Posted by Suzanne Ferrell May 3 2013, 12:35 am in Cinderella, Fairies, Fairy Godmothers, Kathleen Baldwin, paranormal romances, Suzanne Ferrell, YA romances
I have a confession to make, Banditas and Bandit Buddies. Today I am indulging myself. Yep. Because today, I am bringing one of my most favorite people in the entire world into the Lair. (Sending an evil eye at Sven, Pablo and all the half dressed males lulling about…you guys better behave!) See, my friend Kat Baldwin is one of the funniest, kindest and most talented humans in the entire world. And I am sharing her and her newest book with y’all!!
*Me doing a happy little dance on my bar stool*
So please help me welcome Kat Baldwin to the Lair!!
Suz: Kat, I’m not sure I ever told you this, but I don’t read a lot of YA. But I loved your book DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER. This is no simple wave-your-wand-and-make-the-girl-glamorous-to-solve-her-problems story, is it?
Kat: No. Life is never that simple. We all know that a beautiful dress doesn’t make a girl beautiful on the inside. In this case, Jess has some seriously prickly edges to smooth off. I don’t think she would put a dress on much less let it soften her personality. She’d be more likely to rip it to shreds and toss it out the nearest window.
Suz: DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER, what a great title and great concept. How did you come upon this idea?
Kat: Originally the story was a contemporary romance/coming of age story focused on the very intelligent but wounded Jess, and her friendships with Cai and Maggie. My agent at the time thought the story should include a paranormal element. Andrea has a soft spot for fairies, so… we wove in a teenage fairy godmother. Before we knew it she’d taken over the story.
Suz: You have two heroines Lilliana, the fairy godmother, and Cinderella’s descendant, Jess. What are their similarities and what makes them so different?
Kat: Lilliana is extremely feminine. The fairy race being predominantly female, she grew up surrounded by women. Whereas Jess grew up with two brothers and rejected anything that even remotely smacked of softness.
Both girls have had to cope with death up close and personal. But they handled it in radically different ways.
Lilliana lost her mother as a child and carries a quiet sadness with her that has kept her from realizing her potential. Whereas Jess’s grief fuels her anger. She’s brimming over with potential but hasn’t allowed herself to mourn – a powder keg.
Both girls must face their grief, and except who and what they are, or they won’t survive.
Suz: Was it hard having two strong female protagonists in one book?
Kat: Oh yes! Writing two protagonists was like walking across a high wire. Keeping both heroines in the forefront of the reader’s mind is tricky. In the end I know Lilliana took over, but I adore Jess. She’s such a kick-ass-take-no-prisoners girl.
Suz: Jess has two best friends, Cai and Maggie. I love how you use them to help both Jess and Lilliana. Maggie, in particular, has a unique ability in that she’s dyslexic. How does that help her in this book?
Kat: It isn’t uncommon for a person who has a ‘disability’ like dyslexia to develop some really cool compensating quality.
I love Maggie’s ability to read people, to know instantly whether they’re telling the truth or not. Because her dyslexia makes it a constant struggle to know what’s real or true. Think what it would be like if the letters on a page played tricks on your mind, if a d turns into a b, or if the letters all swam together and become nonsensical. Frustrating? Sure. And that frustration is why Maggie has to know the “truth” of things, so she’s become an expert at determining when someone is telling the truth, or not.
Suz: Unlike the usual Cinderella story, in DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER you’ve complicated Lilliana’s job by giving her a love interest. Who is it and how does this affect the mission?
Kat: Jake – sigh. I love that moment when they meet and her inner music starts harmonizing with his. Falling in love with a human is forbidden, against the rules, not to mention it’s deadly. Lilliana knows first hand what happens. Her mother fell in love with a human. Consequently Lilliana was raised by her mentor at the school for Fairy Godmothers.
To make matters worse, Jake is Jess’s brother. Jess is fiercely protective of the only family she really has left. Her parents fell apart after the death of their oldest son. So there is no way she’s going to let some lunatic who thinks she’s a fairy mess up his life.
Suz: Some of your secondary characters, Cai and Maggs, as well as Jess’ brother Jake seem to have some unusual abilities. Is there the idea for more stories from this group?
Kat: Sadly, Andrea, my writing partner has a serious type of cancer, so we won’t be able to do it together. She needs to rest and recuperate. But I love the characters and dream of a second book for them. Yes, there are definitely secrets about all them, especially Jake and Jess that are begging to come out.
Suz: Speaking of Andrea, you’re a writing team. How does that work for you? Do you each have specific duties in the story or is it completely collaborative?
Kat: Andrea writes mystery, but she is also a flamboyant actress. When Andi walks in a room everyone knows she’s arrived. I wouldn’t be writing YA if it weren’t for her. At the time she was also a well known book reviewer on both internet and TV. She reviewed my Regencies and tried to persuade me that they were YA material.
I balked. But Andi persisted. To convince me that I should and could write YA she offered to plan this book together. She lives out of town. So she flew to Texas and we got together at her hotel. Andi is hysterically funny. She acted out scenes – hid behind curtains, jumped around, threw things, bounced on the bed and spoke in all kinds of voices, portraying all the characters at once. Amazing! She gave me tons of material and my job was to glean, smooth and polish it into a salient story.
The Music of the Mission
Lilliana Skye stood in the upper branches of a tall oak overlooking Lake Elm High and peered through the leaves. She listened closely to the strange music of human emotions as students shuffled through the front doors of the small Texas high school. Some of them emitted low, plodding oboe sounds with sad notes of doubt and aloneness. Others pulsated like wild offbeat snare drums.
Her first mission. She’d studied and prepared for this day her whole life. Soon, very soon, she would walk among the humans. Her own inner music soared up, whistling excitedly, flying out of harmony with the trees and wind. With a deep breath Lilliana calmed herself and tucked her training manual securely under her arm. Any minute now her orders would arrive.
She tugged down the short, uncomfortably tight skirt—a perfect disguise. A new dress may not solve any problems, but it sure was fun. Lilliana had duplicated the outfit, every last detail, from page thirty-eight of the latest Teen Vogue. She was totally prepared. Ready. Nothing to worry about. After all, these humans were just teenagers, like her. Well, except, none of them had a pair of five-foot-seven-inch wings sprouting out of their backs. Lilliana retracted hers.
Just then a bright red cardinal burst through the thick canopy of the old oak tree. He swooped down and dropped a small scroll into her hands.
“Thank you, Napoleon.”
The feathered messenger landed on Lilliana’s shoulder as she unrolled the parchment and read “School records altered. Proceed.” Gryndelyn’s official seal glowed on the bottom. As soon as Lilliana finished reading it, the message disintegrated into dandelion fluff and scattered on the breeze.
Suddenly, thunder shook the air. Except there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Lilliana’s attention snapped back to the school. The deep rumble blotted out the noise of the students. She searched for the source of the explosive roar. There! The loud, angry vibrations came from a girl in army boots and a camouflage T-shirt, the one who resembled a third world dictator stomping up the school steps.
Lilliana drew in a quick breath. She knew that girl. She’d memorized that profile, and she recognized the wild unruly hair, hair the color of deep red autumn leaves. It was Cinderella’s offspring, Lilliana’s C.O., the girl she was supposed to help. It was Jessica Harrison whose soul thundered as violent and black as a winter storm.
Yet, beneath Jess’s throbbing drums of rage, Lilliana heard the unmistakable strains of anguish—taut strings of grief. Grief that resonated so sharply it hurt to listen.
For the third time that week, Jessica Harrison sat in Principal Jamison’s office listening to him lecture about how he expected her to treat other students courteously and stop undermining his staff. Apparently, this time he thought Jess shouldn’t have told her history teacher to get her facts right or find another line of work.
“Unacceptable behavior,” Mr. Jamison complained. “Insensitive. You made poor Ms. Hargrove cry.” Blah, blah, blah…
Jess growled low in her throat. It wasn’t her fault Ms. Hargrove was menopausal and needed a refresher course on the events leading up to World War II.
Jamison sighed. “A little diplomacy, Jess, that’s all I’m asking.”
“Whatever,” she conceded.
“Most girls in your situation would be depressed. Depression would be perfectly normal, but you…”
Depression? Didn’t he know the black hole of depression yawned its mouth at her every morning, threatening to suck her into its dark abyss? Jess would never give in to it.
