Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest - Cecilia Dominic

Good Morning! It's Hump Day and we're going to celebrate it with a terrific post by Cecilia Dominic. I think all writers might appreciate her take on characterization and I think all of us might be sympathetic to the loss of a well-loved grandmother.

Today, we're serving cappuccino and anise flavored cookies. Help yourself, find a spot in one of the comfy chairs and enjoy!


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Inspired by Being Italian

One question a lot of writers hear is "where do you get your ideas?" I suspect most people are referring to plot when they ask. Of course characters and their backgrounds also require a lot of thought. In the case of Long Shadows, the main character Lonna Marconi, her context, and back story were inspired by my own Italian heritage. Okay, I'm a stealth half-Italian with red hair and blue eyes, but I happily claim it (the other half is Belgian).

I'd like to dedicate this blog post in memory of my own Italian grandmother, whom we called Noni. She passed away this last Valentine's Day. It was sad, but I'm glad she got to join my grandfather, who was the love of her life and whom we lost in 2001, for a Valentine's evening. She was an avid reader and even started writing a novel once. She passed down the love of the written word to her kids and grandkids. Her favorite genre was mystery, and she said she enjoyed reading the first Lycanthropy Files book The Mountain's Shadow when it came out last fall.

I originally loosely based Lonna on my best friend, who shares her curvy appearance and straightforward manner. At the end of The Mountain's Shadow, I wanted to explore what happened with Lonna, and I was excited when my Samhain editor gave me the go-ahead to write her book. It picks up about two months after The Mountain's Shadow ends.

Like many young people, Lonna struck out from her family to create her own life and identity. Her parents are dead, so her main connection to her family is her aunt Alicia, with whom she isn't as close as she'd like to be. As she says,

I’d ended up talking to [her caretaker] more often than to my aunt, who liked to keep her phone conversations to questions about school and money, nice concrete topics. As I did well in school and was good with money, they were usually short phone calls. – Long Shadows

The Italian side of my family comes from Boston, and as I was growing up, I couldn't help but notice the contrast in manner and attitude between them and my Southern friends' families. The older generation especially has that Northern lack of overt affection. I drew on that while creating Alicia's character, but she has reasons for her reserved manner. She does deeply love Lonna, which readers and Lonna discover as the story goes on. I do want to mention that not all my Boston relatives have prickly exteriors. My grandmother was sweet and gave serious hugs.

Of course a lot of the scenes in Long Shadows take place around kitchens and food. This has gotten to be a Lycanthropy Files theme. The book's disclaimer reads:

Warning: Some sexy scenes, adult language, and alcohol consumption. Also descriptions of Italian food that might offend carbophobes.

Mmm, Italian food… When I was growing up, we'd visit my grandparents' house, first in Boston and then in Florida. Noni pulled out boxes of homemade cookies, and they were always a highlight of the trip, as were her gnocchi, ravioli, and meatballs. As she got older and developed arthritis, she couldn't manage the pans anymore, and she passed her recipes along. Italian brownies are really more like chocolate chip cookies with spices than brownies. As my sister said when I gave her some, "They smell like my childhood and happiness." I gave Lonna good memories of them as well:

Later that morning, I woke disoriented. The sun poured through the leaves of the tall magnolia trees outside the gable windows and made dancing shadows over the walls, bed, and me. The first thing to orient me was the smell. Aunt Alicia’s house had always smelled like cinnamon, ginger, and anise, the flavors in the Italian cookies my mother liked. I’d always gone for the chocolate ones, Italian Brownies, which had a kick of cinnamon as well. – Long Shadows

I'm a stress baker, so I made a large batch around Christmas when we were having some renovation work done on the house and lost the living room and office for three weeks. There's a chocolate glaze on top of them: (Italian brownies.jpg)



Unfortunately, I have not been given permission by the family to share the recipe. Noni was always very protective of her recipes and would only share them with people she approved of. My husband jokes he had to marry me so he could get access to my family's tomato sauce and meatballs recipe. I retort that he's stuck with me now because divorce isn't an option – I'd have to kill him first to keep the family's secret recipe safe.

I am happy, however, to share a link to my go-to lasagna recipe, which I make with homemade sauce and sometimes homemade pasta noodles, and I substitute ricotta for cottage cheese. It's from Cooking Light, so it's not too unhealthy. The best part is that you don't even have to cook the noodles, but you don't have to use those weird no-boil ones, either:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/turkey-lasagna-10000000521236/

Readers sometimes wonder how much of an author goes into her characters. In Lonna's case, quite a bit, at least with regard to her Italian heritage. Including some of those aspects made the book fun for me to write, and I hope it will be fun to read as well. I think my grandmother would be proud.


Long Shadows, The Lycanthropy Files Book Two



Being unique isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

By day, Lonna Marconi’s busy career keeps her mind off the fact she was turned werewolf against her will. By night, a dose of wolfsbane lets her inner wolf out to play while her physical body stays safe at home.

When an overheard phone call at work warns her a trap is about to be sprung, she turns from hunter to hunted in the blink of an eye.

She finds refuge with the Ozarks pack she never claimed as her own. Upon discovering a family secret that explains why she’s unique among her own kind, Lonna finds heat in the arms of Max, who’s the one thing she cannot trust—a wizard.

Another kidnapping attempt sends her navigating the treacherous metaphysical borders of a centuries-old war, pursued by rogue sorcerers, a band of ghostly wolves, and repressed memories that prevent her from reclaiming her heritage. All the while, trusting her back to a wizard who demands the price of her heart…who may not have the luxury of giving his in return.

