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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GUEST BLOG: CHRISTINE YOUNG


What Were the Best and Worst Things About Scotland?


The best and the worst, hmm…that is an interesting question. I absolutely loved Scotland when I was there. I felt a sense of belonging or coming home. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to live there because it is not the US. But I would love to visit every year. Loch Ranoch was so peaceful. We walked into town every day, about a mile each way, ate at the local restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance. The people were friendly and welcoming. So there were very few worsts for me in Scotland.

When visiting Scotland I found so many things fascinating. Castles and churches were in abundance. Some were well kept and others in ruins. I always had a larger than life image of the castles and was amazed to find some of them quite small. The ancient graveyards were also intriguing.

Scotland hosts some of the most magnificent scenery and idyllic places. We traveled to Loch Ranoch and in doing so we passed a stopping off place, which was supposed to be Queen Victoria’s favorite place in Scotland. Some of this rugged scenery I used in the last highland book Highland Song. The cover on this book comes from a photograph I snapped at this location.

Edinburgh Castle, well, there is nothing else like it. Besides the firing of the cannons toward the ocean there were wonderful places to eat highland food and buy highland trinkets. Beneath the castle the tunnels are haunted and one can take a ghost tour. I didn’t know about the tour at the time, but if I ever go back, I will certainly give the tour a try.

Loved the huge lochs and the castles, again castles. I’m beginning to see a theme. Loch Ness was beautiful and no, we didn’t see, Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, although I’m sure she exists.

Worst, beyond a doubt was driving on the wrong side of the road. I spent most of our driving time leaning to the right as if I could get the car on the right side of the road. The weather was pretty good until the last couple of days and it rained solid. I’m an Oregonian and I’m used to the rain but this was different, very different.

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel, to Kensington. She is the author of 10 published romance books and 2 novellas. Christine is a retired high school math teacher. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children. Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

Links:
http://christineyoung-romancewriter.blogspot.com/
http://www.roguesangels.blogspot.com/
http://www.roguephoenixpress.com/

This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. At the conclusion of her tour, Christine will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter. She will also give a Clan MacPherson bookmark to one lucky commenter today. Follow her tour at http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/10/virtual-book-tour-highland-honor-by.html for more chances to win.

Willfully stubborn, innocently courageous, Callie Whitcomb braves a journey through the treacherous highlands to the MacPherson castle. Callie flees from an unwanted marriage as well as her ruthless half brother. Naively she believes Colin MacPherson, the head of the clan, is loyal to her father and will give her sanctuary, protecting her from the vile plans that have been made for her.

As hard and as unyielding as the winter storms that sweep through the countryside, Colin is irresistibly drawn to the impetuous beauty who has magically appeared on his doorsteps. Despite his vows of revenge against her father, she stirs his passion as well as his sense of justice...but to love her would violate all his vows of revenge.

Monday, November 28, 2011

GUEST BLOG: KATE HOFMAN

Good morning!

First, let me thank Judy for kindly giving me a chance to meet you on LASR’s guest blog.

I was born in The Netherlands. When I was eighteen, we moved to London, England. Later, I moved to Canada—a very interesting job offer—and I enjoyed living in Montreal.

Some four years later, I met my future husband, Arnold, at a party. He phoned me the next day, having had to jump through some hoops to get my phone number from the hostess… A year later, we were married. One son was born to us. I owned and operated an art gallery for twelve years.

After Montreal, we lived mostly in Victoria, B.C, but spent seven years in Ormond Beach, FL, for Arnold’s business. He was a truly fabulous man, who made every day of our life together interesting. I was desolate when I was widowed.

I did some internet publicity for Nina Bruhns, and one day Nina said, ‘You should write.’ I thought she was merely being ‘nice’, but she kept after me.

I’ll never forget 22 April 2002, when I sat down to a blank page on Word. Totally intimidated, believe me. And then, slowly, I began to type. That was at 5 pm. By 1:30 that morning, I had 15 closely typed pages (I didn’t know you could change the spacing) and when I read them over the next day, I realized I had discovered my calling.

My first publisher was Rose Brungard of Romance At Heart Publications. So far, she has published about 10 of my books. I sent a novel, Castle In Spain, to DCL Publications LLC and they accepted it. By now, they have published 33 books for me, two in print.

What do I write? I believe in writing what I know, and in stories that are sheer escapism.

Most recently, I have written a story for HeartSent Christmas, an anthology arranged by my friends Heide Katros and Diane Davis White. I also wrote a book, Golden Christmas, which Diane has very kindly published for me on Kindle and Nook.

I hope you, my readers, will continue to like reading my stories.

My books can be found at

www.rahpubs.com
www.thedarkcastlelords.com
www.katehofman.com

and they are available at Fictionwise, All Romance eBooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Bye for now, KATE

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GUEST BLOG: ELIZABETH MEANS

My Two Biggest Author Influences


Writers by our very nature tend to be voracious readers and I’m no exception. There’s nothing I love more than to get lost in a book. But it can’t be just any book, it needs to be great. I’m a monogamous reader, I prefer to stick with one story until the end and before I start on a new one. No popping in and out of two or three different books at the same time. That only leaves me confused. But if a book isn’t really good, remaining faithful is tough to do.

I’ve discovered two stellar authors over the years who I know I can count on to keep me hooked until the very last page. I think I’ve read just about all of their books and I as a result, I believe (hope!) their writing styles have strongly influenced mine.

#1 AMANDA QUICK

Probably my biggest influence, this woman really knows how to write a romantic mystery. She develops each character to the fullest and seamlessly weaves multiple sub-plots into the main plot. She strikes an amazing balance between romance and mystery, both equally as prominent in her stories. Most importantly – she keeps me guessing until the end. I’ve often found myself reading her books until the wee hours of the night, eyes drooping and head rolling to the side, still unable to put the book down because I have to know what happens next.

#2 MARY HIGGINS CLARK

Just like Amanda, Mary’s books flow amazingly smoothly between the main plot and the sub-plots. Every single little tidbit and clue she lays down serves a purpose, and that is to both entertain and build suspense as the end of the book draws nearer. Although her stories are not as heavy on romance as Amanda’s, there is often still an element of it in them. Her plot twists always keep me guessing and I must admit some of her books are so intense I find myself turning on lights and looking over my shoulder after reading a few chapters! She’s just that good.

I can only hope some of the skill of these two incredible writers has rubbed off on me. I know I’m certainly looking forward to their next new releases. If you haven’t read anything by either of them I highly recommend giving their books a try – you won’t be disappointed!

-Elizabeth Means
www.Elizabeth-Means.com

Dangerous Charade

To escape an arranged marriage Gabrielle Broussard flees her home to become an undercover investigator with an elite, all-female investigative agency. Her first assignment, as governess at Westford castle to investigate the suspicious death of the Countess of Westford, quickly becomes complicated when she finds herself attracted to her number one suspect.

Lord Julian Blackwell is a survivor. After his father’s bankruptcy, he becomes a self-made man in Victorian England’s booming industrial era. Trapped into a loveless marriage, he has survived the shock of his wife’s sudden death. But now he must survive rumors and outright accusations. Hiring a private agency to investigate and prove his innocence seems like a good idea…until desire threatens to compromise both the case and the life of the investigator.