She would scratch everyone’s eyes out if she had to, but she would stand out here in the land of the living and fight. Right here, right now, where she could do something. Change things. Protect the family she had left from the rotten people in this rotten world. And if she couldn’t protect them, she’d—
Jamison interrupted her thoughts, saying something that made her want to punch a hole in the universe. “I’d like you to meet with the school psychologist to discuss your anger issues.”
“Issues?” Jess sputtered. What did he know about her issues? And what right did he have to bring them up?
He leaned forward with so much syrupy sympathy contorting his features that it made Jess want to puke. “After all—” He hesitated. “It’s been almost a year since, uh, since your brother’s unfortunate accident and—”
“Unfortunate accident!” It was all Jess could do not to hurl her backpack against the wall and shatter all of Jamison’s neatly framed diplomas. Instead, she jumped to her feet. “Is that what you call it? Are you referring to the night Ryan decided to show off for his stupid girlfriend? The night he accidentally blew through a red light going a hundred and twenty miles an hour? The one where he lost control and cremated himself and her? You mean the unfortunate accident that has my parents walking around like numbed-up robots? That one? Really? Because you know what I call it? I call it the night my world exploded!”
Jess slammed her palm against his desk so hard the oak should’ve split. She clamped her lips together, letting the pain in her hand fuel her. “And if you think I want to talk about that with some second-rate school shrink, then you’re the crazy one.”
Jess stormed out of the principal’s office. Let him suspend her. She didn’t care. High school was a gigantic waste of time anyway. She was only a sophomore, but she’d taken the SAT early and scored higher than anyone in the senior class. Jamison could expel her right now for all she cared. She wasn’t going to put up with him butting into her issues.
Jess shoved past a group of kids milling by the drinking fountain. Other students hustled out of the way as she stomped down the hallway.
Everyone at Lake Elm High knew her well enough to know they’d better move. Respectfully cautious. That’s what they were, and that was the way Jess wanted it.
But then she saw something that made the volcano churning inside her turn into an iceberg.
A ghost opening Ryan’s locker.
Memories of that night slammed into Jess—police pounding at the door at two in the morning, red and blue lights churning across the dark lawn. Once again, as in countless nightmares, Jess felt the searing heat of flames. Flames she’d never actually seen. Flames that had consumed her brother. And now, standing at Ryan’s locker was the girl who got him killed.
Except Cheryl was dead, and there’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s a scientific explanation for everything. Action. Reaction. Cause and effect. Physics, that’s what Jess believed in. Not ghosts.
So, why was one opening her dead brother’s locker? A ghost who looked exactly like his dead girlfriend? Same skinny body. Same dark hair, pinned up loose and messy, half of it falling over her ears in the same stupid attempt to look sexy. It was Cheryl. Only…
It couldn’t be. Jess marched over and yanked the interloper’s arm. “What are you doing in my brother’s locker?”
Just like Cheryl, the girl had dangerous green eyes. They widened. “Jess?” she gasped.
Jess jerked her hand back as if she’d been burned. “How do you know my name?”
Ghost girl caught the corner of her lip in her teeth and gnawed on it like someone hunting for a plausible lie. Jess closed the distance and bore down on her with all the diplomacy of an irate drill sergeant. “I said how do you know my name?”
The girl edged back and bumped into the locker. “I, um, I was sent…” Finally she blurted, “I’m here to help you.”
Jamison’s shrink? Jess stepped back and shook her head. No, it couldn’t be. She was way too young. A student counselor? No, this girl looked clueless. So who was she? And why had Jamison sent her?
It didn’t matter. “Tell Jamison to butt out.”
“Jamison?” The girl blinked, pretending she didn’t know the principal.
“Nice try,” Jess snapped. “I don’t care who you are or why you’re here.” She pushed the intruder aside and slammed Ryan’s locker shut. “Stay out of my brother’s locker!”
“But…” Cheryl’s clone held up a newly printed schedule and pointed to a number in the upper left corner. “This is the locker they assigned me.”
Jess scanned the schedule. Not only had the idiots in the office given away Ryan’s locker, but half of the new girl’s classes were the same as Jess’s. Worst of all she’d be in Biology with—
This was not good—not good at all. Red-alert sirens screamed in Jess’s head. “Go ask for a different locker,” Jess shouted. “And stay away from my brother.”
“Your brother? You mean his locker?”
Jess didn’t wait around to explain. She elbowed her way through the crowd. Her combat boots thudded against the tile as she double-timed it down the hall to recruit backup.
BACK COVER BLURB:
ISBN-13: 978-1484038918 Available as eBook or Print at Barnes & Noble or Amazon
Diary Of A Teenage Fairy Godmother
A Fairy Godmother is not some pixie in a pink tutu. She’s a guardian and a warrior. Lilliana Skye is sent undercover to a Texas high school to save one of Cinderella’s troubled descendants, but everything goes wrong.
Jessica Harrison hates Lilliana. She doesn’t believe in fairytale magic or happily-ever-afters. Jess is tough, angry, and so intelligent it’s scary. If she ever did see a mythical fairy she would probably stomp it into oblivion with her army boots. Matters go from bad to worse when Jess’s older brother meets Lilliana and falls hard for the new girl. And Lilliana can’t keep her wayward heart in check. Jake is, well, just plain dangerous.
Falling in love with a human is forbidden, not to mention… deadly.
Kathleen loves adventure! Her mom died when Kat was thirteen, but life rolled on. She roamed the Rockies skiing and rock-climbing, wandered the desert, enjoyed way too many classes in college, was stalked by a cougar, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, fell in love at least a dozen times, was proposed to eleven times, finally met and married her own personal hero. Still in love, they’ve raised four free-spirited adventurous children.
An award-winning author and illustrator – Kensington published four of Kathleen Baldwin’s Regency romantic comedies, including Mistaken Kiss, a Holt Medallion finalist. Her upcoming series for Tor/Forge Books, STRANJE HOUSE, A School for Unusual Girls, won the Marlene in 2012. And just last week Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother was chosen Pick of the Day by Fresh Fiction readers.
So dear readers, IF you had a Fairy Godmother, what would you want her to help you with? Would she have to deal with any special issues inside of you to help you find fulfillment?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Apr 28 2013, 12:33 am in historical romances, Lorraine Heath, Suzanne Ferrell, The Lord of Wicked Intentions, The Lost Lords of Pembrook
Dear readers, I have a treat for y’all today! One of the Lair’s favorite guests and my friend, NYT Bestselling author Lorraine Heath. As many of you know, Lorraine delivers not only some of the best historical romances worth spending an evening falling into, but she brings us some of the most delicious and often wickedly sinful heroes. This time, she’s giving us more insight to her newest hero in the last book in the Lords Of Pembrook series, Lord Rafe Easton, THE LORD OF WICKED INTENTIONS.
Close your eyes. You’re standing in a quiet alcove just behind the thick velvet drapes of an opulent room inside the estate of the new Earl of Wortham. You must be quiet so no one knows you’re here and this is the conversation you hear:
Lord Rafe Easton as Interviewed by Miss Evelyn Chambers
Miss Evelyn Chambers, illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Wortham, has been sheltered her entire life—until her father dies and his heir decides to set her up as some lord’s mistress. The night that he introduces her to several lords in his library, she is under the mistaken impression that he is seeking to find her a titled man to marry. Her first encounter with Lord Rafe Easton goes like this:
“I don’t believe we’ve spoken,” she finally said.
“May I inquire regarding your name? The other gentlemen were kind enough to introduce themselves.”
“But then I am not kind.”
Two tiny pleats appeared between her brows. “Why would you say something of that nature?”
“Because I am honest, at least.”
“But surely you have a name. Is it a secret? You steal children from their beds? Rumpelstiltskin perhaps? I would be hard-pressed to see you as Prince Charming.”
Fairytales. She’d been brought up on fairytales, and she seemed to have no awareness that she was wading through a nest of ogres.
“Come. It can’t be that horrible of a name. I’d like to call you something.”
He considered suggesting Beelzebub, something to unsettle her, send her scurrying away, but for reasons he couldn’t fathom, he simply said, “Rafe.”
“Rafe,” she repeated in her smoky voice and a fierce longing fissured through him with an almost painful prickling. “Is that your title?”
