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Archive for the ‘April 2009’ Category

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Aldwin Treynarde is ordered by his lord Geoffrey de Lanceau to retrieve a stolen ruby pendant before it falls into enemy hands.  If Aldwin excels in his duty, he might be awarded knighthood and even be welcomed back into the family he disgraced years ago.

Lady Leona Ransley wants only to trade the pendant for the reward and vanish.  When she arranges a meeting in a seedy tavern, she never expected to face Aldwin, a childhood playmate who almost caused her death.  Not recognizing Leona, and believing her to be a courtesan with information on his lord’s enemies, Aldwin takes Leona hostage and spirits her away, meaning to deliver her and the pendant to de Lanceau.

She, however, fights him at every chance.  Aldwin desires his warrior captive more than any noble lady he’s ever met; when he discovers who she really is, he knows he has one last chance to protect her life.  Only by resolving the past and fighting side by side can Aldwin and Leona defeat the conspirators and surrender to their greatest temptation: love.

I’m very excited to be here to chat about my latest release, A Knight’s Temptation, Book 3 of my award-winning medieval Knight’s Series.

I loved writing A Knight’s Temptation, and not just because I was able to further indulge my personal fascination with the Middle Ages.  I adored my leading characters.  There’s something really invigorating about writing scenes between a duty-driven alpha-male hero and a heroine who refuses to do as he expects.  The push and tug between Aldwin Treynarde and Lady Leona Ransley made for some pulse-pounding, sizzling, poignant, and downright funny scenes.  There were times when sparks practically crackled across my keyboard.  Whew!

Aldwin is not the naïve young squire readers first met in A Knight’s Vengeance (Series Book 1)  He’s a hardened warrior who’s had to live with the dishonor of shooting Geoffrey de Lanceau with a crossbow bolt (from A Knight’s Vengeance).  By succeeding in his important quest for de Lanceau—retrieving a stolen ruby pendant that de Lanceau’s enemies would sell to finance an uprising against him—Aldwin hopes to earn knighthood.  Achieving that honor is his greatest temptation.

That is, until he meets my heroine, Leona Ransley.  She’s far from the delicate, perfectly-mannered lady Aldwin idealized in his younger days.  Risking her own safety, she snatched the pendant from her drunken father’s safekeeping at Pryerston Keep and arranged a meeting in a tavern to exchange the jewel for the reward.  She’s very devoted to her father—but smart enough to know his guests, who gave him the pendant, are up to no good.  Readers of A Knight’s Vengeance will be familiar with Baron Sedgewick and his wicked lover, Veronique, who have returned to Moydenshire to overthrow de Lanceau.  Veronique is now the mother of a little boy, de Lanceau’s illegitimate son he doesn’t know he fathered until well into this book.

When Aldwin meets up with Leona to get the pendant, he doesn’t recognize her—although she definitely recalls him.  Years ago, when they were children, he ordered her tied to a tree in a game of “rescue the damsel,” not realizing she was standing over a bees’ nest.  Stung many times, Leona almost died.  But she survived, and now, realizing her father and the good folk of Pryerston need her help to oust the conspirators, she’ll do all she can to ensure that happens, while being careful not to implicate her sire as a traitor.

Aldwin, however, senses she knows more about the pendant than she’s willing to admit.  He takes her hostage, planning to deliver her to de Lanceau for questioning.  Determined to escape, Leona refuses to cooperate.  As I said, the sparks were a-crackling.  J Meanwhile, with Veronique and the baron trying to get back the pendant, the scenario makes for (I hope) one thrilling, romantic adventure in the Middle Ages—an era I gladly venture into again as I write the next series book.

Warmest wishes,

Catherine

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of A KNIGHT’S TEMPTATION. Good Luck! :)

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Running from their pasts

Margaret Dalrousie was once willing to sacrifice all for her calling. The talented artist would let no man interfere with her gift. But now, living in a small Scottish cottage on the estate of Glengarrow, she has not painted a portrait in ages. For not even the calming haven in the remote woods can erase the memories that darken Margaret’s days and nights. And now, with the return of the Earl of Linnet to his ancestral home, her hopes of peace have disappeared.

From the first moment he encountered Margaret on his land, the Earl of Linnet was nothing but annoyed. The grieving nobleman has his own secrets that have lured him to the solitude of the Highlands, and his own reasons for wanting to be alone. Yet he is intrigued by his hauntingly beautiful neighbor. Could she be the spark that will draw him out of bittersweet sorrow—the woman who could transform him from a Scotsman in sadness to a Scotsman in love?

