Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest - Judi Fennell

Good morning all! We have author Judi Fennell visiting us today. I sent her a mini interview with some questions I thought her readers might find interesting. Enjoy! And check out my review of her newest book, Genie Knows Best, here.

Oh, and check out the Lynda Again section for a sponsored giveaway.

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What were some of your favorite novels when you were growing up?
JF: I devoured the Dr. Doolittle series, the Wizard of Oz books, and every Nancy Drew there was at the time. Then in 8th grade I discovered romance, and, well, the rest is history.  I started with Harlequin Romances, then moved up to Presents, and then branched out from there. One of my biggest thrills a few years ago was to have lunch with Anne Stuart, whose books I grew up adoring.

What are your current favorite novels or genres?
JF: It’s funny that while I love to write light-hearted paranormals, my genre of choice to unwind is Romantic Suspense. Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Claire, Karen Rose, Allison Brennan, Kate Brady… those ladies can keep me up at night! I do also enjoy reading light-hearted paranormals but I have to be choosy because I want to make sure I don’t read something that I then can’t use but would have thought of… For example, I made the mistake of watching the movie Aquamarine while I was writing my Mer series, and the minute the mermaid (on land) picks up a sea shell in the human girl’s bedroom and talks to her father, I smacked my head. I knew what she was going to say before she put that shell down: “Shell phone.” I soooooooooooo would have come up with that, but since I didn’t, I couldn’t use it. Therefore, my poor Mers have to have an archaic system of communication with messengers or banging on the transatlantic cables in Morse (Merse) code…

What are you reading right now? And why did you choose it?
JF: Right now I’m reading Stephanie Julian’s (my critique partner) December release, How to Worship a Goddess. I chose it because, well, she asked, and I love her world. She writes about Etruscan mythology which no one else, to my knowledge, does. Her heroes are to-die for and the love story hot! Highly recommend. But then, I might be just a tad biased…

If you could travel anywhere you wanted tomorrow, where would you go?
JF: Western Europe. Just give me a Eurrail pass and I’m good to go. I lived in Spain in college and am so upset that I haven’t been back since. I want to see every country there. I’m half Irish and half Italian and my great grandparents came from Florence and Sicily so I’d love to see that, plus all the history and architecture… If I were independently wealthy, I’d spend the rest of my life living in little villages throughout Europe to experience the culture.

Where do you live and what do you like best about living there? 
JF: I live in the Northeast, outside of Philadelphia. Best thing about living here is the change in seasons, though I absolutely love winter. I love the cold and the snow, and the fact that I live in a cul-de-sac that is always the last place to get plowed means I sometimes can’t get to work (thank God for tele- and cloud-computing), so I can work in my pjs. Also, we’re pretty central to NYC, DC, and Philly, as well as the Jersey Shore and the Poconos. Even Niagara Falls is only a 5 hour ride, so we can go and see so many things within a short time frame. Very diverse.

When you get some downtime in your busy schedule, what do you like to do to unwind?
JF: What is this “downtime” of which you speak? I went back to work full time within the last year after being home with the kids, and downtime was a casualty of that decision. I’m a huge Real Housewives junkie, so I do spend some time trying to catch up on my DVR’d episodes, I have a group of women who’ve been getting together once a week for the past ten years, so I keep that up because girlfriends are so important, and I try to get some reading in. A great thing about being an author is all the books you get for free; a bad thing about being an author is that you’re always writing your books so you don’t have time to read all the free books you get.

Can you tell us a little bit about Kal and Sam in Genie Knows Best?
JF: Kal is an alpha male in a beta role because if you think about it, a genie is subservient to his/her master. No matter that he or she is an all-powerful being; the very nature of the relationship is to be subservient. That’s got to be hard on an alpha male and Kal is the quintessential one, so I knew he’d be a fun character to get to know. I really fell for him and I hope the readers do, too. Samantha is someone you’d think you wouldn’t like. Beautiful, wealthy, pampered… what could she possibly have to complain about? A lot, as it turns out, because not only does every wish come with complications, so too, does wealth and privilege, and all Samantha wants is for someone to see past the trappings of her situation to see her. It’s a voyage of self-discovery for both of them, that shows that what you thought you wanted isn’t always what you really do want.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share?
JF: The third book in the series, Magic Gone Wild, is in and slated to come out early Fall 2012, about Nirvana Aphrodite (yes, it’s a mouthful, and yes, quite possibly her parents did set her up to fail with that name—but that’s no less challenging than the expectations her twin sister Aphrodite Nirvana has to live up to) who “accidentally” ended up inside a bottle and The Service before graduating from the Djinn Academy. And if her magic isn’t quite up to snuff, well, she does mean well. But try telling that to Zane Harrison. All he wants to do is ditch the family homestead he’s inherited so the stories of his crazy great-grandfather will finally be put to rest. But then he opens a bottle stored in the attic and all hell—or Nirvana—breaks loose. With enchanted armoires and coat racks, a bewished carpet, and a talking, gender-optional phoenix named Merlin Pendragon, Zane is afraid that he’s just going to add flame to the stories—but he hadn’t counted on the flame that erupts between him and Vana.

Thanks so much for having me and readers can check out excerpts and outtakes on my website, www.JudiFennell.com. Hope you all enjoy the (magic carpet) ride!

Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell – In Stores November 2011
Be careful what you wish for…

Samantha Blaine is about to make a fateful discovery. A tall, dark, handsome, ohmygosh kind of fateful discovery…

Kal is very pleased to meet his attractive new master—especially since he intends to seduce her into granting him freedom. But when seriously dark magic spells trouble for both of them, Kal can’t help himself from falling for the woman who holds his fate in her hands…

Warmly acclaimed by readers and critics alike, Judi Fennell brings to life a fabulous world of magic and mayhem where wishes come true in the most unexpected ways!

About the Author
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Magic Gone Wild, set for release in August 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/.
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-- Lynda Again
    The generous Danielle at Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway of Genie Knows Best to two of our readers. Sorry, the drawing is only for US and Canada.

(Don't forget my review of Genie Knows Best posted here. Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on the review/book)

1) Leave a comment/question for Judi
2) Send me an email (lynda@lyndakscott.com) with Genie in the subject line and your snail mail addy in the body by Friday, Dec 2. I'll have the infamous alien kitten, Wookie, select a winner. Good luck!

Have a Blessed Day!

Review - Genie Knows Best

Genie Knows Best
Judi Fennell
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2011

On the eve of her father's funeral, Samantha Blaine is further hurt by her soon-to-be-ex-not-quite-fiance's betrayal when she overhears him promising to pay off a gambling debt by marrying the 'stupid, useless' heiress. More than anything, she wanted the happy-ever-after with true love but it seems that Albert, the slime, wasn't the man she'd thought he was. And that meant she was stupid and useless, only good for the money she inherited. Retreating into her father's office, she opens the safe to find...a lantern. Before she knows it, she's enveloped in a glittery, orange cloud and on her way to Izazz with the hunkiest genie ever.

Kal is delighted that Samantha has released him from his lantern. She's his last master, fulfulling his sentence for illegally removing his genie bracelets 4000 years earlier. As soon as he'd granted Samantha her last wish, he'd be free to get the job he'd always wanted and get on with his life. But he finds himself enjoying the time with Samantha and admiring her generous wishes as she begins to bring Izazz back to its former glory.

When the inhabitants of Izazz praise and thank her for her efforts at repairing their city, Sam realizes that they're praising the wrong person. Yes, she made the wish but it was Kal who'd done the work of granting the wish. This convinces her that she is useless. She wants nothing more than to be useful in her own right. Well, not just that. She also wants the hunkie genie, Kal, who is the answer to all her wishes. But that's another problem...her wishes. She doesn't want him to want her simply because she wished it. She wants to be wanted for herself.

Kal has no idea why Sam doesn't want to be able to wish for anything but it's his job to do what she wants. He just wants to please her, wishes or not. As he spends time with her, he comes to realize that she would be very easy to love. Love is something a genie can't do without risking all their powers. He's spent too many years waiting for his chance to become the Grand Vizeer.

But Arnold, the slimy soon-to-be-ex-almost-but-not-quite-fiance, finds the orange cystal and an amulet in the open safe that also take him to Izazz. He wants Kal even more than he wanted Samantha's riches. After all, a genie who can grant his every wish is so much better than a company and its bankroll. And the fact that Samantha has given up her ability to wish proves he was right - she's spoiled and stupid and useless. He plans on getting the lantern, and Kal, from her and he doesn't care what he has to do to get it.

Genie Knows Best is fast paced, full of bright humor and sensuously romantic love scenes. The characters are right out of the Abrabian Nights...and, well, possibly a few other mythologies but it all blends so well to create the world of Izazz that the reader never blinks. The secondary characters are fun. The plot is perfectly balanced between humor, adventure and romance. While this is Ms Fennell's second book in her genie series, it stands alone quite nicely.

I'd definitely recommend this as a break from the hustle and bustle of the coming holiday season. Besides, we all deserve a treat and this book is definitely a treat.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest - Anita Clenney

Good morning all! We have a special guest, an author with a fantastic new paranormal series, with us today. Her publisher, Sourcebooks, is offering up a copy of her book Embrace The Highland Warrior to two lucky readers. Read on to find out how to enter the drawing.

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How a Book is Born…

A writer’s books are like his/her babies, but they don’t all come about the same way. They might be created through snippets of a secret conversation overheard, or from a dream, or an idea from a movie or a story on the news. But regardless where the brilliant idea comes from, or what we hope is a brilliant idea, that’s just the beginning. We might start the story with a scene or a character, but lots of thought and planning has to go into the story before it’s born. Plotter or a pantser, you have to eventually get from point A to point B. This usually requires research. I don’t like research, and I’m lucky that most of my stories are already tight in my head, so I don’t have to do as much as if I were a historical writer, but there are always facts to checked.

I love Google. I will eventually dedicate a book to it. When I start researching something I get sidetracked. We live in a fascinating world, and we have more access to more information now than ever before. I could be checking out styles of sporrans or 19th century toilets and I’ll end up looking at pictures of Scotland or reading about fairies.  Later on, it will occur to me that I forgot what I was doing and I have to go back and do it all over again. When I’m really into research, I’ll jot a note down to remind myself what trail I’m on so I don’t end up in Never Never land.

Embrace the Highland Warrior is the second book in the Connor Clan series. Cody and Shay’s story picks up where Awaken the Highland Warrior left off. Both hero and heroine were born in modern times so that eliminated the need for some research. This story was fun to write. Cody and Shay have a strong history together but time apart has made them feel like strangers, which makes for lots of sparks. Here’s a glimpse of their first meeting after 9 years, a lot of lies and secrets.

