Evalle has been an outcast since day one because she’s an Alterant—half Belador, half unknown. From the beginning of BLOOD TRINITY, Book 1 of the Belador series, Evalle has been fighting to save the world, to save the people she loves, and to earn the right to hold her head up and have a normal life. Oh yeah, and the right to NOT be caged as a dangerous beast. All of that depends on uncovering the origins of her mixed blood.
Vladimir Quinn Quinn climbed out of a Russian gutter to become one of the mostpowerful Beladors, both as a warrior and as a financial guru. He’s lived his life without ties because protecting his family and close friends is hard enough. Or so he thought until he fell in love with his enemy.
Maistir of the North American Belador warriors, he’s as deadly as he is attractive, and rules a force of Alphas. His loyalty to the Beladors and those he loves—in particular the Belador warrior queen– knows no boundaries. If life were simple, he’d be with the woman he loves, but nothing comes easy to those who lead.
Toss in one sexy, mysterious Skinwalker–
Half Ashaninka Spiritwalker, half Navajo Skinwalker, Storm came to Atlanta hunting a dark force. He’s found it.
Unfortunately, it may be too late, because the dark force is following the woman Storm loves—the one he’ll face death to protect. Evalle Kincaid.
Stir them all together–
Then let a New York Times bestselling author mind the stove
What does she do?
Dianna Love turns up the heat of course!
Cassondra: Most of you all have met my guest when she’s visited the lair in the past. Today I’m especially excited to bring her back, because I want to share the evolution of a series, and how it was born, nearly disappeared, only to be saved when two generous authors worked together for sake of their readers.
I think it’s an interesting look inside publishing, and Dianna has some awesome news.
But I’ll let her tell you about that. Dianna, thank you so much for joining us in the lair today!
Dianna: I’m thrilled to be here. I always love visiting the Bandits!
Cassondra: Tell us about the origins of the Belador series.
Dianna: I created the Beladors nine years ago, and when my agent took it to two major publishing houses, both senior editors wanted it. The snag we ran into was the weekly editorial and marketing meeting, when both sales groups said they had no idea how to market this series. I was told if I made it a vampire story, they’d buy it, because – they knew how to market vampires, a hot genre at the time. I declined, because that was not the way I saw this series.
But I did ask one of the editors whether I should change anything else about the story and she said, “No. The story is great, but I think you may be ahead of the curve.”
…Was Evalle even still alive?
Of course she was alive.
His heart continued to beat, didn’t it?
Cassondra: So how did the Beladors get their day in the sun?
Dianna: That editor ended up being right. I put the Beladors aside, then five years ago as I was about to take it out again, the house where Sherrilyn and I were publishing a romantic thriller series asked us for something paranormal. Since Sherri had invited me to co-write her BAD Agency series, I offered for her to become co-writer on the Beladors. We gave the editors the same pitch from years before and once again, they loved it, but this time, everybody was on board. Funny, huh?
Cassondra: *raises eyebrow*
Dianna: Urban fantasy had ‘grown up’ during that five-year period so the readers were ready for something different and new. I was thrilled when readers embraced this series.
Cassondra: Last fall saw the release of RISE OF THE GRYPHON, Book 4 of the series, and fans immediately began clamoring for the next book. But for a while it looked like the Beladors might not get more stories, and Evalle and Storm might be left without their HEA. Will you talk to the readers about how that can happen, even with a popular series?
Dianna: Publishing is a strange business. Back when we were first asked to switch gears and write this urban fantasy series, the romantic thriller series we were writing had just hit #7 on the New York Times list (and four other major lists), but the publisher wanted paranormal. Sadly, we had to stop writing the romantic thrillers.
So fast forward four years and the Beladors almost didn’t continue, but this time it was because my and Sherri’s schedules had gotten so loaded, especially with her awesome movie and television deals, that it was difficult to find the time in both of our schedules for us to continue collaborating.
I couldn’t be happier for Sherri’s amazing success, but this series put more on her already crammed plate. She’s got terrible back issues and any writer will tell you that is a critical health problem when trying to type all day and night.
Cassondra: But you have good news for the readers, right?
Dianna: I do! When it became obvious that something had to give or the Beladors would no longer be published, we did what we always do – decided what was best for readers. That’s why I’m moving ahead, writing the series on my own. It was a natural progression since I created the series and always knew where it was going. I can’t say enough about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s generous spirit when it comes to helping other authors and watching out for her readers. We have always agreed to put our readers first.
Cassondra: This fall was originally slated for the release of Book 6 in your Slye Temp series, which is high-octane romantic suspense. But you postponed that until late winter. Tell us why.
Dianna: It’s very hard for me to put off a book release. I’m not just type A. I’m type AAA, and the idea of missing a deadline gives me a rash, but the minute we decided that I should continue the Beladors on my own, I made the decision to stop working on the next Slye Temp (STOLEN VENGEANCE – now scheduled for Feb 2015) and write DEMON STORM. I’ve wanted to give this story to the readers since releasing RISE OF THE GRYPHON last year, and I was so flattered by the enthusiastic response this summer when I announced that DEMON STORM would be next.
“Storm has come for me every time I’ve been in a jam. Every. Time.
Don’t ever think I won’t turn this world upside down for him.”
Cassondra: Readers have been forming virtual picket lines, demanding to read DEMON STORM. I think because Evalle and Storm have been through so much together, everybody was rooting for them. I’m not giving spoilers, but I’ve loved this series since book 1, and this might just be my favorite book yet. I promise the readers, they won’t be disappointed.
And the fantastic news is…it’s here! DEMON STORM released two days ago, October 21.
Dianna, will you give us a teaser?
Dianna: Absolutely. Here’s the back cover copy
We all have demons… some are more real than others.
