Beginning January 1, 2013

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

GUEST BLOG: TERRY SPEAR

I LOVE Writing Paranormal Romance
by
Terry Spear


Why?

There’s something superhuman sexy about an alpha male who’s all wolf, or vampire, or has some other unusual ability that is other than normal, which is PARA normal. Anyone can meet the average Joe and be satisfied, but when he’s got some other talents, ooh la la!

Life can be just plain boring, don’t you agree? Work, school, life in general. Same old routine. But what if one day you were hiking through the lush green woods, the summer’s breeze tugging at your hair, the sound of water trickling over moss-covered stones in a creek somewhere nearby and found yourself eye to eye with a wolf? And he shifted and now you’re gazing at a hot and hunky naked guy?

Oh, sure, you might be terrified out of your skin, but wouldn’t you see him differently than if he just was a wolf…or a naked human, not a shifter?

The combination is intriguing, don’t you think? Either would liven up a hike in the woods. But the combination gives you much more pause, doesn’t it?

That the notion an urban fantasy legend could be real? That he might even be interested in…you?

Think of it this way. A wolf takes a mate for life. The man doesn’t, not necessarily. If he’s one of the good guys and you’re lucky, yes. But if not… But here comes a man who’s all wolf, and if you’re the one for him, it’s forever and ever! Can’t beat that!

Okay, so you’re not yet convinced? If you saw a wolf staring you down on a trek through the woods, that might be scary. They don’t often attack humans though. Wild cats are much more to do so. Yet still, the wolf’s a predator and doesn’t think like a human does—eat human, get in trouble with more humans. So coming across the path of a wolf on a hike could scare a few years off your life.

If a naked man crosses your path, you would probably figure he’s got serious issues. Unstable, really scary. He might not think like a normal man either. Not in a paranormal sense, but more of a dangerous sense—kill human, won’t get caught. But then we’re back to the shifter. He’s got the instincts of the wolf, but the thought processes of a man, and what you have to be wondering in this whole hiking-in-the-woods-and-stumble-across-a-wolf-shifter scenario is why he shifted in front of you.

You see, werewolves don’t reveal themselves to just anybody. If they did, they’d be found out and that wouldn’t be good for their kind. Which means he either has to kill you or turn you.

No werewolf in his right mind would purposefully shift in front of a female hiker unless…he’s intrigued. Now, this can be a good thing. If you’re intrigued back. If not…well, it’s time to be part of the PARA normal community, and get used to it. Because with a shifter mate, you get a pack, family, loyalty, protectiveness, and a really hot guy, of the paranormal variety. No more walks in the woods alone. You’ve got a mate for company. And he’s sticking with you for the very long run.

So what’s wrong with that?

And when the shifter looks like Finn Emerson and he’s a SEAL on top of that, well what could be more delicious than that?

I’m all ready to go hiking. What about you???

I LOVE writing paranormal romance.

Terry Spear

A SEAL IN WOLF’S CLOTHING BY TERRY SPEAR – IN STORES MARCH 2012

Her instincts tell her he's dangerous...

While her overprotective brother's away, Meara Greymere's planning to play—and it wouldn't hurt to find herself a mate in the process. The last thing she needs is one of his SEAL buddies spoiling her fun, even if the guy is the hottest one she's ever seen...

His powers of persuasion are impossible to resist...

Finn Emerson is a battle-hardened Navy SEAL and alpha wolf. He's a little overqualified for baby-sitting, but feisty Meara is attracting trouble like a magnet...

As the only responsible alpha male in the vicinity, Finn is going to have to protect this intriguing woman from a horde of questionable men, and definitely from himself...

Experience the sensual, action-packed, critically acclaimed world of Terry Spear, author of a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year…
About the Author:
Terry Spear has written a dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. An award-winning author, Terry’s Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008. A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear is a librarian by day and spends every spare moment writing paranormal romance as well as historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on new paranormal romances! For more information, please visit www.TerrySpear.com.

Other places to find her on the web:
www.facebook.com/terry.spear
www.myspace.com/terryspear
http://terry-spear.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/TerrySpear

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for one of two copies of A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing (US and Canada only, please). Photobucket

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

GUEST BLOG: TARA CHEVRESTT

I’m here to talk about my contemporary romance, A Facebook Affair. And what I want to talk about is going to surprise you. You’re going to say, “What does that have to do with a romance novel?”

School Bullying.

How many of you have gone through it? Been laughed at, called names, ridiculed just because you are different? Maybe you wear glasses, are a bit overweight (which is not hard to be by today’s Hollywood standards!), or maybe you are just shy…?

In A Facebook Affair, Kelly is hearing impaired and when she has a chance at love with a boy she knew long ago, she’s got to get over the fact that his twin sister was one of the girls that tortured her in school…and I’m sure you all remember the type. They thought they were perfect, wouldn’t play with you, maybe shoved you around. So how did you deal with it? And better yet, as an adult, have you talked to YOUR kids about it?

My intention with A Facebook Affair is to not only educate the world about what it’s like to be hearing impaired, but to also bring that question up in all of your minds.

About the author:
Tara Chevrestt is a hearing impaired/deaf woman, a dog mom, and an aircraft mechanic. She likes to write about what she knows or loves and thus, has penned a contemporary romance following a hearing impaired/deaf woman trying to find love on Facebook, A Facebook Affair.

She has also penned Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers in honor of her three pampered pooches, Are You Talking To Me? A Memoir, Ride for Rights, a historical young adult novel, and Operation: Enduring Santa, a Christmas tale.

You can find her at http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/

Book info: http://www.breathlesspress.com/facebook-affair

When Kelly and Brandon rediscover each other on Facebook after twenty years apart, it sparks an attraction that even distance can't extinguish. Do they truly have a future, or is this just a Facebook affair?

Kelly Littleton takes the plunge and finally joins Facebook to socialize without the limits that her hearing impairment gives her. On a whim, she looks up a childhood friend. In sending him that first message, she ignites the memories of a crush from twenty years ago. But will they turn into the flames of romance, or end up the ashes of a Facebook affair?

Brandon Hopkins has a lot on his plate. A recent divorce, a pregnant sister, and now, he realizes he's in love with a woman who lives states away. Can he overcome the boundaries of internet romance to make this desire turn into something real, or will adversity and distance be their undoing?
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Friday, March 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: AMANDA FORESTER

The Highlands - Home of the Half Naked Man
by
Amanda Forester


Thank you for inviting me today at Long and Short Reviews! So what is my favorite reason for writing about the Highlands? It has got to be the Highlanders! What's not to like? You have big burly, manly men, wearing kilts and (be still my heart) speaking with a Scottish accent. That about does it for me!

With the release of True Highland Spirit I now have a trilogy of books set in the 14th century Scottish Highlands.

In my most recent release, True Highland Spirit, Morrigan McNab learned to survive with a sword in her hand. Taking command, she is determined to protect her impoverished clan, no matter the cost. When an elusive French knight offers gold to fight against England, she joins the call to arms. Sparks fly on the battlefield as a forbidden passion smolders between Morrigan and Sir Dragonet. Yet Sir Dragonet holds a secret that will destroy the hope for a life together, and will make them rivals on a dangerous quest for a mysterious relic. As they fight beside each other against the English, and against each other to find the treasure, their love becomes a greater force than either can control.

In The Highlander's Sword Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught in the conflict between the hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior, the Abbot’s insistence that she take her vows, the Scottish Laird who kidnaps her, and the traitor from within who betrays them all. Her new husband, Padyn MacLaren, is a battle-hardened knight, scarred by betrayal, who seeks Aila’s fortune to save his clan. Yet the outwardly shy Aila is nothing he expected… and everything he needs.

