Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 12 2014, 12:48 am in Alexis Morgan, contemporary romance, cowboys, paranormal romance, Western romance
My guest today is USA Today Bestselling Author Alexis Morgan, making her Lair debut. Alexis has written cowboys, vampires, mages, immortal and supernatural warriors, and small town romance. She joins us today to chat about her latest release, Immortal Cowboy from Harlequin’s Nocturne line. Welcome Alexis!
Please tell us a bit about Immortal Cowboy.
Gunslinger Wyatt McCain is a man caught up in his past. Even though he died a century ago, he has been unable to find peace and remains stuck in an endless cycle of repeating the same mistakes over and over. That all changes when Rayanne Allen comes to the mountain to find the truth about what happened a hundred years ago in Blessing, the ghost town that has haunted her since she was a young girl. When Wyatt saves her life, it changes her life forever. The two find a powerful love, one that transcends both life and death. In the end, to give Wyatt the release he needs, Rayanne may need to sacrifice the most powerful love she’s ever known.
What draws you to Westerns?
When I was growing up a favorite uncle used to bring my mom and me a box of westerns every time he came to visit. I fell in love with all those amazing stories about U.S. marshals, cowboys, and gunslingers with a heart of gold. In addition, I love telling stories about alpha males, the kind of hero who will sacrifice everything to protect those under his care. I think that’s one reason Wyatt McCain appealed to me as a hero. Despite his checkered past, he was trying to do the right thing when everything went so horribly wrong.
We love heroes with checkered pasts in the Lair. We also love call stories, so would you like to share yours?
Back in the early 90s, I had sent a full manuscript and a partial to Kate Duffy, who was the editor at Meteor at the time. Kate happened to speak at my local RWA chapter and said that she was working on a something like a four week turnaround on submissions. Since she’d had my full for almost two months at that point, a friend encouraged me to tell Kate about it. Kate immediately told me to call her the next week with the title of the book (this was WAY before e-mail) so she could find it. A week after I gave her the information on both the full and the partial, she called me back and bought both of them on that one phone call! After we hung up, I made all kinds of babbling phone calls to friends and family. I doubt that my feet touched ground for days afterward, and I still smile when I think about that life-altering moment.
That’s a great story! Can we see an excerpt from Immortal Cowboy?
A new energy had arrived on the mountain, altering the patterns and drawing his attention toward the cabin. Ray’s niece was back. He recognized her even though she’d grown into a woman with long legs and ridiculously short hair.
Drifting closer to the porch, he stared up at the open window high up near the peak of the roof. The man’s room had been on the other side. He’d always kept his window closed and the doors locked against the perils of the darkness, real and imagined.
But the girl had her window open to the night. Would she continue to keep it that way if she found out about him and the others? A grim smile crossed his face briefly. Hell, even the others knew to steer clear of him. They certainly recognized bad news when they saw it; maybe the girl would, too.
The light in the window winked out. He lost interest in his vigil and moved away, back toward town. Folks still called it Blessing. What a joke that was, one he doubted the others appreciated. But then he didn’t give a damn what they thought, any more than they cared about him.
He passed through the trees, startling a doe and her fawn. As quietly as he moved, he was surprised they even noticed him. But after one look in his direction, the wary beasts bounded away, covering a lot of distance with each graceful leap. He paused to watch them disappear into the shadows, enjoying the sight. God knows there was little enough that he took pleasure in these days.
His thoughts drifted back toward the cabin and its sole occupant. The redhead had been there before. It had been a long while since she’d last visited the man, although time had become too fluid over the years for him to be sure how long it had been. An uneasy feeling churned in his stomach as vague memories stirred about this girl, now a woman. Used to be, she’d come and run wild through the woods and the town, only to leave right before it all unfolded.
All except that last time.
Damn it to hell and back, how many months had slipped past him unnoticed? If she was on the mountain, it could be almost time. Again. No wonder the deer had fled his presence. He didn’t blame them one bit for running. Canny creatures that they were, they knew when death roamed free on the mountain. He turned his back on the cabin and faded into the shadows, alone and wishing he could stay that way.
Very cool! You’ve also written other types of paranormal romances. What’s next on that front for you?
The next book along that line is Honor’s Price, the third book in my Warriors of the Mist series. The story focuses on Lord Kane, the darkest of the five warriors (and my favorite, obviously), but it also covers the other four members of the group as they face the final battle with the enemy. It will be out in September from Signet Eclipse.
You also have another Snowberry Creek book due out in May. Please tell us a little about that series.
A Reason to Love is the third full-length book in the series. I originally envisioned the series as a trilogy focusing on three soldiers returning to civilian life after their most recent deployment in Afghanistan. In this book, Spencer Lang comes home to find out that his best friend is marrying the woman Spence had hoped to build a life with. As he comes to terms with the changes in his life and the future he’d planned, he reconnects with Melanie Wolfe, an old friend who has returned to Snowberry Creek to try to salvage her family’s company after her father’s death. Both of them had left their hometown behind to find themselves, never really expecting to return. In the end, these two wounded souls find what they’d been looking for their hometown and in each other’s arms.
What are you working on now?
I recently got the rights back to some of my westerns, so I’ve been working on getting them ready to self-publish. That inspired me to write another western that we’re marketing right now, as well as some other western proposals. Right now I’m working on a new contemporary story, too, but it’s too early in the process to share much about it.
For more information about Alexis and her books, check out her website (www.alexismorgan.com). You can also connect with her on social media:
Alexis is giving away two copies of Immortal Cowboy to commenters today. So tell us what western or contemporary romance you recently read and enjoyed, and tell us a bit about it.
Posted by Joan Kayse Mar 13 2014, 12:22 am in Ireland, Irish, Joan Kayse, paranormal romance, St Patrick's Day, travel
I miss my homeland.
What, you might say? You miss Kentucky? The States? Your favorite McDonald’s and Diet Coke?
Nope, I’m talking about the land of 3/4 of my ancestors….Eire. Ireland. The Emerald Isle. My heart.
It’s been six years since my last visit. SIX YEARS! That is way too long, inexcusable considering I spent the first 2/3 of my life not even imagining I would ever visit. The budget is being cruel and alas, it will be a while yet before I return.
But I yearn for my ancestral home.
My first visit started out in a stunned state. We de-barked at Shannon Airport to a cold, cloudy, dreary landscape and I could only think “I spent thousands of dollars for THIS?”
Then we left the airport. Dear. God. In. Heaven. It was as if the spirit of the isle reached into my heart and soul and hugged me. As corny as it sounds, I knew I was home. It only got better from there. So here are some of the things I have been missing:
1. The earth. The sky. The rivers. The coast. The rocks. The birds. The flora, the fauna. The sheep. The sun as it breaks out over stone wall lined pastures after a soft rain. There is a richness to sol’s rays there that does NOT exist anywhere else. And the lakes! Blue is to bland a word to describe the beauty of the water. I’m not a hiker by nature but I tell you walking in the woods there? I knew…just KNEW that if I sat on a log I would become one with the earth. Ahem…I also firmly believed that if I looked under the right rhododendron bush, I’d find the King of the Fae
2. The Irish spirit. Ya gotta admire a people so resilient. They meet their challenges and either beat the crap out of them or dance around them. The honor those who have gone before them, respect those who suffered and then thumb their noses at the cause. Every meal includes the potato in some form or fashion and one particular eatery in Killarney…seriously…served potaotes FIVE ways! Roasted, mashed, chips, boiled, added to pasta.
3. The history. Yeah, in the States you have to go through park gateways to see a lot of our infant past. In Ireland, you drive down the highway and past castles, cemeteries hundreds of years old, thatched cottages that invaders missed (Ha!). It’s just part of life there. Part of who and what the people, the land are. All of it right next door to a McDonald’s that serves the apple pie crusted in sugar with REAL clotted cream!
4. The people. Especially the musicians who play in the pubs. These people are transformed as they play ballads, jigs reels. They connect with another sphere of life as they play the fiddle, the bodrhan (my fav), pipes even spoons. I was only feet away watching an older guy play spoons with his eyes closed as he felt the life of the song. Oh and of course the black-haired, blue-eyed stone mason I oogled…er, watched at work on the Ring of Kerry. Momentous time that lead to the premise of my upcoming paranormal Guardian Isle series.
I could go on and on. While I can’t quite make it back right now, I always have the promise that, just like it has for an eternity, home will always be there for me.
