Saturday, May 29, 2010

An excerpt of my novel...


Rian stopped her horse atop the same plateau on which Bradyn had stood only a few hours before. Kendall was sleeping in her arms. Her gaze traveled across the valley lighted by a dim red horizon. She had no idea what time it was, but she knew that sundown had come too early today. Far too early.

The lights of Laramie glittered in the distance. What would have been a welcoming, heart-warming sight for a wayfaring stranger only filled her heart with dark apprehension. A black aura had begun building a cocoon around the city. It was the presence of evil making itself known. She shuddered and shifted Kendall gently.

Bradyn was down there. He was there in the town. She could sense him. She could see his light. It was a tiny, shining speck of blue against the black.

The auras had come and gone all afternoon until she and Kendall had seen the ravens. After that, the colors had remained. As their journey had progressed, she had begun to feel excitement at the new phenomenon that had captivated her senses. A turbulent knowledge awakened within her. This was all happening for a reason and she knew she had some part to play in whatever dark horror was coming.

Wind and shadow encompassed her. A fierce tremor ran through her body as she sat looking out into the twilight sky. She ran her hand over the dagger strapped to her thigh, its cool hilt filling her with valiant anticipation. A fluid understanding pulsated deep inside her soul. It was ancient and powerful. She didn’t know where the knowledge came from, but she knew a battle lay ahead. A battle of Life and Death. It was fast approaching, and she knew that there was so much more at stake than a few human lives. She didn’t know if the man Bradyn had ridden into town to meet was there, but she felt a presence. An evil presence. She knew it was waiting for them to come.

Her dream from the night before, which now seemed eons in the past, resurfaced in her memory for the thousandth time that day. There are two of them and they are waiting for you Bradyn.
She ran a finger down the length of the dagger. “Please be careful. Please be safe. I love you,” she whispered as she watched his aura twinkle in the darkness below. “I love you.”

The mare blew out a breath and shifted its weight easily underneath them. Kendall slept on, his breathing deep and even. He was so unaware, so untouched by the world around him. Rian sat watching his face with silent awe. She was unwilling to wake him just yet. She didn’t even want to move. A voice inside told her to wait. Tonight she would have to ride into the valley of shadow, but not right now. Her presence would be needed very soon, the voice told her, but not yet. Not yet.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everyone, say "HI" to A.Y. (Anne) Stratton!

Ms. Stratton will be giving a FREE ebook to the first five people to comment on this post! Good luck!


CJ: Hi, Anne! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us for a bit.

Hi, CJ. Thanks for hosting me. I love chatting about my debut romantic suspense novel.

Q: Well, obviously, your novel, “Buried Heart” is the main reason you’re here today. What can you tell us about this exciting new release?

Set in frigid Milwaukee and in a Mayan ruin smothered by the rain forest,
Buried Heart is a breathless race between greed and passion. It begins one winter night, while PR consultant Lauren Richmond hunts for her car in the university’s parking garage and winds up rescuing a man from muggers. The mysterious victim is Luis Hernandez, the notorious archeology professor, whose quest is to find an ancient document more valuable than gold. After Luis expresses his appreciation with a kiss, danger, death and desire explode around them.

Q: I think everyone, including me, wants to know more about the Main Characters in your novel. Can you give us a description of them?

In her early thirties, Lauren Richmond is blonde and slim from her daily three-mile runs. She is descended from generations of artists with broken marriages, a chain so old her artist parents called it “The Jinx.” Compulsively controlling, she keeps her life simple, remodeling the building she inherited from her grandfather, and making sure her clients produce grammatically perfect documents. Though she keeps her heart on ice, she secretly writes love stories. No way will she let herself be ruled by desire.

Dark, handsome, also in his early thirties, Luis Hernandez is a Mexican-American who grew up in Chicago. His interest in archeology bloomed during summer visits to his grandparents in Mexico. Though he is an enthusiastic teacher at the university, he lives for his annual semester at the university’s dig site not far from his ancestral village. His goal is to unlock the secret of the map he inherited and track down an ancient Mayan Codex.


Q: Do your characters have any fun habits or memorable flaws? Can you tell us a little about them?

Flaws, aren’t they the most interesting facets of a character? Lauren is too controlling of her emotions, too bossy, especially about other people’s grammar mistakes, and ultimately, too curious. Luis is naïve about people, too open, too easily attracted to women and oblivious of others’ feelings.

Q: What makes your characters unique? Why will we fall in love with them?

My brand, if you could call it that, is to concoct unlikely lovers and put them in dangerous situations. I particularly like to use dialog to make the reader feel as if she is eavesdropping as my characters fall in love. From the first meeting Luis and Lauren are lit up from inside, and it shows (I hope) as they talk. Neither one has met anyone like this before. They are opposites, and they are literally smitten. Lauren fights it, and of course, and Luis gives in immediately.


Q: I am a fan of memorable quotes. Do you have any favorites from “Buried Heart?”

My memorable quote from “Buried Heart” occurs when Luis visits Lauren under the guise of thanking her for rescuing him. Because he rudely kissed her that first night, she announces that he can’t come into her apartment until he promises not to kiss her again, which he does, with a laugh. After some chitchat Luis describes how the Conquistadors burned Mayan documents and that only a few have survived, and Lauren is obviously fascinated. She asks if he thinks there might be another Mayan codex somewhere. He answers, “I do.” And then he says, “Are you sure there’s no kissing here?”



Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to write?

The stories that have always been in my head, that keep me awake at night, inspired me to write.

Q: Is there one particular thing you have to do in order to “get in the groove” before/during writing?

To get in the groove for writing each day, I need no interruptions, no music, no phone calls, no INTERNET--just me watching my characters getting into and out of bed and in and out of trouble.

Q: If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you be? Why?

What fictional character would I be? Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner) in Romancing the Stone.

Q: If your book were made into a movie, who would direct it?

Has Harrison Ford ever directed a movie? I think I’d need him, even if he doesn’t direct it, maybe he can just sit around. Or, better yet, Colin Firth…

Q: Ok, one last question before we let you go today, (Author Name). Finish this sentence in a way that best describes you: “People would be surprised to know that…”

People who know me are surprised that I write spicy romantic suspense stories. People who don’t know me well are surprised that I am a baseball nut who attends about 30 Milwaukee Brewers games a year.


CJ: I want to thank you, again, for visiting with us today, Anne. Before you go, I’m sure you want to give us a little excerpt of your novel and some links to where our readers can find out more about you and “Buried Heart”.


Available now at:



Here is the address for my web site and for the latest review (which is wonderful!):

www.aystratton.com

http://www.theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/buriedheartstratton.htm




