Sunday, May 31, 2015

Contemporary Romance Author Marianne Rice on Multitasking, Real-Life HEAs, and those Delicious McKay-Tucker Men

Today I am thrilled to welcome my fellow Liquid Silver author Marianne Rice to my blog for a cup of tea and a chat! Marianne is the author of the McKay-Tucker Men series and a real-life superwoman! A full-time teacher, a mom to an active family, and a survivor of multiple mud runs and obstacle courses (that she did voluntarily...for fun!), Marianne still finds the time to write sexy contemporary romances for us to enjoy. Here's your chance to get to know her before Joss Whedon inevitably casts her in the next Avengers movie (as herself, of course). Read our interview, pick up one of her books (or three!), and tell all of your friends that you saw her here first! 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Marianne Rice!

Tea With Marianne Rice

What are you drinking?

I know most writers (okay, humans) drink coffee, but I’ve never been a fan. I love the smell but never acquired the taste. In the morning I drink Yogi Green Tea Detox. This makes up for the wine and vodka I drink at night ☺

You’re a teacher! I know a lot of teachers who want to write and quite a few writers who would like to teach – do you think the two careers can co-exist? 

I think any careers can co-exist, but teaching actually gives me more time to write than a traditional 9-5 job would. Sure, I bring stacks of paper home, but I do get summers off and a smattering of vacation weeks here and there. I use those chunks of time to bang out my writing. I use my “non-writing” time to think about my stories.

You have had three books come out in the past year! How do you find time to write? 

Well, I wrote the McKay-Tucker Men series years ago and finally found some time to actively pursue publishing. I love to write; the query and synopsis writing are not fun so I procrastinated on those and built my stack of manuscripts. I actually wrote seven books before getting published!

What do you do in your time off? Do you get time off? 

I guess it depends how you look at it. Does a stay-at-home mom have ‘time off’? Nope. When I’m not working I’m home with my three kiddos. I love them to pieces but wish I could send them off somewhere for a few weeks. In the summer I write a lot and read a lot. In the sun. It’s pretty much all I do while the kids play and splash in the pool. Yeah, I made that sound like paradise. In reality, I’m up every ten minutes breaking up a fight, making a snack, cleaning up a spill, doing laundry, or grounding someone. Sometimes myself. I like to lock myself away in my room. The kids leave me alone then because they know they have free reign of the house…until someone starts fighting.

For fun, our family loves to go camping and hiking and biking. We’re fortunate to live by a lake and spend a lot of time on my brother-in-law’s boat in the summer, or camping on a deserted island off the shores of Maine. Fun! When the weather isn’t suitable for the outdoors I love to bake. And eat. To compensate, I also enjoy running in obstacle courses. I’ve done the Tough Mudder twice (12 miles and 15+ obstacles. So. Much. Fun), the Rugged Maniac, and some local Mud Runs. I love getting dolled up and wearing my ‘ho shoes, but I can get down and dirty as well.

You have lived in some very different places in your life so far! Do you think the change of perspective has had any effect on your writing?

I’m a California girl by birth, and my family still lives out there, but I absolutely love the calmness of Maine. I have a beautiful view of the White Mountains from my living room couch, and am fortunate to see the most breathtaking sunsets. However, I tend to act like a city girl. I love fashion, killer shoes, and snobby drinks. City life is fun for a girl’s night out, but not for a happily ever after…well, for my HEA (no offense to you city girls who are happy in love!)

You’re based in Maine now, but if you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Honestly? Nowhere. I wouldn’t mind traveling a little more (I’m bi-coastal. Our vacations consist of Maine, New Hampshire and California), but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I feel blessed to have it all. Four seasons (the snow has melted so I can say this now), gorgeous views, oceans, lakes, mountains. I’m an outdoorsy girl who hates traffic. There’s nowhere else for me.

False Impressions, the third book in your McKay-Tucker Men series, is coming out at the end of June already! What can you tell us about it?

A mother isn’t supposed to have a favorite child (I do, but it depends on the day…it’s constantly changing), and an author isn’t supposed to have a favorite book, but since I’m new to all this, I can break the rules, right? Cole Tucker is my kind of guy. He’s a goof, a flirt, a family guy, but he’s hurting inside. He cracked me up so many times throughout the series, and I fell in love with him more and more with each book and each edit. He has a huge wake up call at the end of False Hope, and starts off in False Impressions in a pretty bad place. Then he meets Samantha Chase, a widow and single mom. So not his type. Yeah, right.

Tell me about these McKay-Tucker men! 

The three brothers are very different: In False Start Connor McKay is a retired NFL player, hurt by a gold digger, and surprised to fall in love again. Especially with a woman who detests athletes; In False Hope Mason Tucker is shy and insecure, and most content in front of his computer screen. He’s a protector, but doesn’t know it until Emma needs protecting; Cole Tucker steals our hearts in False Impressions with his humor and never taking life seriously approach, until single mom and widow Sam walks into his life. The women in the brothers’ lives compliment them and fulfill an emptiness none of them knew they had.


Some authors like to write certain types of characters, or they’re partial to specific themes or subjects. Although it’s still early in your career, do you think there are any signature features that make a Marianne Rice romance? 