What about you? Have you experienced anything similar in your travels? Have you been to Ireland and what do you miss?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Sep 16 2013, 2:05 am in JD Tyler, paranormal romance, Suzanne Ferrell, The Alpha Pack, wolf shifters
As y’all know, JD Tyler is one of my dearest friends and always loves visiting us in the Lair. Today, she’s taking us on a little field trip to watch as she “chats” with the gang of The Alpha Pack in their Lair!! Be careful what you touch and where you sit…
When I requested this interview with Ryon and The Alpha Pack, the guys weren’t sure whether they could take the time to sit down and talk. They’re really busy these days fighting all the dangerous things that stalk the night, and there’s a new problem on the horizon for our brave heroes. But they graciously agreed to take a few moments to give us an update on what’s been going on their world and satisfy our curiosity.
We’re sitting in the Pack’s recreation room because it’s more comfortable, and the guys are lounging around, waiting for me to begin. The room quiets, and I have to admit, being the focus of so many scorchingly sexy, strong men has me shaking in my boots. I try not to show my nervousness as I soldier on.
Nick Westfall (Alpha Pack Commander/white wolf/Seer): Can I get you something to drink?
JD: Oh no, I’m fine! Don’t go to any trouble—
Nick: Micah, get JD a soda or something.
Micah Chase (brown wolf/Dreamwalker): Sure thing, boss.
He flashes a smile at me, which pulls some at his scarred face, and rushes off. I turn to Nick.
JD: Thank you. And thanks to all of you for agreeing to take time from your busy schedule to talk with me. (I shuffle my notes) I know you guys have been through some rough situations in the past few months. Why don’t we start with what recently happened to Ryon and his new mate?
Nick (nodding to Ryon Hunter): I think Ryon’s the best source for that story.
I turn my attention to Ryon, and try not to ogle the man—but it’s not easy. Like all of them he’s stunning, but his looks are totally different from his teammates. His hair is blond and sort of shaggy, his eyes crystal blue. He has an “honest” face, one of those All-American mugs that screams apple pie and pro football. And I soon discover that he’s a sweet man with a ton of integrity—and one who loves his mate very much.
JD: Ryon, it’s great to finally meet you in person. (His beautiful smile about knocks me off the sofa)
Ryon: Same here. What would you like to know? But keep in mind some of the story is still classified info—sorry about that.
JD: No worries, just tell me what you can. First, how did you meet your mate, Daria Bradford?
Ryon (face softening with obvious love): That’s an easy one. I’d been with the team in New York hunting a group of rogue vampires. We found them and in the fight, I got pinned by one of them.
Aric Savage: Yep. Pretty boy nearly got his throat ripped out. Would have if it hadn’t been for us.
Ryon (shooting the redhead an annoyed look): Anyway, they rushed me home to the compound and I had to spend some time in the infirmary. While I was recovering, this gorgeous spirit with long black hair visited my bedside. She needed help, but I didn’t think I could help her, you know?
JD (nodding): Your gift is a Channeler/Telepath allows you to speak with the dead—but many times you aren’t able to help them because they can’t communicate with you clearly, correct?
Ryon: That’s right. But with Daria’s spirit, it was different. She told me she was alive, and I knew right away that I had to get to her, fast. She wasn’t a ghost at all, but was using a Psy gift called astral projection to reach out to me. I rallied the team and we found her just in time, lying in a ravine. She was near death, and I had to do something extreme to save her life. I thought she’d never forgive me for that one, but she has a huge heart.
JD: Can you talk about what you did?
Ryon: Not yet. Let’s just say she and I worked through it. But that was the least of our problems, considering what came next.
Micah returns with my soda, and I thank him, taking a sip.
JD: You’re referring to the monster in the Shoshone that was killing campers and hikers?
Ryon (expression grim): Yeah.
JD: What can you tell me about that? What—or who—was this creature and how did he come to be in your neck of the woods?
Ryon: I’m not allowed to discuss specifics, but I can tell you that this was one of the most dangerous and heartbreaking cases we’ve ever worked. What happened to this creature wasn’t his fault, believe it or not. We solved that case the only way we knew how, and I think it worked out all right for everyone in the end.
JD: Except you were nearly killed in that battle…
Ryon: That’s the risk that comes with the job.
JD: Unfortunately, yes. And during your mission, you and Daria learned something important about the origins of the Alpha Pack, correct?
Ryon: Yes. But I can’t reveal that information yet, sorry.
JD: No problem. Let’s go back to an issue you already mention—the rogue vampires. I get the impression this is a recent development?
Ryon: That’s right. We’ve been called out in the past to deal with rogue vamps, but it’s always been a light problem, until now. It takes centuries for a vamp to turn rogue, and normally there aren’t many. But for some reason they’re everywhere lately.
Nick: We don’t know where the problem is stemming from, but we’re working on finding out. In the meantime, I’ve put in a call for assistance from the vampire’s leader, Prince Tarron Romanoff.
Jaxon Law (grey wolf/RetroCog/Timebender): The arrogant jackass. (snorting)
Zander Cole (black wolf/Healer), who lost his hearing after an explosion a few months back, has been doing his best to read lips. He agrees with Jax about the vampire prince.
Zander: True that.
Nick: Be that as it may, we need Tarron’s help or we’re soon going to be overrun by rogues. If that happens…
The commander leaves that thought unfinished, but the Pack agrees with mumbled curses. I know there isn’t much more they can tell me on that subject, so I decide to finish the interview on a positive note, addressing Ryon again.
JD: So, tell me about Daria? She seems amazing.
Ryon (beaming): She’s the most wonderful woman in the world, and I’ve been blessed to have her as my mate. She’s not just beautiful, but kind, smart, and funny. Her passion is studying wolves in the wild, real ones, which is sort of ironic.
JD (smiling): So I take it your mating is happy now?
Ryon: We had a lot of stuff to work through, but yes. She’s made me the happiest man on earth.
Aric (wrinkling his nose): Barf, gag.
Ryon: Shut up, asswipe. Like you’re not seriously whipped after mating with Rowan!
Aric: Yeah, well…
JD (laughing at their antics): Nick, thank you for giving up a few minutes to give an update on what’s been going on with the Pack. Ryon, I’m so glad everything worked out for you, and I’m sure our readers will love your story.
Ryon (winking): Thank you, sweetheart. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?
Kalen Black (black panther/Sorcerer/Necromancer): On that note, what do you say we all go get something to eat? I’m starved! JD?
JD: Sounds great, lead the way!
And so, I got to spend the entire afternoon soaking up the welcome attentions of a Pack full of sexy shifters. I guess that makes me, literally, one lucky bitch.
And here’s the book trailer for HUNTER’S HEART:
Wow, JD, thanks for letting us see into the world of The Alpha Pack!
JD is going to give away a signed copy of HUNTER’S HEART to one of our readers today. So, what questions do you have for JD or the members of The Alpha Pack?
Posted by Cassondra Murray Aug 7 2013, 1:30 am in Cassondra, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, humor, Lexi George, paranormal romance
Today I saved a human female from certain death at the hands of a demon.
I am disquieted by my actions. I am Dalvahni, an immortal demon hunter. ’Tis our sole purpose to hunt down and return rogue demons to The Pit, thus saving the universe and those weaker than ourselves from degradation and destruction at the hands of the djegrali.
Saving the human female from the demon was a violation of the Dalvahni Creed. I saved her nonetheless—I could not seem to stop myself…
I first met our guest at a reader event in St. Augustine, Florida. I didn’t get to attend her ten-minute reading, but everywhere I went for the whole rest of the conference, all I heard was how absolutely screaming funny she was. I had to get her first book, then I devoured the others like a woman starved, and of course I had to bring her to the lair.
Sven is mixing drinks, the Gladiators and Hockey Hunks are passing around glasses and trays, so grab your favorite treat and find a spot where you can see. Our guest has brought a few of her heroes with her today, so please give a famous Bandit welcome to Lexi George and her Dalvahni Demon Hunters.
Cassondra: Lexi, I’m so pleased that you could visit today.
Lexi: *lifts her glass of Cabernet* Thrilled to be in the lair, Cassondra! Thanks for inviting me.
Cassondra: *swirls the Cabernet in her own glass* Tell us a little about yourself. When did you first start reading romance?