In The Highlander's Heart Lady Isabelle escapes her murderous English husband only to be abducted by a Highland warrior and held for ransom. Her determination to break free from captivity is exceeded only by the passion growing between her and the Highland Laird. David Campbell plans to hold Isabelle for ransom as an easy way to line his pockets and return her back where she belongs, but he is unprepared for a feisty English lass with a penchant for finding trouble. Caught between rival clans bent on claiming the throne of Scotland, Campbell must choose a side, and a bride. Standing on the brink of war, Isabelle may be his only hope to save his clan, and his heart.

Don't you love all my book covers? They highlight my favorite thing about the Highlands - men in kilts! I'm sure men in the 14th Century ran around shirtless all the time. After all, it is so tropical in the Highlands, wandering about without a shirt makes total sense. And as for waxing their chests, what medieval man didn't do that pray tell?

What do you like to see on your romance covers? Men? Women? Scenery? Chest hair?? I want to know! Visit me also on Facebook, Twitter, or my website.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GUEST BLOG: AIMEE LAINE



If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that opposites attract, but the connections between them are what hold them together. A little like magnets. The people are individual pieces, but when close enough, they stick together, and it’s not like those magnets don’t like being stuck. Quite the opposite in fact. Right?

So, does that really apply to people? If someone’s a complete opposite to another, and they know it, does the closer they get mean the more sparks fly, or the more synergistic the two will become?

Rather than guess, I’m here with Lexi Shepherd, now Fox, and Tripp Fox who are more opposite than anyone could ever guess, yet the two found a way to super glue their figurative magnets together.

Let’s see how they’re doing now that they can’t separate.

With pad and paper in hand, I sit across from them, the scent of coffee and pastries from Dulces, their location of choice, wafting in, around and through me. I’ve never been to a restaurant where the primary ingredient was sugar ... then again, that’s probably not true, the chefs just didn’t tell us that.

I digress. “So, Lexi,” I start as she sips from an iced tea, a sapphire pendant hanging around her neck, framed in by the ‘v’ of her shirt. “A few months ago, you were single and experimenting with a new line of business. Now you have a partner, in fact, one you can’t get rid of even if you wanted to. How’s that working out for you?”

She smiles at me, tilts her head toward Tripp, and back to me says, “Wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“Yeah? Because you seemed to fight it awfully hard. I mean some people who’ve heard of your story have even said you were so wishy-washy they wondered why Tripp didn’t just give up.”

Her head cocks toward him. “Do they? Really? Is that what they think?” she asks.

I nod.

“Well, yeah, that’s true. Actually, I thought he’d given up two or three times. I’m pretty sure Emma would agree with your characterization of me, too. I’ve always been that way. Stubborn to the extreme and burned enough to be incredibly wary.” She sips again, her hand sliding beneath the table, I assume to connect with Tripp.

“And you,” I say to the man with the cockiest grin I’ve ever seen. “You continued to pursue. A woman who clearly bounced away from you at every chance, who couldn’t say ‘yes’, and you kept after her. Why?”

He gives Lexi a small nod.

“Because something worth keeping is worth pursuing to the last possible moment.” His cheeky grin finds its way back toward me. “And of course who doesn’t like a great game of cat and mouse?”

“Okay, so you’ve admitted you expected not to be together, and yet you are. You overcame the ultimate paradox and according to some mythological force, you’re now stuck with each other no matter what. What happens when you can’t deal with the toilet seat up anymore, Lexi?”

She laughs. “I already can’t deal with that. But that’s not the point. The stars aligned in such a way that we were able to come together. After thirty years of not looking, but knowing who my celestial match was, don’t you think I’ll want to hang on to him forever?”

I have to give her credit, if I’d have to look for a husband for more than a year or two, I’d probably have kept the first one who could deal with me, too.

“Okay, so the myth was meant to keep you apart. Is there any way, ANY way in the future it could break up what you think you have?”

Tripp leans toward me, steel in his eyes. “Never.”

I’ll take that as a ‘move on, now’ kind of answer. “Now that you two are all squashed together, mythologically speaking, what are your future plans?”

They turn to each other, smiles building upon their faces.

“We’re going treasure hunting of course,” Tripp says.

“Treasure hunting?” I ask.

He nods. “What better way to test out how our combined skills work? She’ll find, I’ll ...”

“Not steal,” Lexi interjects. “There we have an agreement and since he can’t work without me and I can’t work without him, we’ll deal only with stuff that doesn’t cross the grey line.”

I don’t miss the roll of Tripp’s eyes, but the grin suggests he’s not about to contradict his new wife.

“So, I do have one question for you ... that’s kinda related and kinda not."

“Okay, ask,” Lexi says.

“Jill—” Tripp’s former fiancee. “Did she seriously accept her new guy and marry him in a total of seven days?”

Lexi crosses her knee over the other, hands as prim as ever in her lap. “Yes, she did. In fact we talked to her just the other day, and she’s as happy as can be. So is Jacob.”

“But it was only seven days!” Clearly, I still can’t believe it.

Tripp’s laugh fills the room. “And this is surprising given the Kardashians and most of the Hollywood A-list?”

Touche. “Well, that’s true. Okay. Maybe I can believe it.”

Lexi rubs a hand on Tripp’s shoulder, his arm snaked around her until they lean into each other, and he says, “One thing you learn when you have to beat Zeus at his own games is that if you find the solution, and it feels right, it is right. I knew. Lexi knew, it just took her a while to accept, and Jill and Jacob knew.”

“In love, nothing is impossible,” Lexi says and with a kiss to her new husband, the lights in the room flicker.

Just like they always do.

Because in their case, the magnets make the sparks fly.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

GUEST BLOG: LINDA SWIFT

MY FASCINATION WITH A TRAGIC QUEEN


I've always been a pushover for the underdog. That is probably the reason I became a counselor in my other life. Helping people solve their problems, pointing out their alternatives and helping them map out a course of action was always very gratifying. So I suppose it was no wonder I felt drawn to Mary Queen of Scots even though it was half a dozen centuries too late to help her.

My husband and I were living in England when I first became aware of this woman's sad plight. Oh, I had read enough history to know the general outline of what happened but I had never been close enough to the events to care.

As we traveled the country on weekends, it seemed that Mary had stayed for a time in almost every castle we visited. I began to wonder why. When we went to Scotland and toured Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, we were shown the bed where Mary slept. It looked rather dilapidated and uncomfortable, covered with a nondescript gold spread, yet in another room a glass enclosed bed was covered in fine tapestry. Why was a queen's bed left for tourists to bounce on if they chose while another bed was preserved simply for its finery, I asked myself. And much later, on another National Holiday weekend, we saw the site where Fotheringhay Castle had stood, and where the queen had lost her head, literally. There was only a small sign in a weed-covered field stating the castle's former location and no reference to Mary at all.

I began to ponder the inconsistencies. It seemed every castle in England wanted to claim the queen had slept there, but the castle where she had been beheaded no longer existed and castles are not easily destroyed. Even in her own country, she was almost ignored. I began to think of Mary Queen of Scots as an enigma and wanted to know more about her. And the more I learned, the more sympathy I felt. When I mentioned this to any of my English friends, it was quite clear they didn't share my sentiments. I suppose this had something to do with how the course of history would have been changed if Mary had somehow usurped the throne of her cousin, good queen Bess. But in my opinion as an outsider, I think Mary would have been happy to return to Scotland and rule her own native land and bring up James. And perhaps that might have made a difference in this boy king who allowed his own mother to die without lifting a finger to save her though he did finally relent and have her entombed in Westminster Abbey.