“Are you titled?”
Perhaps she wasn’t as innocent as he’d surmised. She wanted to ensure that she was well cared for, was going to be particular about whose bed she warmed. He supposed he couldn’t hold that against her. She was on the hunt for a man to please, one who would serve as her protector. She had a right to be particular.
“No,” he finally answered.
“I see you’re a man of few words.” She gnawed on her lower lip which served to plump it up and darken its red hue. He wondered how often she’d been kissed. Had she ever let a man press his mouth to hers? Had a man ever touched her skin, trailed his fingers along her high cheekbones, folded his rough hand around her neck, and brought her in close?
“What are your interests?” she asked.
“None that would amuse you.”
“You might be surprised.”
“I doubt it. I’m a rather good judge of character.”
“A quick judge it would seem. I’m left with the impression that you don’t think very highly of me.”
He slid his gaze over her, admiring the curves, the dips, and swells. He couldn’t deny that she was a fine piece, but she would require a certain … gentleness and care, neither of which was in his repertoire of behavior. “I’ve not yet decided.”
“Unfortunately, I have, I’m afraid. I don’t believe we’d be well suited. I hope you won’t take offense.”
“I would have to give a care what you thought to be offended. I don’t.”
She opened her mouth—
“Evelyn, you’re done here,” Wortham said as he grabbed her arm and began madly ushering her toward the door.
Now, we are giving Miss Chambers an opportunity to finish that conversation and pepper Rafe with questions to her heart’s content.
Evelyn: You are quite possibly the rudest gentleman I’ve ever met.
Rafe: And how many have you met?
E: I’m the one who’s been given leave to ask the questions here. Tell me, why are you sitting alone in this corner while all the other gentlemen are standing about and conversing with each other?
R: They are all tedious and boring. I have no interest in their conversations.
E: So you prefer solitude to friendship?
R: I prefer to be left alone.
R: Fewer disappointments.
E: You never disappoint yourself?
R: Let’s not go there.
E: Have you ever loved?
R: When I was little . . . I loved my older brothers.
E: How did they die?
R: What makes you think they’re dead?
E: Your use of the past tense. Are they not dead, then?
R: They are very much alive, but I have little to do with them.
R: You make the most boring inquiries.
E: What should I be asking then?
R: How many times will I kiss you before I take you to my bed?
E: <chuckles> Dear sir, I need not ask questions to which I already know the answer. None. You shall never kiss me and you shall never take me to your bed.
R: Oh, I think I shall do both—many times in fact.
E: Think what you will.
R: Oh, I intend to. You should also know, sweetheart, that I always acquire that which I desire.
E: <His smoldering gaze roaming over me causes my heart to pound.> Please don’t take offense, but I don’t desire you.
R: At this particular moment, probably not. But in time . . . trust me, you will.
Evelyn has decided to provoke him no further with questions. Perhaps he will forget about her if she goes on her way.
What questions would you like to ask them?
An autographed (or-ebook, winners choice) set of the 1st two novels in the Lost Lords of Pembrook series—SHE TEMPTS THE DUKE and LORD OF TEMPTATION—will be given to one lucky poster today.
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Apr 19 2013, 12:40 am in Dragon shifters, Karilyn Bentley, paranormal romance, Suzanne Ferrell, Watchers
Suz: Grab a chair everyone and gather round. Today I have one of my favorite guests to visit the Lair, Karilyn Bentley. Karilyn is the author of the wonderful dragon-shifter books that I, (and I suspect Ermingarde, since I always find the pages a bit singed when she’s done with them), love to read. Today Karilyn is going to take us into the world of the Watchers, guardian warriors of the Draconi, in her newest book WARRIOR LOVER.
Hey Karilyn! Pull up a barstool and Sven will pour you your favorite drink.
Karilyn: Thank you Suz for inviting me to chat with you today! <Sits, bats eyelashes at Sven as he brings a margarita. Takes a sip.> What a yummy margarita! And I love the way you hand me that drink, Sven. You might have to bring me another one. And please tell Ermingarde hi for me. I do love dragons! Especially when they read my books! <g>
Suz: So we’re revisiting the world of the Draconi, only this time we’re going to learn more about the Watchers, in particular Enar and his woman Lily, whom we met in MAGICAL LOVER. You’ve made WARRIOR LOVER a parallel story timeline-wise to MAGICAL LOVER. Was that hard to do?
Karilyn: No, actually that made it easier to write since parts of the story were already written. I just had to change the viewpoint to either Enar or Lily and add in some extra scenes. The last bit of WL passes the timeline of ML.
Suz: What made you want to shift from the Draconi to the Watchers?
Karilyn: Enar took over the first draft of Magical Lover and I had to cut him out of several scenes, ML being Thoren’s book, not his. He protested, A LOT, so I wrote his own story to shut him up. <g>
As a Watcher, a guardian warrior of the Draconi, Enar has never fit in with his kind. When he sees Lily–the ideal Watcher’s woman–he instantly claims her, believing she will bring him the acceptance he craves. Falling in love with her was not part of his plan.
As her town’s outcast, Lily wants nothing more than to escape. When Enar locks a necklace around her throat and declares she belongs to him, she jumps at the chance to leave. Her excitement soon becomes trepidation when Enar won’t tell her what to expect in his world. But even her worry can’t overcome her growing attraction to him.
Soon Lily learns what life as a Watcher’s claim entails, and refuses to submit. To keep Lily, Enar must turn his back on everything he thought he wanted. Will he choose his people? Or the other half of his soul?
Suz: Don’t you just hate it when characters do that? Watchers have an unusual way to claim their women. Why did you build this into their world?
Karilyn: I needed a way to keep Lily close to Enar and what better way than to have him capture her? And instead of having him tie her up to keep her close, why not use a magical necklace that in essence does the same thing? It seemed to fit better in the fantasy land of Draconia.
Suz: Both Enar and Lily are outcasts in their societies, how does this affect their relationship?
Karilyn: It’s an unconscious part of their attraction to each other. They understand the motivations of the other, even if they don’t always agree with the outcome.
Suz: You’ve left the readers with some serious questions about the worlds of the Draconi and Watchers, will there be another book in this series?
Karilyn: Yes there will, thank you for asking! I’m currently writing DRAGON LOVER, the next book in the series. I’m a sloooooooowwwww writer, but am on track to finish it soon.
“You don’t mind leaving?”
All brawn, no brain obviously. Hadn’t she just said that downstairs?
“That’s right. I want to leave. You want to take me. It works out well for both of us. Now, how much can I take?”
“You do not feel a need to take your entire shop, do you?” A small wrinkle appeared between his brows.
“As you noticed earlier, there’s not much to take. I have clothes and personal items. A couple of bags, maybe.”
“One bag. Thoren travels light. Insists we do the same.” He glanced to the bed and back to her, grinning. “Besides, the less time you take packing, the more time we’ll have for pleasure.”
Lily’s whole body stiffened, as blood pounded in her ears. Oh, Goddess, not now. She hadn’t left the town. Now she’d never leave. He’d crush her before she could be free.
He took a swaggering step toward her, cupping her face in his hand. “Don’t be frightened. I won’t hurt you.”
Sure you won’t, look at the size of you.
Bending forward, he placed his lips against hers, pressing gently. And just like that, her nervousness vanished.
Karilyn’s question for readers: Would you rather cuddle up next to a shape-shifting dragon or a sword-carrying warrior? Leave your email address in your comment to be entered into a drawing to win a PDF copy of Warrior Lover.
Find Karilyn at:
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Apr 4 2013, 12:35 am in JD Tyler, Jo Davis, Novella, Romantic suspense, Station Five Firefighters, Sugarland Blue, Suzanne Ferrell
Hey everyone, we have one of my favorite guests back in the Lair today, Jo Davis! For those of you who’ve read Jo’s Station Five Firefighter series, you’ll remember they’re set in the fictional town of Sugarland, Tennessee. Well, Jo is taking us back there with a new series, Sugarland Blue, about the heroic police officers in town.
Welcome, Jo. You know the drill. Pull up a bar stool, order your favorite drink from Sven, (He’s the hunky blond hanging out behind the bar, wiping up the drool off Paolo’s face…rumor has it Paolo’s read ALL your books!), and we’ll have a lovely chat about these hot new books.