The essence of him was still there; the boy next door who’d kept her secrets, bandaged her scrapes, and comforted her against his scrawny chest, but there was nothing scrawny about him now. He was tall, with broad-shoulders and lean muscles undisguised by his soft gray T-shirt and worn jeans. Dark hair brushed his collar, giving him a rugged, dangerous look. His face was still stunning. Strong jaw, straight nose, and those intense hazel eyes that even at nineteen had tempted married women to watch as he walked past. Her gaze caught on the scar above his eyebrow, trophy from the motorcycle wreck when he was sixteen, and she remembered the terror of finding him sprawled on the rocky hill, so still she thought he was dead.


Shay didn’t expect to run into Cody, but he’s not about to let her go again, not with a stalker on her heels. But when he finds out that the stalker isn’t human and that the entire Underworld is after her and the sacred book they believe she’s taken, he calls in the entire Connor Clan. Meet the warriors.

There’s Faelan, the only warrior who’s ever been assigned two ancient demons. Born in the 19th century, Faelan was most powerful warrior of his time. He was trapped in a time vault and slept for 150 years, waking to a strange world filled with modern technology and even stranger…modern females. For God’s sakes, they’re even warriors, now. What will they do next, he ponders, send children into battle? Then there’s Ronan, 6’3 inches of raw, sexy warrior, better than Robin Hood with his bow, and equally at home with a sword or a bonny lass. Cody, the only other warrior who’s been assigned an ancient demon, might have pretended to be the tough boy next door, and he’s good at hiding secrets, but his world will never be the same when he finds out what’s been hidden from him. Shane is quiet but the fastest with a sword, and Niall is a one-man army, with legs like tree trunks. Tomas is a clan medic and Brodie’s the prankster of the bunch, always getting into trouble. Duncan is brooding and frustrated, and Sorcha likes flirting almost as much as killing demons. Anna, a stunning beauty, has chosen to remain a warrior forever, but destiny has some surprises in store. And my heroines are more than just mates to these sexy warriors. They have talents that will shock even them.

Sourcebooks will be giving away two copies of Embrace the Highland Warrior to commenters, US and Canada only, please. My question is what is your favorite setting for books? Small towns, big cities, forests, or creepy castles?


Embrace the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney – In Stores November 2011

They were driven apart by a timeless secret…

Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel--lasted half a day)…she realized she'd missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids.

You can find out more about Anita and her books at:
Some of the places Embrace the Highland Warrior can be purchased:

We’ll leave you with another excerpt from Embrace the Highland Warrior:

Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”

Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.

She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.

“Get off me, you oaf.”

“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”

She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.

“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”

“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”

“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.

Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.

While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Get away from me.”

“You can’t leave.”

“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”

“I explained it to you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.

“You’re not leaving.”

Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”

He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.
“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.
She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”

“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.

“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.

She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”

“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”

“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”

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-- Lynda Again
   That was a great insight into how a book gets started. And a terrific excerpt for Embrace The Highland Warrior. If you've seen my review of it, you'll know I think this is a terrific book and a terrific series. I read it and promptly went out to buy the first book in the series. But...you want to know how to get into the drawing for Anita's book, right? Here's how:

1) Leave a comment for Anita here on the blog
2) Send me an email at lynda@lyndakscott.com with your snail mail addy by Dec 2 with Anita Clenney in the subject line.
3) I'll put all the names in the prize box and have Wookie, my alien kitten, pick the winner.

Good luck and have a Blessed Day!

Review - Embrace The Highland Warrior

Embrace The Highland Warrior
Anita Clenney
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2011


After years away from her childhood home, Shay decides to spend the night there. Her aunt Nina is away, the house and all its memories are hers. But the first night, she awakes from a nightmare, hearing the floor boards creak under an intruders weight. Shay grabs the nearest weapon, a candlestick, and goes to investigate. She attacks the large shadowy form in the hallway but the man's reflexes are astounding. Before she knows it, the intruder has her in a death grip and demands to know who she is. The voice brings back memories, both good and heartbreaking. The same memories she's determined to face and conquer so that she can move forward with her life.

Cody Connor, one of the famed Warriors of the Connor Clan, can't believe Shay is back in Virginia. But there she is just as stubborn and independent as always. And just as tormentingly beautiful. He's always known she was his destined mate but he'd been forbidden to let her know who he and his family really were or that they'd been trying to keep her safe all her life. When he was just entering the service, he'd let her get away. Now she was back and he meant for her to stay.

The demon who thought he'd killed Shay years earlier, though, has just discovered her empty grave. Her death is the only thing standing between him and eternal life.

Embrace the Highland Warrior is a fantastic combination of romance, sexy Highland warriors, and the  paranormal. This was actually the first book I'd read in this series. I loved it so much, I ordered the first one Awaken the Highland Warrior from Amazon and couldn't wait until it arrived. You can see my review of it here.

During the story, Shay is assailed by painful memories of her past but not just painful ones. She has many happy memories which lead inexorably to her deep love for Cody, the playmate then the handsome boy next door. Ms Clenney's skills are clearly in evidence as she develops both Shay and Cody, how they grew up, grew together, and fell in love. She made these two characters so real, so sympathetic, that they draw us into the story and the plot seduces us into staying. Yes, these books are the sort that you can't put down. You'll find yourself carrying the book from room to room or in your purse if you have to go out.