With Treoir Island in shambles after a Medb attack that left the survival of the missing Belador warrior queen in question and Belador powers compromised, there is one hope for her return and their future – Evalle Kincaid, whose recent transformation has turned her into an even more formidable warrior. First she has to locate Storm, the Skinwalker she’s bonded with who she believes can find the Belador queen, but Storm stalks the witch doctor who’s threatening Evalle’s life. When he finally corners the witch doctor, she throws Storm a curve that may cost him everything, including Evalle. The hunter becomes the hunted, and Evalle must face her greatest nightmare to save Storm and the Beladors or watch the future of mankind fall to deadly preternatural predators.
Dianna: And you can always read the first chapter excerpt on my website. The link is here.
Cassondra: Can you give us a hint about what’s coming next for Evalle, Tzader, Quinn and Storm?
Dianna: Okay, that’s tough without giving spoilers. If you didn’t read RISE OF THE GRYPHON, you won’t get some of this, but I don’t want to ruin it for new readers, so those who know the story will have to read between the lines.Quinn is still reeling from losing someone very important to him, and finding out he has a family member he never knew about. When he comes back in WITCHLOCK, the next Belador book (June 2015), we’ll begin to see him deal with this and face finding his lost family, which isn’t an easy task considering the only person who knew where they’re hidden is now dead. Quinn’s a tortured hero who has a lot ahead of him.
Tzader has his own set of problems, but I can’t go into that. Let’s just say we’ll see more of him and how he’s handling his tormented love life. I can’t tell you much about Evalle without giving away major spoilers from DEMON STORM (these stories are all tightly connected), but I will say that in WITCHLOCK, you’ll see more of all your favorite characters, including Feenix, Evalle’s two-foot tall pet gargoyle!
Cassondra: Woooot! I love Feenix! But you’re involved with a very special project this fall. Tell us about that.
Dianna: Some of you may know that books are now published both by New York houses and by authors publishing independently (aka Indie authors). Because of this new opportunity, authors have the ability to partner up with one another and do things that are just not workable for the bigger, slower mechanisms of traditional publishing. With Indie publishing, multi-author boxed sets are not only possible, they’re common. This fall, eleven authors came together to create a box set called LAST HERO STANDING, and ALL the proceeds go to Pamela Clare, an author who is battling breast cancer with little support. It’s hard enough to battle a disease like that and pay medical bills not covered by insurance, but writing comes to a standstill and that translates to no income.
The incredible thing about being able to do this is that we made the decision in August and had it ready to go before October 1st, when the box set went live for preorders. (Last Hero Standing is available for download October 28th). Even if we could have all gotten permission from our publishers (if those books had been released through NY), this box set would not have been released until later in 2015 at the earliest.
Pamela needs money NOW, not a year from now.
This is a battle for her life.
I so appreciate the other four NYT bestsellers, four USA Today bestsellers and the two award-winning authors who have donated their books and their time to this set. The cover and formatting was donated. I’m handling the publishing, so I can tell you EVERY penny is going to Pamela, and nothing is getting diverted to overhead, which is just awesome.
Please consider buying this set and/or surprising someone by giving it as a gift – for only 99 cents.
You know how I particularly love a launch party when it’s for a book I’ve written!
So ring (wring?) out the cabana boys! Fill up the margaritas! Let’s play Herb Alpert on the music system! And let’s party!
While you get yourself comfortable preparing to samba the night away, here’s some info about my third Sons of Sin Book, WHAT A DUKE DARES:
A reputation at risk…
What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children – and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.
Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.
The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed – until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins…
Reviews so far have been lovely. RT Book Reviewsgave Duke a Top Pick and 4.5 stars, not to mention a K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) Award and called it “an extraordinary read.” Publishers Weekly said, “Campbell makes the Regency period pop” and they comment on the “romantic fireworks and “witty banter.”
Booklistsaid, “With its superbly nuanced characters, impeccably crafted historical setting, and graceful writing shot through with scintillating wit, Campbell’s latest lusciously sensual, flawlessly written historical Regency, part of the Sons of Sin series (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, 2013), will have romance readers sighing happily with satisfaction.” Isn’t that nice?
Given the illustrations I’ve chosen for this blog, you’re probably asking yourself why this party is taking place in Rome in what looks like a nuclear winter!
I was trying to come up with a theme for this launch and I thought I couldn’t do better than daring. After all, Cam needs to be daring to get his sweetheart just where he wants her!
Still don’t get all these Italian photos?
WHAT A DUKE DARES has an Italian connection. Once she knocks back Cam’s fairly unenthusiastic proposal, the heroine Penelope Thorne takes off for the Continent. The first chapter is set in an inn high in the Italian Alps where Pen is in big trouble and Cam turns up to save her. She’s grateful for that. She’s less grateful when he insists upon escorting her back to England. Most of the story takes place in England, but it starts out as two prickly, unwillingly attracted people on a road trip through Italy.
The other reason I put up these Italian photos is that I wanted to remember a time in my life when I was daring and it paid off. When I was in my mid-20s, on my first overseas trip I took off for two years in England. I can still remember how utterly terrified I was when I got on the plane in Brisbane, having never been outside Australia before.
That trip ended up being one of the best experiences of my life and let me visit so many wonderful places including…you guessed it, Rome! So like Cam, I’m in favor of being daring!
Oh, and that was many years ago – hence the rather strange coloring on the pics!
So I thought today, I’d ask you to tell me (no X-rated stories please!) when you were daring and how it paid off for you. And there are rewards for your bravery! I’ve got two signed print copies of WHAT A DUKE DARES up for grabs (international). Come on, tell me when you took a leap of faith! I dare you!
I’m delighted today to welcome new Montlake author Sandra Owens to the lair. Sandra’s new release is CRAZY FOR HER, the first in the K2 Special Services series:
When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.
Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.
Sandra, welcome to the Bandita lair! Can you please tell us about your latest release CRAZY FOR HER?
