Friday Fun by Mae Clair

cute poodle dog wearing party hatIt’s Friday! My favorite day of the week after Saturday and Sunday, so it’s only appropriate to kick it off with some fun. Today, I have two good friends helping me out.

Jessi Gage, a fabulous hybrid author in her own right, is doing a Free Publicity Friday spotlight for SOLSTICE ISLAND on her blog. I’d love to have you hop over and check it out while you’re wandering about the blogosphere!

Donna Cummings is also hosting me today on her blog, All About the Writing. Donna writes “humorously ever after romances,” and is a delight herself! I love her fun sense of humor. Today, she injects that frivolity in a three question interview. Yes, she only gave me three questions to answer, but let me tell you — that first one required major thought!

Curious? I hope so :)  You can find our short interview here.

Happy Friday! Here’s hoping yours is grand!

 

Cover Reveal with G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y: Wishing for a Highlander by Jessie Gage

My friend, Jessie Gage, has re-released her sexy highlander novel with a new cover. This is a fun time travel romance with a highlander who will melt your heart and a heroine you’ll cheer for. To celebrate she’s even doing a giveaway (see details below).

So, without further ado, presenting (drum roll, please) WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER:

JessiGage_WishingForAHighlander_2500px

In a nutshell: A single and pregnant museum worker accidentally wishes herself back in time and is forced to marry a Highland warrior with intimacy issues.


Click on the word GIVEAWAY to go to Rafflecopter’s secure site and enter for a chance at a $25 Amazon gift card and an ecopy of Wishing for a Highlander. If you’re like to leave a comment, answer the question: Who would you bet on in a battle between a sparkly vampire and a sparkly Highlander? I think you already know my answer…

Blurb:
Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true.

Single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie voices an idle wish while examining a Scottish artifact, that a Highland warrior would sweep her off her feet and help her forget her cheating ex. The last thing she expects is for her wish to be granted. Magically transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in the sixteenth-century Highlands, she comes face to face with her kilted fantasy man.

Tall, handsome, and heir to his uncle’s lairdship, Darcy Keith should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill. Instead, thanks to a prank played on him in his teenage years, he is known for being too large under his kilt to ever make a proper husband. “Big Darcy” runs his deceased father’s windmills and lives alone at his family manor, believing he will never marry.

But a strangely-dressed woman he rescues from a clan skirmish makes him long for more. When the woman’s claims of coming to Ackergill by magic reach the laird’s ears, she is accused of witchcraft. Darcy determines to protect her any way he can, even if it means binding her to him forever.

Excerpt:
Size might have its advantages when it came to fighting, but those few boons fell far short of making up for the problems it caused. Being the biggest and the strongest had gotten him into far more trouble than it had gotten him out of. Swallowing his regret for how careless he’d been with her, he sought to determine whom she belonged to, whom, saints forbid, he might owe.

“Whose wife are ye, then? Not a Gunn’s or I wouldna have had to rescue you from one.”

“I’m not married,” the lass said. “And thank you for the rescuing, by the way. I can’t believe I dropped the dirk. Stupid.” She shook her head.

His heart warmed at her thanks. He didn’t hear many kind words from the lasses and would take what he could get, even from a dishonored woman who had caught a bairn out wedlock. Oddly, he didn’t think poorly of her. Whether it was her worried brow, her guileless, soft mouth, or her vulnerable size, he had not the heart to condemn her.

He didn’t even mind so much that she found him distasteful for his size, although talking with her now, she didn’t seem overly upset to be in his arms. He endeavored to keep her talking, keep her distracted from her disgust.

“Ye never answered my first question,” he said. “Who are you? And where are ye from if ye’re no’ English?”

“Ugh. I don’t know. Is there an answer that won’t get me burned at the stake or locked up in a ward for the hopelessly insane?”

Like most things out of her mouth, that had been a peculiar answer. “Ye could try the truth,” he offered, slowing his pace since he heard Archie’s voice not far off.

“No,” she said flatly. “I couldn’t. At least not the whole truth. How about we just go with my name, Melanie, and with the honest fact that I’m a long way from home and I have no idea how to get back.” Her green eyes pierced his. “I’m afraid you might be stuck with me, Darcy Keith.”

Purchase WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Connect with Jessi Gage at the Following Haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook Fan Page
Twitter
Goodreads

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Bio:
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Friday the 13th Fun by Mae Clair

It’s Friday the 13th! *cue spooky music*

One of my best friends from childhood was born on the thirteenth of January. I remember how she used to love when her birthday fell on a Friday, as it made it extra special. :)

In case you’re wondering, yes I am superstitious — about a lot of things. But I don’t have problems crossing the paths of black cats, not forwarding chain emails for fear of catastrophic reprisals, or even opening an umbrella in the house. Pish!

