Posted by Donna MacMeans Jul 23 2010, 5:00 am in Dark Embers, Dragons, Jo Beverley, Shapeshifters, Tessa Dare, Tracy Wolff
hosted by Donna MacMeans
I have a real treat for you today! Tracy Wolff, writing as Tessa Adams, is joining us for the day. Tracy writes something for everyone, from Silhouette Superromance, to yummy single title paranormals to young adult novels. (whew!) Today, we’re featuring Dark Embers, her Dragon-shifting paranormal from NAL. Check out the fabulous cover and back cover blurb:
King Dylan MacLeod is one of the last pure-bred dragon shapeshifters in existence—and ruler of a dying race, the Dragonstar clan. It falls to him to protect his people—and their ancient magic. He has one more duty: to provide an heir.
Like all dragons, Dylan can only procreate with his destined mate—for whom he’s searched for five hundred years. His dark, rampant sexual appetite has earned him quite the reputation, all in the pursuit of his one true match.
But his search is delayed when a deadly disease sweeps through the Dragonstars, and Dylan must venture to the human world to find a cure. He tracks down renowned biochemist Phoebe Quillum, never imagining the beautiful scientist will be the mate he’s been seeking for centuries. But no sooner do they meet then Phoebe and Dylan are besieged by an obsessive, overpowering sexual desire.
Their passion turns to something truer—and they know in their souls and bodies that they’re in too deep to get out. And when Phoebe is kidnapped by Dylan’s oldest enemy, he must risk everything to reclaim the only woman he’s ever loved, or his clan will be wiped out forever.
So welcome, Tessa! So glad you could join us here today.
First of all, Donna, I’d like to thank you so much for having me here today. I love your blog and am so excited that you’ve let me be a small part of it.
We’re excited to have you. Shapeshifting novels are hot right now. What inspired you to chose a dragon shapeshifter?
When my editor first approached me about writing a sexy paranormal series, right away I knew I wanted to write a shifter series. And since I’ve been fascinated by dragons since I was a young girl (I always thought they were so much more interesting than the prince who came to rescue the damsel in distress) it just made sens
e to try my hand and writing them. Thankfully, my editor loved the concept and Dylan and the Dragonstar clan of modern day New Mexico were born.
You also have a Superromance coming out as well, can you tell us about that?
My July Superromance, Beginning with Their Baby, is a follow-up to my June 2009 story, From Friend to Father. Though I wrote The Christmas Present, my Rita nominated book, in between the two, I got so much reader mail asking about Matt that I couldn’t resist giving him his own story. I paired super-serious Matt with fun-loving, capricious Camille and then watched the sparks fly. And, boy, do they fly. The third book in the trilogy, Unguarded, features Matt’s sister, Rhiannon, and hits the shelves in December of this year.
I have enough difficulty writing for one house. What’s it like writing for two publishing houses?
I actually write for three publishing houses now. I’m at Harlequin, New American Library (Penguin) and I have two young adult novels coming out from Walker Books in 2011. Actually, I really enjoy writing three very different things for three different publishers. I’m a very eclectic reader, and always have been, and writing for three houses gives me a chance to explore the many different story ideas in my head. Plus, I learn something new about my writing from each book I write and each editor I write for. The challenging, and exciting, part is taking what I learn from one house and using it to the best of my ability with another book for another house.
Here in the lair, we love call stories. For our writer/readers, can you tell us about your path to publication?
This is usually when I start to dodge the question, because I was incredibly blessed on my path to publication. I’ve known my whole life that I wanted to be a writer, and spent my entire college career training for this fact (I have an MFA in creative
writing and a Ph.D in American Literature) but it wasn’t until we moved to Texas four years ago that I really had the chance to pursue my dream (between school, work, and my children I didn’t have much time or energy left to actually write). My husband and I agreed that I would quit work for a year and spend my time writing. If at the end of the year, I was nowhere, then I would go back to trying to fit my writing in between a full-time job and a family.