Buy links:

From Samhain Publishing (all ebook formats available): http://store.samhainpublishing.com/long-shadows-p-73287.html



Also available anywhere else ebooks are sold.


The Mountain's Shadow, The Lycanthropy Files Book One



Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor.  However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.

Buy links:




Also available anywhere else ebooks are sold. Paperback release date is October 7, 2014.



Bio: 
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she's fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn't stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she's been told, is a good number of each. Her debut novel The Mountain's Shadow, an urban fantasy featuring werewolves with a scientific twist, was released in October 2013. The second in the series, Long Shadows, was released yesterday on March 25, 2014.

You can find her at:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cecilia_dominic

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-- Lynda Again
   Thanks, Cecilia, for the terrific look into your family and characterization. Those cookies look delish! Too bad you can't share the recipe but I certainly understand family recipes and traditions. Thanks for being with us today.

   Everyone, I have a birthday coming up in April and one lucky member of my newsletter will receive a birthday prize!  A variety pack of Body Essential Oils!


   You can join the newsletter by clicking the link below.

   If you haven't heard, I've sold Rider in a 3 Book deal to Entangled Publishing! To celebrate that, I'll be offering a prize (or maybe a couple of prizes) near its release date. We're going to rename Rider, which was always just a working title and I can't wait to see what we come up with ;-)

Contact me:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest - Alethea Kontis

Good morning! We've got author Alethea Kontis visiting today. Alethea is discussing the ins and outs of creating characters, particularly Female Author Main Characters. So pull up a seat in one of our supremely comfortable chairs or couches. Grab a cup of mocha latte and a decadent dark chocolate cookie and enjoy!


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Writing is a Magical Business
By Alethea Kontis

Confession: I wasn't the best English student in the world. I was good at math. I majored in Chemistry. For this reason, I did not have my very first true creative writing class until Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp in 2003. I was 27.

Not that I had ever really stopped writing, of course...those of us so cursed by the Fates never lose the compulsion to tell a great tale. I still played around, sending weekly poems to my pen pals and journaling like crazy. I had a few novel ideas--including the one I write mostly while bored in Physics--and a bunch of short stories--including the one I wrote while bored in Inorganic Chem. I also had a screenplay and outline for a Movies for Dummies book that I wrote while...you guessed it...bored at my movie theatre job.

Thanks to my storytelling parents I was an avid reader by the age of five and, thanks to my Assistant Manager position at the Moves at Polo, I saw pretty much every single film that released between 1991 and 1998. I had a great mind for story, a fabulous ear for dialogue, and I knew every cliché in the book.

At least, I thought I did.

Who knew that describing your character in a mirror was a typical lazy-author cheat? Who knew that the majority of Chosen Ones have green eyes? Who knew that you shouldn't have two main characters whose names rhyme...or start with the same letter...and that the first letter that pops into your mind is usually "A", because we're trained to think alphabetically?

From manuscript format to MacGuffins...my brains were on the verge of leaking out my ears as I tried to soak in every word of that class. I took a lot of notes that week. Some things I can still reference on the internet. But one cliché in particular stuck with me: "Just because they tell you to write what you know doesn't mean you should make your main character a writer."

This rule was mostly brought about as a result of Stephen King (Shining, Misery) and Ray Bradbury (Death is a Lonely Business, Graveyard for Lunatics), who wrote Author Main Characters and did them well. But those main characters were MEN. How about Female Author Main Character? One in particular changed my life in 1984, proving to a young, impressionable Alethea that she could have the writing and the adventure and the guy and everything else her heart desired.

That woman was Joan Wilder.

Shortly after returning from Boot Camp, a fellow camper (Eric James Stone) helped me set up a Blogger account, and I started keeping my journal online, for all the world to see. In part, it was (and still is) an ongoing letter to my Mom, telling her about my life and letting her know that I was okay (because of her three daughters I am the least likely to pick up the phone). I started to look for the magic in my own life, stories I could tell that would amuse her.

And then the stories started to find me. I got one book contract, and then another. I made friends with a bestselling romance author and an SF Grand Dame. Rainbows started falling out of the sky. My best friend got pregnant. My grandmother got dementia. I fell in love with a man from the other side of the ocean and flew halfway across the world to meet him. I kept adventuring and keeping logs of my travels, living vicariously for my coworkers who felt stuck in their small town.

Within the space of a few years, my world completely changed. And when I looked back, I realized that I had a story--a story about a frumpy, scared girl who chooses the brave path and realizes that her life is a thousand times more amazing than she ever imagined, full of magic and misery and everything in between.

I called the story BEAUTY & DYNAMITE, but I might have just as easily called it BECOMING JOAN WILDER.

Call me a cliché if you will, but it's my life. It can't be written any other way. So many women want to "live the fairy tale," but I'm here to tell you: it's not all sunshine and puppy dogs. But sunshine and puppy dogs still exist. Some things are meant to be.


And some things are just meant to be great stories.  




Once upon a time, a young girl walked into a world of wonder and delight. But that's not where this story starts. The young woman she became published a nationally recognized children's book and edited a star-filled collection of stories to benefit the tsunami relief effort. But that's not where this story ends. Meet Alethea Kontis, a  self-proclaimed Genre Chick whose life is an adventure that tears through these pages like a hurricane. Carrot-a-day cancer cures and Murphy as a guardian angel (yes, that Murphy, the guy with all those irritating laws) are just a part of the daily routine for the Incredible Whirlwind of Beauty and Dynamite, the force of nature masquerading in human form.

