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We have Tamara Moreau in the house this morning! Welcome Tamara, can't wait to get to know you and your books better.
Q: What inspires you to write? What or who are your muses?
A: While I feel fairly certain my day-to-day experiences find their way into my work, I can’t say anything external inspires me. I was an introverted child who spent much of my life in a fantasy world that held on into my adult life with uncommon tenacity. My “make believe” friends inspire me to write, but it is my husband who is the grounding point for my work. He helps me keep logical aspects in mind, and provides inspiration to keep my stories active and exciting. He also corrects details I sometimes miss as I write about events from the past. The greatest example in Secrets & Promises was my use of an electronic car key fob and a cell phone during a sequence that took place thirty years ago. (oops!)
Q: Have your experiences in the Air Force played any part in your books?
A: No. Although I’m proud of the eight years I spent in active duty and the three years following I spent in the reserves, I can’t say there is any aspect of my military career that inspired my work. However, my exposure to the skills needed during wartime have helped in developing the dangers my Haven’s Realm characters face, and colored the mentalities of two of my women (Tyler Jenkins from Dragon Lord, and Mirissa Wellston in Haven’s King).
Q: What do you most enjoy about writing books with paranormal themes?
There are a number of things I like about the paranormal genre, chief among them the lack of rules. You can’t really go too far wrong when writing about things that have been developed culturally through human supposition and folklore. Secrets & Promises attempts to explain the vampire condition through the eyes of a scientist, and I’ve paved the way for the magic side of science. I’ve approached the vampire persona with a touch of common sense. For example, my characters are solid beings who cast light and reflect shadows, and so can be seen in mirrors and photographed. My favorite deviation from the norm exists in the founding of the Community, which involved the cooperation of the deities. And for those who are frequently prone to ask, no, my vampires do not sparkle in sunlight.
Q: Do you have any upcoming books you'd like to tell our readers about? This is a great way to "prime the pump" so to speak, plus our readers love hearing about new books to come!
A: I just released Secrets & Promises to the world. Here is a blurb and short excerpt from my most dynamic work yet…
When her best friend is taken by a vampire, Dr. Charlotte Vinetti shifts her genetic research focus in hopes of finding a cure. Five years later, she’s no closer to her goal, and long-troubled by the one vampire she’d killed who was different from the rest. Her worst nightmares become terrifying reality when she’s captured and realizes her captors are intelligent, sentient beings rather than the mindless creatures who continued to invade her home.
Vincent was nearing the end of his strength. Haven’s trials over the past five years had overtaxed his resources, but he knew with dread his problems were only beginning when the hunter the Community had long sought was the reincarnation of his deepest love. Forced by ancient promises to stand against the Bargain, his only hope lies in ending their gypsy curse and winning her love, for only then can he earn the Council’s forgiveness.
Vincent rose to his feet the moment she emerged, set down his empty mug and met her gaze. He wore his control like armor, shielding his pain from the world. How awful it must’ve been for him, to fall in love and watch his love die time and again like a macabre opera with no end. She’d lost count of the lives she visited–each nightmare blurred into the next until even their names became confused.
The muscles in his jaws jumped. His eyes darkened. “How many what?”
Her first instinct was to deck him. She came too close to acting on it. “You know what I’m asking. How many wives or lovers have you met and lost?”
She must’ve phrased her question the right way, because a series of emotions flickered in his eyes–passion, pain, joy, despair…He took a deep breath and countered her. “Do you know who those women were?”
“Yeah. Sure. Women from your past. I didn’t realize you had such a fascination for redheads with ice-blue eyes. If you wanted to share them with me, why didn’t you just tell me instead of scaring me half to death all night?”
His eyes darkened further. “Those memories were not mine. I influenced your dreams in no way.”
Amber and the other girl emerged from the bedroom bearing laundry, and left without meeting either hers or Vincent’s gaze. She was glad of the distraction and the time to contemplate his answer. “Well if you didn’t cause them, who…?” She gasped. “Ghosts. You’ve somehow resurrected the ghosts of all those women and sicced them on me. Am I possessed?”
“You possess nothing today you did not yesterday. As for spirits, there is only one, and she has always been with you.”
His assurance added to her confusion. “What the hell are you talking about?”
He captured and held her gaze, searching her eyes for understanding. The hard control in his eyes made her stomach burn. “Do you continue to deny the truth pounding in your heart? You haven’t been visiting my past,” he said in a low, even tone. “You’ve been exploring your own.”
She gaped at him for several seconds. “My past? Are you trying to say all those women I spent the day dreaming of…they were me?”
“You have that backward. You were once each of them.”
She shook her head. “No. That’s not possible.”
He reached for her. “Chari–”
“No! Don’t touch me.” She paced the sitting area in panic. “If I was…if they’re all…” Reality sank in a minute later. She stopped and raised her eyes to his. “I’m going to die too, aren’t I?”
His eyes pooled with tears. “Not if I can help it. Come. The MacAarons will entertain you today.”
She stepped toward the door shakily. “Vincent, I’m not well.”
“You’re tired. Our exploration was hard on you. I’ll use less incense in the morning.”
“We’re going to do it again? Already? I can’t take–”
“Can and will, Chari. We haven’t much time.”
She wanted to cry. “Why?”
He turned her to face him, blue fire burning dimly in his eyes. “Because somewhere, sometime, you knew how to stop this. The knowledge was in your eyes as you died in my arms. I sensed your urgent mental cries as you struggled for clarity, but you’ve never been able to tell me what we need to know.”
A tear dripped down her right cheek. She brushed it away. “How many, Vincent?”
“Will it help you to know?”
“At least I’ll have an idea what I’m up against.”
His stance slackened marginally. “You’ve always possessed the most amazing courage.” He caressed her damp hair while ancient sorrow overtook him. “The life I see before me is the forty-ninth incarnation of a love I lost more than a thousand years ago.”
“Forty…oh my God!”
“You’ve never skipped a generation. Somehow, we’ve always found each other.”
Q: What is a regular day of writing like for you? Do you do research
first, outline, use index cards? Please share your process.
A: Mostly, I write on the fly, and only when inspiration is with me. If it doesn’t come easy, I put it down and wait for more clarification to occur. As I record what my friends tell me, I pause frequently to pull up google and clarify details, such as historical events and dates, and oddities like the history of mattresses and the effects of certain poisons. I rarely use a written outline, and never index cards. (receiving a flashback from high school. *shudders*)
When I began developing my writing in 1992, I found myself focusing on specific scenes my characters obsessed over in my mind. Those early days found me writing whole chapters from inside the story, and when it came time to pull them together, I found them too haphazard and in need of severe rewrite to blend the sequences together. I dove into what became my first published work in 2002 with the intent of marketing a series of short articles. Starting from chapter one page one made the story flow more smoothly, and resulted in a very satisfying and heartfelt tale. I kept with that formula until recently, and book six is starting out much the same as my first attempt.
While waiting for Secrets to work its way through the publishing processes, I gave in and free-wrote the segments from book six that presented themselves. I’m having a hard time now filling in the gaps, and haven’t started my weekend fireside discussions with my husband yet, but with over half of the story covered, I must now struggle to fit the pieces together and fill in the blanks. It’s not my preferred method, by any means, but as I dealt with the frustrations involved with getting book five to market, these odd scenes dominated my mind until I was forced, finally, to write them down.
Character and plot development take place long before the first word is written. I obsess over my ideas, usually as I try to lull myself to sleep at night, until I hear a storyline that works well with the previous works. By the time I sit down to record my musings, I know who my characters are, their motivations and personality, and I know where I want them to go. How they get there is usually entirely up to them, and they very often surprise me.
Q: If you could do one thing differently on your road to publication what would it be and why that one thing?
A: I don’t have much in the way of creative writing education outside of the classes I took in school. (I always got an A in any English-related courses.) I think if I’d had an additional course or two in college, I might have been better prepared for the rigors of the publication process, and may have succeeded in publishing sooner. It’s hard to say, because real life has thrown obstacles in my path that delayed my work for almost ten years. Would I do anything different? I can’t really say, since I didn’t really feel my work polished enough until just before I contacted Secret Cravings Publishing. I worked hard for a long time before I established a working writing style. I can only think, if I’d devoted more time in those lost years, that I’d be much further along by now.
Q: What advice do you have for writers who have yet to be published?
