Posts tagged with: Renegade

Release Party! LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL, or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Londons-Last-True-ScoundrelBrown-220x361 (1)Hellooo Banditas and Buddies! I’m so pleased to announce that LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL is out and my unrepentant bad boy the Earl of Davenport is unleashed upon the public.

If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been posting quotes from this book periodically. You might be able to tell I had a LOT of fun writing the battle of the sexes interplay between my straitlaced, no nonsense heroine and my charming rogue. Here’s the blurb:

LONDON’S ULTIMATE BAD BOY…

Physically reckless, irrepressibly roguish and poised on the brink of ruin, Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, returns from the dead only to throw himself into dissipation. Until he meets his worst nightmare: a straitlaced former schoolteacher he can’t get out of his head. He resolves to seduce the delightful Miss Hilary deVere by fair means or foul. But when his past returns to endanger Hilary, he must protect her at all costs…

MEETS ENGLAND’S MOST PROPER MISS

Dismissed from her post at a ladies’ academy because of prejudice against her uncouth family, Hilary will do anything to avoid going back to live with her loutish brothers. She longs for a London season to show the world a deVere can behave with utmost decorum and find a respectable husband. Everything about Lord Davenport appalls her but desperation makes strange bedfellows. To get to London, Hilary strikes a bargain with the devilish Davenport, confident that she’s immune to his charm. But as she discovers surprising depths beneath his rakish surface, this infamous scoundrel becomes more temptation than even the most proper lady can withstand…

You can read excerpts here.

PantsToday there’s a serious theme to our release party. We’re talking about pants.

Some of you may know that the hero on my cover (modeled by His Hotness, Paul Marron) couldn’t quite decide what colour pants to wear. At first he tried buff. Unfortunately, my publisher thought he looked like he was IN the buff and sent the cover back to the drawing board.

pants-daniel-craig-560Then they tried pale blue. Ahem. Let’s just say The Author didn’t think the colour accurately reflected her hero’s um, personality. Although I must say, if it works for Daniel Craig…

We ended with a good compromise in dark brown.

So in honour of my hero’s pants, and the most satisfying way he manages to fill them out, I asked the Banditas (many of whom are self-confessed “pantsers”) for pants quotes from their books. I was delighted with the response:

PantsThis is from Caren Crane’s KICK START, where the heroine, Linda, and her soon-to-be younger man love interest, Jack, have shown up for the first day of class and Linda is ruminating on apparel:

Today, he wore jeans with holes in both knees and a concert t-shirt from ten years ago. He looked a bit too old for such youthful fashion bravado. Of course, today I wore jeans older than my college-age son, and a tight pink t-shirt that didn’t quite meet my waistband, so I couldn’t throw stones.

And a tssssmokin’ excerpt from Joan Kayse’s BARBARIAN’S SOUL: They are confronting each other in the house’s bath. She’s in the water and he is coming in….

Bran gave no response, only watched her, his features blank save for those green eyes which glittered with a dark emotion she could not define. Her instinct to flee from danger flared hotter. Still holding her gaze, he lifted his left hand and pulled the string at his hip. The piece of linen dropped to the floor.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 2011; GalleryLove this fun offering from a contemporary romance our Donna MacMeans wrote as Donna Richards, IN A HEARTBEAT. Donna says, “my heroine, Angela, is walking her dog off-leash in a section of a woods that she thinks is empty. Her dog, Oreo, races again and she hears a human cry of alarm.

“What in the– Oreo!”

Angela’s foot caught in the low branch of a bush, propelling her forward, head first into a blur of flannel.

She landed face down in a strange man’s crotch.

“Don’t move!” A strained voice, forced and breathless, warned. Taut denim brushed the humiliating heat of her cheeks. She breathed the deep, musky scent of the man’s most intimate parts. Oreo would be proud, she thought with a shudder.

Antonia is certainly a take charge woman in this tidbit from Anna Campbell’s MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION: “Take off your trousers,” Antonia said in a voice harsh with control. She expected Ranelaw to object to her commands. But he immediately rose from the bed, tugging off his shoes with more haste than grace before shedding his trousers.

From Anna Sugden: “Here’s an excerpt from A PERFECT DISTRACTION. (Christina: Can’t wait for this book!) This is the first time our heroine, Maggie, sees Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti .

pants henry_cavillSquare-jawed and rugged, with piercing, ice-blue eyes and a crooked grin. He was clearly a warrior of the ice, but his broken nose and scars somehow added to his appeal and made him more intriguing. Unlike the hulking bodies of the thick-necks, Jake had the firm, solid lines of an athlete in peak condition. Lean, corded muscle shaped the snug-fitting black shirt and faded jeans. Exciting and enticing, he brimmed with charm and hints of danger.

From Nancy Northcott’s fabulous RENEGADE:

Suddenly conscious that she wore only bandages and his shirt, Val crouched beside Dare. His glance skimmed her bare legs, and the heat in it made her breath hitch.

He grinned despite the shivers he was probably trying to hide. “I like the new take on combat gear.”

“Your pants would’ve made the wrong fashion statement. Besides, I was in a hurry.”

Don’t forget to go out right now and buy Nancy’s new book, GUARDIAN!

And from LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL:

He really ought to take his wet shirt off, she thought, then blushed as the desire rose in her to see those wondrously muscled shoulders again. This time, not covered in plaster dust. This time, slathered in golden licks of firelight.

His evening trousers were mostly dry. Of course, thinking of his trousers led to thinking of his buttocks, and the tester bed upstairs, and all that pink–

BanditBootyWhat about you? What sort of pants do you like best on a hero? Do you have a favourite part of a book or movie that involves pants or a wardrobe malfunction? (I’m thinking granny pants in Bridget Jones’ Diary) Who do you think fills out a pair of pants nicely? I’m giving away a signed copy of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL to one lucky reader today!

Magic, Murder, and Lost Love Found – Guardian Launch Party!

Guardian is out today!  Woot!  Some of my favorite heroes have started out as the best friends of other heroes.  That’s what happened with Dr. Stefan Harper, the hero of Guardian, who first appeared in Renegade.  

The hero of that book, Griffin Dare, made a passing reference to him at the end of Chapter 1.  I hadn’t given him much thought at that point.

GuardianA couple of days later, I got to the second second scene of Chapter 2.  Griff (the renegade of the title and the top guy on the mages’ Most Wanted list) stepped out of the bedroom, where he’d been talking to the Valeria Banning, the injured heroine. 

There stood Stefan, waiting to tell Griff just how many ways rescuing the sheriff could go sideways but ready to help any way he could, no matter what the risk.  Stefan seemed to know who he was from the moment he and Griff made eye contact.