Jo: Hey there, my friend! It’s so great to be back at the Lair! Mmm, Sven, I’ll have something fruity with rum and an umbrella in it, pretty please! Paolo, you naughty young man, take a seat and relax. Closer to me. That’s better, handsome.
Suz: What made you switch over to the police department of Sugarland?
Jo: From the start of the Firefighters of Station Five series, it’s been my desire to switch to the police department and tell Detective Shane Ford’s story, along with some of the other officers. My readers have been waiting, too. There was an initial delay in this happening in part because I was busy writing my Alpha Pack series as J.D. Tyler. My publisher eventually got behind the Sugarland Blue series and now I’m thrilled that it’s finally kicking off!
Suz: ARMED AND DANGEROUS, the first story in this series, is a novella. Do you think it’s a good way to bring your fans into the series?
Jo: I think a novella is a perfect start! I made sure the novella re-introduces Detective Shane Ford and Juvenile Officer Daisy Callahan, both of whom are in the Firefighter series. Shane plays a big part in some of those books. In ARMED, Shane and Daisy get a stand-alone case to solve, and their attraction ignites. Their big book, SWORN TO PROTECT, features a different case and some major family trauma for them to overcome.
Suz: Your readers might remember Shane Ford from Line Of Fire and Ride The Fire, what’s he gotten mixed up in this time?
Jo: In ARMED AND DANGEROUS, the novella, Shane has a series of murders to solve and goes undercover with Daisy to find the killer. Their attraction ignites, but all is not well for the couple. They haven’t yet gone through their bonding to become a real couple, so that story is yet to tell in SWORN TO PROTECT.
Here’s the blurb for SWORN TO PROTECT:
Detective Shane Ford, Sugarland’s favorite cop, has been blindsided by the sudden death of his best friend, NFL star Brad Cooper, and becoming the legal guardian of Brad’s son, Drew—a bitter, angry sixteen-year-old with a dangerous secret. Shane is determined to pry the truth from Drew, but only manages to alienate him—and winds up going head to head with Juvenile Detective Daisy Callahan, whose job is to protect the teen’s best interests.
Shane has always been drawn to Daisy’s beauty and strength, but he’s determined not to allow their intense attraction to interfere with his duty ever again. It’s a vow that will prove difficult to keep, as the realities of Shane and Daisy’s blossoming love and their growing bond with the grieving teen propel Shane headlong into danger for the new family he’s sworn to protect.
As you can see, the novella and book 1 are different stories with two different cases for the couple to solve. The reader does not have to read the novella to enjoy and understand SWORN, so no worries there.
Suz: Daisy Callahan is the heroine of ARMED AND DANGEROUS, can you tell us a little bit about her?
Jo: Daisy is a home-grown Sugarland woman who’s known Shane since high school—not that he ever gave her the time of day. She’s always had an unrequited love for one of the town’s most sought-after bachelors, and Shane doesn’t want to be caught. She moved away for a while, but during the Firefighter series, she had moved back to town and was terrified when Shane was shot and almost died in LINE OF FIRE. She loves kids, which is why she works as a juvenile officer, and has a huge heart.
Suz: ARMED AND DANGEROUS leads into the first full-length book Sworn To Protect. What’s changed between Shane and Daisy?
Jo: Without giving away too much… In ARMED, Shane can’t deny his attraction to Daisy anymore, and she’s thrilled. But he’s not ready to commit, which has them in an unhappy place in their relationship when SWORN opens…
Suz: How is this sudden change affecting their relationship?
Jo: They work at the police department together and their cases often overlap, so you can see what a problem this would be. She wants a committed relationship, he doesn’t. At first. By the time he starts to realize what he’s lost, the man has a LOT of making up to do!
Suz: As any good romantic suspense book, there’ danger lurking in the shadows, can you give us a little hint as to what’s going on?
Jo: As the blurb hints above, Shane’s best friend, Tennessee Titans star Brad Cooper, has died of a suspected drug overdose. But that’s not the whole story. Brad’s 16-year-old son Drew, who Shane has now become legal guardian of, is keeping a terrible secret about his dad’s death. Shane and Daisy will have to work together to solve the mystery, protect Drew, and become a family in the process.
Suz: What and who is next in the Sugarland Blue series?
Jo: I’ll just go ahead and reveal that the next story, HOT PURSUIT, is Detective Taylor Kayne’s story! That book is supposed to be out later this year. Taylor is Shane’s partner on the force, and I just love the witty barbs they exchange and their almost bromance. Yes, I have to admit I channel a bit of the “new” Hawaii Five-0’s Steve and Danny when I’m writing about them. Taylor is Danny to Shane’s Steve. I can’t help myself! And it was certainly a no-brainer as to whose story was going to be next.
Suz: And while we’re at it, when is the next Alpha Pack out for J.D. Tyler?
Jo: Next up is HUNTER’S HEART (Alpha Pack #4), which is Ryon Hunter’s story! It will be released on September 3, 2013. This one promises to be exciting and action-packed, as well as sexy. Here’s the blurb:
Ryon Hunter sees dead people—spirits that beg him for help in ways he can’t understand. He’d do anything to end the torment, until a beautiful spirit appears to him with a plea he can’t ignore: Help me…I’m alive. The woman is wildlife biologist Daria Bradford, mortally wounded after encountering a white wolf, calling to Ryon through a rare Psy gift.
When Ryon locates Daria in the Shoshone National Park, it is almost too late, but nursing her back to health at the Alpha Pack compound brings a new complication—Daria is his destined mate, and Ryon is afraid of what will happen when she discovers what he is, and what he had to do to save her life. But the biggest threat of all is still loose in the forest, leaving a merciless trail of death behind it. The Alpha Pack goes on the hunt for the mysterious white wolf, determined to stop the murderous rogue… only to find that the most lethal creature of all is the one they can’t see coming…
Jo: Thank you all for having me here today! I’m giving away one download of ARMED AND DANGEROUS and one copy of SWORN TO PROTECT to 2 readers. Yes—both readers will receive the novella and SWORN if chosen! Just comment or answer the daily question for a chance to win.
Question: Who is your favorite TV or movie police officer/detective/agent of ALL TIME and what was the name of the series/movie? What was it about him or her that you loved so much?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Mar 28 2013, 12:11 am in Romantic suspense, Sheriff hero, small town romance, spunky heroine, Suzanne Ferrell, Westen Series
Sometimes an author builds a world that is so real it sucks me in. It holds my attention for the entire length of the book and often for spontaneous moments afterwards. I wonder about the characters. My brain will pull their images up as they move around the town and I think to myself, wonder what so-and-so is doing.
That’s great story telling.
It’s one of the things I’ve tried to emulate in my books. That sense of family or community or both.
In Kidnapped we learn that the heroine, Sami Edgars has three older brothers. (A friend once asked me why I give my characters so many siblings. My reply: “Sequels.”) In Hunted we get to visit the Edgars family once again as we learn Matt’s story. I’m currently working on the next book in the mix, Seized. It’s the story of the oldest Edgars brother Dave and his wife Judy. And yes, even the youngest brother, Luke will get his story.
In the Westen series, I wanted to address community as family. In Close To Home we meet some of the residents of Westin. The hero, Clint Preston, the new doc, and Emma Lewis, the single mom who works two jobs to support her twin sons and elderly mother.
You also meet Cleetus, a sheriff deputy; Lorna Doone, the proprietor of the Peaches ‘N Cream cafe; Harriet, the irascible nurse who drives Clint a little crazy; and Gage Justice, Emma’s cousin.
This week, the second book in the Westen series, Close To The Edge was released for sale on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple sites. This time Gage Justice gets his story. Here’s the blurb:
After facing death as an undercover narcotics cop, Gage Justice has come home to heal. His recuperation is cut short by his father’s unexpected diagnosis of cancer and subsequent death. Now he’s honoring one of his father’s last wishes by taking over as the sheriff of his boyhood home, Westen, Ohio. Biding time until his father’s term is finished, he fights boredom more than crime in the sleepy little town—that is until one sexy little teacher-turned-Private-Investigator literally falls into his arms.