A: Don’t ever give up on your dream. Read all you can in your preferred genre and study the various writing styles of your favorite authors. Write down your ideas and share them with trusted friends, and take their criticism seriously. Write. Write. Write. The more experience you have writing and editing your own work, the faster you will develop. Do you have a marketable story? Don’t take the rejection of your first submission as absolute. Even Stephen King had trouble marketing his first book. If you believe in your work, and if you have positive feedback from your friends to support that belief, your time will come.
Q: Do you have any hobbies? If so please share with our readers.
A: I’ve involved myself in so many creative endeavors over the years. I’ve made porcelain dolls, worked on ceramics, sew, knit, and paint. The art of three-dimensional paper models caught my more recent attention (and so Catherine’s, my recurring character from Twilight Destiny, who shares my love of crafting), and I’m fascinated by paper automata. I also enjoy tumbling stones and working on the restoration of my 1968 Camaro, which has been in my family since it was new. I love music and dabble on my guitar and electronic piano, and I’ve loved to sing since I was very small.
Q: Name your favorite top three free promotions tips.
A: I’ll admit, I suck at promoting. Even though I consider myself to be computer literate, the concept of social media was practically foreign to me until I joined SCP. I’m still learning, so I really can’t say what has worked best for me. I’m a regular now on Facebook, and post occasionally on other sites, and participate in blog hops and events where I can.
Q: Finally, something fun, what is your favorite all to yourself day
like? You know a day where you can do anything you want to.
A: Most of my days are spent in solitude while my husband works to support us. If my muse is active, I spend a lot of time in my imaginary world. My favorite times are those spent with Mike when we can get away and do something, even if it’s just spending a night or two in a hotel. The reality breaks I spend with him give my muse the rest it needs to continue.
With all the interests I have to keep me busy, I can’t say there’s any one thing I find most enjoyable outside of writing. When I’m not actively engaged in my favorite activity, I flit amongst other projects. I don’t lead a structured life anymore, so all my days are practically mine. I do whatever occurs to me at the time, and only have to share my world when the husband comes home and I must care for him. I’m a pampered house cat, strengthened and supported by the better half of my soul. Who could ask for more than that?
Where to find Tamara:
Secret Cravings Publishing
Barnes and Noble
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit your site!
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Tamara, you had some great answers to our questions, we truly enjoyed having you!
Today we're delighted welcome historical and contemporary romance author Téa Cooper. Téa has some lovely new and upcoming releases to share with us as well as a great interview. With that being said, I'll let Téa take it away!
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing historical romance?
A: Escapism! Pure and simple.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing contemporary romance?
A: Possibly the same answer…romance is my escapism.
Q: Who or what are your muses?
A: My muse is undoubtedly Wollombi Muse..eum. I had written two contemporary romances and I volunteered to man the local museum. It was a very wet and rainy day and I didn’t have many ‘customers’ so I started poking around, so many people with so many stories to tell…and the rest as they say is history!
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Currently my favourite historical author is Alison Stuart. I adore her books set in England during the seventeenth century. I was born in England, at Hampton Court, and once belonged to the “Sealed Knot” a group of tragics who dressed as roundheads and cavaliers and re-enacted battles!
Otherwise I read just about everything – except instruction manuals! Contemporary and historical romances first but I rather enjoy a bit of fantasy! I also love Tim Winton for his Australian – ness and Margaret Atwood is a huge favourite. I could go on forever, happy ever after!
Q: Tell our readers a little bit about where you live in Australia, for those of us who like to be armchair travelers. LOL
A: I live in the time-warp village of Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. The Hunter was one of the earliest wine growing regions in Australia and Wollombi was the main town. Today it is more of a village and very little has changed since the nineteenth century. Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s freedom are both set in Wollombi.
Really I have the best of both worlds. Wollombi is only two hours from the big smoke–Sydney, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and in an hour I can be on dangling my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a tough life!
Q: Explain what a rural romance is for those of us Americans who haven't heard that term before which seems to be quintessentially Australian.
A: A rural romance is a contemporary romance usually set in the outback or a country town. The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry I call rural romances. It’s a very popular genre – usually city meets country. Great heroes (cowboys for the Americans) and spirited heroines ready to take them on.
Q: If you could do one thing differently on your road to publication, what would it be and why the one thing?
A: That’s hard – probably be less impatient and plan better. I’ve got five books coming out in May, June and July! I should have planned my submissions more carefully!
Q: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: Never give up! As heart breaking as a rejection is there is always a reason. The trick is to learn from those rejections.
Q: Share your top three favorite free promotions tips with our readers.
A: The local newspapers – make a press pack and send it to your local papers the response is amazing and everyone loves to know a “celebrity”!
Facebook groups are great and most importantly support other writers and they will support you. If you enjoyed their book review it, tweet it, tell the world!
Q: Share your top three favorite paid for promotions tips with our readers.
A: Use the professionals. You can’t be good at everything, and you can’t do everything. Work out your short-comings and your budget and pay for the things you can’t do.
Blog Tours to open up a new audience. There is no point in “preaching” (promoting to the converted)!
And silly as it sounds in the world of ebooks – Book marks! Everyone loves bookmarks. My theory is it is something tangible and gives your readers your shiny, glossy cover to hold in their hand.
This was great! Thanks so much for stopping by, Téa!
1. What do you like most about writing m/m romance?
To be perfectly honest, gay men fascinate me. I mean, I get the whole falling in love with a man bit. I find them scrumptious myself! But imagining two of these gorgeous creatures locked in passionate embrace simply does pleasant things to my insides.
My stories are all about true love and the happy ending. I absolutely adore bringing out the gentleness in a strong man, the moments of tenderness, heartache and joys. I think becoming so intimate with my characters has helped me understand the many facets of love much better than I used to.
2. What drew you to writing m/m as opposed to another genre?
About three years ago I read a book by Poppy Z. Brite called LOST SOULS. It’s a book involving vampires, but what intrigue and fascinated me was the character Ghost. My goodness! I fell in love. Ghost’s a beautiful, gentle, shy young man hopelessly in love with his best friend who doesn’t see him in the light of a lover. The story’s quite dramatic, but the gentle way Poppy deals with Ghost’s affections really got to me. I wanted to write that. I wanted to tell romance stories that brought out the intense, sometimes dangerous love affairs of my gay characters in a compassionate way.
3. I see your day job is as a floral designer, how does doing this job
help you to write your stories or does it?
Oh, it certainly does. Example: There are two brothers who come in to the store on occasion. Drop dead beautiful young men. Long blond curls to their shoulders, amber eyes, flawless peaches and cream complexion, and the sweetest smiles! Always soft spoken and polite. Definitely will end up heroes in a future book.
Hold the phone! Something just happened. (I'm jotting this down at work). A man, nice looking, just walked up to my coworker and asked if she'd like to take part in an Orgy. She blinks, "Ummm….no." When he leaves we look at each other and burst out laughing! This kind of thing doesn't happen in real life, does it? Unbelievable, but it's darn well going into my current WIP.
But what inspires me the most are the men who come in to buy flowers for their special someone. They always use a soft voice, gentle smile, and have a certain look in their eyes. I can tell the flowers really mean something to them. They're in love and want to show it. I always hold this in my mind when I write my love scenes.
4. Name three authors who inspire you the most and tell our readers why.
Ray Bradbury: His stories just seem to open wide my imagination.
Dean Koontz: Reminds me a story can be terrifying and inspiring at the same time.
Tolkien: Writes the most perfect tragic heroes.
5. If you could meet only one of your characters in real life, who would
you choose and why that character?
Gosh, it's a tossup between Shelton and Alex. On the one hand, Shelton is adorable! I'd love to be his friend. Meet him for coffee or a drink; maybe go dancing with him and Nevil.
On the other hand, Alex has my heart. We've been through hell and back together, and now that I'm writing the sequel to his story, I want to hold him close and assure him of a happy ending. His story is a little darker than my romances, a psychological thriller, and I'd love to be able to stand by his side when others might distrust or fear him.
6. What most appeals to you about being a published author, and why?
I've been a storyteller since I can remember and began submitting stories to publishers while still in high school. I've always believed I could write a good story, and being published and receiving positive feedback from readers makes me feel validated for all the time I've put into writing and the belief in myself I've kept hold of all these years.
7. Your book Alex seems like more of a psychological thriller rather than
an erotic romance, what inspired you to write this story?