I decided I liked him.  So I left him pretty much as he was.  What I didn’t expect was that other people would like him enough to email me and tell me they hoped his book was next.   I can tell you, that was a huge and unexpected thrill.

I hate disappointing people, so I’m happy to say his book is not only next, it’s here!  Woot!  I am so excited.  Fill a plate from the buffet, give Sven your drink order, and pull up a chair because we’re partying to celebrate the arrival of Stefan and Mel’s book.

In Guardian, the ghoul threat intensifies as we learn more about them.  We also meet the woman Stefan loved, lost, and never forgot.  Here’s the blurb:

TORN APART BY MAGIC

Sworn to protect the mage world, Stefan Harper was forced to hide his powerful magic from the beautiful Mundane woman he loved as a student.  Backed into a corner one painful night long ago, he let Mel believe he’d been unfaithful rather than put her at risk by revealing who—and what—he was.  Now she’s back, and the attraction burns hotter than ever. 

REUNITED BY MURDER

FBI agent Camellia “Mel” Wray has vowed to avenge an old friend’s brutal murder. When the investigation requires forensic consultation by the only man she ever loved—and lost—one look at the gorgeous doctor makes Mel realize he’s still impossible to resist—and still harboring a secret.

A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

Caught in a deadly ghoul trap, Stefan has one chance to save the woman he loves.  He must take the risk he once avoided and reveal the full extent of his powers. Can Mel accept the unbelievable and trust him? Or will love cost them everything?

Creating Mel, I worked backward from Stefan.  He loved music, so it made sense that maybe she did, too.  He’s a member of the mage Council, enmeshed in that world, but not everybody wants to believe such things are possible.  If the woman he loved didn’t…then all sorts of possibilities opened up.

A lot of writers pick actors and model the characters after them.  I’ve never done that.  I tried it once, and the characters felt less mine.  So I come up with descriptions and then, when asked go looking for actors who resemble them.

With Stefan, again, no looking or work was involved.  I turned on the TV show Haven, Det. Nathan Wuornos, Haven PD, stepped into frame, and I grabbed the dh’s arm.  “Stefan,” I cried.  “That’s Stefan.”

Startled, the dh tried to make appropriate noises.  But I knew he didn’t really get how fortuitous it was that I just happened to look up and see Lucas Bryant.

He looks so much like Stefan, it’s uncanny.  Stefan’s hair is very dark and worn longer, and his eyes are brown, not blue, but he’s the same tall, lean but muscular body type and has the same angular, rugged face.  Here’s a link, which should open in a separate window, to Bryant’s photo on IMDb .

For Mel, I had to go looking.  I found Kathleen Munroe, also, coincidentally from Haven as well as  Alphas.  Here’s another IMDb link, which also should open in a separate window, to a photo of her.  Mel’s hair is shorter now, per FBI regulations, but it’s about the same color.  Munroe’s eyes could be Mel’s gray ones, they’re so light.

Before we get to the excerpt, is everybody having a good time?  Anyone need anything?  Sven’s making the rounds with petit fours.

Everybody good?  Okay, then.  Here’s a short excerpt:

“There’s other strange factors we’ve managed to keep a lid on,” Burton said.  The Wayfarer County Sheriff shook his head. “Report’s in the file, but I’ll go ahead and tell you, most of Miss Baldwin’s blood was gone, and what was left had a strange substance in it Milledge couldn’t identify. Like the Great Dismal case.”

Mel shook her head. “Curiouser and curiouser, as the saying goes. But you think the yard is the murder scene, even with no blood?”

“We do.” Rubbing his chin, he added, “There’s signs of a struggle in the grass. Anyway, Milledge recommended a toxicology consult, so I phoned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Their top choice is a fellow who’s just an hour or so away.” His glance shifted past her. “And here he is.”

 Before Mel could turn around, a man spoke in a rich, clear baritone behind her. “Good morning, Angela, Corey,” he said to the clerk and dispatcher.

A shiver of recognition rocked through Mel. But surely this couldn’t be Stefan Harper. She risked a quick glance over her shoulder at the man strolling around the end of the counter and into the territory reserved for those with badges and weapons.

Oh, God, it was him.

Her heart skipped a beat. A buzz filled her ears, and she lost the thread of the sheriff’s comments. Stefan Harper. Voice of an archangel, hands of a sex god. Or so she’d once described him, back when she’d thought he was the one person who loved her completely, who was wholly in her corner.

Her mistake.

“Hey, Stefan.” Sheriff Burton walked forward to meet him.

Mel turned hastily back to the desk, toying with the paper in the file. She was over him, had been for years. So why wouldn’t her breathing settle? It must be the shock of seeing him. It could only be that.

Instead of the jeans and T-shirt combo he’d favored in med school, he wore a charcoal suit that fit as though it’d been tailored for him. Otherwise, he hadn’t changed in the past nine years. Same thick, dark hair neatly combed but in need of a trim. Same strong chin and straight, aristocratic nose. Same serious brown eyes with gold glints that never showed in photos.

Same generous mouth so adept at rousing her body.

Breathe, damn it.

“Thanks for coming,” Sheriff Burton said, his gravelly voice a sharp contrast to Stefan’s almost liquid one. “I don’t guess you’ve had a chance to go to the hospital yet.”

“No, sorry. I’ll listen in on the press conference from the back, then talk to the crime scene unit before I go to the morgue. Milledge agreed to meet me there.”

“That works. Come on, I’ll introduce you to the FBI agent working with us on this.”

Footsteps came closer. Mel steeled herself. Deep breath. In. Out. In.

“Stefan, this is Special Agent Wray. Mel, meet Dr. Stefan Harper, our medical consultant.”

Mel squared her shoulders and turned to greet the man who had broken her heart.

And things get tougher for them both from there.  If you want to read all of Chapter 1, it’s on my website.

renegade_finalIf you missed the first book, Renegade, Griff and Val’s story, this is the cover, which I truly love.

If you looked at the blog earlier and it’s not the same now, that’s because I did some editing.  I was informed I had buried the lead. *g*

I never posted my winner from the 26th.  Jane wins NetGalley access to read Guardian for free!

Forever Romance is giving one commenter today a chance to read Guardian for free via NetGalley.  So tell me, do you have a favorite hero you first met when he was serving as another hero’s best friend?  Do you have a favorite second chance at love story?

Rooted in a Small Town

Have you noticed that small towns are really popular in romance right now?  The one I most recently discovered is Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor.  Nora Roberts has Hawkins Hollow, Lunacy, and St. Christopher’s, to name just a few.  Virginia Kantra has Dare Island.  These places have distinct identities, but the people in all of them share a strong sense of community.  They also know, gossip about, criticize, and help each other.