Bobby Roberts is looking for adventure. After giving up her own dreams to raise her two sisters after the death of their parents, she’s been trapped in a schoolroom for nearly two decades. The suffocating claustrophobia of the classroom has set her on a new career path. She arrives in Westen, complete with brand-spanking-new PI license, a handgun and a simple case—investigate a lien on property of a dead man.
Little does she realize her “simple little case” will lead her into the world of one sexy sheriff and the path of a murderer intent on keeping them both from discovering his secrets or stopping his plans that could destroy Westen.
If you’ve read Close To Home, you’ll get to revisit with some of the zany characters who live in Westen in Close To The Edge, but you’ll also meet a few more intriguing characters. And if you’re wondering who I imagine in my head to cast as Gage Justice…well, who better than Chris Hemsworth? (photo courtesy of www.fanpop.com) :)
You can get your copy at http://amzn.com/B00C0E0EKK for Kindle or at http://tinyurl.com/cdn429o for Nook.
Don’t forget to check out my website @www.suzanneferrell.com and sign up for the newsletter. (I promise only a few times a year!)
Do you like series books? Do you like seeing the town characters reappear in books? And since this is a launch party, We’ve broken out the Fondue. Tell me who you brought to the party, what kind of things you’d like to dip and what your favorite sauce is.
So, in honor of another new book, I’m giving away signed copies of Kidnapped, Hunted and Close To Home, one to 3 lucky commentors.
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Feb 28 2013, 12:01 am in bacon, Belgian waffles, breakfast, scrambled eggs, Suzanne Ferrell, The forgotten meal
Yes, I’m talking about breakfast.
We’ve all heard the nutritionist experts tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. My grandpa Sherm lived to be 99 years old and he had oatmeal every morning. Some times he also had eggs and sausage gravy over biscuits, but without fail that man ate oatmeal every morning. Me? I’m not so much a fan.
I do agree breakfast is important. I feel this the most when I’m at a conference. Since I have worked nights for over 25 years, I find it difficult to be awake in the mornings. Yes, caffeine is a requirement for me to even get out of my hotel room when I’m at conference, but if I truly want to be awake and comprehend what the speakers are saying I require breakfast. Now, as nice and decadent as a donut or a danish might be, what I really need is protein. Yes. Bacon and eggs.
I do adore well cooked bacon and eggs. When I was a kid I used to love Sunday morning breakfasts. That’s when my mom would make eggs over easy with sausage or bacon and biscuits. I would break the yolk and cut the eggs into pieces, then tear up the bacon or sausage on top of the eggs and then finally pull the biscuits into small bite-sized pieces over top of it all. Then I’d mix it all up and eat forkfuls of the mess. *I can see Sven rolling his eyes in disgust over in the corner* It was the breakfast bowl, before it became popular! What can I say, I was ahead of my time!
These days I don’t cook fried eggs so much. I tend to make scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon cooked into them. Especially for days like today when I get up early and plan to both write and do computer work in the morning. My hubby also has me taking like a fist-full of vitamins and supplements, (Magnesium for leg cramps, Cherry extract for foot pain, fish oil, vitamin D because I’m a vampire, etc.), all of which need to be taken with food. So breakfast is a necessity to get those ingested.
Every now and then after work I stop by the cafeteria of my hospital. (Don’t gag, our cafeteria has a chef and great food!) I get a bacon, egg and cheese burrito for the ride home. This is a two fold purpose, I am usually starving because we were so busy there was no time for dinner and I’m so tired I need the protein to wake up on the drive home. Being a conscientious driver, I eat half in the parking lot before I pull out and the other half when I get home.
Some nights, when we were too busy early in the shift to get food from the cafeteria or send out for dinner, we’ll get slow work-wise. That’s when we start craving breakfast. Thank goodness IHOP is open then. Nothing better than bacon, eggs and homefries at 3 am! This is especially good when you have some pregnant co-workers in the mix.
I do have another confession, I adore pancakes and waffles, too. This is if I go out for breakfast. Nothing like a hot fluffy waffle with cold butter and warm maple syrup, chased down with a cold glass of milk. The only problem is, they tend to fill me up and make me sleepy. I only indulge if we’re taking a road trip and hubby is driving.
So, are you a breakfast eater? What are your favorite breakfast items? Do you like your eggs a certain way? Are you an omelette person? Breakfast casserole? Belgian waffles? Pancake stack lover? Is oatmeal or cereal your preference? Do you like fresh fruit with it?
* A little shout out to MOM! See, I did love your breakfasts when I was a kid!*
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Feb 6 2013, 12:23 am in Bella's Touch, erotic novella, erotic romance, Suzanne Ferrell
Hey! Come on over to the bar! Sven has mixed us up a pitcher of white Sangria. Doesn’t it look lovely with all that fruit floating around in it? We can chat here while the cabana boys are cleaning the Lair’s pool area.
Me: So, I tried my hand at a novella.
Me: To see If I could do it.
You: To see if you could do it? What the heck does that mean? You’ve written eight full length manuscripts. Of course you can write a novella.
Me (with a shrug of my shoulders): I didn’t know that. It was another experiment for me.
You, (looking at me with a squinty-eyed suspicious look on your face): Care to explain this?
Me (pouring us both another glass of white sangria): Thought you’d never ask. Let’s go back to the beginning.
You: The beginning of what?
Me: The beginning of my writing career.
You (taking a healthy drink of the Sangria hoping it dulls the idea of going THAT far back in time): Why the beginning of your writing career? Why not to the beginning of the novella?
Me: Yes, we have to go back to the beginning, because like all my writing, BELLA’S TOUCH is an experiment. When I first started writing, I had this lovely story in my head, (sort of, as a true pantser, I never know the whole story when I start writing), and wanted to try my hand at writing. It was an experiment on whether or not I could write a coherent, cohesive story from beginning to end. Could I, little ole me, actually write a book? That was the first experiment.
You: Oh, okay. So what was the next one.
Me, laughing and sipping my sangria: Oh, that’s easy. Could I write a second? It too was an American historical romance with characters from the first book. Then came the next experiment.
You: Which was?
Me: Could I write a contemporary? I did, but I fear that is the book that will stay hidden under my bed. But it served a purpose. It taught me that yes, I could write contemporary romances.
You: I assume there’s another experiment after that?
Me: Why, yes there was! Could I write a story where all the action takes place in the time frame of a week. See all three of my previous books took place over a year’s time. I also wanted that book to be a Romantic Suspense book. That’s how I came to write KIDNAPPED.
You: Aha! Good experiment, since that books is now published and doing pretty well, so I hear.
Me (grinning from ear to ear): Why yes it is. I wrote a number of contemporaries after that, HUNTED, CLOSE TO HOME, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, but alas, despite great critiques, finaling and winning contests, I hadn’t sold a darn book. So, time for more experimentation. Why not erotica?
You (draining your glass): Sue, why not?
Me (filling our glasses again): That’s when I wrote THE SURRENDER OF LACY MORGAN. I thought if I was going to write an erotica, it had to have a good plot and believable characters. It needed to have a natural dominance and submission that seemed to be more prevalent in an earlier time period. And my two heroes would need more than being just good buddies to spend so much time traveling together, but I don’t write M/M books, so they had to be brothers or in this case, blood brothers. The good thing about that particular experiment was that it not only turned out to be a story I was proud of, but it SOLD!!
You: Yes it did! So what was the next experiment?
Me: Could I write a story that only had 30,000 words. All my other books took 80,000+ words to tell. I wanted to submit it to the Lacy Morgan’s publisher, so it needed to be an erotic novella. But I don’t really get into two people meeting and boom, immediately boffing in the bed, or on the table, or in the closet, or in the elevator against the wall. My characters have to have some sort of reason to go at it that fast or time to get that reason. Rule #1 about novellas…the time is compact, both for the writer and the story. Not enough time for the characters to develop a reason to get hot and bothered. Solution: Give them a past. Two characters who once loved each other, but have been separated.
You (actually starting to follow this conversation, or maybe it’s the wine): Oh, good idea.
Me: yep, I thought so. So here’s the blurb for the book:
Michael Barclay, an artist with a promising career before him, came home from the Civil War a broken man on the edge of despair. Wounded and sure his life as an artist is over, he’s ended his engagement to his beautiful muse, Bella.