But even worse...Ms Clenney has other drool worthy warriors just waiting for their own books. They're not alone. Many readers are waiting too. If you haven't read the two books in this series, buy them for yourself as a Christmas present but go ahead and read them. You'll be happy you did.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all who Celebrate It

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and lots of good food. The Scott clan and a few friends feasted on turkey, roast beef, sausage and sauerkraut, smashed potatoes, green beans and corn and pumpkin pie. No one left hungry ;-)

And we were Thankful for the food, for the family and friends, and for the little lives that keep us company (our doggies and kittens). There's so much to be Thankful for that it's often too easy to forget. I try to remember that each day when I say my prayers but I still forget some of the Blessings I've had...I wish you all could have been here. I can guarantee that you were part of the friends that I'm always Thankful for ;-)

Hope you all had a Blessed Day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest - Kristin Battestella

Good morning all! Today's guest is Kristin Battestella, who's giving us a glimpse into her Vampire Family series and what a writer needs to do when rejections come their way. Enjoy!

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A Vampire Thanksgiving Inspiration!
By Kristin Battestella

“Hello Mother,

I have never conformed to normal societal standards; you know I have looked after my own cares, perhaps even selfishly some might say. However, amid this sad state in America’s affairs, it was in my best interests to marry.  Yes, marry.   I’m sure you wish to know his titles and ancestry for your histories, but none such matters to me. His name isn’t even important, for he wasn’t around long.  His funeral is tomorrow in fact—a gentleman’s funeral for a wealthy gentleman from North Carolina. 

I apologize if I’m late in my correspondence.  You know I don’t like to write. I imagine you might have wished a traditional spectacle at this news, Mother, your one moment of pride and pretense that you have a normal daughter and a proper family.  Ha!”

That’s the opening paragraph to my November release with Muse It Up Publishing, Debauchery: Victoria’s Burning, Book 4 in the Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family series.  We began the set in August and are schedule to run all 7 through February.  Awesome, isn’t it?

But it almost wasn’t.
  
About this time last year, we were just signing the contract with Lea at the Muse and I was simply ecstatic.  By the end of last summer, I had finally resigned myself to the fact that Fate and Fangs was unpublishable.  I told my husband I wouldn’t have any books out in 2010 then, and though I wasn’t happy about it, that’s how it would have to be.  The calendar time wasn’t what upset me as much as the fact that what I had worked on for so long wasn’t going to be read.  For a writer, that is the absolute worst!

I hadn’t intended to immediately continue the universe begun in my 2008 novel with Eternal Press, The Vampire Family, but the moment we were re-released at EP, interviewers and reviewers were asking for more.  I have my drafts and am continuing work on the next two full-length novels in the universe, but I didn’t want to go forward with all the heavy vampire action and coven wars just yet.  There was actually one negative review for The Vampire Family, and the complaint was that there was too much action.  This did surprise me; as it was meant to be a heavy war historical battle vampire piece, not a paranormal romance. 


Fortunately, I did have more pieces and partially done short stories that I had originally excised from The Vampire Family.  These personal, individual, first person accounts just didn’t fit with the style of the novel.  I still thought these pieces were critical to the characters and establishments at hand, and after revising and updating and falling in love with them all over again, I sought publication for Fate and Fangs…

Only to find that no one wanted them. 

Naturally, I could understand a lot of the passing- these are after all novella length tales that fall into the realm of $.99- $1.99 sales.  It’s time and effort that just doesn’t add up for some publishers, and that’s fine. Writing is an art to us, but Publishing is still very much a business- and I’m sure we’re tough to market, too. Fate and Fangs varies in its eras and themes: Book 1, Love is obviously more paranormal romance than Book 2 Punishment, which is much more abstract horror. Debauchery has some very inappropriate subject matter, too.  I get it.  Logistics.  But that doesn’t make it easier to get the rejections.  After awhile, you get tired of listening to editors say, ‘I love it, I really really do, but no.’ It’s actually easier when you have a publisher say no because the subject matter is too touchy and out there rather than lose on technicalities.  Again, either way your hard work is for naught.  One less wise to the industry might simply give up, been done with compromising oneself for the business that is publication.

No!

I’ve been doing several speaking panels about the nuts and bolts of writing and getting published with the New Jersey Authors Network. So many other new, aspiring, or stumbling writers have told me how they’re afraid of getting rejected because they have an unusual format, or taboo topic, or just don’t feel like their work has a place in the industry standard.  Fortunately, I can tell them that in today’s publishing world, there are no such stumbling blocks or obstacles.  I first looked into e-publishing as a viable format way back in 2005- pre Kindle magics and when vampires weren’t so played as they are now- simply because I knew what I wrote was too out there for mainstream traditional publication.  There is really every opportunity to publish today, regardless of if your topic is touchy or if your word count isn’t up to snuff to some. 
  
If Fate and Fangs didn’t find a home with Muse, I might not be able to share and inspire other authors to keep at it.  I’d probably just stay at home plugging away on the next story at hand in hopes that that would be the one to see the light of day.  Thankfully, I can indeed say anything is possible.  Sure, I didn’t have any books published in 2010.  However, I will have 5 in 2011 and 2 forthcoming for 2012.  With one publisher taking a chance, my portfolio literally doubled overnight. 