I grew up in a small town, Davidson, North Carolina (population 1200 when the college students weren’t in residence), and it was like those communities.  I knew if I did something I shouldn’t on Main Street, my parents would hear about it before I got home, just over a mile away.  At the same time, though, I knew that if I needed help, I could knock on almost any door along the way and get it.

Soda_ShopI regularly rode my bike to the town library, bought a big orangeade at the M&M Soda Shop (now The Soda Shop, pictured at left), and checked out the latest comic books at the M&M or at The Hub.  

(As an aside especially for Jeanne–the M&M and the Hub both made fountain cherry Cokes that were fabulous!)

Our family ran a monthly tab at Goodrum’s Drugs, which also sold soft drinks and comic books, though the comics tended to be Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals, Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and MAD magazine rather than super-heroes. 

Cats_on_MainGoodrum’s is now Cats on Main, selling Davidson College merchandise.  The Hub is gone, along with the two gas stations, a Gulf and an Esso/Exxon, that were on Main Street.

The town is much larger than it was, and I think it’s unlikely that everyone knows who everyone else is, not anymore.  It’s still a lovely town, and I hear it still has a strong sense of community.  But it’s no longer the town where I grew up. 

I live in a metropolitan area now.  I know my immediate neighbors, but not the ones around the corner and certainly not the ones a mile away.  The streets between me and the nearest library are way too busy for me to travel on a bike, even if the library were not much farther from my house than the one in Davidson was.

Summit_CoffeeWe enjoy the restaurants, movie theaters, and other conveniences of an urban area.  But part of me misses having it truly quiet at night.  I miss hearing the 8 p.m. Monday blast of the volunteer fire department siren and knowing nothing’s wrong.  I miss stepping outside into a yard dark enough for me to see thousands of stars.  I carry a piece of that bygone little town inside me, and I think–hope–I always will.

So it’s probably no wonder that I put a small town into my paranormal Protectors series.  The books are set in southern Georgia, near the Okefenokee Swamp. Those of you who stop by regularly or have read Renegade or Protector know the setting includes the imaginary town of Wayfarer.  

I created Wayfarer because I wanted a place where Griffin Dare, the mage hero of Book 1, Renegade, could find a home, where he didn’t have to constantly look over his shoulder.  Small towns close ranks, protecting even relative newcomers from total strangers asking questions.

Town_map_final-1

And the town grew on me, maybe because it was rooted in that little fragment I carry inside me.  In any event, it’s the primary setting for Book 2, Guardian.  That meant I had to really flesh it out.  As I created businesses and characters walked from one to another, I realized a map would  be really useful.  The boy, an architecture student, did the one above from my very rough pencil sketch.  My editor liked it so much, it also appears in the book, I’m pleased and proud to say.  

Then I realized I could find buildings that were much like the ones I was describing (yeah, duh!  I know. *g*).  From there it was a short step to asking him if he could adapt photos to illustrate my fictional town.  

Griff's_HideoutHe agreed to take a shot, and I set out to visit the towns and countryside near Davidson, looking for houses and other buildings that matched or could become the ones in my head.  At left is the abandoned chair factory where Griff lives at the start of Renegade.  (The map refers to it as Griff’s Hideout.)

The boy took out utility poles and wires, removed the street, changed the terrain, and added trees from photos I took on our last research trip.  

Another important location is Miss Hettie Telfair’s house.  Miss Hettie is a retired lawyer who’s close to Griff and his friends.  Her house is always open to them, and some important scenes take place there.

Hettie's_House_1The boy hasn’t gotten to Miss Hettie’s yet, but he’s working on it.  This house, owned by Davidson College, is the model for her place.  Her home is set way back from a country road, and the tree in her front yard is a magnolia, not a pine, but the house is the right style and period.

The house is also special to me.  We knew the family who lived there when I was growing up.  Their youngest daughter was a friend of my mother’s and often babysat us.  This house also is where my grandparents started their life in Davidson, in the upstairs front room on the right of the photo.

As I was working on this blog, I kept hearing a song in my head.  I finally realized it was John Mellencamp’s “Small Town.”  He uploaded a video on YouTube:

We’ll officially launch Guardian next Tuesday, July 2 (less than a week–squee!), with a big party in the Lair.  Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about it, you can click here.

One commenter today will get the chance to read Guardian for free via NetGalley, courtesy of Grand Central Forever Romance.  So tell me–do you prefer books set in small towns or in big cities?  Whichever you choose, do you have a favorite series or book set there?  What do you like about it?

Drum roll please….LAUNCH!!! Nancy Northcott’s Renegade is HERE!!

Woooooohoooo!  Its a Launch Day in the LAIR!!  We get to celebrate one of our very own, NANCY NORTHCOTT!!! 

Today is the publication day for Renegade, Nancy’s first book in her mage Protectors series from Grand Central Forever Yours.  And guess what!!  The esteemed Library Journal’s Xpress Reviews gave Renegade a starred review!!  

Sven had a special drink – The Renegade – made up, which is absolutely fabulous!  He has a “breakfast version” with OJ, and a “Post Lunch” version that has (I think…) rum in it!  Hahaha!

NANCY!!!  Girlfriend, we are SO excited for you!  Tell us your call story!

Nancy:  Thanks, Jeanne.  I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support you and the other Banditas and our buddies have given me.  It’s a big day for me and a long time coming, so we’re going to party hearty in the Lair!  

Let’s see if I can focus after having Sven’s special drink.  Ahem!

As you know, my agent sent the manuscript around last fall and followed up by email around the first of the year.  In late January, she emailed me to tell me an editor who had Renegade was out of town but wanted to talk when she returned.  We figured this probably meant an offer was coming, but you never know for sure.   She closed the conversation with “Today, I heard ‘Renegade,’ by Styx, on the radio.  Maybe it’s a sign.”  I hoped so!

A couple of days later, I heard the same song on the radio while I was out running errands.  I stopped at a local business to browse and overheard the manager ask a guy at the desk, “So what’s your name?”

“Griff,” he replied, and a chill went down my spine.  The hero’s name is Griffin Dare.

My agent called a few days later with news of the offer.  She and the editor worked out the details, and now here we are!  Forever Yours is a digital-first line, so the book is now available only at e-book stores, but a print-on-demand version will be released December 18.

Jeanne: Woot!  Love that!  I’m a big believer in signs and omens and portents as you well know.    So, you have an agent you really like, what does she think about the Light Mages?  And why are they called that?

Nancy:  Thanks!  My agent liked the book immediately.  Though there have been occasional magic-based paranormals, those were far outnumbered by vamps and shifters in recent years.  She thought the time might be right for something different, and these are mages in the high fantasy sense, with a magical society distinct from our own.

