Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest - Noah Chinn

Good morning! We have author Noah Chinn visiting us today. Noah is sharing some interesting insights on Love and Storytelling with us today. Enjoy!

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Love and Storytelling

Genre fantasy such as science fiction, fantasy, or horror, can be described as metaphors for the human condition.  Even when it’s simple mindless escapist fun it often has something to say about people in it, and some of the more serious examples out there use their technology or magic or monsters to illustrate or juxtapose some important facet within humanity.  Often it explores what it is or how we might suffer without it. 

What about love?  Almost everyone is familiar with the numerous interpretations of vampires in terms of love, lust, and sexuality.  But let’s step away from that angle and look at a broader question in stories: what is True Love®?

I’m a romantic, deep down.  I believe in love and want nothing more than to see it triumph, and yet I find myself frustrated when characters fall in love because—for lack of a better term—the plot says so.  When that happens I tend to think of Romeo and Juliet. While a great tragedy, it’s not really a great love story.  The tragedy comes from the fact that these two felt trapped by their families and never had the time to figure out their feelings.  But in terms of personal connection? Even most weak Rom-Coms will give the characters more of a foundation than R&J

But even worse (and usually a Hollywood fault) is the cliché that there is only one perfect love out there for each of us.  It’s wrong, it’s unrealistic it’s... dangerous, quite frankly. 

In my novel Bleeding Heart Yard, I explore love in two different ways with two different sets of characters.  And while one of these relationships is of the Destiny variety, I take the time to deconstruct even what that means, and provide terms more grounded in reality (a hard sell in a story with magic and monsters in it).  The other romance is of a more standard and quirky Rom-Com trope—but even there I try to both subvert as well as serve certain expectations.

The bottom line for me is that love for me is about compatibility and connection. It is something that is built upon but not fated.  It’s entirely possible you could find someone out there who is a perfect match, but it’s actually just as likely you could be happier with someone who was less than perfect (it depends on how you define perfection for one thing).  Who you are and how you approach life is just as important (if not more so) than who the other person is.   

But just as there’s more than one kind of romantic love out there, there’s more kinds of love to be explored than the kind that lead to bed springs creaking and breaking.  Sometimes it feels like a relationship is tacked on to a story to serve only as a motivation for the hero or heroine, a reward for them to get at the end of their journey.  We face the danger of no longer seeing it as a relationship with two equal partners.  It shouldn't always be about reaching the endorphin rush.

What about a couple who are already in a strong, committed relationship?  There is, in my opinion, a lack of established couples in stories.  Sometimes I think conventional wisdom (which is often neither conventional nor wise) dictates that what readers or viewers are interested in is that tension, heat, and newness of two people figuring each other out.  The implication being that once you get married you become dead inside, I suppose. 

So when I wanted to write a mystery, I was inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, which features Nick and Nora Charles, possibly my favorite married couple in literature and proof that you don’t die after wedlock.  James and Lettice Cote, the lead couple in my upcoming mystery Getting Rid of Gary, owe a heavy (though far less alcohol soaked) influence to Nick and Nora. 

It also deals with the love within a family, which brings me to my next point: The examples we've been looking at are still about romantic and physical love.  But love for your fellow person can be just as powerful.  The love within a family is a key factor in Getting Rid of Gary, both in terms of how the plot unfolds and its resolution. 

The platonic love one person can develop for another is one of the core themes in Trooper #4, an end-of-days story that combines humour with horror, and even questions the nature of reality.  But at its heart is a relationship between a state trooper and the boy she takes into her care. Here, love is explored in terms of figuring out what is worth fighting for, dying for, and more importantly, living for. (And before you jump to any conclusions, the state trooper in question is not a woman because of any mothering instincts cliché. Trust me, it’s a lot weirder than that.)

The love of a child. The love of a parent or family. The love of an ideal or of humanity itself. There’s no reason that love in a story has to be limited to a romantic partner, and can’t be just as powerful.  It’s all in the trick of presentation, and when you’re only dealing with endorphins they are a one trick pony. 

About Noah:
Noah Chinn is at times a happy-go-lucky world-travelling imp who tries to find humour in just about everything.  At other times he is a brooding grumpy gremlin who uses sarcasm as a chainsaw and most certainly should not be fed after midnight.  Some have said they’ve had trouble telling which is which, however. 

In actuality, Noah Chinn is a (mostly) human writer of fantasy and horror with a strong comedic edge.  He’s produced comics and articles and will soon have his third novel under his belt, being slipped past security at the local Chapters bookstore.  He’s also travelled through a number of countries under the delusion that it’s all for research.

A slightly more accurate and less silly description can be found on his website: http://noahjdchinnbooks.com



Bleeding Heart Yard
Whoever said the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly must have been talking about Peter.

Being cursed by an honest to goodness witch is bad enough, but what are you supposed to do when you’re not quite sure what the curse is–or when it’s going to go off?

Of course, the sun has to shine on everyone–even someone whose existence is shrouded in myth and urban legend. Peter has discovered the love of his life. And if he can save her from a monster ravaging the streets of London and stay alive himself–his best friend just might have enough time to figure out a cure for Peter’s embarrassing little problem.

No boy meets girl story has ever been this tricky or chaotic. Full of supernatural fun–it’s time for a damned romance!


Trooper #4

Trooper #4 is a story about the end of the world – but not as we know it.  A woman wakes up in a motel on the outskirts of a remote Oregon city with no memory who she is and a gun at her bedside.  As she explores it seems that civilization has come to an end.

That’s bad.

But it might also be  the most normal thing that happens to her all week.



Getting Rid of Gary
It’s August, 1985, and private investigator James Cote has a problem.

Actually he has several.

