Posted by Kate Carlisle Mar 25 2013, 12:05 am in contest, Giveaway, goodreads, harlequin desire, Kate Carlisle, writing life
Have you seen the ad on TV, sponsored by letter carriers, asking us to let our congresspeople know we want to keep Saturday delivery of the mail? The United States Postal Service is planning to go to five-days-a-week delivery starting this autumn. I’m trying to decide whether I’ll miss getting mail on Saturdays and, if so, whether I’ll miss it enough to prompt me to write to my congresspeople. And if so, whether it would be just plain wrong to write to them by email.
Communication has evolved and continues to do so. Once upon a time, the telegraph was the latest thing. Have you ever received a telegram? I sure haven’t. And yet, I imagine that telegraph operators were unhappy when the telephone began to become ubiquitous.
Now we communicate almost instantly with people around the world – right here in the Lair, as a matter of fact. So we use the regular postal service less and less. Is it a tragedy or simply a natural progression, the continued evolution of communication?
Almost everything that comes by regular mail to my house is an advertisement for something. I’ve grown to resent the companies that send catalogs because it seems like such a waste of paper when all of their products can be viewed online.
But oh, a couple of times a year, the mailman brings me something really exciting. Last week, he brought my favorite package of the year so far – a box of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY ARCs! I’m so excited about this book, which will be my first hardcover. I immediately jumped onto Goodreads and set up a giveaway. That way, three lucky readers will have the pleasure of receiving their copies in the mail, too.
The next exciting package that should arrive will be my authors’ copies of SHE’S HAVING THE BOSS’S BABY, my may release with Harlequin Desire. I’m really, really excited about this one, too – but not so excited that I couldn’t wait until Monday if Saturday delivery were already stopped.
What about you? Do you think five days per week is enough? You Banditas and Bandita buddies who live in other countries, how often is mail delivered where you live? How would you feel if the government decided to cut out a day in order to save money?
Posted by Kate Carlisle Feb 25 2013, 12:05 am in deadlines, Kate Carlisle, writer's life, writing life
Deadlines are like mountains. When they’re far away, they look tiny.
“No problem,” you think. “I can climb that.”
Then you travel a little further down the story road, not paying much attention to Deadline Mountain. It’s there, but it’s part of the scenery. You’re focused on where you are now, caught up in the story in your head.
The deadline is something you talk about casually. “Yeah, I’ve got a deadline coming up, but I’m right on track.”
However, at some point, before you know what’s happening, you’re in the shadow of the mountain and you can’t ignore it anymore. You can’t escape the chill. You’re only halfway finished with your journey, and the rest of it is a steep climb.
From there, every step takes massive energy and effort. You have to write an entire chapter every day, so you forget about pesky things like eating healthy and getting dressed every morning and paying the bills on time. Powered by chocolate, you hunker down and you climb. That. Mountain.
You might not look pretty, but you get ‘er done, dang it.
Oh, the indescribable joy of hitting “Send,” to email the completed manuscript to my editor! Against insurmountable odds – such as my own tendency toward procrastination – I conquered Deadline Mountain. Triumph!
Let me tell you, the view is pretty sweet from up here. That next mountain looks tiny.
Tell me something you have accomplished in your life that makes you feel proud! What mountains have you climbed?
Posted by Anna Campbell Feb 10 2013, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Life, The Winter Wife, writing life
I hear a lot of stuff on social media and in my ‘real’ life about how the world is going to the dogs. You know, people don’t have any manners anymore and we’re an angry world and everybody’s horrid to everybody else and… You know the drill.
I have to say in general, while there are definitely rotten apples out there, that hasn’t been my experience.
This blog has been on the backburner for a while – because I had new books out, I’ve been talking about my stories rather than doing general posts over the last few months. But I want to tell you about some lovely experiences I had last September. And a post so near Valentine’s Day seems just ideal!
I seemed to spend most of last September on public transport going from my home on the beautiful Sunshine Coast to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. It’s actually not far but getting there if you don’t drive is a major effort – three hours if I’m lucky, more if I’m not. I was also on deadline for my second Sons of Sin book, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, which made it quite a stressful time.
So three trips to Briz Vegas (the Brisbane Writers Festival, a workshop at the Queensland Writers Centre and a visit to see the Hamburg Ballet – OK, I can’t blame that one on my writing career, LOL!). Because time was at a premium, on each of these three occasions, after staying in town, I caught the 5am express train home. Because trains are fairly widely spaced, if I left it any later, I’d lose most of the day in travel whereas the 5am train gets me home just after 8am and ready (if yawning) for a day’s work on the computer.
That meant leaving my hotel on the Queen Street Mall at around 4:30 to catch a cab to Roma Street Station where I get my train north. Picture dark, scary, lonely Queen Street Mall full of closed shops with the freezing wind blowing MacDonald’s wrappers around. Me with suitcase rolling up to the taxi rank opposite Brisbane’s Casino, sure I was going to get bopped on the head at the very least.
My first experience of this, there were some guys there in a South African Rugby club’s shirts – players or supporters, not sure, but BIG!!! And clearly having spent the night carousing at the casino. Me – wondering if maybe this was a good idea. Praying for a heap of taxis to turn up, I try and shrink into myself and be inconspicuous which is fairly hard when you’re a woman facing down about eight liquor-happy men and there’s NOBODY ELSE AROUND!