Excerpt from “Buried Heart” by A. Y. Stratton

He rubbed his hands on his knees and his eyes sparkled. “The whole caper is an adventure I’ve dreamt of since my grandfather first told me there were temples hidden in the caves.” He grinned and touched her shoulder sending a jolt of heat down her arm. His smile was sweet.
“Break your date and have dinner with me. Let me pay you back for having the guts and the brains to do what you did.”
Guts and brains. God, the man was a schmoozer. Lauren felt her nipples stirring and hoped he couldn’t tell. “Sorry,” she said, and rose to her feet.
His eyes followed her and the crooked grin reappeared. “I’d like to see you again.” He stood and reached for her elbow.
She looked into his pleading eyes with those long lashes. “My boyfriend wouldn’t like that.” She had to stay away from those eyes.
“Boyfriend wouldn’t like it? Hmm. I’m wondering whether you’d like it.” His hand slid down her arm to her hand. “There’s some sort of connection here, wouldn’t you say?”
That was her opening. Right then and there, she should tell him she had no interest in him at all. She shook off his grasp and escaped to the hall. “Of course we’re connected. We shared a frightening experience, but that’s over now.” She reached for his jacket and held it out to him.
“I’m just glad you’re okay.”
In the tiny space, it wasn’t hard for him to crowd her until they were chest to chest. She took a step back.
He moved forward. “I believe in building friendships slowly like the craftsmen
who built this place.”
The words sent her into a panic, not because she had a clue what he meant, but because he so obviously was not about to leave. Anxious to jump to another subject, she said, “Did you figure out what those men were after last night?”
Luis took his jacket from her and slipped it on. “No.” His eyes narrowed and his lips parted in a slow smile.
“Did you call the police when you got home?”
He shook his head, his eyes steady on her lips. “My guess is the goons mistook me for someone else.” He said the words too quickly, as if he’d rehearsed them.
“What if they were trying to steal information about the codex? Have you thought of that?”
“They were just a couple of muggers.” He inched even closer. His breath touched her forehead.
“But you said they weren’t after money.”
“I said that?” He whispered. “Maybe they couldn’t wait until I got out my wallet.” He laughed softly and reached for her hand. “They’d have been really ticked off if they’d gotten my wallet.”
Lauren tried to wiggle out of his grip, but he held on. “This is serious, Luis.” She spoke loudly to break the crackle of sex in the air. “If the police knew how dangerous the parking garage was, don’t you think they’d put a patrol there?”
Hoping he’d finally let go of her hand, Lauren squeezed his fingers, but instead he put his other hand on top of hers. Lauren caught her breath as his hot fingers tickled her wrist. She wondered how those fingers would feel on her breasts.
“I’d like to read one of your novels,” he said softly. “I’ll bet you have quite an imagination. “
Her ears were buzzing so loudly, Lauren could barely hear him. “Thanks,” she whispered back, mesmerized by his eyes, by the scent of him. With her hand still trapped in his, she retreated until her back was against the closet door. Luis moved in quickly.
She meant to push him away, but his lips were so soft Lauren kissed him back, without thought, certainly without logic. His kiss flashed from sweet to hot. She matched his burst of passion, every nerve alert for his next move.
As if she’d thrown a match on gasoline, Luis’s body burned against hers. Fire spread wherever he touched her. His chest crushed the air from her lungs. His hands slid up to her neck. His fingers locked in her hair.
Lauren wanted those lips everywhere, Luis’s wonderful, fluid lips. His tongue teased and begged, and Lauren breathed him in, urgently, needing more of him, her body alive, her knees melting beneath her, the ache for him growing, overpowering her.
She wanted all of him. Right then. Right there.
Luis tore his mouth away still cupping her head between his hands. The tiny hallway seemed to lift off the earth. Luis whispered to her burning lips. “I want you.”
She wrapped her leg around his and pulled him against her. “Oh, God, I want you too.” She couldn’t believe the words had come from her mouth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rian's Torment ~ An excerpt of my novel "To Stand with Angels"~


Rian awoke with a start. Cold sweat was running down her back. She sat up and felt not the soft down of her bed, but the hard grit of gravel and dirt beneath her finger tips. She looked about in confusion. Then, with terror, she recognized her surroundings. She had been here many times before.
It was twilight. The sky was still an ugly, murky orange marbled with engorged, blackish-red clouds. She shuddered as she looked up the empty street. The buildings on either side stood dark and stared vacantly down at her with windows that were hollow, ominous eyes. Their shutters flapped sluggishly despite the fact that the air was eerily still and malignant. A chill ran down her spine as she turned to look along the other side of the street.
At the far end, just at the town’s edge, was the outline of a man sitting on a horse as black as the Devil’s heart. It was not the horse, but the man, injured and slumping atop the horse, that drew her attention. This time, she knew who it was.
She could not make out his face but the picture was all too familiar. A scream, silent and gagging, wedged in her throat. Rising with the horrid sluggishness of one trapped in a nightmare, Rian ran to the horse. Her footsteps clanged like the fall of a blacksmith’s hammer on steel as they struck the ground. “Bradyn!” she cried in a voice barely more than a mocking whisper.
"Bradyn!”
Limp and lifeless, he sat upon the horse whose eyes glowed with the raging fires of Hell’s brimstone. His body was riddled with bullet holes, but only a thin trickle of blood ran from his chest. She screamed out to him again and this time he lifted his gaze to her. Rian felt her blood run cold as she looked at his face. He was missing an eye and his mouth was nothing more than a bloody, bashed-in hole. She saw that his hands had been sliced and bruised, then tied to the saddle horn in horrible reminiscence of the day she’d first seen him.
Fierce anger and numbing fear drove her to his side. Stumbling up to the horse, she worked frantically to untie him.
“I wouldn’t touch him if I were you.” A voice as deep as a river and as electrifying as a jagged streak of lightning filled the street. “I wouldn’t touch him.”
Rian turned slowly and felt the fury of a thousand hurricanes begin to churn through her blood. Two figures stood at the other end of the town. They were black against a dismal setting sun. Their dusters flapped lifelessly in the heavy, unmoving air. Why were there two men now? Who had the demon brought with him?
“Stay away from us!” She heard her voice, a foreign and distant shriek, echoing down the dead-calm street.
A rumbling chuckle drifted through the town. Quiet at first, it grew in volume until it was an eerie, ubiquitous thundering. Ravens gathered by the hundreds on the roof tops and along the streets, their cackling caws blending with the demonic laughter.
“Stay away from us!” she shouted again. Her eyes searched the town for someone, anyone who could help her.
One of the men began walking toward her, his body weaving hypnotically. He floated down the street as though his feet did not touch the ground. She worked furiously to untie Bradyn, but the knot only grew tighter with her efforts. “Bradyn!” she shrieked. “Bradyn, you have to get out of here! You have to! If you go into town, they’ll kill you!”
“Who’ll kill me?” Bradyn asked. His brutalized face twisted into a horrific, toothless smile. “No one is going to kill me, Rian,” he assured her in a taunting voice.
“It’s too late for him.” The voice, menacing and barely more than a whisper, touched her ears.
She turned. He was standing right behind her now. Shrouded in the purest black, his eyes glowing red from beneath the brim of his hat, he stared at her with a wide grin upon his face.
Rian choked on her tongue as it rolled with thick, terrified indolence to the back of her mouth. She knew him, she knew his face. Long, bony fingers closed around her arms as he smiled evilly down at her. His teeth were sharp fangs, long and viciously canine. His eyes were a dastardly, malicious yellow now.
“I’m coming for you,” he whispered as he licked his lips like a feral dog. “I’m going to kill your precious lover, and then I’m going to rip your heart out of your chest and eat it. I’m coming for you, Moriana.”
“No!” Rian screeched as she felt his teeth sink into her neck with rabid hunger. She looked up at Bradyn sitting lifeless on the horse. His eyes were glassy with death. She hadn’t been able to save him. “No!” she screamed again. ”Oh, Bradyn, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”




"TO STAND WITH ANGELS" on sale now at Amazon (PRINT & KINDLE) and Eternal Press (EBOOK EDITION).

Amber Scott has come to pay us a visit!


AMBER IS GIVING AWAY A FREE EBOOK TO EVERY COMMENTER! So comment away, people!



CJ: Hi, Amber, it’s great to have you here today! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us for a bit.


Thanks so much for having me! I’m stoked to be here.

Q: Well, obviously, your novel, "Play Fling" is the main reason you’re here today. What can you tell us about this exciting new release?


In Play Fling, playing cupid isn’t Heaven’s reward. It’s Millie Match’s punishment. And if she doesn’t match Brooke within thirty days, she’ll lose her partner in time, the only thing she can count on in love hell on earth. You see, love is simple. But, people are flipping complicated.
Take Brooke, Millie’s current target. She’s pushing forty and freshly divorced yet has no interest whatsoever in dating or new love. Great. Millie decides Brooke must still be in love with her ex. Hooray! She has direction. Until, like bad hair, Elliott keeps ruining Millie’s day. Elliott is too young, and far too hot, for nice and tidy Brooke. Sure the woman could use a fling, but in the end, he’ll only hurt Brooke.
Sometimes, a cupid has to do what a cupid has to do.

Q: I think everyone, including me, wants to know more about the Main Characters in your novel. Can you give us a description of them?

Brooke, our heroine, is a bit stiff around the edges until Elliott comes around, and charms her skirt off. She’s afraid she wasted the best years of her life in her failed marriage and is in denial over why it ended.
Millie is learning how to love. She’s a terrible cupid because she never learned about love or friendship or even responsibility before landing in this matchmaking sentence. She means well but has no idea how to see things through. Her mistakes made me both groan and laugh out loud while I was writing Play Fling.
Elliott is smart. Street smart, book smart and far more mature for his twenty something age than Brooke is ready to accept. It’s a good thing he’s tenacious and a rockstar in bed.

