the trope in a new and fresh way? What possibilities lay inherent? Because each of us plays the “what if” game differently, what we expect – along with what we get, and what we want – are going to be different. Including our love and hate for tropes.

So, what do you think? Do you mind tropes? Ignore them? Intentionally go after them?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week. Oh, and like the post? Why not follow the blog? Have a good one, and happy writing to you. 🙂

Some discussion on Romance and Tropes:

Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books: Romance Tropes by Heidenkind

Dear Author has lots of discussion regarding all kinds of tropes!

The Paranormal

What I’m Reading: Libriomancer

I have a book recommendation for you. It’s a fun one, and be warned: this is the kind of book that will make you want to forget all the things you should be doing and just go off and read. 🙂

51hecROhA8L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_To follow with my recent love affair with urban fantasy, I’m reading Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, Book 1) by Jim C. Hines. I saw the recommendation on another author page with an interview with the author, and it moved up quickly on my TBR list. And I’m glad it did.

Here’s the back copy:

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg.  Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

What do I like about it? I really love how much this author clearly loves books; this book reads like a near homage to other paranormal, urban fantasy, and books in general. The writing is cute and funny with a quirky character voice, and I figure it has to be cute that I even find myself fond of a very large spider. Lots of fun, lots of pop culture references, and if you read in this genre and sub-genre, I imagine you’ll enjoy it even more. Personally, I’m finding it rather hard to be a good girl and do my work instead of just curling up and reading until the last page. 😉

So, any good books you’d recommend? I’m a decent way through the Harry Dresden books thanks to my brother, and also done most of The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. If only I could read faster!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. 🙂


The Paranormal

Paranormal Utopia

While my original intent was to consider dragons, considering the kind of week it’s been, I’ve decided I wanted to look at why I love paranormals and their magical powers, especially writing them.

Because I get to be a god.

Okay, so that was a bit short, hmm? 😉 Let me explain. See, life is full of kids that need caring for, houses that never stay clean, bills, rain, weeds, so on and so forth. And that’s real life, and it’s far from all bad.

And then there’s the paranormal world. It offers a way to escape and run away from all those things. I mean, how often did Buffy the Vampire Slayer have to stay home and clean her room? How often do characters need to pay bills? Or weed their garden? Seriously, my garden at this point is a horror-story in itself, but I’ve never seen anything like it in a book.

And yet at the same time, sometimes we do see paranormal characters having to deal with being magical, kicking butt, saving the world AND paying the bills, cleaning the house, dealing with normal life. Those are probably my favorite, because frankly I know their lives are far more complicated than mine. And isn’t that just awesome? 😉

When I get to write paranormals, I get to populate my world with all sorts of beasties and magic. I don’t have to choose which religion or myths I believe in and start a fight with someone. Instead, I get to decide that all of them are true to some extent. And while this is what I believe in real life too, in fiction all those myths, religions, and heritages are able to muddle along together, finding unity instead of discord. Because they all have something in common (usually their magic or supernatural nature). The paranormal world allows me to create, envision, and live vicariously in a kind of utopia. Is everything perfect? No. But frankly, it’s often a lot less complicated than this world, and in the end I always know a happily ever after is waiting.

What do you think? Do you think paranormal worlds – and indeed, fiction in general – can provide us with a utopia we can’t find elsewhere?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week. 🙂