His wife Lettice is unemployed, overactive, and bored out of her skull. The cheating husband he’d been tailing for two weeks has been killed by his mistress.  And someone has kidnapped his uncle Gary and shipped him off to Peru.

Someone from his own family – a family he hasn’t visited in ten years.

Now James and Lettice have to travel 1500 miles to Toronto under the guise of a long delayed reunion to find out who hated Gary so much to ship him off to another country, but not enough to actually kill him.

Coming Soon!

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-- Lynda Again,
    Very interesting insights, no? There are many forms of love and not all of them are immediately recognizable. Great food for thought! And the books sound terrific!

    Have a Blessed day!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest - Constance Phillips

Good morning, all! Today's guest has written a fictional story about our most famous escape artist. Here's why she chose to do it and what she learned in the process. Enjoy!

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Infusing Real Life Into Fiction

Since Resurrecting Harry was released on the first of this month, the two questions I’ve been most asked is why Harry Houdini? Why write a fictional story about a real person?
The first question I’ve already answered many times: Who better to escape the chains of death than the greatest escape artist ever known?

The second question is a little harder to answer, because really, the heart of the story is not so much about Bess and Harry Houdini, but about the choices we make, living with regret, and learning to treasure every day as a gift. These were just the two real people I chose to learn those lessons.

It was the idea of an escape artist who could overcome the one thing that is supposed to be insurmountable that drew me to the Houdinis. So, even though the story is about more than these two real-life people, it still had to stay true to them and their spirit, which did require research.

But then, what to do with that research? This wasn’t to be a non-fiction book outlining their life and times. I was taking two well-known people, throwing a supernatural event at them, and then imagining how it would affect them.  I wanted their actions to line up with their personalities, even though I wanted them both to experience a growth arc.

What I took away from my research of the couple was that there were three personality traits that had been a part of their fiber and that would have be a huge part of their characters if the story was to ring true.

1.         Pride: In order to get up on the stage night after night and shine in the spotlight, I knew both Harry and Bess had to have a lot of pride in what they did and what they had accomplished.

2.         Dedication: The same thing goes for this trait. You don’t become the best-known anything without being one-hundred-percent dedicated to your goal. Neither was the type to sit on their laurels, and the characters in Resurrecting Harry had to be just as dedicated to their objectives.

3.         A Deep Love for Each Other: Don’t forget, the book is first-and-foremost a romance. So the couple I chose to touch with the life-beyond-death experience had to love each other madly and deeply.

It is my hope that I was successful in giving Erich [Harry] and Bess these important real life characteristics, while still crafting a satisfying story that remains true to their nature.


Can the greatest escape artist ever known break the grim reaper’s chains to save the only woman he’s ever loved?

In order to save Bess from self-destruction, Harry Houdini puts his afterlife on the line by entering a wager with purgatory’s keeper. He gives Harry a younger face and body, and a new name: Erich Welch.

Bess clings to his promise to deliver a coded message from beyond the grave, determined to provide the bridge for him to cross, even if that means befriending her husband's sworn enemy.

Erich needs to help Bess over her loss and put her on the road to healing, but will any good come from resurrecting Harry? 



About Constance:
Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff. When she's not writing about fairies, shifters, vamps, and guardian angels, she's working side-by-side with her husband in their hardwood flooring business.

Constance is actively involved in her local Romance Writers of America chapter (MVRWA) and the Southeast Michigan chapter of the United States Pony Club. When not writing or enjoying the outdoors, she loves reality television or can be found at a Rick Springfield concert (just look for the pink Converse high tops).

Constance blogs regularly at www.constancephillips.com. You can also follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook. 


Buy links


Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resurrecting-harry-constance-phillips/1114721629?ean=9781939173133

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-- Lynda Again,
    How interesting! I hope you all enjoyed today's post. What a fascinating take on Harry and Beth.

    Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest - Maureen O. Betita


Good morning! Today's guest is Maureen Betita. Maureen asks a Very Important Question. After you read her post, tell us what you think.

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Breaking the Serial Barrier


Is there a limit to how many books make a series? I often wonder, especially since I have just self-published the first book in a very long series… (tell you how many later.)

Is it the reader that decides, the editor, or the author? Time to let Stephanie fade into the sunset, how many times can grandma accidently shoot something before the reader just shrugs it off? Or maybe Sookie is wearing thin, all those vampires… Anita is doing it with everybody. Shifters are coming out of the woodwork (wonder if anyone has ever written a wereredwood?)

Readers move on? Or do they scrape and scream and write nasty letters and plead and wander bookstore aisles (or the internet, long into the night) – hoping against hope for a long lost short story to turn up, a character sketch, a well-written fan fiction site…

Is it the editor? Somehow, I doubt this. I can’t see an editor saying to Stephen King, “Steve-o, have you considered writing something like Nicholas Sparks? I’m getting to where I can’t sleep at night without a light on… I’m sure you’re readers feel the same way.”

Yeah, that’s going to happen. As long as it sells, the editor isn’t likely to think it’s time to put a stake in Betsy. (I might, but I set fire to the second to last book.) (Ask me later, I’ll explain…)

The writer?

I see this as the more likely of scenarios. Writers like to exercise their creative mojo. And series often get old to them. Though Sherrilyn Kenyon seems to be pretty happy. As does Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James/Ashley Gardner – though maybe writing three series under three names holds the ‘getting stale’ thing at a distance.
Readers are often still in love with a character when the author decides it’s time. How often does an author hang onto a world/character until the readers are blinking with exhaustion?

I may have some data on that, in the next few years. Check back with me to discover if there is a series barrier and where it might extend.