The answer is a story in itself! I've always believed that Frodo Baggins is the perfect tragic hero. He gives everything to save the shire, but in the end can't live there himself. I wanted to write a hero like him.
So I wrote my own fantasy novel with a character very much like Frodo, in that he gives all his heart into saving his friends from harm, and though there's a happy ending for him, it's not exactly what he expected.
So then I asked myself, what is it about these two men that attracts me? And what would happen if they were placed in the modern world? There's a vulnerability to them but also hidden strengths that I was able to dig into and bring out more fully in ALEX. In my fantasy story, Nathan's abilities seem like magic to the people around him. In ALEX, his empathy is perceived as psychic powers. Both men are misunderstood and distrusted, but with ALEX, at least there are people willing to believe in him.
8. Please share your favorite recipe with our readers.
These are the best cookies EVER!
3 cups rolled oats, uncooked
¾ cup butter 1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar ½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup granulated sugar raisins
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream together butter, sugars and egg. Add remaining ingredients. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
9. If you could choose one thing to do differently on your road to
publication what would it be and why that one thing?
The main thing I would have done is have a stronger online presence. I didn’t start a Blog or Facebook Page, Twitter, etc. until after my first story came out. I feel a little like I've been playing catch-up ever since. I wish I'd known a lot of what I do now two years ago, but things are slowly falling into place, so I'm happy.
10. What are your top three favorite free promotions tips?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1361897239&sr=8-1
Today we welcome Virginnia de Parté to be in the hot seat! Welcome Virginnia, and let's get started.
Q. How did you get started in writing?
I’ve always written very long letters and emails and had a short story published when my children were small. However, I felt I had to experience more of life’s challenges before I wrote seriously. Three years ago I decided I was ‘experienced enough”, and knuckled down to learn the craft.
Q. What inspired you to write Love’s Bright Star?
This is the first in my series about the Corban family, g-alters, living in the future. I’ve always enjoyed Science Fiction and realised a futuristic world would be easier to create than writing contemporary romance and have the content ‘age’ within a few years, because of technological advances.
The second book, Love’s Red Heart was released in January and the third, A Talent for Loving, a prequel, was released last week. I’m deep in the fourth. I keep dreaming up interesting characters who demand to be given a book of their own. I never set out to write a series but the ideas now flow at a greater pace than at the beginning of Love’s Bright Star.
Q. What do you like best about writing romance?
It allows me to put in deep point of view and lots of emotion. It also allows me to add poetry to my prose. I have a family of men, so I can empathise with their point of view when I need to.
Q. What do you like best about writing poetry and where can readers find your poetry?
Writing poetry allows me to play with words to get the maximum effect. I can twist and turn the words, using them in unusual ways. I love the rhythm and flow. There are no rules in modern poetry, which appeals to me greatly. My poetry site is hppt://derynpittar.tumblr.com. All poetry on my site has been published either in hard copy or on line.
Q. What gave you the idea to write books about people who’d had their genetics altered?
There is world-wide debate about the genetic modification of plants and animals. I thought “Why not humans? This must be the next step.” Already scientists are selecting for sex and eliminating hereditary diseases. I needed a reason for the experiments with humans and the security of a nation seemed an excellent excuse for a government to approve of their creation. Most governments have secrets. My characters are g-alters (genetically altered people) and could be your neighbours.
Q. Who are your top five favourite authors and why are they your favorites?
Kate Atkinson, Clare Morrall, Asimov, William Boyd and Julian May. All these writers pulled me into their stories and keep me there. Kate Atkinson and Clare Morrall write literary novels with a romantic thread, but you are never sure of the ending. Asimov and May write Science Fiction, which I devoured for many years, teaching me to use my imagination. William Boyd has a great grasp of words and every novel he writes is completely different.
Q. If you could meet only one of your top five favourite authors who would it be and why.
Asimov – the father of science fiction. Many of his futuristic ideas are now being invented. He opened my mind to the possibilities of the future and I’m sure he would have had lots of great advice for me.
Q. If you could meet one of your characters in person in real life who would you choose, and why that particular character?
I’d love to meet Stella. Although she is newborn in Love’s Bright Star, she is six in Love’s Red Heart and I’m now writing her romance. I have fallen in love with this character. She is caring, loyal to her family, and so talented. She is close to her grandfather, who shares her abilities. Plus, she has a head of tight blond curls, green/blue eyes with a glint of lavender and is as graceful as a cat. What’s not to love about this girl? I won’t reveal her talents. That would spoil the surprise for the readers.
Q. What are your favorite top three free promotions tips?
Have a blog and up date it regularly. Make it interesting. Reply to comments.
Facebook – don’t put up that you have baked cookies today. Keep your comments relevant to your writing and interesting.
Be polite and professional at all times. Good manners cost nothing. Be genuine and enthusiastic about your writing.
Q. If you could give aspiring authors only one piece of advice what would it be.
Get critique partners and accept their comments as genuine efforts to help you. Each partner will have a different skill and pick up different discrepancies. Critique their work in return and you will find it easier to read your own work with a critical eye. I would never have achieved publication without my critique partners. I rely on them with every chapter I write. Many romance organisations have critique lists. Be brave, put yourself out there, make approaches to writers who may write in the same genre, or are prepared to exchange work at a pace that suits you.
Life often intervenes and critique partners can fade away. Some people only write one novel and while you are pounding away at your second novel they have stopped. Don’t take it personally if they lose interest. Find someone else to take their place. Do it today!
I can be contacted on email@example.com and am happy to talk to any budding author and offer my encouragement and support. Please put ‘Regina’s heartfeltpromos’ in the subject line, and I promise to reply.
Recipes & Excerpts by Laura Tolomei
Yes, unexpected as it sounded, he loved life with Sean and not just for the sex. His heart warming rituals with wine and cooking, the easy relaxed atmosphere of their weekends, the sunny disposition no matter what, never asking for anything except to be with him, the fun and laughs they shared alone were all part of a magic the blond beauty wielded so effortlessly.
(Excerpt from Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 ReScue series)
I do so love eating and drinking, and so do my characters, especially before or after sex. Of course, being my characters, they have my tastes, particularly in what they love to drink. So here’s a gastronomical tour inside my books–starting with cocktails, I’m posting recipes and related excerpts, in an ideal menu of sensual pleasures. Enjoy!!!
My favorite drink of all, extremely alcoholic, bitter and sour tasting that is best to drink with a full stomach, if you want to keep walking straight afterwards
The name is very Italian, but then the liquors used are very Italian as well. Here's the recipe and excerpt from Re-Scue, Book 1 of the ReScue series.
2 tablespoons gin
2 tablespoons Campari
2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
1 orange twist
Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass; stir gently and garnish with an orange twist. More-formal types prefer it straight up in a Martini glass. My wife likes it topped with Prosecco for something a bit more celebratory
Re-Scue – PG EXCERPT
“This place serves the best vodka lemon of all Atlanta,” Sean assured confidently. But even if it had not, he needed a stiff drink to recover from the emotional turmoil or whatever train had hit him. “High on the vodka please,” he added to the new waiter who had come to take their order.
The young man scribbled something incomprehensible on a dirty pad, then looked at Leon. “And you, sir?”
“Negroni for me.”
After a second equally undecipherable chicken scratch, the waiter moved off, and before Leon trapped him into another risky confrontation, Sean excused himself, hurrying in the direction of the men’s room to ease tension. Damn! To be actually sitting at a secluded table with the most attractive man in the world seemed a dream come true—or a nightmare in disguise if it did not turn out the way his straining erection demanded. Not that he had any choice in the matter. The longer he stuck around Sterling, the deeper he fell into the man’s spell, increasingly harder to ignore or resist to the point he had to leave before he made a stupid pass at his boss and ruined his chances for a decent job forever.
Frustrated, he shook his head to clear it. This reaction was not like him at all, not with gorgeous men obviously expecting something very specific from him. Sex, because that was what most people wanted from him, came easy to Sean, always had since he discovered his orientations. Leon, though, seemed interested in something more, and whatever it was, Sean could not picture him as taking no for an answer. In the end, it would work just as fine. Sean wanted nothing better than to let him do whatever he pleased with his body—a marginal allowance considering he was already fucking with his mind, he and the damnable nagging sensation of knowing him from somewhere else. And everything be damned! Rationalizations included!
Mind made up, he looked at the mirror above the sink one last time, making sure his eyes held no trace of uncertainty, somehow knowing he could not afford to be weak with Leon. Then after washing his hands, he returned to the booth with the drinks already on the table.
