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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chat with Kristen Callihan & Samantha Grace

SAMANTHA: I’m very happy to have one of my fellow Febutantes at Lady Scribes chatting with us today. It was great collaborating with her on the Febutante Ball, and she’s a fun twitter buddy. Oh, and did I forget to mention an amazing author? (I bet she’s blushing now, but it’s true!)

Please welcome Kristen Callihan, author of Firelight, the historical paranormal novel that has been getting outstanding reviews, including a coveted starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

All right, Kristen. Let’s get started. You proudly claim to be an 80’s child, so let’s explore this a little further, shall we?

KRISTEN: Oh, boy.

SAMANTHA: If we hopped into a hot tub time machine and traveled back to that decade, what fashion crime would we most likely find you committing?
A. Neon men’s tie
B. Fingerless lace gloves
C. Spandex and leg warmers
D. A tutu and combat boots
E. A gallon of Aquanet hairspray from an aerosol can (gasp)

KRISTEN: Hehe. It’s a tie between B and D. I definitely had a Madonna worship thing going on, so we’d probably have to throw in some rubber bracelets and a crucifix to complete the picture. But my mom drew the line at the bustier (and I really didn’t have the boobs for them yet so…)

SAMANTHA: Perhaps you’ll have a chance to wear one at the RT Booklover’s Convention. Maybe even a mask. *snort*

KRISTEN: Okay, I’ve spilled my fashion secrets, so how about you? Where you an 80s child? Did you match your socks to your gigantic sweater? Set the house on fire with the Aquanet? Have a thing for teal eye shadow? Or did you haunt another decade? Inquiring minds what to know!

SAMANTHA: I’m proud to be an 80s child. I never did the Aquanet, but I used a lot of mousse in my day. OMG! And I had a mullet! I totally forgot about that. I remember doing the bright colors in twos—two pairs of socks, two t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Plus, I loved my paisley Swatch Watch.

Name your three favorite 80s movies.

KRISTEN: Only three?!? But, but, there are so many! Geesh, the pressure…. Okay, Sixteen Candles, The Princess Bride, and When Harry Met Sally.

So what were your favorite three? See how hard it is to pick? Impossible! But tell us anyway!

SAMANTHA: Ooh, those are good! Hmm… I see what you mean about it being hard to pick. Definitely Sixteen Candles. I had the biggest crush on Jake!!! Then I’m going to have to go with The Breakfast Club. I still love that movie. It’s dated in some ways, but the issues are relevant even today. My teen thinks it’s tubular—uh, I mean awesome. And lastly, Raiders of the Lost Ark, baby.

My turn again. I’ve found that every job I’ve worked has helped to prepare me in some way for the publishing world. How did your work at National Geographic, Discovery Communications, and Voice of America prepare you for publishing?

KRISTEN: You know, those places sound a lot more glamorous on paper! Lol. The job at Nat Geo was for a prima donna who used to have me make reservations for his dinner dates. So that was really more of a character study opportunity than anything else! :)

SAMANTHA: LOL! (I hope she requested a table close to the kitchen at least once.)

KRISTEN: One of the things I did for Discovery was to write the short program descriptions that went to all the newspaper outlets, which really means that I’ve been published world-wide for years! (g)

As for VOA, the work there was so utterly monotonous that I finally vowed to myself to do something that I loved. So I suppose I should thank that job most of all.

Now you know I need to hear how your jobs helped you.

SAMANTHA: Well, I can tell you right now my jobs have not been glamorous at all. I’ve worked in psychiatry, which really makes people mutter things about having some relatives that could use your help anytime the topic comes up, and health care. Probably most helpful from my psych days was developing a thick skin. I mean, when you have a person at the height of a manic episode get in your face and scream nasty words, what’s a little rejection? Pffft.

Working as part of a health care team has helped me to play nicely with others. Everyone has their expertise. You do your job well, I’ll do mine well, and we’re all happy!

Do you like masked men?

KRISTEN: Who told? (g) There is something intriguing about a masked man. What’s he hiding under it? Will I like it? It’s sexy yet slightly dangerous.

SAMANTHA: If I can see his eyes, then fine. You can tell a lot about a person by looking in their eyes, imo. So, who do you like better, Batman or Zorro?

KRISTEN: If George Clooney is hiding under that Batman costume, then Batman. :-D Otherwise, I love Zorro. I loved that he had to play the goof in the public eye, then sneak off to kick some ass. And, really, the whole sword fighting thing…swoon.

SAMANTHA: Saawooon! :D

KRISTEN: As you write Regencies, I have to ask the most important question: who is your favorite Jane Austen hero?

SAMANTHA: I love Marianne from Sense and Sensibility. I know she made a lot of mistakes and ended up broken hearted, but she lived with passion. I guess I’d rather take a chance on looking like a fool and lose than to live a dull life, which is probably a good thing I’m okay with that since I often feel like a fool. LOL

Let’s talk more about Firelight. I’m loving this book, and I’m almost at the end. Archer and Miranda strike me as two lonely souls in the beginning. They both carry a lot of shame associated with their pasts. What character do you sympathize with the most and why?

KRISTEN: I really sympathized with them both for those very reasons. But I think I’d have to say that I relate more to Archer’s predicament. Not that I’ve had to wear a mask or anything, but I was bullied as a kid, and I know that deep pain of being marginalized by your peers.

SAMANTHA: Some of the best material for authors, but I hate that you experienced bullying as a kid.

KRISTEN: One of the things I really liked about Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel was your use of humor. It’s done very well, both in the way of banter and lighter moments, such as a certain miss fleeing from a certain window. Ahem. :-) Who are your favorite funny men?

SAMANTHA: My husband is really funny. He has a very quirky sense of humor that surprises me, and I love that about him. He catches me off guard. But as far as comedians go, Jim Gaffigan can have me in tears.

KRISTEN: And what drew you to writing witty Regencies, as opposed to say… dark and disturbed paranormals? :)

SAMANTHA: Here’s a true confession, I almost always write the first draft with hefty doses of darkness. There’s something therapeutic about it. After the second time I heard from my editor that my books were too dark in spots, I just began to lighten them up before I submitted them.