I’m thrilled to be a guest on Romance Bandits! I’m excited about CRAZY FOR HER, a 2013 Golden Heart finalist. The official release date is September 1st. I say “official” as Montlake Romance, my new publisher, chose CRAZY FOR HER as one of four books for the August Kindle First, meaning the ebook version was released early, and it’s on sale until September 1st. The print and audio will be available 1st September.
CRAZY FOR HER is a contemporary romantic suspense, the first in a five book series of the men of K2 special services, all ex-SEALs. In CRAZY FOR HER, my hero, Logan, is secretly in love with the heroine, who was married to his best friend. He has another secret, one that shocks my heroine, Dani, when she learns of it.
What were the inspirations behind this book?
The seed for the story was planted when I watched a documentary about a SEAL team during their time in Afghanistan. I thought, these guys are tough, and honorable, and dedicated to their calling. They are true heroes. Then I started wondering what life for them was like then they left the military. It would have to be a hard adjustment as they are men used to living on the edge. Logan Kincaid took shape in my mind, a man with dark secrets who was a true hero for his country, but doesn’t believe he deserved happiness. A lot of “what ifs” followed, and it went from there.
CRAZY FOR HER is the first in the K2 Special Services series. Can you give us a peek at what’s coming next?
Next is SOMEONE LIKE HER, scheduled for an early 2015 release date. My hero, Jake, another ex-SEAL and known to his friends as Romeo, falls for the sister of his boss, Logan Kincaid. The last thing the boss wants is for his sister, Maria, to fall for a man the team nicknamed Romeo. Jake tries to stay away from her, he really does. I have to laugh here because we all know how well that’s going to work for him, right?
What else is coming up for you?
The last three books of the series are next. The third one is back from my critique partners, and after this last revision, it will go to my agent. Saint, my hero in book three, doesn’t cuss or drink, and is very discriminating in his few affairs. He was interesting, yet strangely, the hardest to write. I’ve always written alpha males, and Saint was my first gamma, a type of hero between a beta and an alpha. I found it funny thatI had to work at not allowing him to have a potty mouth like his teammates.
I’m about five chapters into book four. The heroine in that one is a stunt plane pilot, so I’m having great fun with that. (And yes, I have flown upside down in a stunt plane, so know how thrilling it is.) Book five has a rough outline, and my hero will be a dog lover, the heroine will have cats. I do expect the fur to fly for those two!
After I finish this series, I have the next one in mind. I sent a series synopsis for it to my agent who emailed me back and said, “YOU HAVE TO WRITE THIS!!!” So, I guess I will.
Your first two books (THE LETTER and THE TRAINING OF A MARQUESS) were historicals. What differences did you find in writing the two genres? Are there more historicals on the way?
Oh, goodness, the contemporaries are so much easier to write! I’m not spending hours researching clothing, or checking to see if certain words were in use, or hundreds of other things one needs to research when writing historicals. Having said that, my favorite genre to read is historical, which is why I started out writing them. But I also love the freedom of writing contemporaries. Will I write more historicals? Probably. Hopefully. I recently finished a historical novella that will be a part of an anthology my Embracing Romance co-authors are planning. It was so much fun to write.
Can you tell us a bit about what you get up to when you’re not writing?
Writing is a full-time job for me, and the majority of my days are spent doing just that. I’m also a voracious reader of historical (especially Regencies) and contemporary romances, so if I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. My husband and I have an RV, and we like to take long trips and explore this beautiful country of ours. The great thing about that is, I can easily write on the road. My laptop goes everywhere with me. My favorite place to write is an RV park not far from home where we go for long weekends. I get myself set up by the creek, and I never want to leave!
Sounds idyllic! Thanks for the great interview, Sandra. We wish you all the best with your new series. Do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies to get the conversation rolling?
I love to read almost anything – romances (especially historical and contemporary), horror…it would actually be a shorter list to tell you what genres I don’t like to read. My question is one I know authors are always interested in hearing the answer. As a reader, what genres do you prefer? Are you devoted to just one, or do you cross genre lines?
Sandra has very generously offered one commenter today a signed copy of CRAZY FOR HER (international) so get commenting, people! Good luck!
We’re all readers here so I’m sure I’m not going to be alone when I confess to being slightly obsessed with a particular author. It happens to all of us!
I seem to have developed an insatiable appetite for books by Nora Roberts. Rarely a week goes by when I’m not reading one and usually more books by the master (I can’t call her the mistress!).
Obviously like most of us, I’ve read Nora’s books for many years. I think my introduction to her work was the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy. Isolde Martyn brought JEWELS OF THE SUN back from the 2000 RWA conference in Washington D.C. where she was the first Australian to win a RITA® Award for her wonderful historical THE MAIDEN AND THE UNICORN.
I think my favorite of those early reads was the Chesapeake Bay Quartet – amazing emotional punch in those stories and great romances. Stupidly I lent those to a friend and they never came back. Grrr.
I tried the J.D. Robb books – perhaps it was the mood I was in at the time, but while I enjoyed NAKED IN DEATH, I didn’t have a burning desire to read more in the series.
No, it seems I’m a classic Nora in her original incarnation girl.
Luckily she’s got a huge backlist! I’m in awe of her productivity and I have no idea how she manages to keep the quality up the way she does. Her books are never less than a good read and more often than not, they’re a fantastic read. Perhaps she has an army of little elves wearing Turn the Page Bookstore T-shirts in her basement!
I really feel that there’s nobody better for a certain style of emotional contemporary romance.The characters are real – you can imagine most of them living next door, even the witchy ones. The dilemmas they face are intriguing. The love scenes are lyrical and sexy. And she does setting brilliantly. You really feel that you’ve been to the wild Monterey Coast with the Donovans or County Mayo with the Cousins O’Dwyer or a rocky island off the Maine coast with the three wyrd sisters.