Q: Do your characters have any fun habits or memorable flaws? Can you tell us a little about them?

Brooke is a lot of fun when Elliott awakens the temptress within who’s been hibernating for far too long.
Elliott’s smile combined with the way he pushes up his glasses to frame eyes too blue for anyone’s good make him one of my favorite heroes.
Millie’s good intentions executed so clumsily won my heart every time. I love that I get to spend a few more books watching her stumble to grow.


Q: What makes your characters unique? Why will we fall in love with them?

I suppose the same things that make us all unique. They aren’t perfect. They have tics and quirks and fears. They think they know what they want but screw up getting it. But in the end, they fight for what they need--each other.


Q: I am a fan of memorable quotes. Do you have any favorites from "Play Fling"?

While a lot of hilarious reactions pop out of Millie’s mouth, one of my favorite lines is actually from Brooke and from the first page. Brooke, our heroine, is sitting in a bookstore cafe, totally unnerved, feeling stares and imagines a voice on loud speaker announcing, “Would the pathetic owner of the rude, no show friend please remove her denial and vacate the big table?”

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to write?

Reading a great book, seeing a wonderful movie, often inspires me to create a fictional world myself. But, originally, I can’t say I know what inspired my four year olds heart to decide I would be a writer. I just knew. I had the kind of mom who encouraged all our interests, even the obscure. When I told her I wanted to be an author, she nodded, smiled and asked me what kinds of books I wanted to write. I didn’t know then. I didn’t figure that out until I read my first Johanna Lindsey novel, A Gentle Feuding, and entered what my sister’s lovingly call my “romance novel zone.”

Q: Is there one particular thing you have to do in order to “get in the groove” before/during writing?


With two pre-schoolers hanging from my legs all day, thankfully, I learned how to write on the fly. So, daydreaming is vital for me. Characters often spring into my head then some camp out like their waiting for concert tix to go on sale. Also, music helps me immerse into a scene, especially love scenes. A great beat or killer lyrics always get my muse hot. Some songs show me a story, or a character. Then I latch on and let myself daydream about it until it must be written.

Q: If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you be? Why?

Two months ago, I’d have said Bella Swan and for Edward and Jacob. But I just finished Touched By An Alien by Gini Koch and Jeff Martini won me over hard. So, I’ll be Kitty. Love, love, love her.

Q: If your book were made into a movie, who would direct it?

Hmmm. Comedy with heart. Penny Marshall.

Q: Ok, one last question before we let you go today, Amber. Finish this sentence in a way that best describes you: “People would be surprised to know that…”
...even though I write love scenes that will make you need a cigarette, even though I’ve sold lingerie and adult accessories for a living before, my closet is not filled with gadgets, gizmos or love swings. All I have is one little whip. (With the right wrist flick, one is all you’ll need.)


CJ: I want to thank you, again, for visiting with us today, Amber. Before you go, I’m sure you want to give us a little excerpt of your novel and some links to were our readers can find out more about you and "Play Fling".





EXCERPT:




“I think I’ve made a mistake,” Brooke said, amazed her voice didn’t crack. “I think I have to go.”

“Don’t go,” Elliott said again, stepping close.

His words enveloped her. Had she thought his glasses made him irresistible? She’d been wrong. His lashes set off depths so blue, so intense, they might penetrate her soul.

Slowly, he reached up, pushed a lock of hair from her face. His finger ran along her cheek, to her lobe, down her neck and up to her chin. With gentle pressure, he tipped her chin up. Brooke’s hands shook. Her mouth watered. Her mind searched for words and found two: don’t go.

How could she?

His gaze captivated hers. He lowered his head. She closed her eyes. The tremble in her hands spread up her arms, down her legs. Yes. God, yes. Let him kiss her. Let her taste his lips on hers, his breath, his mouth.

“Stay,” he whispered against her lips.

She failed to shake her head, no, she wouldn’t go. He began at her chin, a graze, and in slow succession, breathed and kissed and wet her skin. Kisses. Tantalizing, sensual, tickling. Around her mouth, teasing her. Away again, torture.

Her knees turned to water. She almost whimpered. His mouth found her hungry lips. Brooke gasped. His hands raked into her hair. He kissed her lower lip, moved to the side, never quite meeting her fully. Brooke moaned, awash with a full body shiver. Musk and sandalwood intoxicated her senses. Mint, sweet on her tongue. She swayed her weight toward his body. He slid his hand over her lower back, steadying her.

Her lips parted, begging entry. He took it. His tongue carefully delved, explored as her lips, suckled and pressed. Brooke returned each caress, mindless of all but each sensation coming over her mouth, washing her body.

Her hands rose to his chest. His roamed over her back, ever lower, inch-by-inch to her hips. He broke the kiss and pulled away.

Brooke opened her eyes. She could hardly think.

He swallowed. “I want you.”


Monday, May 24, 2010

The "I'm Sorry, Mary Dees" Post...

This post is for Mary Dees, for all those who did not catch my mistake, and for all those who did.

I need to apologize to Mary for the misspelling of her last name in her blog interview. I feel a bit dumb and...




To read Mary's interview again, it is HERE.

CONGRATS TO LORRIE STRUIFF, winner of a copy of Mary Dees short story, "To Have a Warrior".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vote for the "To Stand with Angels" Book Trailer!

My book trailer for "To Stand with Angels" is the # 12 Entry for the Month of May's You Gotta Read Blog's "Book Trailer Video Contest". Stop on over, check out the talent, and don't forget to vote for your favorite!

VOTE FOR "TO STAND WITH ANGELS" NOW!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kari Thomas, author of "Under a Shifter's Moon" is with us today!


CJ: Hello, Kari. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about “UNDER A SHIFTER’S MOON”?


This is my latest, and then I have a new one Releasing in July titled “Spell-Kissed”. But, anyhoo! “Under a Shifters Moon” is the “Book-of-my-Heart”. I’ve had the hero and heroine in my mind for years just waiting to find the right story for them. Lyon is a Jaguar Shifter fighting with his twin brother for the right to be Alpha over his Pride. A Pride Decree says he has to marry a certain woman chosen for him but he falls in love with her aunt, Kitlene. Their love is destined for heartache from the beginning because if Lyon chooses Kitlene as his Truemate, her life is forfeit.


Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?


I love Shapeshifters, especially cats. And Kitlene’s “secret” came from personal experience. (Nope, cant tell you cause it’s a spoiler! LOL!)

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

Lyon is the perfect Alpha male. He’s protective, possessive, sexy, and he fights for what he believes in –no matter the odds or the results. Kitlene is vulnerable and soft, but she also has an inner strength that shines through whenever her loved ones are at risk. They make the perfect couple.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from “Under a Shifter’s Moon”?

(grin) How about TWO?

(Lyon to Kitlene) “And the next time you decide to start a fight with some of my men, do me a favor and keep your soft paws off anything expensive.”

And

“Why don’t you just kick them in the balls like you threatened to do to me?”



Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?


I wrote my first one at age 12. It was a 300 page young adult mystery and I was so proud of it. Can you imagine my heartbreak when it was rejected? But that didn’t stop me. I plunged ahead. I’m a book-a-holic and the more romances I read, the more I wanted to write one.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

I threaten my muse before each writing session. That’s probably why I have to keep getting new ones! Seriously though, I love listening to music while writing –and I also warn anyone around not to disturb me. Doesn’t work out, but its worth the try each time!

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

The creativity flow is the easiest. I have soooooo many ideas floating around in my head, and my characters are always so real to me. The hardest part is the promoting and business stuff AFTER the book is published.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

That my g-g-grandfather was a pirate on board the Spanish ship “GASPIRILLA” and that it sunk off the coast of my home state Florida, AND that the island next to Sanibel, Captiva was most likely named by him! Research is amazing!

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

Hard question! LOL! I love all my book’s worlds. I try to make them each one unique and real. I’d have to choose “Under A Shifters Moon” if I could only choose one. I love the life Lyon and his Jaguar Pride live in. Its Contemporary –yet preternatural too.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

Most definitely JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” Series. I read them when I was only 7 years old and was so impressed that I was inspired to try my own fantasy. Failed, but still never forgot the wonderful feeling of being lost in those books.


Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that...


