Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark
A Victoria Storm novel
#2 Norse Werewolves Urban Fantasy series
Genre: Paranormal/urban fantasy
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today, Melissa, to share your wonderful book and writing advice. Please tell us a little about yourself.
A friend asked me once how I chose my pen name. I told her the following: "Melissa, because when people mix up my first name, it's the most common goof up. Snark, because it amuses me. A) I love the word 'snarky' and B) I love Lewis Carroll."
As an individual, I'm sarcastic, stubborn and blunt to a fault. I have a strange sense of humor and I like to laugh (usually at my husband or children), but also at myself. I'm not particularly extroverted, although I do enjoy time with my family and close friends a great deal.
At the moment, I'm a stay at home mom who writes in my spare time. I've got a B.S. from Arizona State University in Business, and I've worked a variety of different jobs, including as a medical device documentation specialist, a technical writer, and an auto liability adjuster.
I live in the San Francisco East Bay of Northern California with my husband, three kids, and three cats. My hobbies include roleplaying, cooking and reading.
I maintain a blog, which I update regularly at http://melissasnark.blogspot.com/
I enjoy hearing from my readers, so please drop me a line at MelissaSnark@gmail.com.
Where to find Melissa on the Internet:
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0076EEQIU
Now for a little writing advice from the amazing Melissa Snark
Setting the Scene by Melissa Snark
Do you recall doing a book report in elementary school? One of the questions was always: "When and where was the story set?"
For years, I wrote in short, succinct answers like: "The Present. New York City, New York."
Honestly, I never gave setting much thought. It was the fast, easy answer on the book report. Many years later when I became a writer, I realized that setting is so much more than a quick answer. So what is setting really?
Setting can be one of the most easily overlooked aspects of storytelling, but with a touch too much enthusiasm, it can also become completely overdone. Setting is more than the backdrop to set your story against. It is the time, the place and the circumstances in which events occur or develop.
When setting is described appropriately, it sets the stage in the reader's mind, creating a complete sensory environment where your drama unfolds and characters come to life. Well executed, it is intense, memorable and remarkable. More aspects of the reader's brain are engaged than just the visual cortex. Your reader will also hear, smell, taste and touch the vivid setting.
He unrolled the double sleeping bag on the bed as she stared at the fire, listening to a brief shower beat off the tin roof. The dry wood smelled almost like perfume and she asked him to bring the foam rubber cushion and sleeping bag to the hearth. He turned the kerosene lamp down low and thought of the morning walk he would take her on to where a small mountain creek made a clear green pool in the rock. They made love slowly and he marled at the way the flickering light of the fire ran moving shadows up and down her body." ~Revenge by Jim Harrison
In the above excerpt from "Revenge" by Jim Harrison, the reader easily envisions the rustic mountain cabin where the man and his lover embrace one another before a roaring fire. All five of the senses are engaged. The setting becomes more than a mere backdrop for the story. Instead, the romance of lovemaking is found within the details of their surroundings.
However, when setting is overdone, the term "purple prose" springs immediately to the reader's mind. So how does an author create a compelling and absorbing setting without drowning their audience in detail overload?
1. Describe places you've actually visited and are familiar with.
Authenticity adds to the believability of your setting. In storytelling, nothing can substitute for honesty so strive to retain truth in your writing. If you desire the freedom of altering certain key details in order to better serve your plot, then feel free to do so. Only, be sure to make up a new name for the town or the establishment. If your reader happens to live in the place you're describing and you get it wrong, they will call you on it.
2. Research online when real life experience is unavailable.
When it comes to research, the Internet and libraries are your friend. Many strange, obscure and remote locations have Wikipedia entries. It is not uncommon for towns, cities, states and countries to maintain official websites or promotion brochures. Often, there is a wealth of detail to be had for the taking, including photographs of the geographical area and important buildings. Google Earth can be used to allow the author to take a virtual stroll through a town's main street, frame by frame.
3. Layer in sensory detail.
Pick and choose the information you choose to provide without going overboard. A few key details are more valuable for creating a memorable setting than an information dump.
Rolling her eyes heavenward, Victoria exhaled through her nostrils so her breath formed a cloud of vapor. Born and raised in Arizona, she found the extreme winter temperatures of the high desert to be familiar, but the thin air left her lightheaded. ~The Child Thief by Melissa Snark
A reader once remarked on the authenticity of my description of Albuquerque's dry, thin winter air. The brief description was drawn from my memories of visiting New Mexico as a teenager, and matched the reader's experience with the climate. Without going into excessive detail, my portrayal brought realism to the scene.