A Bit About Me:I live in the Midwest with my wonderful husband. When I'm not reading or writing, other hobbies I enjoy include hiking, biking, and chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

While I enjoy many genres, I'm particularly drawn to Victorian era romance stories that are fueled by forbidden love and quite often…murder. The foggy streets, swirling coat tails and foreboding castles make it a difficult one to resist.

I have an undergraduate degree in biology and a half-finished master's degree in business. Strange how I can't ever seem to find the time or energy to complete the degree but I can find plenty of both to write 250+ page novels...

Monday, November 21, 2011

GUEST BLOG: PAMELA THIBODEAUX

Be Careful What You Pray


I guess you can say I’ve been a Christian most of my life although I remember as a teen when a friend’s baby died I struggled with my belief in God quite a bit. Then of course were the years when the marriage I was in was anything BUT living the Christian life. But the Bible teaches us to “train up a child in the way he should go and he shall not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6).

This does not however, say that child will never stray from his or her upbringing—only that he will not depart from it. In other words, the way you raise your child will always be a part of him or her and at some point in their life, they will return to the teachings of their youth.

Same goes for the old adage “be careful what you pray.”

The fateful day when I recommitted my life to Christ, I also committed my writing to Him, praying that I never write “just another romance” but something that would touch hearts and impact lives for His glory.

Thus began my journey into the world of Christian fiction and times when I wished I’d never said that prayer. Though basically romances, my stories addressed issues like domestic violence, death, betrayal and grief and sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride more times than I care to admit. My books dealt with the characters’ intense emotions such as anger and sexual tension without glossing over these feelings – yet stayed within Biblical principles and I came to discover the joy of portraying the awesome power of God to heal, save, guard, and guide.

Then along came The Visionary. What I thought would be my “light, sweet romance” became a story that pulled at the very core of everything I knew about human emotions, challenged everything I believed about God and made me question why I put myself through the turmoil of writing.

The realization came when a friend said she thought the main characters, (m/f twins) were “extremely close” and warned it might be too much for an inspirational novel. Since I’ve never written conservative Christian fiction, I didn’t worry too much about that, but did set out on the quest to find out why they were so close.

What had happened to them or between them that made them cling so tightly to one another and afraid to allow others into their world?

As Christians and as writers we’re called to look a level deeper but let me tell you, the answer to that question came as such a complete shock that I argued – yeah, literally argued with God that I was NOT the person to write this story! For three days I’d sit down to write and get up in a total panic, unable to type a single word for the debate going on in my mind, heart and soul.

If you’ve ever heard that still, small Voice in your spirit you’ll know what I mean when I say He brought me up short with the question, “Who are you writing for anyway?” and I remembered my prayer to never write “just another romance.”

Resigned, I sat down and wrote the entire first draft in four months while working two jobs during the busiest season of the year for a book keeper & tax preparer.

So when you think of all the great advice out there for writers…write what you know, hone your craft, be flexible and teachable add Be Careful What You Pray to the list.

A visionary is someone who sees into the future. Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls. Available now through your local bookstore or online @ Amazon.com & BarnesandNoble.com


*This post is part of a month-long virtual book tour where 4 autographed copies of The Visionary will be given away. Follow the entire tour (list of stops on my blog http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com) and leave a comment on each spot because the more times your name goes in the hat, the more chances you have to win!

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
Website: http://pamelathibodeaux.com
Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Friday, November 18, 2011

GUEST BLOG: PERSIA WOOLLEY

Thanks so much for the chance to talk about my Guinevere, Judy. I spent 11 years researching and writing the Trilogy, and Gwen has become a member of my family.

When I stumbled onto the Arthurian tales I was immediately struck by the range of stories and the depth of characters they contain. There's the tremendous tension of the love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot; the ironies of the aging Merlin and very young Nimue and the constant peril of the king's sister who keeps trying to kill him...to say nothing of the fact that the noblest of monarchs is hiding a secret of the most ancient sin, incest!

Clearly there was a lot more here than the spritely music of Camelot and I began to read historically realistic--not fantasy--treatments of those characters. And when I thought about writing a novel, the Arthurian stories immediately sprang to mind, but I couldn't imagine what I could say that hadn't already been done.

Then one evening I was sitting in a friend's garden, waiting for the moon to rise, and saw Guinevere and Lancelot act out a scene in front of me. It was as if they were holograms and they were having a rousing argument as to why Lance thought she was guilty of trying to poison Arthur--another twist in the story. When they faded away I found myself thinking "What's a nice girl like you doing in such a situation?" And right then I knew what my first novel was going to be. At that time (1980) I don't believe anyone had presented a first-person Guinevere account.

I've been a journalist for years and always promise my readers I'll treat any story with as much respect and honesty as possible, and it's no different with fiction. I decided to research the time when they would have lived and no matter when that turned out to be, that's the era I would set them in. Since the earliest mentions of Arthur are in the late 5th Century A.D., I had to forget pretty castles and shiny armor--my characters would live in mud huts and Roman ruins!

Also, the legend states very firmly that the first thing the young Arthur had to do was put down a civil war fomented by the northern kings. Any student of history knows that the wise victor cements his conquest by marrying a highborn woman of the conquered tribes. So it was an easy step to replace the spoiled convent girl of the south with a feisty northern tomboy who doesn't see any reason why she has to learn to speak Latin, wear dresses and go south to marry that king.

The more I studied Celtic queens, the more clear it was that they could be co-rulers, and the idea of Gwen being an equal partner with Arthur made much more sense than the beautiful but dumb twit of the earlier authors. And because I made her an outsider, she saw everything in Arthur's world with fresh eyes, which was great fun.

This is particularly strong in the first book of the Trilogy, Child of the Northern Spring, which deals with her childhood, the marriage to Arthur and the founding of the Round Table. Various major characters show up here such as Merlin, Gawain, Pellinore and of course Morgan Le Fey.

In the second book, Queen of the Summer Stars, she and Arthur work to meld the fractious Celtic kings into a functioning court and military force to keep the Saxons at bay, and the whole tapestry of heroes and heroines comes into focus. Arthur's mother, Igraine, recounts the story of his origins; Merlin and Nimue go off together; Tristan and Isolde run away from King Mark and play out their ill-fated grand passion, and of course Lancelot comes into everyone's life and nothing is the same again.

Here Gwen has to deal with kidnap and rape, her inability to have children, and her taking in of Mordred, Arthur's unacknowledged son whose mother is killed unexpectedly. These are parts of the legend that are often glossed over, being matters pertaining primarily to women.

Now with the last volume, Guinevere--the Legend in Autumn, the Court has reached its full glory, the sons of the heroes start flexing their muscles and all sorts of destinies are fulfilled in both triumph and tragedy. Gwen and Lance have their time together, Arthur and his son engage in their fatal battle, and the seeds of a great legend are born because of the acts of some very interesting real people. I've loved every moment of working on it, and I hope the reader does too.

Persia has been a journalist since 1970 and began writing her first book in 1971. Her three non-fiction works include Creative Survival for Single Mothers, The Custody Handbook and How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction.

She began work on her Guinevere Trilogy in 1980 and it was completed after 11 years of research and writing. This included four research trips to Britain where she hiked all over the Roman and Celtic ruins from Guinevere’s story, stayed in hostels and carried everything in her backpack.