“I appreciated your honest answers.” Glass in hand, Leon leaned across the table once Sean sat in front of him. “So I’d like to level with you.”
I love this cocktail. It’s great when you’re very very thirsty. It’ works ‘cause it’s sour. This, too, is another of the drinks I use in my books. Here’s the recipe and two excerpts, one from Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 of the ReScue series, the second from To Seduce A Soulmate, Book 1 of my Soulmate series.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water, plus 8 cups
4 lemons, juiced
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook the sugar until dissolved but the syrup is still clear. Do not cook the sugar until it starts to turn color. Remove from heat and cool.
In a pitcher, combine the syrup, 8 cups water, the lemon juice, vodka and ice and stir to combine. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy!
Tasting Leon’s Mark – PG EXCERPT
Holding a vodka lemon, Sean shrugged. “Don’t know, Jemmy. It’s the third night in a row he goes out.”
“And hasn’t bothered to telling you, right?”
With Jeremy, his friend and confident ever since high school, he had perceived from the start they shared too much not to become close. They had also been lovers for a brief period, but it had not worked out, at least for Sean. To cure his broken heart, Jeremy had moved away from Atlanta, their hometown, to San Francisco without severing the link, rather managing to keep in touch with his ex-lover until Sean returned with full force into his life, now a well-known cover artist living in the heart of Castro. Yet, despite the time and space that had driven them apart, Sean sometimes had the feeling his friend had never outgrown his teenage crush.
“Damn you, Sean. You’re just as gorgeous as you were in high school,” had been Jeremy’s comment after seeing him again, “if not more. Hell, time only made you more handsome.” Another careful look over, before adding, “Exciting and…unavailable,” had been his conclusion on learning of Leon.
Now sitting in the half-lit pub, Jeremy shook his head. “I hate to tell you, but I told you so.”
Though the dim lights made it hard to see, Sean stared at his friend’s eyes, hidden behind John Lennon type glasses on a long, lean face. Time had not fared as well with his ex-lover. Always on the thin side, now he looked skinnier than ever and somehow even taller. Sean shrugged. “He’s a hunter. He needs the chase.”
“I told you, Shauny. You can’t trust married men. It was inevitable he’d look for a woman sooner or later because that’s what he really likes.”
“He likes me.”
“Not enough apparently, if he still needs women.”
No woman, or man for that matter, will ever give him what I can. That sounded like a pitiful female’s desperate cry, even if Sean knew it was true. Naturally, he could not say it…not even to Jeremy. Speaking of Leon, he had left out the bloody sex part that tied them through several lifetimes, too disturbing and incredible to comprehend. Sometimes even Sean had the impression it was just a figment of his imagination until Leon’s strong hands running on his body made it all come alive again. “It’s probably just a phase,” he excused his hunter at last. “Once it’s over, he’ll return to me.”
Jeremy looked skeptical. “Has he ever told you he loved you?”
To Seduce A Soulmate – PG EXCERPT
Vodka lemon in hand, the devil’s favorite drink as Drake learned, they sat on the high stools, the space so tight their legs could not help touching and this probably contributed to the illusion he was alone with the devil, in a place all their own despite the confusion. Another dimension? Then he recalled the same sensation he had perceived at the office just the day before. And the ease with which Martin drew him into his enchanted magic was surprising in itself.
Taking a generous sip of his whisky, the pirate glanced at Martin’s stunning profile and shiny blond hair that lit up the place. He would have liked to run his hand through the thick strands, to feel the texture, but of course, it did not seem appropriate. So he repressed the urge, forcing his mind to focus on more practical subjects. “Why didn’t you tell me you were splitting up?” He fired the question point blank.
Martin’s look showed no surprise as if he expected the inquiry. “Would it have changed something between us?” His Irish tone challenged.
“Of course not, but—“
“Then what would’ve been the point?” He sipped his drink. “I don’t see how it could interest you anyhow.”
“Jenny told me some of the things you told Aline and—“
“They were the exact same ones I told you in that hamburger joint. Nothing less.”
“I didn’t think you’d act on those…” Drake paused to search for a kind word, in spite of his skepticism, “notions.”
Martin flashed angry green eyes at the pirate. “I happen to believe in those…notions.” Turning abruptly to his drink, he gripped the glass. “Besides, I thought we agreed we wouldn’t talk about it anymore.”
“That was your decision. I still don’t understand half of it.”
“Because you don’t want to and talking about it won’t help, just like it didn’t the last time. So I ask you again. What’s the point?”
All right, I admit it, I don’t have any recipe for this. I just made it up, but hen what else can The Demon Waiter serve?
The Demon Waiter – PG EXCERPT
Magically, two glasses full of a red, blue and green liquid appeared on the table, both steaming and hissing with hot vapors.
“Drinks on the house?” Laurent lightened up amused.
“More of a peace offering.” Stretching over the table, Viridial took a sip from his, then opened his mouth to speak.
“My story starts a long time ago when human civilization was just at the beginning.” Viridial’s deep voice managed to cover also the annoying music. “Back when you were building pyramids for tombs—”
“You’re that old?”
Melanzane alla parmigiana
I love this Sicilian recipe–Eggplants with Parmesan Cheese. On my trip in Sicily, I ate it practically every day and would’ve kept eating it had I not had to return back home, in Rome. Anyway, I love it so that I had Sean cook it for Leon, as a way to make up after a very big fight they had and after Sean walked out on Leon, leaving him alone for five days. So here’s the recipe and Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 of the ReScue series.
2 large aubergines
1 tin of tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
plenty of fresh basil
150g mozarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Slice the aubergine (I sliced mine lengthways to make for fewer pieces to fry!). Salt on both sides and leave the slices to stand upright in a colander so that any bitter juices can drain away.
Prepare the tomato sauce – fry onion and garlic until soft but not browned. Add the tin of tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar (and a pinch of dried oregano if desired) and heat the sauce through.
Blot the slices of aubergine with kitchen towel. Mix some plain flour with salt and pepper on a plate and dredge each slice in the seasoned flour (both sides) before frying in the olive oil. (The flour stops the slices from sticking to the pan – makes your life a *lot* easier!) Although some recipies suggest deep-frying, I shallow-fried mine and it worked just fine. Each batch of slices takes about 4 minutes, turning once. Drain the slices well on paper towels and keep warm.
Butter a baking dish (mine was about 30x18cm), sprinkle the bottom with toasted breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Layer the aubergine slices, follwed by the tomato sauce, some fresh basil leaves, mozarella slices and grated parmesan. Repeat these layers to use up all ingredients, finishing with sauce topped with only parmesan.
Cover the dish loosely with alumin
Sean bent slightly to check the tower-high oven. “It’s an old recipe of my grandmother, Melanzane alla Parmigiana.” He pronounced it with a slight accent. “It’s a wonderful dish she used to cook when she had time to spare.” He opened the oven to take out a baking pan, then evidently satisfied with what he saw, put it back inside. “I had to run all over town to find the right ingredients.” His gaze returned to Leon. “Only some specialized food stores carry fresh, genuine Italian products, like mozzarella cheese and parmesan, which are fundamental for this plate.”
The hunter sipped his wine. “So your grandmother didn’t only teach you the language.”
“No, she taught me the basics of Italian culture, though I remember little. But we used to spend long afternoons together since my mother had to work the entire day to support the family.”
“That’s after your father left you?”
Sean nodded. “She came from Italy to help my mom out. At first, all she could speak was Italian, then she learned a little English, but never really knew it that well.”
Leon turned the glass in his hand. “You know, you should’ve told me sooner about the languages. Where we are, it’s an invaluable skill.”
Sean shrugged, leaning on the peninsula across from Leon. “I didn’t want to brag about it, lover.”
“That wouldn’t qualify as bragging. Hell, there are some people who can’t wait to tell me about their latest bullshit just to show off while you hide an important thing like that?”
The blue eyes flashed in protest. “I wasn’t hiding it. I was waiting for the right time to tell you, only it never came.”
“And I suppose you didn’t even tell John.”
The blond beauty shook his head. “I didn’t see the point of telling him.”
“He made you the artistic consultant of anything that goes out of FDC. I mean, you can practically go over my head, but didn’t think he ought to know?”
“Lover, you and I know exactly why he gave me the title and it has nothing to do with my skills, not the intellectual ones anyway.”
