#WriteTip - Killing Puppies (methaphorically speaking) by @LandraGraf, spotlighting her @DecadentPub #Zombie #Romance

It's a rare and heartwarming pleasure to welcome another zombie romance author to my blog. It seems an age ago that I penned my Undead Fairy Tales series (actually, it's only been a few years), and now I have the honor of hosting Landra Graf, whose newest addition to Decadent Publishing's Beyond Fairytales series is also set in a post apocalyptic world ravaged by the walking dead. Her writing tip is a bit on the dark side, but it's one I've employed myself, especially when zombies are involed. 

Killing Puppies

by Landra Graf

Note: I would never condone that actually killing of puppies.

Then let me say thank you to Tara for hosting me on her blog today, even if I plan to talk about a tough subject involving writing romance. That subject is killing characters and overcoming grief in a romance setting.

I bet most would agree that overcoming grief in a romance can be difficult. That's typically why if death occurs it happens before the story starts or if it's the bad guy biting the bullet. Any other death scenerios are difficult to pull off and not easy to navigate. So when I wanted to write a story with zombies and a romance I wasn't sure how I could make that happen without breaking the death rule a lot. We're talking zombies... and if you've ever seen The Walking Dead the death toll is not small.

My best idea? Give the characters a past, a close past. The idea of trying to create closeness between two people who just met were a hurdle I didn't want to try to get past. 

My main characters, Em and Jason, have known each other all their lives. They grew up together, went to school together, and celebrate a litany of ups and downs. It's only in the past 10 years that they've grown apart. When they are paired together for a reunion it's all above board. The zombie aspect actually brings them closer, and solidfies their relationship. This pair has to save the day and take comfort in each other.

Now dear reader/writer... have you read the infamous killing puppies? Did the scenerio work or cause more problems?

A Rose By Any Other Name

by Landra Graf

Zombies don’t belong in fairy tales….at least not those with a good chance of a happily ever after…

Jason Prince, Charming's once-upon-a-time star jock, only attends his Charming high school reunion to find his way into the heart of a certain wallflower who had no date for the prom.

Shy, geeky, chemical engineer, Emma Fay has been keeping her love for Jason a secret because she knows Jason and Rose belong together. But, when Rose Briar pricks her finger, fulfilling a prophecy about death and a plague, she throws a wrench into the class reunion that not even the best planning committee can tackle.

Can Jason and Emma stop Zombie Beauty Rose before she turns their loved ones into her undead court and sends them forth to spread the infestation to the rest of the world? Or will human flesh become the daily special at diners everywhere? And will there be enough left of Jason and Emma for romance to blossom? 


Her eyes darted back toward the examination room. He couldn’t hear anything that gave the impression things were worse than they’d been a few moments ago. In fact, the silence in the room made him anxious, and he started to tap his boot on the linoleum floor. The rising tension around them or the number of feelings invoked knowing someone he cared about lay suffering in the other room failed to help as well. He gave a little shiver and involuntarily gripped Emma’s hand tighter. She tried to pull away, but he wanted to hold on to her a little longer.

“All right then, let’s break up this mood. I’m going to read your palm.” He hoped the ploy would cast away her urges to break their bond.

“Palm reading?” One brown eyebrow lifted, but her frame and hand relaxed at his touch.

“Yes, I’ve studied with the finest masters fair corn dogs can buy.”

She giggled.

“I can tell you your future, Miss Emmaline Fay,” he said with a grin. She gave one back and the effect was breathtaking. She’d always possessed a beautiful smile, one known for lighting up rooms, and he enjoyed being the recipient.

“Fine, Master Prince. Tell me my future.”

Jason turned her palm over in his, trailing his fingers along the lines. Leaning in for a closer look, he picked up on the scent of vanilla, flowers, and a hint of something he couldn’t identify beyond pure Emma. The power of the smell made his groin swell again, something he didn’t need at the moment. One glance downward and she’d see the evidence of how she affected him.

So he thought about cold showers and his grandmother’s gnarly hands and focused on the soft palm covered with lines.

“Ah, your life line is extremely long. I also see a man in your love line. This is a man who has loved you for a long time and watched you from afar.”

She scoffed. “Sounds kind of creepy. I don’t know if I want a stalker in my life.”

“Not a stalker, but an admirer. He’s always appreciated your loyalty.” Jason locked eyes with her green ones. “Your kindness and bravery, too. And your ability to push ahead. Strength like that is rare.”

She leaned forward, her nose barely touching his. “How rare?”