The first thing I did, was get online and find out about RWA. It was May, so I signed up to go to their national conference, where I didn’t know one other soul. But I went, found out that Harlequin was running two contests—one for their new Everlasting Love line and one for their Blaze line. I already had an idea for the Everlasting Love story, so I went home and wrote that first chapter. I submitted it to the contest and wrote the Blaze chapter as well, submitting it to that contest.
The Blaze contest announced first, and I was thrilled the day I received the phone call from Blaze editor, Kathryn Lye, telling me I had placed in the contest and that they were requesting a full of my novel, Picture Me. I’d written the whole thing while I waited to hear about the contest, so it was ready to go in the mail the day after I got the news.
About a month later, I heard from Paula Eykelhof at Everlasting Love, that I had placed in that contest as well. They, also, requested the full manuscript of my second novel, The Turn for Home.
As I waited to hear from Kathryn and Paula regarding the status of my submissions, I had a premature baby and spent the next months dealing with his medical issues and running from one doctor to another. But right about the time that things had finally leveled off for him and his pediatrician pronounced him in very good health, I got the call from Beverly Sotolov at Everlasting Love, telling me they wanted to publish my book, The Turn for Home.
Talk about excited!!!!!!!! I actually cried when she told me, a fact she was very proud of as I was her very first crier. As I revised the book and anxiously awaited its publication, I finally heard from Kathryn, who was passing on Picture Me, as she didn’t feel the heroine was a Blaze heroine. Of course, she was right. She gave me a number of suggestions on how to change the book to make it more Single Title friendly, many of which I took, so that when I signed with my fabulous agent a few months later, and she asked if I had any books laying around under the bed, I was able to answer, “Why, yes, I do …”
Within three weeks, she had sold Picture Me, which I was now calling Full Exposure, to NAL in a two book erotic suspense contract. At the same time, Harlequin was closing down the Everlasting Love line and moving many of the book purchased for it over to Superromance. What this meant, for The Turn for Home, was an extensive revision to make it more Superromance friendly, and it finally became my very first novel, published in November 2008, as A Christmas Wedding. It was followed in January 2009 by Full Exposure. The rest is history …
Tessa, you make me dizzy just reading about your journey. So many simultaneous releases! Anything new on the horizon?
Yes, actually, I have a lot of stuff going on in 2011. As I mentioned above, I have a new young adult paranormal coming out in March 2011, called Tempest Rising. It is the story of a young girl named Tempest, who is the daughter of a professional surfer and a mermaid. As her 17th birthday approaches, she must make a choice between staying human or becoming mermaid. She expects to stay human, but then things are taken out of her control when she is forced to face down an evil unlike any she has ever experienced.
Due out in the same month, is Hidden Embers, the second book in my dragon shifter series, about Quinn, Dylan’s right hand man and the clan’s best healer. Later in the year I will also have my next Superromances coming out, as well as the YA book my writing partners and I just sold, called The International Kissing Club, about four girls from small town Texas who, for various reasons, become foreign exchange students. Determined to find themselves, and kiss as many foreign guys as possible, they form a Facebook page to keep track of the points they earn from their many kissing adventures … only things go from fun to complicated in the blink of an eye.
Those sound like fun. Can you give us a sneak peek into Dark Embers?
He’d failed. Again.
Locked inside his head, tormented by shades of what might have been, Dylan MacLeod stepped into the night and closed the heavy, wooden door behind him.
He paused for a moment, sucked in a deep breath full of heat and sand and misery. Told himself it was no big deal. Part of him even believed it.
After four hundred and seventy years, he was damn good at lying to himself.
Shoving away from the small house with the cactus garden and the stone swimming pool in the front yard, he walked the deserted street rapidly. It was three a.m., and his only company was a scorpion or two. The desert was quiet, the night solemn.
And he had failed again.
With each step he took, his conscience grew heavier.
With each footfall, his heart grew colder, until he was once again at that place without hope. It was where he usually existed, where he’d spent the last century, mired in guilt and rage and a fear he refused to admit.
That he was here now was his own fault. It had been stupid, even for a moment, to truly believe that she might have been the one.