...I’m extremely shy. Everyone says I’m a “people-person” but it takes a lot of effort to put myself out there, so no one knows the truth.”


CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Kari.


I would invite all our guests to check out “UNDER A SHIFTER’S MOON by Kari Thomas on sale now at Black Lyon Publishing and ALL Bookstores. Available in Print and Ebook formats.


See more info at Kari’s website: http://www.authorkari.com/


Below is an excerpt from Kari’s novel UNDER A SHIFTER’S MOON. Please read on!


She was facing the direction of the stairs so he could see her face clearly. His breath caught. She was incredibly beautiful; an oval face, softly pink-tinged complexion, cupid-bow mouth, small nose. Her long-lashed eyes were large and round. For some reason, her eyes made him instantly think of a Persian cat’s eyes. He grinned at the contradiction; he had the odd thought that her obvious spunk would keep her from being as sweet natured as the Persian breed. Even from his distance he could see the soft, dove-grey color.


They were the most fascinating eyes he’d ever seen on a woman. A man could easily—willingly drown in their mysterious, sultry depths. He could. He frowned at the disturbing thought. He let his gaze roam over her one more time before coming back to rest on her ethereal face. She wasn’t wearing makeup—or she was an expert at making it appear that way—and the look was as much innocence as it was sensual. The odd combination was fascinating and it intrigued him like nothing else had in a long time. He watched her gaze around the room. Her expression was neutral, but even from this distance he could see her eyes mirror her nervous thoughts. What would those expressive, lovely eyes reveal when her gaze first met his? He was suddenly anxious to find out.


Lyon found his feet moving before he even had the actual thought. He bounded down the stairs, sending a glance toward the corner where Mason and Beau were talking to the coyote group. His body was tight, his muscles tense and ready to allow his jaguar self to emerge. But this time it wasn’t because of the anticipation of a fight.


No, his jaguar soul had sighted prey. His prey. His. That soul-felt confirmation only proved he was right. This woman was Ariel. Somehow his jaguar self already recognized her.
Whoa. That shocked him. Realization hit him like a hard, breath- stealing punch to the gut and then arrowed straight to his soul. He came to an abrupt standstill yards away from her. He inhaled roughly, taking her sweet, oddly familiar scent deep into him. His entire body immediately went into hard sensual overload. Stark, possessive instincts rose in him for the first time in his life. He’d never felt anything like it. His jaguar self pushed forward. Primal. Domineering.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And our guest today is...Marie Dees!


CJ: Hello, Marie. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. We’re excited to have you here today!


Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest release. What can you tell us about TO HAVE A WARRIOR?

“To Have a Warrior” is a short story just released as part of Cobblestone Press’s “Wicked” line. Since I prefer to write novel-length work, this is the first short story I’ve written since writing the stories for my graduate degree in creative writing.

Because of that, I jokingly described it to a friend as a literary work that explores our preconceptions about sexuality in other cultures. That or it's a hot gay erotica story about an ethnologist who finds love on another planet.


Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular story Can you tell us about that?

With this story, I wanted to explore the idea of cultural stereotypes and our modern preconceptions. Aki despite his background and knowledge, has considered one alternative to catching a warrior’s attention.


Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

Aki is the point of view character. He’s a traveled from New Earth to New Rangopi to study the culture there and discovered that the job is more difficult than he expected. Raiden is a warrior on New Rangipo and the man who teaches Aki that his preconceptions about the culture might be inaccurate.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from stories. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from To Have a Warrior?

Oh, for this one, perhaps Raiden’s question – “He has no warrior.” Only because Aki completely misunderstands this and keeps believing that Raiden is say “He is no warrior.”

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

I decided to write my first novel at the age of 8. I won’t tell you what it was about because I don’t remember. But writing was a natural transition from my love of reading. In my teens, I went through a Tolkien phase where I wrote epic fantasies that went on forever and never ended. In an effort to finish something, I switched to mystery novels since they have to have an ending. Writing mystery will teach you a lot about plotting and structure.


Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

Other that trying to make sure I’m as comfortable as I can be. I love pillows and comforters and cups of tea. When the weather cooperates, I love to write in the garden.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

For me, dialogue is the easiest. My first drafts are often bits of great dialogue with action sketched out between them. I often think my characters talk me through their stories and I just listen in.

Which means the hardest part is often working in the description. Which isn’t exactly the same as saying description is hard to write. It’s more that I have to fight the feeling that the description is getting in the way and slowing things down.

Each story I write goes through multiple layers of revision because of this. The first layer is sketching out the action and giving the characters a chance to tell me what’s going on. Then I work back through to build up the plot elements that come into play as I write. Then I always have to go through and build up the description and other elements.

It does become easier if you remind yourself that the goal isn’t to write the perfect story in one sitting.


Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

I’ve learned about ghost hunting and actually gone on ghost hunts to research stories. And yes, I’ve experienced things that I couldn’t explain while on them. A friend and I stood outside a St. Augustine Cemetery on a muggy Florida night and felt a cold spot that stop right about waist height. That was fascinating. I always encourage writers to do as much direct research as possible or affordable.


Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to be Miss Marple and live in a little cottage in a quaint English village. I’d grow roses and have people over for tea. Besides, she never seemed to get bored since people were often conveniently murdered to keep life interesting. Oh, sure, it’s tough on the neighbors, but that’s what happens when you live in a mystery novel.


Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

The Tolkien books—the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Besides the usual teenage fascination with his world and elves, I remember being utterly astounded at how he wove elements of the story together so that small details mentioned in The Hobbit appeared again in the trilogy. But Lord of the Rings shaped a great part of my early writing and since I was always writing, my teenage years.


Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that...”

...one summer I played Peter Pan at Walt Disney World.


CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us Marie.


I would invite all our guests to check out TO HAVE A WARRIOR by MARIE DEES on sale now at Cobblestone Press.


Below is an excerpt from Marie’s story, TO HAVE A WARRIOR Please read on!

(Note from the author. While “To Have a Warrior” is an erotic romance, the excerpt is safe for a general audience.)

To Have A Warrior by Marie Dees

Aki placed himself directly in the path of the three approaching warriors. Even if he didn’t look much like a warrior, he was going to force these men to acknowledge his existence. He wasn’t going to join the list of ethnologists who’d failed to get even a single interview from the men. “I am Aki. I am from New Earth.”

The first warrior didn’t bother to walk around him. He simply shouldered Aki out of the way as he passed. Aki stumbled and found his footing, but now stood directly in line with the second warrior. “I am Aki.” The second warrior used his elbow to send him falling to the red dirt of New Rangipo.

“Aki, you must come sit with me.”

Aki glanced to where the old woman sat, leaning against her hide tent, then back to the approaching third warrior. This one stopped to look down at him sprawled on the ground. Aki met the gaze of those blue eyes. “I am Aki. Will you tell me your name?” He was sure he had the right verb and correct conjugation.

The warrior looked away and strode a few meters to where the others stood, apparently studying the empty red desert. Aki pushed to his feet, wondering what they’d do if he went after them. From the reaction he’d just received, he’d probably set back relations with the tribe another decade. He brushed the red dirt from his pants. He hadn’t been attacked, just pushed out of the way.

“Aki, you will come sit by me,” the old woman snapped.

With a shrug, he strode over to her tent, which sat a few meters apart from the rest of the nomadic camp and closest to the research settlement. The science team would move when the camp moved, and Aki had no doubt Grandmother’s tent would again end up between them and the rest of the tribe.

She patted the ground beside her stool, indicating he should sit there. He did, folding his legs to sit cross-legged just within the shade of the tent. ”They are warriors.” She spoke slowly, as if to a child. "You are not a warrior. They may not talk to you.”

He nodded. “Yes, Grandmother,” he said using the respect word for the tribe’s older women. “But I don’t understand why they may not speak with me.”

“Because they are warriors.”

He sighed. No one had ever managed to wring a better answer than that out of the tribes since few of the women bothered to speak with the researchers. The old woman was an exception. Perhaps age put her above social considerations.

“Do not try to force them, Aki. You are not a warrior.”

He huffed. "Well, I know that." He wasn’t even worth fighting. Not that he’d have stood a chance of winning or of proving himself a warrior if they had fought him. The warriors he’d confronted stood over six feet tall with skin burned brown from the harsh sun of this world.