An editor once told me, “You do men well.” Well, thank you very much! I love writing about family dynamics, especially from the men’s POV. I’ve always been comfortable hanging out with men, enjoying their humor, their flirting, their (limited) serious sides. I try to incorporate real drama into my light-hearted contemporary romances. In the McKay-Tucker Men series characters deal with rape, teenage pregnancy, diabetes, stalking, alcoholism, and death. Geesh. Sounds morbid, but these are issues that most people face in some way, shape or form, and I want to show how life can continue and be fulfilling—and fun—even when devastation hits.

What can we expect from you and the McKay-Tucker Men in the future? 

Sadly, False Impressions ends this series, but expect to see the Wilde Sister on your ereader by the end of this year, or early in 2016.

You're amazing! Where can we find out more about you and your books? 

All my books can be found on my Amazon author page hereI love connecting with readers and writers. You can find me on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarianneRiceaut
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarianneRice
Pinterest: https//www.pinterest.com/mariannericeaut
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariannericeaut

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meet Solomon Peate from Mariana Gabrielle's New Multicultural Regency Romance, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Interview & Giveaway

I am delighted to welcome Mariana Gabrielle to my blog today with a character interview and excerpt from her exciting new multicultural Regency romance, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. I love unusual historicals, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this book. Check out this character interview, read the excerpt, RSVP to the Facebook launch part (we're all invited!), and enter the incredible giveaway below for a chance to win yourself a copy and plenty of other great prizes. Enjoy!

An Interview with Solomon Peate, the affianced of Miss Kali Matai, The Black Goddess


Once the news broke that Mr. Solomon Peate was the betrothed of Kali Matai, La Déesse Noire, it did not take long for newspapermen to begin seeking him out—at least, those who would speak to him face-to-face. He was now no stranger to the gossip columns; had he known the identity of Madame Cancanier of the Teatime Tattler, he might have choked the life out of her himself.

His words might yet be taken out of context before this was done, but at least he was looking Peter Dunstable of the Daily Badger in the eyes while they spoke. It was pleasant, all things considered, to be addressed directly. Or so he had thought.

DB: It has been reported in other publications that you are betrothed to Miss Kali Matai, The Black Goddess. Is that true?
SP: It is.
DB: Is she not a… er… well…
SP: A courtesan?
DB: Well, yes. I suppose that is what I mean to ask.
SP: She is, on occasion, though not currently. In the main, she is a dancer.
DB: And does that not bother you? That she would…
SP: Perhaps you have not seen her perform at the Broomstraw Theatre in Cheapside, but I assure you, given the chance, a man might suffer any indignity for an evening with her. I imagine once we marry, she will leave off both occupations.
DB: But—
SP: Asked and answered. You may move on to the next topic in your little book.
DB: Er… how did you meet Miss Matai?
SP: We have lived across the hall from one another for almost ten years, and began as nothing more than friends. Our… our love came much later.
DB: Across the hall? In the building owned by Mayuri Falodiya? The woman who owns the… the Masala Rajah?
SP: She is the woman to whom the rent is paid.
DB: But she is a—
SP: A businesswoman.
DB: It is alleged you and Miss Matai are hiding an illegitimate child.
SP: That is not something either of us would do.
DB: When can our readers expect your wedding to be announced?
SP: Announced? I find it unlikely anyone will wish to be informed of the progression of our intimate affairs.
DB: There have been allegations… Nothing I, personally, would ask, you understand, but some have said… Perhaps you would like to refute… ahem… it is said that Lord Newry is… that you are… well…
SP: That we are sharing her favors?
DB: Er…
SP: Should you wish to take that up with Lord Newry, I’m certain the viscount would be delighted to answer. As his secretary, I am well-placed to arrange a meeting. No? Then presumably, the subject shall remain a mystery.
DB: Are you… then… are you… friends with Lord Newry?
SP: I believe we have come to the end of this interview. Thank you so much for your time. I do hope you will recall my employer’s influence on the Printers and Publishers Act while you are setting type.

To find out more about Kali’s betrothed, pick up La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, available now at a special pre-order price of 99ȼ.


La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess
By Mariana Gabrielle
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Multicultural Romance
Heat Rating: R for sensual content

Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.

When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | ARe | Smashwords | Goodreads

Author Bio


Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym of Mari Christie, a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience. Published in dozens of nonfiction and poetry periodicals since 1989, she began writing mainstream historical fiction in 2009 and Regency romance in 2013. In all genres, she creates deeply scarred characters in uncommon circumstances who overcome self-imposed barriers to reach their full potential. She is a member of the Bluestocking Belles, the Writing Wenches, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014.


You're invited! 
Come to the Facebook Launch Party on June 10, from noon - 8 pm EDT. RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1423746821261258/

Excerpt

She had chosen a Persian-blue, gossamer-silk sari shot with gold threads for their first night together, which brought out blue-black candlelight in her upswept hair and the sparks of escalating need in her eyes. The shift and choli beneath the sari were also sheer, offering hints of her hidden treasures, not detracting from his never-quite-fulfilled view of her succulent skin. The tiny bells tinkling along the edges of the yards of fabric wrapping her body, the music of the bangles she wore on her ankles and wrists, were as fairy dust clouding his senses. He couldn’t keep his eyes from tracking hers, even in the face of the rest of her glorious body.