Link to original Beauty & Dynamite book trailer:




About Alethea Kontis
New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales. Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012, was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, Hero, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.You can find Princess Alethea online at: www.aletheakontis.com.


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-- Lynda Again,

   Hope you enjoyed Alethea's take on creating characters. Her books sound terrific, don't they? 

   I have a birthday coming up in April and one lucky member of my newsletter will receive a birthday prize!  You can join the newsletter by clicking the link below. Stay tuned for more details.

   If you haven't heard, I've sold Rider in a 3 Book deal to Entangled Publishing! To celebrate that, I'll be offering a prize (or maybe a couple of prizes) near its release date. We're going to rename Rider, which was always just a working title) and I can't wait to see what we come up with ;-)

Contact me:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guest - Ashlyn Chase

Good morning! Our guest today, Ashlyn Chase,  sent some excerpts for her latest book, KISSING WITH FANGS while she's doing an author tour. Her publicist, the lovely Danielle, is offering a fantastic giveaway of a full set of the Flirting With Fangs series (Flirting Under A Full Moon, How to Date A Dragon, and Kissing With Fangs) to one winner (sorry, USA and Canada only). See below for instructions on how to enter the drawing.

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We’re half way through my excerpt-sharing virtual tour for my latest release, Kissing with Fangs. If you like what you read today, be sure to check out the previous posts and what’s coming up the rest of this week for a sneak peak at this book. The schedule is listed below!

Set up for today’s scene: No one had heard from Claudia in a week. Her worried parents drove hours to Cambridge, MA to check on her only to find her former boss, Anthony, 'checking her out' as well.



Scene 5:
As soon as the door closed, Claudia’s parents both began talking at once.
“Where were you?”
“Is he really your boss or your boyfriend?”
“What happened?”
Claudia held up both hands. “Whoa. Let me make some coffee first.”
“Oh, yes. Coffee would be nice,” her mother said. “I’m glad you haven’t forgotten your manners.”
Manners are all that’s keeping me from throwing you out the door.
While Claudia headed to the kitchen, her father said, “So, tell us why you moved from your other apartment. It was so much nicer.”
He dropped into her chair and a crunching noise surprised him. “What the…?” He popped back up and lifted the cushion.
Oh no. Now she knew where Anthony had stashed the empty beer bottles.
He pointed to the cracked brown glass. “What’s this? Some dangerous version of a whoopee cushion?”
Claudia felt her face heat. “Um, no. Of course not. I had a few friends over before Anthony surprised me with a visit. I just stashed the bottles there because I didn’t have time to clean up.” That sounds reasonable. She hoped they believed her, because it was the best story she had.
Meanwhile, her mother had made it to her kitchen and opened one of the pizza boxes. “It looks like you weren’t worried about impressing your friends. Really, Claudia. Pizza and beer? I thought we raised you to be more refined.”
She smiled. “Sorry, Mom.”
“And look at all these glasses in the sink…” Her mother was about to open the dishwasher, and only God knew where Anthony had stored the hard liquor.
“Mom, please! Get out of my kitchen.”
Her mother gasped. “Excuse me? I’m sure you can rephrase that to sound a little less churlish.”
“Sorry. I just—Please, sit on the couch with Dad and let me make you something to eat. You must be hungry after your long drive.”
“That’s more like it.” Her mother sniffed and turned on her heel, marching back to the living room.
Claudia usually liked apartments with an open floor plan so she could talk to guests while preparing food, but in this case, she’d rather stick them in another room—or another city—and gather her wits.
She opened the refrigerator, knowing there was precious little to offer anyone in there. Butter. Peanut butter. Jam. Cheese. She’d better find a way to make something edible. If not, she was toast. She bolted upright. Toast!
It wouldn’t impress, but it would fill their stomachs. If only I had time to run to the coffee shop. Ah! A brainstorm in her otherwise fuzzy mind formed a solution.
“Why don’t we all go to the coffee shop down the street? They have some lovely pastries…”
Her mother studied her with raised eyebrows. “You aren’t considering going out like that, are you?”
Claudia sighed. As usual, she couldn’t do anything right. “Well, we have a choice. I can get cleaned up and we can go out, or I can make PB and J, and grilled cheese sandwiches.”
Her father smiled. “With the crusts cut off?”
Her mother wrinkled her nose. “That’s hardly a decent breakfast.” She started to return to the kitchen. “Is that all you have?”
Claudia grasped her mother’s shoulders before she could reenter and spun her around. “I’ve been away…on a camping trip. That’s why I have no food and why you couldn’t get in touch with me. There’s no cell reception up in the Maine woods.”
Whew! Two explanations with one lie. She felt brilliant. Now if she could just down a gallon of coffee, she might make it through this inquisition—er, visit.