All three volumes of the Trilogy became Book of the Month selections, have been translated into seven languages, were made into a terrible movie and are now being re-issued by Sourcebooks.

Persia came to live with her son out near Freestone three years ago, but has recently moved into the town of Sebastopol.

http://persiawoolley.wordpress.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GUEST BLOG: GRACE BURROWES

“You can’t make a baby in one month with nine women.” I am indebted to a very savvy engineer for passing along this bit of wisdom. Although he probably didn’t intend that it should, his words apply to the way I write books.

I write a fair amount, usually finishing four manuscripts a year. This means I spend many, many hours at the computer, but it also means I spend many hours away from the computer. Writing is a job, but it’s also a calling, at least for me. By this I mean, the pursuit of a well crafted book is not a matter of assembling parts, following a set of directions, double checking my work per the QA protocol, and then standing back to admire my successfully built widget exactly 120 hours later—though sometimes I wish it were.

At this point in my career, I meet my characters first, usually when I’m behind the wheel of my truck, tooling around rural Maryland. I write a few chapters to introduce Hero and Heroine to each other, and then, when I have a sense of what their character arcs are going to look like, I start begging the universe for the details regarding the external conflict(s) that will support those arcs. This involves incense, muttering, threatening to do housework, consuming carbohydrates, and otherwise fretting over the book.

A day job helps a great deal in this creative process. Thanks to the day job, I must maintain some sort of schedule. Thanks to the day job, most of the bills get paid most of the time—I’m not sure I could come up with much fiction if I were also worried about the roof over my head. Thanks to the day job, I have to talk to real, live people sometimes, and I have to use parts of my brain that aren’t connected to Regency England of the Victorian Highlands.

I do not always enjoy that day job, to be honest. I’m an attorney who represents children in abuse and neglect proceedings, enough said. Some days, it gripes me sorely to have to push away from the computer and the WIP and go deal. Most days, though, I know my conscious brain needs a rest from the writing, and the day job provides that.

The day job—my particular day job—also makes me really, really grateful for the many blessing inherent in being a romance writer: solitude, unstructured time, literacy, bodily and emotional safety (in my case; can’t speak for some of those paranormal folks), a functional imagination for happy things, the wherewithal to buy good books and go to writing conferences.

So I don’t think of the day job as something I have to balance, most of the time. It’s part of what allows me to write the stories I do. In an indirect way, because I have a front row seat on so much human suffering, the day job is also what propels me back to the computer for book after book. We need child welfare attorneys and judges and social workers, at least for now, but we also need happily ever afters, even if they’re only fictional.

I need to read them, I need to write them, and I need to believe in them—for the romance writing, but also for that dreaded, dear and not always convenient day job.

The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes – In Stores November 2011
A genius with a terrible loss…

Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father’s obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.

A widow with a heartbreaking secret…

Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen’s devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.

Together they’ll find there’s no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.

Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes – In Stores NOW!

A luminous holiday tale of romance, passion, and dreams come true from rising star Grace Burrowes, whose award-winning Regency romances are capturing hearts worldwide.

All she wants is peace and anonymity…

Lady Sophie Windham has maneuvered a few days to herself at the ducal mansion in London before she must join her family for Christmas in Kent. Suddenly trapped by a London snowstorm, she finds herself with an abandoned baby and only the assistance of a kind, handsome stranger standing between her and complete disaster.

But Sophie’s holiday is about to heat up…

With his estate in ruins, Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive about this Christmas. His growing attraction for Sophie Windham is the only thing that warms his spirits—but when Sophie’s brothers whisk her away, Vim’s most painful holiday memories are reawakened.

It seems Sophie’s been keeping secrets, and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make her deepest wishes come true…

Grace Burrowes is the pen name for a prolific and award-winning author of historical romances. The Heir, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and was selected as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2010. Both The Heir and its follow-up, The Solider, are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in a restored log cabin in western Maryland without a TV, DVD or radio because she's too busy working on her next books. For more information, please visit http://www.graceburrowes.com.

Sourcebooks will give away 2 copies of Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Please leave a comment with your email address.




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Blog: Julia Fellner

You want to write a novel? In English?”

That was the response I got, when I initially told people I wanted to become a writer. I suppose there were two reasons for their reaction.

First of all I was about fourteen years old, when I started to write regularly. My friends and family didn’t think anything of it and neither did I in the beginning. It was as if I had already subconsciously decided to become an author.

It took my mind about two years to catch up with my subconscious intent. When I was sixteen years old I finished writing Revealed, the book, which would later become my debut novel.

At that time I had no idea how the publishing process worked, so I did a lot of online research and eventually sent out query letters.

I remember how happy I was when Rogue Phoenix Press (www.roguephoenixpress.com) accepted my novel for publication. I also remember the surprise written on my family’s and friends’ faces because until I proudly announced I was going to be a published writer, they had had no idea how serious I was about my unusual hobby.

The second reason why many people acted surprised by my novel writing endeavour was because I was doing it in English. Why, you ask?

The catch is I have lived all of my life in Austria. Thus German is my mother tongue. I only started learning English at school at the age of ten.

However I soon fell in love with the English language and especially its literature. The first “real” English book I read when I was twelve years old, although at first it involved more reading of the dictionary than the actual novel.

In the end my stubbornness paid off. It was what caused me to eventually write my own English stories.

Looking back the most important lesson I learnt is a piece of advice, which I would like to give to any aspiring writer: Don’t let other people discourage you. If you want your dreams to come true, you must believe in them yourself.

BlURB FOR REVEALED:
Vampires, secret societies and first love - those are things that Anne Watson missed during her first high school experience.

Panthera Academy is not only a place for eccentric characters, but also the home of two secret societies, the panthers and the rebels. There Anne has to deal with midnight meetings, shocking confessions of dark secrets and mysterious deaths as she experiences falling in love for the first time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Despite German being her mother tongue, the deep love Julia Fellner has for English literature caused her to write her own English novels.

She has been writing stories, first in German and then in English, for years.

Her debut novel Revealed was written, when she was sixteen years old.

Julia lives in Lower Austria and is currently studying English at the University of Vienna.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GUEST BLOG: JUDI FENNELL

13 Things I’ve Learned From My Heroes, Heroines and Sidekicks


Thanks for having me back on Long and Short Reviews! Why did I choose 13 things to talk about? Well, it’s my lucky number and if there’s anything I’ve learned on my way to becoming a published author it’s to go with your strengths and that when the Universe puts something in your path/mind/character’s voice/manuscript, go with it.

So, in no particular order, some life lessons my characters have learned and shared with me:

1. Don’t date a guy who looks like he’s done business with the mob—he probably has. (Erica regarding her ex-Joey in In Over Her Head)
2. Don’t believe everything your mom tells you, even if it’s for your own good—see the Santa and the Easter Bunny fallacies as the quintessential examples. (Valerie re: her being allergic to the ocean in Wild Blue Under)
3. What you think you want isn’t always what you want. (Logan re: Angel being a mermaid in Catch of a Lifetime)
4. Love is the real magic. (Eden in I Dream of Genies)
5. Inner strength is something no one can give you—and no one can take away from you either. (Samantha in Genie Knows Best)
6. Believe in your worth as a person. (Reel in In Over Her Head)
7. Duty is a poor substitute for love and if you have the chance for love, fight to keep it. (Rod in Wild Blue Under)
8. There’s more than one way to skin a cat… er, scale a fish… um, get things done. (Angel in Catch of a Lifetime)
9. Love is worth everything. (Eden and Matt in I Dream of Genies)
10. Power isn’t everything if you don’t have someone who loves you by your side. (Kal in Genie Knows Best)
11. Just when you think you have something figured out, invariably you don’t. (Obo from I Dream of Genies)
12. Fire gets everyone’s attention real quick. (Humphrey the dragon in I Dream of Genies)
13. Putting your foot down can stop a lot of problems. (Orkney in Genie Knows Best)

Here’s an excerpt from Genie Knows Best where Orkney puts his foot down while Samantha is trying to process exactly what she’s seeing and Kal is worried (with good reason) about who’s going to be crawling out of the woodwork next.