I had a real struggle with doing that at first, at least from the standpoint of feeling like I should lighten up those spots, but I got what she was saying about tone. I was very happy when I didn’t hear anything about my third book being dark, even though it probably has the darkest material in it. Go figure. But I do like to make people laugh, and hopefully going with my strengths will set my books apart.

In August your second book, Moonglow, is being released. I’m very happy the hero is wolfishly handsome Ian Ranulf, who is introduced in Firelight, and Daisy should make an interesting heroine, but what exactly is her power, or is that a secret?

KRISTEN: I cannot divulge that information, madam. J I will however say this, Daisy is in for a shock, and she will not like it one bit!

SAMANTHA: Oh, sure! Leave us in suspense. (grumble, grumble)

KRISTEN: As for Ian, I really like him. He is completely different from Archer, but damaged in his own way.

Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half comes out in June, and sounds VERY intriguing. I’ve always been a sucker for reunited lovers. How is this book different from Miss Hillary’s?

SAMANTHA: Jake and Amelia have a connection before their story begins, so I think one thing that’s different is the acceleration of the relationship. There’s more passion and emotional connection between Jake and Amelia.

KRISTEN: And what was your favorite part in writing this book?

SAMANTHA: Can I say favorite parts? There’s more physical humor, and even if no one else gets a kick out of it, I laughed a lot! Jake has a tendency to get into scrapes and can be a bit clumsy, so it was fun to write those scenes. :)

Also, two characters emerged in the first draft and they are a hoot! I had so much fun writing their scenes together. Bibi, Amelia’s dearest friend, and Jasper Hainsworth, Earl of Norwick, are the most unlikely of couples. I hadn’t intended to include a parallel love story, and I was so afraid my editor would make me cut it, but everyone loved the characters and their interactions. Plus, their love story really weaves in with Jake and Amelia’s relationship, so it’s not just tossed in.

I see you have another work out. What can you tell us about Ember?

KRISTEN: Ember is a short story that my publisher approached me about doing last fall. The idea was to give readers a further glimpse into Archer and Miranda’s world. It tells the story about the lost time between when Archer and Miranda first meet in the prologue for Firelight until they meet again when Firelight starts. In Ember, we get to see more of why Miranda steals and what shapes her into the woman we know in Firelight. As for Archer, we get to see what prompts him to give up his search for a cure and return to claim Miranda.

Finally, can you tell us a little bit about your fall release, Miss Lavigne’s Little White Lie?

SAMANTHA: Okay. Here’s the nutshell, clumsy version. Daniel, Jake’s older brother, has chosen to live the life of a shipmaster (captain) who never allows women on his ship. Yet, he makes an exception for the heroine, Lisette, when he discovers being in her presence keeps his guilty thoughts over his wife’s death at bay.

Lisette is running away from her dangerous fiancé to save her young brother from being placed in an insane asylum, but she lies about why she is desperate to leave on Daniel’s ship, the only one bound for England the next day. Of course they begin to fall in love on the journey, but that darned fiancé has found out where she’s going and he’s giving chase. There’s a little mystery and suspense, because that’s what I love, but it still has lots of humor. And it has heart, I think. :-)

I forgot to ask Kristen if she's giving away a copy of Firelight today!!! I bet she'll let us know. But for sure I have two copies of Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel for commenters brave enough to tell what fashion crime they committed as a teen. Every decade had them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My 24 Hour Dilemma

Happy Leap Year! 

Tomorrow we have an extra twenty-four hours. Imagine the possibilities, all the things that could be accomplished!

Why I could clean my whole house.  Key words would be invoked for encouragement: Declutter! Organize! HELP ME! Yeah, too boring. Plus I've named the dust bunnies living under my sofa. And you can't clean what you name...er, or something like that.

I could finally finish that super cool project I found on Pinterest.

What I think I'd be doing


What I'd really do
Faced with a day of nothing to do (ha!) I turned to Hot Builder to get a man's suggestion. He could only think of one thing: BOOKS, people, BOOKS!



Hot Builder here. Despite what my lovely wife has written,  I did not suggest books. In fact I said se--

Several books!!! *narrows my eyes at Hot Builder*  Clearly not impressed, he gives me this *look*. Men...

Anyway, here are the books in my To Be Read pile that would love some of your time.





Contemporary:

Lousia Edwards Hot Under Pressure
Lisa Kleypas Rainshadow Road                   
Susan Mallery  Only Us
                     
 


 Historical

Katharine AsheWhen A Scot Loves a Lady
Sophie Barnes How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
Sabrina Jeffries  A Lady Never Surrenders                                               
                      

             







Paranormal:

  Zoe Archer  Devil's Kiss
  Kresley Cole  Lothaire
  Molly Harper  Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors













So many choices, so much time!!! What will you do with your "extra" 24 hours?

Thanks for stopping by!





Monday, February 27, 2012

Welcome Scarlet Wilde

Thank you, LadyScribes, for allowing me to be your guest today. I will be honest, I do not blog much. However, I do enjoy reading them. I tend to fly under the radar, simply happy to write and enjoy my books being published. I know as an author, we should be out there in the community, but it is not my comfort zone, so to speak. But since I have been told to be more visible, I am taking a step into the blogging world.

There is little to tell about myself. I am married to a wonderful man and we share our home with an adorable Labrador who isn’t nearly as intimidating as she thinks she is. She has a fierce bark, and if you couldn’t see her, perhaps she would be scary. But, the tail wagging at the same time is a dead giveaway that you are more likely to be licked and jumped on than bitten.

I think pets bring warmth to a household. They add a layer of love that is not attainable with mere humans. You see, people argue, love, fight and experience a whole array of emotions. But with a dog or a cat, the love is unconditional. They don’t get mad, yell or give you the silent treatment. They greet you with open paws when you come home and curl at your feet when you relax (when not trying to crawl in your lap). I should point out that my husband doesn’t yell or give me the silent treatment, but when you have been married for ten plus years, there have been a few arguments. He doesn’t curl up at my feet either, in case you were wondering.