So, the humble morale of my tale is to keep writing!  Put the tale you have to tell on the page.  Shape it to what the story needs to be the best told tale it can possibly be.  In seeking publication, do your research, know your options, and consider the possibilities and opportunities available too you.  Don’t despair after rejection! Keep at it!  The publisher you need to get your book out to readers is there.  It just takes another round of writerly elbow grease.  And we’ve all got plenty of that, don’t we?

  

Fate and Fangs: Tales from The Vampire Family

Feel Love, experience Punishment, know Struggle, indulge the Debauchery, crave Lust, learn Humanity, face Resurrection, and choose: Fate or Fangs?



Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper, The Cumberland County Reminder in New Jersey and has been writing non fiction, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for fifteen years. She enjoys being at home with her family, collecting records, and creating web pages in her spare time. Along with numerous sports articles, online reviews (Her review of the film 300 earned 11,000 hits and crashed the Fire Fox News server!), and fiction work; Kristin's first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of EPIC, the Friends of the Mount Laurel Library, and has her eyes set on joining the Online Film Critics Society. Kristin's first full-length work The Vampire Family has been re-released with Eternal Press; and in addition to numerous reviews, interviews, chats and blog appearances, Kristin recently attended the Philadelphia and Collingswood Book Festivals.

You can find us anytime online




In Professor Welshire’s fourth Fate and Fangs chronicle, Victoria uses the fallout from the American Civil War to her advantage-or so the beautiful but deadly blockade-runner hopes.  After all her using, abusing, and feedings, Victoria’s slaves finally take matters into their own hands, forcing Antonio’s daughter to face her own mortality. 
 

You can shop for Debauchery at Muse It Up or find each of the Fate and Fangs tales on Kindle




For December, look for Fate and Fangs Book 5, Lust: James at the Sundowner!

The Sundowner offers steamy Welshire vampires Jessica, Pamela, and Slava for underground vampire sex and biting fetishes in this mid-century tale from Professor James. Victoria’s twin brother James, however, is content with his gig as piano player at the club owned by their brother Stephen.  James’ own love Catrina is the alluring singer at The Sundowner, but can he keep his longtime vampire companion away from the tempting, exciting young clientele?  


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-- Lynda Again,
   My apologies to Kristin. I had some problems getting the blog  to properly post today and in my haste to get it up here, left out the two terrific covers she'd sent me. I hope everyone enjoys her post as much as I did and that you all have a Blessed and Wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest - Linda Wisdom

Good morning all! Today's guest is one of our very favorite authors, Linda Wisdom. Linda has an entertaining post for us as usual and a chance for one lucky Star-Crossed Romance reader to win an ARC. Read on to find out how.

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Three days to that fantastic turkey dinner!

Are you ready? Or wondering just what have you put yourself in for?

I want to be one of the witches and hex up dinner. Same with the dirty dishes afterwards. That way I can indulge in a good book. I’d even settle for minions to do it all.

Not that I can complain since we’re going out to dinner this year.

If you get a chance to get some good reading in, more power to you!

To get you in the mood, I’m including a Thanksgiving story about Jazz and Irma.

And for one lucky commenter I’m giving away an advanced reading copy of A Demon Does It Better, my January release. US residents only please. (See the instructions at the bottom--Lynda)



And for all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Too bad we don’t all have Irma to oversee our culinary efforts!