As she sang slow, ancient ballads of tenderness and yearning, twisting her limbs in the steps of the mujara, she allowed the drape of the sari to drift over his legs, his shoulders, his face, his throat, never following with the weight of her flesh. She slid her skin, even her fingertips, only against the cool water of the loose, translucent silk, but kept herself between his eyes and the few candles lighting the room, so he could always see the outline of her slender form, sinuously inviting his touch, moving away any time his hands twitched.

She lifted her knee and bared foot over his shoulder and shook the bangles circling her trim ankle, leaving him to envision her inner thighs behind his head, still never touching his fevered body. He couldn’t help his mouth moving to taste the smooth skin of her calf, inhaling the scent of sandalwood, the trace of jungle rain. Her sharp intake of breath was like food to him, though she quickly moved to tantalize from a few feet away.

She hummed the haunting melody as she removed each pin from her hair, letting them drop onto the Turkish carpet, arms drawn up, full breasts and hardened nipples moving with each breath beneath the silk. Not one strand of her coiffure fell out of place until the entire thick length dropped to her waist like an ell of heavy satin. Moving toward him again, her long hair draped across his shoulders, falling around his face as though holding at bay the world around them, filling his senses with forests and spices and the music of mysterious ancients.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Historical Romance Author Amy Quinton on the Regency, Humor in Romance, and The Agents of Change


Tea with Amy Quinton


What are you drinking? 

Sweet tea (iced). Yeah, I’m from the South… lol

What can you tell us about What the Duke Wants

What the Duke Wants is about a duke who falls in love with an inappropriate woman – a woman from trade. This is a problem because during Regency times, a duke cannot simply ignore the rules of society and take a woman outside of his social class to wife. Especially, if said man is already tasked with restoring his tarnished family name. 

Oh, and if the woman he is falling in love with also happens to be his fiancée’s cousin…? Yikes. ☺

As our duke fights his desire for this woman, he grows more frustrated, jealous, and angry over the fact that he, with all his power and wealth, cannot have what he wants. The result is that every time he tries to behave honorably, he ends up behaving dishonorably instead. It isn’t until he learns to be true to himself, that he can find his honor, peace, happiness, and… love.

Our heroine is quite strong, but she is also kind and sensitive. People are cruel to her, yet she maintains her kindness and honor throughout her ordeal. You see, she has a plan for her future, and she is determined to make it happen. She intends to go into business for herself.

Our heroine’s strength is a different kind of strength from your typical kick ass heroine – but no less valid and admirable. Our heroine also tends to be a bit of klutz, which results in some rather humorous situations in the story.

On top of all of that, we have spies (our duke is an agent for the crown), assassins, a secret society (of bad guys), jealous antagonists, and lovable secondary characters that really make for a well-rounded story.

What draws you to the Regency period?  

I love the Regency period because I love settings that are quite removed from my own reality. When I read, it is to escape to another world and Regency fills that bill for me quite nicely. I realize it’s a romanticized view of the time period, but hey, it’s fantasy. 

However, I must admit I like to see my heroes and heroines take a bit of a modern attitude for the times – it allows me to connect with them in a more meaningful way while still taking me to that fantasy world I adore. I firmly believe there were plenty of sassy Regency women who snubbed the rules.

I also love England. I’ve been there many times… my husband is from there, so reading books that take place in England or Scotland really speaks to my heart. 

Finally, I love the clothing of the time period and the way the people connect with each other considering there are no telephones, much less smartphones and Facebook. There’s something to be said for delayed gratification.

You’ve said that your English mother-in-law reviewed What the Duke Wants while you were writing it. I was so worried about what my mother-in-law would think of Tyburn! What was that experience like?  

That was a crazy, wonderful experience. My mother in law is not a fan or romance at all. So I thought, if I can survive her critical review of the book, I can survive just about anything…lol. 

She was here for three months, and we spent hours talking plot points on my back porch... Till she almost wanted to run and hide every time I walked outside (to see her) with a certain contemplative look on my face. And in return, I would tease her with “You remember, you were there…” whenever I questioned her about historical facts, places, or English phrases. lol

In the end, we finished with our relationship intact, which is good.

How important do you think humor is in romance? 

Ah, humor… The ‘funny’ thing about humor is that I’m not actually a very funny person in reality, though I wish I had that skill. Still, I find humor incredibly important – not just in romance, but in any genre. My favorite books are those that make me laugh out loud.

Laughter reduces stress; I believe that’s universally agreed upon. So, my goal is to include humor in every book I write. 

Some authors like to stick to writing a certain kind of heroine, or they’re partial to specific themes or subjects. Although it’s still early in your career, do you think there are any signature features that make an Amy Quinton romance?  