You see, I started writing about a pirate world approximately ten years ago. And for about 4-5 solid years, I wrote nothing else. I wasn’t thinking about publishing, I just wanted to tell myself this story. About a witch who travels thru time, lands in the Caribbean and falls for a pirate. (A purely made up, Hollywood type Caribbean – no real history here. Move along…)

And, silly me, I kept the same couple in every book. (Because I am a romantic who grew up on MacMillan and Wife, Hart to Hart, and Nick and Nora.) (Yes, I believe people can be a couple and still have adventures, experience sexual tension and still be interesting.) I wrote three million words. I went on to write of other worlds, but I kept being drawn back to the worlds of A Caribbean Spell. (Series name and first book title.)

I was published by Decadent Publishing. But not for this series. I created a different Caribbean for those books. (I just did, okay!) The Kraken’s Caribbean is not A Caribbean Spell. (I have this thing about pirates.) (Ya, think?)

Then I felt it was time and now, the first book of my neverending pirate series is available. The first in – brace yourself – thirty books. The plan? Conquer the world in 7.5 years. Four books every year, starting in 2013.
I mean, some television shows go on and on and on. And we still love them. Some series are legendary. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Tarzan and there a ton of those books out there!

(Desperately scrabbling for justification…)

Hey, it’s a fun story! It’s scary, full of adventure, pirates, sex, friendship, love, pirates, rum, pirates, Tortuga, Port Royal, tall ships, magic, blades, leviathans (book two), characters you’ll love, characters you’ll hate (some of them are pirates.)

My pledge to readers…a new book, every four months. Another pledge, yes, they are self-published, but I paid for copy editing, so, hopefully, no horrible grammar mistakes. Take a chance, and watch me…see if I can break the serial barrier!

I’m Maureen O. Betita. Writer of pirates. (Mostly.) Chat with me! Here, or at www.maureenobetita.com or on Facebook. (Yes, I tweet, but seldom.) And don’t forget that O. or you’ll find my long distance niece-in-law who lives in the Philippines and doesn’t write.

A Caribbean Spell

Riding the currents of time is a challenge Miranda is up for. No matter where or when she lands, she hits the ground ready, looking for whatever challenge the universe presents. But the Caribbean of Jake Reynard proves more tempting than she counted on.

Not to mention totally unfamiliar. Port Royal thrives, and is certainly not the wicked city her world’s history painted it. But it does prove exciting. Handsome pirates, magical devices, even an evil sorceress sail these seas.

And she may be a witch who restores her magical energy through sex, a role the pirate Reynard is delighted to fulfill, but she didn’t count on the sex to deepen into real caring, or love, heaven help her.

Nor did he.

But first, they need to save the world.

Buy links


Author Bio
Maureen O. Betita writes about pirates. Okay, she also writes about alien love stories and the rare contemporary romance, but mainly…pirates. She has recently given into the lure of revealing to the world how deeply this passion lies. Deep, very deep. The first of a series is A Caribbean Spell, self-published, is now available as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords. The print will be available as soon as she figures out how to put it all together without having a nervous breakdown.

How deep is this passion? Three million words deep. Thirty books, one every four months. For seven and a half years.


Maureen has been married over thirty years to her high school sweetheart, who loves to play pirate with her at pirate festivals around California, where they make a home with a dog and a cat. And a huge collection of pirate paraphernalia.

Website and Blog www.maureenobetita.com

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-- Lynda Again,
    I think a lot of us like the dashing pirate. Toss in a bit of magic and a love story? Good stuff.

    Have a Blessed Day!





Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guest - Erica Hayes

Good morning!  Author Erica Haynes has stopped by to give us her tips on building a paranormal series. Sounds interesting, huh? Enjoy!

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How to build your own paranormal romance series

Everyone loves a series, right? No such thing as a standalone romance book these days. We're hip-deep in sequels, prequels, spin-offs, books about sidekicks, ancestors and relatives of the original characters. Some authors, like Lara Adrian with her Midnight Breed books, are even rebooting their series like a Marvel comic and starting all over again.

So here are a few must-haves to build your very own paranormal romance series. We've all got our favorite series tropes – what are yours?

1. A posse of hot supernatural guys

Almost every series has one of these. Whether it's the original brotherhood of badass vamps (thank you, J.R. Ward), a gang of urbane Russian mobster were-snakes (I would totally read that) or a Viking vampire angel Navy SEAL team (have you seen that series by Sandra Hill? You have to check it out!) – your heroes have to come from somewhere, and what better place to find sexy supernatural dudes in need of romance than a ready-made posse of warriors on a mission?

In my Seven Signs series, the hot dudes are a gang of fallen angel warriors (all angels are warriors, right? What else are they for?) called the Tainted Host, who walk the earth doing heaven's dirty jobs. They slay demons. They party hard, mostly to avoid the issue, which is that they're one step away from hell. Yeah, they're one big seething mass of denial with hot feathery wings and flaming swords. And they fall in love at the worst possible time – the end of the world.

2. A gang of awesome ladies to match

Sometimes – not often, sadly, because it's really cool – it's the heroines in the series who make up the warrior posse. A sisterhood of witches and weres, like Yasmine Galenorn's D'Artigo sisters, or the demon-slaying vamps in my short story Hunter's Blood. They're kicking butt and taking names, and they find their heroes along the way.

But even if your ladies don't know each other, they'll be tough, resourceful women who know how to get the job done. They don't need a man – but if one comes along, they won't say no. So long as he's a smart, sexy, dangerous dude who's hot enough to handle her.

3. A Big Bad

You've got your characters sorted. Now you need something for them to do. No point in a story world without conflict – who would your posse of hot supes fight? Supervillains, rival wolf packs, well-meaning humans bent on destruction, invading aliens or the devil himself. Set your characters up with a suitably nefarious foe – preferably with numerous vile henchmen and the obligatory unhinged-yet-dangerously-sexy sidekick – and you'll never run out of stories to tell.