I wanted them to have a fully developed culture, right down to their own code of laws, The Caudex Magi, and a magic system that would have clear rules and limits as well as room to expand.  I also liked the superhero groups and secret identities that hooked me in grade school, so keeping the mages secret from the Mundane, or nonmagical, world came naturally to me.  My agent liked all of that and gave me some good suggestions to help clarify the world for people who can’t see what’s in my head, only what’s on the page.

As for why they’re called Light Mages, that answer lies in their history.  They’ve protected humanity for millennia. Somewhere in the dark ages, they adopted this coat of arms, which also appears on my website’s Introduction to the Protectors page.  They battle the forces of darkness and so chose as their motto Servire Luci, which translates as “To Serve the Light.”  Hence the name Light Mages, though they usually call themselves, as I do, simply “mages,” because it’s easier and flows faster.

Jeanne: The art is amazing!  I love that coat of arms.  And I’m grinning over the motto being in Latin – that’s so “you”!  *ahem*  I guess I’d best get back to the story instead of oogling Griff on the cover.  *snicker*  Let’s talk heroine first, so I can keep a clear head.  Ha!  I know that your heroine, Val, is a Shire Reeve – kind of like a magical sheriff – tell us how you came up with that designation. 

Nancy:   Here you’re homing in on my love of trivia.  The modern term “sheriff” derives from “shire reeve.”  I chose the older term to give it the air of being slightly different and of tying into an old tradition.  Since I had the Canadian and US mages organize their territories by shires, also to tie into the old English tradition, “shire reeve” seemed a natural fit.  

Jeanne: Very cool!  And how did you come up with this fabulous plot with the ghouls?

Nancy:  Seeing as you were there, you should…what?  Oh, explain it for OTHER people!  Right.

Jeanne:  Snork!  Exactly!!

Nancy: I wanted a type of villain that hadn’t been used a lot, and I’m naturally drawn to things that go bump in the night, a category that seemed to include ghouls.  I wanted something that would set a dark tone and be menacing in different ways.  We kicked the idea around in our brainstorming group, with Donna and Cassondra and later with Joan, and the ghouls are what we came up with.  They’re sort of like vampires in that they can draw from their victims, but they draw life energy or magic instead of blood.  Usually.  Their talons can also inject potentially fatal venom or rip deep wounds in mage or Mundane flesh.  Or in ghoul flesh, for that matter.  They aren’t known for getting along with each other.

This might be a good place to pop in the trailer, which will go on the bandit site sometime this week.  The Members Only excerpt is up now.

 

Jeanne: I just LOVE that trailer!  Yum, yum, yum.   I’m going to switch gears here for a minute to your hot, hot (and did I mention hot?) hero, Griffin Dare.  He’s an outlaw when the story starts.  Tell us about that!  And I want to know, why a quarterstaff?

Nancy: Why, thank you, Jeanne!  The guy standing in for Griff on the cover, Mr. Anonymously Gorgeous, certainly is hot!  I don’t want to say too much about why Griff is an outlaw.  I think I’d rather let people discover that as they go.  But I will say that six years ago, he killed the head of the southeastern mages’ council and fought his way out of the Collegium, their headquarters.  He had been the shire reeve until that one act made him the mages’ most wanted fugitive.  But in this, as in so many things, the motive is critically important and the truth is not always as clear as it seems. 

I chose a quarterstaff because I wanted him to have something unique.  My research into medieval weapons convinced me the staff was both lethal and versatile, and I haven’t seen it used often in romance or even in fantasy.

Jeanne:  Why don’t you give us an excerpt!  I want every one to get a taste of the deliciousness that is Renegade!!

Nancy: Thanks.  While they read, the dh and I will have another one of Sven’s Protector drinks.  The boy, alas, could not join us tonight because he’s away at school, trying to finish up a project so he can enjoy his Thanksgiving break.

Excerpt:  This takes place shortly after Griff rescues Val.  Her eyes are bandaged, so she’s unable to see him.

The silence stretched between them until fear churned in Val’s gut. Had she made a mistake, pushed him too far?

“Assuming I’m this person,” he said in a flat, hard voice, “what does that make me to you? I already have an idea, but give me the whole picture.”

She raised her chin a notch, bracing herself for an outburst. “You’re a rogue mage, a murderer several times over, and possibly a ghoul ally.”

A creak alerted her as he shifted toward her, leaning so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. Her mouth went dry, but she held her position. She couldn’t let him intimidate her.

“If I’m such a bastard, why the hell aren’t you dead?”

“I asked you first.” Thank God, her voice held steady. She swallowed to ease her tight throat.

“If you believed everything in your precious annals, you wouldn’t risk challenging me. Yes, I’m Griffin Rhys Dare.”

Val’s heart thudded in her throat. He’d just confirmed her guess. Yet she was, for whatever reason, still alive.

“What do you want with me?”


“I want you to listen. To consider evidence you haven’t seen before.”


“So you’re going to tell me you’re innocent? I’d expected better of you.”


He let out a weary sigh. “I’m not in league with the ghouls, and I never killed anyone I didn’t have to.”

The first part, she’d believe. But the second…“You’ll never convince me the mages who tried to apprehend you were ghoul allies.”

“Of course not.” He sounded sad. 
If only she could believe he really was.
 “They were trying to capture me. I was defending myself—and those who rely on me for protection.”


“Such as?” Impatient, Val shook her head. “Regardless, you should’ve come in, made your case, not slaughtered—”


“We’re not going there. Not tonight.” His cold, hard voice warned her not to press. “I brought you here to talk to you. To show you things you can’t see well enough now to read.”

“So you do have a jailhouse alibi.” That seemed beneath him, and his thinking her fool enough to buy it stung.


“I have the truth. If you’re willing to see it.”


“Right. What do you really want?”
A slight sound, not quite a sigh, came from him, as if he were hurt. Like he cared whatshe thought. Oh, he knew just how to play her.


“I want safety for our people,” he said, “and for the Mundanes, whether you believe me or not. Listening won’t cost you anything but a couple of days for your eyes to heal. What if I’m telling the truth, Valeria? What if there’s something rotten in the Collegium’s heart? Can you shrug off that possibility so easily?”

What was or wasn’t happening in the Collegium was her business, not his, but listening might help her better understand his angle. “I’ll hear you out, but you’ll have to explain right now.”

Jeanne:  Sigh.  I love Griff.  Grins.  Tell us what’s next for you and the mages?