LOL – an Amy Quinton romance. Well, I do not intend to stick to a certain kind of heroine. At all. My goal is to explore as many different personality types and backgrounds as I possibly can through my books. I must admit, I do tend to lean toward pairing people with their opposite. In my first book, my heroine is unusually nice and my hero is almost a bit mean – yet you still feel for him if you can learn to empathize with his frustration at the unfairness of his situation. In my second book, I’ve taken a female antagonist – one everyone hates – and paired her with the most charming, sexiest, laid-back character ever written ;) – My heroine in book 2 is absolutely nothing like my heroine in book 1. The men are very different, too. Because of this, you’ll find that my second book is quite different from the first – from the writing to the number of sex scenes to the dialogue. 

Overall, I hope every Amy Quinton romance brings you to laugh, cry (a bit), and catch your breath with love. But most of all, I believe that what you should expect most in an Amy Quinton romance – is the unexpected. I hope no two book will ever be alike. 

Are there any other places or periods you’d like to set your books in in the future?  

I do intend to look into Scotland. Scotland speaks to me on a level I can scarce explain. I love it there… the scenery, the people, the culture… They take my breath away. 

I do want to look into Paranormal Historical. And I have considered looking into an antebellum series to take place in my hometown of Charleston, SC – a place steeped with its own magic, mystery, and history.

What the Duke Wants has been very well-received and is already a bestseller! What was it like when you got the news? Did you do anything special to celebrate?  

It’s been somewhat surreal; I must admit. Honestly, we didn’t do anything special as it sort of just crept up on me. For the longest time, I simply couldn’t believe it. I mean it’s what we hope for, as writers, but… I was just honored and stunned and in a strange way, humbled, by the support of the romance community. 

I’ve heard a little about What the Marquess Sees and I’m already so excited to read it. Can you tell us about it? 

What the Marquess Sees – I adore this story. I’ve started getting feedback from my beta readers and I think I’ve pulled off the unthinkable – making a strong, and well hated antagonist into a likable and dare I say it, lovable, character. It scares me a little because the book is quite different from the first – and because I’m writing this antagonist/bad girl for a man who is universally loved by everyone who read my first book – Dansbury.

Book 2, with only a little overlap, essentially picks up where book 1 ends and considers the premise: Does the end justify the means?

The Marquess of Dansbury is an agent for the crown tasked with keeping safe the one person in the world he actively disdains, Lady Beatryce Beckett. She has information that puts her life in jeopardy, and he must see her to safety – if he doesn’t kill her first. Or fall in love with her. 

Lady Beckett is mean – and that’s an understatement. She has a long and unfortunate past, one that has shaped her character and driven her to behave the way she does.

In What the Marquess Sees, I do not attempt to pretend that Lady Beatryce’s past misdeeds are anything but deliberate. Yes, Lady B knew what she was doing and she has no regrets. We may not agree with her methods, but she is a fighter – a survivor. 

The Marquess of Dansbury might be the one man in all the world who is capable of seeing beneath the surface to the person of worth within Lady Beatryce Beckett.

Besides our primary love story, we have the continuation of our mystery – our assassin from book one returns and turns out to be someone completely unexpected. We also have new traitors and of course, the return of some of our lovable secondary characters from book 1.

What’s next for you and The Agents of Change?  

Book 3 will follow our gruff Scotsman, Alastair MacLeod and an American heroine introduced in Book 2, Miss Barbara Hughes. Then, two more books will follow before we reach the conclusion of the mystery surrounding our team of agents… for a total of five books. Further books with these characters may be forthcoming; we’ll see how things unfold.



What the Duke Wants
Agents of Change, Book 1
Author: Amy E. Quinton
Genre: Romance - Adult, Regency, Historical
Length: 320 pages / 92,000 words
EBook ISBN: 978-1-62210-184-9
Print Book ISBN: 1503304698 
ISBN13: 978-1503304697

England 1814:  Upstanding duke desperately seeks accident-prone wife from trade…

She is from trade. He is a duke and an agent for the crown with a name to restore and a mystery to solve. Miss Grace (ha!) Radclyffe is an oftentimes hilariously clumsy, 20-year-old orphan biding her time living with her uncle until she is old enough to come into her small inheritance. Much to her aunt’s chagrin:

She isn’t:


  • Reserved – not with her shocking! tendency to befriend the servants…
  • Sophisticated – highly overrated if one cannot run around barefoot outside…
  • Graceful – she once flung her dinner into a duke’s face… on accident, of course.

But she is:


  • Practical – owning a fashion house is in her future; unless someone foils her plans…
  • In love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

The Duke of Stonebridge is a man with a tragic past. His father died mysteriously when he was 12 years old amid speculation that the old duke was ‘involved’ with another man. He must restore his family name, but on the eve of his engagement to the perfect debutante, he meets his betrothed’s cousin, and his world is turned inside out… No matter:

He is always:


  • Logical – men who follow their hearts and not their heads are foolish…
  • Reserved – his private life is nobody’s business but his own…

And he isn’t:


  • Impulsive – it always leads to trouble…
  • Charming – that’s his best friend, the Marquess of Dansbury’s, area of expertise…
  • In love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

Can he have what he wants and remain respectable? Can she trust him to be the man she needs?