Anthony woke up in unfamiliar surroundings. Where the hell am I, and what is that stench? Then he remembered. He hadn’t made it back to his lair in time and had to resort to prying open a manhole and hiding in the sewer to accommodate his death sleep.
Now that it was evening again, he considered going back to Claudia’s, but he reeked. Besides, her parents might still be there. A long, steamy shower in his apartment sounded like a much better idea.
He climbed the ladder until he reached the manhole cover. Now to play “guess if anyone is up there or not?” He couldn’t use his sense of smell. That was compromised. Bloody hell, I might not get the disgusting smell out of my nose for days.
He lifted the lid slightly and listened. Noise of the city met his ears. Mostly traffic rumbling along the busy main drive a block away. He didn’t hear any clicking of shoes along the sidewalk, so he pushed the manhole aside and climbed out.
A couple of men who had apparently been leaning against a nearby building spotted him but said nothing. They simply stared as he straightened his lapels, stood tall, then strode off in the direction of his home with his head held high.
He was halfway home when he heard his name being called.
Maybe it’s another Anthony. He hoped so. He was close enough to the Italian North End for the name to refer to dozens of men.
“Hey, Anthony! Wait up.”
There was no mistaking the voice now. Tory Montana had caught sight of him. Even though Tory was quite a way off, he’d know that Anthony, with his vampiric senses, could hear him. I can’t very well pretend I don’t know one of my former best patrons.
Anthony swiveled around. Despite the darkness, he spotted the African American ex-linebacker jogging toward him. As soon as he’d spotted Anthony waiting for him, Tory slowed to a walk.

Be sure to follow the entire blog tour to get a sneak peek at Kissing with Fangs, and opportunities to win all three books in the Flirting with Fangs series along the way:

Scene 1: Ashlyn Chase’s Website: http://www.ashlynchase.com/kissingwithfangs.html
Scene 2: 3/6 Under the Covers Book Blog http://www.underthecoversbookblog.com/
Scene 3: 3/7 Casablanca Authors http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/
Scene 4: 3/11 Debbie's Book Bag http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/
Scene 5: 3/12 Star-Crossed Romance http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/
Scene 6: 3/18 The Reading Café http://www.thereadingcafe.com/
Scene 7: 3/20 Fresh Fiction http://freshfiction.com/pages.php?id=blog

KISSING WITH FANGS BY ASHLYN CHASE – IN STORES MARCH 2014
There's Something He's Never Told Her...

When her workplace burned down, Claudia should've taken it as a sign to move on—and not just professionally. She's been secretly lusting after her mysterious boss, Anthony Cross, for years. There's no way she should agree to help him rebuild if she wants to keep her heart intact, and yet it's impossible to stay away...

The flames that destroyed Anthony Cross's beloved bar are nothing compared to the heat he feels every time he lays eyes on Claudia. But he can't have her—it's against paranormal law for a vampire to date a human. Besides, he has some dangerous enemies, and one in particular already has her sights on Claudia. He owes her the truth—both about his feelings and his vampire nature—which means their lives are about to get hotter than ever...

Praise for Kissing with Fangs:
“Taking readers on a ride that is both uplifting and heavy with emotion, Chase constructs a cast of intriguing characters set amidst a flurry of paranormal activity.” —RT Book Reviews

“Fun, quirky, and chalk full of adventure and romance.” —BTSe Magazine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar.  A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a satisfying experience. She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the American Red Cross.  She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity.  She is a multi-published, award-winning author of humorous erotic and paranormal romances, represented by the Seymour Agency. She lives in beautiful New Hampshire with her true-life hero husband who looks like Hugh Jackman with a salt and pepper dye job, and they’re owned by a spoiled brat cat. For more information, please visit www.ashlynchase.com, like her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAshlynChase and follow her on Twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/GoddessAsh.

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-- Lynda Again,
    Want to enter the drawing for the set of Flirting With Fangs books? Send an email to
( lynda@lyndakscott.com) with Fangs in the subject line and your name and address in the body of the email. Do this by Friday, March 14. On Saturday, my alien kitten Wookie will select a winner from all the
entrants and I'll contact the winner. Good luck!

Lynda

Contact me:


Monday, March 10, 2014

Review - Kissing With Fangs

Kissing With Fangs
Ashlyn Chase
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
March 2014

When her workplace burned down, Claudia should've taken it as a sign to move on—and not just professionally. She's been secretly lusting after her mysterious boss, Anthony Cross, for years. There's no way she should agree to help him rebuild if she wants to keep her heart intact, and yet it's impossible to stay away...

The flames that destroyed Anthony Cross's beloved bar are nothing compared to the heat he feels every time he lays eyes on Claudia. But he can't have her—it's against paranormal law for a vampire to date a human. Besides, he has some dangerous enemies, and one in particular already has her sights on Claudia. He owes her the truth—both about his feelings and his vampire nature—which means their lives are about to get hotter than ever...

Claudia's heart was definitely endangered while she worked for Anthony. So was her sobriety. Claudia is a closet alcoholic, one who works all day and not indicate a problem but who would go home at night and drink until she passed out. Working in a bar, day after day, wasn't helping her at all. So when the bar burns to the ground, Claudia loses her job and her hopeless love for her boss, Anthony, in one fell swoop. But when Anthony gets word that Claudia isn't doing well, he's determined to find out why.

His search leads him to discover that Claudia has left her hi-rise apartment and moved to a smaller walk up in a seedier part of town. When he finally locates her new apartment, he discovers that she's rip roaring drunk. Being a vampire, he needs her invitation to come in and he wrangles one out of her as she leans out of her third story window. Anthony is shocked by what he finds - empty bottles all over and Claudia barely able to stand up. When she finally passes out, he lets her sleep on the sofa. But another calamity arises. Her parents are there and want in. Now.