Nancy:  There’s a novella, Protector, scheduled for March 2013, and the second novel, Guardian, should be out in May.  I’m also blogging on Fresh Fiction today.  There’s a list of upcoming guest appearances on my website.  I’m also going down to the Okefenokee Swamp again soon, to do research for the third book, which has the working title Warrior.

Because I’m so happy about launching Renegade, I’m running the Everyday Magic contest for my newsletter subscribers and a separate contest on Fresh Fiction.  Each of these prize packages includes a handmade glass goblet with a dragon in the stem.  There are no dragons in Renegade, but I happen to like them, so I figured, why not? 

So, Banditas and Buddies…who’s your favorite outlaw hero?  

Nancy’s giving away a Keeper Kase with a signed Renegade cover card as well as one from my upcoming release, Deadly Charms, and an assortment of others.  She’s also giving away a handmade glass goblet with a green glass dragon in the stem.  The winner will be chosen from the commenters on this blog post and on Nancy’s post November 26.

  

Hip-Deep in Magic

For the first time ever, I find myself working on material I know will be published.  It’s very exciting, doubly so because I’m not working on only one book but on two!  I’m finishing up Guardian, the second book in my fantasy romantic suspense series, to send it to my editor and doing the copy edits on the first book, Renegade, for its November 6 release (Yes, this November–squee!).   

I don’t have time to write much in the way of an update because I’m on deadline, but I love being hip deep in my magical world.  It sure beats being out in the heat currently blasting the Carolinas.  Or the storms that rolled across the Ohio Valley.  Wherever you are, I hope the summer (or the winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere) is treating you kindly.

A Magical World View

Sven asked me the other day how I decided to use the Okefenokee Swamp as part of my mage series world.  “Swamps aren’t the first thing most of us think of when someone mentions romance,” he pointed out.

I couldn’t argue with that.  As the comments on my post last month demonstrated, most of us assume swamps smell and are muddy and buggy and generally icky.  Not very romantic, all in all.  But swamps are also dark and mysterious and full of hidden life–spooky if not romantic.  So I figured I’d put spooky with romantic and see how that worked.

Our brainstorming group was meeting, and I explained I was tired of writing books nobody knew what to do with–historicals set in Restoration England (If you didn’t know that was 1660-1685, you have a lot of company!), contemporary romantic suspense written in first person snarky, a medieval with a fair amount of history in it.  Since paranormals seemed to be on the rise, I wanted to meld my love of fantasy with my love of romance and action and see if I could knock a ball over the center field fence instead of hooking it into the left field seats all the time.

I wanted the book to have a dark tone since I was reading a fair number of dark paranormals and liking their mood.  I wanted to set the story in the South because I’m from there, still live there, and I love the small towns and most of the people and our various rapidly disappearing accents.  Also, research would be easier.

“I’d thought of using the Okefenokee Swamp as a backdrop,” I said, envisioning dark and mysterious and spooky rather than smelly and buggy and icky.  “I haven’t been there since I was little, and I don’t remember much about it except my mom was afraid snakes would fall down on the boat. But it sounds cool.”

“The energy in swamps is very different,” Cassandra said, and she’s right.  A swamp feels different from an open field or a lake. It’s kind of something in between the two.  So we all talked about swamps and dark energy until we had a basic outline.

Sometimes I like to start with the characters, and sometimes I prefer starting with the problem.  This time, I had basic hero/heroine ideas already, so we started with the world because it was to be the broad canvas for what I hoped would become a series.

Any writer using a fantasy world has to figure out how that world works.  What is the magic based on?  What are the rules?  What is the price the user pays for wielding magic?  If there isn’t a price, I find the story pretty hard to believe.  There are various kinds of vampires and shifters on bookstore shelves today.  They share a lot of similarities because of their common folkloric roots, but they also have differences that set them apart.  I wanted my mages and their foes to be different from the others (there weren’t many at the time) in the market.

So I wanted a nature-based magic system, and we kicked ideas around for one that would require recharges.  That was as far as we went, moving on to characters and conflict, though various flying emails refined the concept over the next few months.

Earth, air, fire, and water are traditional fantasy magic components.  Add spirit, and you can find similar concepts in Wicca, which is probably where the fantasists drew inspiration. 

While those are are all components of my system, they aren’t prominent yet.  They will be farther down the road.  The mages draw energy from sunlight and from any life around them, always careful not to draw enough from any one life form to injure it.   That’s a rule.

So is the requirement that they protect Mundanes (people like us) first and foremost.  That’s what gets Val into big trouble and leads to Griff rescuing her.

They like forests and swamps because there’s so much life around that they can recharge safely.  They draw power from the natural world and expend it with every magical feat they perform, some more difficult than others.  That’s how it works.  Draw too much, expend too much without a recharge, and they’re in trouble.  That’s the price part.  

One thing that makes swamps and the landscape near them spooky, at least in the southeast, is Spanish moss (that gray stuff hanging off the tree above right).  It isn’t really either Spanish or moss.  It’s a plant that grows on other plants but makes its own food out of the air and rain.  It can be used for upholstery, packing material, floral arrangements, insulation, and a home for small birds.  All that’s great, but I like it because it’s spooky, even in the daytime.  I’ve also thought of some other uses for it, also down the road in the series.

There’s a popular archetype of the loner hero, an outcast from society, seeking justice.  The hero of Renegade, Griffin Dare, is hiding out, seeking to unmask a traitor and prove his innocence.  So I gave him a place out from town, on the outskirts of the Okefenokee Swamp.  The isolated location is a perfect place to take Valeria Banning, the mage sheriff (or Shire Reeve) and try to win her trust after he rescues her.

But I also wanted Griff to have a life, not to be isolated, even though he’s the mages’ most wanted criminal and keeps dangerous secrets.  So I gave him some mage allies and a small, eccentric town where he could move freely under an alias.  I grew up in a small college town, with my grandfather telling me stories about quirky people who lived there before I was born.  I treasure the memories of walking around with him and listening to those stories.

People in Wayfarer tend to be into metaphysical or New Age ideas and to accept each other’s oddities, including Griff’s tendency to be secretive.  In Renegade and throughout the series, we’ll see how important the town is to him and his friends.

Yes, I know most small town settings are cozy and generally peaceful.  I did hook that one a bit left.

Of course the mages need their own social structure, so I gave them a gathering place that’s also a base of operations, the seat of their regional government, and a school, and called the complex The Collegium.  The officials there grow suspicious of Val after her encounter with Griff and generally complicate their lives.

Every suspense/action story has to have a villain.  This one does, too, with an ongoing trouble caused by humanoids kind of based on the things we used to envision hiding in the closet on a stormy night.  They’re called ghouls, and we’ll talk more about them later.