The more I read, the more I appreciate her work. In the last six months, I’ve read the Three Sisters Trilogy, the Donovan Legacy Quartet, the first two books in the Cousins O’Dwyer set, BLUE DAHLIA (and I’ve ordered the next two in that set!), WHISKEY BEACH, NORTHERN LIGHTS and THE WITNESS.
Two particular faves are NORTHERN LIGHTS and THE WITNESS. Both feature really interesting central characters, burnt-out city detective Nate Burke who takes a posting as police chief in Lunacy, Alaska (NL) and Abigail Lowery, on the run from the Russian Mafia after she witnessed a murder as a teenager (TW).
Both are stand-alones and have a strong mystery/suspense plot. Both are longer than her series books that I’ve read. But my goodness, they’re fabulous stories. I couldn’t put down either when I started them. And given they’re both over 500 pages, that was a lot of hermit time! I wrote a detailed review of NORTHERN LIGHTS for our friends at the Romance Dish back in January: http://www.theromancedish.com/2014/01/mighty-lights.html
It suddenly struck me last week why I had such a reader crush on Nora at the moment – aside from the obvious quality of the books she writes. And what a lightbulb moment that was!
One of the things I loved about JEWELS OF THE SUN is that it’s about a woman who takes a chance and reaps the benefits. Frances Jude Murray leaves her dead-end job in America to live in her grandmother’s cottage in Ireland and to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. This single act of courage leads to a fulfilling new career and a lifelong love.
This theme of the main character seeking a new life and finding love and renewed purpose in his or her altered circumstances is central to so many of Nora’s books.
Right now I’m in the process of packing up the home my parents lived in for their last years. I’ve lived here for ten years since my mother passed away in 2006. It’s a lovely house but it’s never really been suitable for a groovy singleton (ahem!) and I’ve finally got up the oomph to tackle moving. So the next year or so is going to have a lot of changes for me too. Some large, some small. But all a little daunting in the still watches of the night!
Nora’s message of courage finding its own rewards and a new start offering a whole fresh look on life is just what I need at the moment. Clearly I need it, given the number of her books I’m ordering from the Book Depository!
So are you glomming any particular author at the moment? Is it an old favorite or someone who’s a fairly new discovery? Is there a reason this particular author is striking a chord for you? And what books of Nora’s do you recommend I turn to after I finish the In the Garden trilogy?
Frequent visitors know that one of my dearest writing pals is the fabulous Deb Marlowe. I am so excited to have her back with us in the Lair today, even though I must away to the Dreaded Day Job! Deb packed a bag full of of her trademark warmth and wisdom to bring to the Lair, though, and even Sven was impressed with the cookie tray she brought. Deb never does things by halves, which is why I find it so intriguing that her wonderful new Regency-set adventurous romances are the Half Moon House series. Why not the full moon, hm? (Although I have to say, the half-moon fanlight featured both above Hestia Wright’s door and in the series logo is pretty awesome.)
Without further ado, please help me welcome back Lair favorite, Deb Marlowe!
Hi, everyone! Caren, thanks for inviting me back to talk about why I adore series so much and what I’m trying to accomplish with Half Moon House in particular. But first, some background. When I was a kid there was a group of commercials for Calgon bath products which always showed a harried woman, frazzled from all the many busy facets of her life, begging, “Calgon, take me away!” Do you guys remember that one?
I certainly do, Deb!
It was amusing and memorable as a kid, but now I’m that frenzied woman in the commercial and suddenly I’m all empathy instead of amusement. And while I do adore a dip in the hot tub as a stress reliever, sometimes it takes a little more.
For me, that often looks like a bottle of merlot and a platter of cookies. Hm.
That’s when I turn to a good series. Nothing takes me away like a good, long, richly developed story. One I can come back to again and again with the same, comforting feeling like coming home.
It can be any format. TV—Downton Abbey anyone? Sherlock? Or movies—Star Trek franchise or Lord of the Rings? Books too—Caren and I share a deep and abiding love for The Dragonriders of Pern, Game of Thrones and the Amelia Peabody series. And in Romance? I’ve enjoyed so many I can barely count them.
Deb is a woman of impeccable taste. There is a reason we are such good friends!
A friend asked me not long ago: “Are you writing a series, like everyone else?” It was asked in a slightly derogatory tone, which made me happy to explain. Yes, I’m writing a series! And there a great many reasons why a writer loves to lose herself in a juicy continuation, just like a reader or a viewer.
World building. I love the chance to really paint and develop settings, rules and locales. Regency lovers are familiar with the rules of that society, it’s one of the big attractions—reading a new story in a familiar construct. And setting—the house is such a fixture for Downton Abbey it’s practically one of the characters. The world of Westeros in Game of Thrones is huge and fascinating. Getting the chance to build up my own world? Layering and expanding it with each book? It’s like setting a kid loose in a candy store.
Characters. In a series I can develop main characters in rich depth, allowing the reader to grow to know them through several books. Amelia Peabody fans: look at how the character of Sethos changed over time, yes? I can revisit them after their main story is told, sharing a glimpse of their HEA, deepening the story of their romance. Even secondary characters can be developed further. Liz Carlyle’s Kemble, anyone? They can step in and out of the series, popping up like old friends.
Theme. Every author has a theme or perhaps several that speak to him/her and emerge from their soul through their fingers. George R. R. Martin is exploring many themes in A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m paying particular attention to honor, identity, moral ambiguity and feminism. In a series I can explore one theme from different angles or even weave several together to represent something important to me.