In retrospect, I think it a pity that Queen Mary didn't have better counselors to guide her. There was her early marriage to Francis, that sickly boy who was heir to the throne of France. Then the vain, ambitious Lord Darnley, and worst of all the ruthless Bothwell. Not a one of them were worthy of her. By all accounts, she was beautiful and intelligent but she needed to learn to trust her own instincts. She made a lot of poor decisions, like stopping in England instead of going on to France when she fled Scotland for her life. My heart breaks for her always longing, throughout all the years of her English captivity, to be invited to London to meet her cousin Elizabeth. And in her final hours, the way she met her death was an example of true courage.

And so, Queen Mary inserted her strong personality into my thoughts until I was forced to put her into a book to get her out of my head. I had intended to give her a minor "walk-on" part but she had other ideas. She insisted on speaking! And I found myself creating other characters to showcase her. She did allow me to write a sweet romance between her innocent waiting-lady and a handsome, stalwart castle guard but she stayed in control of the story most of the time.

However, I can't begrudge her that. It was the least I could do for her. I really wanted to help her escape back to Scotland but one can't rewrite history without changing fiction to fantasy, can one? I hope you'll read Maid of the Midlands and that the tragedy of this queen will touch your heart as it did the hearts of Matilda, Jondalar, and me.

Tell us your favorite queen and be entered into a drawing for a copy of Maid of the Midlands.

About the Author:
Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published fiction, poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Linda holds an Education Specialist Degree from Murray State University with post-graduate work from U. of Alabama and was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist in public schools in three states. She credits her husband and adult children for providing encouragement and technical support necessary for survival in the cyberspace world.

Linda's first two books were published by Kensington. She currently has nine e-books(eight also in print)available from the publishers below. Two books of fiction, a haiku collection, and four short stories are scheduled for 2012. For more information, please visit her website at www.LindaSwift.net

When Mary, Queen of Scots, is sent to Hafton Castle, Matilda becomes her waiting-lady. The comely maid loves Jondalar, a stalwart castle guard who returns her affection but places his greed to succeed above all else. After Matilda nurses the queen through a fever, she rewards the maid with a valuable ruby. Jondalar plots with the young lord of the castle to rid the Crown of the captive queen in return for a promotion in the guard. When Matilda discovers the plan, she risks her life to warn the queen. As Mary journeys toward her next destination, Matilda and Jondalar separately travel the English countryside in pursuit of her. Jondalar had a change of heart and also seeks to warn the queen but Matilda is unaware of this as they dodge each other enroute. When Jondalar almost loses the maid he loves, will he realize what really matters?
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Friday, March 16, 2012

GUEST BLOG: LISA SCOTT



This stop is part of the Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.


5 Reasons You Should Try Short Stories


I think you need to read a short story. Today. Or this weekend, at least. Okay, since I write romantic short story collections, I’ll admit this is like showing up at my daughter’s job interview and telling the boss to hire her. (She’s only eight. I won’t be humiliating her like that anytime soon.) But I don’t know many people who do read short stories, and with the explosion of ebooks and ereaders, I think it’s a great time for this genre to make a comeback. So here are five reasons you should think about picking up a few short stories—even if you’re convinced they’re not for you.

1) They’re perfect for lunch or your kids’ practices. I’ve sat through many Tae Kwon Do practices that could have been made much enjoyable with a short story on standby. Technically, short stories are 1,000-7,500 words in length, so they can easily be read in one sitting. (Anything shorter than that is flash fiction. Stories over 7500 words and up to 20,000 words are called novelettes, which sound like fancy little desserts, so I just call mine short stories, even though mine are around 10,000 words. Novellas are 20,000-50,000 words.) I’ve heard from lots of readers who save my stories to enjoy during lunch, a little something to look forward to during the workday. So instead of having to put down a novel at a crucial moment, you can get the satisfaction of an entire story arc in one sitting. Think of it as a satisfying lunchtime quickie.

2) You get to know a lot of characters. My short story collections have five stories in each collection, so you’ll meet lots of different couples in interesting situations. If I’ve done my job, you’re going to feel like you really got to know and care about these folks. As a reader, I love learning about new characters and places, and a few short stories a week will fill that desire, whether from a collection, or a bunch of individual shorts.

3) It’s a great way to try out a new genre. I’m not a big sci-fi reader, but I recently picked up a short story with an interesting premise that’s getting a lot of buzz online. I’m still thinking about that story a week later. Would I have read it if it had been a novel? Probably not. Too big of a commitment in my crazy busy world. But this short story was the perfect way to pass an hour, and now I have to rethink my stance on “not liking sci-fi.”

4) Okay, maybe #4 should be #3b, but short stories are also perfect for finding new authors. More authors are self-publishing shorter pieces like novellas and short stories in addition to their novels. (It’s a great way for authors to release something new in between their longer works.) Shorter stories can help you discover if you like the author’s style and voice without spending too much time and money. Short story anthologies featuring different writers are fantastic for discovering new authors. I’m seeing more and more of these come out every day in all different genres.

5) Just because it’s a short story, doesn’t mean it’s not a complete story. I think this is the biggest reason people are reluctant to try short stories; like it’s going to be as fulfilling as one bacon wrapped scallop on a toothpick when you really want the stuffed haddock with the rice pilaf. I’ll let some of my reviews speak to this. From L. Miller on Amazon, for my novella Spouse Hunting: “Shorter stories are tough. You have to set up the story, characters, scene--everything in an economical fashion without looking rushed. You have to leave the reader feeling it was long enough to get the stories within the story spelled out. Some can't do in 200 pages what this writer managed to do in 70 pages.” From B.L. Rice Reading Junkie on Amazon for my collection Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories: “I really do not like this genre much, but I couldn't help that the reviews were so positive. So, I took a chance and got it. I love it! The stories are quick and sweet.” From TDN “ABookAday” on Amazon for my short story “The Hot Girl’s Friend” (from Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories) “Lisa Scott has a wonderful ability to use such few words and immediately sink her reader into the story and the characters better than some authors who have an entire novel to work with!” And nope, these weren’t relatives or reviewers bribed with chocolate. Short stories really can be fun, fulfilling, and totally worth your time.

So even if you’ve never tried a short story, and you’re convinced it’s not for you, give it a shot. Get yourself to your favorite ebook site and start browsing. You’re sure to find one in your favorite genre, or maybe you can try something new. This could be the start a beautiful relationship between you and short fiction. A secret lover on the side whenever you need a little love. Your novels never need to know.

About the Author:
Lisa Scott is a former TV news anchor who now enjoys making up stories instead of sticking to the facts. The first book in her Willowdale Romance series will be released by Belle Bridge books in November 2012. In the meantime, she'll be releasing short stories linked to the Willowdale series, in addition to her Flirts! collections.

When not begging her husband and two kids for a few minutes of peace to write her stories, she works as a voice actor and putters around in her koi pond and garden in upstate NY.

Find the author online at:

http://readlisascott.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Read-Lisa-Scott/227457993948941
http://twitter.com/#!/ReadLisaScott

Every volume of the Flirts! Collection features five sweet, funny romantic short stories, linked by a loose thread. It all ties up in a fab, fun ending, bringing together characters from all the stories in that collection. Each short story is 8,000-12,000 words long--the perfect length to squeeze in during your lunch break or kids' practices. Sometimes you need a little love!
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KH LeMoyne

This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host with the most comments (excluding the author's and the host's). Additionally, she'll choose two randomly drawn winners of the Dragon Rider’s Gift eBook (A Portal Tale), due for release May 1, 2012. Click on the banner above to see the other tour stops. Remember, the more you comment the better your chances of winning.