On the other hand, I’m not fond of the number 13, won’t tempt fate by visiting a haunted house, or go exploring a cemetery in the dark. I am  however going visiting today. And so are my characters :)

You can find me hanging out with my friend and Lyrical Press sister, Jessi Gage, who interviews me about TWELFTH SUN (I loved her questions!) here.

Elijah and Reagan (the hero and heroine of my romantic mystery) have decided to venture elsewhere and are being interviewed by my friend and Lyrical Press sister, Joanne Wadsworth. You can find their chatty interview here.

bigstock-Abandoned-haunted-house-on-a-h-23959007In closing, here are some interesting facts about Friday the 13th:

Paraskavedekatriaphobia and Friggatriskaidekaphobia are scientific terms used to describe fear of Friday the 13th. I, on the other hand, have a mild case of Triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of the number 13. Hmm. It must stem from childhood and that old black-and-white movie called Thirteen Ghosts. Anyone remember that? I think it terrified me as a kid.

And did you know most hotels don’t have a thirteenth floor, skipping right over it?

~ooOOoo~
An example of my superstitious nature:

Each year the company I work for (on my day job) holds an annual “Kick-Off Event” in January. It’s a fun time where the company leaders provide a review of the previous year and kick-off the new year with a fresh set of goals. We have a lovely buffet lunch at a country club and spend the afternoon socializing. I book the venue and arrange everything. When I started planning 2012’s event I was horrified to realize the Friday we wanted fell on the 13th (we always hold it on a Friday). I was adamant and no one argued
— you can’t kick-off a New Year on a Friday the 13th!! So that year, we moved the event to Tuesday. Fortunately, I already checked the calendar and we’re in the clear for 2014. :)

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! I hope to see you at Jessi and/or Joanne’s blog haunts if you’re able to visit!

Wizards with Words: Jessi Gage with Road Rage

bigstock-magic-book-9719930I’m pleased to welcome another Wizard with Words today, my friend Jessi Gage who has just released her contemporary/paranormal romance, ROAD RAGE. This is an awesome story that deserves every one of the five stars I gave it on Amazon. Check out the fantastic blurb, and then dive into our interview to learn more about this wizardy writer and what makes her tick.

BLURB for ROAD RAGE
He has anger issues and she has amnesia, but together they have amazing chemistry.

Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.

Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?

When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?

CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary

A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance

Jessi, I’m glad to have you here today. To begin, please share a little about yourself and how you developed a passion for writing.

Jessi: Thanks for having me, Mae! Your passion for writing definitely comes through in your blog. I love your Mythical Mondays, especially when they give me goosebumps!

My passion for writing started when I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now almost 4. I was 3 years deep in a PhD program. While conducting research was fun and fulfilling, it was clear to me I wasn’t cut out to be the intellectual engine driving the research, which is what earning a PhD is all about. I found myself struggling to focus on my general exams. My brain kept wanting to go to the story I had been writing for a few months, which was quickly turning into a novel. Looking back, I can see what a train wreck of a novel it was, LOL, but back then, I thought I had the potential to be the next Stephen King. I mean I read his book ON WRITING so I should be able to write as well as him, right? LOL!

After a mental and emotional battle with myself over quitting the PhD program, I finally gave myself permission to step back from a career that wasn’t a good choice for me. Once I did that, I was able to focus without guilt on improving my writing skills. Six books and 4 years later, I landed my first publishing contract with Lyrical Press, and I’m so thrilled I get to stay home with my kids now and write during those precious few downtimes I get throughout the day.

That is certainly an interesting path to writing! It sounds like you are more than happy and fulfilled by your choice. And now for ROAD RAGE…I believe I finished the book in two days, it was that addictive. Your hero Derek Summers has a problem with anger management which is unusual for the hero of a romance novel. What made you decide to give Derek such an aggressive personality trait?

Jessi: All good heroes have areas in which they are imperfect. Some common examples include extreme protective instincts (read alpha male), workaholic, commitment-phobe, jock who gives more of his heart to his sport than the women in his life, and on and on. Many of the imperfections have plus sides that turn us romance addicts on. The uber-protective male has the dominance needed to win the heart of the woman who doesn’t trust easily. The workaholic has the determination needed to work through relationship challenges. The commitment-phobe can share his free-spirited nature with the repressed heroine, etc.

roadrageI looked at anger, an ugly imperfection if ever there was one, and thought about the flip side. What makes a character angry? Is there ever a justification for anger? How could a heroine help a hero work through his anger? Can anger ever be sexy? Romantic? Answering those questions I learned who Derek was and why his story absolutely had to be told.

I enjoyed reading a different type of romance hero. Cami, by contrast to Derek, is a people-pleaser. She has some emotional baggage which defines her personality and – interesting twist – is terrified of driving on the interstate due to an event from her teen years. I have to admit I prefer taking back roads to the freeway any day, but Cami’s aversion is obsessive. What prompted you to come up with such a unique disorder?