In my current series, it's demons all the way, unhinged sidekicks my specialty. There's a particularly gruesome fellow called Zuul, a pain demon who gets his energy from agony and loves to be tormented. Also another fun trope: the Good Guy Who's Actually Bad. I'll leave you to find out who that is, bwahaha…

4. Cool weapons

No self-respecting supernatural posse warrior packs an ordinary sidearm. Not on your life. The monsters they're fighting can't be killed by ordinary weapons, and besides, we need something super-cool to put on the cover! Swords, throwing knives, martial arts staves, the Magical Fire-Spitting Elbow of Doom. Give 'em whatever you like, so long as it's not boring.

5. Weird supernatural sex

Repeat after me: vanilla sex will not do. Whether it's a mild kink – dudes with feathers, oyy – or full-on wild monster shagging, werewolf-style, you'll need that touch of magic to spice up your love scenes, even if they're not explicit. And this is over and above your ordinary romance hero's ridiculously good performance in bed. Hot supernaturals absolutely must scorch it up with strangeness between the sheets somehow. Or what's the point?


So there you have it: some of my paranormal series must-haves.


If you're into fallen angels – and hey, who isn't? – do check out my apocalyptic Seven Signs series. Book 2, REDEMPTION, is new this month.



Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit—and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there’s plenty to be done. But Japheth is after one vampire in particular—the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels—until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy—the Prince of Thirst himself—they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell.
  

And do come find me on the web! I'd love to chat with you.

So what are some of your favorite paranormal series tropes? Can't get enough of vampire brotherhoods and werewolf packs, or are you looking for something new? Do you like kick-butt supernatural heroines who meet their match, or are you a fan of human heroines who tame their sexy monster hero?

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-- Lynda Again,
    Love the tips! And love the line under #5 'Or what's the point?' ;-)   I'm eager to see how you answer her questions, ie vamps or weres or something new? 

   Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest - Aubrey Watt


Good morning! Today's guest author is Aubrey Watt. And she'll be discussing my favorite genre, Science Fiction Romance. Aubrey also has a giveaway so make sure you follow her instructions to enter the drawing.

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Hi everyone! I’m Aubrey Watt, and I just released my first full-length science fiction romance novel Paragon. I’m giving away one free copy to a lucky commenter on Star-Crossed Romance!

I was inspired to write Paragon after reading the book Wired by Douglas E. Richards and falling in love with the character of Kira. Although I mostly write erotic romance, I wanted to tell an action story about a smart, sexy protagonist. At the same time, I was waist-deep in philosophy, reading about the hard problem of consciousness in cognitive science while taking Stanford’s online class in artificial intelligence. From this unlikely combination the character of Chal Davidson was born. She is a neuroscientist who helps to create an android prototype at a secret military base. Alan (the prototype) must learn everything from the beginning – how to talk, how to feel, and especially how to love.

“If anything was universally accepted as the hallmark of humanity, it was the insatiable curiosity at the heart of the species.” – Douglas E. Richards, Wired

Another book that shares similar themes is Catherine Asaro’s The Phoenix Code. My favorite part of Asaro’s work has always been the underlying philosophical implications of the worlds she builds. While I enjoyed the action thriller-style sequences, the discussions about artificial intelligence were what kept me turning the pages. In The Phoenix Code, Asaro shows us the emotional ramifications of an android that becomes attracted to a human as he grows self-aware. And I began to think: what if the robotics expert was the one who fell in love with the android?

Although Paragon has its share of action, the second half focuses on the budding romance between the two main characters and the curiosity that drives both of them. This is a love story about discovering passion, and as Alan learns how to love, Chal begins to discover, albeit reluctantly, the passion that is hidden inside of herself. Her academic curiosity has launched her career at the expense of her real world relationships, but she has never been comfortable exploring her own emotions. Alan forces her out of her shell and into the real world.

Science fiction, and science fiction romance in particular, digs deep at the heart of human conflict and emotion. What does it truly mean to be human? What does it truly mean to love? In this book, I hoped to get at some of these major issues in philosophy and neuroscience while developing Alan and Chal’s romance. I remember reading The Left Hand of Darkness for the first time in high school and being blown away by Ursula K. Leguin’s portrayal of sexuality and love in an alien world.  In a science fiction setting, authors can develop a completely different context for human emotion.

At its very best, science fiction romance can change the way we view the world and the humans who inhabit it. I only hope that Paragon can add in some small way to the universe of new and strange love stories in this genre.

***

..

In the middle of the Arizona desert, a hundred feet underground, the United States military is illegally developing the first emotionally sentient android. Classified top secret, the mission has failed to successfully awaken the first two androids created in the lab.

When brilliant neuroscientist Chal Davidson is called in to assist, the third android is just hours from being awakened.  By the time she realizes the vast implications of her work, it’s too late to stop the prototype’s development. Torn by her moral and scientific responsibilities, Chal is even more confused by the emotional connection she is starting to feel with the newly-created man.  The only hope she has is escape—for her and the android—and time is running out...

Excerpt

He floated now in the tank, attached with an IV to the liquid that would wake him from his unconscious rest. It was remarkable how much he looked like a normal human. Chal knew that, physically at least, he was as human as she was. It was just a matter of making sure his mind could weather the transition into consciousness. His dark hair waved in slow motion in the water. She watched him, for the first time taking in his appearance.

Alan.

He was handsome, and this was something that she had not prepared herself for. His body was perfect, chiseled and lean, and his facial features were decidedly masculine, dark eyebrows slanting across his brow, an aquiline nose.