Leon grinned. “You’re becoming an obsession for him. I think he’ll want you to be at the big meeting he’s planning.”
“Me? Why the hell would he want me? I’m certainly not a manager.”
“As you said, he doesn’t give a damn about your skills. He probably wants to see you again and that’s as good a way as any other.”
Sean sipped his wine slowly. “It would be embarrassing, everybody wondering why I’m there. I mean, what could I tell them? That John wanted to admire me in person?”
“I told him it wouldn’t be a good idea, but you know how he is. If he’s made up his mind, nothing’s going to stop him.”
“I trust you’ll be able to handle him.”
The hunter smiled ruefully. “Not when it comes to you, I’m afraid. For everything else, he takes my advice, but if it concerns you…” He shrugged. “He only listens to his dick.”
Sean grinned. “Spoken like a true man.”
“Don’t get me wrong, sweetie, but I wasn’t happy with his decision to make you artistic consultant. This position jeopardizes your relationship in the team because it places you a step above everyone else. That scene with Michael—”
“He’s a jerk and you know it! But in a way, I’m glad we had it because it made me think long and hard about so many things.”
“Is that why you asked me publicly for a date?”
This is my real passion–whether white, red or rosé, still or sparkling, prosecco, spumante or champagne, I think there isn’t a type of wine i don’t love. True, i prefer the dry kinds over the sweet ones, but if there’s nothing else, i’ll take the sweet kinds, too. Sean Davis is exactly like me–he can’t live without wine. And he educates his lover’s taste to it, because he can’t possibly think of being with someone who doesn’t appreciate it as much as he does.
“Mr. Sterling, do you think beautiful people always stick together?” Spencer rolled his glass of red wine, chosen by Sean, the only wine expert Leon had ever known. “Sean might get tired of the competition.”
“It’s hard to be competitors when you have different tastes.” Shamelessly, the hunter spared no facts, even the most intimate ones, to keep John hooked on their personal antagonism.
“Come on!” Spencer’s eyes widened. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t go after someone like Sean, even if you’ve never considered fucking men.”
“Just as much as you would,” Leon retorted.
“Touché.” An ironic snarl curved the old man’s lips in a sort of admiring grin. “But for the record, you wouldn’t be the only one in SDM interested in him.” After taking a sip of the ruby liquid, he leveled his gaze with Leon. “Besides your president, who I know for a fact has tried more than once to convince our blond friend to have sex with him, also—”
“Please, do we really have to talk about my personal, and I repeat personal, sex life?” Blushing violently, Sean gulped down a generous amount of wine probably to calm the tension Leon perceived tightening his muscles. And his imperceptible edging nearer seemed a silent request for a protection that made the hunter’s heart go out to him.
“Care for some white wine, lover? I just opened the bottle.”
“And you were planning to drink in two glasses?” Leon grinned, noticing the two elegant flutes next to the bottle.
Sean poured the chilled wine in both glasses. “I knew you were about to return, even if you’d find the time to get your hands on…” He leaned against Leon to smell him deeply before handing him the full glass. “Brenda.”
“Actually, it wasn’t my doing. She offered to replace you tonight at John’s dinner.”
“Oh, I’d forgotten all about it.” Sean’s sigh of relief was louder than he intended. “I’m sure John was just as thrilled at the switch.”
“He sure was.” Leon grinned sarcasticly. “He hardly spoke two words to her, wanting only to know why you weren’t there.”
Sean shook his head. “Wasn’t he planning to discuss about FDC’s expansion?” And even if he knew the answer, he could not help asking anyway. “What difference would my presence have made?”
“None whatsoever.” Leon paused to take a generous sip. “But you know how much he’s hooked on you.”
Sean shrugged. “Only because I fit his type of idealized beauty. Like you, only certain kinds of people appeal to him.”
Leon’s green eyes blazed in surprise. “I don’t have standards for people.”
“Sure you do, lover.”
“And what would they be?”
Contrary to popular belief, pizza does not have an Italian origin. It was first made in Greece, and only in modern age did the Italians claim it as their own. Thus said, there is one of my characters who looooves pizza, to the point he’d eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s how much Martin adores pizza, and the people who love hi knowi t all too well. So here is the recipe for Pizza alla Margherita, which is the most popular in Italy, and two excerpts from the Soulmate series–To Seduce A Soul Mate Book 1 and The Pirate’s Surrender Book 2.
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup passata
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 12 equal pieces
8 leaves fresh basil
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add salt and 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a clean pizza stone in oven to preheat.
Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. With your fingers and palms, flatten one of the dough rounds into a 10-inch oval about 1/4-inch thick. Spread 1/4 cup of the passata evenly on entire surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch of dough to form edge of pizza. Take one piece of mozzarella, slice into 4 uniform slices and put on top of passata. Rip 2 leaves of basil into smaller pieces and sprinkle on top of mozzarella. Slide pizza directly onto pizza stone and bake 15 to 18 minutes, until edge of pizza is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Repeat with remaining 3 dough balls and serve hot.
To Seduce A Soul Mate – PG EXCERPT
They walked in silence, both following their own thoughts. Inside, the waiter brought them to a far-off booth, half hidden from sight and left them with the menus. Aline glanced at it briefly before telling Drake she would have a small pizza. “Just extra cheese, nothing else.” Leaving it to him to order for both of them, she leaned back on the seat.
After the waiter left with their order, her gaze traveled to the nearby tables. “Martin loves pizza. He could eat it three times a day without getting tired of it.” She took a sip of water. “I’ve always wondered where he put it since he never seemed to gain any weight.”
“Some people have all the luck.” Suppressing a grin, Drake pictured the devil’s lean, naked body.
“And he certainly does. I knew it was too good to be true, but I believed him when he told me he wanted to change.”
“What do you mean?”
The Pirate’s Surrender – PG EXCERPT
“How about I heat up a pizza?”
“You’ve got pizza?”
“Just the frozen kind, if it doesn’t bother you.” A recent purchase, it was all in Martin’s favor. Before the devil, he never thought of keeping them in his freezer.
“Bother me?” Martin practically jumped up. “I love them!”
Laughing, Drake got up, too, and went to the kitchen, located next to his bedroom. The house was all on one floor—large living room and kitchen, two medium-sized bedrooms, a huge bathroom and a small yard in the back. More than enough for two people and Drake could hardly wait for the day Martin would become its second tenant.
“Returning to my ass-fucking boss, you’re absolutely right. I have an agenda of my own, though I’m biding my time until he falls apart, ‘cause he can’t handle it for sure.” Plopping down on a chair, Martin watched Drake busy heating up the oven. “The pressure’s getting to him, I can feel it. Already he’s not making as many contracts as when he first started.”
“Isn’t that inevitable?” Going to the freezer, Drake pulled two pizzas out. “I mean he probably went through all the major Atlanta companies wanting to make a video clip of some sort. Now he’s got less uncharted territory in which to move.” After placing the pizzas inside the oven, he grabbed two beers out of the fridge, setting one in front of the devil. “I think you guys should broaden your field. There must be plenty of clients outside the greater-Atlanta area, like in Athens or Helen—”
“You really think Channel Eight’s future is out there?”
Dinner in Sendar
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but everyone in the Virtus Saga is vegetarian. No one eats meat, only vegetables, cheeses, legumes, eggs and breads. So I can’t possibly post the many recipes, but here’s a romantic excerpt, a testimony of the growing feelings between Chris and Ylianor, taken from the 4th Book of the saga.
The Leader – PG ROMANTIC EXCERPT
“That’s what Arthur did with us last year,” Chris cut in, gesturing at Duncan, then at Ylianor. But something about her caught his eyes because he pulled to him the cheese platter and fixed her. “Would you like some to finish up?”
Actually, Lady Caldwell’s plate was still half-full, contrary to those of others, already half, if not entirely, empty. And no, she had not gone for seconds either.
“Up to your usual tricks, Princess?” The leader’s gaze strayed to her plate, too, and there was a note of concern in his voice.
“I’ll take care of her,” Chris offered immediately, with the knife poised over the cheese platter.
“Yes, please.” Ylianor sent him a radiant smile—and by the gods, it was Charles smiling at him. “I’d like a piece of—”
“I know exactly what you want, sleeping beauty.” After carefully selecting one, Chris sliced a piece and handed it to her at knife’s point.
She did not just take it. Oddly, she also ran a finger on the blade, only for a quick second, before swinging her gaze back to Chris. “Thank you, Demon.”