When I first came up with the idea of A Scotsman in Love, I kept getting flashbacks to my childhood. My mother was an artist, someone who had numerous shows throughout the country, and one in Paris.  Despite this, she never had much self-confidence about her work.  In addition to painting – she used oils, predominantly – she also took up photography and went on to win awards for her black and white photographs.

As a child, I can remember her standing in the den, or the living room, or whatever room had the best light at the time. As Air Force dependents, we were forever moving, so the locale always changed. She would stand and stare at the canvas, as if willing the images to appear. She did the most beautiful character studies of people. She enjoyed painting the elderly because, as she said, “their lives show on their faces.”

When Margaret Dalrousie was born in my mind, I couldn’t help but remember all those occasions watching my mother. She was so immersed in her work, so totally taken by it. I have often thought that I’m a writer because she was an artist. I, too, have that sense of time standing still. It’s nothing for me to be immersed in writing and look up to find that morning has faded into night.

Another thing we have in common, that I never realized until I became a writer, is the fact that her self-doubt mirrors mine.  I think, perhaps, that doubt is a job requirement for artists and writers.

Strangely enough, Margaret Dalrousie  does not doubt her own talent.

In fact, she’s probably arrogant about it. It’s something she’s always had, like the color of her eyes, and when she loses it, she’s devastated.

A Scotsman in Love is the story of two people who don’t particularly care about love, or perhaps they simply don’t believe in it. Each of them comes to rely on the other, and the passion, then the love they feel makes each a better person.

If you get a chance to read A Scotsman in Love, I hope you’ll tell me what you think.

Excerpt can be found here.

Drawing can be found here.

Warm fuzzies!

Karen Ranney

Web site: www.karenranney.com
Warm Fuzzies! Blog:  http://karenranney.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenRanney

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of A SCOTSMAN IN LOVE and a travel mug from Karen! Good Luck! :)

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Demon slaying powers should come with an instruction book …

Seriously. Why does a new hair dryer have a twelve-page how-to manual, but when it comes to ancient demon-fighting hocus-pocus, my biker witch granny gives me just half a dozen switch stars and a rah-rah speech? Oh, and a talking terrier, but that’s another story. It’s not like my job as a preschool teacher prepared me for this kind of thing.

So I’ve decided to write my own manual, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, because no one tells me anything. Dimitri, my “protector,” may be one stud of a shape-shifting griffin, but he always thinks he can handle everything by himself. Only he’s no match for the soul-stealing succubi taking over Las Vegas. If I can’t figure out how to save him – and Sin City – there’ll be hell to pay.

Angie Fox gets into trouble. Again.

Thanks so much for having me back on Novel Thoughts and Book Talk. I’m really excited to be here and to give away a copy of my new release, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers.

This book was a blast to write, and I learned a valuable lesson too: be careful what you write…because it may just send you to some, ahem, unusual places. See, I write about a reluctant demon slayer forced to run off with a gang of geriatric biker witches. Add that to the fact that I tend to write what amuses me and you have a recipe for trouble.

When I was writing the end of my first book, The Accidental Demon Slayer, this joke about Las Vegas popped into my head and I thought, “why not?” Lizzie is just about to kiss her man when she’s interrupted and told she and the gang have to head to Las Vegas to save her long lost uncle from marrying a succubus. Kind of fun. At least it made me smile. I was an unpublished writer at the time.

But then the book sold. Better still, The Accidental Demon Slayer hit the New York Times bestseller list. My publisher wanted more. Heck, I wanted to write more. I remember being on the phone with my editor and she said, “so you’re going to Las Vegas, right?”

Oh yeah.

I admit it. I had these images of cool hotels and shows in my head. Then reality hit. I write about biker witches and a preschool teacher turned demon slayer. These folks don’t have a lot of spare cash lying around. This wasn’t my trip – it was theirs. Good thing I like odd adventures. And my friends do too.

One in particular – my friend Aileen – is a sucker for anything strange and unusual. So I talked her into a long weekend and we headed to Vegas to see and experience the biker witch version of Sin City. We stayed in the cheesiest hotels we could find. We ate at Bob’s Big Boy. We even visited a dude ranch with armadillos, a boar and several very old chickens.