Lexi: I discovered romance in the seventh grade, when I found The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer in my local library, and I was hooked. Read everything I could find by her, and it grew from there. I love it all, romantic suspense, contemporary, historical, and, of course, paranormal. Funny, sexy, heart pounding, droll: I am a romance junkie. I don’t do sad, though, and don’t make me suffer through too much angst. I’m a criminal appellate lawyer, which means I read grim all day long, so when I sit down and open a book I want to escape to a happy place.
Cassondra: Oh, good grief. I don’t blame you for not wanting the angst. But..*glances at he extra big,hunky, badass guys standing around the edge of the room–NOT the gladiators or hockey hunks we normally have in the lair* …uhm… it looks like the Dalvahni Demon Hunters are ready and willing to deal with any angst on your behalf..ahem….moving on…
First, let me tell you that I love your website because it gives a hint of the personality you put into your writing. If readers want a taste of the town and its characters, they should check out Ten Things To Do If You’re In Hannah But I learned from your bio that the Muse deserted you in law school. To quote you, “The Muse hated law school.” You said it took fifteen years to return. Will you tell us about when you first began to write again—what was that like for you, and how did you decide on romance?
Lexi: I fancied myself a poet in high school and college and then law school sucked my creative juices dry. I wasn’t until my first child was a toddler that the urge to write returned, and I haven’t stopped since. I’m largely self-taught. Didn’t have a clue about genre or word count or POV; just wrote and wrote for the sheer joy of it. My first book was a fantasy romance. It never sold (100 rejections; yeow!), so I decided to try my hand at a paranormal romance, and that’s how Demon Hunting in Dixie came to be.
Cassondra: You kept going after 100 rejections. That’s seriously impressive. Tell us a little about the town you grew up in. Is your story world of Hannah, Alabama, based on that?
Lexi: Hannah is actually based on two towns, the small South Alabama town I grew up in and Wetumpka, the place I now call home. There’s a lot of charm in a small town, a slower pace of life (some would call stagnant), and a sense of ease and comfort that comes with familiarity. I borrowed the river, hills, and crater from Wetumpka and plunked them down in South Alabama: total creative license. Anyone who’s ever been south of Montgomery can tell you it’s flat as a flitter. Great farmland, but the closest you’ll get to a hillock is an ant bed.
Cassondra: The first story, Demon Hunting in Dixie, is Brand and Addy’s story. Addy is in the park and sees a demon about to attack him, shouts a warning and helps to save his life, but in turn, she is attacked. She wakes up on her own couch and he is there.
“You should rest. I have repaired the damage to your organs from the djegrali blade. You will live, but I fear some of the poison is still in your system.”
Addy shot off the couch like she’d been bitten. The sword-carrying, creature-of-darkness-fighting dude from the park gazed down at her without expression. In the semidarkness he’d been handsome. In the bright light of her living room he was devastating, a god, a wet dream on steroids. Tall and powerfully built, with wide shoulders and a broad chest that tapered down to a lean waist and hips, he was the most handsome man Addy had ever seen. His long, muscular legs were encased in tight-fitting black breeches, and he carried a sword in a sheath across his back. He was also a stranger, a very big stranger, and he stood in her living room.
“Who the hell are you?”
“I am Brand.” He spoke without inflection. “I am a Dalvahni warrior. I hunt the djegrali.”
Cassondra: I love the world of the Dalvahni Demon Hunters. Can you tell us where you got this idea, and how you developed it?
“This I cannot allow. “ All heads turn to Brand, the tall, dark-haired Dalvahni warrior who has stepped out of the corner by the door. He glowers at the chairs at the front of the room where Cassondra and Lexi are seated. Gladiators and Hockey Hunks take a step forward, all focused on Brand.”
Cassondra: Brand, it’s okay. We’re not asking Lexi to give away any of the Dalvahni secrets. I swear.*Brand squints at me, then relaxes and steps back. Gladiators and hockey hunks breathe a collective sigh of relief. Ansgar, the Dalvahni warrior who reminds me of Legolas from Lord Of The Rings, raises his eyebrow at Brand. Ansgar doesn’t even bother to hide his smirk. Brand catches Ansgar’s eye and his forehead wrinkles into a more intense frown.*
Cassondra: Jeez…The testosterone is so thick in here you could cut it with a dull knife.
Now, Lexi..back to the question about the origins of the Dalvahni…
Lexi: *takes a sip of her wine as she glances around the room to check on her guys* When I finally got a clue that my fantasy romance was going nowhere, I was in a real slump. There was a writing exercise online offering feedback on the first chapter of a paranormal romance, and I decided to try it. I sat down in my office with a couple of co-workers and knocked around ideas. I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich and I decided to write about demon hunters in the Deep South.
Frankly, when I started the first book, it was as a lark and I didn’t give much thought to world building. I was simply trying to regain my writing mojo. The first book was total fun and pretty much wrote itself. (Can’t say the same about the others!) The world building came later, after I was published. I’ve always liked alpha males, superheroes, and Regency bucks, and the Dal are a little of all three. And I love the juxtaposition of my no-nonsense, humorless warriors with the zaniness that is the Deep South. Just because you speak the language down here doesn’t mean you always get it, as the Dal soon learn.
Brand and Addy:
“The demon has marked you. He will return. He will be unable to resist.”
“Oh, great, so now I’m irresistible. Just my luck he’s the wrong kind of guy. Don’t worry, I’ve got a thirty-eight, and like any good Southern girl I know how to use it, so you can leave.” She waved her hand toward the door again. “I’ll be fine. If this demon fellow shows up, I’ll blow his raggedy butt to kingdom come.”
The corner of his lips twitched, and for a moment she thought he might smile.
“You cannot kill a djegrali with a mortal weapon.”
“I’ll rush out first thing tomorrow morning and get me one of those flamey sword things, I promise.”
Again with the lip twitch. “That will not be necessary. I will protect you.”
“Oh, no, you won’t!” Addy straightened with an effort. Her chest still hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. “I’d never be able to explain you to my mama.”
“This mama you speak of, she is the female vessel who bore you?”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t call her a vessel to her face, if I were you.”
“You fear her?”
Addy rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding? The woman scares the crap out of me. Thirty-two hours of labor, and don’t you ever forget it,” she mimicked. “You owe me. Big time.”
Cassondra: The stuff that makes your stories so blessedly funny is the secondary characters –the parents and friends, the iconic figures in the town. How is the way you paint your town and characters influenced by your own observations growing up?
Lexi: Gosh, I think writers are influenced by EVERYTHING. Certainly, growing up in a small town has shaped my writing. I was a shy, gangly teenager with big feet and self esteem issues, and that’s shaped my writing, too. And I’m the middle child, always striving for attention. We lived way out in the country and I didn’t have friends to play with, so I spent a lot of time alone with only my imagination for company. It all comes out in my writing, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being a writer means being naked in public.
Cassondra: Why paranormal?
Lexi: I love magic! My other favorite genre is fantasy, and I’m a big LOTR and Harry Potter nerd, so paranormal was a perfect fit for me. With magic, the possibilities are endless. Take the fairy kitten in book one, for instance. The kitten appeared just as Brand and Addy were about to go into the Sweet Shop for a bit to eat. Now, you can’t take a kitten in a restaurant. That would be a health code violation, but Addy wasn’t about to let me leave that poor kitty on the sidewalk. I mean, what if he got squashed? So I came up with the idea that the Dalvahni have interdimensional hidey holes, sort of a Rubbermaid vortex where they keep things safe. As a writer, magic gives me another way to write myself out of a tree.
And it also kept Addy happy. You don’t want to mess with Addy Corwin.
Cassondra: Rubbermaid vortex. I love it! And WAY cheaper than Tupperware. Just sayin’.
I love the way you have Hannah set up. Tell us about the river and the meteor. That meteor looks like it will be critical to the upcoming stories.
Lexi: The Devil River winds around Hannah, full of treacherous currents and quiet backwater pools. To the locals, the river is a source of income stemming from the fishing and white water rapids industries, but the Devil hides secrets from the norms. There are ghosts on the river and a giant catfish named Gilbert big enough to swallow a boat whole, and a dive bar that caters only to shifters and demonoids.
Cassondra: *interrupts* The dive bar–and the demonoids–are the focus of book three?