"I have to do what?" A horrified Jazz stared at the pale-skinned turkey lying on the counter.
"You have to reach inside the cavity and take out the giblets." Irma peered over her shoulder sending a shock of cold through Jazz’s body.
When Jazz broke down and asked Irma to help her cook Thanksgiving dinner, she had no idea it would involve putting her hands inside a raw turkey and pull its guts out. Can you spell euww!
She settled for sticking her hands inside two plastic bags before sticking them inside the turkey's butt. She kept her eyes closed and mouth scrunched up as she scooped out the innards.
"This is disgusting!"
"Perhaps if you'd cooked more often and not been out there doing witchy things, you'd know what to do in cooking a proper meal."
"Spare me from self-righteous spirits," Jazz muttered, dumping the giblets and the neck in the sink. She quickly peeled off the bags and dropped them in the trash.
"And don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly since you just handled raw poultry."
Jazz paused in wiping her hands on her jeans and reached for the hand soap instead.
"How big is the turkey?" Irma asked, pursing her Tangeed lips. While she now wore clothing designed for this century instead of the last, she still enjoyed some of her 1950s make up.
Jazz stared at the pale bird. "Big."
Irma sighed. "No, how many pounds."
"I don't know. I didn't exactly put it on a scale!"
"Then look at the wrapper! You determine the time it takes to cook it according to the number of pounds. We always bought our turkeys at the Farris Turkey Ranch. Such beautiful birds too."
Jazz ignored Irma reminiscing about the good old days when she was still alive. "Yeah yeah. Okay, the bird is twenty-three pounds since Krebs wants lots of leftovers and Stasi and Blair are coming down for dinner."
"Are you stuffing it? If you are, it will take longer to cook."
"Stuffing it? I just took stuff out of it!" Witches normally didn't get headaches but Jazz was well on her way to a doozy.
"And you make up a nice stuffing to put into the turkey cavity. There's cornbread stuffing, oyster, herb. Take your choice."
"Then I choose Stove-Top which I can put in the microwave and it doesn't have to go anywhere near a turkey's nether regions."
"That's not stuffing! That's pieces of Lord knows what in a box!"
Jazz studied the red and yellow box. "The box stays stuffing, it's stuffing."
Under Irma's guidance Jazz had the turkey rubbed with butter and herbs, placed in a large electric roaster, and the timer set.
"Off the counter!" She ordered Fluff and Puff as the bunny slippers scampered up to investigate what was going on. She gave each them of a piece of licorice root for a treat and watched them retreat to a corner of the kitchen.
"Brown sugar, molasses is nice and miniature marshmallows for the top of the candied yams," Irma told her. "Are you making cranberry sauce?"
Jazz held up two cans. "Jellied and whole-berry."
"You modern girls rely too much on canned goods. I always bought my cranberries and made my own sauce with ginger and a hint of orange peel." Irma's face seemed to fill the entire screen. "Does that jar say gravy? You can make it from the drippings! You picked up butter and cream for the mashed potatoes, didn't you? And I mean real butter, not that oleo or what you call margarine now. We had to use oleo during the war and it had no taste. Also did you pick up the makings for the green bean casserole? That's a classic dish for Thanksgiving. The French-fried onion strings make it look so fancy. Please don't tell me that tube holds biscuits? I made my biscuits from scratch. Harold said they tasted light as a feather."
"Light as a feather biscuits sure didn't keep your husband in line, did it?" Jazz muttered.
"Maybe if you worried less about eliminating curses you'd have a man to cook for! Look at that! You're not even using real whipped cream for the pumpkin pie." Jazz flicked her fingers at the screen and muted the audio. She smiled at the picture of Irma talking away. "Ah, silence."
All too soon, she realized she did need help. She flicked her fingers at the screen again.
"You are a very rude girl," Irma huffed. "You asked for my help and I was only too willing to give it, yet on a whim you shut me off. Perhaps I should return to my program. Rachael Ray is coming on soon. She knows how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner."
Jazz briefly considered zapping Irma back to the garage, but since she needed the spirit's help, she didn't dare. Irma was a ghost who could hold a grudge with the best of them and Jazz wasn't even halfway through preparing dinner. She looked at the cans, jars and bowls scattered across the counters. Nothing had ever looked so intimidating.
And all because she wanted to do something nice for Krebs this year and give him a family-type dinner.
"Fine, I'm sorry I muted you. I lost my mind." Which she had in planning this dinner.
"I forgive you." A lit cigarette appeared between Irma's white-gloved fingers. "Now, you need to melt some butter to use in basting the turkey."
Jazz's head spun with the rapid-fire instructions Irma shot at her. And every time she started a new task she was tempted to use her magick.
"No wonder Samantha Stevens kept breaking her word in not using her magick," she muttered, mentally envisioning the potato peeler under six feet of concrete. By the time the timer for the turkey went off, Jazz was ready for a nap.
"Where's our feast?" Krebs asked, coming into the kitchen with Jazz's sister witches, Stasi and Blair on his heels. "Do you want me to carry the turkey into the dining room?"
She waved her hand at the roaster. "Knock yourself out."
Except as Krebs lifted the turkey out of the roaster it looked more pink than golden.
"What did you do to it?" Irma demanded from the TV screen.
Jazz was horrified. "I cooked it! 5 ½ hours at 225."
"You cook it at 325!" Irma shouted. "That bird is still raw."
With a flick of the wrist, Jazz shut off the TV, faced the turkey, saying "Forget the book. Forget the look. Damn turkey needs to be cooked, because I say so damn it!"
In the wink of an eye, the turkey turned a well-cooked golden brown. Just as fast the food disappeared from the kitchen, leaving it clean and neat and reappeared on the dining room table.
Jazz snatched up a dark green bottle and marched into the other room. "I'll bring the wine."
Hopefully your Thanksgiving will be filled with good food, good friends and family and maybe a glass or four of wine.

Linda 

Coming Soon


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-- Lynda Again
    Hope everyone enjoyed Linda's little Thanksgiving interlude. Her newest book A Demon Does It Better will be available in January 2012. I've read it and it's fabulous (stay tuned for my review in late December). If you want to be entered in her drawing, leave a comment AND your email addy so she can contact you. Oh, and the deadline will be Wednesday for the drawing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guest - Cindy Lynn Speer

Good morning all! Today's guest is Cindy Speer, who'll be discussing fencing. I don't fence but I do love characters who do ;-) so I'll be reading this with great interest. Hope you enjoy it too!

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Since I am absolutely certain that people really aren’t that excited about hearing about me when I do a chat, I tend to tell people more about my main hobby…historical fencing.

And people get enthused.  Swords always get people enthused.  I’m all for that, of course.  But then people ask me if I write about fencing in my books.  And you think, since I spend a fair amount of my life during the week attempting to become an excellent swordswoman, that my books and stories would be chock full of people trying to kill each other with the sharp and pointies.  Even a few years back, the first guy to ever teach me how to fence said something along the lines, “When you write your novel with a huge sword scene in it…and you will...”  But, honestly, no.  And I can hear the chorus of writing professors and editors yelling, “Write what you know!” but somehow I just can’t.

I think that this is not uncommon.  Writers do tend to write what they know…they can’t *not* do so, if they don’t know about something then they need to research, to find out enough details to make whatever it is that they are writing about real in their heads so that it will be real in the minds of their reader.  You can’t just write about climbing up the side of a building unless you know what the bricks would feel like under your fingers, what the weight of your body would feel like, what the world is like when you look down.  Maybe you never climbed up the side of a building, but you have, in your life, gathered data.  You’ve picked a brick up and felt it, before putting it back on the pile.  You’ve held your weight by your hands when climbing over a wall, that few seconds before you let go to drop a half foot.  You’ve been high on top of a building, and you’ve looked down to the streets below.