We were able to talk our way into some behind-the-scenes places as well. The climax of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers takes place inside the Hoover Dam, and we were lucky enough to be invited to see first-hand what I’d be writing about. A guide took us far down into the inspection tunnels they used in the 1930’s and 40’s, when the cement was still curing. It was amazing to see the notes these inspectors made on the walls, to hear the stories of those that didn’t quite make it out and to walk the same old metal steps that they did. All of that made it into The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, along with lots of things I had a blast making up (this is fiction after all).

And to celebrate the release of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, I’m going to give one away. Just take the quiz Are You Part Demon Slayer? and tell us your score in the comments section. We’ll pick one winner at random. Oh and if you post that same score to my author blog, you’ll be entered to win a walk-on role in the next Accidental Demon Slayer book. Good luck!

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He sure would love to have someone to take care of…

Dr. Mike Flynn’s single mom taught him early how to cook and clean, and there’s nothing like vacuuming or doing dishes to help a guy relax. Annabelle Ronaldi is an artist without a domestic bone in her body. Since her fiance’s death, she can’t paint, and life looks hopeless.

Until the day after her sister’s wedding, when she wakes up with Mike next to her in bed, and then she’s really beside herself – because the handsome stranger is a dead ringer for her dead fiance.

After their mind-blowing one night stand, Mike is sure this is the woman he wants to take care of forever, but she acts like she’s seen a ghost. While Mike sets to work wooing Annabelle, she sets to work sniffing out the truth of the convoluted family secret that turns everybody’s lives upside down.

The Making Of A Hero –

When I wrote Romeo, Romeo I have to admit, I fell in love—and not just with my hero, Nick. No, I fell in love with one of Nick’s best friends, Dr. Mike Flynn—a character who just showed up and tried to take over.

In Romeo, Romeo, Rosalie came down with a killer case of pneumonia and I realized I needed a doctor. Since I have an amazing pulmonologist on speed-dial, and I’m horrible with names—yes, even those of my characters—I named Mike after my doctor. Don’t worry, I changed the last name and just about everything else to protect the innocent.

Too Hot To Handle began with a phone conversation between Mike and Nick in Romeo, Romeo. That’s all it took for Dr. Mike Flynn to work his way into my heart and mind. One conversation and Mike had taken shape in my head, and I had a genuine crush on the man! He was so much fun, so self-deprecating, and best of all, he was another domestic god. Mike considered vacuum cleaners to be power tools, he loved to cook, thought cleaning was a stress reliever, and he was a true nurturer. Before the first conversation had ended, I began wondering what kind of woman would steal his heart.

Like most heroes, Mike was so much more than he seemed. He was a man who worked his way through life and didn’t know when to just live. He worked to get good grades, scholarships, attend the right medical school, get the best residency, the top fellowship, and finally a partnership. He was so busy working; he hardly slept–much less dated–until he met Annabelle Ronaldi at Nick and Rosalie’s wedding.

When it comes to relationships, timing is everything. It had to be right for both Mike and Annabelle to be open to a relationship. Annabelle had been struggling for a few years to overcome a deep loss, and Mike had begun to realize he worked so much, he didn’t have a life, much less a love life. Once they met, the sparks flew and the result was Too Hot To Handle.

– Robin

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of TOO HOT TO HANDLE. Good Luck! :)


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Surely Jane Austen would know how to handle such a rake…

From the author of Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, a new time travel romance featuring a modern day career woman swept back in time to Regency England, where she thwarts a Napoleonic spy, chats with Jane Austen, and falls in love with a notorious rake.

Eleanor is a costume designer in England for the Jane Austen festival, where her room at the inn is haunted. In the middle of the night she encounters two ghost sisters whose brother was killed in a duel over 200 years ago. They persuade her to travel back in time with them to prevent the duel. Eleanor is swept into a country house party, presided over by the charming Lord Shermont, where she encounters and befriends Jane Austen. But there’s much more to Lord Shermont than the ghosts knew, and as Eleanor dances and flirts with him, she begins to lose her heart.

Blog: Loves the Regency Era

By Laurie Brown

One of the things I like about writing time travels is doing the research. Authentic historical details add to the setting and characters, and spark ideas for both. I’ve always been especially drawn to the Regency, at first because of the women’s fashions of the day, and then later because of the manners and lifestyle.

During my research for What Would Jane Austen Do? I realized I should have paid more attention in history class. I wanted my heroine to be an American and my hero to have something to do with catching Napoleon’s spies but I ran smack dab up against the War of 1812 of which I knew very little. When I read Jane Austen’s books, I just assumed the military men in the stories were destined to fight the French. In truth the soldiers of 1814 may well have been sent to America, and the characters could have had friends or relatives fighting across the Atlantic. That circumstance would not have made the rare American visitor the most popular guest in an English home, so I had to account for that. And because America and France had been allies during the Revolution, it also gave the hero Lord Shermont an instant reason to question why she was there. Was she involved with the French spies he was searching for?