There is nothing like a beloved pet to make your life complete. But interesting, none of my characters have ever had a pet. I hadn’t realized that until I began writing this blog post. It may be because I only write short stories, short erotic stories to be exact, and there hasn’t really been a reason to add a pet. I will have to change that. There should be no reason why my hero can’t have a dog or heroine a cat.

My newest series, Vixens of Versailles, is finished, otherwise I would attempt to bring in a beloved pet. I may just have to add an additional story for that purpose.

TheVixens of Versailles is a series of historical erotic romances which take place amongst the many gardens and groves of Versailles.

Succumb to the heat and passion amongst the groves and gardens of the palace.

Cascade of Desire
Raina Benoit, lonely, full of desire, waiting upon the whims of the court. She longed for the touch of a man again, tired of relying on herself. One man in particular could fill that need.

Andre Raison had wanted Raina since before her husband died. Now he has one night to prove they were destined for a life of passion.

Excerpt:
He stepped into the pool. The splash must have alerted her because Raina’s head snapped up and her pale blue eyes looked right at him. Her arms moved to shield her body.
“Don’t.” He continued to walk toward her.
“I didn’t know you were here.” Raina’swords were a hushed whisper.
“Would you have stopped had you known?” He already knew the answer.
Raina looked down and away, her face flushed further. “Of course.”
“Which is why I remained silent.” He brought his hand up to caress her cheek. “You are so beautiful.”


Servant to Passion
Jeanette Nouel was tired of her lonelyexistence. Virtuous, despite being widowed, did not entice gentlemen in a court where most widows were free with their favors. In order to attract the one man she desired, Jeanette would need to step out of her shell, and become a slave to passion.

For Jacques Karol there was only one woman he wished to spend his nights with, if only she would have him.

Excerpt:
Jacques made his way down the slope and onto the lawn where he paused on a rock and removed his boots and stockings. He turned at the sound of ripping material. Jeanette had followed him and had torn away a portion of her gown, if that is what one could call the filmy piece of material.
“I will wash you.”
“There is no need.”
A smile pulled at her lips. “I want to.” She took his hand and led him into the water.

Tell me how your pet or pets have fulfilled your life and you will be entered to win an ebook copy of Cascade of Desire and Servant to Passion.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shamelessly Biding My Time...

Everyone knows that I am a huge HUGE fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Love it! Probably my most favorite television series ever! Thankfully it is returning to HBO April 1st… And if that is an April Fool’s joke, someone will be pulling a broadsword out of their back (I’m looking at you HBO execs.)


But I’m not going to talk about GoT or mention certain co-workers who have read ahead in the series and are put out with me that I don’t want to talk about what happens next with them. I want it to be a surprise, people! NO spoilers!! Sheesh!!!

No, I’m not going to talk about any of that. I’m going to talk about what I’ve watched while I’ve waited for Winter to finally freakin’ come.

I’ve become mildly obsessed with PBS’s Downton Abbey and Showtime’s Shameless. Sooo much has been said about Downton Abbey with all of their awards and accolades. And I truly do love the series, everything about it.



















But today I’m going to focus all of my attention on Shameless, I think mainly because it’s not a series I would think that I would like. Everyone from the alcoholic father (played by the supremely skilled William H. Macy) to the smallest Gallagher (OK, not the baby) is someone I’m fairly certain I would run screaming from in real life. (The exact opposite of the noble Starks I love so much in GoT, and the honorable characters I love in Downton Abbey *don't get me started on the not-so-honorable ones however.)


The Gallaghers are dishonest, promiscuous, and downright shameless in every way. Yet, there is a vulnerability and general likability in each and every main character, and I can’t help but care about them. They resonate with me for some reason, and I find myself thinking about their plights from one episode to the next.

Shameless is masterful television.

From the oldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) who does everything she can to provide for her five siblings, be it honest or otherwise, all while sorting through her romantic woes (who knew there were soooo many frogs to kiss without a single prince in the bunch?)

To Lip (Jeremy Allen White) the brainiac oldest son who spends more time getting high and pining for the not-so-girl-next-door girl to keep his mind off the unlucky stars that and made him a Gallagher in the first place.

To Ian (Cameron Monaghan) the gay ROTC second son who struggles with his own identity nearly constantly, often in a very self-absorbed sort of way.

To Debbie (Emma Kenney) the good-hearted youngest sister who is still a little naïve about the world, but who is a fast learner and isn’t above blackmailing anyone to keep her family safe.

To Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) the juvenile-delinquent-in-the-making third son who is everyone’s go-to man for all firearms needs.

And finally to Liam (played by twins Blake Alexander Johnson and Brennan Kane Johnson) who is more of a pawn than anything else at his tender age.

The cast is rounded out with the family’s friends, neighbors, Fiona’s suitors, Lip’s love interest and her bizarre family, and many others that find their way into the Gallaghers’ world or the other way around.



I still scratch my head a bit at the show’s ability to make me care for and about each member of this shameless family (and make me hope that this time everything will turn out all right for them.) As far as the writer in me goes – Shameless is an excellent example at characterization. It makes you care about these people on many different levels. And as far as viewer in me goes – Shameless is an excellent series that transports you to a place you would otherwise avoid like the plague, yet you yearn for it until the next new episode anyway.

The cast is amazing. The scripts are phenomenal. Shameless is masterful television. I know I said that before, but it is worth repeating.

I don’t personally know anyone who is watching this show, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are watching it... Yay! I can’t wait to talk with you about it. Which Gallagher is your favorite and why?

If you’re not watching it and have Showtime – start watching it immediately and report back to me later! I promise you'll be hooked!

If you don’t have Showtime, what sort of shows do you like? What else should I be watching until April 1st when I will finally get my GoT fix again? Because - as of this moment - I'm all caught up on Shameless too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Name that Backstory!