Lexi: Right. Anyhow, the crater was formed a bazillion years ago when a meteor slammed into Behr County, folding the earth into gentle hills. The meteor thinned the veil between dimensions and is the source of magic in Hannah. The crater attracts supernatural critters of all kinds, including sexy demon hunters and their age-old enemies, the demonic djegrali. Anyone with the least bit of magical ability finds their powers enhanced by the meteor. Anything and everything can happen in Hannah thanks to that fallen star.
Cassondra: Are any of these landmarks taken from places you’ve actually seen or visited?
Lexi: The Sweet Shop is a real restaurant in my childhood home, and the Greater Fair was the town’s nicest clothing store for women. The Trammel Bridge and Sardine Creek are also real places, taken from the area where I grew up. We used to ride out to Sardine Bridge to party when I was a teenager. There was no ghost, though, just a lot of beer drinking and rednecking around on the sand dunes. I got caught skinny dipping in the creek once, but that’s another story.
I went to the University of Alabama, both undergraduate and law school, so many of the names I use for things are names related to Alabama football; Behr County, Paulsberg, Namath Springs, Newsome Correctional Facility, to name a few. It’s a nod and a wink to my alma mater.
Cassondra: I’m guessing a lot of Alabama fans will be giving you a high five, right through the computer screen.
Have people always told you that you’re funny? Did you start out to write funny? Or did it just happen?
Lexi: Middle child, remember? My older siblings were much more glamorous, so I had to do something to stand out. My father had a wonderful sense of humor, and I like to think I get mine from him. Oddly enough, Demon Hunting in Dixie didn’t start out screwball. I even had a serious name for it: Dark Encounter. But, it quickly became evident that this book was going to be something else. Almost from the first page, the funny came out. It was a big surprise to me.
Cassondra: Here’s a sample:
From Demon Hunting In Dixie:
Addy has gone to the funeral home to deliver flowers (she’s a florist). Shep, Addy’s brother, runs the funeral home. Addy’s mom is there too. Dwight Farris should be dead, in the casket, but his body is missing. His widow, Shirley, has just figured this out. And Dwight’s mistress, Bessie Mae Brown, has just arrived on scene.
“What have you done with my husband, you Jezebel?” Shirley’s shrill voice recalled Addy to the nightmare.
“Me?” Bessie Mae’s heavily mascaraed eyes widened. “What are you talking about?”
People in the hall heard the commotion and wandered into the room. A low, murmuring buzz began and grew as folks noticed the empty satin-lined box.
Shirley pointed a fat finger toward the casket. “I’m talking about the fact that my husband is missing. I want to know what you did with him.”
Bessie Mae teetered across the room on her four-inch heels. “Sugar Scrotum,” she cried. She flung herself on top of the metal box. “What have they done with you?”
Sugar Scrotum. Eww.
“Please, Ms. Brown.” Addy hurried over to the wailing woman. “This is highly inappropriate, not to mention downright tacky.”
She put her arms around Bessie Mae and tried to peel her off the casket.
“No!” Bessie Mae screeched and hung on tighter, kicking her purple heels. “I won’t go.” Not until somebody tells me what happened to my sugar.”
“Oh, Lord have mercy, Jesus,” Shep groaned, relapsing. “What else?”
“I can’t take any more.” Addy’s mother toddled over to a chair. “Somebody tell me when it’s over.”
Shirley waved her pocketbook. “I got your sugar right here, Bessie Mae Brown,” she quavered in her Aunt Bea voice, “or at least the only part you ever cared about.”
A shiver of dread shot down Addy’s spine. She let go of Bessie Mae-the damn woman was stuck like a tick to the casket, anyway–and turned to look at Mrs. Farris.
“Uh oh,” she said when she saw the triumphant gleam in the widow’s china-blue eyes.
Bessie Mae must have had a premonition too, because she unsuckered herself from the casket and turned around. “What have you done, Shirley?” she hiccupped.
Mrs. Farris opened her pocketbook and pulled out a ziplock baggie. Some kind of watery fluid smeared the inside of the see-through plastic. Formaldehyde, maybe. Addy tried not to think about the particulars of her brother’s work. At rest in the bottom of the bag like an abandoned hotdog was Dwight Farris’s one-eyed monster. Or, at least Addy hoped it was Old Man Farris’s one-eyed monster. She’d never met this particular monster…until now, thank goodness. As Addy stared, she could have sworn the thing winked at her.
“Your sugar’s not here, and even if we find him, he won’t be the same, “Shirley said. “What’s more, you won’t be diddling my husband in the afterlife. Nobody will, ’cause I got his winky right here. This winky is finally all mine, and it’s going to stay that a-way. I’m going to have it buried with me. I’m going to hold it in my cold dead hand. I’m taking this winky with me through the Pearly Gates. Not even Saint Peter’s prying this cold dead winky out of my hand. But maybe–if Dwight asks me real nice, mind you–I might let him have his winky back in the hereafter. But only on special occasions and only if he plays tiddley winks with me, and nobody else.”
Cassondra: We love call stories here in the lair. Tell us about your path to publication?
Lexi: You already know part of it. I was really down because I’d spent three years trying to get someone to look at that first book, without success. It took me a year to write Demon Hunting in Dixie, and I was pretty optimistic, because it had done well in the contest circuit. In January of 2010, I started querying agents with high hopes . . . only to have them dashed. The rejections I got back were that light paranormal didn’t sell, that the book wasn’t dark enough.
I was devastated. I was on the Southern Magic (chapter of RWA) loop whining about the rejections when Carla Swafford, a fellow writer and Southern Magic member, sent me an email suggesting I check an interview with Kensington editor Megan Records. In her interview, Megan commented that she got lots of dark stuff but not much funny anymore and she’d like to!!!
I queried Megan, she asked for the full, and a few weeks later I sold! Wheee!!!!
Cassondra: Woot! I’m so thrilled that you did, because I laugh out loud at the funny parts of your books, then I sigh and cry as the heroes and heroines lose their hearts to love.
I’m interested in what made Lexi George a serious attorney who also writes crazy-funny romance…I know you grew up with a judge as a daddy. But what got you interested in law? Did you always plan to follow your dad’s path?
Lexi: I never ever thought about becoming a lawyer until my senior year in college. I was about to graduate with a degree in public relations and no idea what to do with it. I was petrified and my only thought was how to avoid reality. Knew I didn’t have the curriculum to go to medical school, but I’m good in English and history. Went home and asked Daddy what he thought about me going to law school and he was tickled pink. Law school was a big awakening for me. It was the first time I ever struggled in school, and I was terrified of failure. Trial by fire.
Cassondra: Even more pertinent, how do you juggle a high-pressure career like law—oh and kids too– and still manage to write books?
Lexi: I have a wonderful job where I can manage my workload, so that helps. And I write every chance I get. I’m a glacier slow writer, though, and the stress is a killer!
Cassondra: In the last book, Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar, we find out that there is a much, MUCH bigger threat in Hannah than just a small outbreak of demons, and I’m honestly a little worried about Brand, Ansgar, Conall and the other Dalvahni. This also suggests more books coming up. What’s next on the agenda for the Dalvahni and Hannah?
Lexi: I’m working on book 4 right now, Demon Hunting with a Dixie Deb. It’s a fish out of water tale about a rich debutante who comes to Hannah to unload the family business and ends up staying. Think Elle Woods from Legally Blonde trying to run a timber mill. There’s a flesh eating witch and a hulked-out demonoid and a magical car. And those pesky demons are around, so there’ll be lots of work for the Dalvahni to do.
There are three more books in the works, Demon Hunting with a Dixie Deb, which I’ve already mentioned, Demon Hunting with a Sexy Ex, and Demon Hunting with a Southern Sheriff. Y’all come to Hannah, and be sure and stop by the Sweet Shop Café and Grill. Miss Vi makes a chocolate pie that’ll make you want to slap ʾyo mama!
Cassondra: And just so y’all know, the Dalvahni guys don’t get drunk on alcohol. They get drunk on chocolate!
Okay Bandits and Buddies,
Do you like romantic comedies in books or movies?
Do you read paranormal romance?
What’s the furthest south you’ve ever been–in the US or in any other country?
Lexi is giving away THREE copies of Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar. This is Conall’s story. He’s the leader of the Dalvahni, and the biggest baddest badass of them all. And it takes a kick-butt heroine to make him realize that love is a really good thing.