His naked body bobbed slightly in the saltwater, and Chal adjusted the padding around the sides, not wanting him to bump his head on the tank walls. She moved slowly, carefully, but her hand accidentally touched the prototype's limb. She let her fingers move on his skin. He felt warm to the touch, and Chal let his wet skin glide under the pads of her fingers.

Smooth. Like a baby. Yet full-grown, a man already on the outside. It was strange, and as Chal examined him she felt a mixture of emotions surge forward under her skin. Curiosity surpassed all of the rest, but it wasn't a clinical curiosity as it had been in the past. Every animal she had worked with had been on the very low end of the Freitas consciousness spectrum. The difference between a baby rat and a full-grown rat had more to do with size and mobility than with intelligence. They could both run mazes, after all. But a human man is so different from a human infant that Chal trembled at the thought of waking the prototype up.
Her hand traced the line of his shoulder, his neck. She was curious who he would be once he woke up. Would he be a conscious person? Really? His mind would be an infant's, although not for long. She would have to remember that, to make a point of remembering.

His face was calm as her hand made its way up to his cheek and rested there. Chal's fingers stroked the skin at his temple absentmindedly.

What will you think when you wake up?
***

If you’d like a free copy of Paragon, just leave your name and email in the comments within the next seven days from this post for a chance to win. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it! And if you’d like to keep up with my future work, you can visit my website or join my mailing list for discounts and freebies. This novel is also part of the Insatiable Reads Book Tour, featuring 16 romance authors who love to read and write steamy romance.

Thanks, and happy reading!

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-- Lynda Again,
    I think Aubrey is exactly right when she says 'science fiction romance can change the way we view the world and the humans who inhabit it.' What do you think?

     Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Guests - Sara Dailey and Staci Weber


 Good morning! We have two new-to-us authors visiting today, Sara Dailey and Staci Weber. Sara and Staci are multi-published YA authors with a penchant for paranormal and they'll be talking about why they chose our favorite paranormal creature - the werewolf. Enjoy!

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Why Werewolves?

When we set out to write our first series, we chose werewolves for a number of reasons, but let’s first explore why we didn’t choose vampires, fairies, or angels. First of all, we already did angels in our first novel, Sinful. When we first began writing, there weren’t any YA romances out there like it. Yep, we researched it, and there was only one other popular angel series, and it was nothing like our own. Unfortunately, things quickly changed right about the time we found a publisher. It was going to take 18 months before our novel would be out in print, and during that time, novel after novel came out about angels. In fact, our novel was originally entitled, Fallen. You can imagine our surprise (and disappointment) when Lauren Kate’s Fallen hit the shelf. By November 2010, when Sinful was released, the market was saturated with angel books. In short, we tried to be different, and it didn’t work.

Why not vampires or fairies? You can probably guess when it comes to vampires. There are so many vampire series out there and most of them are series that began right after Twilight became hugely popular. It is really difficult to sell a vampire book, especially as new authors. And needless to say, it’s pretty much been done. Now fairies are a different story. There are a lot of great fairy series out there, but the best ones are fully immersed in fairy lore. There are so many rules for the world of fairies, which would require a lot of research, and if you don’t get it right, you’re just asking for some serious criticism. Plus, we wanted our series to focus more on romantic relationships than the paranormal world surrounding them.

So yes, there are other paranormal options, but honestly, we really like werewolves. We like the animalistic aspect of them, the pack mentality, and let’s face it, werewolves are sexy. And while there are werewolf novels and series out there, we didn’t find any quite like our own. A werewolf pack provided the type of infrastructure we needed for our series since we wanted each book to focus on different characters, yet still be able to be intertwined with the other characters. What better way to do that than with a pack? The pack could provide a lot of drama, not only between the teens, but within the families as well. We knew, besides romance, our focus would be on secrets and lies, and The Red Ridge Pack we created is full of them, leaving us with plenty of drama to work with. One little, well-meaning secret changed Allison and Aiden’s lives forever, and the secrets and lies just keep on coming.


Pack of Lies
April 2012
  
Seventeen-year-old Allison Wright is convinced she’s losing her mind. Uncontrollable mood swings, hot flashes, and the urge to punch anyone who gets in her way are suddenly becoming everyday occurrences. Before her erratic behavior gets out of hand, Allison’s mother finally comes clean about her dark secret. Her mom is a werewolf, and soon Allison and her brother Aiden will suffer the same fate. When Allison reaches her breaking point, the family leaves their life in Texas to move to Red Ridge, New Mexico where they rejoin the pack that Allison’s mother left behind almost 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, not everyone in Red Ridge is thrilled about Allison’s arrival, especially when she attracts the attention of the very handsome, very taken, soon-to-be alpha, Cade Walker. Little does Allison know, her mere presence is causing a rift in a once unified pack. Not only has Cade been forbidden from being with Allison by his father, the pack’s alpha, Cade’s girlfriend, Kendall Stuart, will stop at nothing to get Allison out of the picture. Well on her way to becoming the next alpha’s mate, Kendall expects to rule the pack by Cade’s side even if it means teaming up with a rogue werewolf with an agenda of his own. Determined to get rid of Allison permanently, when Kendall and the rogue join forces, all hell breaks loose and no one in the pack is safe, especially not Cade and his true mate.

Circle of Lies
December 2012

Life has always been easy for Aiden Wright. He’s smart, athletic, funny, and the ladies adore him. But when tragedy strikes, Aiden discovers the truth about who he really is, and his whole world comes crashing down around him. Aiden thought that being a teenage werewolf was going to be awesome, but it might just cost him the one girl who could make him whole.