My newest release Valkyrie’s Vengeance will be released in March and with that said; it had an interesting birth to say the least. I thought I would introduce you to the backstory of the book today.
I was on my way to work and my husband came across a movie on tv. The first image I saw was the elaborate prow of a Viking ship surrounded by patchy fog. An old Indian woman walked through the trees and then into this abandoned ship to find bodies lying inside. Forward to the part where she finds a young Viking boy who had been left behind and this is where the story idea of Valkyrie’s Vengeance blossomed. I went to work without watching the rest of the story (I still to this day haven’t finished this movie) and my mind took flight. For the rest of the day I imagined and couldn’t wait to get home again. Once I walked into the door, without even speaking to my family, I rushed to my computer and the first chapter was born.
It was a wild rush of words that poured from my soul. This was a story that needed to be told, a Viking maiden stranded on foreign soil who later declared war on her own people. I only stalled out once during this story and it was because the epic battle scenes at the end of the story were so large and I’d never written anything like it on such a grand scale before. So after a few weeks of struggling over how to write such a large battle, I pulled out my dry erase board, picked my husband’s brain for ideas, and we plotted it out from beginning to end like a play by play for a football game. It was brilliant. And it worked. 
Now almost a year and three months later, this story is about to be released to the public. I am very proud of this story as it took some major work and it is my best writing to date. The story idea is somewhat original in that it’s about a girl who declares war on her own people but it grew into a series that became much larger than that. This is the first story in the Maidens of the Shield series and I’m really looking forward to writing the subsequent stories Valkyrie’s Vow and Valkyrie’s Vision.
So now that you know the story’s origin I’m giving away a free copy of the story, once it’s released, to anyone that can name the movie that inspired it based off what I’ve told you, along with the few photo’s I’ve included from the movie. Can you name it? If no one can name it I will then have one of Lady Scribes randomly pick a name to win a copy of Valkyrie’s Vengeance. Make sure to leave your email address so that  you can be included in the drawing. 
Here’s the book trailer, blurb and excerpt of Valkyrie’s Vengeance. I hope you enjoy these samples as much as I enjoyed creating them. Good luck on the movie trivia! PS please take a moment to tell our very own Heather Boyd what an excellent job she did on the book cover. It's perfect for this story! 

Stranded on foreign soil. Rescued and raised by the enemy. Tyra Svensdottir declares war on her own people after witnessing the death of the very woman who’d saved her life. Kidnapping the man who wields the sword of the underworld —Hel’s Hammer — Tyra forces him to repair her shipwrecked vessel. Her quest to kill the swordsman’s king takes them across frigid waters on a myriad of adventures and a voyage of sensual discovery.
Rorik Thorlicksson uncovers treachery within his clan but in order to return home to warn of the impending attack, he must yield to the woman holding him captive. Along their voyage he unravels the mystery behind his captor. He discovers she is the woman promised to him in wedlock at birth though her disappearance years ago released him from his betrothal. Dissuading the little heathen from her purpose and into his bed becomes a more appealing prospect with every passing day.
Blood vengeance brings them together even as desire binds their hearts. Amongst the secrets and obscurities of their destinies, they find a love that spans a lifetime as well as an end to A Valkyrie’s Vengeance. 


Excerpt: 

The man, who stands at a strange threshold, should be cautious before he crosses it, glance this way and that: Who knows beforehand what foes may sit awaiting him in the hall?


~Chapter 1~

Off the coast of England
901 AD
Thwack, thwack, thwack. Arrows embedded into the beached ship with every step Tyra Svensdottir took, missing her ankles by mere inches.
She dove for cover inside the grounded longship’s hull. Her heart stalled and then nearly pounded its way outside of her chest. She placed a hand there as if she could stop the horrendous hammering, or at least quiet it somewhat. Eyes wide, she spat the mouthful of salt water out and rose to her knees, making sure to stay hidden.
The hull tilted on its side like a great fish dragged from the sea. Leaning against the wooden planks, she summoned the courage not to cry. Who shot at her? How had they found her?
For the last three days, she’d wandered this beach alone. She wasn’t even sure where she was. Her gaze roamed her surroundings. Early morning mist swept the beaches in its wispy grasp and limited her visibility. But she could hear voices. She just couldn’t locate from whence they came.
Tyra slogged through the calf-high water, leaning low, to the front of the ship. Her fingers shook as she reached out to grasp the edge of the jagged planks where the hull had struck stone, causing the vessel to sink. Waves lapped at her ankles and washed the sand out from under her bare toes as she stepped over one of the bloated, dead bodies. Bile rose in her throat and she tamped it down. The rancid scent of rotting flesh permeated the air around the longship’s belly and her empty stomach protested the smell.
Her lips quivered. From fear? Cold? Both. She only wished to go home. Her father had warned her - When the Gods grant our desires we may find we no longer wish for them, Tyra. An ache developed in her chest and she could almost hear the deep timbre of his voice. Why hadn’t she listened to him?  
Bodies littered the beach in various positions. Her brother...her cousins...all dead. She’d been the sole survivor. Of the twelve men, only four had washed ashore so far. One of her hands covered her mouth, to hold in the scream forming in the back of her throat.
A deep, hearty laugh caused her to stiffen as she waited for further movement. She peered around the edge of the shattered boards and a single arrow thumped into the side of the ship next to her face. She leapt back with a gasp.
The laughter grew louder. They were toying with her now. They must know she was alone. Her legs were weak and wobbly from lack of nourishment and her vision blurred. Voices carried to her and she knew the enemy was closing in.
Tyra could not wait here to be slaughtered like an animal. She must move to a better battlefield. She scanned the area. The beach faded into a dark cluster of trees. If she made it there, she would have a better chance of survival.
But running from here to there...a single arrow would kill her. Tyra choked off her tears.
Taking a deep breath, she burst from the opening and plunged headlong down the stretch of open beach toward the cover of the trees. Her legs pumped furiously and she squealed at the swish of an arrow flying past her.
She gasped for breath and her lungs burned from lack of air. Plink. Plink. Two arrows hit the face of the rocks ahead of her and fell harmlessly to the ground.
Tyra grabbed one as she ran past. A weapon would even the odds somewhat. She might be only twelve—winters—old, but her father had taught her from an early age how to protect herself. He appreciated strength in a woman and had encouraged her to take up arms. A woman’s place was beside the hearth, but a woman also protected the hearth while the men were away.
Steep, craggy rocks settled at the base of an incline. She leapt over a small boulder and burst through the edge of the trees. There was no path here and knew not where to go but she could not falter now.
The sound of the chase followed her as the enemy crashed through the brush behind her. She could almost hear the soft gasps as the men sucked air into their lungs. Tree limbs slapped against her face and the sting made her grimace.
How many were there? Did she dare look? If she fell she would never be able to get away once they caught her. She could not look and risk losing her edge.
They laughed and taunted in a foreign tongue, and they were closing in. Lengthening her strides, she dodged a maple tree and leapt over a fallen trunk.
Why had she stowed away on her brother’s ship? Why had she not stayed home where she belonged? Hugh had been headed to Jorvikskyr on a trading expedition, and her father had forbidden her to go. Determined, she had hidden away in an empty trunk. A storm had brewed so suddenly, near dropping right atop them, leaving the crew little time to sail safely to land.
The terrain dipped and she slid down an embankment. She sprang forward and raced north. Several seconds later she realized she heard no sound.
Her footsteps slowed. She gasped for breath and leaned a hand against a thick oak, while her other settled against her heart. Dropping to her knees, she hid behind the large trunk, and she searched the area.
Where had they gone? Had they given up the search?
The mist thickened amongst the trees and descended into a moist cloud just above her head. Everything beyond her reach faded into a grey haze.  
A limb snapped. She shrank back, the bark of the tree scrapping against the soft flesh of her forehead. Hot, silent tears coursed down her cheeks. She’d wished for adventure. And now she wished for home.
Silence hung in the air like the weighty fog. It was there and she felt it. But it was the danger within she feared, not the fog itself.
She swallowed. Her parched tongue scratched against the roof of her mouth. Three days since she’d had any nourishment. Three days since she’d had shelter. And three days since she’d seen another human being. Alive at least.
To have endured the storm stowed away in a trunk and survived the crash—only to die on land at the hands of strangers seemed one of Loki’s cruel jests.
By Odin, she refused to be his entertainment and she refused to die here in a land not her own, amongst a people not her own. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planning the not so perfect Oscar Party.