Y’all gather round the bar, order your favorite drink and stuff yourselves with Sven’s goodies, then leave a comment or ask Lexi a question to be entered for the drawing.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jul 26 2013, 12:37 am in Beauty and the Bounty Hunter, contemporary romance, discovering authors, Dragon Bound, historical romance, Love Irresistibly, paranormal romance, Romantic suspense, Thrillers, Triptych, Unstoppable
…in this past year was to discover more authors whose books I loved. But of course that’s exactly what I did. I just can’t resist trying a new-to-me author when I see an intriguing book. In the hope that my misery might acquire yours for company, let’s talk about our recent discoveries.
I dropped by The Romance Dish a few months back when Andrea was reviewing Julie James’ latest book, Love Irresistibly. It’s about Cade, an assistant U.S. attorney who needs help from a restaurant chain’s lawyer, Brooke. They’re both career-focused, intent on keeping their personal lives light and easy. Of course they’re hooked on each other before they know it.
I tried the book because, hey, hadn’t added a new name to my TBR mountain in a while. I loved it! James writes about assistant U.S. attorneys and FBI agents, two of my favorite kinds of people to read about, and her characters are wonderful. So of course I had to read all the other books. I mean, I had to. Lucky for me, I’m now current. There won’t be another for a while.
In the Serious Boom department, there’s 2013 RITA winner Laura Griffin. I was browsing short fiction in the iBook store and ran across her Tracers novella, Unstoppable. (The Tracers series centers on forensic investigators.) The novella had an intriguing cover. And it was about a forensic archaeologist (Kelsey) and a Navy SEAL (Gage), which won it two more points off the bat.
Kelsey’s on a dig in the desert and unearths a body much more recently deceased than the team expected. Lucky for her, her Navy SEAL uncle thinks Gage, who’s under his command, needs to take a break and sends him to the desert to guard Kelsey. They uncover smugglers at the border, and of course they fall in love. AND Kelsey and Gage have their own full-length book, Scorched. Unfortunately for my TBR pile but fortunately for me, the book came out about the time I read the novella.
For a change of pace, I tried Lori Austin’s Beauty and the Bounty Hunter. Okay, no, she wasn’t totally new to me because I’d read and loved her Lori Handeland paranormals. But her westerns were new to me.
This one is set in the post-Civil War American West. The heroine, Cat, is a bounty hunter determined to find and kill the man who murdered her husband. The hero, Alexi, is the con man who taught her the art of disguise.
She believes she cares only about revenge. He values his freedom. Forced by circumstances to team up, they can no longer avoid confronting their feelings for each other. This is a dark book, with two deeply wounded characters, but the ending was fabulous. And it set up the tormented hero of the next book, out now, An Outlaw in Wonderland.
I also picked up a book by an author I’d been meaning to try, Thea Harrison. Seeing her newest release reminded me to check her out. I prefer to start series from the beginning, so I ordered the first of her Elder Races novels, Dragon Bound. The Wyr are shapeshifters, and their leader is Dragos Cuelebre, who, as you might guess, shifts into a dragon. Pia, the heroine is blackmailed into stealing something from him.
As legend tells us, nobody steals from a dragon. He tracks her down and claims her, and she soon realizes he’s the best source of protection from those who would exploit her talents. Desire quickly blooms between them, but his enemies have the pair in their sights. Juggling Fae and witches and trolls and Wyr, Dragos and Pia have their hands full.
In the department of other genres, I discovered Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent thrillers. Will is an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He was raised in the Atlanta Children’s Home but is generally tight-lipped about his past. Afflicted with dyslexia that makes the paperwork involved in his job laborious, Will perseveres through sheer gut-level determination to succeed and dedication to his job.
Will acquires a partner, Faith, in the second book. A former detective, she’s none too thrilled about working with him on a nasty murder. As they delve into the case, however, they realize they make a good team. This is a dark series, but I stick with it because the characters hooked me from the beginning.
In the third book, Will acquires a love interest, Sara, a doctor who appeared in Slaughter’s Grant County series. The romantic arc progresses slowly and is complicated not only by Will’s unfortunate marriage to a childhood friend but by his reluctance to open up about his feelings and his past. But the romance does grow and deepen, and the conflicts the characters face are believable.
So what about you? What new authors or series have you discovered in the last year or so? One commenter will win NetGalley access to read Guardian for free. The winner will need to have a NetGalley account or create one, but there’s no charge for that.
The winner from the July 16 post was Linda, just by the way. What with getting ready for, then recovering from, RWA, I didn’t get the post up. But I’ll put one up with Linda’s name and that of today’s winner.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jun 23 2013, 12:33 am in Karen Kelley, naughty angels, paranormal romance, Smoking Hot
I’m thrilled Donna asked me back again. The Romance Bandits are so much fun!
And I have a new book out, Smoking Hot. There’s a lot of spice between the covers. It’s more than just a smoking hot read, though. The story line is one close to my heart. It’s about family obligation. I bet each one of you knows about that. Am I right?
So does Raine McCandless, the heroine in Smoking Hot. She loves the excitement of patrolling the streets on Fort Worth’s North side where the landscape is skid-row bars and gang graffiti. Law enforcement runs in her veins. She has a free and easy lifestyle, dating when and who she wants. She’s in charge.
But she gives it all up to return home. Grandpa needs her and he’s the one who raised her. There’s no question what she has to do. He’s family. Still, it’s not easy to tamp down the warring emotions between regret and obligation.
Have you ever felt resentful or guilty about the choices you made? I’ve definitely felt both!
Raine moves back to the ranch and gets a job at the sheriff’s office working the night shift. Randolph is a sleepy little town and she has lots of time to fantasize about the kind of man she’d like to take prisoner so when she arrives home to find a sexy intruder waiting for her, she’s pretty sure she must be dreaming.
But Dillon Taylor is 100% real, just not 100% human. Half-man, half-angel, he’d love to answer every naughty prayer Raine has ever had. But Raine is in danger, and Dillon can only fulfill her every fantasy if he can keep her alive.
Yes, this angel has a naughty side. If you’re going to have your prayers answered you might as well have a naughty angel answer them. Especially one as sexy as Dillon. Right???
And the first review is in!
Kelley steams up the pages with this engrossing read. Various twists and turns within the plot will keep readers guessing right until the end. The main characters are fun, complex and unyielding in their attraction to each other, and the secondary players only add to the enjoyment.
SUMMARY: Sheriff’s Deputy Raine McCandless traded her fast-paced city life to return to her hometown to take care of her aging grandfather. One night she returns home after her shift to find a stranger in her house. Nephilim Dillon is half angel, half man, and he’s here to inform Raine that she’ll be killed in a botched robbery attempt—but he intends to save her. As the robbery unfolds, Raine and her grandfather become the prime suspects in the crime. Will Dillon save Raine in time, or will she spend the rest of her life in prison for a crime she didn’t commit? (Sourcebooks, Jun., 320 pp., $14.99) Jennifer Wilson , RT Book Reviews 4 Stars—Scorching
Donna says this is a perfect book to read in during the smoking hot days of summer, so I’m happy to give a copy of Smoking Hot to someone leaving a comment on the blog. So tell me if you held a naughty angel as a prisoner, what would he have to do to get free?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Apr 19 2013, 12:40 am in Dragon shifters, Karilyn Bentley, paranormal romance, Suzanne Ferrell, Watchers
Suz: Grab a chair everyone and gather round. Today I have one of my favorite guests to visit the Lair, Karilyn Bentley. Karilyn is the author of the wonderful dragon-shifter books that I, (and I suspect Ermingarde, since I always find the pages a bit singed when she’s done with them), love to read. Today Karilyn is going to take us into the world of the Watchers, guardian warriors of the Draconi, in her newest book WARRIOR LOVER.
Hey Karilyn! Pull up a barstool and Sven will pour you your favorite drink.
Karilyn: Thank you Suz for inviting me to chat with you today! <Sits, bats eyelashes at Sven as he brings a margarita. Takes a sip.> What a yummy margarita! And I love the way you hand me that drink, Sven. You might have to bring me another one. And please tell Ermingarde hi for me. I do love dragons! Especially when they read my books! <g>
Suz: So we’re revisiting the world of the Draconi, only this time we’re going to learn more about the Watchers, in particular Enar and his woman Lily, whom we met in MAGICAL LOVER. You’ve made WARRIOR LOVER a parallel story timeline-wise to MAGICAL LOVER. Was that hard to do?
Karilyn: No, actually that made it easier to write since parts of the story were already written. I just had to change the viewpoint to either Enar or Lily and add in some extra scenes. The last bit of WL passes the timeline of ML.