Five ‘MUST HAVES’ in Paranormal Romance


Thank you for having me on the Long and Short Reviews blog today. Creating paranormal/fantasy romance is not only what I do for my day job, but a job I enjoy. I write several different series. All have fantasy and paranormal elements to them so the following five components are something I strive for in my writing process.

First: Well-developed male and female characters. Personally, I enjoy romance characters who deliver their internal thoughts with their external actions. I want to be inside their head. I also find that the more memorable stories include internal thoughts and dialog that don’t repeat each other but work in unison, ultimately reflecting a more complex individual. I’m talking here about layers, the reasons behind why the characters behave the way they do, why they want what they want, and what unusual circumstance might force them to change their minds or to never do so. For me, this isn’t about alpha characteristics but about what makes the character a unique individual. This is the basis on which to add supernatural powers, talents, and paranormal characteristics.

Second: Just enough details, but not too much. This follows the ‘everything in its own good time’ scenario. Even if the story isn’t a mystery, details should be delivered as needed not as wanted by the reader. Tension and pacing are everything in storytelling. We all have authors who we trust enough to deliver us a great story that we’ll wait until they offer explanations, even if they make us squirm to find out sooner. Sometimes that’s more delicious.

Third: Believable world building. For me, this means we should be able to see, taste, smell, and almost feel what the characters do. Especially if the surroundings or the paranormal aspect is unique (which hopefully it is). That means we see the magic evolve, experience the shape shifting fur or wings, and have a taste for the exotic highs and tedious boredom of an immortal’s life. All contribute to a justifiable suspension of disbelief.

Fourth: Lovemaking for a reason—an expression of loving desire. Lust is entertaining, but sex is different between people who love each other versus people who are just making a fleeting connection. Even if the characters don’t realize it immediately, there should be some discernible change or highlights that a reader will pick up on. Even in paranormal romance, the romance is still the key ingredient. First and foremost the romance needs to be well paced and evolve logically to be believable. All the rest of the story spins because the two main characters have a reason, a well-matched need, to be together.

And finally: A satisfying ending. Duh. But that runs the gamut and, unless we’re writing flash fiction, a little more is sometimes better than a little less. At least in my opinion. This is tying up the loose ends of the romance and the hanging threads for the story. Hanging threads for a series, which are usually obviously classified that way, can be addressed another day—though not forgotten.

You’re probably saying “but those are requirements for any good story.” Yep, they are. So I suppose the only real difference with paranormal/fantasy is a vivid imagination for things outside the realm of reality! :-)

Hopefully, I succeed with the above list in my stories. If you read Return of the Legacy, feel free to drop me a line at my website and let me know.

~Kate
KH LeMoyne

About the Author:
A former technology specialist, KH LeMoyne now writes romance fulltime with series in urban fantasy, high fantasy, and scifi/futuristic. She lives in Maryland with her wonderful husband and corgi. Much to her dismay, she rarely encounters supernatural beings other than on paper. Visit her website: http://www.khlemoyne.com/ or blog: http://fantasypoweredbylove.com/.

Three magical dimensions…Two mystical bloodlines…One undeniable destiny.

Born a magical empath, Logan MacKenzie has spent his life protecting his family from discovery. Evil has found them anyway. What begins as Logan’s search for answers on Earth becomes a race for survival in the magical dimension of Loci. The battle to save those he cares about will reveal his true lineage—the bloodline of the Makir, one half of a pair of sentinels chosen to guard the mystical portals between dimensions. The price of his acceptance: a love he never imagined possible and a heartbreaking choice.

Her family attacked, her home destroyed, and now stranded on Loci, Briallen of Tir Thar, descendant of a magical race, has only to summon the power within her to return to her own dimension—or so she had hoped. Unfortunately, her powers aren’t cooperating, and the sorcerer bent on her family’s destruction will stop at nothing to possess her.

Raised without knowledge of the portals, the Makir guardians, or her own destiny, Bri takes a leap of faith in an alliance with Logan. Embracing an uncertain power and accepting his goals as hers offers her the only way home. If they fail, the consequences of allowing the portals to fall to evil are unthinkable—the destruction of every magical dimension throughout space. Warning: This is a fantasy romance, containing magic, love, and courage. The omission of vampires and shapeshifters is intentional.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GUEST BLOG: APRIL FIFER and DANIELLE HYLTON-OUTLAND

Hot Demons VS Sexy Angels
Our book, Flesh and Feathers, is based on angels, but we noticed that in the world of paranormal romance, the struggle for good and evil seems to be torn. Do you want to read about a bad-boy turned good? Or a good-boy turned bad? This has become a debate between us in our reading/writing lives.

Demons are hot and yummy with their tendencies to be bad. And like magic, they will burn eternally for their one true love. Then take angels; they are sweet, innocent protectors or all that is good, but then fall from grace because of love for another.

These two opposites seem to be sweeping the paranormal romance world by storm. The fascination between these characters of good and evil are so incredibly intriguing because of what they represent. But our question is, do the same readers who love to read angel stories, love to read about the other side – demons?

Our love for both is evident. We have love for reading both demons and angels, but in terms of writing we are biased. (Hence, Flesh and Feathers.) Angels give us that “feel-free” good girl vibe. We see ourselves wearing white and floating in the clouds with the hottest angel alive. But give us some black leather pants and a motorcycle, and we will jump right on the back with a hot demon – bearing flames and all.

So what is it that captivates us by these good vs. bad creatures? Is it in our own nature to be torn between two morally opposites? We know we are!

April Fifer and Danielle Hylton-Outland

Tell April and Danielle which you prefer: angels, demons, or both and why, and be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon GC.

About the Authors:
Danielle Hylton was raised in Virginia. She grew up having a huge appetite for daydreaming; always wanting to live in the spectacular worlds she created in her mind. She now lives with her husband and dog where she is pursuing a degree in literature. Danielle is a strong animal activist. She is currently co-writing the second book in the Flesh Series, Flesh and Flames.

April Fifer grew up in a small town in Virginia, where it was common practice believing that dreams could only be found in stories. At the age of seven she was diagnosed with dyslexia. She was told that she would struggle through life and would never pick up a book to read for pleasure. Although school was hard, she was able to find her way with the help of two teachers who taught her self-discovery. Ignoring what she was taught growing up, she turned it around and found that your dreams could become stories.

Find the authors online at:

http://www.fiferhylton.com/
https://twitter.com/#!/FiferHylton
http://fiferhylton.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flesh-and-Feathers/149542115115597

Azaleigh's life was simple. Then she meets Kale and Gage, two very different and charming men -- one she loves and the other she can't live without. As she struggles with her feelings towards them both, she begins to realize they are hiding a secret -- and to her surprise -- they aren't the only ones. Soon after, Azaleigh finds herself running for her life from a bounty hunter that is far from human, and with every narrow escape, she begins to unlock the secret that will change her life forever. In a world of good and evil, angel and fallen, Azaleigh must choose between fate or the one she loves. What do you do when hell won't let you win and evil just won’t die?


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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JEFFREY ROSS and JANN M. CONTENTO


This post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment for a chance to win a novel-companion e-form [PDF] “chapbook” of poetry “voiced” by one of the novel’s characters, Spanish Professor Jack Frost. Click on the banner to see other stops on the tour.