And there, pretty much, is the world.  I thank Donna, Jeanne, Cassondra, and Joan for their input.  The swamp is mostly backdrop.  Some of the story takes place near it, but not actually in it.  Some of the action is set in a forested state park, some of it’s at the Collegium, and much of it’s in and around Wayfarer.

If you missed the blurb about the book last month, you can find it on my website. 

Are you from a farm, a small town, or a big city?  Which of those do you prefer?  Would you prefer escaping into wild lands or staying in civilized places with shopping centers or coffee shops?  Do you prefer sunny or spooky settings, or a mix?  

 

Sold!

Isn’t that a great word, “sold?”  I haven’t been all that fond of it for a while.  It always applied to someone else’s book, never mine, so hearing it generated a little envy and a lot of longing.  There was also a degree of fear that it would never apply to a book of mine.

Well, now it does, and I think it’s a fabulous word, a splendid word, an amazing word!    

Yeah, okay, stopping now. *g*

My agent has sold the first two books in my contemporary mage series, The Protectors, to Grand Central’s new electronic and PoD line, Forever Yours.  Book one, Renegade, is currently scheduled for release on November 6.  Guardian, the second book, is slotted for sometime in the spring, maybe March.

In honor of the occasion, I got a new head shot, which I’ve been needing anyway.  I figured I had until late summer, maybe even September, to experiment with different hairstyles and maybe lose some weight before actually having to get a photo.

Uh, no.  The publisher needed my head shot by late April.  Urk!  I really, truly loathe having my picture taken.  I’m seldom happy with the result, often secretly hoping it doesn’t look like me.  So I stuck with the one for the 2006 GH, which I thought was okay, for six years.  I like this new one, though.  

I didn’t have the money to pay a photographer to come take a lot of shots, and I wanted an outdoor setting because my magic system is nature-based.  After I bemoaned situation this to Cassondra, she volunteered to take the photo for me.  “I’m visiting Jeanne after this conference,” she said.   “Come meet us, and I’ll take your new photo.”

Yay!  Saved!

“Bring a white top and a black one,” she said.

Uh-oh.  “I don’t wear a lot of black or white.  I like jewel colors.”

A brief silence, probably while she sighed.  “We need it to look right in both color and black and white.”

“Oh, iPhoto can change it over,” I assured her, proud of this tiny bit of technical knowledge.

“Uh-huh.  How many people in this conversation have a degree in photojournalism?”

“Um . . . I took an art class once.”

I could hear her smiling in triumph.  “Good for you.  Wear what I tell you.”

So I did.  She chose the blue top and necklace shown at right from the assortment I’d packed.  I could not get iPhoto to save it in the right size for our website, even though it told me it would, so Tawny fixed it.  Clearly, my tiny bit of knowledge of iPhoto is a bit too tiny.  

Jeanne did my makeup.  She came in the bathroom while I was drying my hair and said, “Use this big, round brush to give it some lift.”

“I don’t really like a lot of height in my hair,” I said.

“It won’t stay pouffy,” she assured me.  “This is just to give it some fullness.”

Probably looking as doubtful as I felt, I changed out the hair brushes.

But Jeanne hadn’t finished.  “Did you bring your makeup, like I asked you to?”

“Yeah, but I figured I’d just put on some blush and lipstick, as usual.”

She didn’t roll her eyes, but I think she came close.  “You don’t want usual for this.  You want enhanced.”

When she and Cassondra were working on highlights and colors, I said, “You know, if we’re going to get me all tarted up, I won’t look like me.”

“Trust us,” Cassondra said.  “You won’t look ‘tarted up.  You’ll look professional.'”

This is what happens when someone who is a control freak and uncomfortable with makeup puts herself in other people’s hands.  It’s a good thing they’re my friends, or they might’ve killed me.  Instead, they made me look really good. 

(Cassondra said I had to tell that part, or she would.  :-))

Then Jeanne hung around and made me smile while Cassondra took a great many shots.  Cassondra and Tawny retouched our favorite, and voila!  I love it.

So now I have a brand new, official author head shot and, before Thanksgiving, will have on my iPad a brand new, official ebook of a story I actually wrote with my actual name on the actual cover.  Squee!

I think of this series as contemporary fantasy romance with a lot of boom.  Mayhem, if you will.  :-)  Here’s the official description for Renegade:

SHE FOLLOWS THE RULES

As the Collegium council’s top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.

HE BREAKS EVERY ONE OF THEM

As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they’re both left running for their lives—from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.

I love this blurb, too! 

I don’t write with actors in mind for my characters.  I’ve tried, but that makes them feel less mine somehow.  I do like, later, figuring out which actors the characters most resemble so I can describe them to other people.  I think Val is a similar type to Mary McCormack, attractive, even beautiful but in a girl-next-door way.  Griff (whose last name is Dare) is more like a young Christopher Reeve without the Superman hair, handsome with strong, clean-cut features.

I’m headed home today from touring Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, which figures heavily in the overall story arc, though not so much in this particular book.  I’m including three of my favorite pictures from yesterday’s boat trip.  See how reflective the water is.  It looks black but is actually the color of weak iced tea and is as clear as what comes out of the faucet.

That gray stuff hanging off the trees is called Spanish moss but is neither Spanish nor moss.  More about that next month.  I traded my regular day, the 26th, to another bandita and am taking the 21st instead.  We’ll talk more about about Renegade and the Okefenokee.

Meanwhile, thanks to Cassondra, Jeanne, and Tawny for their help with the author photo, to Tawny for getting the website to accept my photo and to Jeanne for hanging out to chat with everyone while I’m on the road.  And to all the banditas for their support along the way!

I’ll answer comments before I get on the road and again if I stop along the way at  any place with Wifi.   I’ll catch up when I get home late this afternoon.

Assuming today’s blog prize survives its night in the trunk of the car, I’m giving one commenter a small glass figurine of Cinderella’s slipper on a pillow.

That slipper, to me, is a symbol of a difficult quest that turned out extremely well. I sort of feel like Cinderella lately.

 

(If the slipper doesn’t survive, I’ll think of something else, of course, but the figurine should be okay.  I’m just hedging my bets in case something weird goes wrong.)

So tell me, have you ever visited a swamp?   Do you read paranormal or fantasy romance?  If so, what kind do you particularly like, and why?  Have you ever read a book with mages?  If so, what did you like about it?

 

From Booming Jets to the Bossman’s Baby

posted by Nancy

Today we welcome RITA winner Catherine Mann for her first appearance in the Lair. Cathy writes both military and corporate romance, and she’ll chat with us today about both.

Welcome, Catherine! What’s the Dark Ops series, and what inspired you to write it?