I’m playing with all of this and more in my Half Moon House series and I’m having a blast. There’s an over-arching story of Hestia Wright, a baron’s daughter ruined by an evil man and her own young and foolish bad judgment. Cast off by Society, she becomes a world famous courtesan, until coming back to England to open Half Moon House, a place where any woman can come for help. Set against the backdrop of her battle with her oldest enemy is group of adventurous romances that take us from England’s highest society, to London’s lowest stews and even beyond to the Continent.
Book one: The Love List is available, as well as An Unexpected Encounter, a connected novella. Book Two and two more novellas are coming in the next few months. And right now I have a FREE short story available. A Slight Miscalculation is a short, sweet taste of the goings-on at Half Moon House.
Y’all need to snap up A Slight Miscalculation while it’s available as a freebie download. Warning: you will be sucked in and want more right away!
So tell me: Do you love to escape into a big series when real life wears you down? Which one gives you that happy, glow-y feeling of coming home? Share a favorite with us and I’ll offer a copy of The Love List to a randomly selected commenter!
And what could be better in early 2014 than a debut author! Introducing Julie Brannagh whose first book for Avon Impulse, BLITZING EMILY, is out TODAY! Huzzah!
Here’s the blurb:
Emily Hamilton is a rising opera diva whose career has been sidetracked by a cheating ex-boyfriend. Brandon McKenna is the aging defensive star of the Seattle Sharks football team. He has a large public relations problem.
After a misunderstanding, Emily and Brandon believe the best solution is to get engaged for thirty days. Their decision improves both their careers immediately. Even better, sparks are flying.
Will Brandon and Emily discover that the greatest career success means nothing without each other?
Julie, welcome to the Bandita lair! Congratulations on the release of your debut book from Avon Impulse, BLITZING EMILY. Can you tell us about this story?
Hello, everyone! I’m thrilled to be here!
Emily Hamilton doesn’t trust men. She’s much more comfortable playing the romantic lead in front of a packed house onstage than in her own life. So when NFL star and alluring ladies’ man Brandon McKenna acts as her personal white knight, she has no illusions that he’ll stick around. However, a misunderstanding with the press throws them together in a fake engagement that yields unexpected (and breathtaking) benefits.
The shorter version: BLITZING EMILY is La Boheme meets the NFL!
Wow, great pitch! What were the inspirations behind this book?
One of the better things about being an author is writing about things (and people!) we love. I love football, and I love Seattle, my hometown. This book also had a fairly interesting start. Susan Elizabeth Phillips (queen of contemporary sports romance!) had a message board for her fans for several years. She asked those posting on her board to write a 1500-word “cute meet”. I wrote those 1500 words and kept on writing!
Love SEP! I notice there are two more books coming out in the Love and Football series. We’d love to hear more about those! Can you tell us?
I’d love to! RUSHING AMY (formerly titled LOVE AND FOOTBALL) is out on February 9th. It features Amy Hamilton, Emily’s younger sister. She meets her hero, former Sharks player turned game analyst Matt Stephens, an hour after her sister’s wedding. Amy is busy with the flower shop she owns, and even the drop-dead handsome Matt can’t distract her. Matt is determined to get one (or more!) dates with a stunning florist whose stubborn streak matches his own. Will Matt have to send flowers to every woman he’s ever met before Amy finally agrees to a date? Will Amy fall in love with the irresistible Matt?
CATCHING CAMERON will be out in May, 2014. Zach Anderson plays for the Sharks. Cameron Ondine is a game sideline reporter for Pro Football Network. They’ve avoided each other for the past ten years as a result of a pretty big secret: Zach and Cameron were once married. For three days. Zach thought he was over Cameron a long time ago. It turns out he wasn’t, and he wants another chance. Will he convince Cameron to try it again?
Both sound great. What else is coming up for Julie Brannagh?
Two words: More books! I submitted CATCHING CAMERON to my editor this morning, and we’re talking about upcoming novels featuring the Sharks!
Here in the lair, we love call stories. Could you please share yours with us?
My call story is a little different, but here goes! BLITZING EMILY was out on submission. My agent (the wonderful Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency) told me it might be as much as a month before we heard from any of the editors she’d submitted the book to. I got an e-mail from her a couple of weeks later asking if she could give me a call. I took several deep breaths before I answered the phone that morning. If I had even one offer, I’d be thrilled.
There wasn’t one offer. We had several, including a three-book offer from the publishing house I dreamed of writing for. I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say besides “Thank you.” Sarah told me to take a little time to think over my options. I accepted the offer from my dream house, Avon, one week later.
My new editor was out of town, so I couldn’t tell anyone but my husband for almost three weeks!
Congratulations! What a great story. Sports romances are such a hot topic at the moment. Why do you think there’s such a proliferation of heroes who are elite athletes?
Ladies love alpha males, and elite athletes fit the bill! Elite athletes are full of confidence, can be a bit cocky at times, and will compete for her heart as fiercely as he would on a field or a court. Plus, let’s face it – what red-blooded woman doesn’t love a six-pack?
Well, I’d hate to say I wasn’t red-blooded! Julie, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies to get the conversation rolling?
I’d love to hear about some of YOUR favourite sports romance heroes! What do you believe makes them irresistible?
Get commenting, people. Julie has very generously offered a download (international) of BLITZING EMILY for someone who leaves a comment today. Good luck!
Ooh, color me excited! In fact, color me excited and write it in fireworks and tell the UN!
A couple of years ago, thanks to my fabulous critique partner Annie West, I discovered a writer who has since become one of my all-time favorites. I’m not at all surprised that this particular writer has since won back-to-back RITA awards. Clearly everybody agrees with me that she’s an exceptional talent.
So we have a wonderful author. And we have someone making a lair debut. And we have a Christmas romance – I’m always a sucker for a Christmas romance.
You can see why I’m jumping around like a…jumping thing.
The brilliant Sarah Morgan is here all the way from the U.K. to tell us about her first full-length contemporary romance SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Here’s the blurb:
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.
Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.
Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
SLEIGH BELLS is already creating a lot of buzz. RT Book Reviews called it “a Holiday hit” in a 4.5 star review. Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review and said, “This touching Christmas tale will draw tears of sorrow and joy, remaining a reader favorite for years to come.”
Sarah, welcome to the Bandita lair! I’m so excited about your full-length Christmas romance SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Can you tell us about this book?
Thank you for inviting me to the lair, Anna! It feels like a warm, cosy place to be, especially as SLEIGH BELLS is a winter story! I’m so excited to be here. And I’m excited about my first mainstream novel. I’m driving everyone around me crazy so it’s good to inflict my excitement on someone else for a change. SLEIGH BELLS is a holiday romance. My heroine Kayla hates Christmas. Every year, she buries herself in work and just waits for it all to be over so when she is invited to Vermont by a new client (my super sexy hero, Jackson O’Neil) she thinks it will be the perfect place to escape. A secluded log cabin in a snowy forest away from civilization sounds like the perfect place to pass what is, for her, the worst time of the year. But things don’t go the way she has planned!
Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?
Last Christmas my family and I broke with tradition and instead of staying at home, we rented a log cabin near a lake. It was snowy and perfect but I realised that although for us it was a wonderful place to spend the holidays, it would equally be perfect for someone who found Christmas a difficult time of year and wanted to avoid the craziness of the holiday season.
A month earlier I’d had a conversation with Dianne Moggy at Harlequin, and she’d been telling me about her miniature poodle Maple. She entertained me with stories of Maple’s antics (hilarious!) and I thought it would be perfect to make Maple part of my story, but I wanted to make sure that the dog wasn’t just window dressing but central to the story and Kayla’s development as a character.
At that point I knew I wanted to write a mainstream romance, but I hadn’t decided on the setting. It was while I was talking to Dianne that I thought – Maple – Maple syrup – Vermont (this is how a writer’s brain works as you well know!) So now I had my setting and a heroine who wanted to avoid Christmas.
Because we writers are supposed to torture our characters I then had to make her face the one thing she dreaded most – so I surrounded her with a big, noisy happy family. I confess that I love fish out of water stories and there is an element of that in this book. Kayla is a city girl and finding herself in snowy Vermont is a culture shock! And that’s before she starts trying to do business with the O’Neil family who are nothing like her usual clients. I had so much fun with this story.
Noodling around your website, I notice that we have two more books in the O’Neil Brothers series following SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to come in the series?
I wanted to write about a big, loving, interfering family so the first thing I did for my hero, Jackson, was give him two brothers. Jackson’s twin brother Sean is an orthopedic surgeon. His story, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, will be out July 2014. Younger brother Tyler is a gold medal winning downhill skier who retired from the circuit after a serious accident. He’s the bad boy of the three! His story will be out November 2014. The three O’Neil men share a close bond, but they’re very different and they each face different issues and challenges. I had fun finding the right heroine for each of them!
Yum! I notice you have a novella out toward the end of November to tempt us. I’d love to hear more about RIPPED.
RIPPED is part of the new Cosmo Red Hot Reads programme, which is a joint venture between Harlequin and Cosmopolitan. These novellas are fun, super sexy stories featuring strong, independent heroines (my favourite type!). The heroine of RIPPED, Hayley, is an engineer. She’s the reluctant bridesmaid at the wedding of her ex and suffers a major wardrobe malfunction. She’s rescued by the best man, sexy Italian Nico Rossi, a buttoned up lawyer who she believes has always disapproved of her. This story takes place a few days before Christmas and wrapping paper isn’t the only thing to be ripped in this book! I had so much fun writing it. I laughed the whole time. I hope it makes a few readers laugh too!
What else is coming up for Sarah Morgan?
I’m in the middle of writing the second Cosmo story, BURNED, about Hayley’s sister. Then I’m moving on to the last book in my O’Neil Brothers series, which is Tyler’s story. I’m really looking forward to writing this one. There will be a few surprises from Tyler’s past and some issues I can’t wait to explore and I love the O’Neil family (especially Grandma Alice and Grandpa Walter!), so I’m looking forward to being with them for another story. And puppy Maple of course. She will be a year older, but still jumping no doubt!
As this is your first visit to the lair, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.
I always loved writing (I wrote my first story when I was eight) but I didn’t think it was something that could be a career, so I wrote alongside other jobs for many years. I trained as a nurse so when I started writing seriously it seemed logical to me to write a Medical Romance. As well as writing the love story, I loved being able to control what happened to the patient. I wrote 35 medical romances for Harlequin and because my heroes were so often alpha they suggested I write for Presents, which I did and I loved it! I’ve wanted to write a longer length contemporary for a while so when Harlequin offered me the opportunity to do that I was thrilled. So at the moment I’m playing with different story lengths, novella, category at 50,000 and full length, mainstream (100,000 words) contemporaries. Each demands something different from the writer and I love the variety. Hopefully readers will too.
One of the things I love about your books is that you take the classic Harlequin Presents/Sexy/Modern style and give it a really contemporary twist. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what constitutes a classic Presents and also on how you give your own particular spin to the stories.
Presents is known for its international settings, the glamour, the sophistication and, of course, the alpha hero. For me, it’s important to match just the right heroine with the hero for the story to work. The alpha hero is strong (although not a bully. The hero’s actions should always be well motivated, even when he appears ‘hard’ to the reader). He is the leader of the pack (by virtue of his skills and attributes, not his ability to lose his temper) and winning his heart won’t be easy. I love finding the woman who can do that. I always write strong heroines, but my heroine may not be strong in the same areas as the hero, in fact she probably isn’t but her strengths will compliment his and in the end they will be perfect for each other.
Sarah, huge congratulations on your latest releases. I love that I’ve got so many new books from you to look forward to. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?