On Romance in PDA…


The romances in our novel, The Philip Dolly Affair, are brittle yet redemptive. We have difficulty glorifying the entangling romances of American suburbs, of the trailer parks, of career machinations, of deserted single moms. Yet we are confident romance can flourish in contemplation, soul-reverence, and nourishing-love. Certainly we have fun with bikers, exotic dancers, the Bug Man, and “Girls Night Out” references. But at the core of our text is a cry for respect—and understanding —and the intrinsic worth of lovers who do not abandon the essence of being. For this stop on our Virtual Tour, we wanted to include some of the romantic [or psycho-dramatic] poetry voiced by our characters. Many of these poems can be found in the novel—the rest appear in a chapbook of poetry called Jack Frost’s Middle Class Poems and Other Voices from Copperfield. Hopefully these poems help to illustrate both the violent and tender romantic proclivities depicted in the Phil Dolly Affair.

Thank you!

~~~~~


Jack Frost’s Lament I was silly, long ago. I thought those girls were interested in me. Oh, I wasn’t the best looking, not at all. I was thin and probably showed signs of inadequate nutrition as a child - - or impolite behavior - - or misplaced small town Narcissism. I owned two or three pairs of jeans and a shirt or two - - and always looked the same - - unkempt and erratic... I didn’t have any money - - rode an old Triumph - - and could only talk about fishing, or Chaucer, or romantic poetry, or lonely rides on cold Kansas concrete highways. I was keen on worthless things like mysteries of the chilly Canadian north, blonde furniture in old stone houses, pickled beets, and the glorious smell of burning leaves on late October evenings. I wanted desperately, while sitting on a hay bale, to hold some pretty girl’s gloved hand and sit around a bonfire with other happy couples. Never Happened. [Now I live in a travel trailer with a Big Mean Gal] Of course, the young ladies I knew - - and I suppose I flirted with them, and tried silly games with them, and made some foolish boasts to them - - Well, they moved on... To real life... And I see their faces - - still beautiful, poised, and kind - - on the alumni pages. And they are happy, and I am not. My nutrition is better now, but I still don’t know how to behave. And money is hard to come by for me… Sometimes I wake up at 3 am and see clearly I never had a chance with that Life…Probably too impolite, too silly. The world has passed me by, and my time has passed, too. Angry Woman with a Ball Bat Frost watched Buzz drive up, The old Bronco bounced through ruts and broken pieces of shale - - Though it was cold outside, she was sleeveless. She was smoking a straight Pall Mall and grunting when she swung open the door and stumbled through the skiffs of snow, Carrying a ball bat and cursing… “I know you’re in there, Frost! You can’t ignore me you - - “ The howling wind blew her words away - - Frost was standing behind a Ponderosa pine tree, a thick one, sipping on a good cold beer and watching her- - She careened around the yard, tripping over a stump, swinging the bat at his Sporty but missing, Cursing the trailer, the bench press - - screaming louder than the wind at times… Angry at the weather, her old boyfriend, herself…. Then, without damage, she crawled back into the Bronco, and bounced back down the hill. Big Buzz was gone…. Frost sat back in his lawn chair and watched the snow fall. Any Sonoran Morning – Frost and Julia Together I could ride those miles to see her Any hot Sonoran morning, my heart throbbing, I could dedicate time and space to have lunch and hold her hand for moments In a cute cafe by the highway, her way We would have Mexican, sure, and perhaps a drink or two Couples would come and go, thinking she and I were together The lunch would be long and animated [but leashed] I would have cheese enchiladas - - she would not..... She might laugh her gleeful laugh Her head thrown back in rapture Eyes and hair perfect….always beautiful and confident... She would ask about my publications, or my neck of the woods, while texting a dear friend And mumble “that will be good for you” or “that sounds like fun” [She is thinking about exotic skiing in Colorado now, or flying to Montana, or her career, or the next tortilla chip - - but not about me or the cute cafe’] Some ancient sense of obligation, or perhaps tired adventure, has brought her here today. She is beautiful and charming still - - but transparent… She will gently apply lipstick after wiping her mouth with a paper napkin Her fingers are deft when she toggles a mint…. [She has left no crumbs or messes] Then, she will walk across the parking lot to work without one backwards glance And look refreshed and wholesome [easily] Despite her echoing minor protests, I gladly pay the bill…. My eyes will follow her and I will shake my head in the sad awareness, recognizing the world of joy and romance and playfulness is gone, fully gone, and buried….. Oh, I marvel at swarming feelings wondering why I couldn’t make the speech and couldn’t articulate the depth of my wonder and sadness - - I am Frost, and the end times have come for me. Jack Frost Comes Home Jack Frost comes home from his job… Numb from the cold, he leans his 87 Sportster on its jiffy stand And struggles to get a crinkled key into the front door [numb fingers, you know]. He is living in an older travel trailer now, down by the weed-tossed brickyard - - Alimony, bad health, and depression have pretty much cleaned him out. He doesn’t pay attention to scrolling marquees, billboards, or television…the icons of pop culture are so just so much debris to Frost... Our World has beaten him badly - - perhaps his fault, perhaps not.... He has a job and pays his bills, and sees the strident silliness of social slurping... Jack Frost treats himself to smoked oysters and a six pack of good cold beer each Friday night … He has no photographs in his place, nor phones, nor any past or future... Just the present... And his memories focus and refocus on those who have ridiculed him mercilessly... He doesn’t go to movies, or watch American Idol [he owns an AM radio, but not a TV!] But he reads and reflects quietly. You see - - Jack Frost took that sage advice to be an individual - - “Never conform! Be yourself! Do what you want to do! Just Be Happy!” And the World has beaten him for it... The World has beaten him badly - - perhaps his fault, perhaps
~~~~~
About the Authors:
Jeffrey Ross, who resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife and son, is a writer, rockabilly musician, and former full-time community college teacher. He has had four "Views" pieces published on InsidehigherEd.com since 2007, has authored and co-authored several op-ed articles on community college identity, purpose, and culture, and has recently had several pieces published on the Cronk News higher education satire website.

Jann M. Contento has a broad range of experiences in higher education including student affairs administration, athletics, and institutional research. He is currently working in a community college setting and has co-authored several articles on leadership and college culture.

Find the authors online at:

Facebook Info Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/College-Leadership-Crisis-The-Philip-Dolly-Affair/109780632466832?sk=info
Getting to Know Phil Dolly Blog: http://copperfieldcommunitycollege.blogspot.com/
Twitter Account @SalinasChick: https://twitter.com/#!/salinaschick
Jeffrey Ross Creative Efforts Home Page on Web Eden (Music and More) http://jeffreyross.webeden.co.uk/
Jeffrey Ross Open Salon Blog—other poetry and essays http://open.salon.com/blog/slipdoc/popularity

While community colleges are currently receiving heightened attention, this novel provides a behind-the-scenes analysis of many whispered truths, those simmering but unspoken workplace behaviors, issues, and machinations every worker (Everyman!) will recognize. A humorous and biting read with a clever mix of satire, political intrigue, failed romances, and tragic-comedy, this novel will open your eyes to the truth about community colleges … Photobucket

Monday, March 12, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KRIS DeLAKE

Spaceships and Sexy Men
Kris DeLake


When I was in high school, I fell in love.

With Han Solo.

I saw Star Wars (the original movie) on the day it was released. I used to argue with all of my female friends that Han, not Luke, was the sexy one, the one whose shoes (well, boots) would fit under my bed. My friends understood after The Empire Strikes Back, but it took them that long to figure it out. Me, I knew the moment I saw him.

By then, I already had a taste for space-faring bad boys. Because, honestly, if you really look at it closely, you’ll see that classic Star Trek’s James T. Kirk is a classic bad boy too. Yeah, he runs a ship and is a captain in a quasi-military organization, but he never follows the rules. And he sleeps with every pretty female alien he can find.

In grade school, I figured out that he just needed to meet me. Then all those other women would pale in comparison, and James and I would have marvelous adventures together.

Until I threw him over for Han Solo. Which I soooo would have done.