Suz: What made you want to shift from the Draconi to the Watchers?
Karilyn: Enar took over the first draft of Magical Lover and I had to cut him out of several scenes, ML being Thoren’s book, not his. He protested, A LOT, so I wrote his own story to shut him up. <g>
As a Watcher, a guardian warrior of the Draconi, Enar has never fit in with his kind. When he sees Lily–the ideal Watcher’s woman–he instantly claims her, believing she will bring him the acceptance he craves. Falling in love with her was not part of his plan.
As her town’s outcast, Lily wants nothing more than to escape. When Enar locks a necklace around her throat and declares she belongs to him, she jumps at the chance to leave. Her excitement soon becomes trepidation when Enar won’t tell her what to expect in his world. But even her worry can’t overcome her growing attraction to him.
Soon Lily learns what life as a Watcher’s claim entails, and refuses to submit. To keep Lily, Enar must turn his back on everything he thought he wanted. Will he choose his people? Or the other half of his soul?
Suz: Don’t you just hate it when characters do that? Watchers have an unusual way to claim their women. Why did you build this into their world?
Karilyn: I needed a way to keep Lily close to Enar and what better way than to have him capture her? And instead of having him tie her up to keep her close, why not use a magical necklace that in essence does the same thing? It seemed to fit better in the fantasy land of Draconia.
Suz: Both Enar and Lily are outcasts in their societies, how does this affect their relationship?
Karilyn: It’s an unconscious part of their attraction to each other. They understand the motivations of the other, even if they don’t always agree with the outcome.
Suz: You’ve left the readers with some serious questions about the worlds of the Draconi and Watchers, will there be another book in this series?
Karilyn: Yes there will, thank you for asking! I’m currently writing DRAGON LOVER, the next book in the series. I’m a sloooooooowwwww writer, but am on track to finish it soon.
“You don’t mind leaving?”
All brawn, no brain obviously. Hadn’t she just said that downstairs?
“That’s right. I want to leave. You want to take me. It works out well for both of us. Now, how much can I take?”
“You do not feel a need to take your entire shop, do you?” A small wrinkle appeared between his brows.
“As you noticed earlier, there’s not much to take. I have clothes and personal items. A couple of bags, maybe.”
“One bag. Thoren travels light. Insists we do the same.” He glanced to the bed and back to her, grinning. “Besides, the less time you take packing, the more time we’ll have for pleasure.”
Lily’s whole body stiffened, as blood pounded in her ears. Oh, Goddess, not now. She hadn’t left the town. Now she’d never leave. He’d crush her before she could be free.
He took a swaggering step toward her, cupping her face in his hand. “Don’t be frightened. I won’t hurt you.”
Sure you won’t, look at the size of you.
Bending forward, he placed his lips against hers, pressing gently. And just like that, her nervousness vanished.
Karilyn’s question for readers: Would you rather cuddle up next to a shape-shifting dragon or a sword-carrying warrior? Leave your email address in your comment to be entered into a drawing to win a PDF copy of Warrior Lover.
Find Karilyn at:
Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 18 2013, 11:38 am in Boom, Dee Davis, favorite books, favorite videos, Georgette Heyer, historical romance, Jessica Andersen, Nancy's blogs, Nora Roberts, paranormal romance, Patricia Rice, small town romance
Sorry about the late blog, everybody! My head was wrapped around a different day, but I’m here now and ready to roll.
There are certain books or videos I go to when I need to kick back, relax and read or watch something I know I’ll enjoy. Anything by Georgette Heyer makes that list, and I’ve built up a good collection of her books. If I want to see a smart, brave guy with a wicked sense of humor turn the tables on his snooty, condescending relatives, I go for The Unknown Ajax.
Or I might reach for Frederica (love the way the Merrivilles upend Alverstoke’s neatly ordered and self-centered life) or, if I want something a little darker, Regency Buck (is the hero really a hero? Or is he a villain in disguise), or, if I’m the mood for clashing swords, The Conqueror (can an invading Norman knight win the heart of a Saxon maid while his liege tries to win the country?).
Those are my top four favorites of hers.
In the clashing swords video department, with a touch of mystical fantasy thrown in, is The Thirteenth Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas. Our frequent guest Gerri Russell recommended this movie to me. I love the Viking elements and the evolution of Banderas’ character from scholar to warrior. And, of course, the thirteen warriors risking themselves to protect a kingdom from bear cult marauders has a lot of appeal.
My all-time favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I was so disappointed that the museum in Monroeville, AL, was closed when we were in that area last summer. But it’s not a comfortable choice. It’s a thought-provoking book, a beautifully written book, with justice served at the end, but it’s sad, too.
Books or movies with a heavy eew factor also don’t make the list. Eew moments are not relaxing. Sagas also don’t qualify for me. So the LOTR trilogy, book or film, doesn’t qualify as a comfort choice. Now, there are some eew moments in The Thirteenth Warrior, I have to admit. Sword fight are not, er, tidy. But the rest of the movie outweighs the eew factor, so maybe it’s better to say the eew has to be outweighed by the fun stuff
Boom, on the other hand, why, that’s very cathartic. Hence the presence of SWAT on my comfort list and my video shelf. It has lots and lots of boom and stars Colin Farrell as the sympathetic hero (Farrell’s character, Jim Street, played by the late Robert Urich, was my favorite of the TV SWAT guys).
Samuel L. Jackson is the tough mentor, Jeremy Renner is the sleazy bad guy, and Michelle Rodriguez is great as the kick-butt female cop. Maybe we should qualify this, though, by saying that the boom cannot be accompanied by the spurting blood and graphic depictions of injuries that some action films love to linger over.
If I want romantic suspense, I reach for Dee Davis or Cindy Gerard. I love Dee’s A-Tac series and Cindy’s Black Ops, Inc. I’m so sorry to see A-Tac about to wind up. But one of the joys of owning a book is the ability to read it again. Pictured at right is Double Danger, the latest release in the A-Tac series.
Anything by Patricia Rice qualifies for the list. One of my favorites is Merely Magic, the book that introduced the Malcolm and Ives families. I loved the interplay of the siblings, the Georgian setting, and the mysterious man who threads his way through the series until he takes center stage in the final book.
Another favorite by Patricia Rice is an oldie, Denim and Lace. It’s a western and opens with the heroine shooting the hero. It has romance and boom! What’s not to love?
For superb writing, excellent performances, and a balance of comedy and drama, you can’t beat early Boston Legal. If I’m in the mood for something like that, I might watch an entire disc at a sitting. All three of us loved this show.
For paranormal romance with a fabulous arc, hot romance and plenty of boom, I’ll take Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers. Now that the series is complete, I can go from book 1 to book 7, secure in the knowledge that I’ll be happy when I get to the end.
It’s hard to pick a favorite book in that series. The first, Night Keepers, is a wonderful setup for the entire series. But I also love the fourth, Demon Keepers, for the geek-to-hero transformation of Lucius. Choices, choices.
As our regulars know, I grew up in a small town and have one in my Protectors mage series. So it probably isn’t surprising that I have a weakness for books set in small towns. One I’ve read many times is Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights. I love escaping to the little town of Lunacy, Alaska, and seeing the hero, Nate Burke, come back from personal tragedy in his new job as its top cop.
I don’t like the oversize paperback format (the picture at right is not distorted but proportioned for that format), but that’s not a problem on an e-reader, which is how I usually read it. Yet the book stays on my keeper shelf because, hey, never know when the power might go out.
I do like the Alaska setting. One of my guilty pleasures is Alaska State Troopers on NatGeo. I’m not sure why, except the setting. I don’t watch any other police reality shows. Except I did like Police, Camera, Action! out of the UK, which was shown on TLC for a while. And, hmm, also not set where I live.
Anyway, getting back to the topic, I also love Nora’s Chesapeake series and her Sign of Seven trilogy. And, of course, Chasing Fire, which is not set in a small town, as these others are, but features the small, close-knit community of the Missoula Smokejumpers.
These are some of my favorite go-to books and videos. What are yours? Do you go for pure romance or suspense? Do you want some magic or some book thrown in?
I’ll give one commenter today a choice of a Protector or Renegade ARC. The winner can also opt for a download instead of an ARC if downloads are available in the winner’s home area.