The “Dark Ops” novels feature a squadron of top secret test pilots. They’re cutting edge in creating the latest technology. When all other options fail, these aviation pioneers are tapped to try out the latest “toys” from their arsenal!

Who are the hero and heroine of Renegade, and what keeps them apart?

RENEGADE features flyboy Mason Randolph and civilian cop Jill Walczak. Jill knows all about Mason’s heart-breaker rep and wants no part of him. Until he mysteriously lands in the section of Area 51 she’s slated to guard, leaving her no choice but to get upclose and personal when they’re quarantined together.

What bigger challenge do the characters face?

With a serial killer on the loose targeting people connected to the military, Jill and Mason must pool their resources and resist their attraction – especially when the murderer targets Mason.

Can we have a look inside the book?

From Chapter 1 of RENEGADE by Catherine Mann

Set up:In the middle of testing a new hypersonic jet, Tech Sergeant Mason Randolph was forced to parachute out over the desert…

Mason lay on the gritty sand, stunned. No harm in lying still for a few and rejoicing in the fact he would live to fly and make love again. There wasn’t any need to rush out of here just yet. He wasn’t in enemy territory.

Although he didn’t have a clue exactly what piece of the Nevada desert he currently occupied. His tracking device would bring help though. Rescue would show up in an hour or so. Maybe by then he could stand up without whimpering like a baby.

He shrugged free of his parachute and LPU one miserable groan at a time. Already he could feel the bruises rising to the surface. He would probably resemble a Smurf by morning, but at least he still had all his limbs, and no bones rattled around inside him that he could tell.

His teeth chattered, though. From the freezing cold of a winter desert night, or from shock? Either way he needed to get moving. He pushed to his feet, stumbling for a second before the horizon stopped bobbling.

A siren wailed in the distance. Already? Perhaps this flight experience wouldn’t suck so much after all.

He blinked to clear his eyesight. Twin beams of light stretched ahead of a Ford F-150, blinding him the closer the vehicle approached. He shielded his eyes with one hand and waved his other arm. Ouch.

A loudspeaker squeaked and crackled to life. “Get back down on the ground. Lay flat on your stomach,” a tinny voice ordered. “If you move at all, you will be shot.”

What the hell? Had he landed in some survivalist kook’s farm?

But that wouldn’t explain the siren. He must have drifted into restricted territory, not surprising since they flew many of their secret test missions in secured areas. The truck screeched to halt and someone wearing cammo stepped out. A flashlight held at shoulder level kept him from seeing the face, but he could discern an M4 carbine at hip level well enough.

He shouted, “Don’t shoot. I’m not armed, and I’m not resisting.”

“Stay on the ground,” the voice behind the light barked.

A female voice?

Okay, so much for his PC rating today. He’d assumed the security cop was a male, not that it made any difference one way or the other. He respected the power of that M4.

Mason flattened his belly to the desert floor, arms extended over his head. A knee plowed deep in the small of his back. If he didn’t have a bruised kidney before, he sure did now.

A cold muzzle pressed against his skull. All right, then. The knee didn’t hurt so much after all.

“Hands behind you, nice and slow.” The lady cop’s husky voice heated his neck. “So, flyboy, do you want to tell me what you’re doing out here in Area 51?

You have a special knowledge of military life. Could you tell us how that weaves its way into your fiction?

My husband is an air force aviator who has worked extensively with flight tests. He’s a great resource for brainstorming and he always reads my books to check for accuracy. Although he’s been known to raise an eyebrow when I roll out my favorite phrase, “I know it’s not probable, but is it possible?”

How did you and your husband meet?

My hubby Rob has been a bit of a character himself, right from the start. I met Rob when going to visit my future brother-in-law at the Citadel Military College. As I was walking up to the battalion, there was a tall, dark haired cadet standing guard – picking his teeth with his sword. Suddenly he went still, turned his head slightly to look at me. Wowsa, those blue eyes of his twinkled! He stood up straight, sheathed his sword and started toward me. Before he reached me, some other cadets approached. (It was still an all male college then and females were a most welcome sight. ;-) Rob pushed past those other cadets and said, “You can’t have her. She’s mine. I’ve got dibs.” He proposed to me 10 days later… and here we still are together 23 years, 4 children and 9 moves later.


Along with the Dark Ops series, you’re also writing for Silhouette Desire, with The Bossman’s Baby Scandal out this month. What’s the book about?

Nothing had stopped Jason Reagert from making his own millions. And now that he was securely ensconced at Maddox Communications, he was determined to become an even bigger success. Then startling news broke and Jason—along with everyone else—discovered he had gotten heiress Lauren Presley pregnant. He couldn’t afford even a whiff of scandal, so he proposed to his lover of one night. Surely she’d agree to a lifetime of convenience, if only for the baby’s sake

How do you juggle writing two different types of projects that appear on shelves so close together?

A dear author friend Merline Lovelace once told me that writing different subgenres can really help keep the writing fresh and fun. I totally agree! I also feel the two subgenres help strengthen each other – my Silhouette Desires help me hone the romance elements and the romantic suspense help me pump up that page turning edge even when nobody’s shooting!

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a blessedly busy few years coming up! I recently signed on for two more air force books with Berkley Sensation. I’m working with Sourcebooks to develop a new military trilogy. And I have a royal trilogy coming up with Silhouette Desire, all three released within a month of each other. FMI on the upcoming books and contests, check out my website and/or sign up for my newsletter at http://catherinemann.com

Many thanks for inviting me to visit with the Romance Bandits! Y’all rock!!!

Catherine is giving away two copies signed of Defender, the first book in the Dark Ops series (which I’ve read and which is fabulous). So tell us: What’s your favorite romance or romantic story in which technology plays a big role? Who’s your favorite military couple in books, films, or life? Do you have a favorite pilot hero or heroine, either in fiction or in real life?

Welcome to the Lair…Sarah Parr!

by Jeanne Adams

Although she looks like any soccer mom on the block, I’ve decided that Kensington Debut author Sarah Parr is actually a secret agent. She manages more in a single day than most manage in a decade… At least at her keyboard…

Traveling through Georgian England, the Mediterranean, Bermuda, Europe, the Caribbean other exotic locations, Sarah spends her mornings bonding with beautiful, strong heroines and dynamic sexy heroes over her morning coffee. She claims that it is to her alone these dazzling men and spirited women whisper their secrets, spinning fantastic tales filled with adventure – and spiced with forbidden sensuality.

We should all be so lucky!

Taking the proverbial pen in hand and armed with only her imagination, Sarah filled her debut book, Renegade, with history, passion, travel, adventure and danger.