Fast forward to the start of my writing career. I went to Clarion Writers Workshop in Michigan, where I was told in no uncertain terms that space opera was not science fiction, and bad boys did not run spaceships. I became a science fiction writer (under my real name Kristine Kathryn Rusch), won a few Hugo awards, and also wrote a lot of Star Trek and some Star Wars so I could flirt with my real love.

Meanwhile, the romance genre changed. Back then, romances had to be about real people in real time periods. No spaceships. No werewolves. Real people, falling in love in the Civil War or in modern-day Connecticut. Gradually, vampires became sexy, and outer space became cool.

I could finally write my sexy space opera stories.

You won’t find James T. Kirk or Han Solo in Assassins in Love, but you’ll find echoes of them. And you’ll find something you didn’t see in early Star Trek—a tough female heroine.

So sit back and enjoy Assassins in Love. And as you read, imagine a John Williams soundtrack with lots of fast-moving spaceships on the screen. There will be more assassins stories. Because sexy men hang out in space. James T. Kirk taught me that.

Find Kris online at http://kriswrites.com/tag/kris-delake/

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Friday, March 9, 2012

GUEST BLOG: BRENDA WHITESIDE



This post is the last stop of Brenda's Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment for a chance to win a 1940's double feature night at the movies which will consist of two DVD movies from the era starring the movie idols the heroine mentions often in the book - one Betty Grable movie and one Tyrone Power movie - plus popcorn and a box of candy!


When girls were girls and men were men – those were the days! Or at least those were the days in the movies I grew up watching. During the hot afternoons in Phoenix, Mom would draw the living room drapes and turn on The Channel Five Movie Matinee which ran the old black and white movies from her teenage years, the 1940’s. They were reruns to my mom but delightful first runs for me. Between the old movies and my mom’s tales of growing up in the 1940’s, I fell totally in love with that decade. So romantic, so colorful.

My research started years ago, in the living room watching The Channel Five Movie Matinee. It was Hollywood’s version but movies do reflect the times.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tapped across the stage, her glittery dress flowed around her ankles, and he bent her backwards in a graceful maneuver that netted him a kiss. I sighed at the black and white images. The actor with the funny nose made cracks and the pretty redhead batted her eyelashes. I laughed at an old black and white Bob Hope and Lucille Ball movie on television while curled up with my little sister in a corner of the sofa.

Saturday morning, I’d carry my cup of hot cocoa and my white bread toast dripping with butter to the blanket spread in front of the television to watch an old movie starring Shirley Temple.

Movies were set on sound stages mostly and they didn’t worry about too much realism. My heart pattered over Gene Kelly dancing in the rain, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing around a perfect garden under perfectly spaced stars and Dorothy dancing through the Land of Oz.

The time period following World War II is the setting for Honey On White Bread. The two families, the Russells and the Flanagans are the people who move through the novel. Both families are poor but rich with love and family.

My heroine, Claire Flanagan, is caught up in that fantasy called Hollywood. She loves those old black and white movies on the silver screen as much as I did. Of course, for her they’re not old. In her eyes, her hero, Benjamin Russell, is as dashing as any movie star idol.

My mother provided firsthand accounts of the era. Listening became an important part of gathering facts – but I’d been doing that all my life. Her stories fascinated me. She was raised the daughter of a crop worker, poor and without a mother. Her accounts of hopping freight trains, going to Sunday school with cousins, victory gardens, rationing of sugar, D-Day and the way romance was conducted were an important part of the notes for my book.
,br> The balance of my research tied together my story components with all the little details that make a time period unique – the particular slang of the era, the dress styles, conveniences or lack of, geography of the settings, etc. My personal library has several books that speak to the era. Mom’s photo albums gave me a visual history. The dictionary of slang helped immensely. And of course there is Google!

Writing Honey On White Bread let me submerge myself into those magical, romantic movies I grew up watching; in a time that seems simpler by today’s standards. As a result of my starry-eyed fascination with that era, the book of my heart took form.

About the Author:
Convinced she was born to be an artist, Brenda never took her love of writing seriously. And then one day, sometime after college, after marrying a man doing a stint in the army and the birth of her son, she found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color. She left her paints behind. After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels. Regardless of the length of her story, the characters drive her forward, taking her on their journey of discovery and love. Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their home with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs occasionally on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

When seventeen-year-old Claire Flanagan is wrenched from her father and deposited at the Good Shepherd’s Home for Wayward Girls, all dreams for Hollywood stardom are lost. But when twenty-year-old Benjamin Russell helps secure her release, she starts to believe in a happy future with him…until she discovers his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.

In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

GUEST BLOG: CIJI WARE

L&S: A Light on the Veranda is a stand-alone sequel to Midnight on Julia Street, the earlier novel that was set in New Orleans, and features a number of the same characters. Why did you choose to move the action to Natchez, Mississippi?

CW: Well, there were two reasons, actually. The first was that I was afraid a second time-slip novel would seem too similar in tone and scenery if I set it again in New Orleans, and secondly, a great friend of mine whom I'd gotten to know in the Big Easy, fellow writer Michael Llewellyn, was about to launch into a big research project The Ghost Castle Murder. His book was based on a true story that happened in Natchez, a small town four-plus hours due north of the Gulf of Mexico. (His novel is due out later this year, by the way, so watch for it!)

"What better spot to set a time-slip historical than in 'The Town That Time Forgot?'" Michael said very persuasively, pointing out that he had a number of friends there in the hospitality industry, along with the owner of the town's only bookstore, who might open doors for us both. "You are going to love this town of 18,000 souls and more antebellum mansions in five square miles than you'll ever see in one place in a lifetime."

I was sold.

L&S: So were doors opened? Do you think you glimpsed the "real" Natchez and not just what the tourist board might want you to see?

CW: Oh, yes! There was, of course, the famous Southern hospitality extended to me by virtually everyone I met, but I found people remarkable open to talk about the issues concerning racism and poverty that have dogged Mississippi's history. They also legitimately could point to the positive changes in that state that have taken place there during our lifetimes. It turned out to be the perfect romantic and realistic setting for a book that takes place in the same location during eras that were nearly two hundred years apart, but with essentially the same cast of characters in both. A bit of a brainteaser for this poor writer, for sure, doing research in both time periods and keeping the story lines in both tales clear and intriguing to the reader. In my view, my friend Michael had a much more straightforward assignment: tracking down what he thought actually happened in the 30s murder case and then constructing a straight narrative -- and he's pretty sure he solved the case! However, he was braver going into the research, having no guarantee that, in the end, he could make a novel out of all that work if he didn’t find an answer to the murder that was convincing. Both of our “challenges” as writers researching in Natchez kept life interesting!

L&S: Given the plot in Veranda, you obviously encountered a lively music scene in Natchez. Did you know that going in?

CW: The jazz and blues music that Natchez produces was one of the enticements Michael emphasized early on in his campaign for me to set VERANDA there since he knew that the heroine, Daphne Duvallon, was a musician, albeit a Juilliard-trained classical harpist. At first I didn't see how I could weave in that “uptown” aspect of her background until one of those wonderfully serendipitous things happened. I was doing an Internet search about harps and harpists--having always wanted to learn to play the harp, though I can't read a note of music--and suddenly up came the name of Deborah Henson-Conant with an accompanying photo of a wildly pretty woman in leather hot pants, black fishnet stockings, stiletto heels, and wielding a bright blue, electrified small-sized harp! Who knew there were such things as jazz harpists?