Jessi: Um. I started writing ROAD RAGE soon after I was in an accident on the freeway. Fortunately, the accident wasn’t serious, but my daughter had been in the car with me, and I got to thinking about how much worse it could have been. I was a bit gun shy about driving on the freeway after that, especially merging at high speeds, which is how the accident happened. I’m also a bit of a people pleaser, though the older I get the less I care what others think of me. So Cami is an extension of myself. She’s definitely a people pleaser with some baggage, but her flipside is that she’s compassionate enough to look past Derek’s anger and see the man hurting deep beneath that prickly veneer.

I’m glad the accident wasn’t serious, but I can certainly understand how and why that would shake you up!

There’s also a paranormal element to ROAD RAGE which allows the book to work on multiple levels. Without giving too much away, part of Cami and Derek’s connection is related to a dream state (during which a lot of sexy shenanigans take place :) ). Both Cami and Derek behave differently than they do in the waking world, almost direct parallels of their flesh and blood selves. Intentional?

Jessi: Cami’s excuse for acting different (freer, less cautious) is that she has no memory of who she is or what she’s doing in Derek’s room during the night-time hours. Derek’s excuse is he believes he’s dreaming and that Cami is his very own personal dream girl. They both get a chance to let down their walls and let the other in. Then, when Cami wakes from her coma and no longer appears to Derek at night, they realize what they gained from each other and realize how their lives need to change. So, yeah, intentional. The paranormal aspect serves as a mirror to show the characters what they could have if they change.

Let’s talk about research. I was amazed by the amount you must have done in relation to several plot points in the book – motor vehicle law and, especially, ICU procedure and medical care for head trauma patients. Did you use mostly online sources for your research?

Jessi: I have a private investigator (PI) friend who met with me over several cups of coffee to talk about road rage laws and consequences. In fact, the police lieutenant I wrote into the book is based on this friend. He was a dear and even found California-specific laws and procedures, so I could make Derek’s consequences as realistic as possible. For the medical aspects, I drew on some of my training in speech and hearing sciences. I was fortunate enough as an audiologist to work in hospitals with people who had suffered injuries like Cami’s.

Do you have a favorite scene in the novel? 

Jessi: The first sex scene. The sex scenes are always my favorites!

LOL! From start to finish, how long did it take you to write ROAD RAGE?

Jessi: It started as a 20,000 word novella that I wrote in a few weeks. I submitted it to agents and had my absolute top choice for an agent reject it but say, if this were longer and the characters more developed, it would be great. So I took her advice and turned it into a 78,000 word novel. By that time, I had found a wonderful publishing home at Lyrical, so I never resubmitted to the agent, but I’ll be forever grateful to her for the encouragement.

When you’re developing a novel, do you have a system you follow? Are you a plotter, panster, or somewhere in between?

Jessi: I’m a pantser who loves worksheets. I don’t outline per se, but at the start of each scene I make notes about whose pov the scene is in, what their goal is (characters MUST have a goal in every scene or there can be no genuine conflict), what gets in the way of that goal, what action takes place in the scene, and how the scene ends so the reader MUST keep reading (hook). The tops of my scenes look like this:

POV:

GOAL:

WGW:

ACTION:

HOOK:

If I take a few minutes to fill that information in, I can usually write the scene pretty quickly. By now it’s such a habit that I can hold the information in my mental queue. I still write it all out though, if I’m struggling with a particular scene. It really helps me.

Great process! Do you have any projects in the works you’d like to tell us about?

Jessi: I’m writing the second novel in my Highland Wishes series that started with WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER (Lyrical Press, January 2013). THE WOLF AND THE HIGHLANDER tells the story of Anya, the villainess in book 1. It’s this close to being done *fingers almost touching*. When I write the end, I’ll start on a novella that will be a prequel to the series (Constance and Wilhelm’s story).

ROAD RAGE is a contemporary departure from my Highland time-travels. I have another contemporary, JADE’S SPIRIT that I plan on publishing next year, but first, I need to wrap up Highland Wishes book 2.

Okay, rapid-fire round time:  

Favorite day of the week: Wednesday (This is the day I always have the most time to write)

Favorite food: cupcakes

Favorite color: blue

Favorite music group/band: Third Day

Favorite animal: horse

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: One week alone with my laptop in an Alaskan cabin with Wi-Fi

If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d want to be: an audiologist

Thanks, Jessi. It was fun having you here today (and that Alaskan cabin sounds divine!). I wish you much success with ROAD RAGE!

Thanks for having me, Mae! I loved your questions, and I’m so glad you liked ROAD RAGE!

zz_Jessi Gage headshot2AUTHOR BIO
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Jessi Gage is also the author of WISHING FOR A HIGLANDER

Look for Jessi at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads

ROAD RAGE BUY LINKS
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Lyrical Press

A Sunny Day Sunshine Award, Mae Clair

SunshineIt’s a sunny day when my friend, Calisa Rhose, nominates me for the Sunshine Award! This is a fun award that bloggers give to other bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” What a great thought, and how lovely to be included among the ranks. Thank you, Calisa, for thinking of me!