“Uh.” His words caught in his throat. To have her so close, too close...exactly where he’d wanted her since he’d seen her sitting behind the wheel of her car. “Rare enough that I’ve only known one other person to possess it. I—”

“The fever is coming down,” Dr. Mason announced, bursting into the room, face filled with relief.

Jason silently swore as she jumped out of her chair and moved toward the entry. “Can we go in?”

“No, not yet. I want you both to stay here, though, in case you come down with the same thing due to proximity. We've taken blood, and we're doing everything we can, but I don’t know if this is contagious.” The doctor moved to a cabinet on the far wall and removed two blankets.

“You can camp out in the waiting room.”

“Completely understandable, Doc. I know we won’t leave until Rose is able to, anyway. We’ll want to be on the nurse-Rose-back-to-health team.” Jason stood to accept the blankets.

Her momentary excitement deflated, Emma shuffled back to her chair. “That’s right. I’ll be nursing our girl back to health or whatever else it takes, so I’m staying until everything is perfectly fine.”

“Good. I’ll see you both in the morning,” Dr. Mason said, leaving by way of the kitchen door. Jason could only imagine the amount of coffee the doctor planned on consuming for the night.

Emma curled up in her seat, slipping her feet out of her brown cowboy boots.

Jason sat down next to her and leaned back in his chair. “He certainly knows how to offer comfortable beds.”

“And there’s the sarcasm I know so well.” She leaned her head on his shoulder.

He tried to ignore how right it felt. “Yes, and that’s why you should just close your eyes and rest. Don’t worry. It’ll all be better in the morning.”


Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads Pinterest | Amazon Author

#WriteTip - Planning Ahead by @LandraGraf, spotlighting her @DecadentPub #BeyondFairyTales #Fantasy #Romance

Fellow Decadent Publishing author Landra Graf has a brand new addition to the Beyond Fairytales series. It features a girl with a gun and a bounty hunter with an attitude—what more can a fantasy romance reader ask ? In addition to snagging a sexy excerpt from Raven Pirate Assasin Spy (which has my favorite Beyond Fairytales cover to date...yes, I'm jealous), I also convinced her to give me a writing tip. As a recovering pantser, it's nice to know all the plotting I have yet to do will eventually pay off. 

Planning Ahead 

by Landra Graf

First up, thank you to Tara for hosting me today. It's always a blessing to have fellow authors give up their space.

Tara asked for a post on writing, so I'm going to talk about writing firsts. With my latest book, Raven Pirate Assassin Spy, there were several writings firsts shoved my way. The biggest around plotting. In the past I've been what the writer world calls a pantser. I didn't plot stories beyond a lose beginning, middle, and end. The details figured themselves out as they went. With Raven I actually plotted the whole book and did the fancy GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) thing. I call it fancy because at the time it was.

The best part - all the pre-work worked! Writing the story came easier, faster, and with fewer issues. The characters still went on their little tangents and I found some scenes required additional POV switches, etc. Overall the process became smoother. A first for me was writing a successful short-length novel without the rambling plot hiccups or the unraveling when I hit the halfway point.

Another first - researching on the front end. I typically research as I go, but in this instance I figured out all the character names, the setting spots, the machines and weapons. It was like a genius moment. There were still new ideas I'd have to research after the fact, but the majority of the hard work was wrapped on the front end.

Overall, I'd say this is my favorite book so far. I love all my creations, but this book combined all the things I love and took my writing abilities to new limits. The best of both worlds, and I hope readers agree.

What's been a recent first for you? 

Raven Pirate Assassin Spy

by Landra Graf

Once Upon A Time...

Sorella Corvino lost her brother to The Cursed years ago. Sorella is so determined to find him, she'll make any deal, rescue the outcasts and those like him, and risk flying into any port to rescue him. When her latest pirate efforts partner her with a bounty hunter who's too charming, sexy, and handsome for his own good, she knows she's in trouble.

Ian Marshall no longer believes in fairy tales…

Disowned and a marked criminal in the United States, this merchant turned bounty hunter, is one bounty away from freedom; and freedom's price is handing over one person to the most cutthroat gang in the world, The Cursed. Yet, he can't get to them without Sorella's help. Too bad she's gorgeous, aggravating, and a little trigger happy.

As the attraction mounts, the danger grows and the pair find themselves invading a skin trader den, the ballrooms of dictator-ruled Germany, and fighting battles in the sky in the hopes of getting everything they want. Only thing they didn't plan on... falling in love.