Arrabella Taylor arrives at Michael’s rural Ohio home uninvited, but with great determination to confront her former fiancé. She means to find out exactly why he’s broken their engagement and try to convince him what a mistake he’s made. When she discovers he’s not only wounded from the war, but broken in spirit, she takes drastic measures to reawaken the artist soul deep inside Michael and rekindle their love.
But is Bella’s touch enough to save not only Michael, but both of them from a danger in Michael’s past that threatens their future?
You: Sounds interesting.
Me: It was. It’s a historical erotic novella, so be prepared for lots of sex! And BELLA’S TOUCH came in at just under 30,000 words!
We cling glasses.
Here’s an excerpt:
The ladder-back chair clattered to the floor as Michael Barclay shoved away from the table, one hand grasping the last bottle of whiskey like a lifeline.
“Dammit,” he muttered, stumbling sideways in the darkness and grabbing the edge of the table to keep vertical.
Once steady, he lifted the bottle and took another long swig, the liquid burning its way down his throat. He wiped the tears that sprang to his eyes and took another drink.
Thunder rumbled in the background.
He hunkered down below the tabletop, holding his breath, waiting for the whistle of a cannonball zooming past.
He listened again. More thunder. Distant, but headed his way.
Just a storm brewing.
With a sniff all he could smell was the damp air of a late Ohio autumn as the rain started up in earnest again. Winter would be here soon.
He relaxed and took another swig of the whiskey before standing straight.
He hoped the bridge didn’t get washed out and Higgins could get through with his new supply of whiskey. Not that it really helped.
If he was lucky, pretty soon he’d pass out for the night—oblivious to the pain, to the memories. Even in the dark, without the liquor he still saw the bodies littering the battlefield, the soldiers’ blood soaking the ground, their moans and wails still ringing in his ears.
God, how he hated the sound.
And the smell. The wretched acrid odor of gunpowder, burnt flesh and blood.
His stomach heaved and he lurched from the room, kicking an empty whiskey bottle across the floor as he went. Managing to find the bucket he dragged it to the bedside before he fell face-first onto the large blurred object in the room he hoped was his bed.
Funny thing, the nausea suddenly passed. At least when he lay down the room and his world quit spinning. He felt almost normal.
He snorted a harsh laugh.
Nothing would ever be normal again. He’d come home half a man. He’d never teach again. He’d never make a living. Never marry Bella.
Sunshine in a world of gray.
That’s what he thought the first time he’d seen her.
A dreary New England gray day in the beginning of winter. A cold Nor’easter had drained the trees of the last of their colorful leaves, dumping several inches of snow on the brown landscape. Nothing like his home in the rolling forested Ohio Valley.
He and several other students stood on the doorstep of the head of the art department. They’d been invited to a lecture on studio techniques of Vermeer. Rumor had it libations were always served when the professor held these at-home gatherings. Truth be known, his funds were low and he’d come for hot food and drink more than the boring topic of painting techniques used by a man long dead.
Then the door opened.
Thoughts of food and his ravenous state disappeared. The cold, stark landscape around him dissolved.
Before him stood the most beautiful, golden creature he’d ever beheld.
Professor Taylor’s daughter Arrabella seemed to glow with joy as she smiled in welcome. Her golden-blonde hair was piled on her head in such a fashion that her curls formed a halo about her heart-shaped face.
“Gentlemen, you’re just in time,” she said. “Father has just begun his lecture.”
Her sapphire-blue eyes twinkled with some inner humor as all the men on the porch doffed their hats and hurried into the warmth of the house.
As the others filed past, Michael drank in every inch of her.
Tall for a woman, he guessed she’d be only a few inches shorter than his six feet. The ocean-blue velvet gown she wore fit her straight shoulders and long arms snugly, as well as her bust, which left little doubt how well her breasts would fill a man’s hands. The bodice tapered over her flat stomach down to a skirt that flared out over her wider hips.
What would it feel like to hold those hips as she rode him?
“And what of you, sir? Don’t you wish to come inside? Or would you prefer to continue standing in the cold measuring me?”
The lightness of her voice, filled with amusement, brought him out of his lustful thoughts. He stammered his reply and started past her, only to have her lay her hand on his, a soft smile on her face and kindness written in her eyes.
“This is your first visit, isn’t it?”
“Please call me Arrabella. Ma’am is my mother.”
He returned her smile. “I’m Michael, Michael Barclay.”
“Go to the kitchen first, Mr. Barclay. If you wait until after the lecture, the other students will have eaten all the food,” she said with a conspiratorial wink.
From that day on, he’d lived for every moment spent with her.
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jan 28 2013, 1:29 am in Alice in Wonderland, American Pie, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Don McClean, James Dean, Rabbit holes, Suzanne Ferrell, White Rabbit
For you who have read or watched the animated version of Alice In Wonderland, (Or even the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version), you will understand when I say, I have fallen down the rabbit hole.
In the story when Alice goes down the hole, she moves from one odd scene to another, seemingly without any rhyme (or sometimes too many of them) or reason. But on she goes, jumping from cottages with strange biscuits to eating mushrooms with opium smoking caterpillars to tea parties with a Mad Hatter and March Hare, to a game of croquette with the Red Queen of Hearts and almost loses her head! (Shew! What an adventure.) Dizzy yet? That book and both movies made my head spin…yet, like Alice, I tend to follow the White Rabbit when he wanders into my head.
Here’s how it happened today.
Halfway through my daily word count, I was taking a break to do some PR work on Facebook and Twitter, when suddenly a tweet popped up that caught my eyes. THIS DAY IN HISTORY. (White Rabbit) Well, if you know anything about me, dear readers, you know I just love oddities about history, so of course I had to click on the URL (rabbit hole).
And we’re off.
First I scanned the page. Hmm, Martin Luther King JR was born in 1929. Cool. A brief read confirmed a lot of what I learned in school. Nothing new. 1974 fashion designer, Rachel Roy (don’t really know her work) was born, interesting, but not enough to send me down another hole. 1919, an 8-foot wave of hot molasses floods the streets of Boston, killing 21 people. Okay…gotta read about that. Bookmark that for possible use in a book.
Further into this rabbit hole I go. OMG, in 1831 Victor Hugo finished writing The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. He’d been contracted to write it for over a year. Who knew publishing companies with contracts were around back then? (I imagine it was a wealthy sponsor more than a business.) How cool is this, nearly 2 centuries later his Les Miserables won Golden Globe honors for acting?
Okay, new hole…a little more relevant to me. In 1972 Don McClean’s epic American Pie hits #1 on the charts. Love that song! Can actually sing all the lyrics, a feat which completely amazes my family as they know I make up my own lyrics when I don’t know what the singer is singing. Must look up that one. Oooo here’s a link to the lyrics. (Left turn in the rabbit hole).
When I was in high school, that song had been out about four years. (You do the math.) My English Teacher, Mr. Harker, a tall, bald man with nearly coke-bottle-bottom-lensed glasses and a late 19th-century type beard, who wore vests and cotton shirts and faded jeans to class, handed us each a copy of the lyrics. (Yes, this is how I know them.) He challenged us to interpret the words based on the history of rock and roll. (Okay, this was way cooler than MacBeth, which I happened to adore, but using stuff from my life to interpret something..way cooler!)
Ooooo, another URL, interpretation of the lyrics. Let’s see how spot on I was. (Right turn in rabbit hole and further down we go.) The first verse tells us about a simpler life when Don was a young teen delivering newspapers on his bike. Then the fateful day when Buddy Holly, Richie Valenz and the Big Bopper all died in an airplane crash. How devestating that must have been?
Then there’s the chorus, “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry. Them good ol’ boys were drinking whiskey & rye. Sayin’ this will be the day that I die. This will be the day that I die.” Two American icons. American as apple Pie and Chevy. Both represented a simpler time of the 50′s. Now that’s gone.
On to verse 2. Our troubadour is now an older teen, going to sock hops (“I was a lonely teenaged broncin’ buck, with a pink carnation and a pick up truck.”) , only to question his girl’s loyalty. He references ”The Book of Love”. Some in my class thought it was about the bible, since the bible is further down in the verse and God is mentioned point blank. But I was one of the few who knew the song, “Who Wrote The Book of Love” from a 1950′s do-wap group, The Monotones. (Yes, got extra credit for finding that one!) And the girl dumped him at the dance, (“And I knew I was out of luck”) The Day The Music Died.