Aki was a head shorter than any of them. If he'd ever thought himself muscular, the sight of these men would have changed his mind. And the warriors wore so little, a strip of cloth covering their genitals and a light robe of the local wool over their shoulders; he could see each and every muscle. They also had long hair, which they wore pulled back into a braid. The spear each one carried showed his warrior status.

Since landing on the planet, all Aki'd done was stare as a succession of desirable men wandered across the landscape and ignored him. Damn the professor for pulling him into this project. He'd called it the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to study the culture of a society that hadn’t been in contact with the outside world since it had been settled. Aki had jumped at the opportunity. The job should have gone to someone with ten times his experience. The professor hadn’t warned him that it could also be the failure of a lifetime.

Aki looked over at the old woman. She was spinning thread from the goat-like animals the tribe raised. He watched as the thread twirled gracefully on her drop spindle. Maybe he could make her understand his need. Her standing with the tribe might be high enough to allow her to help him. "I don't want to be a warrior. I just want to speak with them. Don't they understand?"

"They understand." She picked up some of the wool and put it in his hands. Then she pulled a bit out and showed him how to roll it between his fingers. He did so, anything to help win her approval. She smiled when he managed to make a bit of clumsy thread. "They do not speak to those outside the tribe."

“Maybe you could explain to them what I need?” he asked, still twirling the wool.

“What is it that you think you need, Aki? What is it that a warrior can give to you?”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let me introduce....Daniel McKeown!


CJ: Hello, Daniel! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!


Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about “Dereliction of Duty”?

A: Dereliction of Duty is the first novel in a planned series. The tagline is, “How much can one day change someone’s life?”, and the story takes place over the course of fourteen hours. It’s a homage to my favourite authors, and combines multiple plot-lines, characters, and points-of-view to tell an action-packed story about a life-changing day for four people. Two of them are ordinary men caught up in an extraordinary situation involving terrorists. The other two are soldiers from Marine Force Recon who, through a long and tortuous journey from Afghanistan, become embroiled first in a training exercise which quickly becomes serious, and then in the same battle as the first two men.


Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?

A: This novel has been written no fewer than four times over the course of the last decade. This is the only version I’ve been happy with. It was inspired by the works of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum, and the idea came to me whilst playing a Playstation game called Splinter Cell.


Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

A: Peter Hunt may be six foot four and weighs over two hundred pounds, but he’s not your typical hero. From being abused as a child by his nanny, to spending most of his childhood home-schooled by over-protective parents, Hunt was destined to rebel and live his own life. But when he finally thinks he’s settled down with the love of his life, he’s fired from his job, relapses into alcoholism, and watches his wife walk away with their six-month-old son.

Jack Reid is Hunt’s closest friend. They’ve known each other since high school, and worked together at a computer firm, ATARIC, for years before Hunt’s dismissal. An inch shorter than Hunt, Reid is a hard-nosed graduate from life’s school of knocks. While he hasn’t been through the ringer like Hunt, he’s had his fair share of demons. He shows emotion only in severe circumstances. As Hunt returns to the office for a one-off job, it becomes Reid’s responsibility to keep him in check; a task which is easier said than done.

Jack Carlos is a sergeant-major with the Marine Corps’ Force Recon squadron. Tough, hard, and intelligent, he’s not a man who takes kindly to being used like a chess-piece. So when he and his second-in-command, Julio Gyle, are removed from war-torn Afghanistan and shipped home to the States for what at first seems like some kind of SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape) training, he’s understandably annoyed. Soon, he realises that this is not like any training exercise he’s ever partaken in. As the day becomes weirder and weirder, Carlos learns how far he’s willing to go to save his teammate and closest friend.

Julio Gyle is a master-sergeant in Force Recon. A fiery Puerto-Rican with a wit as sharp as the Swiss Army knife he carries, Gyle has been Carlos’ second-in-command for years, and the two have established an almost-telepathic friendship. Nothing can prepare him, however, for what lays ahead for both of them.


Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favourite quotes from (Dereliction of Duty)?

A: “I’m saying we stand a better chance of finding a homosexual in a brothel!” ~ Charles “Chad” Peterson, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.


Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

A: When I was seventeen years old, I read my first Tom Clancy novel. The book was brilliant, but I came up with what I believed was a better ending. That’s when I decided to start writing my first novel – a decade ago. Since then, I’ve finished six more, and rewritten one of them four times. They say you have to write a million words of crap before you get to the good stuff. It just so happens, I met my quota of a million words part-way through Dereliction of Duty!


Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

A: The only system I have is the old tried and tested “ass on seat, fingers on keyboard”. Barring some huge event, I write every day. Sometimes it could be a hundred words, other times five hundred. My most-productive day saw me write 20,031 words, starting at eight a.m. and finishing twelve hours later. My fingers hurt for three days afterwards. That was pure “in-the-zone” writing, though.


Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

A: Nothing’s easy about writing. I don’t treat it as a hobby. I treat it as though I were making a living from it. That makes it evermore harder. If you must have an easiest part, though, I’d say it’s writing the start to a novel. The hardest part is the ending. Tying up loose ends, keeping a level of suspense, perhaps throwing in an unbelievable twist, and then making them all link together to leave the reader with a satisfying ending is possibly the most exigent thing about being an author. For me, it’s also the most fulfilling.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

A: Authors like to say “write what you know”. I don’t believe in this, personally. There’s only so much any one person can know. That’s where research comes in. Probably the most interesting thing I’ve ever discovered whilst researching is the presence of multiple underground bases dotted throughout America. The fact that a lot of people are oblivious to them is even more fascinating.


Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

A: Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy. Because it’s set in the jungle, and I just love trekking through jungles. There’s a forest close to where I live. I go there most weeks – when the weather permits – and just sit for hours with a notebook, jotting down the next scenes and chapters for my latest novel. It’s like no other feeling in the world.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

A: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. It’s the novel that convinced me to start writing my own. No matter what other novels I read from now until I die, Rainbow Six will always be the one that launched my writing career.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that… I got an F in high school English.”

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Daniel.

Check out "Dereliction of Duty" by Daniel McKeown on sale now at Lulu!

On a side...Daniel is a Moderator (SamW) for the site www.writingforums.com and a long time friend of mine. Please feel free to visit...the Writing Forums are, in part, a great reason for my own personal writing growth and success!


Below is an excerpt from Daniel’s novel, Dereliction of Duty. Please read on!

Prelude

The Running Game


ST. PETERSBURG
RUSSIA
SUNDAY, JANUARY 5TH, 2003


The door crashed open, and a heavyset man stumbled into the stairwell. A briefcase fell from his hands and hit the concrete, sheaves of paper scattering from inside. Behind, in the hallway, the footfalls of approaching men grew louder.

Ignoring the startled cries of the fifth-floor patrons, the man unbuttoned his jacket and cast it aside on the stairs leading up. He discarded the briefcase, then closed and locked the door behind him.

Sweat poured into his eyes as he hit the fourth-floor landing, though it was not the product of exertion. Above, the door burst open again. The sound echoed through the stairway, accompanied by multiple voices shouting in Russian. They were arguing.

Good. His distraction had worked. Now came the hard part.

Even though his every instinct urged him to run down the last four flights, he knew they would catch him before he made it to the streets. He couldn’t afford to let that happen.
He slowed halfway down the third flight, paused for a moment to draw breath, and walked to the bottom. Once there, he stopped and wiped perspiration from his eyes. Two different echoes reverberated off the walls above. He didn’t have much time.

He found the door to the third floor unlocked and eased it open. Stepping into the corridor, he took in his surroundings with a quick glance. It was empty. The panic hadn’t spread to any of the lower floors – yet.

The concrete floor felt cold underneath his bare feet, and he realised for the first time since discarding the jacket that he was naked except for a pair of boxer shorts. He needed to blend in, he needed a phone, but most importantly he needed to find a way out of the building. It wouldn’t be long before they started searching floor by floor, and he had no doubt they’d find him when they did.

He continued down the hall and stopped at apartment three-fourteen. Pushing his ear up against the door, he listened for as long as he dared. The numbers three and fourteen had always been good omens for him throughout his life, and now was no different.