My prayers are heard. A taxi arrives. Only one! Eeeek! Rugby player turns to me and asks very nicely if I’d like to take the cab as I have a suitcase. Now these guys are obviously ready to call it a night and I imagine were just as keen for a taxi to turn up as I was. I demur (why, I now ask myself!). They insist, most politely, and even lift my case into the cab. Off I go to get my vilely early train, amazed at the kindness of strangers.
Second occasion about a week later – picture the setting exactly the same, except this time I’m facing a couple of local lads who are clearly ready to go home after a big night. Taxi finally turns up, local lads step back, allow me to take it and wave me on my way. Remember, this is 4:30 on a cold early spring morning! Everybody is keen to go where they need to!
Third occasion – same setting but one very charming Irish boy who looks like he should still be home with Mamma. Turns out he’s worked all night at the casino. He’s obviously tired and ready to go home. He rang for taxis when I joined him and when only one turned up, let me take it with such lovely manners.
Wow, that’s three out of three for people being unnecessarily kind! Who says the world is an awful place? Not me!
So I’d like to thank those kind and unnamed knights in shining armour for proving that niceness isn’t nearly as rare as some people would like us to believe. And in your honor, I’m decorating this blog with flowers as a cyber bouquet for you! I hope you all went on to win the lottery!
So have you been the recipient of any random acts of kindness lately? Do you think the world is becoming a hard and horrible place? Or are you like me, much more of a cockeyed optimist?
As a random act of kindness, I’ll give away a download of my novella THE WINTER WIFE to someone who comments today. Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jan 11 2013, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Brontes, Childhood, Education, Enid Blyton, libraries, reading, writing life
by Anna Campbell
OK, I know I was on yesterday. Everything’s a bit mixed up this week.
As anyone who’s read a couple of Anna Campbells knows, my heroes always have wonderful libraries. Wonderful libraries where they often get to see stars with their particular heroines. There’s another library nookie scene in my October release SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.
What can I say? I think books are sexy!
And I think my definition of heaven would be to spend eternity in a well-stocked library that got all the new romance releases every month! I’d much rather read all day than play the harp on a cloud. Especially if the library included a nice meeting room or two with a well-stocked bar and lots of booky people to shoot the breeze with.
I would love to own a library – I mean a specific room put aside for books which is full of lovely squashy leather sofas and display tables and a big desk or two. Sadly, the scale of modern houses doesn’t really lend itself to such extravagance. Not to mention the scale of modern bank balances!
In my dreams, all libraries should look like the beautiful one in the top picture which is from Trinity College in Cambridge. Or the one in Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the home of the Duke of Marlborough, which has been the model for most of the libraries in my books. Mind you, it includes a full scale pipe organ which my dream library could do without (and please, no organ jokes! We’re a clean-living lot here in the lair!).
The libraries I grew up with looked more workaday, like the one in the picture to the right just above. But it doesn’t really matter what a library looks like. It’s the wonderful accumulation of wisdom and information and adventure and emotion and drama and beauty between the covers of the books that really counts. I love the way in a library, you have the whole universe at your fingertips.
So I guess you could say I definitely belong to the I LOVE LIBRARIES club.
This love affair started very early. The first library I met was at Redland Bay primary school where I grew up outside Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. This wasn’t a big library but it definitely produced many treasures. One book I remember with particular fondness was A BOOK OF PRINCESSES, a Puffin anthology with wonderful short stories about, you guessed it, princesses. Hmm, I can’t see that having any influence on my future choice of writing career, can you? Snork. I must have read that at least ten times. A lot of the stories were really sad (there was an Oscar Wilde one I remember with a dwarf who loved a very nasty princess from afar and with a tragic outcome) but they were all beautiful.
The library also seemed to specialize in series of girls with careers. I remember an intrepid girl reporter (Cherry someone?) and Shirley Flight, an air hostess and a nurse whose name escapes me. There were shelves and shelves of Biggles books but they were strictly a masculine preserve. And I remember devouring old hardback editions of the Famous Fives by Enid Blyton which seemed to be as far as the library extended in the direction of my favorite author at the time.
Toward the end of my primary school days, the American Consulate in Brisbane gave us some wonderful American books – this was back in the days when the U.S. used to use cultural diplomacy to win minds and hearts in allied nations. Lots of Mark Twain and Washington Irving. Can’t remember much else. Definitely classics!
A more fertile ground for exploration was the council library in Cleveland about eight miles away. My parents had a farm and worked most days so my grandmother was responsible for babysitting. She was a great reader (she was responsible for my Barbara Cartland obsession in my early teens) and used to take my brother and me to the shire library on a regular basis.
Oh, what bliss!
I remember ranging widely and once I’d finished the children’s section, I moved onto the adults. For some reason, the books I remember best from the Cleveland Library are mainly children’s biographies of famous women. I particularly remember a series which covered people like Florence Nightingale and the Stuart Queens, Mary II and Anne, and, my favorite, the Bronte sisters. I also loved the history section – I think often kids’ books are still great for research because they tell you the basic stuff you need for things like what a medieval castle looked like or what a milkmaid ate in Georgian London. Those books really fed my imagination!
The local library also had a wonderful selection of fairytale collections. Things like Grimm’s Fairytales and Greek Myths and Legends of the British Isles. I remember with particular fondness the Charles Perrault collection which had the original of Beauty and the Beast and the Sleeping Beauty. Again, clearly stories that have had no influence on my future path at all! And I loved the books of stories from opera and ballet. Basically pretty fairytale too!