Once more Anthony comes to the rescue, getting Claudia awake and, more or less, ready to see her demanding parents. Meanwhile he lets himself out but there's too much foot traffic to use his vampiric speed to return to his lair so he ends up spending his death sleep in the sewer.

Claudia realizes she has to do something about her drinking problem and turns to AA. Their advice is to drop the boyfriend and stay away from any place that serves alcohol. Claudia doesn't want to drop Anthony especially since he now plans to re-open his bar as a tea room that's alcohol free. She knows he still has the pycho ex-girlfriend but he assures her he's taken steps to send her on her way. While Anthony is dealing with the re-build and helping Claudia stay sober, there's another problem involving the supernatural community. Some are missing and no one knows where they've gone.


Kissing With Fangs is an interesting book, well written and with unusual plot twists. I liked Anthony whose history comes out more fully in this book. And the secondary characters were more detailed than they'd previously been. Sadly, I wasn't as fond of Claudia as I expected to be. She definitely was admirable in trying to get her life back on track and away from alcohol but…there was something missing. I was also disappointed with the stereotypical depiction of Claudia's parents but, having read the previous How To Date A Dragon, I see this as a pattern. Other than this quibble, I found the book entertaining and a great way to spend a quiet Saturday evening.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Guest - V.S. Nelson

Good morning! We have a terrific guest today, author V.S. Nelson. V.S. has visited before but this time we're doing a short interview. V.S. has some very insightful answers so grab a cup of hazelnut flavored coffee or Spiced Chai tea and one of the yummy cakes on the sideboard and make yourself comfortable.

Enjoy!

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V.S. Nelson       
What draws you to romance?
I think it is human nature to be drawn to any type of story or genre where two people can find true happiness in the form of love, regardless what era you were born in. Looking back at my earlier years, I was captivated by the big screen and in books by everything from Errol Flynn’s swashbuckling adventures, to Robin Hood, to Gone with the Wind. Not romance in the truest sense, but there was always a thread (or more) of romance hidden within the stories. Just last night my husband and I re-watched Shogun, the mini series. Again, this story was not a romance in the truest form, but the romance made the story worthy of reading and watching.

Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?
Yes, in fact my first published piece in 1968 was a poem about a clown. For twenty plus years I primarily wrote non-fiction and educational material. The subjects ranged from cookbooks to self help books to university textbooks.

What’s your earliest childhood memory?
I’m not sure if it’s my earliest childhood memory but perhaps one of my favorites. I have fond memories of sitting on the banks of a river with my grandfather teaching me how to fish when I was around two.

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?
Without a doubt, the Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson.

What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing?
I love crafts as much as I love writing. In fact, the years I spent away from writing, I created historical garments for the stage and re-enactors. My craft room is filled with everything from fabric to beading looms. 

What would constitute your own personal happily ever after?
I believe I’m living it right now! Last year, at the RNC conference in Vegas, I married my high school sweetheart. A romance story in real life, Tom and I met in 1964, fell in love, and got engaged. Sadly fate had other plans for us. We separated… then after thirty years I received an e-mail from classmates dot com. It was Tom. We reconnected and he eventually moved to Arizona – eleven years later (last August) we finally made our dream a reality.

How do you spend a typical writing day?
I’m usually up by 5am – an hour of on-line networking and answering emails while I drink at least two cups of coffee to get my motor running.

Around 6am, I open up what ever it is I wish to work on and begin the day, like any other professional with a full time job would. I’m at my computer until two or three writing. I’m pretty well known for being a sprinter so I write in thirty minute sprints, taking a ten to fifteen minute break between them. During those breaks, I’ll find something to eat, exercise, shower or work on my house.
Usually by two or three pm, I take an hour’s rest then start on my evening meal preparation.
At night, when I’m not meeting with critique partners or attending a RWA meeting, you can usually find me at home talking with one of my editors, editing a work in progress or if I’m free, curled up with a good book or watching a movie.

Have you ever experienced a paranormal event in your life?
Oh yeah! I was raised in a traditional Native American manner and still hold true to my native beliefs. From 1980 to 1988 I belonged to several professional paranormal associations where I did everything from helping the police locate bodies to investigating paranormal activities. Sadly, after 1988 my professional life required me to set that aside.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer?
I think most individuals I’ve met have asked, “What do you write?” It’s a pretty standard question which I have no problem answering. I’m not sure what question I would have them ask, but I can tell you the one that bothers me the most, and that would be, “Are you on the New York Times Best selling list?” Sadly, my response is, “not yet, but I plan to be some day.”

If you were doomed to spend the rest of your life on an island with only one book, one person, one food (coconuts and fish aside), and one object from the modern world (computer, deodorant, etc.), what would they be?
Book – survival secrets, Person – hubby, and Modern Object – without a doubt, an endless supply of toilet paper. (Leaves are not all they are cracked up to be.)

About author V.S. Nelson
Being a Native American woman and a Scorpio, author V.S. Nelson has always had a fondness for history, mythology, the occult, and the unexplained events which have occurred on this world we call home. It was no wonder she found herself writing a paranormal series.

Raised on authors like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and coming from a long line of oral storytellers, Ms. Nelson work has been defined as innovative and fresh. She will take you by the hand and lead you into the depths of her imagination as if you are sitting next to her on the couch one minute and alive within her fantasy world the next.

She has always enjoyed reading stories with strong relationships and happy-ever-after-endings and it is reflected in her work. Even her commercial fiction, Sins of a Man, the Memoirs of a Mafia Hit man, is layered with romantic elements. I've heard her say she is in love with love more than once and that too is echoed in her stories.