Confident that no-one was inside, he stepped back, checked the corridor again, and threw all of his two-hundred-plus pounds into the door. It gave a loud crack and splintered along the edges, but the deadlock held. He cursed, feeling the pain in his shoulder.

In the apartment next door, he heard the sound of a door opening. But worse than that, he could also hear the sharp cries of his pursuers echoing down the hallway.
They were closing in.

He didn’t stop to ask himself how they knew which floor he’d taken. Instead, he stepped back and threw all of his weight into the door in one last desperate attempt. The frame snapped and he tumbled into the room, hitting the floor hard. Wincing, he clambered back to his feet and closed the door against the shattered architrave.

He turned around and studied the room. It was small, maybe twelve foot by ten. Early morning light streamed in from the open curtains in the far corner. Strewn across the floor and bed were dozens of items of clothing, shoes, and old newspapers. A small desk was juxtaposed to the right of the bed, atop which was an old rotary-dial phone. A small door directly across from the foot of the bed led into an en suite. The layout was completely different from the fifth floor, but that didn’t matter. He wasn’t here to admire the aesthetics, though it looked like the owner had left in a hurry. Frowning, he sat down on the bed and opened all three of the desk’s drawers.

They were devoid of clothes.

Closing them, he began wondering if the owner’s hasty exit had some connection with the people after him. After all, no-one except his handler knew he lived here.
He stood, walked back to the door, and listened for any approaching noises. When he was happy that no one was near, he returned to the bed and dialled a number from memory. It belonged to Scott Harden, an old Marine buddy from years earlier who lived in Russia, and the only person he felt he could trust.

After eight rings a voice croaked, “Hello?”

“Scott? It’s Troy Davies.” When Harden didn’t offer any words of recognition, Davies continued, “You remember that favour you owe me? Well, I’m cashin’ in on it.” He gave Harden an address and asked him how quickly he could get there.

“Ten minutes, give or take. What the fuck are you doin’ in St. Petersburg?”

“Long story. When you get here, I’m gonna need a distraction.”

“Distraction? The fuck for?”

“I can’t walk out of my own accord. When you get here, pull the fire alarm. What are you drivin’?”

“Shitty white van. Trust me, you won’t miss it.”

“Park outside the front of the apartment block. And Scott?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks. I’ll owe you one now. Move your ass!”

Davies replaced the receiver, stood up, and walked to the door. Now that he had a way out, he wondered if Harden would get here before someone noticed the broken door.

* * *

The leader of the pursuers stepped into the third-floor corridor. With practised ease, he withdrew his nine-millimetre Makarov PM from its holster, affixed a suppressor, and edged down the corridor. Behind him, two men shadowed his every move. They watched in awe as he ambled down the hallway, his booted feet never making a sound on the concrete. They tried to match his gracefulness but only succeeded in looking like rash amateurs.

There were a total of thirty apartments, fifteen on each side. At the beginning and end of the hall, surveillance cameras recorded the comings and goings of the residents. The first one had already been disabled. The leader shielded his face from the second one, slipped in under its blind spot, and used his free hand to disconnect the power. He knew his target was on this floor, and he wanted to leave no evidence of his death.

He instructed the two men to start checking each door on the left, while he did likewise on the opposite side. When he came to apartment three-fourteen he noticed that the door wasn’t fully closed against the frame and daylight could be seen coming from inside. Signalling the others to take position behind, he reached out his hand and gently pushed . . . .

* * *

... As Davies watched the parking lot for Harden’s arrival, he noticed movement in his peripheral view. His head whipped around just as the door opened fully and the man he knew only as “The Butcher” stepped into the room, his gun levelled at Davies’ chest. Instinctively, Davies dropped to his knees. The staccato sounds of bullets resonated through the room. Behind, lumps of plasterboard exploded in clouds of dust. A white plume enveloped the room.

Davies couldn’t see. His right arm flew up and brushed away filament from his eyes. Where was The Butcher? Left. Right? Goddamnit! He could only hope the dust had blinded the Russian too.

Vision returned. Agonisingly. He saw shapes. Three of them. They were standing one behind the other, rubbing their eyes. He had to move now!

He sprung to his feet. The Butcher was rubbing his eyes frantically. The other men were holding position. It was now or never. Lowering his body and charging forward, Davies continued until he hit something solid.

The Butcher.

He toppled over like a bowling pin, falling backwards into the man behind him, who fell into the remaining man. Like a set of dominoes, all fell to the ground.

Davies leapt to his feet and retrieved a pistol. Without knowing why, he smashed it across The Butcher’s head. The terrorist groaned but stayed conscious. Davies pistol-whipped him again and was grateful to watch him slump to the floor. He took care of the other two in a similar manner, and had just stepped outside when the fire alarm began blaring.

It took him a minute to get to the parking lot and into the van. When he turned to face his old friend, Harden gave him a toothy smile and said, “So what’s all this commotion about?”

“Get me to an airport, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Lemons into Hard Lemonade...


(CLICK THE PIC TO READ MY REVIEW)

I recently received a “not so shiny” review for my novel, “To Stand with Angels”. Initially, I was devastated. The only thoughts in my head were, 1) “Where did it all go wrong?” and 2) “Oh dear Lord, it’s too late to fix it! My novel is going to flop before it even gets out of the publisher’s gate and I can’t even fix it.”

I’ll admit it. I cried like a baby for about half an hour. I cried because I gotten a bad review. I punched the wall… and then I cried because punching the wall hurt and I’d gotten a bad review.

But, then came hope. It showed up by way of an email from a writer colleague, who will here remain unnamed but shall forever be remembered. She said, “All authors must cope with not so stellar reviews.”

I was confounded. Have most authors gotten a bad review at some point in their writing career? Have they had to see the hard work of their hands criticized by someone who could have no idea how much love, devotion, and time they’d poured into each character, each scene of dialogue, each blessed kiss, moan, or sigh? Her words resonated with truth. Of course they had! It made perfect sense.

My revelation was; “Music is subjective. Art is subjective. Writing is subjective. Therefore, reading must also be subjective since, in its own way, it is an expression of personality and taste. No one person can please everyone, why should I be any different?”

I quickly returned to the critic’s webpage and re-read her review twice.

The first thing that I noticed was that only my plot device had been criticized. Not the setting, not the grammar, not the dialogue, not the construction of characters themselves, just the plot twist. She never even said I was a “bad writer”. Only that she didn’t like the end. And, as I finished her final, cringe-inducing conclusion, “So here is your warning. To Stand With Angels has a nice start, but an unfortunate ending…” another thought struck home.


Why was I so upset? I had done exactly what I’d wanted to do with my novel.

Sure, this particular reader’s reaction was not what I’d been shooting for, but my plot had achieved its desired effect. I had intended the book to make a complete 180 half-way through (the idea taken, in part, from Quentin Tarrantino’s “From Dusk ‘til Dawn”).

I had intended it to seem like a normal, western romance, only to be torn from its comfy little world of reality and plunged into a demonic chaos about ten chapters in. That was why I had written a western/paranormal/horror romance in the first place. And here I was crying because, basically, I was told my book had done exactly what I wanted it to do. A-MAZ-ing. Can I really find complaint with that? Heck no!

In conclusion, I have this to say to my beloved fellow authors. You will never write a novel that makes every reader happy. You may never write a novel that makes a majority of the readers happy. You may never even write a novel that makes one hundred people happy…

BUT, if you succeed in writing your vision, if you succeed in making yourself happy, then there will always be one reader who loves your work no matter what. YOU!

And that’s how you make hard lemonade out of lemons… Here's to all us authors who've gotten a "less than stellar" book review. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Personal taste never tasted so good.

Cheers!

CJ

Monday, May 17, 2010

Please join me in welcoming Maeve Alpin today!


CJ: Hi, Maeve! It’s great to have you here today. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us for a bit.


Q: Well, obviously, your novel, AS TIMELESS AS STONE is the main reason you’re here today. What can you tell us about this exciting new release?