The look he sent her confirmed in James’s heart this was no convenience pledge, no last-minute scramble to comply with tradition. No, there was something deeper between the two of them, not anything like what his son shared with the leader—that was a one of a kind, which made Chris’s heart stand still. Yet there was a strong connection in development with the woman his son had chosen, and James was only glad he was so lucky to have found not one, but two people who would surely stand by him.
Check out my blog @LallaGatta for fiery hot excerpts on all my series & sags!
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Today we have Raven Raye in the hot seat! Welcome Raven!
1. When and where did you get bit by the writing bug?
I was about 8 and loved epic poetry. Beowulf is one of my favorites. So I started writing my own poetry. LOL They were not epic.
2. Share with our readers one thing about yourself that they won't find on
As an American living in a small English town, I experienced bigotry firsthand and so have a unique distaste for unfairness and ridicule.
3. Which authors most inspire you and why?
Wow, there are so many. Edgar Allen Poe for his use of dark imagery, Kerrelyn Sparks for her use of humor, and Christine Feehan for her success with a long running, intricately woven series.
4. If you could choose one of your characters to meet in real life, who it
would be and why that character?
That would have to be Nicolai. During my own personal crisis, I made him up to be perfectly compatible with me.
5. What is your writing process? Do you outline your books ahead of time,
or are you a "pantser" ie fly by the seat of your pants writer?
I’m a plotter. The characters live in my head for a long time as I get to know their history and quirks. I have several plot pages where I outline scenes. When inspiration hits, I pick a scene and rough it out.
6. What is your favorite part of the writing process, planning, research or the actual writing of your story?
I get lost in research. I love to research for its own sake, but I also like when I’m so immersed in the story that it seems to take over and practically writes itself.
7. What is your favorite part of promoting your books?
Talking about the world I’ve developed and the magick the people learn to use.
8. What is your least favorite part of promoting your books?
LOL Talking to strangers about the world I’ve developed and asking them to read about it. I’m very shy and I have a difficult time opening up to strangers.
9. What are your top three free promotions tips that you like to use when promoting your books?
Social media is great for promotions. Word of mouth from friends. Blogging on your own website.
10. Do you have a favorite paid for promotions tip? If so, please share with us.
Jury’s still out on this one. Pens to give away, because who doesn’t like pens. Whether or not they generate any sales, I have no idea. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the Press Kit seems like an excellent way to spread the news.
Today author Tara Fox Hall submits to another round of questions from our devious little minds here at In the Hot Set! Welcome again, Tara, thanks so much for visiting with us yet again. We so enjoy it when you're here!
1. Whatever made you decide to mix two such incongruous genres, romance and horror?
Actually, these are not that incongruous. What is the public’s fascination with vampires, if not a romanticizing of the creature once known as a villain of the horror genre? But who wants to actually have a romance with Christopher Lee’s Dracula? Not me! You’d be lucky to last a week and spent eternity as an abused slave if you weren’t killed outright. But I also don’t want some limp-fanged child-boy masquerading as a highschooler and living with his parents, either. Why not have a real creature of the night: an adult vampire who is both dangerous AND capable of love? A man who takes you in his arms and bares his fangs with a wicked gleam in his eyes, and your base desire is to let him bite you, even when all your senses are screaming at you to run? It is in that creature that horror and romance truly come together to make a being not only intriguingly hazardous, but also captivatingly seductive.
2. What do you like best about writing horror, and romance? If there's anything you don't like, share this with our readers too!
Most of the books I’ve read in my life are thrillers. When I read horror novels, I often wished that there was more romance in them (i.e., usually if there is a couple, one of them ends up dying, killing one another or best case scenario, going separate ways, and once in a while I’d like a hard won HEA with acceptable losses). I rarely read romance novels previous to 2010, but when I did, I wished more would happen in them so they would be more exciting, as they tend to move slowly, and not include very much action or suspense, apart from a very few romantic suspense titles. My paranormal Promise Me novels are and will be a mixture of romance and thriller, with a few threads of horror showing up here and there in the plot (In the Lash books, there will be more horror/suspense threads and much less romance threads). I write stories I enjoy, period. I hope that others will enjoy them, too. J The only things I don’t like about the genres is that many horror fans want straight horror (read gruesome killings, scares and not much else) and many romance fans want straight romance (guy, gal, relationship, hardship, resolution, HEA). Those readers likely aren’t going to like my work with its quirks. But that’s the breaks.
3. It seems that you really, really like vampires, share with our readers why this is?
Truthfully, I’m about vampire-d out now. LOL. But as to why I first got into vampires? I’ve loved vampires since I saw Frank Langella in the first “hot vampire” version of Dracula years ago. That love intensified in my later teens with The Lost Boys, and reading Interview with the Vampire, along with anything vampire I could get my hands on. The attraction of the “bad boy” was one aspect, and also being young and living forever. Every woman wants to be seduced, whether she admits to that or not. What is different is the MANNER in which the seduction takes place. I always personally liked the fantasy of a handsome yet dangerous lover calling to me from the darkness.
4. Do you have any other favorite supernatural creatures? If so, which ones? Are there any upcoming books featuring these other creatures?
Weresnakes are number one on the list J See my Lash series for a full description J Lash, book one came out in April 2012, and Shadow Man, book two, released in late October 2012.
5. Which of your supernatural characters has been your favorite to write?
I’m exquisitely happy whenever I’m in the Promise Me universe, whether I’m writing as Sar, Danial, Devlin, or other characters. I love writing Lash, but he’s a bit more work to make believable.
When I wrote the Promise Me books, I wasn’t trying to please anyone but myself. I put everything I had into them for years, all my waking effort and spare time. I tried to make an epic story that showed what it was to be human and other (vampire/werecougar/etc.), and what it took to build a lasting relationship between the two. How similar these beings could be in their hopes and dreams, and how ruthless they could act when driven to their limits. Of what terrible tragedies could do to love and friendship, whether they were supernatural doings or the kinds of normal horrors we humans face in our own lives, and the tenacity and strength from within that it takes to transcend that hardship and heal rifts. And above all, how one choice we make on a single night of our life can change the rest of that life forever.
6. What do you think makes a good vampire story?
First of all, a great vampire (see question one for parameters). Secondly, some purpose other than healing his broken heart from his lost love centuries ago, or draining the sweet 16-something virginette who is not only danger prone, but also recklessly naïve. Give the vampire reasons to want to live forever, give him a great conflict to resolve, give him the will to see it through, and give him some great secondary characters—male or female—to help him on his way.
7. Name two of your top favorite horror authors and tell us why they're your favorites.
I will leave off Stephen King this time and name Andrew Neiderman. (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/145370.Andrew_Neiderman
Remember that movie the Devil’s Advocate? Well, he wrote the book that was based on. He also wrote a good many others that freaked me right out, like PIN. He helped VC Andrews (of Flowers in the Attic series fame) write her Casteel series that began with Heaven and included Web of Dreams and Gates of Paradise, a VC Andrews series I enjoyed more than the Flowers in the Attic series.
There is also Michael McDowell, who I’d love just for his Blackwater series, which I have read now 3 times and intend to read as soon as I get through my physical TBR pile as a reward for doing so. I loved Cold Moon over Babylon and Gilded Needles. These were books I shared with my grandmother, who also had a love for horror novels, and she greatly loved this author also. This is what true horror means to me.
8. Name two of your top favorite romance authors and tell us why they're your favorites.
Jenny Twist, for her lovely romances, the latest of which is the wonderful All in the Mind. I’m getting that in paperback shortly, so I can share it with friends who don’t have kindles. I love her dialogue, her voice, and most everything she writes. Also, let me add as second the wonderful Lynette Sofras. I loved her romance The Apple Tree. The ending for that book was one of the most perfect I’ve ever read. I am looking forward to her upcoming new works. These ladies are both good friends, but I wouldn’t recommend their work if I didn’t think it was stellar. When I reach for a romance, their names are the top of my list.
9. What do you least like about being an author? What part of it do you like the most?
I would like more time to write. LOL. But I’m also joyously happy that people are reading my work and some are loving it. That’s what I wanted most for my books and myself.
10. Share one thing with our readers that they won't find on your website, or in your bio.
I’m highly allergic to both cats and dogs.
Don't Miss the rest of Tara's blog tour going on this November, and please don't forget to comment! Authors LOVE comments! For a list of Tara's stops visit our main website.