Since her mother’s disappearance, Teagan Rhodes’s life has been littered with her father’s empty beer cans and his hollow promises to change. Convinced that others would only let her down, she keeps everyone at arm’s length—but resisting Aiden’s charm is proving to be more difficult than she thought. Throw in a psychotic werewolf hunter out to terminate the species, and one wrong move, one wrong decision could destroy everything.
About Sara Dailey and Staci Weber
Sara and Staci are native Texans who began writing together about six years ago. After teaching in classrooms next door to one another for several years, they decided it was finally time to try their hand at writing the type of fiction they love: YA paranormal romance. As well as being avid readers, they are close friends, teachers, wives, and proud mommies!

Contacts 

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-- Lynda Again,
    The books sound great, don't they? And I like the logic with the pack infrastructure. It's always great to learn how authors set up their worlds, true?

     Hope you all have a Blessed Day!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Guest - V.S. Nelson

Good morning! We've got V.S. Nelson visiting us today. She'll be giving us a new perspective on rule breaking as it applies to her writing. She's also given us a great excerpt of her book Sekmet's Guardians - Eternal Lovers AND a terrific book trailer. Enjoy!

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BREAKING ALL THE RULES
By V.S.Nelson

So many things have changed in the publishing world over the course of my writing career. These days, the changes are coming so fast, it’s hard to keep up with all the new “standard rules” when writing fiction. The governing officials seem to change their minds daily on what is acceptable and what is not in the publishing industry. So why am I writing about this? Well, for starters, every book my new paranormal series, SEKMET’S GUARDIANS break the old standard rules for writing any kind of romance, except for writing erotica, and that is a whole different subject.

I knew I would be breaking a few of the rules when I started writing the first draft of the first book in the series, Eternal Lovers but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to break nearly all of them.

First rule broken… There was no way my hero and heroine were going to meet in the first two chapters. Setting up any kind of series the first book is bound to have more back story while setting the scene and creating a world which would support an additional nine to ten books. Staging is essential.

So rule number two was broken – layering the first few chapters with bits and pieces of back story and history. Mind you, I tried removing some of the back story and slammed my characters into a face to face meeting in chapter two. Didn’t work, there was definitely too much missing and at this point the beta readers were asking, “Why should I care about either one of these people?” So I took the almost 150 pages I dumped, reworked them into 48 pages and reinserted them. I, along with my beta readers was pleased with the outcome. The hero and heroine now meet somewhere around page fifty. As expected their meeting was not one filled with tender moments. The desire is present but so are the fear and the complications. (Conflict is well established at this point.)

Rule number three was broken when I centered the stories on the heroines rather than heroes in a typical paranormal romance. Take a look at the shelves upon shelves of vampire band-of-brother type paranormal romance series. These stories are based upon the mighty, strong, handsome vamps that unite together in a common cause while each takes their turn finding true love. Now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy these stories because I do. J.R. Ward, Lara Adrian, Alexandra Ivy and Caris Roane are some of my favorite authors and I love their paranormal series! We, as authors often write for our audience and our audience is more often female so it makes since to concentrate on the mighty heroes when our stories are developing. We want our readers to fall head-over-heals in love with him. Sadly, because the industry dictates how long our books should be, we often leave out chapters pertaining to the heroine. She, of course, appears in the manuscript, usually with him then ends up sitting in the backseat to his heroics.  The heroine often becomes a secondary character in the novel she was meant to play a lead role in. Although, my series is a paranormal with gorgeous hunks, my heroines will not stand still and take second chair. Their stories need to be told as they find a way to capture the hero’s heart and soul. Each book in the series is a story of growth, independence and true love – the heroine’s journey.

Rule number four was broken when I allowed the stories to expand. Rather then keeping to one central story or one romance per book; the books in the series tell life in their world as it develops, much like one would experience while watching a night time soap, which is actually what I often call the series. The series was written for adults but not limited to one romantic couple. In Eternal Lovers, the central  theme remains the same, bringing Jennifer and Gabriel together but you also experience life with two other couples, the Ancients (the other six heroes) and Set’s Legions (the bad guys) while being introduced to characters who will take center stage in the next book or two. The character’s story from book one continues on to book two and so on. I’m often asked how to I keep up with all the players. It’s easy, they have become more real to me than not. Just because you have a dozen or so friends does not mean you forget them as you make new ones. And so a night time soap was born.

Rule number five was broken when I mixed cultures. Again this coincides with sticking with one main theme in your romance novel. Jennifer, the heroine in Eternal Lovers is a half breed Native American who is raised by her grandparents in a traditional manner. She is aware she has some unusual abilities but never dreamed she was anything other than human. She is also half Selkie. Gabriel, her soon to be lover, is an alien who is turned immortal by Sekhmet when she leads him and his kindred to Earth through a portal between their world’s dimensions. So what have I done? Rather than working with one or two cultures I have intertwined Native American, European and ancient Egyptian myths, thrown in some Sci-Fi and presto one paranormal series emerges around modern day Lake Michigan.

I’m not going to bore you by continuing on with listing the number of rules I managed to break with the creation of my paranormal series. As I said in the beginning of this interview, I managed to break a lot of them and leave it at that. I hope I have captured your interest enough to continue to read the excerpt below from Sekhmet’s Guardians – Book One – Eternal Lovers.

About V.S. Nelson
V.S. Nelson has always enjoyed reading stories with strong relationships and happy endings so it’s not surprising she found herself writing across the romance genre. Even her commercial fiction, Sins of a Man, the memoirs of a Mafia Hit man, is layered with romantic elements.
Landing in Arizona, after an exciting teaching career, which took her to the Middle East for several years, she lives in Arizona where she spend most of my 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 my critique partners at Starbucks, attending or presenting a workshop or at a RWA meeting.

Being a Native American woman and a Scorpio, she’s 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.