Buy Links

E-Book

Paperback

Excerpt

…her chuckles died in her throat as she caught sight of the very man who occupied her mind day after day: Stonebridge. 

Her hand rose to her chest as if she could physically steady her racing heart. He was so mind numbingly handsome and her heart literally ached with the knowledge that he would never be hers. It was so ridiculously unfair. 

She watched as he entered a nearby building. He hadn’t seen her amidst the crowd, of course. Once out of sight, she was able to walk again. She strode forward hesitantly. Honestly, she should flee to the safety of the hotel, not loiter outside, dying with curiosity and the desire for just another, quick glimpse, but alas, she couldn’t make herself leave. 

She passed the building he had entered and tried hard not to be so obvious as to ogle the door, but she did look and made note of the sign identifying the place as the offices of Tolley and Brinks, Esquire.

She passed a few more shop fronts, then turned. Her face was warm with embarrassment. 

What am I doing? 

She walked past the solicitors’ office again and passed a few more shops before shaking her head, resigned. 

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Prince Regent plans Grand Jubilee in London!” called out a young boy, hawking broadsheets nearby. She heard him above the general din of horses, carriage wheels and people bustling about their business as she maneuvered her way through the throng of carriages to the opposite side of the street. 

Once there, she purchased a paper, then made her way to a nearby bench which happened to be situated directly across the street from the duke’s solicitors’ office. 

Convenient, that. She sat, only for a moment, mind. To read the paper. Honestly. 

Oh, who am I trying to fool? 

For half an hour, her heart missed a beat every time the door to the solicitors’ office opened. Really, what was she planning to do once he did come out? Dash into his arms? Call his name from across the thoroughfare? Run away and hide? She asked herself these questions, over and over again, the entire time; she certainly was no more aware of the latest news than from before she’d bought her paper. 

Finally, at long last, he came out of the building, and he saw her instantly. She stood on reflex and looked back. For an eternity but only a minute, they stared at each other across the avenue, and her heart thundered faster than ever. Before reality intruded. This wasn’t wise and just as she recognized the truth of that, she saw his expression change from surprise to murderous. 

Right. Time to go. 

She tried to go around the bench at the same he stepped out onto the street. 

Zounds! He was coming. 

But in her haste to leave, she rounded the bench too carelessly, only to have her reticule catch on the bench’s arm, jerking her to a stop. Unfortunately, her nerves, along with the bench, conspired against her, and she stumbled to her knees. 

The hand holding her bag came down hard onto the bench seat, over the arm rest. She’d have a bruise under her arm tomorrow from that. The straps of her reticule, still caught, pulled tight on her wrist, turning her skin white, then red and puffy. Her other hand, which had whipped out reflexively, hit the ground. It just stopped her from cracking her chin on the bench. 

Why, oh why, did I even get out of bed this morning? 

She closed her eyes in humiliation. All around her, people fell silent; even the boy no longer peddled his papers. She could make out the occasional horse and carriage, but even the whinnying of a nearby horse sounded like laughter to ears colored with embarrassment. She could hear the sound of running feet, boots striking on cobbles, and she knew that Stonebridge was dashing across the street—coming to rescue her. 

He arrived a moment later, slightly out of breath, and she smiled at the thought that he’d run all that way…in public. For her. 
***

About Amy

Amy Quinton is an author and full time mom living in Summerville, SC. She enjoys writing (and reading!) sexy, historical romances. She lives with her husband, two boys, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to go camping, hiking, and canoeing/kayaking… And did she mention reading? When she’s not reading, cleaning, or traveling, she likes to make jewelry, sew, knit, and crochet (Yay for Ravelry!).



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fever Dream: New Paranormal Suspense from J.J. DiBenedetto


Fever Dream
Dream Series, Book 9
By J.J. DiBenedetto

What if you could see everyone else's dreams?

Dr. Sara Alderson isn’t used to her patients dying for no reason. When a young boy succumbs to a mysterious illness that defies all her efforts to treat it, she refuses to accept defeat.

After two months of questions, Sara has attracted the attention of powerful people who don’t want their secrets uncovered, and will go to any lengths to make sure they stay hidden.

Now, time is running out for Sara to unravel the mystery before anyone else falls victim to the illness. And before her career, her family and her freedom are taken from her by enemies she doesn’t even know she has.


Excerpt

It’s one in the morning, and the last guests have gone.  Other than the cleaning crew, Brian and I are the only ones left in the ballroom.  I know we need to leave, but I can’t bear the thought of standing up and trying to walk out of the room, down to the garage and then to the car.  I think my feet might literally fall off.

“You’re going to have to carry me out of here,” I tell Brian, and he gives me a wicked grin in return.

“I was planning on it,” he says, and he stands, takes a deep breath, and lifts me right out of my seat.  I yelp and throw my arms around his neck as he carries me out of the room and over to the elevator, barely showing any strain at all.  He has to put me down once we get to the elevator, though.  “I need a free hand,” he says, hitting the “up” button.  But the garage is – oh.  I should have known.