But then writers also know that their audience is smart and knows things, too.  You can’t trick people into thinking bricks would feel like the waxed skin of an apple unless you make lots of context to lead them to think bricks would feel like that in this world or situation.   In my case, I hang around with fencers and long swordsmen.  I hang around with bright people who have read books like Salvatore’s Drizzit Do’Urden series.  Like me, many of them love it, but they will also explain to you why most of the sword fights won’t work.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and get two broom sticks and try and do the scene where he crosses the swords and kicks through them, but do me a favor…do them where a) no one will see you and laugh and b) where when you fall on your bottom you won’t get hurt.  If you do manage to do it, do it again with a friend (gently) attacking you.  Be prepared to glare at them from the floor as they laugh at you.  It’s extremely fun to read until you know how to fight with a sword, and then you’re sitting there, trying to imagine it, and you think, “My favorite character should be dead by now.”  And Drizzit *is* one of my faves, don’t get me wrong.  But I don’t want the same thing happening to me…especially since I don’t have Salvatore’s built in cool points to save me. 

So, how do you get over that?  How do you write about your passion without feeling like you’re exposing yourself to looking less like a knowledgeable professional and more like a geek girl who has watched too many B-movies? 

The secret for me will be to pass the scenes around to people I trust who also are readers…you need someone who has read enough books and stories to be jaded enough that a story isn’t cool just because someone they cared about read it.  And since this is sword fighting, I might just get a friend who act it out with me.  Because, eventually, knowing me and my love of swords, the day will come when I’ll just have to write that scene.

Have you ever encountered something like this?  How do you write what you know?  As a reader, how deeply do details matter to you?

Cindy Lynn Speer jokingly refers to herself as a swashbuckler and author, but it is not far from the truth. A historical fencer who writes fantasy, murder mysteries and retold fairy tales, she divides her time between proving that the pen and the sword can be equally mighty. Find out more about her at www.apenandfire.com






-- Lynda Again
    I hope everyone has enjoyed Cindy's blog today. Fencing is always fascinating to me. Hope you all have found it as intersting as I did.

   Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Guest - Brinda Berry

Good morning all! Today we have author Brinda Berry who lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She has a BSE in English and French and a MEd in Learning Systems Technology. She's terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality (just like the rest of us, LOL).  She doesn't mind being called a geek or “crazy dog lady”. When she's not working the day job or writing a novel, she's guilty of surfing the internet for no good reason.


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My Love for "Sliders" and Worldbuilding

I think about "Sliders" quite often. No, I'm not talking about the delectable tiny cheeseburgers so popular at restaurants. I'm referencing the television show that aired during the late 1990s. "Sliders" was an American sci-fi series with a wonderful plot. In the show, travelers move through a wormhole to visit alternate realities. My debut YA fantasy, The Waiting Booth, has a portal and people travel to other dimensions. That's probably where the similarities end. Before writing my book series, I had to make up rules. Shows like "Sliders" and certain sci-fi books gave me much food for thought in worldbuilding.

First, let me tell you more about "Sliders", the television series. Brainiac grad student, Quinn Mallory, creates a machine that can send a person to an alternate universe. Quinn has a timer that can ensure that he returns to the original spot at a certain point in time. Of course, he has company.  Quinn, his female friend Wade, a professor, and others get stuck in a messy situation during their universe sliding when the timer is activated before planned. They can't seem to slide back home. We learn that there is a Quinn and Wade in each universe. Also, their actions influence and change the course of events. Being a romantic at heart, I enjoyed the spark between Quinn and Wade.  I only watched the first two seasons and loved every minute. The series lasted for five seasons, but many changes were made with the writers and storyline, so they lost me as a viewer after that.

In The Waiting Booth, my dimensions do not possess "alternate selves" of the characters. A technologically advanced society from another dimension has created some controls for travel through portals. Additionally, portals are a natural phenomena in every dimension.  The main character Mia not only discovers a portal near her house; she discovers that the Bermuda Triangle is a portal. Mia also questions why the travelers from another dimension are so similar to herself when she assumed they'd resemble aliens.

So, this is where I'll let you in on my worldbuilding notes. I created a theory to use for writing The Waiting Booth. Want to hear about how this works? There are simultaneous dimensions of infinite number. The farther one travels, the more dissimilar the physical structure of the traveler. So, the ones doing a lot of traveling are the same or close in terms of human species. That doesn't exclude the possibility of those who are extremely different, but it does mean it would be rare to see the alien from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  The neighbor living next door can look just like you and be from another dimension.

In "Sliders", all the action takes place in an alternate reality. Come to think of it...I'm not sure if they ever made it home. That made it very interesting to see how characters would react when bumping into their "alternate selves."  In The Waiting Booth, most of the action takes place in Whispering Woods.  Mia does get to travel through the portal, and I did make up some rules for that.  Mia is a synesthete (a real medical condition) and is constantly overwhelmed by an overload of sensory perception. When she "senses" a portal, it is an area devoid of the things she usually finds. In my rules, I determined that sound and light could not travel through the portal, but that matter can.