What is the one gift you’d like to find under the Christmas tree this year? (I want your golden rooster – would he like to come and live with me for a while?)
Take him! He’s yours!
OK, people, get commenting! Sarah has very generously offered an international prize of a copy of SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW! Now, that’s going to brighten up any Christmas season!
I’m thrilled to be hosting a couple of dear friends in the Lair today. Both should be well known to you by now, since both have guested with us before! Regan Black and I met eons ago, back when we still had young children and life was hectic and somewhat crazed. Regan and Debra met a couple of years later and gradually the circle closed until we were all chums. I admire both of them so very much and seriously love their books. Today they’re talking about something that happens often in writing circles but is rarely discussed with readers: mentoring. Debra and Regan both write suspense (though Regan’s tends toward the paranormal) and Debra sort of took Regan under her very experienced wing. Showed her how to do what she already did even better. Now Regan is here to talk about this mentor relationship and what it does for both of them. Deb will probably be popping in to answer comments, as well. Settle in, pull up a chair, grab a cold beverage and a warm canape and listen in.
Thanks so much, Caren, for having us back in the lair today! Deb and I always have such fun here.
Mentors are people we look up to, people we admire for their various skills and expertise. They are the people we’d like to resemble when we grow up. Debra Webb, one of the top names in romantic suspense, has been that person for me for the majority of my career. She’s driven, prolific, and quick with a plot twist if you find yourself in need of one.
We first met at a Smoky Mountain Romance Writer’s conference ages ago (but miraculously, neither of us has aged a day since). Her advice from those sessions carried me in good stead (and still does). Though our publishing paths differed, Deb has always been a tremendous source of support and encouragement in my career.
Deb gave me my first cover quote for Justice Incarnate. She taught me how to write a synopsis (a feat my critique partners greatly appreciated). She helped me sort out the editorial language of revision letters. In 2011, she introduced me to the editor of the Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance, who purchased an original Shadows of Justicenovella for that anthology.
But let’s fast-forward to August of 2012.
With Deb’s stunning success early in 2012 self-publishing Obsession and Impulse, the first two books in her acclaimed Faces of Evil series, Grand Central picked up the series. Just as her books were about to be re-launched in ebook and paperback, Deb called to check on me.
Seriously. Yeah, she’s good like that.
My year wasn’t going nearly as well as Deb’s. In fact, I was sure my career was going down in flames. I had the obituary written (it was some of my best work), but Deb refused to believe it. More importantly she refused to let me believe it.
That phone call last year was a tremendous change-up. I took pages of notes while she efficiently dissected my career circumstances, listened to my goals and ideas, assessed my strengths and productivity, and laid out a plan to move me forward.
Deb always has a plan.
BULLETPROOF, the first book in a new paranormal romantic suspense series, is the big next step in that plan. Deb brought these characters from vague concepts to three-dimensional with in-depth brainstorming and “Oh! What if…” phone sessions. She kept me motivated with hard release dates, promotional schedules, and killer advice for the cover art concepts.
A soldier is nothing without his honor.
To avoid a dishonorable end to his decorated military career, John Noble made a deal with the devil. He gave up his name, endured harrowing training, and accepted every mission thrown at him for one purpose: redemption.
An ambitious reporter, Amelia Bennett, is about to break the story of her career, if she lives long enough to tell it. Caving to her boss’s demand, she hires a bodyguard and soon it is obvious John Noble is the only obstacle standing between her and certain death.
Just when John believes he has found someone he can trust and love, who loves him unconditionally for who and what he has become, his orders are amended: Amelia Bennett is to be terminated.
Introducing Unknown Identities: an alternative for elite soldiers and spies facing criminal charges… if they can survive the program. Don’t miss Double Vision, the next installment of this sizzling, action packed series.
Available October 17, BULLETPROOF has enough of a paranormal edge to keep my muse happy, but still this venture often feels like a giant step into a new genre for me. When I start to freak out, Deb pipes up with the familiar ‘don’t worry’ refrain. (Sing it with me!)
It’s a blessing to relax in her utter confidence. And she should know whether or not I need to freak out. Not only is she one of the best in the business when it comes to romantic suspense, she was the editor-in-chief for BULLETPROOF.
Deb’s philosophy of mentoring is rooted in the theory that authors need to work together for mutual success. While our writing styles are different, we can still brainstorm, evaluate, and share experiences (or nightmares) from marketing to formatting to tangled plots in order to help each other stay productive.
Some days that involves listening to the natural highs and lows of working in the weird, non-linear publishing industry. Other days it means a swift kick in the creative pants to get ourselves back to the keyboard and into the next wonderful tale that wants to be told.
To celebrate this new book and the Unknown Identities series, Deb and I would like to give one lucky winner a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N along with a signed BULLETPROOF tote bag. To enter, just leave a comment about your experience being mentored or being a mentor.
Good luck everyone!
Live the adventure,
Okay, y’all know what to do. Tell us about your adventures in either being mentored or being a mentor!
It’s always a delight to host the wonderful Miranda Neville in the lair, especially if she’s here to tell us about one of her delicious new releases.
I love Miranda’s books and I’m so looking forward to reading her latest, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE(from that cover, it looks to me like he’s having a very nice time being ruined – and she doesn’t look like she’s complaining either!). RT Book Reviews loved TROAR, saying, “Neville’s heiress vs. fortune hunter plot has enough clever twists and witty repartée to be unpredictable and delightful. Driven by dialogue and well-motivated, smart characters, here’s a romance to spark both imaginations and emotions.”
Here’s the blurb:
Charm, wit, and nerves of steel have helped Marcus Lithgow gamble his way across the Continent. But when his heart is at stake, all bets are off for this most perfect of rogues…
Anne Brotherton is tired of being an heiress. Why can’t men like her for her sharp mind and kind heart rather than her impressive dowry? When she meets Marcus Lithgow she thinks she’s found the right man, until she learns he’s nothing but an unscrupulous fortune hunter.