Landing in Arizona after an exciting teaching career, she lives in Arizona where she spends most of her time making love to her computer while writing, editing or researching, seven to ten hours a day. The days she's not writing, you will find her with her critique partners, attending or presenting a workshop or at a RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting.

Sekhmet’s Guardians, her most recent paranormal romance series hit the shelves in 2013 with the release of Eternal Lovers, followed by Eternal Nights and Eternal Blades. The next book in the series, Eternal Tuat is expected to hit the shelves in the spring. Unlike the other stories, which take place in modern times, Eternal Tuat takes the reader back in time five thousand years, back to a time when two at-war-twins were united as brothers. Rather than fill up additional pages with back story, Ms. Nelson has scheduled two such historicals for her award winning series, the first being, Eternal Tuat. Readers will learn first hand what occurrences took place which caused the perfect destined priest and good son, Bagsu, to clash with the tides of destiny and turn evil.  A small snippet of that story follows.


SNIPPET from an unedited version of Eternal Tuat – Sekhmet’s Guardians – Book 4 – which will be released this spring.

I say, “Good luck,” and within moments the red flag is dropped. The crowd screams out their cheers and everyone dives into the cold water.  Net and I are swimming almost side by side, directly behind Nebtehet, who is in the lead. Nebtehet bears to the left and enters the hippo area of the river.
Net yells at me to take the right. I hesitate, but follow his instructions. The crocodiles basking in the sun along the banks of the Nile don’t pay much attention to the swimmers, but soon I can hear them making their way into the water behind us. I look up to make sure I’m still on course and see the open mouth of a large crock making his way towards me. Not knowing if I should swim to shore or try to out maneuver him, I hesitate. It is then I see Net with knife in mouth swim past me and tackle the beast. “Go, I’ll be alright,” he shouts above the splashing of the water.
I hated leaving him to fight the crock alone, but know he is able to handle himself. After all, fighting crocks is one of his favorite pastimes.
I get out of the water and start to run for the center of the bridge. It is there I see Nebtehet who is entering the bridge from the opposite direction. I grab my marker moments before he grabs his, quickly turn around and head for the forest trail. Although I am much taller than he, Nebtehet has legs like a gazelle and passes me before long. I increase my speed, but can’t seem to over take him. Just before we get to the next marker, I see Net step out from a group a trees. How he managed to get in front of us, I have no idea.
Everything happened so quickly. I didn’t see what happened or why Nebtehet fell forward until Net drops the tree branch. He begins to run beside me.
“He’s your friend!”
“Yeah, I know, but you’re my brother.”

***
V.S. Nelson’s series along with her other writings are available in print, large print and Kindle formats where ever fine books are sold or directly from her author page on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00AXYLHF0


Feel like stalking her? You can always find her in cyberspace at the following locations. http://www.authorvsnelson.com






And she invites you to visit the Guardian’s Hangout aka her blog where she hosts many other fine authors and posts updates on her own books. http://www.authorvsnelson.com/blog/


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-- Lynda Again,

Hope you enjoyed the interview. I totally agree with the answer to the last question. Leaves are beautiful to look at but.... ;-)

I look forward to seeing her latest book.

Have you heard the good news? I've just sold my 'RIDER' in a 3 book deal to Entangled Publishing! I don't have a release date or cover yet but when I do, I'll share it. To keep informed, I invite you to join my newsletter (see below) and follow me at my various hangouts.

Have a Blessed Day!

Contact me:
Newsletter http://eepurl.com/ywCD1


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Guest - Shona Husk

Good morning! What a terrific week this has been! Good news on the publishing front for me and the weather improved a little from the sub-arctic temp's we had. I won't complain about that at all  On another 'can't complain' note...the lovely Danielle of Sourcebooks is offering one copy of Lord of the Hunt to one of our readers (US or Canada only) To enter the drawing, leave a comment and send me an email ( lynda@lyndakscott.com ) with Hunt in the Subject line and your name/address in the body of the email by Friday, January 17.

Enjoy the Shona Husk interview!

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How do you spend a typical writing day?
Shona: Writing! I do some admin first thing in the morning then I get words down or pages edited until lunch time. Over lunch I do a bit more admin work then it’s back to writing or editing until it’s time to pick up the kids. Somewhere in there I also so some kind of exercise which counteracts all the chocolate that I eat…I hope.

Have you ever experienced a paranormal event in your life?
Shona: No. I’ve never seen a ghost or kissed a Vampire.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer? How would you answer it?
Shona: People usually ask ‘where do you get your ideas?’ Getting the ideas isn’t the problem, nor is creating the new worlds. People should ask, ‘How do you decide which idea to turn into a book?’

And my answer would be: It depends…a little on the market, a little on what my publisher or agent wants and a little on what I feel like writing. Sometimes an idea rolls together really fast (I was plotting a new story and by the time I’d plotted book one I had three other books in the series). Sometimes it needs a little more thought and research. I’m afraid of running out of ideas, I’m afraid I won’t be able to write them all!

If you were doomed to spend the rest of your life on an island with only one book, one person, one food (coconuts and fish aside), and one object from the modern world (computer, deodorant, etc.), what would they be?
Shona: I need dark chocolate to survive (this is not optional or negotiable). The book would be Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr (I love that book, and the rest of the series). The person would have to be my hubby. And the object would be my toothbrush, I like clean teeth :).