“You booked a room.”  He nods.  “And you told my parents we wouldn’t be home tonight.”  Another nod.  It’s all part of the fantasy, I guess.  He’s been imagining that he’s James Bond all night, and after a glitzy evening at the casino, James Bond doesn’t hop into the minivan so he can get home, walk the dog and collapse into bed.  No way.  He takes his conquest for the evening up to the five-star hotel room, where the champagne is already waiting.  On ice, no doubt.

The bell dings, he ushers me into the empty elevator, and as the door closes, I feel my fatigue suddenly, instantly, drain away, and I’m all over him.  I may not be a fan of those movies, but I know how they go, and it’s not as though I need much of an excuse to throw myself at my husband.  By the time the door opens onto the third floor, I’m panting and extricating my hands from his tuxedo jacket.  “You woke up in a hurry,” he says, panting himself, pulling his hand off the zipper of my dress, which is already halfway down my back.

“Well, I know what you were thinking, and I also know that no girl can resist James Bond, right?”  By way of an answer, he leads me down the hall, opens the door to our room, picks me up again and deposits me on the bed.  In seconds, he’s finished the job of zipping me right out of my dress, and his tuxedo is in an undignified mess somewhere on the floor.  After that – there’s no more thought, just feeling, just his hands and his lips and his – his everything.
***

About the Dream Series

What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?

Sara Barnes has just discovered that she can. And this gift -- or curse -- will lead her on an extraordinary journey.

Follow Sara as her newfound ability leads her into adventures she never imagined. She will hunt down a serial killer, investigate a plot to murder one of her teachers, unravel a conspiracy between a mobster and a corrupt politician and face off against her nemesis: a woman who shares her talent, but uses it to destroy lives rather than save them. And Sara will have to manage all that while finishing college, becoming a doctor and falling in love, too.

Here are the first five books of the Dream Series, along with bonus material created especially for this collection. Included in this set are Dream Student, Dream Doctor, Dream Child, Dream Family, and Waking Dream. In addition, you’ll find the short story Betty & Howard's Excellent Adventure starring Sara’s parents. But most of all, when you open this box of dreams, you’ll find romance, suspense, humor and plenty of heart…

The first five books in the series are collected in one Kindle Box Set, and it's on sale this weekend for just $0.99!


You can also hear samples from the first five novels on Audible here!

Books #6, 7 and 8 are all on sale at Amazon, too!

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About James

Well, technically, that's a picture of his cat, Danny.  Danny is much more photogenic than J.J. is.  But J.J. (James, really) is a pretty nice guy.  He's a native New Yorker, although he's lived in the Washington, DC area for the last 20 years.  He loves the opera, reading, photography, science fiction, fondue, travel and the New York Giants.  Oh, and of course Danny, and also of course his lovely and talented wife.


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Heroes We Love: Guest Post by Contemporary Romance Author Christina Tetreault

What kind of hero do you love? When it comes to romance novels there is no shortage of heroes to pick from. Readers can fall in love with everything from dukes and earls to cowboys and firemen. Personally, I am not picky. I love them all. However, there are certain traits or characteristics a hero must have for me to fall in love with him.

Regardless of whether the hero is a rich billionaire or the fireman living next door, in my opinion the hero must treat the heroine right. What does that mean? Well, first of all no matter how good-looking he is, he cannot be verbally or physically abusive. To me there is nothing romantic about that. A second must for me is that the hero must also be faithful to the heroine in the story. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a playboy in the past, but it does mean that while he is with the heroine in the story he must be faithful. He can’t keep a mistress on the side or sleep with the heroine’s best friend while she’s at work. 

Since these are these are the traits I look for when reading, these are some of the traits I instill in my characters when I am writing.  In my upcoming novel More Than A Billionaire, which is the 6th book in my series The Sherbrookes of Newport, Grayson Sherbrooke treats the heroine the way every woman should be treated in my opinion.

When you read what kind of hero do you like? Does he need to have certain traits? Are there certain characteristics that drive you crazy if the hero has them?


More Than A Billionaire

When billionaire Grayson Sherbrooke returns to Providence for his brother’s wedding, he plans to spend some time with his family before getting back to his own life.  A single dance with his childhood friend Kiera Renault changes all that. Soon Gray finds himself longing to settle down with the woman he loves. Unfortunately, the secret he’s kept for years keeps getting in the way.

Kiera Renault hasn’t seen Gray in years. After a dance at his brother’s wedding though, she can’t get him from her mind.  Quickly their relationship changes from mere friends to lovers, and Kiera pictures herself spending the rest of her life with Gray. 

Just when they both believe they’ll get what their hearts’ desire, Gray’s secret threatens to tear them apart forever. Now Gray must decide between the woman he loves, and the secret he has kept from the world. 

Readers can pre-order More Than A Billionaire for .99 cents. After release it will go to its regular price of $2.99


About the Author

I started writing at the age of 10 on my grandmother's manual typewriter and never stopped. When I am not driving my 3 daughters (ages 7, 5, and 5) around to their various activities or chasing around our three dogs, I am working on a story or reading a romance novel. Currently, I have two series out, The Sherbrookes of Newport and Love on The North Shore. You can visit my website www.christinatetreault.com or follow me on Facebook to learn more about my characters and to track my progress on my current writing projects.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Historical Romance Author Jude Knight on the Georgian Period, Gutsy Heroines, and Going Independent

Today I am thrilled to be interviewing fellow historical romance author, Jude Knight. If you like strong heroines, gothy plots, and rich, historical settings as much as I do, I'm sure you'll love Jude Knight. If you don't yet, you're bound to after this awesome interview. 