Every year one of my best friends has an incredible party for the Oscars.  She rolls out the red carpet.  Literally!  When you arrive at her house there is a red carpet rolled out along her walkway that you stroll up to get to her front door.  She has tiki torches burning, and once you are inside her party, you are greeted with wine, a specialty drink and a buffet full of the most amazing food.  There is always a chocolate fondue fountain, along with enough calorie packed appetizers to keep even the most finicky of eaters happy.  And to entertain you during the show, you receive an Oscar ballot and a pencil.  Your job is to bubble in your choice of who you think will win each category for the Oscars.
During the show there are prizes drawn at random, provided by my friend, and at the end of the show whoever got the most guesses right on their ballot receives a grand prize, which is pretty awesome!  But no one goes away empty handed. My friend creates Oscar cd’s that are compilations of the songs from all the movies up for the Oscars.  Also in our goodie bags are usually things like a bit of makeup, after all, we like to look as good as the stars, and one year she sent us all home with infused vodka! 
Keep in mind my friend works for a large corporation, Barnes and Nobles, and she has a great deal of experience planning things.  She does it for a living! 
This year, when I heard the news my friend was going to be in California during the Oscars, I decided I couldn’t very well sit at home and watch the Oscars alone.  Boring!  I was used to being pampered like a star!  I got a whim and decided to have a mini Oscar party myself.  What was I thinking?  I’m no party planning expert!  I quickly made sure to tell my friend’s not to expect the red carpet treatment.  After all, with two young kids running around my house I’m not even going to try to live up to K’s Oscar Party. 
There will be no cd mixes or infused vodka at my party, but there will be lots of good food and plenty of wine and Cosmopolitans. After all, girlfriends cannot come together without a good Cosmo.
Just in case you get a bee in your bonnet and you want to have an Oscar get together on Sunday, I thought I’d share some of the yummy recipes I’m planning with you.

Scrambled eggs & gravlax on little toasts
4 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 tsp butter
Good-quality baguette, thinly sliced toast, toasted
3.5 oz sliced gravlax (or smoked salmon), each slice cut into 4 pieces

Little bowls of crab & lemon risotto
5 cups chicken broth
1 tbs olive oil
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
Finely grated zest of one lemon, plus extra to garnish
1 tbs lemon juice
6 oz fresh crabmeat

Tomato & goat cheese galette
½ package frozen puff pasty, thawed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
10 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbs olive oil
1 egg, beaten with ¼ cup milk

Arnancini (risotto fritters)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 cups dried breadcrumbs

Shrimp and caper finger sandwiches
1 cup mayo
½ cup salted capers
2 tbs finely chopped mint leaves
1/3 cup lemon juice
dash of Tabasco sauce
16 slices wheat bread
1 ½ obs cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, slice din half lengthways.

Dessert – Bought!  I don’t do desserts very well!

If you want the *how to* for any of these recipes simply ask in your comment, and I will comment back with the directions.

Now for the fun stuff.  Who do you think is going to win and do you have any recipes I must make?

Have a great day!
Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Dirty Dozen

So, I published my twelfth ebook last week on Valentine’s Day. Big achievement. Huge. It was a fantastic and nerve-wracking way to spend the most romantic day of the year. Engaging the Enemy is the first novel in my new regency historical series set in Hampshire, England and I’m as excited about this release as if it were my first.


Every great family has a few secrets best left unspoken. 
The wild Randall’s of Hampshire excel at them.