Agitation made him walk faster, until his boots were pounding the pavement in rhythm with his too-quick pulse. Self-disgust made him shut down inside, until all he could think of was the night.
The moon shining brilliantly over the desert.
At least until his jeans sagged around his ass.
With a muttered curse, Dylan yanked the faded denim back into place. Slid the button through the tab, jerked up the zipper.
What did it say about him that this latest encounter had left him so desperate to get away that he hadn’t stayed long enough even to get his clothes on properly? Worse, he hadn’t bothered to say good-bye to Eve . . . Eva? Eden?
For a brief moment, he struggled to remember her name, what she looked like. Then let it go, as it mattered less than nothing. It wasn’t like he’d be seeing her again. Within moments of slipping inside her, he’d figured out that she wasn’t the one—none of the signs were there.
No instant connection between them, as his clan mates so often spoke about.
No burning as the tattoo around his arm shifted to reflect the presence of his mate.
No searing pain as a part of her soul arrowed into his.
Nothing but a mediocre orgasm that had barely given his powers a pulse. Before she’d rolled off him, he’d been plotting his escape. And by the time the shower had kicked on in the bathroom, he’d been halfway to the front door.
God, he was a fucked-up bastard. Cold as ice, despite the fire that raged within him. Hot as flame, despite the glacier that had taken up residence in his stomach. Was it any wonder, then, that he couldn’t find her?
He didn’t deserve her.
His laugh, when it came, was anything but humorous. That had to be the understatement of the year. The decade. The new millennium, and probably the old one, as well. Why else would it have taken him this long to do what everyone else managed in the first two centuries of their existence? Why else would he be doomed to failure night after night, encounter after encounter? He had screwed up generations ago, and now he and his clan were paying the cosmic price. Big time.
His boots ate up the streets in the sleepy little town, as he struggled to put distance between himself and his latest sexual escapade. Wind whipped around him, played with the tails of his shirt, caressed his bare chest. But Dylan didn’t bother buttoning up. What was the point, when he was headed right back to the bar to find yet another female shifter interested in taking it off?
Hope sprang eternal.
As he walked, he scanned the desert around him. Checked out every brush of the wind against cactus; narrowed his eyes at the rustle behind a random pile of heavy rocks. Then shook his head as a low, deep howl split the air next to him. A lonely coyote was the least of his problems.
If someone had told him four hundred years ago that he would be here, in this place, he would have laughed at them. If they’d told him he would grow tired of night after night of hot, anonymous sex, he would have told them they were insane. But youth was like that—arrogant, seemingly invincible, convinced the world was for the taking. Or at least that’s how his youth had been.
He’d spent centuries gorging on women, taking them each and every way he could. Glutting himself on their scent and taste and feel, until his powers reached staggering heights. Devouring whatever they gave him with a grin and a wink and a softly whispered “Thank you.”
He had plenty of time, he’d told his father when the man had advised him to settle down. He was trying to find the right woman, he’d promised his mother when she’d fretted about the future. And then, from one heartbeat to the next, everything had changed.
His brother had been murdered. His parents had died soon after. He’d been crowned king. And just that suddenly, his people, his legacy, were without an heir. Bad enough that the second son was now the king. That he couldn’t find a mate, couldn’t deliver on his family’s legacy, was a nightmare.
There were others—his sister, his niece—who could take his place if he fell. But it wouldn’t be the same. The line of succession, which had remained in his family for more than three thousand years, would fall with him.
One more fuckup from a man who had never wanted to be king in the first place.
Dylan shoved the thought away—what he wanted didn’t play into things anymore. What was best for his people did. And what was best for them now was that he provide them an heir.
He should already have done so, should already have guaranteed his people’s survival through this millennia and into the next. God knew he had tried—for nearly four hundred years, he had tried. And he had failed.
No mate meant no heir.
No mate meant night after night of anonymous sex as he searched for her.
No mate meant a dwindling in his powers that was not just devastating, but downright dangerous—for himself and his people.
His was a precarious state of events for any centuries-old dragon, but for him it was an out-and-out disaster—particularly considering the state his clan was in.