Genie Knows Best
© Judi Fennell, 2011


“I guess it wasn’t a dream after all,” said Samantha, tucking some hair behind her ears.

Orkney snorted and a rope of his mud-brown dreads blew across the back of the chair to rest in the seat. “First time anyone’s ever called me a dream.”

Ah, so the narcoleptic troll had been paying attention.

Samantha spun around. “I’d forgotten you were there.” She licked her lips. “What are you?”

Oh, gods, here it comes. Kal’s ego and libido reined themselves in quickly. That moment was over.

“What am I? What?”

Orkney’s ire made the ground tremble. Or rather, the stomp of a giant foot that was out of proportion to his height did. He said the reason he grew his hair long was to cover his feet, but, personally, Kal thought it had to do with the narcolepsy—the hair gave him an out when people accused him of falling asleep. But trolls as a race weren’t narcoleptic, and they all had the same hairstyle.

“I am not a what. I’m a who, and I’ll have you know that I’m a—”

“He’s a blabbermouth, is what he is.”

Kal groaned as Fritz crawled out of the listing drainpipe on Tia Pipa’s Nut Shop. Talk about an end to whatever moment he and Samantha might have had… Where one gnome went, others were sure to follow, especially since many of them carried pint-sized friends beneath their pointed caps.

Surprisingly, this time, only six popped out. But they all had their pitchforks.
But then the shutters on McKeever’s Pub opened and Seamus tapped the window with his shillelagh. His cronies raised their frosted mugs and flipped gold coins toward Seamus, who caught them in his green top hat with a wink at Kal.

So much for fulfilling Samantha’s wish of making all her troubles disappear. From the way she was spinning around as the citizens of Izaaz crawled out of the woodwork—literally—Kal would bet (and from the looks of the leprechauns, they already were) that she was thinking her troubles were just beginning.


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

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

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

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

Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Magic Gone Wild, set for release in August 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/.

Sourcebooks will give away 2 print copies of Genie Knows Best. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Please leave a comment with your email address.

Monday, November 14, 2011

GUEST BLOG: ROCHELLE WEBER

Bi-Polar Disorder and Me


“I’m here because the hormonal shifts of menopause overcame my bi-polar drugs.”

Eleven men slumped down in their chairs shaking their heads murmuring, “Oh no, she didn’t just say that,” in the opulent dining room in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. I’d been selected to give the woman’s view of my first experience at the Festival. I was there with a Chorus from the VA hospital in Chicago where I’d participated in Music Therapy since my first hospitalization for bi-polar disorder there in 2001.

“Ya haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA. As they say—the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

During menopause I was hospitalized five or six times. Back in the seventies when I tried birth control pills, I threw a blood clot in my lung. Hormone therapy was out of the question. Besides, I’m cold all the time. I miss my hot flashes. ;-(

I do not, however, miss my mood swings. I’m a rapid cycler and most of the time I’m fairly normal. Unfortunately, I moved away from Chicago where I got really good care to a more rural VA where they refused to change my meds even when it was clear they were not working. They just kept increasing the dosage. I kept “going off” on people and in between, I was experiencing increasing dementia—forgetting what I was doing, losing words, etc. I’m a writer, I’m in Mensa and I was in my fifties. I was terrified and my daughters were so upset, they made me give up my apartment and move in with my eldest.

Bi-polar disorder is easy to misdiagnose. People think of it as euphoric highs and crashing lows—going from periods of intense happiness and creativity to periods of paralyzing depression and, indeed, many bi-polar people are like that. But it can also include horrible temper tantrums, spending sprees, going from sexual promiscuity to total lack of desire. In really severe cases, people hear voices and it can be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. I spent several years on Prozac not realizing I was only treating half of my disease, because I didn’t realize my tantrums were the other half, until I had a roommate who was bi-polar and recognized the symptoms. She gave me Patti Duke’s books, Call Me Anna, and A Brilliant Madness. I read them on the pysch ward at the VA in Washington, DC, where I was living at the time. They diagnosed me and regulated my meds.

Many of Katie McGowan’s experiences in Rock Crazy are mine. Arguments with her mother are real. I believe my mom was bi-polar and self-medicated with alcohol. I hit puberty when she hit menopause and “it was not a good match,” at Katie tells her friend, Annie. We fought pretty hard when I was in high school. But Mama was a good person. She adopted me just because my mother was asking around the neighborhood for a home for me. And I know she loved me and was proud of me because she kept the first story I ever wrote when I was seven and had chicken pox. I still have it. She was just sick, like me, and like Katie. I hope you’ll read Rock Crazy and enjoy it.

This is the end of my blog tour. Leave a comment and you’ll qualify for a chance to win your choice of a signed copy of my first book, Rock Bound, or a Rock Crazy tee shirt or mug. Thanks for following me on this journey. I hope you’ve discovered some blogs you didn’t know about before and I hope we’ve gotten to know more about each other. I’ll notify the winner, or have the blog host notify them.

Many thanks,
Rochelle.


Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on creative writing. Her first novel, Rock Bound, is available at Create Space, Smashwords, Amazon and BN.com. She edits the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter. Rochelle fights her own battle with bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition

Rock Crazy

Katie McGowan is bi-polar, and she’s run the gamut of medications, but nothing works anymore. Everyone says her she should have a microchip implanted in her brain that can regulate her mood swings. But Katie doesn’t want to be a robot. In a tough love move, her husband, Scott takes her to the Moon—and dumps her. Katie’s stuck on that God-forsaken “rock,” and thinks she’s space sick. But she’s wrong; she’s pregnant. Now the surgery’s too dangerous and she has to go off her meds until the baby’s born.

Scott’s elated that he’s going to be a father and assumes Katie will take him back. He has no clue how badly he’s hurt her, how thoroughly he’s broken her trust—or that he may not get her back at all.



Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/museituprockcrazy
Website: http://www.rochelleweber.com
Blog: http://rochelleweber.blogspot.com
Blog: http://rochellesreviews.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rochelle.weber2
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Rochelle.Weber.Author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/RochelleWeber

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blog: Ann Tracy Marr

Love it. Another chance to blog to thousands of people.

Hate that it's another chance to make a fool of myself in front of thousands of people.

When I put my heart into writing, I expose myself, risking indifference, ridicule, or disgust. It's is a hazard of the job. If I'm lucky (or inspired), I'll get a "hmm" of interest or outright enjoyment. So -- here goes me, naked and vulnerable. I hope you love my blog rather than hate it.

