Jody Wallace’s Dreamwalkers

I’m pleased to have Jody Wallace on my blog today – with a twist!  Instead of ME interviewing HER, she asked me some cool questions.  Her Dreamwalkers books are on sale until Feb. 5th and she’s offering signed copies and some really cool prizes!

Disciple72lg-200x300 Tangible72lg-200x300DREAMWALKERS INTERVIEW

The premise of the Dreamwalkers series is that certain human brains are so vivid that their nightmares can come to life and eat people. The heroes and heroines (so far) are the folks who fight these monsters and hide their existence from the rest of the world. Oftentimes these nightmares take the shape of popular culture creations, but sometimes there are classics.

1) What are the scariest movies, TV and books you can think of?

I LOVE horror movies – but they don’t really scare me. I’m more scared about things that could happen in real life, especially something happening to my kids.  So in that regard, I’d say that the original Poltergeist is scary.  The way JoBeth Williams fights to save her kids gets me every time. When little Carol Anne says “No more,” ugh, it gives me goosebumps. I almost always cry when she takes her first breath in the tub after JoBeth brings her back.

2) What monsters do you think your brain would create or has created in your books? (Caveat: real world human monsters don’t tend to get created, just things like vampires and mega spiders, and the size of the monster tends to be between 3-12 feet. If your nightmare is more of an “event”, like falling or appearing in public naked, I bet there’s a monster that represents that kind of horror!)  

I know you said most of the monsters are big – but one of the most horrific real life things I’ve ever seen/had to do was scrape lice out of my baby’s hair. Those wiggling creatures feeding on her, buried in her sweet-smelling hair…. UGH.  It happened years ago and still gives me the heebie jeebies.  So my monster would be something that lived on my kids and slowly devoured them.

3) What kind of dreamwalker hero or heroine do you think would be required to dispatch your nightmares? (Romance optional!)

A big sexy hunk with a gentle hand on a fine-toothed comb to get all those crawlies off my baby!

4) Bonus question: What pop culture monsters do you think the dreamwalkers have the most trouble killing?

Hackers and spammers.  They’re monsters, aren’t they?

DREAMWALKERSALE3-300x251

My First Radio Interview

My wonderful SIL Jennifer Scott works the 10-3 show at 92.9 Star FM and last night we sat down to talk about how I got into writing and some other fun stuff.  We had SO MUCH FUN.  I wasn’t nervous at all – she made it so easy!  It was just like chatting over my kitchen table.  If you’d like to hear the interview, pop over to Jennifer’s page at 92.9.  Hugs to Jennifer – I love you so much!  Thanks for having me over!

RT2012: The E-Book Expo Exposed

While at the E-Book Expo yesterday, I got to meet several incredible people at RT and I was thrilled to answer a few questions about some things I’d like to see in epublishing’s future.  Head on over to RT’s website read what kind of genre-buster I’d like to see …and what I’d call it!  Along with a photo of me in my Samhain Stampede get up!  Too bad you can’t see my sparkly belt buckle…

Blood and Shadows Series Feature Event

This weekend (April 5-8) I’ll be at The Forbidden Bookshelf spilling everything I can about the Blood & Shadows series, specifically The Shanhasson trilogy.  There will be excerpts and lots of background/behind the scenes information about the characters and world, plus a giveaway!  Details here.

Carina Press Anniversary

In celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn’t provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina’s 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they’d all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. ~Angela James

 #

Lessons from Carina’s First Year

Gina Bernal is a freelance editor for Carina Press. You can follow her on Twitter.

 #

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already time to wish Carina Press a happy first anniversary. Not to be cliché, but it does feel like just yesterday that I shot an email to Angela James saying, “Hey, I hear you might be looking for editors…” Lucky me, I made the team. Working for Carina has been a pleasure, but it’s also been a tremendous learning experience—both professionally and personally. Carina’s first year as a publisher also happened to be my first year in an exciting, emerging part of the industry, in a new job, living in a new city. And I’ve learned some interesting lessons along the way…

The writer’s imagination is endless. Carina’s motto is “Where no great story goes untold,” and that wholehearted approach to finding compelling reads means our inbox is filled with a little bit of everything. Great, good and—if I’m being honest—sometimes bad, the variety of manuscripts assures that a batch of submissions will be anything but boring.

Digital publishing moves fast. Tight deadlines keep us all constantly going, but it’s rewarding (and not a little nail-biting) to see a book you love go from acquisition to a reader’s hand in less than a year.

Working in a virtual office doesn’t have to equal isolation. Having always worked in chatty, cooperative offices, I was apprehensive about working from home as a freelancer. Who would I bounce ideas off of? Who would listen to a random rant? Though Carina’s editorial team is scattered across the US and beyond, the “water cooler” environment fostered by our email loop and social networks means someone’s usually there to lend support or share a laugh.