Not that an heir would solve all the problems, but it would solve the most pressing—including the fact that it had been far too many years since a young dragon had been born to Dragonstar.
Far too long since they’d had something to celebrate.
His cell phone vibrated in his pocket, and for one brief second Dylan considered ignoring it. The day had been dismal enough—any more bad news and he might just take flight and never return. The idea was far more inviting than it should have been, far more compelling than it had ever been before.
In the end, he grabbed his phone and flipped it open. Barked “Hello” in a voice he knew was far from welcoming. He was king of the Dragonstar clan, and as such could never be unavailable to his people. That didn’t mean he had to like it—especially tonight.
“Dylan, come quick.”
A shot of uneasiness worked its way down his spine at the panic in his best friend’s—and second- in-command’s—voice. As a rule, nothing fazed Gabe.
“It’s Marta. She’s—” Gabe’s voice broke. “She’s sick.”
His stomach plummeted to his boots. “Are you sure?”
His brother-in-law’s voice was hoarse. “I’m sure. I tried to deny the symptoms, to ignore them, but that’s not possible anymore. I don’t think—” His voice broke again. “I don’t think she’s going to make it through this.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Dylan was already running, his boots echoing in the deserted street as he stripped his shirt from his body. He didn’t bother with the pants or boots; they would take too long. Just blurred his image as he started to shift.
Pain—red-hot and intense—as bones broke, reshaped, grew longer.
Pleasure—acute and all-consuming—as he became what he was meant to be.
He ignored both sensations; concentrated instead on making it through the change. One more second. Two. And then he was in the air, his wings spread wide as he soared through the star-bright sky.
Not Marta, not Marta, not Marta. The simple phrase was a mantra in his head as he sped toward his lieutenant’s house, making sure to stay invisible, despite the panic racing through him. So many of his friends, so many of his clan, had been taken from him in the last years. He couldn’t stand to lose his sister—Gabe’s wife—too.
Please, God, not his baby sister, too.
But when he landed in Gabe’s yard, he knew his prayers had, once again, gone unanswered. He could smell the blood from outside the house, could hear his sister’s nonsensical mutterings through the walls of dense stone.
Marta was bleeding out.
Probably already paralyzed.
If her illness followed the same pattern all the others had, she would be dead before the next moonrise. And there was nothing he could do about it.
Inside him, the power sputtered to life, surged through him. The need to heal, to fix, to do what he was destined to do. But he’d tried it so many times before on so many of his clan members, and each time, he had failed. This disease was an enemy he didn’t know how to fight.
Rage and anguish welled within him, crushing his lungs and twisting his spine into hard knots. Throwing back his head, Dylan roared with all his pent-up fury—then went inside to watch his baby sister die.
I’m always on the lookout for a good paranormal author. Who are some of your favorites? A few of mine are Patricia Briggs, Christine Feehan, Nalini Singh and Marjorie M. Liu. I’ll choose a winner for a copy of Dark Embers from the comments.
Posted by Anna Campbell Apr 2 2008, 2:00 am in Bandita Booty, Tessa Dare
Do you know one of the many reasons I loved having future romance star Tessa Dare on the Bandits? There are SOOOO many opportunities to play games with her last name!
So without any further ado, I now announce the winner of the $20 Amazon voucher that Tessa very kindly offered to one lucky commenter on Monday. And can I say you all did me proud? Tessa had a wonderful day and received such a tumultuous welcome!
Oh, dear, that probably counts as further ado…
The winner is…
Robyn, congratulations. Hmm, what can I say now to make you buy BANDITA books?!!! The fact that all you have to do is click on the covers on the right-hand side and hey, presto, there you are in Amazon? How easy is that?
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 31 2008, 4:30 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Call Stories, Goddess of the Hunt, Tessa Dare
by Anna Campbell
It’s my great pleasure to introduce new author Tessa Dare, the overall winner of Avon’s FanLit contest in 2006. I was a FanLit groupie which is how Tessa and I met. Her debut book, which sounds like a complete delight, is called GODDESS OF THE HUNT and it comes out from Ballantine in August 2009 as part of a back to back release of a trilogy.