I am Ann Tracy Marr. My credentials are three fantasy romances (a series) published with Awe-Struck Publishing. I incorporate mystery, magic and humor into my plots. To prove my point, about making a fool of myself, let's pick apart my third book -- the one that went POD October 25th. (Hint, hint.) The title is To His Mistress.

I am not very good at writing blurbs. I am better at writing books. The one sentence grabber for To His Mistress is not the greatest. It doesn't jump out and grab the imagination. The longer blurb (what might go on the back cover of the paperback) says:

"What is it with men? Let them get an idea in their head, and it turns into a piece of granite.

"Look at Alexander, Lord Shelton. In an ill-considered moment, he compromises Katherine Scoville. Any other hot blooded peer of the realm would do his duty and wed her with a smile on his face, even if he had murder in his heart. Not Shelton. He decides Katherine is a slut. No way is she eligible to marry the Earl of Shelton.

"Oh, he marries her, but he doesn't like it. Not one little bit.

"Then he realizes that Katherine suits him to a tee. Not as a wife, but as a mistress. So Shelton goes about the intricate business of divorce in the Regency.

"Just wait until Katherine figures out what Shelton is up to. You almost feel sorry for him, the way he is digging his own grave."

I stumbled my way around writing this blurb, trying to be witty, sophisticated, whatever. I finally got disgusted with myself and just blurted it onto the paper and ended up fairly pleased with it. It gracefully tells the prospective reader that To His Mistress is a Regency. It tells you the very basics of the romantic plot; they had to get married and he hates it. In the last paragraph it hints that his hatred will not last, but he isn't going to win Katherine easily.

It's not a good blurb because it tells you next to nothing about Katherine and it might confuse the prospective reader. And yes, the genre is Regency romance, but when I promote To His Mistress, it is paranormal or fantasy romance. The stupid blurb fails to mention magic, which is an integral element of the plot. Told you I'm not very good at writing blurbs.

The most pertinent information left out of the blurb is what I like most about To His Mistress. You see, in my paranormal Regency series, King Arthur is not a myth. Arthur lived, ruled Britain, built Camelot, set up the Round Table, and argued with Merlin. Then Arthur died. Camelot and the Round Table remained in charge of Britain. Time passed, kings and queens sat on the throne, but Parliament didn't get invented. The Round Table still rules. Best of all, if Arthur was real, so was Merlin and his magic.

So there is magic in To His Mistress. In just about every other respect, the book is a conventional Regency, but the Round Table replaces Parliament and there is magic. Neither Katherine (heroine) nor Alexander (mud spattered hero) know about magic, but it is there. Alexander marries Katherine because he compromised her. He doesn't want to do it, but he has to. Magic makes him do it. Katherine marries Alexander because she has to, not because she loves him to bits. Magic makes her do it. Then, because Alexander is so impossibly stubborn and typically aristocratic, he moves heaven and earth to get what he wants: a divorce and Katherine as his mistress. (I guess magic can't make miracles.)

Again, thanks to magic, Katherine, who is delightfully clueless (the reviewer's words) takes her time figuring out that Alexander is divorcing her. When she does, watch out. Clueless is not the same as stupid. (Obviously, magic is no better at happy endings than it is at miracles.)

Magic is my favorite part of To His Mistress. It squirms around and does neat things; it adds spice and unexpected moments. Magic takes an implausible plot to another level -- makes it make sense.

I think that is what has me feeling exposed here. I wrote four Regency romances (the fourth is on the editor's desk) hoping people will enjoy my magical twist on a beloved genre. I don't feel uneasy with Regencies, or romances, or other types of fiction. I don't mind saying that I don't write good blurbs. It's the magic. Discussing magic makes me feel silly - uncertain - naked and vulnerable.

Still, I love writing it, so I'll put up with the feeling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ann Tracy Marr writes fantasy Regency romance. To His Mistress, the third book in her Banshee Brigade series, debuted in paperback October 25. Keeper of the Grail is in the works. A computer consultant in the Midwest, Marr lives with her husband, two cats, and plots that bounce off the wall.

Visit her at www.anntracymarr.com
Buy her books at http://www.awe-struck.net/authors/ann_tracy_marr.html

Round Table Magician Ebook ISBN: 978-1-587496066
Thwarting Magic Ebook ISBN: 978-1-587496479
To His Mistress Ebook ISBN: 978-1-587497209
Keeper of the Grail Awaiting release

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GUEST BLOG: JOANNE KENNEDY

A Day With Me “Behind the Scenes”


Being a romance writer is all in your head.

Much of my day-to-day life takes place at a computer keyboard, so spending a day with me behind the scenes wouldn’t be very exciting—unless you could get inside my head and help me sort through all the memories that go into writing a romance novel.

Of course, I haven’t experienced everything I write about. That would be exhausting. I’d be falling in love with two cowboys a year, moving to a different small Wyoming town every six months, and facing dangers ranging from temperamental stallions to steroid-addicted police officers. I’m not as gutsy as my heroines, so I’d probably never survive all the ordeals I put them through.

No, the things that come from my own experiences are the details. I savor little things like a stroll through a small town at twilight, a moment of connection with a horse in the round pen, or a trip down the highway at sunrise, concentrating on every sensual detail so I can relay the experience to my readers later.

Because I don’t just want to tell a story; I want to take you into my world. I want you to feel the hot Wyoming sun on your skin, the faint sage-scented breeze brushing your cheek, the creak of leather as you shift in the saddle.

I draw on good memories—and not so good memories. For example, this scene where Lacey falls off a horse should be pretty accurately portrayed, since I’ve had a lot of practice at it:

As Lacey’s legs tensed, she felt Captain’s muscles gather beneath her. He’d been restless the moment the rope came out, but now his head came up, his ears tilted forward, and he was suddenly prancing, his front legs dancing in place. She grabbed the saddle horn just as he took off like a stone from a slingshot.

For a full second she felt like she was suspended in thin air, still seated, her hand still poised in front of her like she was holding the horn, but there was no saddle beneath her. No horse, either. With a heavy whump, she hit the ground, her tailbone taking the impact and sending pain rocketing up her spine.

Yeah, that was me. There are other moments in Tall, Dark and Cowboy that were more fun to experience. Some of Lacey’s four-wheeling adventures are taken from my own experiences, and the scene where she learns to shoot is, too—although Lacey’s a much better shot than I am.

I also get to pass on the little things in life—those quiet moments you wish could go on forever. I’m not big on description—I like things to happen in my books—but once in a while I indulge myself:

As she left the light from the house behind, the world seemed to grow even more hushed. Looking up, she saw the sky speckled with stars, some hard and bright, some faint and far away.

Craning her neck, she stumbled backward and arched her back, almost tipping over in her effort to take in the entire display. She wanted to see the whole sky, to savor the sense of being surrounded with nothing and everything, time and timelessness.

These same stars lit the world long before she was born. They’d shine after she was gone, too, distant and unchanging, unaffected by her life or anyone else’s. She felt a lightness, as if a burden had been lifted. She may have wasted her life, but what good could she have done? She could make things better for those around her—she should do that—but in the long run, her petty problems made no difference. She lowered herself to the ground, crossing her legs yoga-style, her eyes never leaving the sky. She just wanted to enjoy the show.