What’s the sexiest feature on a man to you? And on a woman? Why?
Shona: I think a smile and a good attitude go a long way in both sexes. You could be the most beautiful person in the world but if you’re like poison it means nothing.

What’s your own sexiest feature?
Shona: err…asks hubby…I can’t repeat that answer. My smile or my eyes.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written? If so, who is it and why is s/he your favorite?
Shona: My favorite character is usually the hero I’m writing about ;) There a few who really stand out though, Roan the Goblin King, Taryn from Lord of the Hunt and Thanatos from Tasting Thanatos (he was a very broken hero).

Describe your writing process.
Shona: I print out my plotting sheets (I have a five page document that I use for plotting) and start making notes about the plot the characters what I need to research further, timelines anything that comes to mind. It’s like guided brainstorming. Then I write a synopsis to see if it kind of hangs together like a story. If it does I make a more detailed outline that includes a one sentence description for each scene (sometimes more if the scene is clear in my mind and I don’t want to lose it). At this stage I shuffle things around and tweak things. Then I write. I never used to do the outline but I’ve found that it’s really helped streamline my writing. I write the first draft from beginning to end going back only to make notes to myself in places where I need to fix things. After that all the magic is in the edits.

Do you use current events to help create plots? If yes, describe some you've used. If no, describe how you get/create plot ideas.
Shona: Sometimes. The recent disease outbreaks (like SARS, Ebola, the resurgence of measles etc) I used as part of the failing magic of Annwyn as they tied in very well to what I was creating. Of course I escalated what was happening. I also researched ancient plagues so I could tie them into previous troubles in Annwyn. Whether the plot came first or the event triggered the plot point I couldn’t say. I read newspapers and nonfiction and all kinds of things, so I think that ideas are absorbed and spend months or years rolling around my head before they finally clump together in a story.

What draws you to write paranormal?
Shona: I love the world building and the idea that there is something other just out of reach in our world. That maybe there is magic and fairies and vampires if only we looked a little closer at what was going on around us. Children have this sense of wonder and imagination that somehow most adults lose. I want to have that sense of mystery and magic in my life—even if I have to create it :)

What one thing would you want your readers to remember from your book?
Shona: That if you want something badly enough you will find a way to make it happen...even if the Queen of Annwyn is blocking your path.


LORD OF THE HUNT BY SHONA HUSK – IN STORES JANUARY 2014


She Wasn’t Cut Out for His World...
The realm of the fairies might be unbelievably beautiful, but its people are notoriously treacherous. Raised among mortals, Taryn hoped to avoid her fairy heritage her whole life. But now she must cross over to Annwyn and appeal to the King to pardon her exiled parents, or they're sure to die. And to get to the King, she'll first have to face the Lord of the Hunt...

He Can't Imagine Life Without Her...
Verden, Lord of the Hunt, is sworn to serve to King. But the moment he sees Taryn, the attraction is instant and devastating. How can he not help the beautiful, brave young woman who refuses to bend to the will of the court? Yet the power in Annwyn is shifting, its magic failing. No matter how much he may love Taryn, the Hunter knows that abandoning his duty could bring down the mortal world forever...

Praise for the works of Shona Husk:
“Romantic and intriguing.” —Publishers Weekly
“Enthralling.” —Booklist
“A great fairy-tale feel...dark, fresh, and tantalizing.” —Anna's Book Blog

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally. She is the author of the Shadowlands Series and the Annwyn Series. You can find out more information about Shona and her edgy romances at http://www.shonahusk.com/ or follow her on Twitter, @ShonaHusk.

To Purchase Lord of the Hunt:


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-- Lynda Again
   Don't forget to send me an email to enter the drawing for a copy of Lord of the Hunt. Send it by Friday, January 17 so Wookie, my alien kitten, can choose the winner. Good luck!

Guest - K.M. Fawcett

Good morning, everyone! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, there are only 64 days till Spring! That's cause for celebration here in cold, snowy, did I mention COLD? Michigan! We've got a fire dancing in the fireplace, jar candles with delightful scents to add spots of warmth, comfy chairs and a scrumptious treat from K.M. to satisfy our taste for tea and to go with, I've got some white chocolate chip and raspberry scones. So sit back and enjoy as today's guest, K.M. Fawcett tells us all about using real life experiences in Sci-Fi Romance.  
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Using Real Life Experiences in Sci-Fi Romance

Thank you for having me back on Star-Crossed Romance! The last time I visited, I brought some jasmine green tea from Okinawa. This time I have a pot of amandine rose (which has an aroma of cinnamon and cookies) to share with you and your readers as we discuss using real life experiences in sci-fi romance.

In addition to imagination and research, writers draw from their life experiences to create believable stories. They may take traits or mannerisms from people they know to create a character. A vacation destination may inspire the setting for a new story. Family drama or a funny incident could spark an idea for a scene or plot.

What kind of life experiences could a sci-fi/ paranormal romance writer bring to a story set on another planet?

Unlike the characters in The Survival Race series, I’ve never been abducted by aliens (Captive). I’ve never been forced to compete and fight to the death in a survival race. And I’ve never had to spiritually heal a gorgeous Highland leader’s heart to prevent a war against a technologically advanced species (Fearless). However, tapping into my experience as a competitive runner and martial artist helped to lend credibility to my fictional world.