The purpose of this erotica/steampunk/romance is to sweep you away from the cares and woes of the real world as you share Seshat and Ricard’s rousing adventure spanning Ancient Egypt to 1830’s Parris. I’ve mixed the science of early Egyptology with the imaginative inventions of steam robots, a horseless carriage, and a time travel device from a pocket watch along with ancient Egyptian magic. It’s spiced up with the romance of a dashing 1830 French Egyptologist, Ricard, and an ancient Egyptian priestess, Seshat. They meet when Ricard repairs a broken statue and reads its incantation which transforms Seshat from stone back into a gorgeous flesh and blood woman. Seshat is drawn to the brass robots Ricard creates and the glamour of the Victorian age, and most of all to Ricard himself. But the society of his day cannot accept a woman like her. How far will Ricard go to secure her happiness? Is their love strong enough to transcend time itself?

Q: I think everyone, including me, wants to know more about the Main Characters in your novel. Can you give us a description of them?

Ricard is an 18th century Paris gentleman, but underneath his top hat lies a mop of blond hair and the hard muscles of his chest and shoulders fill out his dark frock coat. You can feel the masculine heat radiating from his body as you peer into his piercing blue eyes.

Seshat is an ancient Egyptian priestess. A tall, alluring woman with smooth, golden skin and shiny ebony hair falling to her narrow waist. The defined bone structure of her oval face appears chiseled by the finest artist and thin black lines of kohl rim her brown, almond shaped eyes.

Q: Do your characters have any fun habits or memorable flaws? Can you tell us a little about them?

Seshat has a hard time adjusting to 19th century Parisian fashions. She’s happy with a chemise but can’t understand why you would add anything to it, much less layers of petticoats followed by a dress. Also as a priestess she has some taboos and one of them is wearing anything that comes from an animal, such as wool. This causes a problem. There is a scene in the story where Seshat throws off all her clothes except for the chemise and runs down the Champs Élysée as Ricard, the couturier, and the police prefect all give chase.

Ricard’s quirk is he’s bothered by the drudgery and hard lives of servants and the working class so he tinkers with brass and steam engines. He invented two brass robots, who help his cook with al l household tasks though they have trouble going through doors and entrance ways, they both try to squeeze through together. The cook and Seshat find the brass men to be very noisy. The cook has told Ricard on many occasions to not even think about replacing her with a brass robot.

Q: What makes your characters unique? Why will we fall in love with them?

I’m so glad you asked. Seshat loves reading and writing, she’s a lector priestess and works in the temple library, studying ancient tablets and writing magic spells. When Egypt’s enemies the Hyksos create a new war machine called a chariot, and speed toward the temple to attack, she conjures a spell, turning into stone to avoid rape and capture. She’s sure her soldier friend will turn her back when he arrives with Pharos army but he doesn’t find her as her head has been chopped off. She is finally transformed back, centuries later by Ricard in 1830 Paris, when he places her head on her shoulders and reads the incantation held in her hands. How can you not love a strong woman with magical powers who so resiliently transforms not only form stone to flesh but from ancient Egypt t to 19th century Paris. Ricard tinkers with robots and horseless carriages to help relive the burden of hard labor on the working class. He is very intelligent and educated as he is an Egyptologist and works with Jean Francois Champollion who is attributed with translating the Rosetta stone. He is a free thing ma that doesn’t thing Seshat should have to conform to 19th century society’s rules.

Q: I am a fan of memorable quotes. Do you have any favorites from AS TIMELESS AS STONE?

“I tell you all the time, you will never be able to replace me with a brass and steam
contraption.” Charlotte the cook

“This is the dress the strange woman gave me. There is nothing indecent about it. In Egypt
the poor do not even wear clothes save for loincloths.” Seshat

“You are earth and I am sky.” Seshat

“But we know marvels are possible. Look at Seshat. She turned to stone and her head was
chopped off by a Hyksos blade, yet she is alive and well and here with us.” Ricard

“If that means risking my life to go to a place where we can be together then I will gladly do so.” Ricard

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to write?

The Celtic Warrior Queen Boudicca made me start writing. I love history and in reading a book about the dark ages I came across Boudicca. I was so impressed by her, I started jotting down notes, but they were fiction, about how I envisioned it to have happened. Before I knew it, I had written a rough draft for a novel. What inspired me to write As Timeless as Stone was a day dream I had, a missing head was placed back on the neck of a statue which then came to life. I thought now there’s the beginning of a story and As Timeless As Stone was born.

Q: Is there one particular thing you have to do in order to “get in the groove” before/during writing?

If I am having trouble concentrating at a particular time then I will do things to put myself in the groove, listen to music, meditate, burn scented candles.


Q: If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you be? Why?

I would be Aladin so I could grant three wishes. Why not?


Q: If your book were made into a movie, who would direct it?

I would say Mel Gibson, he’s done a good job with historical films. Everyone loves Braveheart.


Q: Ok, one last question before we let you go today, Maeve. Finish this sentence in a way that best describes you: “People who be surprised to know that…” I have a six year old granddaughter. Everyone says I’m too young.


CJ: I want to thank you, again, for visiting with us today, Maeve. Before you go, I’m sure you want to give us a little excerpt of your novel and some links to were our readers can find out more about you and AS TIMELESS AS STONE.



Excerpt:


Ricard stepped back as his gaze devoured the entire woman, though stiff and lifeless. The stone looked like lush, sun-warmed skin. Her oval face was darkand delicate, with full, rosy lips. He admired her long lithe body, clad in asheer, white, sleeveless dress, held up only by two delicate linen shoulderstraps. He longed to roam his fingers and lips over her high perched breast andthe thin waist which flared into curved hips and lithe thighs. Then, down to her pretty legs and her slender feet garbed in white papyrus sandals, of the station she depicted, an Egyptian priestess of the Middle Kingdom. He drank in her beauty, then he noticed the ornament lying in the valley between her breasts, a thick ankh of gold hung from a chain. His fingers absently tried to grab hold of the necklace but it was only part of the statue, no matter how real it seemed.
"What is this?" He looked at the plaque in the statue's stone hands, heldbeneath the ankh. The last hieroglyphic depicted the symbol for life, an ankh,held up to the woman's nose. Ricard read it silently, sounding it out, Nce xarpwt pwwne Ab etoot abrem... Toujo Abrem etoot pwwne ab... xarp wt au ai ankh qe,and translated it under his breath. "God Horus, as you turned my flesh to stone... God Horus, save me, make me whole...change my stone to flesh...give me the nose breath of life, once more."
The room vibrated and an unnatural wind swirled within. Ricard's hair stood on end, but he could not tear his eyes away from the statue. He grabbed the ankh,and this time it gave way, lifting from the statue's chest. The curiosity that drove him as a scientist, as an Egyptologist, caught hold and as strange as this all seemed, he felt he had come this far, he had to see it through. Laying the ankh against the statue's small nose, Ricard acted out the last hieroglyphic on the plaque.He shuddered at the sound of a gush of breath. A flash of light struck inside the room. The shock knocked the breath out of him.
The statue moved, but she wasn't stone anymore. Jean François gasped and stepped back. Ricard couldn't move. It's a living, breathing woman. He dropped the ankh and it fell against her chest, which now rose and fell with heaving breaths. Ricard managed to step back on shaky legs. He gaped at her, unable to think or speak. Alive. The priestess shrieked. Her brown eyes glowed with anger.
"Come near me you Hyksos cobra, and you will die!" she warned in Old Egyptian.



Links:
Maeve's Webpage
Book trailer: As Timeless as Stone
Buy Link: Lyrical Press

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hello, Mary Corrales!



CJ: Hi, Mary. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!


Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about Dhampir Passions?

Well, it’s a paranormal erotic romance with a futuristic setting. I love genre mixing. It’s exciting to put vampires in the future, especially the future I’ve created that takes place after a world-wide nuclear war.


Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?

Absolutely. It all started with a man whose life story seemed to be missing from history. A single reference to the brother of Vlad Dracula had me obsessing about this mysterious man. So I named this man Raduslav and gave him a second chance in life.


Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

Raduslav Dracula is a half-blood vampyr and as sexy as they come, but his past now dictates his future. He’s searching for the Draculesti Bloodstone, a family heirloom which must be recovered at all cost. He meets Linea Kamiya, a simple farmer, bitten by the evil vamp lord, Desmondi, who hires Radu to save her from Desmondi, while doing her best to keep her farm from the townsfolk of Whickeup who are trying to steal it from her. This futuristic world is not an easy place for women.


Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

I was in my early twenties and after reading hundreds of romance novels wanted to try my hand at creating my own heros, heroines and worlds. I’ve never regretted it.


Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

I typically listen to hard rock music while writing. Sometimes I’ll play a particular song to help me really get into a scene. I’ll sometimes suck hard candy while writing, but that’s usually If I get stuck on a scene. Don’t ask me why this works but it does.


Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

The easiest part about writing is creating the heroes. Somehow they’re always very clear to me. The hardest is writing the synopsis and blurb. I’m not good at summarizing.


Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

I needed a disgusting creature in one scene and came across a reference for a Helminth. This is actually an intestinal worm, but in my world I’ve mutated it into a giant leech. It’s grossly cool.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

Other than Dhampir Passions, any romance novel that I could spend some alone time with the sexy hero of the book. Lol. Actually, I’d love to pop into Heather Kuehl’s Fade to Black book because she’s got some truly intriguing werewolves and vampires in that story.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

Kathleen Morgan’s Demon Prince. That was the very first paranormal romance novel that I ever read. I’ve loved the genre ever since.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that …” If I could I’d leave my Christmas decorations up year-round. I just love the sparkly lights and the happy atmosphere.” Hope your readers don’t think I’m weird. Lol.

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Mary. I would invite all our guests to check out Dhampir Passions by Mary Corrales on sale now at Fictionwise.com

Below is an excerpt from Mary’s novel, Dhampir Passions. Please read on!

They walked down a short tunnel and emerged at another set of stairs that wound down through a huge stone silo. The hole in the middle discouraged any wrong moves off the stairwell.

“I can’t even see the bottom where the stairs end,” Linea whispered, afraid her voice might echo. “It might take us hours to get to the bottom, and by then the sunset will be closing in on us.”

He turned to her, his gaze steady and sure. He silently lifted her off the ground, ignoring her small squeak of alarm. “Wrap your legs around my waist.”

Wide-eyed and aghast, she did as he said, not enjoying having her body dangle in mid-air. She settled against him, noticing how close it brought their mouths. His lips looked soft and inviting.

“Hang on tight to me and I’ll get us to the bottom.”

Fear replaced budding desire. Did Dhampirs truly have such incredible strength that he believed they would survive?

His slim fingertips brought her chin up until their eyes met. “You won’t be harmed.”

You can check out her other erotica stories or contact her through her website: http://www.authormaryc.com/

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cate Masters is here with us today!




CJ: I want to offer a warm "Hello" to Cate Masters. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today, Cate. We’re excited to have you here!

Thanks so much for having me here, CJ! It’s a real pleasure.

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about Fever Dreams?

A: I had a blast writing Fever Dreams, a contemporary novel with fantasy/dream sequences. Diana and Cal are both flawed characters who become stronger after meeting. They challenge and encourage each other, as the best relationships will. Their feelings grow so strong, both become overwhelmed and have to step away, but that, too, is a good thing in the end.

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?

A: Initially, a caption beneath a photo in the New York Times intrigued me. I can’t remember it exactly, but it had to do with Valentine’s Day cards, and Valentine’s Day figures prominently in Fever Dreams. I wrote it almost twenty years ago, and it began as a much shorter story but through revisions, I fleshed out the characters and scenes until it became a short novel. The title incorporates several layers of meaning – dreams of following your goals to achieve happiness, as well as dreams of finding the person who’s right for you, in addition to the literal fantasy dreams that haunt Diana after meeting Cal.

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

A: Ah, well – Cal is very sexy. :) He’s also very moody, as poets can be, but the poetry he writes for Diana melts her heart. And he helps Diana realize her own talents as a photographer. She’s very talented but has no self-confidence until she meets Cal. She also learns to recognize what’s best for her, what’s detrimental and most importantly, how to stand up for herself.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from Fever Dreams?

A: Hm, that’s a toughie. How about a line of poetry that Cal wrote for Diana:
Let me feel your softness, your hardness,
let me explore every mountain and valley,
every shadow and light
of your body—
the embodiment of your soul,
so kindred to mine.


Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

A: I began writing poetry at about ten. My friends and I all exchanged poetry, which we thought would become song lyrics. Sadly, none of us ever had a music career – for good reason! We were weird little kids who sang Beatles songs during recess instead of playing. Anyway, I turned to fiction in my twenties, mostly short stories. I never thought I could write a novel, but now have written about seven, so it just goes to show you, you never know until you try.


Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

A: There’s a writer’s saying for it, something like: Sit in Chair and Place Fingers on Keyboard. That’s really the only trick I know. The only way to write is to sit and do it. And then revise at least three times on my own before sending it to critique partners, after which I’ll revise it another time or two to polish it up before submitting.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

A: Easiest are ideas – my muse is overactive and throws far too many ideas at me to follow through on. The hardest part is revision, but I know that’s where the real story comes out, so I do it.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

A: When my family and I visited Key West, Florida, the history of the wreckers intrigued me so much, I knew I had to write about them. These incredible men saved so many shipwrecked people without benefit of diving equipment and under the worst conditions. I’m now in edits for Angels, Sinners and Madmen, which will release from Freya’s Bower hopefully next month.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

A: I’d love to tag along with Mark Twain while he wrote his travelogue, Following the Equator. Not only was he a great writer, but his quick wit would have made the trip one to remember, in addition to the amazing places he traveled to. I always felt I was born in the wrong century anyway.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

A: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read it when I was 13, and it just knocked my socks off. The worldbuilding amazed me, though at the time it just seemed like a complex story (the downside of being a writer is that I recognize those things now when I read). It hooked me on fantasy, which has now evolved to urban fantasy, which I absolutely love.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that I…

A: …have a black sense of humor.” It’s genetic, my entire family suffers from it. :)

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Cate. I would invite all our guests to check out Fever Dreams by Cate Masters on sale now at ETERNAL PRESS .

Thanks again for having me, CJ!

Below is an excerpt from Cate’s novel, Fever Dreams. Please read on!


Cocking his jaw, he scanned the room. “Last weekend, I called your apartment about twenty times.” His short laugh revealed his embarrassment.
“I moved,” she stammered. So that’s what he tried to tell her that morning when Jack interrupted.
He flicked his gaze to hers. “I know… now.”
“I didn’t realize.” What an idiot she’d been. “I disconnected my answering machine.” Trying to avoid Adam’s calls.
The ring of her cell phone interrupted. Adam’s name showed in the display. So much for her avoidance techniques. She sent the call to voicemail.
By his forcibly dissolved grin, he must have deduced the caller had been Adam.
She had to cut to the quick. She knit her brow. “Look, I don’t play games.” Losing had grown tiresome.
“Me either,” he quickly agreed, the image of sincerity.
If only he didn’t look so good—his hair uncombed, the layers tousled. His steely blue eyes piercing hers. “Why are you here? You said you don’t want to get involved with a coworker.”
He slid toward her. “I said I was hesitant to get involved.”
“No, no, no.” To put distance between them, she stood and paced in front of the table. “I distinctly remember your exact words. You said you did not want to be involved. And, it’s probably the best solution.” She stopped and folded her arms, avoiding his gaze. Until he spoke in that deep, low voice that reached inside, twined around her spine. Made her yearn to open herself as never before.
“Maybe I was wrong.” He spoke slowly. Deliberately. “Maybe I didn’t know how much I wanted you.”
A shiver ran through her, and she could barely respond. “Oh.”
Narrowing his eyes, he studied her. “You scare me.”
“Scare is probably not an adequate word for what you do to me.” She wouldn’t be able to articulate how he made her feel—unlike her usual self, but more like her true self than ever. As if his presence uncovered her core.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"To Stand with Angels" On Sale Now!

"For seven years, she's fought her demons. Now, a stranger has arrived and the real battle is about to begin..."

In the wild Wyoming Territory, controlled by an evil cattle baron and his outlaw’s guns, one woman is hiding from her horrific crime and one man is seeking revenge. But when a deadly stranger comes to town, Evil takes on a terrifying new face. Now hiding is no longer an option and a revolver cannot kill the supernatural presence that is waiting in the dark city to claim the souls of those foolish enough to stand against it....

The eBook available at Eternal Press

Print version available at
Amazon Books

Sign My Guestbook for a chance to win a FREE pdf copy of "To Stand with Angels" All enteries made 5/9-5/15/10 will be entered into a drawing to win!