She enjoys hearing from readers, fans and people with similar interests. They are more than welcome to contact her through her website http://www.authorvsnelson.com

SEKHMET’S GUARDIANSS – BOOK ONE – ETERNAL LOVERS



When two hidden worlds collide near modern day Lake Michigan, Jennifer, a young Native American, is confronted with the reality, not everything is as it seems and things do go bump in the night. The questions she has long since asked are answered in this epic tale of self discovery when she meets Gabriel, the director of Guardians Incorporated.

Born in New Tuat, Netchkhet, now known as Gabriel came to Earth some five thousand years ago to protect the human race.

Disillusioned by an unfulfilled prophecy, he has become cold and distant – even from those of his kind. He secretly waits for his enemy to take his head so he may leave this world for good.
Can a tiny Selkie melt his hardened heart and restore his faith in a power far greater than himself?
When history repeats itself, can he save her from death’s embrace or will they be robbed of a future again?

Excerpt taken from Chapter Five – Eternal Lovers

(Setting - making her escape from Gabriel’s penetrating eyes, Jennifer is standing at the bar when she feels something on her neck.)

She was warmed by the drink, then instantly chilled to her bone when she felt a breathe of air on her neck.
A deep voice whispered, “You smell delicious, good enough to eat.”

She turned to find the dark haired stranger leaning against her, his mouth upon her neck. Not knowing what to do, she took both hands and pushed against his chest as hard as she could, yelling, “Get the fuck away from me!”

Marching right past him she headed back to the billiard room. She stomped up to Raphael, grabbed hold of his hand, pulling him into the other room.

“Ah… Ah… Jennifer, where are we going?”

Looking around, she realized she had drug Raphael to the one room, now empty of furniture, set aside for dancing. They were standing in the center of the room with couples dancing all around them. She reached up and put both of her hands around Raphael’s neck and demanded, “Dance with me.”

Puzzled as he must have been, he placed his hands on the small of her back and began swaying with her to the music. She laid her head against his chest. God, it felt good being so close to him–safe.

“You know all you had to do was ask.  I’d never turn down a lady in distress. I’m flattered but curious as to what brought all this on?”

“I guess I’m just over reacting, but there was a guy in there…” She motioned with her head towards the other room. “...who was giving me the creeps. Evidently, he was staring at me while I was playing backgammon with Alice; well at least that’s what Marie said.”

“Jennifer, I’m sure you are use to having men stare at you. You are a beautiful woman. I believe I told you earlier you look enchantingly beautiful tonight.”

She blushed. Raphael could charm anyone.

“It wasn’t just that he was staring at me. I left the room and went to get a drink and the next thing I knew he was leaning into me. He had me pinned against the bar. Lord, I swear he was sniffing my hair. I don’t know if he’s drunk, high or what but he really scared the living daylights out of me.”

“Oh I see… and now you want the security guard and all this time I thought it was my charm that held you captive? I thought maybe you missed me… So what did this would be stalker look like?”

“Yes, no, hell I don’t know, all I could think of was finding you.”

“Jennifer, what did he look like, I’ll go find him and have a few words with him. If he’s drunk or on drugs, I’ll escort him out of here. I can’t have one of Alice’s guests being all upset. Now can I?”

Racing through her memory she tried to picture him in her mind. She couldn’t tell Raphael that he was a delectable yet scary looking hunk with the most intriguing eyes she had ever seen, could she?

“He’s dark haired, yeah black hair, really tall, taller than you, oh yeah, and he’s wearing a black suit with a black shirt and of all things sunglasses. He came to the party with four girls. I think maybe he’s a pimp?”

Eternal Lovers – Paperback -  http://tinyurl.com/b8ll29b
Eternal Lovers – Large Print - http://tinyurl.com/ae3u6lv
Eternal Lovers – Kindle -          http://tinyurl.com/amvlphl
Amazon-UK  Eternal Lovers - http://tinyurl.com/a5w7d6a  – Large Print - http://tinyurl.com/aufxd2d





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-- Lynda Again
    Wow! Terrific excerpt! In fact, the entire series sounds terrific, doesn't it? I'd actually started reading this one but had to stop to read contest entries. I can't wait to get back to it!



Saturday, March 02, 2013

Review - Double Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy


Double Enchantment
Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
March 2013

Lady Jasmina's mother has a tendency to "borrow" small bits of jewelry or other items from members of the ton. If her mother's habit is discovered, their family will be disgraced. But as she tries to return her mother's latest theft, a minor illusion spell goes awry, creating a duplicate of Jasmina. The problem is that this 'twin' has vanished and is doing things Lady Jasmina would never do.

Sir Sterling Thorn is a shape shifting baronet, who is immune to magic. He's in London looking for the sorcerer who kidnapped his young sister and who he suspects of using one of the infamous Relics of Merlin. He's about to plead for help from Prince Albert when the reek of Relic Magic reaches him. But when he follows the fading scent to its source, he finds a beautiful young woman. Jaz, as she calls herself, is clearly a member of the aristocracy but she intrigues Sterling and draws him in a way no other woman ever has. As a shapeshifter, he knows Jaz is his mate. But he's no despoiler of innocent young maids. He asks her to marry him when they make love. However, she disappears by morning and he has no idea who she really is.

However, Sterling rediscovers her at the Royal Mage hall but is this straight-laced, prim and proper snob HIS Jaz? It's clear something very odd has happened and it appears to involve a Relic.

Jasmina's first sight of Sterling takes her breath away. He's handsome and virile and everything a woman could want...but he's also a baronet, a shapeshifter. She certainly could never marry a baronet. Her family would be as disgraced as if her mother's thefts were discovered. Besides Jasmina has never expected to fall in love or marry. She's needed at home to care for her parent's household and to protect her mother from herself. After all, who else could return the stolen property? But this 'twin' of hers is doing things that she, Jasmina, would never do and has to be stopped before the Ton finds out. She'd hoped the Prince, being the strongest magical user, would be able to help her undo her spell but since it was affected by a Relic, even he can't help.