So are you a library lover? Did you have any good libraries available to you when you were growing up? What were some of your favorites? Do you have any childhood library memories to share? Let’s take a wander down the Dewey Catalogue of Nostalgia!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jan 10 2013, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Dick Francis, historical romance, Liz Carlyle, Loretta Chase, Miranda Neville, reading, Sharon Archer;, writing life
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2013 is a bottler as we say down here in Australia (well, sometimes!).
How were your Holidays? Hope that you had a lovely time full of love and laughter and that Santa was kind.
I had promised myself a few days off. I like to take the time between Christmas and New Year just to veg and enjoy myself. It’s perfect swimming and lolling weather and it’s a time when I attack my To Be Read pile like Attila the Hun attacks his bowl of goulash.
Last year, sadly, I had urgent revisions so my little holiday went west. This year, luckily, I managed to seize the day. Well, a week really! How lovely to worry about nothing but which Christmas box of chocolates I was going to open and which wonderful book I was going to read next. Bliss.
For various reasons, mainly I think because I’ve written so much this year and reading in my writing genre felt too much like a busman’s holiday, I didn’t pick up many historical romances in 2012. Lots of mysteries. Lots of categories. Lots of nonfiction. Odd bits of other stuff. But hardly a historical to be seen.
Enter my Romance Bandits sister Christina Brooke who lent me WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST by the legendary Eloisa James when I went down for a visit just before Christmas.
Me? Resist a Beauty and the Beast romance? Not bloomin’ likely as Eliza Dolittle often said. I devoured this luscious historical (with a cover like that, you know it’s going to be luscious, don’t you?) in the space of a day and suddenly found myself wanting to read some more historical romance.
Luckily, I had stockpiled some great books by great authors – and the books seemed to come in pairs.
First up was Miranda Neville‘s turn. I love Miranda’s sparkling, elegant, witty historicals – and as you know, she’s a popular and regular visitor here in the lair. She’s just launched a new series called the Wild Quartet. First, I read the prequel, the novella THE SECOND SEDUCTION OF A LADY and then I read THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED. I loved both of them – both have sigh-worthy endings that will stay with you.
Then I moved on to the two most recent Loretta Chases. As you know, I’m a long-time fan and her MR. IMPOSSIBLE and LORD OF SCOUNDRELS are amongst the best historical romances I’ve ever read. I’m currently writing a review of one of her traditional Regencies, KNAVES’ WAGER, which is a bobbydazzler and newly available as an e-book if you haven’t read it. That will appear on the Romance Dish site on the 24th of this month so swing by if you’re interested.
I hadn’t caught up with Loretta’s latest series about three sisters who set up a stylish dressmaking establishment in late Regency London. But I have now. Really loved both books, SILK IS FOR SEDUCTION which was up for a RITA this year and SCANDAL WEARS SATIN which I think I liked even more than Silk. Both feature Loretta’s trademark wit and beautiful writing and I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times at the machine-gun fire banter between the hero and heroine. She writes wonderful dialogue.
Last but definitely not least, I read two Liz Carlyles. An exception to the no historicals in 2012 run was THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET, the second in Liz’s St. James Society series. These books feature a touch of the paranormal along with Liz’s trademark emotion, drama and passion. In my Christmas binge, I read the first book in the series ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’d also had on the TBR pile for far too long Liz’s debut historical romance, MY FALSE HEART. All of Liz’s books feature characters from a complicated and extended family based around the devilish and dangerous Marquis of Rannoch. It was an absolute treat to read about him falling in love, very much against his best instincts, with beautiful artist Evangeline Stone.
I won’t say too much more. I’m featuring MY FALSE HEART in my Second Helping review at the Romance Dish in March. But if you see MY FALSE HEART and you haven’t read it, grab it with both hands and don’t let go.
In between all these historicals, I read a stack of Dick Francis books.Do you know him? My friend Medical author Sharon Archer who modeled the SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED tote bag so beautifully for my most recent website contest recommended him.
He writes thrillers based around the racing industry – Dick Francis was a famous jockey and rode a number of winners for the Queen before he retired to become a bestselling author. I’m writing a piece on how much I enjoy these books for February’s My Favorite Things on my website.
Hmm, whatever else I did, I got material for blogging from my Christmas binge!
So did you attack the TBR pile over Christmas or merely nibble around the edges of it? Any luscious historicals you’d like to recommend? Have you read any of the ones that definitely brightened my Christmas break? What did you think?
Posted by Kate Carlisle Nov 25 2012, 12:05 am in Just For Fun, Kate Carlisle, writer's life, writing life
The English language is rich and colorful, constantly changing. New words are invented, old words are repurposed. Tracing the etymology of a word is fascinating. Our language has been influenced by nearly every other language in the world, living and dead. With skill and a passion for vocabulary, writers can communicate the most delicate of nuances, evoking emotions in a reader who is miles – or generations – away.
As writers and readers, by our very natures we have a great appreciation for the English language. But ya gotta admit… sometimes it’s stoopid. Spelling and pronunciation in English are only occasionally intuitive. Every rule has a hundred exceptions. It must be frustrating for people learning English as a second language because there’s no logic to it – we’re forced to memorize each exception as it comes. An impossible task for many native speakers!
Eight is pronounced “ate,” and yet sleight is pronounced “slite.” Take off the T and make it sleigh, and we pronounce it “slay.” Why? Because I said so.
“I knead bread” means something completely different from “I need bread.” Can you guess which is the sentence I would never use? Evidently, I’m not alone. Kneading is so rare these days that Microsoft Word gave me the blue squiggly line, asking, “Really? You knead? Yeah, right! Who are you kidding?!”