Up until I'd encountered Deborah (whom I tracked down and interviewed for many hours over the phone and also viewed her concert videos), I'd never even heard the jazz harp played! However, the minute I saw that image of Deborah on the Internet, I knew exactly what was going to happen to Daphne when she returned South for the first time in nearly three years following her disastrous aborted wedding where she had left her philandering fiancé at the altar in front of 500 guests about five seconds before she was supposed to repeat "I do!" What really topped it all was that a very famous jazz club I knew in San Francisco, where I live, had actually been founded in Natchez and still was going strong in both locales. Biscuits and Blues becomes one of Daphne's hangouts when she comes to Natchez to play her classical harp at her beloved brother's wedding. Simon Hopkins, the dish-y nature photographer in Natchez for a few months to film the birds that John James Audubon painted in the area nearly two hundred years earlier, takes her to Biscuits and---

Well, let's just say that in this novel, all the pieces came together effortlessly...which truly made it a joy to write.

I've loved being a guest on your blog and welcome readers at www.CijiWare.com and to visit me on www.facebook.com/pages/Ciji-Ware-Novelist/1026221349810555

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GUEST BLOG: VINSPIRE PUBLISHING

Get Vinspired
By
Vinspire Publishing


Vinspire Publishing celebrated eight years in business on February 14.

Established in February 2004, Vinspire Publishing, LLC began publishing digital books with a focus on classic historical romances set in the early 20th century. Growing demand for paperback books encouraged Vinspire to expand its titles into print.

In early 2008, Vinspire saw a demand for inspirational and children’s titles as well as wholesome young adult books and expanded its portfolio to include these genres. With almost thirty books in its growing portfolio, the company expanded in 2010 with the release of an additional ten-twelve titles.

Vinspire Publishing has achieved success with local and national bookstores, signed acclaimed authors, and won coveted national awards. Its authors have been interviewed in newspapers, magazines, on radio, and television.

Vinspire's books are available in trade paperback only through major online outlets, local and national chain bookstores, and distributed through Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

We’ve also recently listed with Overdrive, which partners with libraries all over the country to get our books into the hands of more readers.

Check out our bestselling regency and historical romances, as well as trust us to provide a wholesome read to your child or young adult. Vinspire Publishing has found a niche in the growing e-book and print book markets, and we’re proud to supply readers with quality reading material.

Vinspire Publishing
http://vinspirepublishing.com

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

GUEST BLOG: MAUREEN BETITA

Dying? Been There, Done That


Spring is in the air. Sigh. It’s a good thing and I welcome it. But what I find winding through my head in the spring is different from what I imagine the rest of world consider. While others are longing for the longer days, the scent of blooming flowers and opening the windows to welcome fresh air…I tend to find myself looking out at the sea and wondering why I am still here.

You see, I nearly left this world five years ago, in 2007. The year I tried to die.

It’s called sudden cardiac death and if I hadn’t had an attentive husband listening to me breath that night in April, I’d be gone. He hauled me out of bed and that Boy Scout CPR class of 30+ years ago came in handy. Between his efforts and then the EMTs, I woke three days later, totally mystified regarding what the hell happened.

As I consider it all now, I understand the physical aspects what happened was an electrical malfunction that so far has proven impossible to diagnose.

And trust me, not knowing isn’t exactly a comfort most of the time. What I do take comfort in is this: Almost dying kicked my ass in a good way. It woke me up. It, and a very good therapist, made me accept that submitting to a publisher and being rejected wasn’t going to kill me. (HA! I’d already faced death and after that…what was a rejection letter!?)

So, nearly dying saw me pull myself out of the deep pit of fear I lived in and begin submitting. I spent the first anniversary of my sudden cardiac death at a my first writer’s conference. I spent the next anniversary coming home from my second writer’s conference, having pitched and received requests. I spent my third walking about Columbus, OH, after pitching to an agent who two months later asked to represent me. I spent my fourth anniversary sitting at a book fair, signing my book.

My fifth? Well, I’ll be home from a writing conference, six books published.

Yup, I kicked fear’s butt.

Yet, spring still makes me wonder… I now have a device implanted in my chest that takes the pressure off those around me. Even without a former Boy Scout nearby, my interio cardio defibrillator will throw an electrical charge at my heart if it tries to act up again.

But once you’ve had the world yanked out from underneath you, it’s hard not look around and wonder…can it happen again? I believe in second chances and that the universe wants us to succeed. Nearly dying set me on a rocket to the stars. I don’t want the universe to ever look at me and think, “She needs another kick in the ass.”

I light the fuse of my own rockets now.

I’m Maureen O. Betita and I danced with death. It wasn’t any fun. But what I write is fun. Adventures for everyone!

www.MaureenBetita.com

*****


Bosun Janey knows who and what she is. A pirate. And a damned good one at that. Living a life of excitement, adventure, and sailing the seas of the Kraken’s Caribbean is enough for her. But when the Quill is stuck in dry dock, Janey is left to search for distraction along Tortuga’s waterfront. How does a pirate occupy herself? Certainly not by making friends with a six-year-old boy or mooning after the boy’s father. That’s not how a pirate behaves!

Widower Benjamin Silvestri arrived in Tortuga seeking a fresh start. At first, the pirate haven doesn’t seem like a safe sanctuary for second chances, but life is full of surprises. The sun breathes life into his little boy, and new freedoms help his errant niece embrace her true nature. And then there's Janey. A pirate and most unconventional woman, she stirs feelings in Benjamin that are far from proper.

But who’s to say what is proper in Tortuga? Before he and Janey can explore the possibilities, Benjamin's son and niece disappear onto the high seas. Together, the couple set out to rescue them—because only a loving father and a cut-throat pirate stand a chance against the dangers of The Pirate Circus.

*****
What fear holds you back and what would you do, what could you do, if you let it go? Photobucket

Monday, March 5, 2012

GUEST BLOG: SARAH BOWER

Historical research is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you must do enough to be able to make readers believe in your fictional world. On the other hand, if the novelist falls too much in love with her own research and puts too much of it into the narrative, she is in danger of boring readers.

Some years ago, I was asked to assess a manuscript for a beginning novelist. Her story was set during the Monmouth Rebellion (an attempt to overthrow King James II in 1685) and included a sub-plot involving piracy. One scene in the novel involved an attempted seduction, on a beach at night, while the pirates, unknown to the lovers, were unloading illegal alcohol. So the million dollar question is, will the seduction be completed or will the pirates stumble across the lovers and kidnap them or worse? So far, so good, until the author began describing the seducer removing his mistress’ clothing. This went on for several pages and listed in meticulous detail every item of clothing the girl was wearing. Long before the end of it I had almost lost the will to live! Clearly the author had undertaken meticulous research into costume, but had used it at the expense of the tension she should have maintained in the scene.

We must always remember that historical fiction is fiction first and history second, if at all. The novelist doesn’t recount history, she re-imagines it. Bearing this in mind, when I began to think about writing the book that became THE NEEDLE IN THE BLOOD, I began by trying to think my way into the mindset of an eleventh century European (an anachronistic term, I realise, but one which I hope enables me to avoid the politically charged nomenclature which still surrounds the Norman Conquest). It struck me immediately that perhaps the biggest difference between us and our medieval forbears was something which needed no book research at all. The world in which they lived was dark and silent, ‘lit only by fire’, as William Manchester puts it in his idiosyncratic but entertaining summary of Europe’s emergence from medieval murk into the Renaissance. I had to begin by imagining my way into a world without electricity, telecommunications or the internal combustion engine and it seemed to me that, by our standards, this world would have been very dark and very silent. I was helped, I might add, by an opportune four day power cut in our village which gave me some limited practical experience of living without electricity!