And tonight I’ll post my winner and Jennifer McQuiston’s from last month. I just realized I hadn’t done that. The announcement will be in the comments and will go up as a booty post.
If you haven’t already clicked “like” on my Facebook page and inclined to, you can find it here.
Posted by Anna Campbell Apr 5 2013, 12:03 am in Allegiance Sworn, Alliance Forged, Anna Campbell, Australia, Australian Authors, Australian Romance Readers Association Awards, Bandita Booty, fantasy romance, Kylie Short, Light Blade Series, paranormal romance, series, Vengeance Born
I’m always delighted to welcome Aussie author Kylie Griffin back to the lair. Today’s she’s here to tell us about the next instalment in her wonderful Light Blade series, ALLEGIANCE SWORN.
RT Book Reviews gave ALLEGIANCE SWORN a great review, saying, “The third outing in Griffin’s rousing Light Blade series provides readers with a breathtakingly strong and dedicated heroine willing to fight and sacrifice for her people. Griffin keeps the tension running high as the world she created heads ever closer to war.”
Here’s the blurb:
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a demon leader seeks to unify the races…
SHE’S THE ENEMY HE CAN’T RESIST.
With the alliance of the humans and the half-blood Na’Chi forged, the demon Na’Reish prepare for war by seizing human blood-slaves. Captured during a rescue mission-gone-wrong, Light Blade warrior Arek Barial finds himself claimed by a Na’Reishi female who offers him an unexpected choice.
Raised in the elite ranks of a society she abhors, Imhara Kaal lives a dangerous double life as a Na’Reish Clan-leader and an advocate for a caste-free life that honors the Old Ways. Openly rebelling against the Na’Reish would mean her death, unless she can find an emissary willing to present her petition to the human Blade council.
But Arek isn’t about to blindly follow a demon—despite the intense attraction growing between them. And while hatred for the Na’Reish is all he has ever known, Arek must learn to trust Imhara, or risk the destruction of all three races…
You can find out more about Kylie and her books on her website: http://kyliegriffin.com
Kylie, congratulations on the release of ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Can you tell us about this story?
ALLEGIANCE SWORN is the third book in the Light Blade series and one I was very excited to write as it features Arek, a rather deliciously tormented (yes, I do like torturing my heroes), secondary character, and one of my Light Blade warriors, who appeared in both VENGEANCE BORN (#1) and ALLIANCE FORGED (#2).
At the end of ALLIANCE FORGED Arek was wounded and captured by demon-slavers. In ALLEGIANCE SWORN he’s claimed by Imhara, a demon Clan leader.
He’s sworn to die fighting before allowing her to enslave him but then discovers she’s been living a double-life; that her Clan don’t enslave humans and accept half-bloods. And more significantly, they have one goal in common – to kill Na’Reish leader Savyr, the demon who murdered their families and destroyed their lives.
I had a LOT of fun making Arek face his greatest fears in this book but what surprised me the most was the way a couple of plot threads within the story ended – I intended the story to finish with the characters achieving certain goals but they refused to take that path and led me down another!
Lives being threatened, fighting, the death of a major character – all of this was supposed to occur, and it did, but not in the manner I expected and it brought about an entirely different conclusion to the story.
What were the inspirations behind this book?
Two ideas inspired ALLEGIANCE SWORN.
The first was Arek, the hero, and his hatred for all things demon. Throughout the series and of all the characters he’s probably had the toughest time. He’s found out he has a demon half sister. His grandfather not only tried to kill her but he kept the secret that demons and humans once lived harmoniously together and then betrayed the human race by leading a rebellion to keep the war between them going.
In ALLEGIANCE SWORN, Arek is confronted by the truth that his whole life and every decision and action he’s made has been based on a lie, one fostered by his grandfather’s deception.
And having been captured by demon-slavers at the end of ALLIANCE FORGED, he now faces one of his greatest fears – being the blood-slave of Imhara Kaal, his new owner. Anyone who’s already read the series will know Arek prefers death over serving as a blood-slave, so you can imagine the conflict this is going to create!
The idea of a double agent gave me the plot thread for Imhara Kaal, the heroine, in ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Unlike other demons, Imhara and her people have create a utopia of sorts where human, demon, and half breeds live peacefully and equally in the Old Ways but they’ve had to sacrifice a lot to remain undiscovered. Living a double-life and adopting two separate lifestyles was essential for their survival.
But it puts Imhara and Arek at odds right from the get go because she had to portray her alter-ego in order to claim him as her slave. You can image how well that went down with Arek, and trying to convince him of her other persona is nigh impossible.I loved being able to throw these two opposing personalities together and watching the sparks fly!
Ooh, sounds delicious. I love enemies into lovers stories. What’s coming up next for Kylie Griffin?
Besides a manic blog tour to promote ALLEGIANCE SWORN (and the mass market version of VENGEANCE BORN which was also released on April 2nd)? Well, I have a few plans I’m juggling. I’d like to write books #4 and #5 in the Light Blade series but that depends on whether the book-gods smile on a new contract.
I’m also keen to write a new post-apocalyptic romance, one that’s been mulling in the back my mind for a few years now. A change of genre would be refreshing and I’m quite excited about this one as I’m venturing into new territory. It’s rather more erotic in tone than I anticipated.
Delish! You’re now three books into your Light Blade series. Would you like to share your thoughts on writing a series? Has everything continued as you expected or were there some surprises with writing linked books?
As a fantasy reader from way back – I think I read my first book in this genre at age 10 – I love the scope a series allows me as far as world building and developing an over arching story line. While each story is complete within itself, I love being able to play with the external plot, dropping hints, showcasing certain events that will one day impact the timeline further on in the series. And looking back readers will see this and, hopefully, appreciate the depth and growth of the series.
There were some surprises along the way when I wrote the series. A couple of characters I intended to be only background figures decided they wanted a story of their own and as a result they’ve taken more prominent roles in the stories than I anticipated.
One of these characters was Zaune, one of the half-blood scouts. He appeared in VENGEANCE BORN then he popped up in ALLIANCE FORGED and again in ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Over time he’s become quite a strong character in my mind, so much so I have a book planned for him.
Another shock in this series came when I wrote ALLEGIANCE SWORN, I’d planned the death of a major character but as I wove various plot threads together, the story of Arek and Imhara began to stall. No matter the direction I wanted them to go – the scenes, their dialogue, their actions, the revelations I wanted to hint at, or uncover or confront, the action I saw taking place – they point blank refused to walk the path I wanted them to take.
Turns out I was trying to force a scenario that would have given the story a too easy solution, too convenient an ending to the thread I was trying to tell. Robbing the characters of conflict also meant swindling readers out of the emotional roller coaster ride that came with the conflict. So in the end, I ignored the voice inside my head and listened to my characters.
Did the story thread have a “happily ever after”? It depends on your point of view. Happily ever afters do occur but sometimes not in the way we anticipate or expect and this was definitely the case for Arek, Imhara and me. What exactly did the HEA involve…well, you’re going to have to read ALLEGIANCE SWORN to find out the details!
Kylie, congratulations on winning favorite futuristic, sci-fi or fantasy romance of 2012 at the recent Australian Romance Readers Association awards. I was absolutely delighted to accept your award on your behalf! Could you tell us a little about how you felt about receiving this award?
Thanks, Anna, for the congrats and accepting the ARRA award on my behalf!
I was away on a writers’ retreat the weekend of the ARRA convention with some writing buddies. We were following the awards dinner via Twitter on the night. Some of the books and authors nominated were MY favourite reads for 2012 – so to have gone head to head to them was an achievement in itself.
Seeing as I don’t own a mobile phone (yes, I know, I’m one of the rare few) I was relying on my friends to announce the results. When they read out my name, I honestly thought they were pulling my leg and kidding around but when I saw the same tweet on four phones I had to accept the win was fair dinkum!
I’m sure I looked like a stunned mullet. I know I see-sawed between incredulous laughter and shocked crying. I think I did a bit of both!
Honestly, it’s a very humbling experience to know there are readers who voted ALLIANCE FORGED as their favorite read for 2012, and I’m ever so grateful! The ARRA award now sits on proud display on a shelf in the lounge room!
What do you like to read when you’re not writing dramatic and adventurous romance?
Paranormal romance is my first port of call when I pick up a book to read – some of my favourite authors span the gamut of sub-genres and include Nalini Singh, Denise Rossetti, Joss Ware, Joey W.Hill, Bec McMaster and Kylie Scott!