I'd like to welcome author Toni Noel to In the Hot Seat Today! We're delighted to have her, and hope you enjoy her interview as much as we did.
It looks like you started out writing non-fiction, what made you decide to write fiction.
In high school I was a reporter for two local newspapers, and had planned to study journalism in college. I fell in love the first week on campus and we were married at the end of my freshman year. I didn't stick around there long enough to minor in journalism, but throughout my child-raising years I still planned to write, I just didn't know what. After my youngest daughter graduated high school I earned a business degree and went to work full time as an accountant. That's when my oldest daughter loaned me one of her romance novels to read and I was hooked.
I finally had a goal. I'd write romance novels when I retired. But when the time came and I was free to write I still had no idea how to get started. I enrolled in a creative writing course at a nearby community college, and the inspiration for my first novel came to me while taking the class. Desert Breeze will release that first novel I completed so long ago, To Feel Again, on November 11th. Needless to say the manuscript has undergone numerous revisions and had almost found a permanent home under my bed before I decided to polish the manuscript and submit it again.
Do you outline your novels before beginning to write, or are you more of a "write by the seat of your pants" writer?
Instead of making an outline, I depend on the Fifty Scenes method of plotting to assure my novels reach a satisfying conclusion, but this method of plotting is similar to making an outline. I start with the inspiration for a novel, usually the setting, but sometimes it's the hero or heroine, someone I've seen I think would make an ideal mate. The premise and story line soon follow, and I begin jotting down ideas for the scenes necessary to get me from the first meet through to a satisfying conclusion.
When I have ideas for at least fifty scenes, which will translate to between fifty-thousand and seventy-five thousand words, I paste each scene idea on a 3×5 inch card and write from those numbered cards, rearranging the cards and adding new ones when needed. This method works well for me.
In Law Breakers and Love Makers, my first published novel, a romantic suspense, my muse took over shortly after I began writing and characters and pets I didn't have on my cards began showing up on the pages. Rather than argue with the alarm guy, a dog, a cat and a talking parrot, I gave them free reign, and the book practically wrote itself. The roller-coaster ride my characters take the reader on makes for some scary fun.
Share with our readers something about you that they won't find in your bio on your website.
My husband and I just celebrated our sixtieth wedding anniversary, so I'm a firm believer in love at first sight and romance, and in answer to your unasked question, our bedroom makes the perfect setting for research.
What do you think of the e-Book publishing revolution? Do you prefer e-Books or books with actual pages rather than digital pages?
A well-edited book is a good book, whether digital or in print. I can lose myself in either one.
You mentioned you like to take online classes. Share with our readers three of your favorite online classes and why they were your favorite.
Laurie Schnebly Campbell's Plotting Through Motivation offered about once a year at WritersU is excellent, as is Margie Lawson's class on Empowering Character's Emotions. Campbell's class teaches you how to choose motivations for your characters that will sustain those characters through the entire novel, and it's always good to take another look at characters' emotions.
Catherine Chant teaches a Microsoft Word for Writers class that I highly recommend writers take. I signed up for that class tearing my hair that I had to convert my manuscripts to Word, and learned many time-saving tricks from Catherine.
Then there's the timely workshops offered by the Marketing For Romance Writers group, and knowledgeable RWA member Margaret Taylor's classes on Forensics and Law Enforcement are always fun and enlightening.
I'm a firm believer in continuing your education, but a writer must be careful when choosing a class. Enrolling in one you are not ready for can be disastrous for an inexperienced writer and may lead to writer's block. About a year ago a writer friend took a class on revision and now when she sits down at her computer, she's bombarded by so many don't-do's class members were warned to avoid, she's unable to write.
Okay, we have to ask, sixty years is a long time to be married to the same person, what's your secret? LOL.
We married at a time when couples married for keeps, so we've never once considered walking away from our commitment. Falling in love at first sight was a blessing. We never questioned whether we were marrying too soon, the way our parents did. It's also equally important to like your mate. Mine is my best friend. Early on my husband insisted we make up before bed time if we'd quarreled, and both of us felt it important to make time for us, no matter what, for if you ever let the fire go out in a relationship, it might not re-ignite.
We all know how important the cover and blurb are for a book, but as an author and a reader, what makes you buy a book, the cover or the blurb, or both? If you chose just one of these, why that one?
That's the one advantage print books have over e-Books. The blurb helps me decide which print book to buy. With e-Books, I depend on word of mouth, and social media hype, not nearly as effective as turning a book over in my hand. If the eBook is priced low, I will buy it anyway, figuring I'm not out much if I've made a bad choice. Covers sometimes tweak my curiosity, but well-written back-of-the-book blurb seals the deal for me. And yes, I do visit the author's website or Amazon Author Page to read more about an eBook I’m considering downloading.
If you could live the life of one of your characters which character would you choose and why that character?
I always wanted to teach, so I'd like to be Treasure Montgomery, named Teacher of the Year in Restored Dreams, the story of a house-poor teacher and the rodeo rider turned benevolent contractor she hired to fix her leaky master bathroom. She's too proud to accept charity, and too broke to pay for the needed supplies, but Buck trades his skilled labor for a new sink for her kitchen remodel and refurbishes cabinets accepted in partial payment for another job he did. Treasure wants her leaky roof repaired, not replaced, but Buck insists on doing the job right, and busts her budget. When Treasure discovers this, she kicks him out of her bed and out of her house, but it's nearly impossible to kick the man she's fallen in love with out of her heart. Only his love for her allows them to make up and prepare to open a proposed home and school for abused and troubled boys on her property.
If you could do one thing different on your road to publication, what would it be, and why that one thing?
I wouldn't put off the writing. There are way too many things to learn. I should have been taking those on-line classes while I was earning my degree, and maybe even attending RWA meetings between pregnancies.
Don't wait like I did until my children were grown and I retired to start writing. A concert pianist puts in at least ten thousand hours of practice before stepping onto a concert stage. Be prepared to spend thousands of hours writing before you make the first sale. Don't wait to begin writing. Write something every day if it's only a grocery list.
Name your top 3 favorite free promotion tips for authors.
Choose the social media you prefer, and consistently make your presence known there, whether it's re-Tweeting a Tweet, regularly posting to Facebook, or staying LinkedIn. Don't always promote yourself. Be generous with you time and your praise. Be helpful, friendly, and supportive, and let your personality shine through. For eBook authors building readership is a long, slow process. Readers have to find your books before they can buy them, so make your presence known. Share your skills and knowledge. Give beginning writers a hand up by providing well-intentioned advice.
Thanks you for having me today. And if you'd like to know more about me or my books, here are my links:
You can download my books here:
Or from your favorite eBook store.
Bad weather cuts short Wilda Stone's hot-air balloon race, throwing her back into widowed lawman Hal Grantham's time, the 1870's. A sand storm forces them to seek shelter in a cave, compromises Wilda's reputation, and forces Hal into a marriage of convenience. Wilda falls in love with the terse lawman, abandons all thought of returning to the twenty-first century. Her stoic husband conceals his true feelings for her. When diphtheria– the same disease responsible for taking his first wife and son — threatens this Cerro Gordo mining town, deep concern for Wilda's welfare drives Hal to send his wife back to her own time in her balloon. His actions convince her Hal shuns her love and she departs, whispering a promise to return, without revealing her pregnancy. Once her conveyance rises beyond his reach, Hal realizes his mistake and launches a futile search for the woman he now readily admits he loves.
Toni Noel's love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. Desert Breeze Publishing will release in print form in November the author's first published novel Law Breakers and Love Makers.
Toni Noel's Novels… Safe havens for the heart.
THE DELPHI BLOODLINE: A smart, romantic thriller about an ancient bloodline of psychic women, the ruthless tycoon who wants to enslave them, the mysterious man who wants to protect them, and the modern-day descendant who must fight to stay alive and free!
Interviewer: You have an unusual name. What’s the background?
Kas: Kas is a nickname, an acronym of Keriakos Alexander Skoros. I’m Greek-American and the males in my family have been Guardians of the Delphi Bloodline since the days of ancient Greece.
Interviewer: Now that the modern-day descendant of the Bloodline, Athena Butler, is threatened, how have you tried to connect with her?
Kas: She’s a stubborn young woman who resists my help, but I’ve got my ways of persuading women to do what I want them to do. Athena may be a gifted clairvoyant but she’s also human. Very human. And very pretty…
Interviewer: What do you think is behind all those kidnappings of American psychics?