Before actually starting on research into the Bayeux Tapestry itself, I also read as much medieval writing as I could find, on any subject, because I believed this would help to give me a sense of the workings on the medieval mind. I read Bede and Trotula, a thirteenth century bestiary helpfully glossed by Richard Barber, and most importantly, perhaps, the Norman propagandists Wace and William of Poitiers, and Orderic Vitalis, a monk who was among the first generation of Britons of mixed Norman and Saxon parentage, and who gives us our first considered opinion of Odo of Bayeux – a man ‘more given to worldly affairs than to spiritual contemplation’. From this eclectic set of sources, I began to develop a sense of how my characters might think, feel and believe, and what might have informed actions which, to us, seem eccentric, ignorant, barbarous and warped by chronic superstition.

Only once I had done all this background work was I ready to begin researching the Tapestry itself – only to discover that we know virtually nothing about it! There is no certainty about who commissioned it, although Odo is widely believed to have been behind it because of the frequency of his appearances in it and their invariably flattering nature. As William’s half-brother, he could be seen as an authentic and authoritative spokesman for the new regime, giving weight to the pro-Norman story it spins in its main narrative. Although its style seems curiously muted for a man with Odo’s flamboyant reputation, scholars have evidence that it is closely related to a type of narrative embroidery associated with Nordic culture. It may, therefore, have been chosen to emphasise the Normans’ Viking origins, to ram home the message of conquest on a subliminal as well as an overt level.

The liminal, if not the subliminal, is where the Bayeux Tapestry becomes most mysterious. While its main narrative offers a relatively straightforward, pro-Norman account of William’s invasion and the events leading up to it which, to his mind, legitimised his claim to the English throne, its upper and lower borders display a bewildering, anarchic mash-up of images. There are scenes from Aesop’s fables with double interpretations, suggesting, perhaps, that they were included as coded messages of resistance from English embroiderers working for a Norman patron. There are scenes of rural life, quite ordinary on the face of it but skewed by details which don’t quite fit. Ploughing with a horse, for example, at a time when ploughs were generally pulled by oxen. Using a horse for this purpose would be a bit like herding sheep in a Rolls Royce. There are overt and grisly images of battle, only to be expected, but equally visceral and distorted sexual imagery, both boisterously funny and somewhat unnerving, and subversive whichever way you look at it.

The more I read about the Tapestry, the more intrigued I became by its borders, and ways in which I could use these to represent the marginalised people in society. Having begun with the idea of Odo as patron, I found myself seduced by the idea of the embroiderers who worked for him. But how to put all my ideas together? I had begun the novel three times, in three different ways, when I was introduced to Marina’s Warner’s study of fairytales, From the Beast to the Blonde – and it was like the end of the power cut, when all the lights suddenly flooded back on. I realised that what I wanted to do was to tell a kind of fairytale, that would in some way reflect the mysterious marginalia of the Tapestry and shift the focus away from the main historical narrative of the Conquest. This led me to start subverting history myself.

Let me give you one example. There is a scene in the novel in which Gytha, the working woman who has lived in poverty for most of her life, is being dressed for a party in clothes provided for her by her wealthy lover. It is a Cinderella scene, a transformation of pauper into princess. I gave her high-heeled shoes. I know high heels, apart from patens, were not worn in Europe until the 17th century, but I made this deliberate distortion because I wanted the symbolism of being unbalanced by forbidden love and sudden change, and I wanted the reader to understand that this scene is not quite believable, even to Gytha herself.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of the thinking behind THE NEEDLE IN THE BLOOD, and I hope it adds to your enjoyment of the novel.

www.SarahBower.co.uk

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Friday, March 2, 2012

GUEST BLOG: CYNTHIA D'ALBA

Exercise. Hate It. Help!


This post is proudly a stop on the TEXAS TWO STEP Blog Tour. For a complete listing of all stops on this tour, please visit here. All contests are for U.S. residents only unless otherwise noted. Comments left on this blog will be counted toward the Texas Two Step Faithful Follower Gift Certificate. To see a complete listing of Blog Tour Prizes, click here. Be sure to check out the freebies. Yours for the asking as long as they last.
As a form of physical education (and probably to use up our excess energy), my fourth grade teacher taught the class to square dance. I was in heaven. First, I loved having a reason to hold hands with the boys. Second, it was simply fun.

In high school, I talked a friend into taking ballroom dancing with me. (Thanks, Lon Weyland.) It was a blast. I’d been holding hands with guys for a while so that didn’t have anything to do with the experience. Again, it was simply fun. I enjoyed the music, the movement and the laughter when we got the steps right and when we got them wrong.

The best physical shape I was ever in was in college. I danced all the time. Dancing at fraternity parties or dancing with the other girls in the dorm, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to dance.

What I have discovered over my lifetime is dancing is the only form of exercise I like. Seriously. I tried every form and style of exercise to find one that I would do regularly and what I come to accept is…I hate to exercise.

I need to lose weight, not just to make my clothes feel looser and fit better but to improve my health and life span. So you may by muttering to yourself, no problem. Go dancing and you’ll get your exercise. Great advice except somehow I managed to marry a man who does not dance! None. Nada. Zip. So that option is out.

In my recent release, Texas Two Step, I gave my heroine, Olivia Montgomery, a gym to own. I wanted her to be in great shape but I didn’t want a heroine who was naturally thin. I hate those heroines, probably because I’ll never be naturally thin. :-) Olivia is in great shape because she works out, teaches kickboxing classes, leads aerobics classes, and serves as a personal exercise coach. I tried the personal trainer route for about eighteen months. I got stronger but not thinner. Kickboxing and aerobics are out of the picture. I have one artificial knee and one original knee that is in bad condition.

My hero from Texas Two Step, Mitch Landry, is in great shape but he’s a cowboy. He lives on the back of horse, hauls calves around for medical care, wrestles stubborn cattle into the right chute, and rescues strays. His life is daily exercise.

So let me tell you everything I’ve tried. I’d love some suggestions for other activities to try.

I’ve tried the personal trainer route. Too expensive for my current financial status.

Joined a gym to use their equipment. Didn't go often enough to make it worthwhile.

Jogged/walked three to five miles a day. But I had a partner, which helped me stay on course, but now my knees won’t tolerate this. In fact, walking an extended distance will make my knee swell.

Set up a recumbent bike, treadmill AND complete weight gym at my house. Most of it serves as secondary clothes hanger.

I recently have been trying water aerobics but it’s so time consuming. I’ll admit the classes have been fun but making me go has been the issue. I just don’t have the time. While the class is only an hour long, by the time I’ve taken my dogs out to do their morning business, get dressed for class, drive there, do the class, drive home, take a shower and get dressed for the day, it’s time for lunch. I find myself finally sitting down to write at one p.m. having lost the entire morning for an hour long class.

So talk to me. How can I fool myself into exercising? What have you found works well for you? Where can I find a dance partner? :-)

Today’s Blog Tour Prize


Many guest bloggers can offer a copy of a backlist book to be given away as a potential prize for a blog commenter. As a debut author, I don’t have a backlist. But I do have some awesome author friends who have stepped forward and offered one of their books as a prize.

Today’s TTS Blog Tour Author Sponsor is Best Selling Author Delilah Devlin. Delilah will send her latest Samhain release, Lone Heart to one lucky person who leaves a comment. To find out more about today’s Blog Tour Sponsor, you can visit her Website, Twitter or Facebook.

To learn more about me check out these links:

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Group Blog,and Personal Blog.

And if those aren’t enough, sign up for inside scoops and special contests by receiving the newsletter I share with my blog buddies.

Remember! Leave a comment for a chance to win Delilah’s book!

Texas Two Step is available at Samhain, Amazon, and BN.com

I will be forever in your debt if you would buy it!

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