A duchess should be regal, aloof and the image of calm elegance. But those words have never applied to Mercy Randall, Duchess of Romsey. A widow and mother of a young duke, Mercy is lonely and floundering to keep the estate afloat. When she discovers the existence of Leopold Randall, her husband’s estranged cousin, Mercy commits to help him locate his missing siblings if he’ll return the estate to order. Although cautioned against trusting a man who would inherit everything should her son die, she impetuously hands over the estate to Leopold’s care in the hope of keeping him near.

Leopold Randall, heir to the young duke, has returned to Hampshire to demand information regarding the fate of his missing siblings. Unfortunately, the Duchess of Romsey is clueless about them, yet her struggle to maintain the estate tugs at Leopold’s sense of duty. At her insistence, he steps in to bring order to chaos while searching for hints to his family’s whereabouts amongst the old duke’s papers. Yet the duchess tempts him in ways best unspoken. He fights to hide his weakness for her and a shameful past that could see him banished again. But when Leopold discovers a threat against the duchess and young duke’s life, he must join forces with the temptress to protect his last known relative.


I had some great help for this book and for the release. Many thanks to my writing partners Tammy Falkner, Julie Johnstone, Jane Charles, and Tamara Gill for seeing the book through to the end. A special shout out must go to Suzie Grant for putting together this stunning book trailer for me in a very short period of time. Here’s the trailer:





To celebrate the release, I’m giving away a digital copy here on the blog. To enter the draw, share with us your best Valentine’s Day moment.  Winner will be announced

To read more about Engaging the Enemy, go to my website and read the excerpt, or go to Amazon to buy or download a sample.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Month of Luuuuuv

My daughter, who is in Pre-K, learned a very important lesson in school this month. Her teacher taught her that February is the "month of love." Now, my daughter says it like this, "Feb-rooary is the month of luuuuuuuv," and she makes her fingers form a heart shape as she says it. For those of us who write about love, every month is the month of luuuuuuuv. But this month in particular really stood out as being all about true love.

I have a lot of contact with the Atlanta blues community for another project I'm working on. And I found out that Carlos Capote, who is the front man for a local band called The Breeze Kings, has been in need of a kidney transplant for years. I've never known anyone on a transplant list, but I can imagine that the wait must be agonizing. But there is a way to shorten the process, known as "paying it forward." You can learn more about the "paying it forward" process here.

The miraculous thing is that Carlos did receive his kidney through paying it forward. A donor whom he never met donated her kidney and Carlos' wife donated one of hers to another person on the transplant list. You can see the whole story for yourself here.

Now that's true love. Not only did a complete stranger give up her kidney, but Terri gave up one of hers to help out another. All of the surgeries took place this month, the month of luuuuv. Talk about happily-ever-afters--we writers cannot come up with better endings than this.

Because Terri and Carlos won't be able to work for a while after the surgery, and they have two small children to support, a Fundly account has been established to help them take care of their medical bills at http://fundly.com/capotefamily.

So, let's talk about paying it forward. How do you show love for others--even people you've never met? For every unique comment this blog receives, a dollar will be donated to the Capote family fund.

Friday, February 17, 2012

If Only I Had a DeLorean!



Do you ever wish you had a time machine?

I always did.

(Until I saw the movie Time Machine. Those ape things scared the bejeezus out of me.)

I thought, how romantic. The idea of going back to the early 1800s, attending balls and horse races, wearing sweeping gowns and fanciful hats with waving ostrich plumes, sounded positively fabulous to me. Dressing for dinner, dancing all night, having tea and shopping? Right up my alley. Sign me up.


And then I got engaged. (That's right. I trapped me a man.) I was so excited to buy a wedding dress. I rushed to the nearest shop and purchased one.
A big, beautiful, frothy satin ballgown.
That's when the fatal flaw in my design became clear.
I would have to wear a corset. (Booo! Hiss!)
And petticoats- the kind that tie on. And the only way to get me in and out of that dress was the lacing up the back. (My new husband was not a fan of that.)

Again, sounds romantic, right?

Reality face-checked me like Wayne Gretzky going in for the kill. Like most things we have only read about but never tried (I'm not even going there), a corset was not anything like I'd imagined. Sure, it molded my squat Russian peasant body into a lovely hourglass shape, keeping the dress smooth and elegant, and making me feel like a princess.

But it hurt.

People, I had lines creasing my skin for hours after that tool of Satan came off. And my ribs ached for days. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to wear one of those suckers for years, day in, day out.

So, as much as I adore the Regency and Victorian periods of history, I don't think I'd choose to go back and actually live there. I'm too spoiled by my everyday conveniences.

(No Starbucks? No Barnes and Noble? No Twitter?! Noooo!)

Maybe forward. Maybe a thousand years from now, everyone is living in peace here and on other planets, with their own personal robots and driving a space ship.

So if you could hop in the DeLorean and time travel, where would you go? Would you choose going into the past or forward to the future?




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger Heather Snow

A Book By Any Other Name…

Thank you for having me here at Lady Scribes to celebrate the release of Sweet Enemy, my debut Regency with a touch of mystery. I met several of the Lady Scribes when Sweet Enemy was just a wee baby manuscript, only days before I won my very first contest ever back in 2010, so you could say they’ve been on this journey with me from the beginning and I am thrilled to count them as friends.

When people hear that you’ve written a book, they are often curious as to what inspired your story. Well, if I told you what inspired Sweet Enemy, I’m afraid I’d be giving away the mystery…so you’ll have to wait until you’ve finished the book and find out in the Author’s Note. I know, rotten of me, isn’t it? Since I can’t talk about what exactly sparked the idea for my debut, I thought I’d talk instead of what inspired the series, and how the inspiration for each of the three books in the Veiled Seduction series was completely different!

I can tell you that the idea behind Sweet Enemy was a historical event…one that involved scientists. That is how my heroine became a Regency-era lady chemist. Liliana was well received by contest judges and agents alike. People really responded to the idea that she was a different sort of heroine, saying they found her both interesting and refreshing.

Well, I didn’t get my college edumacation for nothing…I quickly realized that if people loved my science-savvy heroine, I should write a series about other women who loved the sciences, too. After all there was math, astronomy, biology, physics, psychology…well, you get the picture. So I started thinking about who my next heroine would be.