(further into the hole we go) Verse 3: Okay, this is a lonnnnnnnng verse to interpret, because there are so many icons referenced. It’s been more than 10 years without his idol, Buddy Holly, and now there’s this new guy he calls the Jester. Who is the Jester? Some thought it was Mick Jagger because of the line “Moss grows fat on a rolling stone”. But there’s also the reference to “A coat he borrowed from James Dean”. Bob Dylan wore a similar coat on an album cover. The King was thought to be a reference to Elvis, because he was called the King of Rock N’ Roll. But then the King and Queen could be JFK and Jackie O and the jester could be Oswald. “And while the King was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown” and “no verdict was returned” could be the loss of justice in a trial when Oswald was killed. Hmmm
Here in verse 3 he also references more change. “Lennon reads a book on Marx”, (not Groucho) and “the quartet practices in the park” (The Beatles farewell performance at Candle Stick Park). Sigh. I can’t even begin to get into the 4th and 5th verse.
It’s at this point, I realize I am truly, truly deep in the rabbit hole, my day so skewed and my word count lost, that I slowly turn away from the lure of symbolism and metaphors (White Rabbit) and retreat to the sanity of my WIP, before I start chasing URL’s about the Beatles, Janis Joplin and a host of others.
So, do you ever go on a white rabbit chase down the rabbit hole? Do you use it as an excuse, “I’m doing research”? Do you ever start reading one thing and have your attention diverted to something else? What White Rabbit, do you follow?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jan 24 2013, 12:51 am in Contemporary romances, Liliana Hart, Romantic suspense, Self-publishing, Shadows and Silk, Suzanne Ferrell, The MacKenzies
Suz: Banditas and Bandit Buddies, I’m thrilled to bring one of my good friends and a dynamic force in the new independent publishing world to the Lair, Sexy Romantic Suspense author, Liliana Hart. Liliana’s books mix hot, hot sex with the world of Romantic Suspense. And since popping up on the independent publishing world, she’s taken it by storm.
Welcome, Liliana. Pull up a chair at the bar and Sven will be happy to make you your favorite drink.
Liliana: Thank you, Sven and Suz. Make it something tropical. I’m tired of winter and need the sun, surf and sand. And maybe a well-muscled beach bum or two;-)
Suz: So, Liliana, we love “call” stories in the Lair, but you sort of gave yourself the “call” when you decided to go the self-publishing route. What made you take what I like to phrase as the-big-step-of-faith-over-the-deep-dark-chasm into the indie world?
Liliana: Ha! Boy was it ever an act-of-faith-close-your-eyes-and-jump-off-the-cliff kind of moment. My agent at the time had several authors who were having success with self-publishing, and she brought it up to me. I’d been lucky enough (though I thought I was unlucky at the time) to have four different books make it past acquiring editors at different publishing houses. The problem was with marketing. My books were too cross-genre and they had no idea where to shelve them. The books I’m talking about are WHISKEY REBELLION, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, KILL SHOT, and BREATH OF FIRE. (The last two aren’t out yet).
I knew they were good stories that would find an audience if given the chance, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen the traditional way. You always hear people have the most trouble finding an agent, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’ve had three who all were enthusiastic for my work. I just couldn’t seem to get my foot in the door past that.
So my former agent suggested I give self-publishing a try, and of course, I said, “No way.” J I didn’t want to be self-published. Self-publishing was the kiss of death to a career in writing, right? It meant you’d given up and you were selling out. No one who wanted to be respected in this profession went that route, and even the mention of the words brought scorn and loathing from your peers. So I said no. I don’t want to be that person.
But the seed had been planted, and I started to watch what was happening with the industry. I started reading articles and watching the trends. And a month after the seed had been planted, I decided to take the plunge. I’m so grateful I never sold those booksJ I’ve sold more than half-a-million ebooks all over the world, and I’ve never looked back. It’s been a thrill
Suz: Which book was the first for you?
Liliana: I started with a few different titles that I put up all at the same time. I really believe having so many titles available is what gave me that initial visibility to readers. WHISKEY REBELLION, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, PARADISE DISGUISED, and ALL ABOUT EVE made their debut in June of 2011.
Suz: What challenges did you have first starting out? How have they changed?
Liliana: Ooh, that’s a tough one. Everything about self-publishing is trial and error. There are so many variables, and you have to constantly change your game plan and discard things that aren’t working, and then tweak the things that do work to make them relevant as time passes. It’s hard work. I work all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME. But I love it, so it’s not really work, right?
When I first started out, covers were a big challenge for me. I did my own because I was trying to save money. I cringe at the thought of those first covers. Eventually, Photoshop and I became friends and the covers got better and better. I didn’t really have many other challenges when first starting out because I didn’t really have expectations at that point.
Self-publishing was really an experiment. I started with absolutely zero fan base. I picked a pseudonym and put my books up. I didn’t tell friends, and I didn’t tell family (except for my husband). I wanted to see where my books stood on their own without those initial “pity buys.” You all know what I’m talking aboutJ And really, I guess you could say that was one of my initial challenges—keeping what I was doing a secret because I was afraid of what people thought of me. I worried constantly of that, and it took a while before I could really feel like I was “credible.”
My challenges now are vastly different. My life is good, I’m more than happy to admit that. But there’s an amazing pressure now that wasn’t there when I first started publishing. I had no expectations, remember? And my readers didn’t have expectations either. But now every time I sit down at my keyboard, I have that frisson of fear go through my head that I might be disappointing my readers. But that’s also part of what’s so great about self-publishing. I get to write for my readers, not whatever New York happens to be buying at the time.
I’m not at all saying that traditional publishing is bad or that you shouldn’t do it. You should do whatever’s best for your career and your bottom line. Period. I haven’t sworn off traditional publishing, but I no longer look for it either. If someone came along with a deal that made good business sense on my part, then I’d definitely consider it. But gone are the days where I’d take any deal just to say I was traditionally published.
Suz: I just finished reading SHADOWS AND SILK and really loved it. It’s part of the ongoing MacKenzies series, right? I’m not a person who absolutely has to start a book series with book one. If I glom onto a book in the middle of the series, I’ll go back and buy all the earlier books. (It’s all about the author’s voice and story telling for me.) So which book is the first in this series and what’s the series’ titles in order? (I need to get them all now!)
Liliana: LOL! Thank you. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I’m a little in love with the MacKenzies myselfJ The series is kind of broken up into two parts. The first four books in the series are actually novellas. It goes in the order of DANE, THOMAS, RILEY and then COOPER. They’re all brothers. A MACKENZIE CHRISTMAS comes next in the order, and it introduces the other side of the family. Cade MacKenzie is introduced in these earlier books, so readers already know him a little when they get to CADE, which is the next in the series. Then comes SHADOWS AND SILK, which just came out a few weeks ago. SECRETS AND SATIN comes out in February, and then SINS AND SCARLET LACE comes out in April. If you don’t care for novellas, then the place to start is with CADE. There are several more MacKenzie novels in the works. We’re even going to get to meet the original MacKenzies of Montana in a trilogy of sexy cowboy suspense novels set in the 1800s. But ssh…I haven’t announced that yet. (Suz: oooooooo you know how I love sexy western historicals!)
Suz: Let’s share a little bit about SHADOWS AND SILK with our readers. The hero and heroine, Brant Scott and Darcy MacKenzie already have a history at the beginning of the book, right?
Liliana:Yes. You get to meet Darcy MacKenzie and Brant Scott in CADE. Brant is sent to protect Darcy and they have one hot night together before he sneaks from her bed in the middle of the night without a goodbye. As you can imagine, Darcy is a little…angry. That’s where SHADOWS AND SILK starts. Brant works for Homeland Security and Darcy is an expert on the Maya, and it just so happens that fate steps in and shoves them together for a mission where they’re forced to play the part of husband and wife undercover. We’ll just say it’s a learning ex
perience for both of them. Darcy has four older brothers, so she knows how to give as good as she gets. I love the sparks between these two.
EXCERPT OF SHADOWS AND SILK:
“Brant, you’re overreacting,” Darcy hissed. “You don’t really want to marry me, so what the hell is all of this about? I told you, I’m happy to scratch your itch. You’ll be doing me a favor by scratching mine right back. You’re acting like a spoiled child who isn’t getting his way.”