Worldbuilding for my book was a lot of fun. I began this article by telling you about how much I enjoyed "Sliders" and even hinted that it inspired me. Although a lot of my worldbuilding is different from the "Sliders"' world, we have a few things in common. I love the concept that there is something out there beyond our known world. Also, I couldn't write a book without some romance to go along with the adventure. I've already written the second book in the Whispering Woods series and am currently writing the third. I find the worldbuilding to be one of the most enjoyable parts of writing. I get excited when I imagine all the possibilities. Do you have a favorite show or book that takes place in an alternate universe, reality, or dimension?


THE WAITING BOOTH

A missing boy, government agents, an interdimensional portal...

Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High—find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia’s drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it’s no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia’s secrets, she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than she thought...and if she was wrong to trust him...

Brinda can be found at:


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Review - The Storm That Is Sterling

The Storm that is Sterling
by Lisa Renee Jones
Sourcebooks Casablanca
November 2011

Returning to her home after a visit to Germany for experimental cancer treatments, Astrobiologist Rebecca 'Becca' Burns finds herself in the middle of the battle between the two factions of GTECH Super Soldiers – the Zodius and the Renegades. Both groups want her. But only one group, the Renegades, sent her high school crush, Sterling Jeter, to bring her in. Sterling has grown even more handsome over the years since he stood her up for their one and only date. But his appearance here is fraught with danger as her house comes under fire from his enemies, the Zodius.

The next thing she knows she's thrown into the trailer of a big 18-wheeler along with a bloody and nearly dead Sterling. Her captor forces her to take a dose of the deadly and highly addictive ICE, telling her that he has cured her cancer, become her drug lord and sugar daddy and that she could figure out how to pay him for her addiction.

Sterling finds Becca more beautiful now than she was at 17 but too many questions in her past make him suspicious. Is she working for Adam Rain, the leader of the Zodius, in exchange for a cure for her disease? He doesn't want to believe it but he's seen worse things happen when people become desperate. Then her home is attacked and his back up team is gone except for Damion, one of the few men he trusts. Badly wounded, he gives Becca to Damion then turns to fight the Zodius. When he turns back, Becca is held by Tad Bensen, Adam's second-in-command. He's confused and outraged and terrified that Becca will be hurt but he's been too badly wounded and succumbs to unconsciousness.

So begins The Storm that is Sterling, the second book in Ms Jones Zodius series. Sterling and Becca are soon reunited and just as quickly separated in Zodius City when all hell breaks loose and Becca escapes. Aware that she's been addicted to the drug, ICE, Sterling sets out to find her by tracking down ICE dealers. But Becca isn't interested in being found. She's seen pictures of Sterling alongside Adam and she isn't sure she can trust Sterling. All she wants to do is find a cure for her addiction and cure others who are also addicted. She's determined to stay out of the Zodius' clutches.

Sterling will do whatever is necessary to protect Becca. She's the Renegades best hope to find a cure for ICE but, more than that, he feels a protectiveness for her that exceeds what he would normally feel. Could she be his life bond? He's not sure. He has certain GTECH limitations which make him believe that he isn't capable of forming the life bond no matter what he feels.

I have to say...this is one of those books that you will not want to put down so make sure you have plenty of time to read it. The action is fast, the plot intriguing and the characters are fascinating. With the emotional tension and the wonderful love story, Ms. Jones has created a powerful new paranormal series that will captivate all her readers. This series is definitely a must buy.

It would be handy to read the first book (The Legend of Michael) in the series but it isn't necessary since The Storm that is Sterling stands alone quite nicely.

Check out the quickie interview with Lisa Renee Jones at
http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2011/11/guest-lisa-renee-jones.html

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Guest - Lisa Renee Jones

Good morning all! We have a quickie visit from author Lisa Renee Jones who has a fantastic book out this month - The Storm That Is Sterling. You want to get it, trust me!

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Me: What draws you to the romance genre?
Lisa: Life is about love and happily ever after. I think everyone wants that someone special.

Me: Do you prefer alpha/omega relationships in stories, or alpha/alpha relationships, and why?
Lisa: I do tend to favor a good alpha male as I’m sure my readers would agree. But part of being a good alpha hero is knowing how to balance that with respect and love.

Me: Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?
Lisa: I have! I just had an editor request extra pages of an Urban Fantasy I wrote. I just finished those up today and I love writing UF. It fits my style because even my romances tend to be very action oriented.

Me: What themes do you like to write?
Lisa: It really depends on the genres. When I write for Blaze I love a good Cinderella story like Santa Baby and I love friends to lovers. When writing paranormal I really love a damaged hero and/or heroine that is healed by the love of the other.

Me: What one thing would you want your readers to remember from your book?
Lisa: It really depends on the genre but ultimately I hope they smile and wish the book wasn’t over yet.


About Lisa: Award-winning author Lisa Renee Jones has published more than fifteen novels in several different languages, spanning multiple genres of romance–contemporary, romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and erotic fiction. Her heroes are dark, dangerous, and sexy, her romances emotional and steamy. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Storm that is Sterling: Second in a military-themed paranormal romantic suspense series by award-winning Lisa Renee Jones.


Villainous Adam Rain uses a synthetic serum to create a human addiction only he can satisfy. Renegade Super Soldier Sterling Jeter’s mission is to save the beautiful scientist in Adam’s captivity, but their attraction threatens to put them in the path of death... or worse...

See my review of The Storm That Is Sterling 
http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-storm-that-is-sterling.html