I’m convinced that the ability to spell is innate. (I had to look that one up – I couldn’t remember whether there was one N or two in innate.) Those who are born without the gene can still learn to spell, but it takes great effort. I’m fortunate that way. Spelling comes pretty easily to me, but I sympathize deeply with those for whom it doesn’t and have learned over the years not to take a spelling error as an indicator of intelligence. Some of the smartest people I know say “their” when they mean “there.” (My own personal nemesis is “here” when I mean “hear.” I get it wrong every time!)
Still, I’ll confess. It makes me cringe every time I see someone make a mistake like that, but it doesn’t make me think less of them. “It’s” when they mean “its,” on the other hand…
Were you born with the good spelling gene? What words give you trouble? What words do you see frequently misspelled, that drive you crazy?
Posted by Anna Campbell Oct 3 2012, 12:01 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, historical romance, interviews, Regency romance, Season for Surrender, Season for Temptation, Theresa Romain, writing life
I’m delighted to bring to the lair as my guest today historical romance author Theresa Romain. Theresa visited us last year to tell us about her debut romance SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, which caused a lot of buzz in romancelandia. Now she’s released her second Regency romance SEASON FOR SURRENDER.
Here’s the blurb:
HONOR AMONG ROGUES
Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…
MISCHIEF AMONG MISSES
Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…
You can find out more about Theresa and her books at her website: http://theresaromain.com
Theresa loves talking to readers on social media.
You can find her on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorTheresaRomain
And her Twitter handle is @TheresaRomain
Theresa, welcome to the lair! Congratulations on the release of your second historical romance, SEASON FOR SURRENDER. Can you tell us about this story?
Anna, thank you so much for hosting me! The Lair is looking lovely.
SEASON FOR SURRENDER is a Regency-set story that takes place during the Christmas season. A rake and a bluestocking meet at a scandalous house party—except they’re not really a rake and a bluestocking, and the house party isn’t what either of them expect. I am tricky like that.
Sounds intriguing! What were the inspirations behind this book?
It was very much inspired by the personalities of the characters. Both Louisa and Alex appeared in my romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION. In that story, Louisa breaks an engagement as a result of her extreme shyness, and Alex takes the blame for spreading the resulting scandal all over London. So he seems like a villain, the last person in the world she would ever wind up with.
I took it as a challenge to turn both Alex and Louisa into characters who were more than they seemed, and who had enough in common that their romance would be believable. Out of that grew a plot in which Alex gets himself in trouble with a wager involving Louisa. When she finds out about it, rather than being offended, she turns it on its head. Their sparring soon turns into a friendship neither expected, and that—of course!—turns into romance.
I notice that SEASON FOR SURRENDER features a bookworm heroine. I’m currently writing one of those too and having great fun with her. What do you think is the perennial appeal of this type of heroine?
Yay, I can’t wait to read your bookworm heroine! Aren’t they fun? I think their appeal comes in part from sharing a love of books with the reader himself/herself. As a reader, I feel I can relate to a character who likes to settle down with a good story more than I can relate to, say, a werewolf. (On most days.)
That being said, just reading about reading isn’t enough to carry a story. A bookworm character’s other qualities are what make the story come alive. They’re often curious, intelligent, and passionate about their interests. Those—as much as the love of books—are qualities I admire in characters and enjoy reading about. And as it turns out, they’re fun to write, too.
Does SEASON FOR SURRENDER link back to your popular debut SEASON FOR TEMPTATION?
Yes, the two stories have some connected characters—not just Louisa and Alex, but secondary characters like outspoken Lady Irving or babbling Freddie Pellington. But each story stands on its own; you can follow one without having read the other.
What’s next for you?
Thanks for asking! I’m working on a story for a character you’ll meet in SEASON FOR SURRENDER: Alex’s cousin, Jane. And I have a few other secret projects hiding under my hat; I hope to share them soon.
Ooh, can’t wait to hear! I know we share a mutual love for the movies made during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Why do you think these films continue to cast such a strong spell on viewers? Would you like to share some of your favorites with us?
My guess is that it’s all in the writing. Movies made from the mid-1930s into the 1960s were pretty restricted in terms of content—no long kisses, no direct references to sex, things like that. So writers and directors got very creative with the way stories were presented. There’s lots of wordplay and subtext and sneaky ways to bend the rules.
Historical romance writers and readers can appreciate this kind of storytelling, because we’re used to stories that work within rules too. There are things a Regency heroine can and cannot do, for example. And those rules of behavior can shape the stories that we tell and that we enjoy.
Some of my favorite classic films are Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense films (especially REAR WINDOW which always creeps me out) and screwball comedies with great roles for women. BRINGING UP BABY, THE AWFUL TRUTH and BALL OF FIRE are all hilarious.
Theresa, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies to get conversation going?
Anna, thanks again for hosting me, and for asking such fantastic questions. And now I’ve got a question for you, readers. Anna got me thinking about my favorite stories with her questions about the appeal of bookworm characters and classic movies. I’d like to know: what makes a book or movie especially appealing to you? Are you fond of certain plot devices or historical time periods, or do you have favorite types of heroes and heroines? Do tell!