In the mean time, Sweet Enemy became a finalist in the Fire and Ice, the RWA Golden Heart®, the Daphne and the Hearts Through History, all at the same time…a perfect storm of contests. It garnered significant agent attention and sold very quickly—well before I’d even really fleshed out any ideas for the next books in the series. However, my brilliant agent said we should pitch it as a trilogy and that I should come up with two additional titles and blurbs, and could I please have them to her ASAP.

Oh, my. Well, I really, really loved the title Sweet Enemy (even though one of the agents who judged an early contest final told me emphatically to change it). I knew that many authors aren’t allowed to keep their titles, but I wanted to give Sweet Enemy the best chance it could have. So first, I decided I must come up with two more awesome titles that would tie the series together and make it harder for a publisher to ask me to change them! (Sneaky, aren’t I?) I thought about what I loved about Sweet Enemy and realized it was the juxtaposition of the words…so my critique group and I started thinking of what other words we could pit against “sweet”. We came up with “deception” and “madness” as our favorites.

And that’s how Sweet Deception and Sweet Madness came to be.

Now, the inspiration for Sweet Deception was actually a heroine, and I’d already decided what gift/interest she would have and how she would use it—I just had to tweak her story line to match the whole “Deception” part of the title, which wasn’t hard given the hero I’d paired her with. In the second in the series, you’ll see a Regency-era Bones (of the Temperance Brennan variety, not Star Trek) tangle with a Regency-era James Bond.

Sweet Madness, however, was completely inspired by the title! On the fly, I decided to pair up a gifted psychologist with a soldier suffering from PTSD from the Napoleonic wars—my editor loved it, and declared it would be so.

So there you have it! Three different books, sparked in three totally different ways, all tied together by some pretty cool names, their heroines’ love of science and some great characters that appear in all three stories.

Sweet Enemy is in stores now, and Sweet Deception will follow on August 7th, with Sweet Madness coming sometime in early 2013. I hope you love the stories as much as I’ve loved writing them.

I’d be happy to give away a signed copy of Sweet Enemy, a bookmark and romance trading cards to a commenter today. I’d love to know what inspires YOU to pick up a book from a new author?

Sweet Enemy...
A Veiled Seduction Novel ~ Book One

"Historical intrigue and heart-pounding passion make Sweet Enemy a great read. Romance fans will love it." ~#1NYT Bestselling Author JULIE GARWOOD

Geoffrey Wentworth
, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty—take up the responsibility for his family’s estates. His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word—heirs. When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford. But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart.

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a countess. If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge. However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter—for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.

Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control...



Heather Snow is a historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she much preferred creating chemistry on the page, rather than in the lab. She is forever trying to wrangle her left and right brain to work together (some days with more success than others!), but if her two sides had to duke it out, left would win every time—which can be a creative challenge. Luckily, she loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically. Heather lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat. She sincerely hopes you find her stories have just the right chemistry…

Please visit her at
http://www.heathersnowbooks.com/, on Facebook or on Twitter.


Sweet Enemy is available wherever books are sold and at these fine retailers:


Rainy Day Books (Heather’s local Indie)
Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Amazon (Paperback Edition)
Books-A-Million
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound
I-Books

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thank You, RIF


It's birthday season at our house--all of our birthdays come in a two month span--which always leads to a lot of nostalgia around here. My kids love to look at pics of themselves and fondly recall past birthday parties, old friends and treasured gifts.

It started me thinking about the treasures of my own youth. There were a few toys that I loved--my ice skates and Fashion Plates come to mind. :-) But my most treasured possessions were my books. And my love of books started with the Bookmobile.

I still remember the excitement when the Bookmobile came to our elementary school. It was a van filled to bursting with all sorts of new, shiny books. We were allowed to choose one. To keep. For free.

This was a Very Big Deal. I was raised by a single mom and while we had what we needed, buying books was a luxury not to be thought of. I know now that the Bookmobile was funded by Reading Is Fundamental, whose goal is to get books into the hands of needy kids. I don't remember now if everyone at school got a book or if only certain kids did, but I do remember the magic of it. I remember being dazzled by the colors and the newness and the sheer number to choose from.
I remember Harry the Dirty Dog and The Giant Jam Sandwich and Ballet Shoes and Little Women. They were my treasures and I read them again and again and some of them I still own. I've shared them with my kids and with plenty of others. You guys are readers--you know how those pages were tickets to other worlds and times.

Those few, magic moments of choice filled me with happiness that lasted long after the Bookmobile pulled away. They fueled my love for stories and the written word and started me on a meandering path that has led me right back. I've done what I could to pay that joy forward, volunteering for literacy programs in schools, helping with book fairs, giving books as presents whenever I can. And now I've found that there is a RIF program in the county next to mine. I'll bet they can use a volunteer. But first I want to thank RIF. Reading is indeed Fundamental and I might never have known the magic if not for you.

How about you? Did the Bookmobile come to your school? Do you remember the first books you fell in love with? Do you still have them?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If It Weren't for Bad Luck . . .

If I am very lucky, the old adage that bad things happen in threes will hold true for me. Why? Because if one more thing goes wrong this month, I may very well go stark raving mad.

It all started with a phone call to my editor mid-January. My muse had decided to wait until the eleven hour to let loose with the most brilliant changeup to my plot ever. The bad news: it would be a sweeping change, one that would involve tossing about two thirds (!) of my almost finished manuscript. The good news: it really was a great idea, and the book would be so much better for it. My editor agreed, and my new deadline was set: March 1.

(Eek!)

It was not a lot of time, but hey, I’m a professional writer, with no kids, a supportive husband, three lazy mutts, and only a one-day-a-week part-time job. It was daunting, but I could do this.

*Cue the Rocky music*

It started off well enough, with me banging out some great pages in the next week. Things were looking good, and optimism buoyed my spirits. See? I totally knew I could do it. So long as nothing went wrong in the next few weeks, I would be fine.