If you haven’t moseyed over to Calisa’s ranch, you’ll find it filled with sunshine and friendly chatter! Calisa is one of my sister authors at Lyrical Press and a wonderful writer. The welcome mat is always out at her ranch. She loves visitors, so be sure to drop by. You’ll see for yourself why she earned a Sunshine Award.

The rules of the Sunshine Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who gave you the award in your blog post (thanks, Calisa!)
  2. Answer the questions below
  3. Pass the award to 10-12 deserving and inspiring bloggers, inform them and link to their blogs.

So, here are the questions:

Favorite color: This is always a toss-up between green and blue, the colors of earth, sea and sky. At the moment, I’m partial to blues and have to go with royal blue.

Favorite animal: Cat! I adore felines.

Favorite number: 12

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Coffee in the morning, water any other time of day. I constantly have a glass of iced water beside me.

Facebook or Twitter: Twitter. Facebook and I do not play nicely together. I’ve been planning a blog post on that for a while, LOL.

Your passion: My hubby, of course! :) Assuming, we’re not talking about that kind of passion then writing, reading and learning in general..

Giving or getting presents: Both. I’ve pulled off some pretty cool surprises in the giving department, like the time I surprised my husband with a John Deere tractor for his birthday.

Favorite flower: Roses, the flower of romance. Red is my favorite but I love them all—white, pink, yellow, blush orange and all varieties of colors.

And now I’d like to pass this award on to the following outstanding bloggers:

Sheri de Grom
Debbie Peterson
Cd Brennan
Jane Wakely
Jessi Gage
Lorraine Paton
Laura Lee Nutt
Stanalei Fletcher

Thanks for bringing a bit of sunshine with your blogs, ladies!

The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, by Mae Clair

wonderful-team-memberIt’s blog award time, thanks to my wonderful friend and fellow blogger, Sheri de Grom!

Sheri recently honored me with the Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve no doubt heard me mention Sheri before. We ventured into the blogosphere about the same time and quickly became  friends and supporters of each other.

Sheri blogs about women’s fiction and government and medical issues, in addition to working on what is certain to be a compelling novel, NOT THE MAN I MARRIED.  She’s super friendly and a great supporter of other bloggers so check her out corner of the world here, and linger a while under her bridge.

The Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award was one I was not previously familiar with, but it definitely deserves a round of fanfare. The title says it all. As bloggers, we rely on those who support our efforts with each post, taking their time to comment on the musings we toss into the virtual universe. I am so grateful for the friends I have made through blogging, and really do appreciate everyone who visits and comments on From the Pen of Mae Clair.

So to all my fantastic Pen Pals—I am grateful to each of you and wish to acknowledge you with this post. I am happy to nominate the following for the Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award:

L. J. Kentowski
Donna Cummings
Emma Meade
Jessi Gage
Cd Brennan
Calisa Rhose
Stanalei Fletcher
Debbie Peterson
Joanne Wadsworth
Laura Lee Nutt
Venice Kennedy
Susan Koenig

And, of course, a huge thanks to Sheri de Grom.

There are many other friends out there who support me through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and reviews, and I thank you all. This list is but a few. I am truly grateful for your friendship and support. You guys rock! :D

Happy Twelfth and Voting, by Mae Clair

bigstock-Number-Twelve-1092002Yes, I know it’s not the twelfth of March, the twelfth month of the year, or even the Twelfth of Never, but it’s still a happy twelfth!

Today, my friend Jessi Gage is showcasing the cover for my upcoming contemporary romance TWELFTH SUN on her blog. I get goosebumps whenever it gets splashed around!

If you’d like another gander, swing by and take a peek at Jessi’s blog.

I also had some exciting news earlier in the month. The book trailer I created for WEATHERING ROCK has been entered in the Best Video contest for March over at You Gotta Read Reviews. The winner gets some nice free advertising.

This was my first video trailer and I realize I’m up against some professionally done stuff, but it would be nice to at least make a decent showing . I’d love if you’d consider voting for me. All you have to do is hop over to You Gotta Read Reviews, click the VIDEO CONTEST TAB, then select #6 for WEATHERING ROCK in their poll and click the submit vote button. Easy, peasy! Voting closes on March 27th. If you’d like to see the trailer you can check it out here, on my WEATHERING ROCK page.

Thanks! Happy Friday, Happy Twelfth, and Happy Voting everyone! :)

Wizards with Words: Laura Lee Nutt, Red and the Wolf G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y

A beam of light shines out from an open bookIt’s Wizards with Words time! Today, I’m super excited to welcome my Lyrical Press sister, Laura Lee Nutt. Her debut novel RED AND THE WOLF, a fantasy romance, was released yesterday. Yesterday! How cool is that?