Her hero, Jonathan is a passionate soul, but still an honorable Englishman. Somehow he manages to get himself tangled up in slavery, bribery, and an international incident that rumbles all the way up to the Crown.

Jaline, her heroine, an enigma with a beautiful visage and a secretive heart, ends up being both slave, bondservant, fiancee and finally, wife in a tortuous, tempestuous and exceedingly dangerous tale of adventure, love and passion.

When you pick up Renegade, you’ve picked up a read that will take you away to far off climes and keep you hopping with the twists and turns.

Though many would assume her vast universe of characters and settings to be imaginary, they actually come from experience. Well, not the slavery part! Sarah, like our own KJ and AC, is a well traveled soul. Some of it started in childhood, since her family moved often – Miami, Seattle and Bermuda to name a few. To my delight, I learned that Sarah attended Wake Forest University in my own home state of North Carolina.

(GO Demon Deacons!!)

Hmmm…where was I? Oh, yes. Let’s hear from Sarah.

Jeanne: Hi Sarah! We were talking about where you went to school when we met at the Kensington Party at National. I remember that you matriculated with degrees in History and Economics, what kinds of jobs did you get out of college?

Sarah: First, thank you for having me here at Romance Bandits!!

As to the degrees, that’s a great question! Wake Forest is a strong liberal arts college. I majored in what I loved without career planning.

Jeanne: Yeah, well, I did the career planning and still didn’t end up doing anything remotely akin to what I studied!

Sarah: Exactly! When I graduated, I moved to Miami near my Dad and took a job at Norwegian Cruise Lines. It was a paycheck, but quickly became a passion, unfortunately one that barely covered rent and groceries (Miami is expensive). From there, I became an business analyst for Dun and Bradstreet but found my way back into travel. I joined Carnival Cruise Lines where I became Manager of Sales for Western NY. There I stayed until my son was born and I started my horse farm.

Jeanne: Pretty cool! Another thing I wanted to ask about from Renegade was some of the history. In fact, historical artifacts play a part in Jaline and Jonathon’s story, did you draw on your history background for that?

Sarah: Definitely, along with a lot of reading, study, and travel. I also took creative license, imagining artifacts that may have existed based on real facts and places. For example, in beginning of RENEGADE, after Jonathon and Jaline leave Constantinople, they visit a monastery. I based it on the real monasteries of Mt Athos in Greece http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Athos . Since women can’t go ashore, I could only take pictures as we sailed by. Then I used extensive research and visits to other similar communities to create the one in RENEGADE.

Jeanne: I know that, like me, you have two kids, but you also have a small horse farm. How the heck do you write with all that going on?

Sarah: Husband, two kids, three horses, three dogs (Collie, Sheltie, and a new Pomeranian puppy), two house cats and a barn cat. Then real life gets in the way. In December, my father died after a long fight against Muscular Dystrophy.

Jeanne: Oh, Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear this!

Sarah: Yes, thank you. It got wilder: My son broke his arm that month jumping on the playground and needed extra help because of the cast. A few months later it was my daughter’s turn. She crashed her bike into a friends, broke her arm and required surgery. The following month, my stepmother died of metastasized breast cancer. Last month, I had extensive foot surgery – the pins should come out this week.

Jeanne: Oh, my GOODNESS!!

Sarah: Yes, there is a lot going on! To be honest, I am not always sure how I do it. Life can be messy and crazed. I plan, I read books on time management (David Allen is one of my favorites), I am flexible when I need to be, and I try to live in the moment. Even so, I don’t believe that is always or entirely the answer.

If I was to try to encapsulate how I make it happen, it would be that I see myself as lucky and blessed. I am healthy as are my kids and husband. I have many gifts for which I am grateful, including my creativity. My animals teach and share their lives with me. And so for each aspect that seems a stress, I am thankful for the opportunity it presents. There are times I have to step back and catch my breath, but I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

Jeanne: I know what you mean. Sometimes I despair of ever getting anything done with my crew around, but somehow, we make it happen, right? Like you heroine.

Jaline is something of a Horse Whisperer. I know you ride and do dressage so your knowledge of horsemanship is first hand. So, what kind of horses do you have? Do your kids and husband ride?

Sarah: My horse is Tahoma, a Morgan who is elegant and egotistical, ergo the perfect dressage horse. We trained up to second level, then retired to become trail warriors. Piper is a black and white paint I rescued from being put down at a riding school. Finally, there is Hermione, a tiny Welsh pony who was abandoned by her owner. In addition to my horses, I board three, part of my equine-addiction. I’ve been riding since I was nine months, when I would climb on our Saint Bernard – Winnie the Pooh. My husband and kids take the occasional ride with me, but their loves are elsewhere. My husband is a golfer, my daughter, a runner and my son – karate.

Jeanne: Last but not least, tell us your Call Story. We love those in the Lair almost as much as we love visitors! Tell, tell!?!

Sarah: I have a poor call story. I sold the first two manuscripts I wrote at the first convention I attended (Dallas), to the first editor I met – the one I wanted – Hilary Sares. She called me the day after she received my full. Book one – Renegade came out in June 2009 and the second one I wrote, HIS FOR THE TAKING, is being released in July 2010.

Jeanne: Hey, any call story’s a good call story! Pretty fun. So to wrap up, we usually ask our guests a question or two then ask our posters what THEY think! I’m curious….If you found an ancient artifact would you keep it?

Sarah: That’s a provacative question! While in college I visited Russia led by our Dean. Some students we met in Moscow gave our group Pro-Stalin, pre-1952 books. While not ancient, they were artifacts that the KGB had ordered destroyed. When we reached the Finish border and our train was boarded. Had the guard not raised his gun yes, we would have kept the books. They were history, whether or not they were politically correct. Another time, I found an arrowhead and turned it over to a park ranger. It may or may not have been old, but they would figure it out and assess. History belongs to everyone because it is a part of all of us.

Jeanne: Wow, that’s so cool about the books. I can understand both taking them AND giving them up in that scenario. So, another question: Have you ever had a time in your life where you’ve been afraid to ride after a fall like Jaline?

Sarah: Oh yes, and the fear is very real. The worst part is that when you are afraid, the horse reacts. The horse tenses, you tense thinking the horse will do something, and it only gets worse. I had an excellent riding teacher who took away my saddle and bridle. She made me ride around her in circles (lunged) while she controlled the horse until I relaxed. It took over a month for me to get my seat back, but it worked. Actually, I think it is better now than it was before my fall.

So what about you? If you found an ancient artifact would you keep it?

If you ride, would you ever ride a horse bareback through London to save your hero’s life?

Two lucky posters will be chosen at random for a signed copy of Sarah’s debut book Renegade, along with a box of Turkish Delights!