4. Don't overdo it.
Developing a sense of restraint is often the most difficult task facing an author. Sometimes new writers go overboard, describing the setting in painful minutiae down to the exact (myriad) tones of the sunset or the rolling foothills to the tiniest bump. Too much detail becomes excruciating. Stick to key details instead, and spare your readers sensory overload.
A carefully crafted setting is an asset to any story, adding synergy to each individual scene to create an overall sense of time, place and circumstances. Brevity and relevant details resonate within the reader's mind, creating an immersive experience that engages all five of the senses.
And now for a little about Melissa's Book, Hunger Moon.
Check it out...
Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark
A Victoria Storm novel
#2 Norse Werewolves Urban Fantasy series
Amazon ASBN B00CJ1D1BI
Valkyrie Victoria Storm desires nothing more than to provide her wolf pack with a safe haven, but her position as priestess to the Goddess Freya also brings with it certain… obligations. Not to mention complications.
War with the Barrett family resulted in the deaths of her parents and most of her pack. Now, hunters are hot on the trail of the remaining pack members. Sawyer Barrett, a human hunter hell bent on revenge, is convinced that Victoria murdered his brother. He will stop at nothing to see her dead.
Victoria must defend the survivors and somehow lead them to safety. Months on the run has weakened the pack, and there are newborn pups to protect, making swift travel impossible. Ahead, the promise of refuge beckons.
Their best chance for survival lies in Sierra Pines, California: Arik Koenig, a powerful, dominant male wolf. He promises to protect and provide for the pack, something Victoria knows the pack needs for survival. His mysterious past is riddled with violence and death, including the slaughter of his entire family twenty years before. His wife died under mysterious circumstances and his son, Logan, is rumored to be her killer.
What is truth? Who can she trust? The desperate spirit of Arik’s murdered wife calls out for help, and Logan begs for assistance in clearing his name. Victoria must solve a murder that has pitted father against son, rooted in a mystery reaching back two decades. Her quest starts her on a journey from the human world to Odin’s Valhalla and back again.
Victoria will find salvation or face destruction beneath the Hunger Moon…
"You killed my brother, bitch."
"Worry about your own life, Sawyer. Daniel is dead."
Victoria held the blade of her dagger even with his jawline, against the strong column of his throat. Cold steel kissed flesh, but she lacked the will to make the final thrust to sever his carotid artery.
"Because of you." His brown eyes blazed with hatred, more intense and consuming than the inferno raging around them.
Every part of the warehouse was on fire, and there was no way to know how much longer the structure would stand. Cinder and smoke swirled everywhere.
Red-hot embers dusted the bare skin of her face and arms faster than her enhanced healing could repair the damage, but she didn't feel the burn. Fury consumed her heart and protected her from the wrath of flames, but the pain of her loss, the weight of her guilt, crippled her.
"Yes, because of me," she said. She blinked back tears. She should kill him. There was no other choice, because the survival of her pack depended upon stopping the hunters who pursued them, the hunters he led. Doubt stilled her hand. The man's life hung in fragile balance between her desire for revenge and uncertainty.
"Do it," Sawyer said with a sneer, as if he sensed her hesitation. She straddled his chest, keeping one of his arms pinned against his side with her knee. His free hand groped for the shotgun on the ground, just out of reach.
"Has your death wish gotten so strong you're committed to joining him?" She sniffed, attempting to scent his fear, but inhaled a lungful of thick smoke that scalded her throat. Tears filled her eyes and a cough racked her chest.
"I'm going to rip you to shreds." Teeth bared, Sawyer's upper body heaved while he attempted to unseat her. The hunter had plenty of fight in him. Her wolf's strength far exceeded that of any human, even a skilled hunter such as a Barrett man. He gave up obtaining the shotgun and grabbed for her throat with his free hand.
Victoria placed her palm flat on his breastbone and shoved him back.
"Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before, and yet I'm still here. I'm starting to think you're incompetent, Sawyer."
"Give me a knife. I'll show you incompetent!"
"Now, why would I do something stupid like that?" Despite her taunting tone, doubt twisted her gut into knots. Her hand remained rock steady. The dagger never wavered; the fine edge of the blade bit into his flesh and drew a thin line of blood across the side of his throat.
He's Daniel's brother.
He was also the man who had helped murder her parents and most of her packmates.
The pain of the cut caused Sawyer to grunt; his throat worked while he swallowed, a convulsive clench that betrayed his fear, though his features remained set in a stoic mask.