Right. Well, this lovely run lasted for precisely one week, at which time I awoke to find puddles on the dining room table. Within days we had the prognosis: a new roof it would be. The old one had held on for 25 years, but it hadn’t any more life to give. With my husband headed out of town that Sunday, it quickly became apparent that I would have to handle the hiring and over-seeing of the new roof.

Sucky, but certainly not insurmountable. A setback to be sure, but I had every confidence that I could handle things.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t know as I waved goodbye to my husband that Sunday afternoon was that two days earlier, as I innocently went to work at the day job, my sick co-worker had managed to infect me with the bubonic plague.

By Monday morning, I knew something was dreadfully wrong. Popping Vitamin C pills like candy, I struggled to take care of the three dogs, seek out recommendations for roofers, and still write anything at all of worth. My right nostril had forgotten how to breathe, my throat was starting to hurt, and my dogs were giving me dirty looks every time I sneezed and scared them.

Truly, the rest of the week was a blur of Kleenex, Vaporub, phone calls and appointments with roofers, and the seemingly insurmountable task of trying to keep me and my three dogs fed, watered, and more or less alive until such time that my husband finally arrived and could take care of me. It was all I could think of; my husband’s homecoming. If I could only make it until Saturday, he would sweep in like the cavalry and make everything better.

The worst day was Friday, when the roofers started banging at 8 am and didn’t stop until dark. Try as I might, I couldn’t put a cohesive sentence on the page. I had stayed home sick from work, yet between the racket on the roof and three very freaked out dogs, there was no rest to be had. Still, I knew that in another day, the house would be quiet again, and my hubby would be there to take care of me.

At long last, Saturday dawned and the unmistakable sound of a car in the driveway meant only one thing: my husband was home, and my worries were over. Hooray! Someone else to make me soup, and feed the dogs, and bring me hot tea. Someone to go to the store and get more Kleenex and take out the garbage and clean the kitchen. My worries were over, and soon I’d be back on the computer, good as new.

Yeah, well – remember that whole “bad news in threes” thing? Come to find out, my hubby managed to get sick on the way home, and proceeded to climb into bed and sleep for the next 12 hours. So much for being taken care of!

Sigh.

So, here’s to hoping our run of bad luck is over, and there will be nothing but wellness, happiness, and creativity in my house between now and March 1. After all, I have a book to finish!! (It can be done – right? RIGHT?!)

So tell me, what was you most recent trio of bad luck? Please tell me I’m not the only one that has had a streak of bad luck at the very worst time! And wish me good luck, because I doubt I’ll see the light of day until March 1, at which time I will emerge victorious!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Idol Time - Again


                Yep, it is that time of year – American Idol has begun.  I used to watch the weeks leading up to “Hollywood Week” to see who would make it through and get that Golden Ticket.  But this year, I didn’t.  Part of it was because I got behind. I recorded them all but by the time I would get through them it would be well into the season and they would probably be down to five contestants, if I managed to catch up.  I loved watching the tears of joy, whooping and hollering and excitement whenever Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler announced someone was “Going to Hollywood”.  I assumed it was the same feeling a romance author gets when the call comes that they have finaled in the Golden Heart.  One step closer to a dream.  Hollywood is that one step closer for these singers.  It doesn’t mean they will win, but their chances of being noticed by the record industry just increased.  Which is the same for Golden Heart finalists.  Once your name is on that list, people who could offer a leg up in your career begin to take notice.
                Another reason I wasn’t compelled to watch the audition weeks was I don't like seeing disappointment.  Some of these singers put their heart and soul on the line when they step before the three judges and belt out their song of choice.  In past years, some have been humiliating. I don’t know about this year, I didn’t watch.  Most authors have gone through the disappointment of getting a letter in the mail or e-mail that basically says “You are not good enough.”  Oh, it may be couched in kind terms, and even encouragement.  Still, there is no offer of representation or publication and despite what words were used in the rejection; an author translates it into “you are not good enough.” This is hard enough to take in the privacy of your own home.  For the idol contestants, it must be tenfold. Imagine your rejection letter being read on the nightly news for tens of thousands of people to hear.  Or worse, CNN, so the entire world can know you are not good enough.
                Of course, the decision on whether and artist continues or not is the decision of two out of three people, and these three do not always agree.  Heck, I am sure several armchair Idol judges (which I will admit, I tend to be), don’t always agree.  There were times I wondered why a person was sent through and why another wasn’t.  No different than an armchair quarterback during a game, yelling at the screen.  I don’t yell. However, there was that one season, when a young man was kept on the show longer than he should have been (in my opinion, of course) and better talent voted off and my favorite of the bunch did not win.  Oh well, I am sure my opinion would matter if I owned a record label / recording studio.  That was also the first year I picked up the phone and voted. 
                For an author, the decision on being put through also comes down to a handful of people.  Just because Agent A wasn’t interested, or Judge B scored you low, doesn’t mean you are lacking anything.  It is one opinion.  Just getting in front of the judges is a hurdle.  For Idol, they all start in the slush pile. Look at how many people show up to auditions.  There is no possible way they will all get to perform before the three judges. Instead, they sing before other individuals who make the decision on whether the singer is good enough to continue on.  Just like assistants at an agency or publisher read through manuscripts and query letters.  I wonder how many gems have been turned away by these other judges that may have been loved by the three who carry the power?  It is a slush pile, luck of the draw and being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right person.
                So, if you are still waiting to get your Golden Ticket, don’t let a rejection letter deter you and don’t read it as “You are not good enough” even though it seems to be screaming those exact words back at you. It is one opinion in a sea of thousands.  Take a day to curl up on the couch, beverage of choice in one hand, box of chocolates beside you and watch Idol.  At least when someone goes home, you know exactly how they feel. 
Remember, tomorrow is another day and you will find that person who loves your voice and wants you, just like it happened to my critique partner, Lily George.  She did not give in or give up and last week she debuted with her Love Inspired Inspiration Regency Romance, Captain of Her Heart. Everyone who leaves a comment, with an email address, telling us about their own Idol moments will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Captain of Her Heart.