When she goes back in time Eleanor realizes just how many modern amenities she misses. Some of those things were easy to think of, like cars, cell phones, and computers. But sometimes I had to stop and look up when something was invented. The zipper was patented in 1913 as the hookless fastener (sort of sounds like Velcro which of course was not invented until 1955). Because I was writing one day with a toothache I had her miss modern dentistry, which of course I had to look up. She also misses modern plumbing. Although there has always been some sort of waste disposal system being invented or improved, the flush toilet as we know it was not invented until 1886.

I always find interesting stuff in my research that I can’t use. Such as the “earthcloset” sort of a portable outhouse found in many houses a bit later in the 19th century. Rather like a kitty litter box for humans, dry granular clay was dispensed from a hopper into a box to desiccate waste and prevent odor. When the box was full the earth and waste could be removed for disposal elsewhere.

Eleanor misses chocolate. Some history buff might point out that cocoa has been around for centuries, but not in the form she would know as chocolate. During the Regency unsweetened cocoa powder would have been available for making into a hot beverage. Coffee houses routinely served cocoa as well as the other brews. (The first Baker’s Mill for grinding cocoa beans was opened in the U.S. in 1765.) But chocolate as in candy bar was not invented until 1847. So I had her miss M&M’s which were not invented until 1941.

I enjoy learning about other time periods especially the Regency and Victorian eras. I often wonder how I would have liked living in a different time period. Maybe that’s why I write time travels. Besides family and friends, I would miss most Reese’s peanut butter cups, Corralejo tequila, Spanx, and Lancome Absolu Night Cream. Necessities of life. ;-)

What is your favorite time period/location? Would you go there if time travel were a reality? What would you miss most?

– Laurie

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO? Good Luck! :)

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Just when the darkness seems permanent, fate flips a switch.

Michael Warner has been drifting in a numb haze since his lover was killed by a drunk driver. As the anniversary of the wreck approaches, Michael’s grief grows more suffocating. Yet he must find a way through the maze of pain and secrets to live for their troubled young daughter who struggles with guilt that she survived the crash.

Out of the darkness comes a voice, a lifeline he never expected to find—Rebecca O’Neill, a development executive in the studio where Michael works as an electrician.

Rebecca, a former sitcom celebrity left scarred from a crazed fan’s attack, has retreated from the limelight and from life in general, certain no man can ever get past her disfigurement. The instant sparks between her and Michael, who arrives to help her during a power outage, come as a complete surprise—and so does her uncanny bond with his daughter.

For the first time, all three feel compelled to examine their inner and outer scars in the light of love. But trust is hard to come by, especially when you’re not sure what to believe when you look in the mirror. The scars? Or the truth?

Warning: This title contains a three-hankie redemptive romance, a man with a complicated past, a heroine who’s stronger than she knows, and tender, explicit sex scenes that may just break your heart—and make you believe in love once again.

 

 

Some Stories Just Won’t Stop Talking

Like my blog post title indicates, I firmly believe that some story ideas come to the author and just won’t be silenced.  They arrive with a whole lot of clang and clamor, the kind of mental raucous that a writer can’t ignore. They’re noisy and populated with emotion and action; they have long term elements already in place, i.e. as the writer, you know how some of the characters met back in childhood or maybe how they are going to die long after the book is over.  And you don’t have to figure these aspects out during the writing process.  You know, almost immediately.  The story is that alive from the moment it is born.

The crazy thing about these kinds of novels, however, is how impractical they tend to be.  They’re often the ones that, logically speaking, should be shelved.  But that doesn’t make them one bit more polite or demure.  We might as well bring out a full Broadway troop and sing, “Ding, Dong, the idea is here!” complete with shrill munchkin voices because this totally inconvenient, impractical novel? It’s not going to shut up any time soon.

In short, some stories simply refuse to be silenced.  Uh, even if you know they’re not commercial. Even if you tell yourself that they will never, ever sell—they still demand to be told, and won’t leave you alone.  They arrive dramatically, with characters that feel like they have a life of their own, with louder voices, perhaps, than some of the other characters that march through your author’s brain.