Writing is like painting—you get to freeze a moment in time, immortalize an instant. But better yet, you get to string those moments together, embellish them with a little extra excitement, and hopefully create a novel that takes readers on an emotional and romantic journey.

My days might not look exciting from the outside—but I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Tall, Dark and Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy—In Stores November 2011

She’s looking for an old friend…

In the wake of a nasty divorce, Lacey Bradford heads for Wyoming where she’s sure her old friend will take her in. But her high school pal Chase Caldwell is no longer the gangly boy who would follow her anywhere. For one thing, he’s now incredibly buff and handsome, but that’s not all that’s changed…

What she finds is one hot cowboy…

Chase has been through tough times and is less than thrilled to see the girl who once broke his heart. But try as he might to resist her, while Lacey’s putting her life back together, he’s finding new ways to be part of it.

Joanne Kennedy is the author of three previous contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of American RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Crazy (June 2012). For more information, please visit http://JoanneKennedyBooks.com.

Sourcebooks will give away 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Please leave a comment with your email address.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Blog: Nickie Fleming

How I came to writing


A question most authors get is ‘What made you want to write?’ In my case, the answer is easy.

As an infant, when my parents were at work, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Both of them loved to read.

Grandpa (who was French-speaking)used to read to me from his private library, especially from his collection of works by Alexandre Dumas. I stood in awe with all these tales of valiant knights and musketeers, queens in need of help. When I was a bit older, I took to looking up facts in the Larousse encyclopedia, which he also owned (and which I inherited, a fine sample of late 19th century printing).

Another thing which added to my love for books is the fact that my Grandma did not like to go anywhere on her own. So she took me – a small child of just two years old –along when she walked to the library in town. I still remember the first time I entered this place. It looked so huge, so overwhelming with all those books in cases up to the ceiling

With all those books around the house, and my growing interest in reading adventure stories or historical ones, it did not take much for me to take up a pen and begin to write my own stories. I must have been seven years old when I wrote and read my own fairy tales to a public. My teacher and classmates just loved them!

While I grew older, the stories grew longer too. At first they were two or three pages, then some twenty or thirty, up to one hundred later on. My first real novel was written when I was sixteen, a story about a young woman who was kidnapped by Aztecs.

Generally I did not do a lot with those stories I wrote. They ended up in storage, covered in dust. Until some years ago. When I became fifty, I suddenly felt the urge to become a published author. So I went looking for that box filled with early stories, and decided I could use some of them to write a full-length novel. For example, the story about the woman kidnapped by Aztecs became Maria Gonzalez, a tale of a brave woman in mid sixteenth century Spain and Mexico.

I was lucky to find a publisher who believed in my work and wanted to publish it. Since then, my work is being published by Rogue Phoenix Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nickie Fleming was born and raised in the historical town of Dendermonde, Belgium – home of the legendary Horse Bayard.

She read English Literature at the University of Ghent, and got her master’s degree in philology. Since then, she has been working as a high school teacher.
Her interests besides reading and writing are travelling, skiing in winter and enjoying fine food.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest Blog: Melissa McClone

It may be early November, but given the way stores are decorated for the holiday season it feels more like December. Some of the shops where I live had the sparkly red and green stuff out when the Halloween decorations and costumes where for sale.

I tend to look past it. I don't like to listen to Christmas carols or decorate until after Thanksgiving, but I like to start my Christmas shopping early. I bought a gift for one of my children back in August. You never know when you'll see that perfect present for someone on your list so I keep my eyes peeled on what's out there all year long.

In my ideal world, I'm finished shopping by the time Advent arrives. That way I can concentrate on preparing for Christmas by decorating, baking and addressing envelopes, rather than making trips to crowded malls and stores. Of course, ideal rarely happens.

Well, except in 2008 when snow began falling on December 14th. And kept on falling. And falling. Forget about shopping or going to parties. No one could go anywhere until the 23rd and even then chains were required.

Sounds awful, right? Cabin fever after so many days. Running out of food. Not being able to shop for presents.

I'll be honest, it was sheer heaven. My kids will agree.

Sure, we were stuck at home. But that turned out to be a very good thing. Face it, preparing for Christmas can be crazy busy. All that shopping, mailing and party/events to attend are hard to juggle. Not to mention all the regular obligations and daily word count goals!

But thanks to Mother Nature, we didn't have to spend our time trying to cram it all in. The holidays, as well as life, were simplified for us when the weather cancelled most everything except Christmas itself. We didn't have to go anywhere except outside to play in the snow with our neighbors then back inside the house to warm ourselves when it got to cold and wet. It was great.

When the weather finally let up on the 23rd, my husband and I left the kids with the neighbors. We drove to a couple stores to pick up much needed food, including what we needed for Christmas dinner, and a couple remaining presents on the list. We ended up spinning out on the freeway on-ramp and nearly crashing head on into an SUV that was behind us. After that the only other place we drove to was Christmas morning Mass. When we exited church, snow had started falling again!

The white Christmas the kids had been dreaming about! A perfect winter wonderland.

As I prepare to have my family over for Thanksgiving dinner, I want to remember what I learned back in December 2008. It shouldn't take a snowstorm to keep us from getting so caught up in the holidays that everything happens in a blur.

This year, I went so far as to schedule in a two-week slow-down/break for my writing. I want to keep things simple and focused on what's most important about Christmas—love. Though if Mother Nature wants to lend a hand in helping me do that, I won't complain. The kids would love another white Christmas. And so would I!

Back Cover Blurb:

Christmas magic in Hood Hamlet...

For Leanne, infuriatingly charming firefighter Christian Welton is out of bounds. Not only is he too young for her, but his trail of broken hearts is legendary. Leanne's fought hard to be one of the boys, and won't let anyone see that Christian's smile makes her want to melt into his arms!

Christian wanted to discover the softer side of the tough-talking paramedic, but hasn't counted on how much the real Leanne affects him. He's vowed never to settle down, but under the mistletoe it's certainly the season to be tempted.…

If you'd like to meet Leanne Thomas, she was a secondary character in Melissa's free on-line read, Snow-Kissed Reunion, at eharlequin.com. (If you want to link to it here is the url: http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1538&chapter=1)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
:
Melissa McClone writes for Harlequin Romance. She was a 2011 RITA® Finalist in the Contemporary Series Category. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but quit her job to write romance novels. Writing happily ever afters is a lot more fun than analyzing jet engine performance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, three oh-so-spoiled cats and a dog named Chaos.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Blog: Stephanie Burkhart

Hungarian Movie Industry & Stars
By: Stephanie Burkhart


In the early 20th Century, several movie industries sprouted up, most notably in America, Berlin, and Hungary. The early movie industry went through many growing pains, but Hungary's movie industry really took some hits.

In 1896, the first movie theatre opened in Hungary and the Hungarians began shooting silent films. One of the first ones was known as 'A Táncz' (The Dance) and featured actors and ballerinas from the Operahaz Theater. The majority of these early films were documentary in nature.

The first film company with artistic goals formed in 1911 and was known as Hunnia Film Studio. Before World War I, the Hungarians had a thriving and growing industry, which continued to focus on short films. Unfortunately after the war, the Hungarian movie industry was devastated.

During the 1920's the movies saw a slow, but steady come back. American, French, and Italian films dominated Hungarian screens. Finally, in 1929, the first Hungarian "talkie" was introduced.