It’s been years since Marcus set foot in England—why toy with the ton when he can fleece wealthy fools in Paris and Rome? Everything changes when he inherits a ramshackle estate. Marcus’s first and only chance at a respectable life needs funding…the kind Anne Brotherton can provide. Such a wallflower should be ripe for the picking. So why does Marcus feel like he’s the one hanging by a thread?
She nearly falls for Marcus’s smooth seduction. But when Anne realizes she’s being strung along, a lust for revenge empowers her like never before. Two can play at the game of deception. The game of love, however, has its own rules…
Miranda, welcome back to the lair! We love it when you visit us!
Thanks so much for inviting me back to the lair, Anna. As always I have my bathing suit and suntan lotion, plus a hard hat for when things get wild, as they most likely will.
The cabana boys are already excited! Miranda, huge congratulations on your new release from Avon, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE, book 2 of the Wild Quartet. Can you tell us about your story?
The hero, Marcus Lithgow is a very bad boy. In my previous book, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED, he was very bad indeed, trying to nick a friend’s Titian. But Marcus has a big problem: a professional gambler, he has mysteriously lost his luck and is flat broke. Marriage to super-heiress Anne Brotherton is the only answer. Anne is a very good girl. She is sick of fortune hunters but finds Lord Lithgow exceedingly attractive, especially since he shares her obsession with Roman history. Anne is no dummy though; she soon figures Marcus out and plots revenge. Stuff happens (as we professional writers say in our synopses) and we learn the answers to several important questions. Will Anne ever get to dig up a ruin? (The title contains a hint.) Do heiresses make good housemaids? Can Marcus milk a cow? Will he be reformed? (And how much reform do we want to see?) Would you rather read a love scene set in a ruin, a folly, or both?
Hmm, all of the above? What were the inspirations behind this book?
I love bringing apparent opposites together and proving to myself – and hopefully my readers – that a mismatched pair are made for each other. The joy of a badly flawed hero is seeing how the heroine helps him change, and vice versa. Anne has always felt defined by her money, an accident of birth with nothing to do with her as an individual. In foiling Marcus’s schemes and then falling in love with the better man he becomes, Anne defies her heritage and her upbringing. Marcus journeys from outright rogue to respectable gentleman while Anne makes the trip in the other direction. In a way they meet in the middle.
The Roman villa that Anne discovers gave me an opportunity for the kind of historical research I always enjoy. I found a 1786 monograph in the British Library describing a Roman excavation in Northamptonshire and used it as inspiration. I moved it to Wiltshire, however, so that Marcus and Anne could visit Fonthill Abbey, the home of the eccentric millionaire William Beckford. Their visit is based on an account of Beckford’s entertainment of Nelson and Lady Hamilton at Fonthill.
What nefarious plans does Miranda Neville have for the rest of the Wild Quartet?
I’m just finishing up Book 3 now but the title’s under the hatches until it’s official. The Earl of Windermere returns from a diplomatic mission to Persia, intending to make up with his estranged wife, Cynthia. But London is full of rumors that she is having an affair with the Duke of Denford, who just happens to be his former best friend. After that (spoiler alert!) it’s Denford’s book. He has some trouble in his background that will come back and bite him in the series finale.
Sounds yummy! Our spies on the Regency ground tell us that you recently had a novella out as part of what looks like a delicious anthology, AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING.Can you tell us about this story?
The anthology is a co-production with Maya Rodale,Caroline Linden, and Katharine Ashe with four stories set during a wedding house party. Though each novella is self-contained, our characters pop into other stories, and we have several common threads. P.S. I LOVE YOU is my take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Inarticulate Frank Newnham asks for his cousin Christian’s help when he woos Rosanne Lacy by letter. Rosanne falls for Frank’s delicious prose, but when they meet in person at the duke’s wedding party, Rosanne can’t understand why Frank seems so dull. Instead she is drawn to the brooding Earl of Bruton, with his scarred face and air of melancholy. I loved writing the story, and working on the whole project with three really amazing friends and writers. By the way, grottos (as well as ruins and follies) are great locations for kisses.
And now for the most important question – as you know, Ernie, your rather obstreperous kitty, has quite a fan club (I’m a lifetime member). Can you give us life according to Ernie as it stands today?
Poor, poor Ernie. His life has been ruined by the introduction of Emma, my daughter’s impertinent female tabby. I tried to persuade him to make another book trailer, but he flatly refused to do it with Emma as a co-star. I’m working on him, however. With a combination of threats and bribery they may yet make it to You Tube.
For anyone who missed it or who wants to see it again, Ernie’s brilliance is CAT-tured in celuloid here:
We love hearing about your travels here in the lair. Been anywhere interesting lately? Any exciting trips in the pipeline?
I’m off to England later this month, mostly to see family but I’m definitely going to Bath. My daughter is coming with me and she has never been there. I’ve been kind of a homebody this year – too many deadlines. I’m really looking forward to the RT Convention in New Orleans next year. I love that city! Hopefully I shall see some of the Banditas and their readers.
You should definitely trip over a Bandita or two. Thanks so much, Miranda. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies today?
New Orleans makes me think of food. One of my guilty pleasures is cooking competitions on TV and my latest discovery is MASTERCHEF UK, PROFESSIONAL EDITION. Michel Roux Jr. is the hottest TV chef ever. I could go on for hours about his beautiful hands and the twinkle in his eye.
So let’s dish about TV cooking shows. Which ones do you like? What do you think of Gordon Ramsey and Tom Colicchio? If you’re not a cooking show fan, what’s your favorite TV guilty pleasure?
Miranda has very generously offered a copy of THE RUIN OF A ROGUE (print or e-book international) to someone who comments today. So good luck, people!
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.