Jude Knight started writing fiction when she was still at school, but went on to spend many years as a commercial writer. In late December 2012, she came home from her mother’s funeral determined to finally achieve the dream her mother had always supported. 

After more than a year collecting ideas, doing research, and creating plots and character sketches, she stopped procrastinating and started writing. Her first novella was published just before Christmas in 2014, and – to Jude’s awed surprise – hit several Amazon bestseller lists in both the US and the UK, at one point reaching the top 2 in the US and the very top in the UK. 2015 is the year of the novel, with one in April, one in August, and one in October. Jude is also part of a collaborative group of writers, the Blusetocking Belles, so watch for their boxed set just before Christmas 2015.

Jude chose 1 April as the launch date for Farewell to Kindness in honour of all the people who told her that she’d never achieve anything if she didn’t get her head out of a book.

In Jude’s books, you’ll find strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, and villains you’ll love to loathe. The novel plots tend towards the gothic, with a leavening of humour, and some insights into the similarities and differences between now and way back then.
Jude thinks her Mum would have liked them.


Tea With Jude Knight

What are you drinking? 

I’ll take a glass of cider, please Jessica.

When I read your description of your historical romance not fitting industry norms, my heart just about stopped because certain aspects about your book--chapters from the villain’s POV, a rich world, lots of characters, and romantic sub-plots-- sound just like my first novel, Tyburn. People advised me to change half of it, too, but I didn’t, and I’m so glad. Can you tell me more about writing the kind of books you want to read?

I like complex plots, lots of action, but also character development. I want to read happy endings, but I want the barriers to them to be real; not just stupid misunderstandings that any normal people would clear up in five minutes. And when I talk about happy endings, I don’t mean no problems, sweetness and light forever. I mean I want the main protagonists to have learned to support one another in a way that gives me confidence they can survive as a couple, no matter what life throws at them. I began and failed to finish a number of stories before I started Farewell to Kindness, and part of the reason for that is my fear that I couldn’t do my characters justice.

What draws you to the Georgian Period?

I am fascinated by the parallels with the world we currently live in. It was a time of fast technological and social change, where new inventions were destroying whole ways of life and creating new ones. Things have changed, but people haven’t — and many of the problems they faced then we still face now. The solutions they chose shaped the world we live in, and if we can’t learn from the mistakes they made, the world we’ll leave to those who come after us is unlikely to be much fun.

And the clothes were amazing. I’d hate to have to wear them, but I love writing about them.

How do you research your books?

I do a lot of reading, both in print and online, about the background to my current work on progress. I watch video clips of the locations, and collect photographs and maps. I keep a database for each book, another one for general Georgian research, and one for characters (because my characters tend to cross books).

Once I start writing, I’ll check facts as I go. I’ll often have to stop writing to find out something, such as how the news of the Trafalgar victory reached Bath, and at what time. The Internet is a real boon to researchers; I can access a huge number of credible sources electronically, and in the unlikely event I can’t find the information, I will ask on one of the Facebook Groups I belong to, and usually someone knows.

Sometimes, if the research point isn’t a plot pivot, I’ll just mark it for later checking during the edit stage.

How important do you think research is to historical romance novels?

To me, getting background facts right seems essential to any novel, historical or not, romance or not. I’ve read contemporaries that annoyed me by getting something wrong about a town I know or a book I’ve read. With historicals, we have to rely on research rather than observation or memory. On the other hand, as long as we follow the recorded facts, we’re safe using our imaginations since no-one reading today was around then to tell us we’ve got it wrong!

Can historical romance novels be feminist? 

Absolutely. In one sense, the romance novel genre is slanted towards being feminist. We’re talking about books written with at least one woman at centre stage, in which a woman’s needs and interests are the main focus of the story. And most of romances are also written by women. That said, I want to write stories in which heroines know (or at least learn) that they deserve to be treated with respect and to have their opinions and needs considered, and that they can take action to make things happen and not just sit around waiting to be rescued. I want heroines who are gutsy and determined, and initiators of the action of the book.

What can you tell us about Farewell to Kindness?

The two protagonists in Farewell to Kindness are both hiding. Rede is hiding from his feelings by throwing himself into his hunt for the killers of his family. He needs to learn that love is more important than revenge. Anne is just plain hiding. She has good reason, but her reluctance to trust Rede leads to near disaster. Together, though, they’re unbeatable. (And I did a twist on the hero storming up the hill to the heroine’s rescue which I hope my readers have enjoyed.)

You’ve planned out so many of your books in advance -- I do that, too! Do you find it helpful to know where things are going, or do you get distracted by all of the ideas?

It helps. I can make sure that characters in one book don’t go off in a direction that destroys a possible later book. I have an overall direction for around 40 books, and detailed plot outlines for the next few.