There’s a slippery slope from smart skirts to sweatpants. You know you’ve gotten way too comfortable working from home when your significant other asks “Why are you dressed for dance class?” and your only reply is “Oh, I’ve been wearing this all day.” Yes, I’ve gone from having once been the dressiest person at my old job to coveting Old Navy stretch gaucho pants. All my cute shoes are crying in the closet. Writers and other stay-at-homers, I hope you can commiserate.

Everybody knows Harlequin. Readers or not, people recognize the Harlequin name. The brand is synonymous with romance, and telling someone you edit books for Harlequin’s digital-first imprint is guaranteed to spark an interesting conversation. Makes for a fabulous icebreaker.

Twitter is addictive. Does this need further explanation?

Novellas can pack a storytelling punch. Lately, I’ve become a slow reader. Seriously, I’m jealous of people with active Good Reads update feeds. Novellas provide a fast treat…and a sense of accomplishment when you finish quickly! Some of my Carina favorites include Tia Nevitt’s The Sevenfold Spell, Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley’s Dirty Laundry series, Eleri Stone’s Mercy, Nicole North’s Laird of Darkness, and Seleste deLaney’s Badlands (full disclosure: I edited the latter two).

Romantic Suspense is disproportionately represented in my editing repertoire. While I enjoy romantic suspense, I don’t read tons of it for pleasure—maybe five to ten percent of my for-fun romance reading could be classified as suspense. But as an editor, about thirty percent of the books I’ve worked on thus far are romantic suspense. No explanation for it, but when reading submissions those suspenseful storylines have an undeniable allure.

They’re all real books. Working in digital publishing has made me especially touchy when people say they don’t read ebooks, they read “real” books. People work their tushies off to write, edit and produce ebooks and they’re just as real as any hardcover or paperback out there, thank you very much.

Here’s to a great first year and many more to come!

To celebrate Carina’s one year anniversary of publishing books, we’re giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we’re giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that’s nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we’re giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner’s choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today’s blog posts.

And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press’s first year a success!

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our chat about The Chocolatier’s Wife and Beautiful Death, here’s the next questions I asked Cindy and her response.  Head over to Cindy’s blog for my questions/answers re: BD.

How long have you been writing, and where does TCW fit in your bibliography?  And what’s in the works for you next?

I’ve been writing since my teens…about 20 years.  The Chocolateir’s Wife is my third completed book.  Of my first two, Blue Moon is, ironically, my second book.  The first I wrote, Balancing Act, will be out in a year or so.  I’ve also written a lot of short stories and poems.  I wanted to write longer works, but when I was a teen I was more interested in expressing myself…my emotions, what I was going through…in a descriptive way, and I loved poems because I could finish them.  Then I did short stories…when I finished my first novel, it was really a relief! 

And since I missed a week or so over the holidays, I’ll post another.

What’s next for the world of Chocolatier’s Wife? 

As for what’s next for that world…I have several plans.  Someday, I think William is going to have to face the sea…I imagine a mystery, perhaps, happening while he and Tasmin go on a voyage, perhaps to visit cocoa plantations?  I’m not sure.  But I am working on a story set in the “enemy” empire of Pandroth.  I don’t know if I ever will truly write about William and Tasmin again…but I love them so much, it gives me comfort to think I might just.   

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our ongoing book chat, the next question I asked Cindy about The Chocolatier’s Wife:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded!

Her answer:

The letters came about because I needed to create a history between Tasmin and William.  In the story, they aren’t allowed to meet, technically, until their wedding day, a rule that goes out the window when he’s accused of murder, since she is now able to break her promise to be his wife with no repercussions.  So, why would she risk everything to go and see him and help him?  The letters seemed like the only solution, and as I wrote them, I realized that they could tell a completely different second story.  They were a lot of fun to write. 
 

Head over to Cindy’s blog if you want to hear about what attracted me to the Hades myth.

Come back next week for her next question,

Now I have to ask you…are any of your characters partly inspired by actors or actresses? 

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Last weeks’s chat and Cindy’s post with my answer about the original inspiration for Beautiful Death.

The question I asked her next was what movie and characters had inspired TCW?  Her response:

Well…I have always loved the movie Master and Commander, and I thought Edward Woodall’s character, William Mowett, was just a lovely, wonderful and much under used person.  Since I’ve seen him in a handful of other things, and he’s a very good actor, he puts a lot into his roles, even the smallest parts become full, perfectly realized people.  So, in a way, that’s where our William gets his sea faring past…and his first name. 

 
I probably shouldn’t have confessed that!   
 

Ha, I love that she confessed it!  If you’re curious to see how I would “cast” Beautiful Death, head on over to Cindy’s blog.

Next week, we’ll continue our chat with my question to her:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded! 

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

This summer, I was priviledged to chat in depth with Cindy after reading The Chocolatier’s Wife released by Drollerie Press around the same time as Beautiful Death.  Events conspired against us so we’re just not getting this “chat” published on our blogs, but we had a great time discussing the story behind the books and general writing.  We plan on posting part of our “back and forth” chat every Friday until we finally stopped talking shop.  This is very informal, so there may be some overlap…or some juicy tidbit extras!