Tessa, congratulations on your amazing success. Could you tell us something about your writing journey to this point?
Thank you, Anna! And thanks to all the Banditas for welcoming me to your lovely lair. I’m so honored to be invited, especially because my writing journey is still in its early stages. My books won’t be on the shelf for more than a year yet. As I told you a few months ago, it feels like I’ve got a long road to publication ahead of me, and my odometer’s reading 000003. Maybe by now it’s 000019. Several months ago, I was looking at a website of a children’s book author (I hesitate to give his name, lest his tender-aged readers google it and find my own completely inappropriate books instead) but his advice to young writers went something like this: if you want to be a published writer, you should, of course, write—every day, if possible. But you should also try very hard—every day, if possible—to be lucky. And that is how I would describe my writing journey thus far. I’ve worked very hard (and continue to work hard) to write good books, but I also tried very hard to be lucky. I quit a paying job to write, forced my shy, introverted self out of my comfort zone, and followed up every contact, lead, and nibble of interest. In the end, it paid off—I got very, very lucky. I had the help of some brilliant people in making my book the best it could be, I found a wonderful agent, and she got me an amazing three-book deal that surpassed my wildest dreams.
Tessa, that was amazingly brave to give up your day job! Kudos to you! Now, we in the Bandita lair love call stories. Could you please share yours with us?
Gee. I’m never quite sure how to answer that question, because for me “the call” was stretched out over a couple weeks. Last summer, I signed with my wonderful agent, Helen Breitwieser, and in early fall she sent GODDESS OF THE HUNT out on submission. After several very quiet, very tense (on my end!) weeks, during which my primary activities were checking my cellphone charge and refreshing my inbox, one day she called me to let me know about two different offers she’d received, and to say that a third editor was interested, and we’d be going to auction the following Monday. So that was an extremely exciting call! I remember, I was still reeling when I emailed my CPs, and the subject line was something like this: “OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!” And then shortly thereafter, there was another call: oops! Monday’s a holiday, so we’re pushing back the auction to Tuesday. Then there was the call that another editor was interested and conferring with colleagues, so the auction would be on Wednesday. Then there were some other calls and delays on Wednesday and Thursday, and the upshot was that the auction did not wrap up until Friday.
And in between these calls were about 83 emails, and lots of long, aimless walks with my children in the stroller and my cellphone at the ready, and absolutely no sleep. I was running on coffee fumes. Then on Friday, my agent called me to tell me Ballantine had won the auction, and after an hour or so of rapturous squeeing and phoning and emailing, I hurried off to complete some of the many errands I’d been putting off all week. And that’s when I actually missed “The Call” from my new editor. *shakes head* But I still have her voicemail saved! And all those 83 emails.
It was an extremely surreal week, and I’m still pinching myself months later. I happened to hit the market at just the perfect time, when interest in new historicals was spiking. Like I said, I got very, very lucky. But my most memorable moment was not actually a call. It was the day I took my signed Random House contract to the post office—the same post office where I’d taken so many contest entries and submissions to be mailed over the past year. That’s when it became real, when I finally felt safe to tell myself, “I did it. I’m a professional novelist.” I was shaking and almost in tears.
Great call story, Tessa! GODDESS OF THE HUNT, your first book, comes out in 2009. Please give us a thumbnail sketch of the story.
It starts something like this. Lucy Waltham has spent eight autumns as “one of the boys”, fishing, shooting, and admiring her brother’s rakishly charming friend. When the object of her adoration plans to marry another woman, Lucy vows to snag him first. She enlists the assistance of Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall–a jaded man with a troubled past and very little patience for his friend’s troublesome sister. He’s always kept Lucy at arm’s length–until the night she throws herself straight into his arms, and suddenly the girl he’s always ignored is the woman he can’t forget. And that’s just the first chapter. I haven’t even gotten to the near-drownings, riots, or hot interludes in wardrobes. You can read a longer blurb and excerpt on my website.