Thanks, Theresa. Great answers. Get commenting, people. Theresa has very generously offered a signed copy of her latest release SEASON FOR SURRENDER to one commenter today – international! Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 6 2012, 12:02 am in Alliance Forged, Anna Campbell, Australian Author, Bandita Booty, interviews, Kylie Griffin, Light Blade Series, Paranormal elements, romantic fantasy, series, Vengeance Born, writing life
by Anna Campbell
I’m delighted to welcome back my very talented Aussie pal, Kylie Griffin. Kylie’s first book VENGEANCE BORN received great buzz in Romancelandia and her second book ALLIANCE FORGED looks like it’s going to continue the magic (pun intended). To give you an example, RT Book Reviews said of ALLIANCE FORGED that, “Griffin does a stellar job envisioning her world and its compelling protagonists. Well worth your time!”
You can read an excerpt of ALLIANCE FORGED here: http://kyliegriffin.com/AF_Excerpt.html
Kylie, welcome back to the lair! Congratulations on the success of VENGEANCE BORN, the first book of your Light Blade series. Now the second book ALLIANCE FORGED has been released. Can you tell us about this story?
Anna, it’s wonderful to be back in the lair. I received such a warm welcome last time from everyone that I’m really looking forward to this visit!
Thanks for the congrats on VENGEANCE BORN, it’s been such an amazing ride so far (hard to believe that was back in February) and it’s all due to the readers who have been so supportive! And here we are, on my second bog tour, celebrating the release of ALLIANCE FORGED, and I’m so excited to be sharing more about the story with your readers.
Let’s start with the blurb.
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…
Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.
ALLIANCE FORGED picks up just a few short months after VENGEANCE BORN finishes. The humans and Na’Chi (half-bloods) have formed a tentative alliance but there’s still a lot of uncertainty from both sides as to whether this partnership will work.
Prejudice and acceptance of those with differences were themes explored in VENGEANCE BORN, and they weave their way through ALLIANCE FORGED, but the theme of journeys and the significant lessons they teach us is also explored.
Kymora’s spent most of her life committed to the Temple in the service of her deity. From acolyte to high priestess and spiritual leader of her people, it’s a role she expects to spend her life fulfilling.
Varian, the warrior-leader of the Na’Chi, a half-human half-demon race, fights to protect his people from those who consider them abominations because of their mixed blood heritage. He seeks a safe haven for them.
As you can see both Varian and Kymora start on very distinct paths, ones well defined, but it isn’t long before they discover how quickly events can change and their journeys twist in a direction they least expect.
Whether Varian and Kymora end up at the same destination…well, that’s something readers will have to discover for themselves!
Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?
Much of my fantasy writing up until the Light Blade series were stories based around human characters, human relationships, human conflicts and I wanted to try something that involved a non-human element.
At the time I was writing VENGEANCE BORN vampires, werewolves, and shifters dominated the market, and the stories were set in a contemporary world or very urban fantasy based. Creating a fantasy world with different races (al la LORD OF THE RINGS style) really appealed to me. It’s as simple as that.
But why demons? No idea. All I can tell you is they’re not styled or based on any familiar mythology. In the Light Blade world my demons are known as the Na’Reish and they’re all-powerful, dominating the humans physically as well as in numbers. They’re taller, built larger, have enhanced senses and strength and the balance of power lies in their favor.
In VENGEANCE BORN, it’s revealed that humans and demons once coexisted peacefully and that with the pairings of human and demon couples hybrid children could be produced. The revelation that anyone who possessed a Gift (as these special abilities are known) – Na’Chi or human – came from a mixed bloodline, something that shocked and appalled many.
Annika, the heroine from VENGEANCE BORN, has remarkable healing abilities that can also be used to kill. In ALLIANCE FORGED readers will get to see some of the different abilities of the Na’Chi (the hero Varian), as well as those humans who possess Gifts (the heroine Kymora).
I notice that book 3 in the series, ALLEGIANCE SWORN, is available next April. Can you give us any hints about this story and where it takes the series?
I’d love to share the blurb for ALLEGIANCE SWORN but it contains information that will spoil a secondary plot twist from ALLIANCE FORGED, so I won’t post it here. All I can say is that one of the characters in this story has already appeared in VENGEANCE BORN and ALLIANCE FORGED. The hero and heroine are an unlikely pairing, and one of them must overcome a tormented past in order to move forward. Readers will see the plot move from human territory to deep within Na’Riesh territory. They’ll learn more about the demon’s caste-based lifestyle and brutal culture of slavery. And the war between the humans and Na’Reish concludes in ALLEGIANCE SWORN and finishes off an over-arcing storyline that I began in VENGEANCE BORN.
As I said, I won’t include the blurb here, but if readers are interested, it’s up on my website.
Your first book VENGEANCE BORN came out in February, 2012. What have your first few months as a published author been like? Any surprises?
Phew, where to start! A little background would probably be helpful before summing up the last few months in one word.
After taking a two-year sabbatical, I returned to teaching. The school term began just as VENGEANCE BORN was released, and I began my February blog tour. On top of that I was juggling line edits for ALLIANCE FORGED and writing the first draft of ALLEGIANCE SWORN.
So the term I’d use is manic. It’s been a lot of work, but honestly, I wouldn’t swap it for anything!
The biggest surprise has been the emails from readers. I’ve loved receiving them, and most have been so positive, with messages of how much they enjoyed reading VENGEANCE BORN.
The real kicker were the men who’ve read VENGEANCE BORN, enjoyed it, and let me know! One fellow said, and I quote, “You could have cut back on the mushy stuff but the rest was pretty good.” High praise considering I hadn’t expected a lot of men to read a fantasy romance!
I’ve always been so impressed that you’re not just a brilliant writer, but a superhero! Can you tell us about your work with the Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Service? I bet you’ve got some great stories!