One of the most well known Hungarian actors of our times was Bela Lugosi. Surprisingly, he was born in the town of Lugoj, in modern day Romania, but at the time of his birth in 1882, it was a city in the heart of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Originally, his last name was Blaskó, but when he came to America, he changed it to Lugosi.

Bela began his career in 1901 in Hungarian theatre and acted in his first Hungarian film in 1917. Interestingly, he served as an Infantry lieutenant in the Austrian-Hungarian Army from 1914-1916.

After the war, Bela fled Hungary in 1919 and found his way to America. Did you know he was illegal immigrant? He landed in New Orleans in December 1920. In March 1921 he made his way to Ellis Island and entered the country legally.

In 1922, Lugosi preformed in his first Broadway play. His first American film role was in the 1923 move, The Silent Command.

DRACULA


Lugosi's most famous role was Dracula. He first played the Romanian Vampire on Broadway in 1927. Using his natural, heavily accented voice and appearing in minimal makeup, his performance earned him critical acclaim. Soon, he found himself typecast as a horror villain. Because of his accent, while part of his image, characters he could play were limited.

Lugosi was married over five times, but only had 1 child, Bela G. Lugosi in 1933 when he was 56 years old. Lugosi died in 1956 at the age of 73, from a heart attack but he will always be remembered as one of Hollywood's most iconic characters – Dracula.

In my latest romantic paranormal release, Danube In Candlelight (Book 3, in the Budapest Moon Series) is set in Budapest, Hungary 1922. My hero, Adam Varga, has a sister, Sophia, who is interested in becoming an actress. It was fun doing the research about the Hungarian film industry since the country has produced several memorable actors to include Bela Lugosi.

Adam Varga is Hungarian to the bone and desires nothing more than to help his nation rebuild after the war. Morgan Duma returns to Budapest after her parents sent her to England for her safety. Morgan is determined to help her nation as well, but when she discovers her father is a werewolf, Morgan begins to questions who she is. She becomes more reckless, more daring, and her choices become more bold. When Zoltan Kristos, a known werewolf, asks Morgan to accompany him to the Summer Ball, Morgan has to decide which man will best fit into her life.

BLURB FOR DANUBE IN CANDLELIGHT:
Released on 1 NOV 2011 with Desert Breeze Publishing

Morgan Duma has always known she's different. Her eyes have unusual gold rings around her irises, a trait she's inherited from her father. She's faster and stronger than most. Her endurance and stamina allow her to complete tasks in a quick and efficient fashion. Since she was a little girl, she knew there was only one man for her – Adam Varga.

Morgan learned to dance in Adam's arms. They grew up playing the piano together. Adam's calm, soothing presence was the perfect complement to her restless soul. Not only that, he shared her differences down to his feral eyes.

Enter Zoltan Kristos, Hungary's Minister of Reconstruction, He shares those same golden eyes that Morgan possesses. After Zoltan carries her mother's injured body out of a blazing fire, Morgan's life takes a turn she doesn't expect. Morgan discovers the reasons for her differences, and questions her very identity. Is Adam strong enough to be the man she needs him to be?


ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:

She placed a hand on his chest, hoping to grab his attention.
"Adam, I'm sensing stuff no normal human being would. I've been sensing it all along, but now I know why and it's upsetting. I'm not human. What am I?"

He gazed at her with a hint of concern in his expression. "Let's get out of this room."

She opened the door to the hall and stepped out. Why did he look at her like that? Wasn't he worried that he wasn't human, too?

He closed the door behind him and grabbed her wrist. The gold rings around his irises shrunk to their normal size. She glared at him.

"Look, I don't know why you're so concerned about who you are. I know who you are – you're kind, sweet, a wonderful pianist, and compassionate nurse. And you have a sense of humor that always made me laugh. That's who you are. I would think you'd be more upset over what your father has planned – that's a major decision and your mother has no say in the matter."

Morgan drew in a deep breath as the knot in her shoulder tensed. Adam had a point. How could she be so self-centered, dwelling on her high-strung emotions? Perhaps it was a cover. Perhaps she couldn't face the real issue because it mortified her. She didn't want to think about it now. Morgan turned her head away and reached over her shoulder to massage that tension-filled knot.

"Turn around." Adam's voice brooked no debate. She liked a man who commanded authority. Morgan turned around for him and he massaged both her shoulders. Heat from his hands trailed down her back. Her core warmed. Her body relaxed, reacting instinctively and with a desire she couldn't hide.

"Did I hit a nerve?" he asked.

"A nerve? In my neck?" She took a step backward, nearing him.
"No – about your father. Is your real fear about what will happen to your mother once he turns her?" Adam leaned close to her ear, keeping his voice low.

She closed her eyes briefly, facing her anxiety. "Yes."

"Morgan, our fathers' condition have a host of positive traits – the heightened senses, for example, but the best trait is the healing factor."

"I understand, Adam. That healing factor will help my mother recover from her awful injuries, but it comes with a tradeoff – she's going to become a werewolf."

"Is it better she become addicted to morphine? That addiction is a beast in itself. Which one would you prefer she'd become? The soldiers that are hooked on morphine have vacant eyes and their hands tremble for their next fix. Do you want that for your mother? Fighting something she can't win against, or do you want her dealing with a condition that is manageable? Both our fathers are good men. They've managed it."

Morgan pursed her lips. Adam's tone was laced in objectivity and confidence, offering her a plausible reason for her father's actions. Morgan didn't want a shell of skin and bones that resembled her mother – she wanted her mother well, emotionally and physically. Why had she been so selfish not to see that?

"It doesn't bother you that you have these traits?"
"I'm comfortable with who I am."

Morgan spun around, pressing the length of her body against Adam's body, curving her hand around the nape of his neck, bringing his lips to hers. Their mouths met in a searing kiss full of desire. Want. Warmth. Pleasure replaced Morgan's emotional pain and she deepened the kiss between them by sweeping her tongue into his mouth.

Adam groaned and wrapped his hands around her waist, tugging her closer. Morgan continued the kiss, nipping his lower lip with her teeth. A blast of heat from his body washed over her like an ocean wave, sending pleasure spiraling through her body. God, she had never felt so wonderful!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Burkhart was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. She received a B.S. in Political Science from California Baptist University in 1995. She served in U.S. Army from 1986-1997, spending seven years in Germany. Her interests include exploring European history and watching Dancing with the Stars. Stephanie lives in California and works for LAPD's Communications Division as a 911 Dispatcher. She's married with two young sons


FIND ME ON THE WEB AT:
WEBSITE:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

TWITTER:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166

GOOD READS:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart

Thursday, November 3, 2011

GUEST BLOG: ANITA CLENNEY

How Writers Are Born


Who can say what makes a writer? Some will tell of a lifelong dream to write. I didn’t. I had a lifelong dream to read. I’ve always loved stories. I remember going to the library with my mom to get Beatrix Potter books. I loved Peter Rabbit. What a magical world; rabbits who lived like humans and wore cute little clothes. And they could talk. Although early in life I never considered writing, during my moments of daydreaming, I often thought that the perfect job would be as a writer’s assistant. Aspiring to be the actual writer was so far above me, I didn’t even consider it. Now that I’m a writer, I know that a writer’s assistant would NOT be a dream job. I had seriously romanticized it. Writing, and therefore assisting a writer, is a tough job.