Brant lifted her over a fallen palm tree, and he slowed his pace when a pink stucco building came into view. He pushed her towards one of the two wooden doors, not caring which one they entered.
“Are you insane,” she said, her voice strangled. “This is the ladies room. Someone will come in.”
He looked around the small space and grunted, satisfied that the room was empty. He was losing his mind. There was no other explanation. Of course, he’d lost it four years ago when he’d been buried deep inside the spitfire beside him.
“No they won’t,” he said, locking the door behind them. “This is a lot nicer than the men’s room. No wonder it always takes women so long.”
The floor was square adobe tiles and the countertop was a quartz granite that picked up the colors in the floor and walls. A small wicker loveseat and two chairs sat against the opposite wall, and lotions and tanning oils were lined across the counter. It was clean and smelled of lemons, and best of all, it was private.
“I think you’re insane,” she said. “I don’t understand this at all.”
“Men tend to lose their minds when women are involved. Now answer my question. Do you need to hear the words before you’ll marry me?”
Her eyes narrowed and her hands fisted at her waist. “Of course I need to hear them, you dumbass. But what you don’t understand is that I need you to mean them. That’s why I won’t marry you. Now let me the hell out of this bathroom so I can go enjoy my goddamned honeymoon.”
He caught her as she tried to walk past him and lifted her against him, dodging the knee she tried to jab between his legs and the elbow that glanced off his jaw. He hoisted her up on the counter and pushed her legs apart. The kiss he gave her was rough, a kind of conquering, and his teeth nipped at her bottom lip once before his tongue slipped inside and devoured. His hand fisted in the back of her hair and he yanked so her mouth was tilted higher, and he felt triumph as she moaned into his mouth.
Suz: Who do you see as being the next story in this series?
Liliana: SECRETS AND SATIN is the next book in the series, and it features Max Devlin and Jade Jax, who you first met in SHADOWS AND SILK. This was an extremely emotional book to write. Jade is a widow who very much loved her first husband, but she learns that love can happen twice. It’s a good thing Max is a little arrogant and a lot determined.
Suz: Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced your writing?
Liliana: Ooh, I love this question. I’m a big reader, so I have a lot of influences. Every time I pick up a book it’s like taking a class on writing. I always learn something new. Jenny Crusie is a master at dialogue. I love all of her books. Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, and Linda Howard are great at characters and their development and making that connection with the reader. Laurell K. Hamilton writes amazing fight scenes. Diana Gabaldon just tells a great story, where every sentence comes to life on the page. Judith McNaught is fantastic at writing that “gasp” moment where you’re not sure if the book will truly end right. These are probably my favorites, but the more your read, the more you learn.
Suz: Any other news for our readers?
Liliana: Hmm…I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. The last time I counted, though math has never been my strong suit, I have eight releases out this year. Yes, eight. But it’s going to be a really exciting year. The first book in my paranormal series is coming out in June with Samhain Publishing, and then I’m kicking off a brand new romantic thriller series this summer as well. You can check out new releases as well as all the different places I’ll be over at my website www.lilianahart.com.
Oh, oh!….also, for those of you who are fans of the MacKenzies, make sure you check out the new MacKenzie Family website. It has character profiles, a family tree and all kinds of fun stuff that will be updated frequently so you can get your MacKenzie kick. www.mackenzieseries.com
Thanks so much for having me to the Bandit Lair! I had a blast. I’m going to give away a free download of either CADE or SHADOWS AND SILK to two winners for answering the question in the comments section below. Who’s your favorite hero and heroine of all time? (They don’t have to come from the same book.)
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jan 2 2013, 12:01 am in Alison Welsh, art, comic art, ink on paper, Lyndsey Lewellen, modern art, my home, self-portrait, Suzanne Ferrell
Welcome to my home! As many of you know both my daughters are artists.Today I’d like to show you what my family and I get to enjoy on a daily basis. It means, lucky me, my home is filled with rather unique artwork.(Please excuse all flashes from my camera.)
The first thing I want to show you is the wonderful presents I got for Christmas. On the left is the framed poster of HUNTED’s cover and on the right is KIDNAPPED. Lyndsey made these for me. You can’t read them, but scattered over the covers are quotes from the reviews both books received on Amazon. In fact, right above HUNTED on the right side of the picture is one from someone you all know, our own HELEN! How cool is this. Both of these are going to hang in my office where I can see them every time I enter the room. Talk about inspiration. (The photos don’t do them justcie, they are HUGE.)
Next is the lovely picture my older daughter, Alison made me for Christmas. It’s a couple in a romantic pose, surrounded by my favorite flowers, tulips. This is going in my dining room along with some lovely black and white pictures of my two granddaughters as babies. Alison did both of these, too.
Here’s another wall in my dining room. The three collages you see here were done by Lyndsey. Each picture represents one of us connected by the colors and designs on the background. The one on the left is Lyndsey, represented by her favorite flower, the daisy. I’m in the middle represented by my tulips. And Alison is on the right. Her signature flower? The rose. These were another Christmas present and I adore them!
Now let’s move into the living room. Here is an African gazelle. Isn’t it striking? Know why I love this so much? No, I don’t have a thing for long-horned goat/deer creatures.
This particular piece of art was made entirely with dots. I made a close up so you could see. No lines, just dots, even the background. This piece has fascinated me for years. A school project, Lyndsey even coerced her brother and best friend into helping her fill in the background dots the night before this was due. I know for a fact that buried in the background of dots are my now son-in-law’s name and the name of a boy her best friend adored back then. Haven’t been able to find them…yet!
Also in the living room you will see this piece that Alison did. The native
American woman gives a nod to my dual heritage, (Cherokee on both sides from my parents who lived in Tennessee). I also thought the strength and determination in her pose quite moving. This piece sits on my mantel except at Christmas.
And hanging next to the mantle is this piece of cross stitch I did years ago. It’s the only kind of art work I can manage, but it reminds me of the lovely Grandmother’s Garden quilts my own grandmother had.
Next you can see what hangs in the guest bedroom. This picture on the left was another assignment for Lyndsey. She had to take an everyday object and use it in three different ways. This was a candle and the woman, who given Lyndsey’s love of comics is a superhero, is using it as a weapon. The comic art graphics of this appeals to me and I just had to hang it.
Next to it in the same room is this piece that Lyndsey did for an art show in downtown Dallas. Again, a woman with superpowers, you can see her forming a protective shield with her hand. Her daddy loved it so much he bought it. I keep trying to get her to make me another one to go with it…but she’s a little busy these days.
Back in my office, I thought I’d show you a couple of more pieces. This one is a poster we had Lyndsey make for a DARA function. We wanted to educate the people attending the seminar and the book signing about the important role Romances make in the publishing market place. With RWA’s permission we used facts and quotes on the poster…but in the lower left corner, that couple ALMOST touching? I use that to remind me of how sexual tension should feel. That’s from one of Lyndsey’s favorite comics, X-men. She drew her interpretation of two characters in a sensual stance…almost touching, almost kissing. Do you know which characters?
Hanging so I can see it from my desk chair is this picture. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a self-portrait that Lyndsey did of herself when she was about 16 or 17. How you look into a mirror and draw yourself AND make it look exactly like you…amazes me. I have it up there to remind me, that if you concentrate long enough and hard enough you can achieve something masterful. That, and it’s just beautiful to look at!
Here are those two black ink drawings Alison did for me from when my granddaughters were babies. (I’m still waiting for the ones for my grandsons!) Now that I have that lovely couple in tulips picture to balance it out, I can get these up in my dining room. Aren’t they sweet?
And this isn’t going in my house, but was just too precious not to share. This is Alison’s daughter from a photo Lyndsey took of her coloring at my dining room table. Lyndsey drew it onto paper then with the suggestions from her own daughter added the imagination that comes from art. She even let her help color it. This was Lyndsey’s gift to her sister for Christmas. It rendered Alison speechless.
So, that’s the art gallery walk in my house. I still have a few rooms those two can fill with their collective work. I might even go through their old portfolio’s one day and find some more treasures to hang.
How about you? Got any special photos or art pieces you love? Tell me about them. Got any special wall hangings, quilts, cross stitch pieces? Are you an artist?