“Merci, mon petites.” The albino’s voice sounded like gravel in the cylinder-shaped microphone. “I’ll be breaking for a short time. Youse keep yourselves amused and stay out of trouble.”

“Remember…let me do most of the talking,” Ian said as soon as the crooner stood and started making his way to the edge of the stage.

The captain merely nodded, taking in the other members of the band, who didn’t leave their spots on the stage.

Instead, they started playing again, a perky jazz tune with a good measure of saxophone. A few of the couples positioned around the room came out to the dancing square positioned in the middle of the room and began swaying or grinding to the beat. Ian kept his expression neutral although his gut churned at the visual.

Their host grunted as he pulled back a chair, and, as a guest, Ian stood as manners dictated. The captain didn’t.

“Standing on ceremony as if you were still a gentleman?” Janken chuckled.

Ian sat and smiled. “Mama’s rules ne’er do disappear.”

“Mine did, thank God.” The albino tapped his long fingernails on the table top in perfect rhythm with the beat from the stage. “Who’s your friend? She smells like a garden.”


“Captain Castoa of the Liberté.” She’d cut him off and extended a hand in peace.

For a blind man, Janken saw remarkable things, and he grabbed her, leaning forward over the small table. He flipped her palm between both of his and sniffed at her wrist. Without rebuke, she submitted to his eccentricities while Ian experienced a sudden desire to throw the skin trader from his seat and put the captain’s fancy knife through him.

“Divine. Absolutely delicious.” Then he let her go. “Such a pretty scent for a woman around filth and dirt all the time.”

They all fell silent. Ian couldn’t find his words at the moment, a red haze of jealousy winding its course through him. Being jealous of a blind man seemed a bit ridiculous, but at the same time he wanted permission to touch her, to smell her—liberties denied him that Janken had taken without even bothering to ask..

Luckily, he didn’t have to produce the next piece of conversation; the albino did the work for him. “Now what does a marked want so bad he’s willing to darken my establishment with his sinful presence?”

Time for business. “I need to find Luther.”

“You’re not the only one.”

“I’ve got merchandise he’s requested, but a delay had me late to our meeting point. I know you can tell me where he’s hiding.” He’d bet his life on it.

The two illegal-dealing men weren’t friends, but information about anything and everything black market or top secret seemed to be in the albino’s possession. The Cursed were always in need of intelligence. Information allowed them to stay one step ahead of the authorities and determine who’d want their services.

“I may know something, but the rules still apply.”

Ian nodded. “Yes, and she’s got something good to share.”

A white eyebrow rose. “Eh? What could this marvelous woman who captains an airship full of foul-smelling, disgusting men have to tell me that would equal such a trade?”

Excerpt Option 3: Sorella Corvino only made promises she kept. So when she told the crumb in the next cell, “Once I get out of here, I’m going to kill you,” those were words of truth, not fiction.

The evil bastard leaned forward, mere inches from the bars, and grinned. “I prefer my bits handled by a gorgeous dish, but in a pinch, you’ll do.” His six yellowed teeth stabbing up through pinkish-white gums were a stark contracts to his soot colored skin and graying eyes, the gray no doubt a product of the drugs and rotgut sold on every corner in Pontevedre. No one escaped the filth and poison festering in the streets of every European city unscathed.

“In your dreams.” She stepped towards him, eyes narrowed. Maybe she wouldn’t wait until she got out.

“That’s what your girl is dreaming of tonight. Me and my co—“

She slid her hand between the bars and grasped the part of his anatomy he wanted to talk about in every other sentence, effectively cutting him off.


About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest | Amazon Author


#WriteTip - Take a Walk by @Gina_Wynn, spotlighting her @DecadentPub #Romance Her Dollmaker's Desire

Fellow Decadent Publishing author Gina Wynn has a brand new addition to the Beyond Fairytales series. It features an ex-dancer, an evil stepmother, and a biker with a leather jacket—what more can a romance reader ask ? In addition to snagging an excerpt from Her Dollmaker’s Desire (which has a stunning cover, by the by), I also convinced her to give me a writing tip. As Fitbit-wearer, it's one I can wholeheartedly endorse. 

Take a Walk

by Gina Wynn

If ideas stop flowing, take a walk. I have my best ideas when I’m pushing my two year old in her pushchair. Of course, this might be more due to the two year old than the walking as I don’t often walk without her. If that’s the case, you may borrow mine.