Kas: It’s such a well coordinated and widespread problem. There’s a lot of money behind these kidnappings. Some mastermind who wants to exploit these incredibly gifted women of the Bloodline is behind this. But why? That’s what I want to know. Athena’s mother, Annabella, has an idea who’s behind it all. Regardless, as a Guardian, I’ve taken the oath to protect this Bloodline with my life.
Interviewer: Do you think it’ll come to that? Is the mastermind that ruthless?
Kas: Yeah, six have already disappeared. Then Annabella, Athena’s mother. True psychics as well as charlatans, so the FBI think the kidnappers are taking them and testing them. The ones that fail the test, they think, are …discarded. Killed.
Interviewer: So you think the Delphi Bloodline is composed of true psychics?
Kas: Absolutely. If you only knew what these women were capable of. My own mother is one of the Bloodline heirs. I know firsthand what they can do! Someone or some group that can control them, enslave them—wow, you’ve got one powerful dude. I won’t let that happen!
Blurb & Excerpt:
Present day descendants of the ancient, psychically powerful Delphi bloodline face the threat of extinction when an evil tycoon hunts them for his own nefarious intent, a global spy network.
When artist Athena Butler, the modern-day descendant of a powerful, ancient bloodline of psychic women, realizes she’s the target of mysterious and dangerous kidnappers, she gets help from strange sources—the spirit of an ancient ancestor and a handsome man who claims to be one of her bloodline’s Guardians. Her mental powers and his brawny skills keep them one step ahead of the mastermind behind these kidnappers. Until the time when an FBI task force decides to use Athena as bait.
Pyramid Valley, Nevada
Athena Butler’s eyes blinked open and she sat up.
Coming back from The Flow was always jolting. Emerging from the stream of spirits was like a water skier lurching out of the water, pulled by a strong, invisible force. The mind caught up later to the body as if it required a rough snap to break free.
Likewise, to go there was like jumping out of a plane and feeling the air rush to your face, your limbs weightless and wobbly. Most of the time, it was a joy to enter this world of unseen spirits. Athena welcomed her visits, especially at night when she found herself invariably alone.
When she was a child, she’d often emerge from The Flow with a fearful whimper and a cry. She’d wept and wanted to stay in The Flow. Now, at twenty-six, Athena had grown accustomed to her mental flights. They were no longer fear-inducing for she understood their purpose. But her exits were still mind-wrenching and she often lay in bed afterwards, disoriented.
This morning, fear clutched her heart and she could barely breathe. With a trembling hand, she reached for her phone.
Breathless, she raked her other hand through her hair and kicked her legs over the side of the bed. Six AM, Nevada time. She punched her mother’s mobile numbers. It was nine o’clock in D.C.
“Thank God, Mama! Where are you?”
“I’m in Baltimore, near the—.”
“Mama, I had a dream about you. A Flow Dream. The spirits—they want me to warn you! Whatever you’re doing right now, get off the streets. Go home and lock the door. Call the police!”
Her heart felt like a ticking bomb in her chest. Athena could barely speak. But her mother knew her and understood her Flow dreams. They were seldom wrong though sometimes a little off in timing. Today, a threat was imminent. She knew it.
“Slow down, Thena. Take a deep breath and tell me slowly about your dream. I don’t doubt you but we must be able to interpret it correctly. You know how these Flow Dreams are. Sometimes the symbolism is strange and difficult to interpret.”
“Okay—just go home and lock the door. Now, Mama!”
Athena had to swallow hard and take big gulps of air in order to speak. Losing her mother was unthinkable. She’d already lost her father, and in a way, her brother.
“Where are you, Mama?”
She inhaled and counted to five. Her mother wasn’t in Georgetown, where she lived with her second husband. Athena sensed water nearby, a large body of water. Her mind jumped ahead. The body of water in her terrifying dream was vast, a bay leading to the ocean. The Baltimore harbor—of course!
“Near downtown Baltimore. I’m heading toward a section of the city where I believe a little girl’s body was hidden. The police need the evidence from that location. They think she was hidden somewhere, killed and then a day or two later dumped into the bay. I think I’ve found the monster’s hideout.”
“I had a session with the homicide detective last night. I handled a few articles of the poor child’s clothing, what she was wearing when they found her. I got some visions so I drove up here to pinpoint the location. It’s not in a very nice part of town but I thought I’d drive around, and then call Detective Bonner when I got something.”
Athena groaned. Her mother was at it again. Getting involved with homicide cases and trying to use her powers to bring killers to justice.
“Mama, get out of there, please! Go home—”
“I’ve had no sense of this danger, Athena, not to me personally,” her mother said. “Listen, we must talk soon. There are other dangers that I’ve seen…but don’t fret, my car doors are locked, I’m driving my big SUV. I’m in traffic, so relax.”
“Maybe you’re too focused on that homicide case,” Athena stressed. Her mother had no idea the danger she was putting herself in. First-hand experience had taught Athena that working with the cops was a dangerous business. Let them do their work and solve their own cases.
I’m done with all that.
Her mind darted back to the vision in her dream. She took a deep breath and steadied her voice.
“I saw you in your car, Mama. You stopped to get out. A black car pulled in front of you and another one—a long white one—blocked you in back. There was a woman driving the car in front and she was with men who had guns. Someone grabbed you and carried you to the white car. I could smell salt water and then they took you away. Some place far away. And then I was in the mountains, the Sierras, searching for you.”
Athena bent over, clutching the cell phone, her lifeline to the one person she loved most in the world. Her stomach cramped into a hard ball.
There was silence. “Mama, go home,” she repeated.
“Okay, Thena, I’m turning back toward the freeway. The harbor shops are on my left. Remember that eight-sided tower, the one with a great view of the harbor and breakwater. The octogon tower. You remember going there on your last visit here, don’t you?”
More silence followed then as an image sprang to Athena’s mind. Yes, they’d had lunch there…
Her mother gasped loudly. A screech of brakes, metal crunching, glass breaking. Her mother cursing a blue streak in her native Italian.
“What happened, Mama? Are you all right?”
“Yes, dear. Just a stupid fender bender. Merda! Daniel’s going to throw a fit. My second one this year! I’m getting so distracted with these cases—not paying attention to what I’m doing. I swear this car pulled right in front of me, cut me off. It’s not my fault this time.”
More angry muttering followed.
“Dio, I really smashed up that rear end! Thena, I’ll call you right back as soon as I exchange insurance information with the driver. Be right back, Thena.”
“Mama, don’t get out of the—”
The line went dead. With a cry, Athena sank to her knees on the cold, tile floor. Shivers of dread rippled through her. Her mind went numb with panic.
For God’s sake…Think! Get help!
Anyone who has blogged as a guest will know that one of the requested items on the host's list is usually a book excerpt. But how do you go about choosing the perfect excerpt? Which few hundred words out of the tens of thousands that make up your novel will have readers captivated to the point that their next stop online afterwards is to buy your book? Here is a list of pointers, from my experience:
Blurb from Broken Promise:
Shocked at Danial's betrayal, Sarelle returns to her old home to consider her options. Yet even as Sar plans a reconciliation with Danial, Terian arrives, confessing his desire. When Theo witnesses Terian and Sar kiss, he angrily confronts Sar, leading to startling consequences. Will Sar's heart choose Danial, Terian, or Theo? Excerpt from Broken Promise: Danial followed me. "Sar," he said hesitantly.
I turned reluctantly to face him. "Danial, say whatever you have to say and get out," I said wearily. "I'm exhausted."
"I love you," he said, his eyes tearing.
"I know you do," I said evenly, meeting his gaze with my own, before turning from him to start washing the dishes.
I felt him behind me in an instant, and put down the dish I'd been holding before I dropped it. His hands rested on my shoulders, and then slid down my arms, enfolding me as he pulled me close. His hands were cool, as they had been the first time we embraced.
How many nights had I longed to be back in his arms? How many nights had I wished he would come to me like this, and tell me he loved me? Almost every night since we parted. But it didn't change anything between us.
"I was wrong, Sar. I was wrong to do what I did." He leaned his head on my shoulder, holding me. "I want you to know, I didn't have sex with her. I left her, after talking to you. Please forgive me, for the things I said to you that night," he whispered into my ear. "Please forgive me, my Oathed One."
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Promise-Me-ebook/dp/B009JQRJYQ