I don’t know about the superhero bit, Anna! LOL
I enjoy volunteering and helping others, so joining the Rural Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service was something I just did when I moved here. And I apologise in advance for the lengthy response but this is a huge part of my life and something I feel passionate about.
Our little rural village has a local pub, a one person police station, a one teacher school with 10 children, two churches, a general store that doubles as a post office and an agricultural supply business. Being so isolated where we are, it can take emergency services up to an hour to respond to emergency calls from the nearest towns. Our volunteer fire brigade consists of five members – I’m the deputy captain and only female in the unit and we respond to both bushfires and structural fires.
The SES unit helps out in floods and storms and because of our isolation, we’re also tasked with the responsibilities of search and rescue, road crash, and community first response (aka ambulance calls). With only six members (and two of us are in both organizations) I’ve been Controller, deputy controller and grunt in this organization.
Our RFS unit trains once a month and the SES unit trains once a week, while our CFR team (aka ambulance response team) has an extra night of training per month. The skills are part of what I love about the organizations – they’re so different from my day to day job (teaching). I’ve learned how to back-burn, black out (the perimeter of a fire). I’ve operated a chainsaw, communications equipment, cut up vehicles to free trapped casualties, monitored floods, helped people stranded by flood waters, been on line searches for the missing, and learned how to use a defibrillator, an oxy-viva machine, and administered drugs.
And yes, some of our call outs are quite memorable.
One of the most heartbreaking emergencies involved attending an incident with two infants. A team member and I had to perform CPR on both of them until the ambulance arrived. One child survived, the other was declared DOA at the hospital. In such a small community as ours, this had a devastating effect, not only on the family but many of the locals who knew them. Myself included because I taught their children.
A more light-hearted and amusing call out involved us heading out to assist a woman who’d gone into labor. She lived on a property in the middle of the bush and to get to their place we had to traverse a goat track, in torrential rain (which had been coming down for hours) which made driving the dirt track hazardous. There were three of us on the call out. When we got there we made the decision to evacuate the family of five as we knew we’d never make it back in there a second time. With two of us in the front of our 4WD vehicle, the pregnant woman and her family piled in the back seat and me in the canopied back sitting on top of all our medical supplies, we only just made it out of there.
Then we discovered the driver of the ambulance who had responded from the nearest town had managed to bog their vehicle twelve feet inside the front gate. So we transferred the family into the ambulance then used our road crash gear to pull the ambulance out of the bog and tow them back onto the tar road. We didn’t get to see the woman’s child born but then, I think the “rescue” of her and the ambulance was adventure enough for one night!
I’ve been to catastrophic bushfires, house-fires, motor vehicle fatalities, searches for missing people (whom we’ve found alive and deceased), ambulance call outs involving amputated limbs, heart attack casualties and emergencies where I’ve used CPR to sustain life.
Every call out gives me an adrenaline rush, but it’s the camaraderie of working within a tight knit team (members I trust with my life, and have done on some occasions) and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone that keeps me going back week after week to train and responding to my pager when it goes off. I wouldn’t swap that for anything.
Wow, Kylie, I’m not joking with the superhero moniker! Is there anything you’d like to ask the Banditas and Bandita Buddies?
Anna, thank you so much for hosting me here in the lair again. I’ve had a great time sharing a little bit about ALLIANCE FORGED (and a lot about my volunteer work! ).
I’d love to ask you readers if they have any interesting tales about emergencies they’ve experienced. Are there any fellow fire fighters or rescue workers out there? Or volunteers of any sort, who help out their communities? I’d enjoy hearing your stories.
Kylie has very generously offered a commenter today a copy of her latest book ALLIANCE FORGED (international giveaway). So get commenting people! Good luck!
Posted by Susan Sey Jul 1 2012, 12:51 am in interviews, romance bandits, Susan Sey, writer's life, writing life
This month’s Bandita spotlight belongs to Susan Sey, often referred to as The Tardy Bandita, since she wandered into the lair about three months after everybody else. (She dislikes asking for directions & insists she’ll find her own damn way. Eventually.) She’s happily married to her own personal hero, & is the mother of two girls who are simultaneously the pride of her life & the reason she will never be able to write more than one book a year. At least not until the 2020s.
She writes unabashedly in the genre least likely to sell or make her any money (single title contemporary). She was as astonished as anybody when she got picked up by a major publisher after winning the 2008 Golden Heart in this same ill-fated category. She was not, however, astonished to find herself unceremoniously dropped by that same publisher two books later. The economy sucks, & better writers than she have gotten the axe. She remains, however, the proud author of MONEY HONEY (Berkley Sensation, 2010) and MONEY SHOT (Berkley Sensation, 2011), and is delighted to announce her foray into self-publishing with her…what else?….single title contemporary romance KISS THE GIRL, which debuted on June 26, 2012.
So. Let’s grill her, shall we?
Q: How long have you been writing, and how has your writing changed over time?
Susan Sey: I’ve been writing since I was old enough to read. I loved the characters I met in books like I’d love a real live friend, and it was difficult for me to say goodbye to them when the story ended. So in my head I made up more of their story so I could spend more time with them. It seemed like a perfectly logical solution to me but evidently not everybody does that. Who knew?
As far as how my writing’s changed over time, well that’s an interesting question. I’ve just recently self-pubbed the last book I wrote before selling to a big-time NYC publisher, the one I’ve always loved but that never found a home in NYC. (KISS THE GIRL, previously titled THE PRINCESS PROJECT.) And in cleaning it up for publication, I made a fascinating discovery: This book is palpably joyful. It’s funny and charming and ridiculous, and it’s because when I was writing it, I believed in myself and in my talent.