That said, the characters have a bad habit of taking over while I’m writing. Each book so far has ended up where I expected, but not necessarily by the path I intended. I haven’t lost a hero or heroine yet, but I’ve certainly experienced a villain becoming less so, and a minor character emerging from his chrysalis to become a major nasty.

And when David and Prue disappeared at the end of Farewell to Kindness, I had no idea where they’d gone, which was a bit annoying, since I needed them for one of the novels I’m currently writing, Encouraging Prudence, which I’m planning to publish in October.

Do you find working as an editor and commercial writer benefits your fiction writing, or does it hinder it? 

The main benefit is that I’m confident of my ability to finish what I start, and I know from years of experience that a little bit each day means you eventually do finish. I also know that I’m a capable editor, and that helps.


I was worried that many years as a plain English writer and editor would leave me unable to write descriptions that people could feel and taste. What seems to have happened instead, according to my colleagues, is that my fiction voice is creeping into my commercial writing. I might need to go back to writing advertising copy!

You decided to publish independently -- what made you decide to do that, and do you have any advice for authors considering taking the independent route?

Two things convinced me.

The first was the advice that publishers no longer put much effort into marketing their newbie authors. I have a background in publishing—business stuff, not fiction, but I knew the practical side of preparing files, keeping accounts, and all the other things that go into finishing the book. And I’d hired cover designers and proofreaders before, so that didn’t faze me. The only thing that scared me at all was the marketing. I figured that, if they weren’t going to help with that, I might as well do the whole job myself and take a bigger share of the cover price.

The second thing takes us back to your second question. Agents and editors I spoke to liked my writing style and my basic concept, but they wanted to change the book to fit their concept of what the market wants. They may be right; time will tell. But the book they wanted wasn’t the book I wanted to write.

Advice for authors? Don’t skimp on cover design, and don’t skimp on copy editing and proofreading. And don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. I’ve found the romance writing community wonderfully supportive.


Farewell to Kindness
The Golden Redepennings, Book 1

For three years, Rede has been searching Canada for those who ordered the murders of his wife and children.

Now back in England, he has inherited an Earldom from his cousin George, and is close to finding the investors who ordered the deaths in an attempt to destroy Rede’s fur trading enterprise. He travels to his country estate in Longford, West Gloucestershire, to be close to the investigation.

He does not need the distraction of an overwhelming longing for the lovely widow who lives in one of the cottages he owns. A widow, moreover, with a small daughter whose distinctive eyes mark her as George’s child.

For six years, from the night Anne blackmailed George at arrow-point for an income and a place to live, she has been in hiding with her sisters and daughter.

She hides from the scandal of her daughter’s conception. More importantly, she hides from the Earl of Selby, who has sinister plans for the sisters. He no longer has legal rights as guardian to the older sisters, but the youngest sister is still only 18. He cannot be allowed to find her.

The last thing Anne needs is an inconvenient attraction to the local Earl. Rede is everything she has learned not to trust: a man, a peer, a Redepenning. If he finds out who she is, she may lose everything.

As their attraction builds against a backdrop of the village Whitsun Week festivities, several accidents make Rede believe his enemies have found him, and Anne wonder whether Selby has found her.

To build a future together, they must be prepared to face their pasts together – something their deadly enemies have no intention of allowing.

Candle and Min, hero and heroine of my free novella, Candle's Christmas Chair, make a cameo appearance in Farewell to Kindness.


Excerpt


George was drunk. But not nearly drunk enough. He still saw his young friend’s dying eyes everywhere. In half-caught glimpses of strangers reflected in windows along Bond Street, under the hats of coachmen that passed him along the silent streets to Bedford Square, in the flickering lamps that shone pallidly against the cold London dawn as he stumbled up the steps to his front door.

They followed his every waking hour: hot, angry, hate-filled eyes that had once been warm with admiration.
He drank to forget, but all he could do was remember.

One more flight of stairs, then through the half open door to his private sitting room, already reaching for the waiting decanter of brandy as he crossed the floor.

He had a glass of oblivion halfway to his lips before he noticed the painting.

It stood on an easel, lit by a carefully arranged tree of candles. George’s own face was illuminated—the golden shades of his hair, his intensely blue eyes. The artist had captured his high cheekbones and sculpted jaw. “One of London’s most beautiful men,” he’d been called.

He stalked to the easel, moving with great care to avoid spilling his drink.

Yes. The artist had talent. Who could have given him such a thing?

As he bent forward to look at it more closely, something whipped past his face. With a solid thunk, an arrow struck the painting, to stand quivering between the painted eyes.

How would you like a free novella?


Candle’s Christmas Chair
Free novella 

When Viscount Avery comes to see the best invalid chair maker in the southwest of England he does not expect to find Minerva Bradshaw, the woman who rejected him three years earlier. Or did she? Older and wiser, he wonders if there is more to the story. 

For three years, Min Bradshaw has remembered the handsome guardsman who courted her for her fortune. She didn't expect to see him in her workshop, and she certainly doesn't intend to let him fool her again. Even if he is handsomer and more charming than ever. 

Free download links on Jude’s book page: http://judeknightauthor.com/books/candles-christmas-chair/