A hand brushed her wrist, confident and intimate, cool to the touch. Victoria glanced up to stare into a face she knew by heart, every plane and angle committed to memory, although he was far more handsome than her imperfect recollection.
Impossible! It can't be.
She gazed into the man's familiar face, and the entire world beyond his warm brown eyes ceased to exist: the fire, her pack, the man at the business end of her knife—all of it simply stopped.
She blinked, and her surprise faded. Her mind made the logical leap: it was possible.
He's a ghost.
A strangled snarl emerged from Sawyer's throat, but Victoria did not look at him. The hunter shouldn't have been able to see his brother's ghost. He lacked her gift of spirit sight. She kept a steady grip on the hilt, discouraging him from moving lest he slit his own throat on the blade.
"Daniel?" she whispered. The roar of the inferno engulfed her voice.
A faint smile fluttered across his lips but the expression remained deadly serious. His hand locked tightly about her wrist. Daniel leaned forward. His lips feathered a soft kiss upon the shell of her ear. His honeyed voice murmured as sweet as her memories, causing her excruciating pain, soul deep. She missed him so damned much.
"Not my brother, lover. You can't kill Sawyer."
Victoria's fingers relaxed. The knife fell from her hand. "I won't, for you."
Daniel turned his head and looked his brother in the eye. "There's been enough killing."
Sawyer's features contorted in agony and his hand rose, reaching for his brother. "Danny, I—"
Before Sawyer's hand touched his brother's face, Daniel's body lost substance. Energy crackled in the air, and his form shimmered about the edges. His firm grip grew weaker with each passing second until his hand opened, and he released her wrist.
Her eyes filled with tears. "Please, don't go."
Daniel looked at her; a sad smile touched his lips. "I've got to go, baby."
She closed her eyes, and tears slid down her cheeks. The hot air of the burning warehouse sucked moisture from her skin. Her aching heart pounded, full and heavy, ready to burst. She opened her eyes and forced a brave smile. She extended her arm and brushed his fingertips. "I miss you."
His hand closed on her fingers, and he squeezed. A smiled played on his lips.
"I miss you, too," he said. Then he was gone.
Victoria felt him before she saw him. His power washed over her with the force of an incoming tide, as dark, mysterious and unstoppable as the ocean. Her wolf rose to answer his in instinctive response, defiant and determined. She challenged his power and altered the irresistible flow so it passed around rather than over her. Before she reached the office entrance, the male werewolf responded to her presence and surged to his feet. He rounded the desk, demonstrating extraordinary grace and strength, and she braced for a physical confrontation. He dwarfed her in both height and weight.
As soon as their gazes met, they locked in a dominance contest. His narrowed eyes pierced hers; the light-pigmented brown irises were the color of honey and eclipsed the whites and round black pupils. Wolf eyes.
Victoria did not approach with her head low or avert her gaze. Instead, she challenged him outright, radiating defiance, posture stiff and erect. While they faced off, she regretted the tactical error, but it was too late to rescind. Her stubborn pride permitted no retreat, and it went against her nature to submit.
"Let's take this outside where there are no humans to bear witness," he said in a deep, resonant voice she found appealing.
Aroused, her wolf took an immediate interest in him as a fine, fit male animal. For the first time, Victoria noticed his physical appearance, and her wolf found him more than acceptable. She estimated his age as being in his late thirties. He in no way suffered for the smattering of silver hairs that peppered his dark head. He was a perfect specimen of a man.
Distracted, Victoria broke eye contact, but not to submit. She ran her gaze over his body with blatant approval, lingering on his broad shoulders and chest, muscular arms and legs. He wore a tailored navy suit with a light shirt and dark blue tie. From the way his clothing fit, there was not an ounce of spare fat anywhere on him.
His features possessed splendid symmetry, though a silver scar on his right cheek marred his perfection. The shape of his brow, nose, and lower face hinted at a distant Roman heritage. High cheekbones alluded to his Nordic blood. He cleared his throat, and Victoria scented both his arousal and amusement.
"Did you come to challenge me, or do you have something else in mind?"
His devilish smile hinted at a sense of humor, and Victoria seized on the opening. A ballsy gamble carried inherent risk, but her initial inept blundering had left her with no other graceful out. Her eyes rose to meet his once again.
"I am Victoria, daughter of Adair and Katherine, High Priestess of Freya, Lady Valkyrie, shaman, and healer," she said, making her boast. "I am also the Alpha of my pack, and I am seeking a mate. I have come to assess whether you would make an acceptable suitor."
"You're kidding." He registered surprise and disbelief.
Victoria arched her brow. "I am not."
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