In celebration, Laura is doing a week-long giveaway. You’ll find all the details at the end of this post, but first settle in and help me welcome Laura.

Laura, please share a little bit about yourself and when you first became interested in writing.

Mae, thank you so much for having me today. Honestly, I’ve loved telling stories since I can remember, but I really started writing them down in second grade. I would staple paper into little books and write, rather illegibly I must confess, and illustrate them, usually with horses. I wrote so much in fact that my second grade teacher selected me as her student to meet Mary Brooke Casad, author of the Bluebonnet the Armadillo books. That was an awesome day, and not just because I got to miss school. Since, writing has become as much a part of my life as walking. Storytelling has become a part of my soul.

That’s about the time I started writing too. And strangely enough I wrote about horses–and dogs, LOL. Your new release, RED AND THE WOLF, puts a new spin on the classic fairy-tale, Little Red Riding Hood. I love your tag line—“They said Little Red Riding Hood lived happily ever after. They lied.” How did you come up with the idea for the novel?

I’m glad you like the tag. I’m always a bit paranoid that people won’t like it. Anyway, I honestly don’t recall what my initial inspiration for the book was. I was sick for about two weeks and needed something to distract myself from how awful I felt, so I threw myself into writing the first draft of RED AND THE WOLF.  I recall thinking how strange it was that Little Red Riding Hood could be so content and cheerful after getting swallowed by a wolf. It made no sense to me, so I started theorizing what might have happened had the fairy tale gone a more realistic route, at least as far as Red’s reactions were concerned. Then, since I love romance and werewolves, I wove those inextricably into the tale.

I have a particular passion for romance and werewolves. :D I’m going to love this book! Tell us about your characters and what motivates them in the story.

redandthewolf-1Heinrich Jaeger is the hero and huntsman of the original tale. He is also a werewolf; though, he would never confess that to the villagers he protects. Even werewolves can’t survive getting burned at the stake or beheaded. Six years ago during a territory dispute with another werewolf, Blanchette and her grandmother got caught up unwittingly as pawns. Heinrich arrived in time to save them but not in time to prevent the mental and emotional trauma Blanchette suffered. Since, he humbly takes on the duty to watch over Blanchette and her family, no matter how it hurts that Blanchete always shies away. Her fear of all things outside her house is his fault, or so he believes. She has grown into a lovely young woman, one he would dearly love to set free.

Blanchette Krautbrauer still frequently relives the wolf attack six years ago. She almost lost her beloved grandmother and her own life. Since, she dares do nothing to endanger either of them, especially step foot outside her home. Heinrich is the only one outside her family that she trusts. But when a stranger comes to the village to destroy any dangerous elements left over from the old folk tale and targets Heinrich, Blanchette finds that staying hidden isn’t always the best course, especially when the life of someone she loves is at stake. In this story, she has to choose between safety and love, and the two conflicting motivations compel her to do some very brave things by the end.

Lothar is a nix, a freshwater German-style merman, who Heinrich imprisoned in the lake on the village edge to stop him from eating villagers or dragging them down for twisted entertainments in his watery abode. Since, Lothar has craved vengeance. When Heinrich’s attention slips because of Blanchette, Lothar takes his chance and concocts a plan to destroy them both.

Karl Kaismann has a duty to the Holy Roman Emperor to seek out and destroy all unnatural threats to Germany, mainly those associated with these strange tales of wolves dressing in women’s clothes and consuming children. If there is any truth behind the fantasy, he must eliminate it for the greater good. Unfortunately, Blanchette’s sweet disposition and ardent insistence that Heinrich is innocent makes his task much more difficult. When only Lothar will give him facts, what is he to do but act on them?

Wonderful Intricacies! I always loved fairy tales as a child and began reading fantasy as a teen. Having the fantasy/romance genre explode on the scene has been wonderful. What originally attracted you to the genre?

I actually started writing the genre before I began reading it. Well, I had read a couple books with paranormal and romance elements, but I wasn’t serious about digging in then. Mainly, my fantasy and romance were already blending in my own stories because I love both so much. Then I met Jessi Gage, who became my critique partner. We were both on the Write_Workshop chat on Yahoo Groups for a pitch class. Her pitch so intrigued me that I private messaged her about it. It had wolfmen and romance and a whole world at stake. That was the first book of Jessi’s I critiqued, but it showed me how beautifully the two genres could meld. Since, I’ve taken a particular fascination with urban fantasy, which is often like the fantasy heavy side of fantasy romance, and paranormal romance, which tips the scales more toward the romance end. I look back now at some of my earlier stories and realize that I’ve always included a strong romantic thread in my fantasy. I just didn’t know then that there were subgenres to support it.