I write stories by theft. I steal time from being an active parent, or an attentive wife…but mostly from doing my housework. Unless I’m procrastinating. Then my house is a shining example worthy of Stepford, my children sparkle and are fully entertained, and my husband experiences the contentment of a full stomach and being able to find the remote control.

I usually set out with a germ of an idea. A niggle of a thought gleaned from a sound, an image, a random thought or a snippet of conversation. For example, while I sat with my daughter in the still of her bedroom the other night, I heard a strange high pitched whining outside…what if that sound signaled the end of the world? Or, my husband drove me through the centre of Birmingham, and I looked out between two tall tower blocks. What if a dragon came swooping between those right now? I have no idea if normal brains work this way. I can claim a lot of things, but normal has never been one of them. 

Her Dollmaker’s Desire

By Gina Wynn

A Beyond Fairy Tales story

Rule number 123: Once upon a time is for fairy tales, not for broken ex dancers who live at home with Daddy and a textbook evil stepmother, and who only manage to get through life by counting every single step.

Amy knows her rules inside out…who to spend time with, what to eat, what to drink and what to do - until danger shows up in a leather jacket on a shiny chrome motorbike. Suddenly, breaking the rules seems to be all she can manage no matter how hard she tries, and her rigid control starts to slip.

Peder’s violent past has shaped him into the man he is, much the way he has learned to shape dolls with the help of his grandfather. He used to have only one rule in his life, courtesy of his absent brother and their shared gang past. When Amy is sent to write an article on his grandfather and his history of doll making for a paper her father’s company owns, she captures Peder’s interest and his heart. After his brother makes an ill-timed return and issues an instruction that threatens his future with Amy, Peder becomes trapped in a fresh web of lies and family ties. He must decide if he should start breaking the rules he didn’t know he lived by to take a chance on a future with Amy while knowing he could still lose her if she finds out.

Is Amy brave enough to put her faith in Peder, and can he overcome his past and convince Amy to follow their destiny, rather than her rules?

Amazon | ARe | B&N | iTunes | Kobo


Lost in her thoughts of the past, Amy reached to grasp the ballet dancer’s tiny form.

“I’ve brought the cake, if you want to come and sit with us for your cup of tea?” A new male voice, deep and confident, startled her.

She jumped and straightened, coming nose to nose with the unhinged grin and vacant leer of a circus clown.

A gasp tore from her lips. “Oh, my God.” She backed into something warm and solid,

and shrieked before spinning round.

“Sorry. Sorry…it’s just me.” The man’s eyes, rich with the colours of wild woodland moss, held an unexpected glint of danger. She shivered as an electric jolt shot straight through her when she met that green gaze. It glimmered with mischief and laughter, and he didn’t look quite as sorry as he should have.

Reflex led to her almost leaning into his strong grip as he reached out to steady her. Almost. She tugged her arm away and held out her hand.

“Pleased to meet you.” Superficial manners and years of rules kicked in, and she averted her gaze from the man who hadn’t introduced himself, and especially from his dangerous eyes. Her heart continued to race over her close encounter with the clown…yet the warmth in her arm lingered where the man had wrapped his strong fingers around her.

“Quite,” came his polite reply, and the obvious disinterest in his tone echoed through her, but what had she expected? Rule Number 15: Know your place, always.

She sneaked a quick look at him, and his very attractive lips upturned in an amused smile. One she almost returned, while wishing he’d speak more words once she could hear him over the rushing of blood in her ears.

His voice melted her, creating sparks and exploring long-forgotten depths of attraction. It made promises for ways they should spend time together he couldn’t even be aware of, and she wanted him to talk forever. She took an uncertain step away. Space seemed necessary…safe.

About Gina Wynn

Gina has fly-away hair that has always done its own thing, doesn’t feel as old as she looks, owns three children (aged 2, 5 and 7) who can’t be tamed, and writes in spare – stolen – time. ‘Her Dollmaker’s Desire’, published by Decadent Publishing, is her debut book, but she is brimming with further ideas and is willing to invest money in the first person who is able to add extra hours to a day.

She has a second book, ‘Her Undercover Christmas’ contracted with Decadent Publishing, and ‘What You Wish For’ contracted with Three Worlds Press and due for release September 2015.

Her love of the written word extends to owning a To Be Read pile that is probably longer than the rest of her natural life (more investment available for anyone who perfects anti-aging, then) and editing for a small press, as well as co-hosting a free promotion website for writers and their books at http://alwayswrite.club.

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter @Gina_Wynn