See, when I wrote KISS THE GIRL, I was at the peak of my game as an unpubbed writer–winning contests, finalling in the Golden Heart, signing with an agent–and my confidence was at high tide as a result. And then my dreams came true and I sold to a big ol’ publisher. And suddenly I was a teeny, unproductive fish in a vast, cruel pond, my books sold respectably but I didn’t blow the doors off, and my confidence took a massive hit. And my writing got dark and confined and tentative. And it shows. MONEY SHOT is the book I wrote under that contract, and it’s about as dark a book as I’ve ever written.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that book. It’s tightly written and well-plotted and I’m still sort of half in love with my hero, Rush. But there’s an anxiety running through that book, a darkness, that speaks very strongly to my experience of writing it.
So I’m looking to get back to that KISS THE GIRL place, where I feel happy and strong and confident, and my writing shows it.
Q: What drink does Sven bring you when you’re hiding in the cave?
SS: Ooooh, well it’s summer here in the upper Midwest so I’m all about the beer gardens. I often ask Sven to trot over to our local micro breweries–Surly and Summit–to see what’s on tap. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Surly’s Cynic Ale, and Summit’s Summer Ale. (Thank you, Sven, darling.)
Q: What’s the hardest thing about writing? What’s the most rewarding?
SS: The hardest thing is honestly finding extended periods of time to get immersed in my world. I have little kids, you know, and I can pawn them off on the cabana boys and gladiators for a little while but once the girls start tossing about spears and reeling off drink ingredients, I know I need to dial back the writing time. The most rewarding thing is far and away when somebody tells me my story touched them. I always find it humbling and astonishing when something I write garners an honest emotional response from somebody.
Q: Who do you enjoy writing more — hero or heroine?
Oh, I’m unashamedly in love with each and every one of my heroes. Female friendship has always been sort of a difficult thing for me–I have three sisters so never really had to learn the knack of making female friends until it was too late & everybody already had a BFF for life. So this is sort of a handicap for me when I write, & my heroes come far more easily. I fall in love with them right out of the gate, & they love me right back. They’re easy. But the heroines I have to warm up to. Or maybe they have to warm up to me before they’ll let me know them? I don’t know. But my heroes just spring to life, while my heroines make me sweat.
The one exception has to be Nixie from KISS THE GIRL. She was a joy from page one, a pure delight to know and a ball to write. I missed her when I wrote The End. But she was so darn happy with her happily ever after, I didn’t have the heart to disturb her to see if she wanted to hang out or grab a beer sometime.
Q: Favorite thing you’ve researched?
Right now, I’m thinking about writing a story about a disgraced corporate high-flyer whose business empire falls to shreds & leaves him with nothing but a dilapidated small-scale goat and cattle farm in Northern Minnesota. Which isn’t exactly known for its pasture land. But confidence is not this guy’s problem, & he thinks he can just take up organic farming. I’m learning a ton about cheese, of all things. Working title? The Milk Man Takes a Wife. Of course.
So there you have it. My life story in a nutshell. If I’ve failed to satisfy your curiosity about any little thing, feel free to get in touch by visiting my website, my Facebook page or just old-fashioned emailing me at email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 7 2012, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, Australian Authors, Bandita Booty, Beauty and the Beast, Blue Mountains, Category Romance, Defying her Desert Duty, Guests, Harlequin Presents Extra, Protected by the Prince, RT Reviewers Choice Award, Sydney, travel, Undone by His Touch, Write Touch Readers' Awards, writing life
by Anna Campbell
I’m delighted to welcome back lair favorite and fabulous writer Annie West who is here to tell us about her latest North American release UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH. UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH recently received a glowing review from RT Book Reviews magazine where they called it “an emotionally compelling read.”
Annie’s books are receiving accolades all over the place. At the recent RT Reviewers Choice Awards, her wonderful PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE was chosen as best Harlequin Presents Extra of 2011 and RAFE’S REDEMPTION recently placed in the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Write Touch Readers Awards.
Congratulations, Annie! I’m not surprised. Your books are fantastic.
You can find out more about Annie and her books on her website: www.annie-west.com
You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annie.west.9619
To buy a print copy of UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH, just click on the cover below.
Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/Undone-Touch-Harlequin-Presents-ebook/dp/B007BBVEJC/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338847220&sr=1-5
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Undone-by-His-Touch-Annie-West/9780373528691
Welcome back, Annie. Congratulations on the North American release of UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH, your latest Harlequin Presents Extra. Can you tell us about this story?
Hi, Anna, and thanks so much for having me back to visit the Bandits. I’m so pleased I haven’t worn out my welcome. I’m waving to Banditas and friends, and putting in my order for a long glass of bubbly if there’s one in the house.
UNDONE is about a scarred, reclusive hero whose main interest is in finding the woman he blames for his brother’s death. Declan is determined to wallow in regret and guilt until Chloe, his new housekeeper, drags him, protesting, to the realisation he’s not ready yet to give up on the world. In fact she makes him feel emotions he’d never expected to experience. She brings him hope. But Chloe’s no plaster saint. She’s got problems of her own and dealing with an anti-social boss is one of them. Until she sees beneath the surface to the man of integrity and honour who’s struggling to find a foothold in a world that’s changed around him.
Of course I had to make it interesting by ensuring each was the worst possible person for the other to fall in love with! That’s where the fun began – and the intensity and passion.