Do you have a favorite scene in the novel?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. Off the top of my head, I would have to say that it’s probably the scene right after the first love scene where everything starts to really come to a head between Heinrich, Blanchette, and Karl. The emotions, conflict, courage, vulnerability, and everything in that scene I loved writing so much. It’s especially fun when the characters really start acting from their deepest desires.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve encountered on your path to becoming a published author and how did you overcome it?

For the longest time growing up, I could never finish a story. I would either keep writing on and on and on until I finally realized I wasn’t going to get to the end, if one even existed, or I would get distracted with writing another story. It took me taking a creative writing class in college where I had a deadline for turning in a finished story. The pressure to get a good grade and an outside force insisting I finish made it possible. Then, once I knew I could finish a story, it became much easier to do it in the future. Learning good plot structure later on made finishing even easier and gave me better results.

Which do you find the most difficult to write – – beginning, middle or end?

Beginnings. Definitely beginnings. I find I cannot write a decent middle or end I’m willing to admit has any potential unless I feel my beginning is strong and that I have a good sense for my characters and story. My first five or so chapters always undergo two to three times the number of edits as the rest of the book.

Name three books you’ve read over and over again. If you don’t reread books (I can’t imagine!), name three books that have made a strong impression on you.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, my favorite of all time.

Shadow of the Fox by Ellen Steiber. I used to read this to my brother as a kid. Spooky, romantic, and very cool.

Most of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I’ve actually read the whole series, but I haven’t read book seven more than once yet.

Some random facts for readers to get to know you better:

Favorite time of day to write: Night, especially with a good moon.

Favorite color: I don’t have one. I can never make up my mind between red, forest green, or blue.

Favorite holiday: Do I have to pick only one? :) Let’s go with 4th of July. It has less commercialism, fireworks, doesn’t stretch the pocketbook, and I do love my country.

Sunset picnic or candlelight dinner: Candlelight dinner. Picnics attract bugs that totally ruin the mood for me. Ick!

Seaside or mountains: Mountains, especially up through Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Gorgeous.

Favorite board game: I’m not allowed to play board games very often. My husband says I’m a sore loser, which I am. If I don’t win, I get grumpy and take it way too hard. If I do win, I feel bad about feeling so thoroughly smug about it. So to answer the question more directly, any game I have a good chance of winning. :)

Favorite fairytale (I have to ask :)): Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, which is actually quite different from the original tales.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing (or reading)?

Role Play, mainly tabletop roleplaying games. I love the process of creating a character and theatrically playing them out. I enjoy being with a good group where everyone contributes to making an awesome story. For those of you familiar with roleplaying, my favorite games are Changeling: the Dreaming, Dark Ages Werewolf, Fading Suns, Pendragon, and pretty much anything that encourages character based roleplaying.

RED AND THE WOLF is your debut release, but the first in a planned series called Embracing Ever After. Is there a second novel already in the works? If not, do you have another WIP you’d like to share with us before we wrap things up?

Yes, there is a second novel in the works. Currently, it’s titled GRETEL AND HER GHOST. Now grown, Gretel is determined to marry and have a normal life, but nearly getting eaten as a child still haunts her and her brother. Hansel is determined not to lose his little sister and does everything he can to keep her, including driving away all her suitors. When a mysterious man comes to the village begging Gretel’s aid in rescuing more children, she has to make the most difficult decisions of her life, but ones that might ultimately set her free and satisfy her desire for a loving husband.

If all goes according to plan, I hope to have the book to my editor this spring. If she likes it, you’ll see it follow RED AND THE WOLF probably next year. After that, I’ve got partial work done on a Beauty and the Beast and a Sleeping Beauty story.

Blurb:
Six years after the attack at her grandmother’s cottage, Blanchette still hides in her bedroom, unable to hear the wolf’s cry without shivering to her soul. Nor can she scent the pine and spruce rising from the Black Forest surrounding her home without remembering the lunge of a savage beast, the thick aroma of blood, and its tooth pricking her finger. But when Karl, the emperor’s hunter of the fantastic and monstrous, arrives at the village questioning her tale and threatening Heinrich, her huntsman rescuer, Blanchette’s worst fears swarm to the fore. Unless she confronts these fears, embraces her lupine nature, proves her control over her wolf, and accepts the bond of mated love Heinrich offers, Karl will butcher her and Heinrich like the unnatural beasts that they are.

Excerpt:
Thick fir and pine scented the cool air, overlaying familiar aromas: animal musk, moss, and the lynx Heinrich skinned. Beneath all, the wind bore sickness’s sour stench.

He lifted his head and inhaled, sifting through flavors on the autumn breeze to define the scent’s origin and character. Northward it drifted, from Ulfheim Village through the woods until it chafed his nostrils, belying the idyllic afternoon’s enfolding shade and lulling birdsong surrounding his cottage.

Instinct pressed a name on his mind: Blanchette, the girl he had saved six years before from his kind’s brutal horrors. He tightened his hold on the skinning knife, ready once more to rush to her defense.