My newest release, BUTTERFLY TATTOO (Tuesday, April 21, Samhain Publishing) was exactly this kind of book.  By all rights, I knew it would be a tough sell because of its unconventional/edgy elements.  I mean, come on, I work as a literary agent for a living! It’s my job to pinpoint what will sell and what won’t. So, the highly emotional story of a bisexual man losing his life partner, then starting over with a woman? I wasn’t kidding myself that New York publishers would be shoving each other out of the way to acquire it. 

Without spoiling you too much on the book’s plot, I’ll just say that among its themes, loss and redemption factor in.  Every major character in the novel, at least in the beginning, is at a point of grief and/or pain.  And although it alternates between the hero and heroine, the first voice that spoke most clearly was that of the hero’s daughter, Andrea.  I was in the middle of an entirely different book, but she was assertive. Dang it, I was busy.  I was caught up in other characters’ lives at the moment.  But I’ll never forget: it was a Saturday am, my family was still asleep and this little girl’s voice literally came to me as surely as if she were whispering in my ear. 

So I opened a word document and wrote a single page.  I captured what I heard.  And that proved to be the beginning of a story that, despite not being very commercial, despite breaking every rule, I still had to put on paper.

As an agent and author, writers often ask me what’s hot or what’s selling, and I tell them—with conviction borne in the trenches—you have to be true to yourself.  To your own writer’s heart.   I’m not saying you can afford to be naïve about it: if you’re taking huge risks, the work may be hard to sell.  But at the same time, by being authentic, and listening to the characters that just won’t shut up, one day someone will get it.  The right editor, the right publisher, the timely reader.  Whoever it is—they will hear that same voice, the same magic, that compels you to write the book of your heart.

For me, as you can tell, BUTTERFLY TATTOO is that novel.  It took me sixteen months to write and four years to sell, but this Tuesday April 21st, I finally have the hugest honor any author can know—I get to share this world with you, one that still feels real and alive to me, even now, four years after finishing the book. 

I hope you’ll take a chance on this very unconventional novel, which I should probably retitle, “the crazy book that finally could.” And if you do, I’d love to hear from you personally at Deidre@Deidreknight.com.  Perhaps I should sign this blog as, Romance Writer at Heart, because BUTTERFLY TATTOO is that special book that came from the deepest places inside of me.  I’d love to give away a copy of BUTTERFLY TATTOO and will choose a winner from among those whom post! Thanks for being a part of the crazy ride, just by reading this blog.

 

–Deidre 

 

 

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This week my latest Jamesville book, Past Promises, released from Samhain Publishing.

Blurb:

For Linda Fletcher, the sign in front of her new business says it all. Past Promises Antiques is her declaration of independence from her powerful and manipulative family—and a vow to herself that her future will be different.

She never considered herself the no-strings-affair type, but the chemistry between her and her newly hired handyman is too intense to ignore. Moving to Jamesville was a bold step, so what’s the harm in taking one more—into his arms?

Levi Mann’s shadowed past keeps his bags packed light and his feet on the move. But one look at Linda, and he finds himself willing to hang around—just long enough to figure out what it is that triggers their explosive passion.

I can certainly relate to the heroine, Linda Fletcher, because I have a passion for yard sales, thrift stores, second-hand shops and antique stores. Not that I have a lot of cash to spend in them, but you can get some great stuff without spending a lot. There are treasures out there just waiting to be found.

Yard sales are the best place to find bargains simply because folks want the stuff gone. A few years ago, I got a great tea set of vintage transfer ware, complete with milk jug and sugar dish. The older gentlemen selling it thought I was crazy to want it all. He wanted fifty cents for each piece, but ended up selling all of it to me for around six dollars. Most of my dishes don’t match. I buy what I like. My dream is to eventually have a place setting for eight, where every person has a different pattern.

I found a beautiful silver pendant for my sister at a thrift store. It wasn’t vintage, but I knew she’d love it. I paid two bucks for it, gave it to her this past Christmas and she’s been wearing it every time I’ve seen her since.

Whether you have an interest in kitchenware, jewelry, games, ephemera, furniture, tools, or whatever, you can find it if you’re willing to look.

That’s the type of store I wanted Past Promises to be when I wrote the book. I think Linda succeeded in creating the kind of shop I’d love to own, or at least visit.

You can check out Past Promises, or any other book in the Jamesville series at http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/n-j-walters .

N.J. Walters

Emotional~Sensual~Satisfying Reads!

http://www.njwalters.com

http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/awakeningdesires

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a download of a book off N.J.’s backlist! Good Luck! :)


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