I had a ball writing this dark hero who eventually finds the light. I’ve been having fun lately, thinking of who I’d cast in the role of sexy but prickly recluse and I’m torn between Clive Owen and Hugh Jackman. I think either would be perfect as Declan.
Here’s the back cover copy:
Cast into a world of black, Declan Carstairs is a man in torment. Consumed by guilt, he sees no way out of the darkness his world has become. Only one thing drives him – finding the woman who caused his brother’s death, and the accident that took his sight.
Housekeeper Chloe Daniels refuses to pity her devastatingly gorgeous boss, but treating him as the strong, capable man he is soon proves dangerous. As Chloe falls deeper under Declan’s spell, awakened by his touch, she forgets all about the secret she keeps that may destroy them both…
I loved this book. I think it’s one of your best. What inspired you to write this story?
Maybe it’s your influence rubbing off on me, Anna – the fact that when I read your books I’m so often reading a Beauty and the Beast style story. Who knows? But I can tell you I had two ideas in my head for a long time. One was of a dark haired man with intense eyes and a bad attitude, who’d turned into a recluse after his brother’s death in a climbing accident. The other was of a love triangle between the brothers and a woman. The woman was rather shadowy but fortunately she came to life when I started to write. It just took me a couple of years to pull the various ideas together.
I should add that the settings were part of my inspiration for this book. I had vivid images in my head of both the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, and of inner city Sydney too. I’ve sent through a couple of photos to share with this piece so you can see why the mountains in particular are one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a world heritage site – perfect for bushwalking, climbing and canyoning. But as well as that it’s a plateau studded with quaint villages and gorgeous gardens. It’s just perfect for visitors. I love to go there and pretend I’m fit by tackling one of the walks and then relaxing in a coffee shop or bookstore and feeling I’ve earned a treat.
By the way, thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. You need to add photography to your list of talents! Can you tell us about your next release?
I’d love to. Next cab off the rank is called DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY. It’s out in the U.K. in October but I’m waiting for news on the North American release. The title is a little misleading. Yes, the hero is from the Middle East, but most of the book is set in western Europe – principally France. And boy, did I have a wonderful time with that setting!
It’s a story that owes a lot to the Tristan and Iseult legend. The hero is sent to Paris to bring back the woman who’s been betrothed to the king, ready for a royal wedding. What he doesn’t expect is to fall for the king’s fiancée or to discover she’s falling for him too. Now that spells trouble! Add to that the fact that my hero is absolutely loyal (the king is like a father to him) and my heroine has strong reasons of her own for needing to go through with the royal wedding and the scene is set for drama and high emotion.
I’ve had a sneak peek at this book and it’s a classic Annie West. Romantic, dramatic, emotional, a real page turner. Readers will love it! Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’re currently working on?
I’ve just handed a book in to my editor. Superstitiously perhaps, I don’t want to say too much about it until I’ve had some editorial feedback, but I can tell you it’s a story with quite a twist. It features a very suave and self-assured Italian hero and a heroine who’s just starting her life again after the most horrendous ordeal. Lucy refuses to let anyone, especially a bossy businessman, dictate to her. Lots and lots of sparks in this one, but I hope, plenty of tenderness too.
We’ve had you as a guest so often on the Banditas and I don’t think I’ve ever asked you what you do when you aren’t writing. What sort of things do you like to do to refill the well?
I’m wary about admitting that I do anything other than write, since I don’t want that to get back to my editor. I’m trying to persuade her I’m glued to the computer, slaving over a hot story! Actually I am, most of the time. But as you say, it’s important to fill the well occasionally.
I count my visits to you, Anna, as one of my well-filling activities. Good company, good food, good wine and far too much chat, make for a wonderful time. They always leave me energised to tackle almost anything.
Actually that picture of us together is from a lunch out near when I live when you were up. Always lovely to see you. What else do you like to do?
Other than that, in my down time I like to do some of these:
Reading! Actually, I think you could put this down for my top 5 pastimes.
Walking, preferably in the bush (wilderness if you’re not in Australia) or by water.
Visiting new places (I’m dreaming about another Europe trip). If I can’t travel, then hearing about someone else’s trip or poring over maps and pictures of far away places is fantastic.
Cooking – not the just home and must get dinner organised cooking – that’s no treat. I mean cooking when you’re actually in the mood for pottering and trying something new, or tackling an old favorite. I love it when people ooh and ah over home made baklava for instance, and even better, when the family gets involved in the cooking with me.
Cross stitch. True to my recent resolution I’m trying to find time to get back into the sewing I haven’t touched for years.
Movies. Love them, particularly (yes, I know I’m predictable) if they leave me feeling good. Theatre fits in here too – a real treat.
Long bubble baths with a good book, especially if someone else is cooking dinner while I relax and soak in the tub.
Ooh, lots there to inspire new stories which is what we dedicated fans like to hear. Annie, is there anything you’d like to ask the Banditas and Bandita Buddies?
Since we’re talking about refilling the well, can you share your favorite activities that leave you relaxed and rejuvenated ready to tackle the daily grind? Is there one perfect experience that still makes you smile and feel better every time you think of it? Right now, my favorite perk me up experience is remembering a marvellous high tea at Claridges Hotel in London. So refined, so luxurious and so yum!
Thanks, Annie. Get commenting, people. There are two separate prizes today – a signed copy of UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH and a signed copy of Annie’s RT Reviewers Choice Award winner PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE. Great reading! Good luck!