But this scent lacked Blanchette’s fullness and unsoiled maidenhood. Threads of her mingled with it, suggesting she lingered nearby. Only one person smelled so similar yet distinct and remained within Blanchette’s company enough for their scents to blend: Ada Krautbrauer, her grandmother.

He twitched, fighting the impulse to race for the Krautbrauers. To banish recklessness, he shook his head and forced his skinning knife to the forest floor. The beautiful golden lynx lay half finished at his feet. Compared to the urgency lashing his wolf’s mind, it meant nothing. Forgotten.

With a satisfying surge, he shoved up, took two steps, and stopped.

Racing off senseless like an animal might alert suspicion. No decent huntsman arrived at the village panting and purposeless.

He returned to the lynx outspread before his cottage door and retrieved the skinning knife. Survival and protecting his true nature required a strategic approach. The villagers must perceive him as human. His arrival should appear coincidental. Racing off and leaving a partially skinned lynx hardly compared with rational human behavior.

Yet Blanchette had endured anguish enough because of him and his kind. His conscience stabbed him for failing to immediately investigate the scent. What if she needed help?

As he finished the lynx and cleaned up, he disentangled the facts. Blanchette’s grandmother and parents sheltered her well. Though her grandmother could not guard her while ill, Blanchette hardly lacked companionship or assistance. Nevertheless, the slightest wavering in her grandmother’s constitution or countenance sent Blanchette’s precarious disposition reeling. What shattered state must have overcome her already?

Comparatively, what could he offer? A friendly neighbor poking his head in the Krautbrauer apothecary shop for a casual greeting fell woefully short of proper aid. Further, in feigning ignorance and concealing the anxiety the scent stirred within him, his arsenal of comforts, protections, and assurances would whittle to nothing. Even under the best circumstances, Blanchette would probably refuse to make an appearance. Since the incident in her grandmother’s cottage with the other wolf, she avoided the world outside the Krautbrauer residence. Considering all she had suffered and the part Heinrich played in bringing it about, he could not blame her.

While the lynx’s pelt hung to dry, he assembled an excuse, any excuse, to visit the apothecary’s. Firewood was his usual ploy, so he gathered a hefty load of dried logs and hoisted it over one shoulder. He marched toward the village at a forced stroll.

When wet, mossy aromas off the great lake crouching northwest of Ulfheim Village assaulted his nose, he slowed. Along the shore, he prowled and growled toward the dark king who lurked beneath the undulating waters made coppery in the setting sun.

Lothar, the nix he had claimed victory over years before, hissed a defiant spout of water at him. Satisfied, Heinrich turned his back and sauntered down the main path into Ulfheim.

Laura Lee Nutt Author ImageBio:
When the world said that life was little but disappointment, struggle, and pain, Laura chose to still dream upon stars. She believes birthday wishes can come true, that good can triumph over evil, honor and true love really exist, and hope and happiness are worth fighting for. When not living vicariously through her fiction, she seeks to encourage others to aspire to such life-affirming ideals.

Laura has been writing since she could pen sentences and making up stories long before that. She first published a poem, “Glass Eyed Inspiration,” about her admiration of Patrick Hough, a man blinded by a bullet to the head but who still fought for success and a positive attitude, a martial artist who inspired those around him. Later, once she decided to embrace her dream of becoming an author, she published “Entomophobia: An Insect Incident” in A Long Story Short and “War Drums Beat” in Sacred Twilight.

In fiction, Laura continues to build worlds, instigate adventures and romances, spark the fires of vengeance and love, and thread in that ever elusive yet essential hope. Her favorite theme to explore in writing is that, even in the darkest hour, the best of what we are can shine through and amidst calamity something good can take root and blossom.

Currently, she lives in Texas with her equally fiction obsessed husband, her rambunctious boys, and her dog, Shakespeare. Her favorite book is Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, which has one of the most heart-wrenching romances she has ever read.

Buy links: http://lyricalpress.com/red-and-the-wolf

RED AND THE WOLF is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Nook, and the I-Store.

Look for Laura at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook

Okay, ready for the giveaway details? Here are they are!

Giveaway Details: For Red and the Wolf’s release week, Laura is hosting a giveaway. There are several ways to earn chances to win one of two prizes, an e-copy of Red and the Wolf and an adorable Annette Funicello Collectable Bear Co. Little Red Riding Hood valued at $105. You have from Monday, March 4th, 12 AM central time through Sunday, March 10th, 11:59 PM central time to get as many points as you can. Each point equals an additional time your name gets entered in the drawing for these prizes. Laura will announce the winners on my blog Monday, March 11th. To begin with, you will earn your first point for the drawing by commenting on today’s post. Do you prefer more fantasy or romance in stories? Why? For more ways to earn points see Laura’s blog. Good luck!