But life doesn’t always follow our plans, and somewhere along the line, a spark struck. I thought, “I could write a book like this.” I don’t remember what I was reading at the time, but it was during an obsessive reading jaunt that this light bulb went off in my head. It really had nothing to do with my life experiences or a specific job, because I haven’t done anything that I felt qualified me to be a writer. I hadn’t had any grand adventures like Hemingway.

But I think there is something inside writers that is there from the moment they’re born, an instinct for telling stories, whether they’ve been aware of it since childhood, or whether it’s lain dormant and sneaked up on them after age 40, as it did me. And whether they’ve traveled the world and lived grand experiences or been a homemaker busy shuffling kids back and forth from school to sports events, writers are all equal in this arena. We’re storytellers.

My question for writers is, when did you realize writing was in your blood? If you are a reader only, have you ever wanted to write?

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

They were driven apart by a timeless secret…

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

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

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

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

You can find out more about Anita and her books at:
http://www.anitaclenney.com
http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR
http://www.mysteriesandmargaritasblogspot.com

Sourcebooks will give away 2 copies of Embrace the Highland Warrior. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Please leave a comment with your email address.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Blog: Dora Hiers

Plotting over Lunch with my Hubby


Since I started writing inspirational romantic suspense, my husband seems almost scared to go to lunch with me. I can’t help but wonder why.

The other day, I met him at Buffalo Wild Wings. He breezes in, slings the fire radio off his belt, does that one-handed flip with the thing, and leans down to plant a kiss on my cheek before sliding onto the opposite bench seat. “Hey.”

“Hi, honey.” I flash my best “happy to see you” smile.

“Ready to order?”

Well, I am, but he just sat down. Doesn’t he need a couple minutes to look over the menu?

I shrug. “Sure.”

The waiter brings our drinks, takes our order, and leaves. I’m the type that usually orders the same thing. At Buffalo Wild Wings, it’s always the buffalito. The meal arrives, and I dig into my buffalito. I finish my meal, ready to talk.

“So, honey. I need your help. I need a way to crash a plane.”

His eyebrows practically arch off his head. His gaze darts around the room. He sees a couple local police officers sitting a few tables away, nods, and smiles at them. He leans back and inhales, deep and shaky, lets it out slowly. Takes a long sip of water. “OK. Crashing a plane. Hmmm.”

“Yeah. Or maybe a poison.” I let that swirl around in my head for about thirty seconds. “Yeah, poison might actually work better. Just enough of a drug to make the pilot a little woozy, but not enough to kill him.”

My husband scrunches his face, does another quick glance around the dining room, and hunches his generous body lower in the bench. In the smallest voice he’s capable of (my husband only has one volume: booming), he says, “Poison. OK. Give me this afternoon. I’ll make some phone calls and find you something to work with.”

A head from the booth behind my husband swivels in our direction and frowns. The man leans towards his lunch partner and whispers, begins punching numbers into a cell phone.

My husband grabs the check, bolts to his feet, and holds out a hand. “You ready to go?”

“Sure, honey.” I smile, knowing he’s a busy guy and has a ton of work waiting for him at the office.

“Thanks for your help. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

He throws a desperate glance over his shoulder, waves at the police officers, and hustles me out the door.

I love my wonderful hunk of a husband. He's a tremendous help in plotting books. Sometimes just talking things out will loosen up writer's block. And although he may cringe at my weird, out-of-left-field dilemmas, he never complains. Wonder where he’ll want to go to lunch tomorrow?

Blurb for Journey's End:

Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death. Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.

When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?

Where one journey ends, another begins…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. Eventually, needing something more to fill her days, she started writing heart racing, God-gracing books. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers.

Dora and her husband make their home in North Carolina. When she’s not writing, Dora enjoys spending time with her family, kicking back in her recliner with a good book, teaching Sunday School, vacationing in the mountains, cheering for the Panthers, and walking her dog.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest Blog: Kimber An



A Love Story Or A Romance?
By Kimber An


I love both, by the way. But, what’s the difference?

It’s genre and you can read all about it at the Romance Writers of America website.
http://www.rwa.org/cs/the_romance_genre

In a nutshell, a Romance must have a Happily Ever After ending, or HEA for short. Some will accept a Happy For Now (HFN), but most won’t. I’m one who does not like Happy For Now, as a matter of fact. I don’t see the point in being in a relationship if you know it’s not going to last.

I want True Love, baby, and that means HEA or

A Love Story.

The Love Story is true and transformative. However, it does not require Happily Ever After. The movie Titanic is absolutely one of my Favorite Movies of All Time. (I’ll list the others at the bottom of this article.) Titanic is powerfully romantic. The Poor Artist wins the Heart of the Poor Little Rich Girl from the Arrogant Rich Dude. And then he sacrifices his life to save hers, the Ultimate Demonstration of True Love. So, why wouldn’t Titanic survive the RWA cut?

The Hero dies.

I tend to write Love Stories, mostly because I write series. I believe strongly in Happily Ever After in real life (hey, 15 years and five babies for me and Hubby) and in the storybooks, but you can’t have the Hero and Heroine walking off into the sunset hand in hand at the end of the very first book or there’s very little to work with for the rest of the series. So, I resolve each book’s main plot with a promising twist, but my readers won’t see Adrian and Ophelia leave happily for college together (I write YA) until the end of Book Five. I think I’ll follow J.K. Rowling’s example and write an appendix after The End too.

In my new book, Sweet Bytes, Ophelia believes Adrian is dead. Her Oldblood bodyguard, Tristan Li (yes, he’s Asian American) helps her work through that grief and emerge at The End a much stronger person. In the process, he falls deeply in love and she eventually falls for him too. I won’t tell you exactly how it ends, but Ophelia ends up back with Adrian.

And about a decade after The End of the series, Adrian and Ophelia become the parents of a boy whom they name Tristan.

That’s all in my head, because each series is one big fictional universe. I see it all at once whereas readers see just parts of it.

So, if you read Sweet Bytes and you’re a little put off by no HEA, please hang in there. I promise you a whiz-banger in the end, ‘kay?

Kimber An’s Other Favorite Movies of All Time:

Dances With Wolves
The Fellowship of the Ring
Men In Black
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back
Star Trek First Contact
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Princess Bride
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Ten Commandments
(Yeah, I know, but Yul Brynner is one of the greatest hotties of all time)
*
Here’s the Sweet Bytes blurb!
*
Ophelia’s escape from Martin, an Addicted Newblood, came at a terrible sacrifice. Adrian, the boy she loves, is now infected and hunted like vermin.
As her new Protector, Tristan Li represents the Oldblood determination to destroy Adrian, along with all the Newbloods, addicted or not.

In her grief, Ophelia hates everything about Tristan, until his subtle strength empowers her to resist being turned into a vampire by the High Prefect.

As Tristan helps Ophelia harness her empathic ability, his need for redemption rings in her heart. Her own strength grows, along with her passion for freedom.

The veil of mourning lifts.

The evil of Martin returns.

Ophelia seizes ownership of her destiny.
*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimber An was seriously deprived of great YA stories when she was a teen in a small isolated town before the advent of the Internet and eBooks. Nowadays, she writes her own YA stories while wrangling four offspring with her pilot husband in Alaska.
www.kimberan.com