The survival race was created from an amalgamation of adventure races that I’ve competed in, including a 13-mile trail race through Allamuchy Mountain, mud runs, and the Warrior Dash. Then I took the competition one step further. Not only did the gladiators have to run and conquer obstacles (something I was familiar with), but they also had to use their wits, combat skills, and survival skills to fight alien creatures, a harsh arctic environment, and each other. Yes, the last gladiator alive wins!

While I’ve never had to fight for my life (thank God), my empty hand and weapons training in the martial arts helped me to write realistic fight scenes. I drew upon the thoughts, emotions, and physical stresses I’ve experienced when sparring in the dojo and then imagined the rest. That’s the beauty of writing fiction.

To be sure the fight choreography worked, I enlisted the help of my husband. He doesn’t think twice when asked to throw a punch or hold a knife to my throat. Oh…now might be a good time to mention my husband is also my sensei (karate teacher).

Though training in a controlled environment with hard rubber knives and sticks instead of swords isn’t the same as battling an alien ruler to save your loved ones, I believe it helped add authenticity to the action scenes in both Captive and Fearless.

Thank again, Lynda, for having me here today!

~K.M. Fawcett
website: www.kmfawcett.com


K.M. Fawcett writes sci-fi/ paranormal romances, and enjoys stories filled with adventure and strong, kick butt heroes and heroines. She holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in both Isshinryu Karate and in Ryukonkai (Okinawan weapons). She and her husband own Tenchi Isshinryu Karate Dojo in NJ. When not writing or working out at the dojo, K.M. is driving her two children to drum practice and ballet classes.


FEARLESS
TWO SOULS

Myia, a shaman-in-training, wants desperately to protect her peaceful village from the barbaric Highland invaders. To hone her powers of prophetic visions and healing, the village elders send Myia on a quest to heal the Highland leader's heart and stop a brewing war. Myia's mended many souls before, so this should be an effortless duty . . . until she meets the gorgeous, stubborn Highland warlord.

ONE DESIRE

Kedric, a gladiator who escaped enslavement, only wants to liberate the villagers from their common foe-a race that breeds humans for blood sport and genetic experiments. Fueled by his rage, Kedric is determined to take down the brutal enemy. So when a raven-haired beauty with a body made for sin tries to sabotage his mission, Kedric wants her gone. Yet no woman's touch has ever left Kedric more annoyed . . . and aroused. Kedric knows he should shun her soothing embrace-but he can't seem to stay away. As their passion grows, Kedric must decide between fighting his war or surrendering his rage-and his heart-for Myia's love.

Excerpt
Angry red streaks snaked through his aura. “What manner of trickery is this?”
“Get off of me, barbarian.” Name-calling? Really? Had her father taught her nothing?
“Barbarian? That’s funny coming from a savage.”
She gasped. “Savage? You’re the one on top of me.”
“As I recall, I wouldn’t be on top of you if I hadn’t needed to protect myself from your tricks.”
“I am a spiritual healer. I only wanted to repair your soul. You must release my people.”
“They’re free to go at any time. They choose to stay.”
His weight was crushing her, making breathing difficult, but she refused to let him see her discomfort. If she could calm herself enough, her spirit could reenter his, and she could try healing him again. This might be the only chance she got before he…What would he do to her?
She didn’t sense anything evil, vile, or malicious. Murder wasn’t present in his aura. The only thing she perceived was arousal. Typical male. Perhaps she could use that to her advantage.
There were three occasions when a person’s spirit was the most vulnerable: during sleep, during illness, and during sex—so she’d been told.
“You’ve invaded our peaceful village and took our people against their will. Forgive me for not believing you.” Her words were angrier than she wanted them to be. What happened to her shamanic training?
“Seems we have a lot in common, you and I.”
“We have nothing in common, barbarian.”
“Did you not invade my body against my will?”
“To heal your spirit.”
“So you say, savage.”
Would he stop calling her that? She was not a fierce, violent person. She was tranquil and at peace with the universe, dammit.
Well, at least she strove for peace.
“However,” he continued, “you needn’t concern yourself. My spirit requires no healing.”
“So say you. But our spirits have met, and yours told me it hid a deep wound. Let me back in. Let me into your body to heal you.”
His smirk surprised her. What could he possibly find so humorous?
“If anyone enters another’s body, it will be me.” His warm lips pressed against hers. As if to prove his point, his tongue coaxed hers to open for him.
She’d been kissed before, but not from a man so dangerous and commanding, or so good at it.
Well, she wasn’t about to waste the opportunity to do what she came here for, especially since nothing in his aura indicated malicious intent. His spirit simply sought to demonstrate his male dominance in a kiss. Nothing more. Ha. He’d learn who the dominant one was when she connected with his spirit again.
She opened her mouth and kissed him back. His pause indicated surprise. He’d obviously expected her to resist. When she didn’t let up, his jaw relaxed and his kiss deepened. She couldn’t deny the freedom her soul felt.
But she’d come to heal his heart, and as much as she would like to give in to the pleasure she was receiving, she needed to heal him first.
Again retreating to that tranquil place in her mind, her spirit gathered energy and flowed from her body into his. Her spirit didn’t get further than the impenetrable stone wall before it was thrown from his body again.
His lips were off hers, the weight of his body disappeared. The influx of warm night air came as a relief.
“Savage,” he boomed. “Stay out of my body.”
-- Lynda Again,
    Whoa! Great excerpt! And I so agree with your ideas on using real life to add to the reality of our worlds. Thanks for being with us today!

Contact me:
Newsletter http://eepurl.com/ywCD1