What else do you have in store for readers?
Well, GOTH is the first in a back-to-back trilogy of Regency-set historicals, meaning the three books will be released in consecutive months (currently set for Aug/Sep/Oct 09). So if you like GODDESS OF THE HUNT, you won’t have to wait long to read books two and three: SURRENDER OF A SIREN, and the book I’m tentatively calling A LADY OF PERSUASION. All three are sexy, funny, romantic, and fun.
Can you describe your writing routine for us?
Hmm, Anna, I’m imagining you mean “routine” as in “orderly pattern of behavior”. But in the Dare household, the only “routine” we have resembles a circus act. Picture me walking the highwire all day, while my two young children (the darelings) alternately take the parts of clowns, acrobats, and snarling lions. Inevitably, there is popcorn strewn on the floor. Then when the strong man, Mr. Dare, comes within shouting distance, I sort of stuff the darelings into the cannon and shoot them off to him. If executed perfectly, this “routine” allows me to escape with my laptop to a café for a few hours of writing. And yes, we do it all without a net.
The Banditas met through a contest (the 2006 Golden Heart) and I met you through a contest (Avon FanLit). Clearly contests have a lot going for them. Do you have any words of wisdom on writing contests that you’d like to share with us?
Well, I certainly cannot claim the sort of contest success the Banditas have enjoyed! I did enter a handful of contests with GOTH. I won a few and bombed in a few, but absolutely the best prizes I’ve taken away from any contest experience are friends and mentors. I met my fabulous critique partners and made dozens of friends through FanLit, and other contests (even ones I didn’t final in) put me in contact with published authors who’ve been wonderful sources of inspiration and advice. I know I don’t have to tell the Banditas what great networking opportunities can come out of writing contests. However, when people ask me about contests, I try to caution against using contests as a substitute for querying and submitting manuscripts. I received two requests for my full manuscript from final judges in contests I’d entered in the spring of 2007: both came after the book sold in October. So if you wait around for contest results, you could be letting other opportunities slip by.
Have any other writers influenced you? What are your favorite romance novels?
I would not be writing historical romance novels today if it were not for my love of Jane Austen. Her novels are so abundant in brilliance and so heartbreakingly few in number! I eventually turned to Regency-set historicals as a way to keep satisfying my yen for delicious wit and period romance, and then I started writing my own. My first attempts to write historical romance were actually PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fanfiction, which I’ve blogged about recently and written about in the April issue of Romance Writers Report. In the historical romance subgenre, some of my favorite authors are Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Loretta Chase, Julie Anne Long, Elizabeth Hoyt, Laura Lee Guhrke, and on and on from there… As you can probably gather, my preferences tend toward light, witty comedies, although I like to mix it up every once in a while with a dark, atmospheric historical or a snappy contemporary.
Tell us five quirky facts about Tessa Dare.
1. I’m phobic about being trapped underwater. I love the surface of it – sailing, snorkelling, swimming—but scuba diving, no way. 2. Ironically enough, it’s water that gets me going again when I feel “trapped” in my writing. If I’m stuck on a scene, I go wash dishes. Usually, by the time I’m done, I’ve figured my scene out. 3. I live in a 1922 bungalow – plenty of cute built-in bookshelves, but no dishwasher. 4. We had a dishwasher hookup installed a few years ago, but still haven’t bought one. Because that would involve shopping, and I hate shopping. And then how would I get unstuck when a scene’s giving me fits? 5. My grandmother (who does have a dishwasher) still has my first “book” in her filing cabinet– a sort of epic Cinderella tale written over a holiday visit, entitled “Martha the Cranberry”.
Tessa has some important questions to ask visitors to the lair:
Do you own a dishwasher? Are you happy with it? Care to recommend any particular makes or models? Obviously, contests are one way for aspiring authors to go about “trying very hard to be lucky”. I’m curious to know what other methods the Banditas have found successful. Oh, and if anyone has advice for me on how to spend the coming year as I wait for my books to hit the shelves—please fire away! She has very generously offered a $20 Amazon voucher to one lucky commenter!