I’m also partial to science fiction and fantasy authors like Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Rowena Corey Daniells. But outside these genres I enjoy reading Maya Banks, Debbie Macomber, Jo Davis, and our own, Anna Campbell! (Anna says, why, thank you!)
I’m fairly selective, basing my choices more on the connection I feel with the author’s characters and their writing than the particular genre. I’m sure Anna won’t mind me using her as an example, but she’s one of two historical romance authors I read. I don’t usually indulge in this genre but I really enjoy her books because of her engaging characters and rich style of writing.
My nonfiction section of my library revolve around subjects likes names for babies, weapons, self-defence, herbal medicines, ancient cultures, myths & legends, and craft books like patchworking, photography, calligraphy and Lonely Planet Guides for travelling.
And my favourite place for reading these books – my garden! I have a couple of lovely spots where I can sit back, relax with a book and more often than not be interrupted by the wildlife that like to visit during the day.
Anna, thanks for having me here in the Lair – I always enjoyed my time here interacting with your readers. Knowing this, I’d love to ask them a question, if that’s all right.
I’ve just revealed Arek’s greatest fear – becoming a blood-slave to the Na’Reish demons – now I want to know – What’s your greatest fear? Is there anyone brave enough to answer this question? How about I dangle a signed copy of ALLEGIANCE SWORN Light Blade #3 as incentive to participate? Go on, I dare you! Face your fear, just like Arek does in ALLEGIANCE SWORN!
Thanks for that great interview, Kylie! And best of luck with ALLEGIANCE SWORN. It sounds like a corker. Get commenting, people. I’m sure you all want to win the signed copy of Kylie’s new book!
Posted by Nancy Northcott Feb 12 2013, 12:37 am in paranormal romance, Patricia Rice, Trouble With Air and Magic
I’m delighted to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rice back to the Lair. I’ve loved her books about the Malcolm and Ives families, and she’ll chat with us today about the latest in that series, Trouble with Air and Magic. She’ll also brief us on upcoming developments in her other series.
Welcome, Pat! Who are the Malcolm and Ives families?
The Malcolms are a family of females with various psychic gifts. The Ives are a family of scientific, logical males. Explosions happen when the two families are combined!
Where did readers first meet them?
In my Georgian historical romances, the Magic series, currently being reissued by Sourcebooks.
How does Merely Magic relate to Trouble with Air and Magic?
Hardly at all <G>. Obviously, my Georgian couples had children. Those children traveled far and wide, but at the time I wrote the historical series, the rights were tied up and I couldn’t write about them. So I began plotting contemporary stories for their descendants. In TROUBLE, my protagonists are both descendants of these families. My heroine comes from a Chinese branch that recognizes their psychic abilities. My hero comes from a scientific branch that scoffs at woo-woo but once they realize psychic abilities exist, realize they might have a touch of the same. And both branches are being jeopardized by an unknown person who is interested in their abilities, but possibly not for the power of good.
Please tell us a bit about Trouble With Air and Magic and, if you like, share an excerpt.
Don’t ask me to reduce all those pages to a few paragraphs, please! Here’s the official blurb:
Dorothea Franklin’s life is sliding toward disaster just as surely as her house is crumbling into the Pacific. Her unusual talent for feng shui can’t bring harmony to her invalid father or prevent her brother from dying in an experimental helicopter crash. Or has he?
She turns to computer genius Conan Oswin, whose brother also reportedly died that day. When Dorothea informs Conan that she didn’t feel the vibrations of her brother’s death, he wants to dismiss her illogic… but his instinct for trouble is already on full alert. His attraction to her is almost as distracting as her nonsense about chi and harmony — nonsense that plants doubts about the deadly crash. If only she would quit twisting his head with temptation, he might be able to save their brothers and her life.
And here’s a brief excerpt:
Standing in the downpour that inundated the coast, Dorothea Jai-Li Franklin watched another piece of her garden crash into the Pacific. A yew swayed at an angle over the cliff before it, too, descended in a mudslide to the roaring surf.
Once the house followed the yard, all trace of her mother would be gone. Until his helicopter disappeared, she’d had her brother to remind her of their heritage, but now Bo, too was lost to her.
Pulling the hood of her billowing rain cape over her hair, she let the wind and rain gust around her. A raindrop slid down her nose, and she wiped it while watching the crumbling cliff. Tilting and swaying, the pepper tree looked to be the next victim of the mudslide. Perhaps, if she got rid of the evidence at last…
Holding her temples, concentrating, she located the earth’s energy and shoved at the weakening tree roots with her mind.
Before she could completely grasp the tree’s chi, an irritatingly self-confident voice crawled up her spine, breaking her concentration.
“Shouldn’t you be retreating to safer grounds?”
Dorrie scrambled to hold the tree with her mind before it revealed its roots. But she had tilted it to an angle she couldn’t correct.
Cursing, she didn’t turn around until she could analyze the intruder’s vibrations and knew whether to welcome him or be wary.
She shivered at the visceral effect of a man she couldn’t see.
Sexy was her first response to his energy. But that could just be her hormones appreciating the resonance of his voice. His overconfidence could be a hazard, and his lack of sensitivity had destroyed her concentration. She was prepared to be irritated.
Mostly, she was terrified of what he would see as the rain ravaged her garden.
As he approached, she sensed the earth force shifting from left to right. Most people produced straightforward energy. Was he pacing back and forth?
The stranger’s chi possessed a creative, intriguing layer of energy. Like her brother, he exhibited no-nonsense technical vibrations.
She detected nothing overtly dangerous. Powerful, yes, but curiosity seemed to be his driving force.
“There goes ten thousand in dirt,” the newcomer commented, apparently determined to be tactless. He stood beside her and watched a clump of sod slide away.
Dorrie turned, half expecting to see a policeman condemning the property.
Instead, she met the dark gaze of a sun-bronzed surfer. She barely reached his shoulder. With heels, she might look him in the…nose.
Quite a formidable nose, she observed, fighting a twitch of her lips. “And you are?”
Instead of answering, he was looking over her shoulder. “Is that a skull?”
Succumbing to fatalism, Dorrie watched the pepper tree give up its fight and tumble into the ocean. In a single fading ray of sunlight, glimpses of filthy white could be seen mixed with the roots. He must have amazingly good eyesight.
“You want to go out there and find out?” she asked defiantly.
“You’re not curious?”
“Not curious enough to send a policeman out on that crumbling cliff to look for old graveyards.”
Okay, now I’m curious about the skull! You’ve written other paranormal romances and urban fantasy. What draws you to the magical elements in stories?
First, I do believe there are stranger things in this world than we understand or are willing to accept. I like exploring these ideas with my characters. Secondly, magical elements add new conflicts and unique problems for the couples to deal with. Why worry over money or status when you can fight about hunting for trouble with your sense of smell or ability to shift energy?
You’ve recently reissued some of your older novels. What has that experience been like?
I’m in awe. I’m in love with digital reissues. I have whole new libraries that I’m buying for little or nothing and can carry around in my e-reader . I’m earning money on books that haven’t sat on a bookstore shelf in decades. The only downside is that I have to re-read all those old books and realize how little I knew about craft in those days! Of course, the upside is that I can now edit and tighten those old books for today’s readers. And now I’m learning to put together print books so the books can actually sit on shelves again! Next stop…audio!
And of course we finally got Michael’s book, The English Heiress, in ebook format! What’s next for you?
Sourcebooks is still reissuing the Magic series, the next one will be out in April. My Jamie Quaid persona will have a new book at the end of June from Pocket–DAMN HIM TO HELL. Nick’s book in the Rebellious Sons series, THE NOTORIOUS ATHERTON, will be out in July. There’s more happening behind the scenes, but it’s too early to know how it will all work out. I have a newsletter that comes out maybe twice a year with updates, if you sign up for it at http://patriciarice.com/newsletter.htm
Woot! Not only another Jamie Quaid but another Rebellious Sons book. Yay!
For more info on Pat and her books, you can also check out her website. She’s giving a copy of Trouble With Air and Magic to one commenter today. While trying to organize books, I discovered I had an extra, never-read copy of her wonderful Volcano, so I’m giving that the same commenter.
So tell us, do you have a go-to genre when you have time to kick back with a book? Do you reach first for historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, or paranormal (either historical or contemporary), or romantic suspense? Or do you dive into whatever first comes to hand? Why?