Charged by Prince Albert to find the Relic, Jasmina and Sterling work together. Jasmina wants to track her missing other self down and perform a reversal spell with the Relic while Sterling is driven to continue his hunt for his missing sister, Angel. But the more time they spend together, they more they are attracted to each other.  

While Sterling started out being wildly attracted to 'twin' Jaz, the more he gets to know the far more proper Jasmina, the more he finds himself drawn to her. But will she allow herself to love a shapeshifter? He isn't sure. Jasmina, on the other hand, has the most changes to make. It takes her some time to realize that she's not as proper as she thought and that there's more of her so-called 'evil' twin in her than she realized. As she falls more and more in love with the handsome and honorable shapeshifter, she isn't sure if Sterling loves her or if he still loves her twin. 

Kathryne Kennedy's DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT combines humor and emotion in a lovely tale of magic and adventure and romance set in a Victorian era governed by magical standing. This is a hugely imaginative story with terrific characters, a complex plot and a heart-warming love story. I'm sure you'll enjoy it every bit as much as I did. 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Guest - Alexis Morgan


Good morning! As of today, there are 19 days until Spring! While we wait, let's enjoy a visit from Alexis Morgan.

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Living in a Fantasy World

If I had to describe the path I've followed through my twenty-year plus career as an author, I'd have to say it's been one full of twists and turns. Often, I can see only a short distance ahead and the ultimate destination is a mystery. It all began when a friend dared me to write a book of my own. After a couple of failed attempts, I finally succeeded in completing my first manuscript.

In my mind, I started off to write a fantasy set on another world in a rough-and-tumble mining town. However, when I submitted that story to contests, the feedback from the judges made it pretty clear that my fantasy read more like a western.

Deciding they were right, I rewrote the entire manuscript as a western set in Colorado after the Civil war--but kept the alien warriors! Back then there wasn't a market for books that crossed genres, but I loved the combination of elements in that story. Still do, as a matter of fact. And the success of Firefly and the movie Cowboys and Aliens showed I wasn't the only one who feels that way about!

So after years of writing westerns and then paranormal romances, that twisting path I mentioned did an about turn and led me right back to the desire to write a fantasy again. It has been a wonderful experience, one that has stretched both my writing muscles and my creativity. You see, different genres have their own characteristics especially in word choice and the rhythm of the language used in the story. As a beginning writer, that I hadn't learned that lesson was obvious since my fantasy ended up reading like a western.

But when I started writing the first book in the WARRIORS OF THE MIST, I was very conscious of word choice. I had to be on constant guard to avoid using words and phrases that were too modern for the world I was building. On the other hand, it was liberating to be able to use such a different vocabulary and ways of describing things. For example, in a contemporary story, I would describe the hero's hair as brunette. In a western, I might say it was jet black. But in my fantasy, I describe the warrior's hair as "an unrelenting black, a shadow too powerful for mere sunlight to overcome." I love that.

This time my story is set in a medieval-type world, but with centuries-old warriors who were cursed by the gods. I could just picture five warriors sleeping beneath a river, waiting to be called forth to do battle once again. For the Warriors of the Mist, the world changes while they sleep, the only constant is the evil that preys upon the weak and defenseless. 

The Warriors are closer than brothers but very different in personality.  I chose to play up those differences in a variety of ways. Clothing was part of it, but I learned far more about them from figuring out what kind of animal avatar each of the warriors would have bonded with. Gideon, their captain, has a huge raptor named Scim. The bird is a hunter by nature, strong and lethal. Murdoch is the quiet one. He has a mountain cat, a fictional type of feline with long fangs that prefers to hunt from the shadows. Duncan, the hero in my new release, HER KNIGHT'S QUEST, has an owl. It just fit Duncan's image of a scholar/warrior. The youngest of the knights, Averel, bonded with a pair of battle dogs that can be playful like their master, but deadly when the moment calls for it. And finally, the darkest of the warriors, Lord Kane, has a gargoyle named Hob. They are both the last of their bloodlines, and solitary by nature.

I went through the same process when I decided that the horses in this world can choose their own riders. The stallion that picked Gideon was very different from the one who picked Kane. And after I felt like I knew the warriors, I turned my attention to the heroines in the stories. That was just as much of an adventure!

My newest release is HER KNIGHT'S QUEST, the second book in the series.  It focuses on Duncan, the scholar/warrior as he seeks answers in the secret library rumored to exist at a distant abbey.  What he finds is far more precious--the love of his life.
  

Alexis Morgan
Twitter:  @Alexis_Morgan




They are cursed by the gods, and war is their salvation. Love is their deliverance. 

For centuries, five legendary warriors have braved battles shoulder to shoulder. But now they must divide and conquer as lone champions against evil.

Duncan, a scholar at heart, is drawn to an isolated abbey rumored to hold the answers to countering the terror unleashed by Duke Keirthan. Inside the cloistered walls lies the hidden collection of forbidden lore on dark magic. But the real key to the salvation Duncan seeks—both for the people of Agathia and his soul—is the abbess herself, Lady Lavinia. Hunted by the duke, who seeks to harvest her powers, Lavinia knows Duncan wants to help her. But can she trust the tortured warrior with her secrets?

In the end, it is only by joining forces that they can save not only those they are sworn to protect but each other.


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-- Lynda Again,

    Wow, looks like I might have to add some books to my TBR. These books sound terrific...but then who can resist a warrior?

     Have a Blessed Day!