Cover Reveal: ROAD RAGE by Jessi Gage

Title: ROAD RAGE
Author: Jessi Gage
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 2013

Jessi Gage is back with the hot, sexy cover of her upcoming paranormal romance, ROAD RAGE. Check it out!

roadrage

Blurb:
He has anger issues and she has amnesia, but together they have amazing chemistry.

Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.

Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?

When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?

CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary

A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance

Excerpt:
Sleepy footsteps shuffled past his cracked-open door. Haley, headed to the bathroom. He should get up too. He usually looked forward to firing up the griddle for Sunday morning pancakes, but a rollercoaster night of strange dreams and unspent arousal had him wishing he could sleep in.

He’d had the nightmare where he was driving the Honda again, but he’d also had another. The second dream had dumped him in a car wreck too, and even though he’d witnessed the accident with the Honda in real life, the one on the rain-slicked roadside had felt much more personal.

Even now, hours after the dream, the weight of the girl’s loss pinned him to the mattress. He refused to accept the added weight of her guilt, however. It hovered in his psyche, right there, ready to upset him if he chose to let it. But he ignored it. The girl might have been driving, and the accident might have even been her fault–he didn’t know since he’d shown up after the wreck–but no way did she cause her father’s death. It didn’t matter she was a figment of his sleeping subconscious; knowing she believed that made him cringe.

Blowing out the useless emotional shit on a breath, he heaved himself out of bed. He found Haley kneeling on a kitchen chair, using his laptop. “Whatcha doing, kiddo?” He ruffled her hair with manufactured cheer.

“Looking up ghosts.”

He blinked a few times. Of all the things he’d been expecting her to say, checking email, looking at Facebook, playing games… “Ghosts? Why?”

“’Cuz I think you have one.”

“Haley, hon, there’s no such thing as ghosts.” He wanted to talk about Little League, about school, about Girl Scouts, frigging boys, anything but ghosts. What the hell was Deidre letting her get into that she came up with crap like that?

“Uh, yeah there is, Dad. You know how I know?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “’Cuz I saw one. She woke you up Friday night. And then last night, I thought I heard you crying again, so I went in your room to check on you. She was sitting on your bed touching your hair like Mom does when I don’t feel good.”

His heart stopped while he processed what she’d said. He hadn’t realized Haley had looked in on him last night. A flush crept up his neck as he remembered the erection he’d had before dawn. He hoped to God she hadn’t come in then. Thankfully, her words reminded him of the gentle caresses that had taken the edge off the car-wreck dreams, which had happened earlier. But that comfort had been in his dreams. How had Haley seen?

“She had pretty red hair,” she said, oblivious to his confusion. “But not red like Rebecca’s. It was darker. And she looked worried about you. Don’t you know who she is? Was it someone who died a long time ago?” She tapped the computer screen. “It says here sometimes deceased loved ones from your past hang around and look out for you, like watch over you. I think she was watching over you. I like her. She seems nice.”

Dark red hair, as in rich auburn waves. His legs felt weak. He gripped the back of a chair as he moved around the table. Crouching, he wiggled the griddle from amidst the pots and pans in the cupboard.

“There’s no such thing as ghosts, honey.” He clunked the griddle onto the counter and flipped the laptop closed. “It’s pancake time.”

zz_Jessi Gage headshot2Author Bio
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Website
Blog
Twitter: @jessigage

Mae Clair’s The Mystery of Eclipse Lake–7 Writer Challenge

I’ve recently been tagged in the Seven Writer Challenge by three wonderful author friends—Debbie Peterson, L.J. Kentowski, and Lorraine Paton. Thanks to all three of these ladies for sending the challenge my way. This is always a fun one!

According to the rules, I must go to either page 7 or page 77 of one of my works and, starting on line 7, post the next seven lines. After that, I get to challenge seven other authors to do the same.  I told you it was fun! :D

Lucky7Meme

My selection is taken from page 77 of THE MYSTERY OF ECLIPSE LAKE, my current WIP, a mystery/romance with plenty of family drama. This is from the POV of Jonah Carlisle who suddenly has an unexpected house guest on his hands—his seventeen-year-old nephew, Jesse, who up until a few days ago, he never knew existed.

~ooOOoo~

“This way,” Jesse said, clearly enjoying the role of tour guide.  He led April and Paige toward the kitchen.  Even Koya abandoned Jonah, trailing happily on Jesse’s heels, her tail wagging from side to side.

He (Jonah) closed the door and counted to ten.  The kid had a habit of getting under his skin, and it was growing worse the more time they spent together.  In the kitchen he found his nephew and Paige unloading bags at the oversized center island he used for food preparation.  April busily stacked covered bowls and dishes in his near-empty refrigerator.

~ooOOoo~

And now I’d like to pass the challenge to these fabulous authors:

Donna Cummings
Jessi Gage
Laura Lee Nutt
Calisa Rhose
Stanalei Fletcher
Zee Monodee
Kyra Jacobs

Roll out your 7’s, ladies!