First off, let me say how much I enjoyed The Chocolatier’s Wife (TCW).  This sweet romance really tugs on the heart-strings.  I absolutely adored the little touches between Tasmin and William.  For most of their lives, their courtship happens through letters.  It’s sort of a fluke, really, that they were even “matched” by the magic that determines who should marry. 

Little things speak so loudly, though.  It’s the care and consideration between the two of them that really makes this story so sweet, long before they ever meet face to face.  The small considerations between these characters really shows how they fall in love bit by bit.  Love comes softly for these characters, and it’s beautiful to watch.

We thought it would be interesting to delve deeper into our stories, because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, really, for what our niche micropress Drollerie Press is really all about.  Beautiful Death is violent and quite sexy, where TCW is softer and subtler, but BOTH stories combine magic and romance into what we think is a rather rich and unique tapestry.  Both stories are transformative, because I assure you, William is never the same after Tasmin blows into his life, and Isabella can only learn what it truly means to be a “monster” after she becomes a monster herself. 

So the first thing we started talking about was the “story behind the story.”  Here was Cindy’s response:

What started my book was a sort of goofy confluence.  It was nearing Christmas and my then department chair had given me a tower of chocolate…different boxes with all these lovely things inside.  And I had just watched a movie with an actor in it who I was wishing was in more roles…and as i was opening the box, I was wondering what I would like to see him in.  And I took a bite of this square of chocolate…it was, sincerely, one of the best pieces of chocolate I’d ever eaten…and the idea flooded into my head, even the title.  

Sounds yummy, yes?  So head over to Cindy’s blog and read my response about Beautiful Death and its original inspiration.

Next week, we’ll continue with the next question, where I said: 

Oooh, so you know I’ve got to ask:  who was the actor and what was the movie?  

Then we got to talking about “casting” our characters.

And since it’s been quite a while since I posted anything about Beautiful Death, I’ll post an excerpt.  This piece provides some of the backstory about how Isabella became “Beautiful Death.”  Although she doesn’t know it at the time, this “alien” is Hades.  Not exactly your everyday run-of-the-mill “first meet” in a romance.  :roll:  :wink:

Without opening her eyes, she knew someone watched, very close, the stirring of air warning her that a hand stretched toward her.  She exploded into action, rolling to the side and scooping up the knife that she always kept nearby.  Huddled with her back to the wall, she felt her heart stutter with dread.

This monster was the real thing. 

The alien spun silvered rainbows through the alley, leaving her nowhere to hide.  He squatted down to her level, as though that would fool her into trusting him.  “Isabella.  I’ve come to help you.  Your father–”

A cold sweat coated her skin, but she couldn’t hold back the laughter.  Ragged, shrill with grief and rage, her voice grated like broken glass.  “Even if you weren’t a monster, I’d know you were lying.  My father’s the last person I ever want to see again.”

A sound jerked her attention behind him.  More aliens had her sister.

“I’m tired.”  Amelia lay in one of the alien’s arms like a helpless baby, and the look of resignation on her face made bile burn up Isabella’s throat.  “I’m dirty and cold and starving.  I just want to go home.  He said we’d be safe, Bella.  If not…”  she shrugged, “at least it’ll be over.”

Fight!  Why don’t you fight?  Don’t lie there and let them kill you!  “There is no home.  Mom’s dead, and Daddy’s never coming back.  Don’t you understand?  There is no safety!  If they don’t kill you, their virus will!”

Choking on tears of rage, her throat hurt, her eyes burning.  Otherwise, she’d have seen the alien coming at her.

The bastard was good, she’d give him that.  He seized her right arm, his thumb pressing on her tendon until her nerveless fingers dropped the knife, while he pinned her against his body with his other arm.  For all his size and power, he made one monumental error.  He treated her carefully, as though she were just a fifteen-year-old kid, half starved and scared shitless, as though she hadn’t seen people tearing each other apart for food or killed to keep herself alive.

She lunged up and buried her pitiful human teeth in his neck, tearing at that vulnerable pale skin.

The alien’s body jolted against hers, silver burning higher.  Glass shattered in the windows of the abandoned highrise.  Street lamps that had long ago quit working exploded like fireworks.  The ground trembled, glass and metal tinkling, debris falling all around them.

“Bella.”  The alien’s voice sounded shaken, hushed, not filled with fury or pain like she’d expected.  The fool released her hands and cupped her head tighter to his throat, curling his body around hers protectively.  “Your father sent me to you.  I mustn’t…”

Then you’re dead, she thought, fisting her hands in the ridiculously long, pretty hair about his shoulders.  She yanked his head back further and tore deeper at his throat, determined to rip her way to his spine, but he still didn’t release her.  His power burned higher, sinking into her, melting her bones, and swirling rainbows sucked her down into an endless pit of darkness.

Her heart pounded harder, her mind screaming with terror, but her body slipped into neutral while he siphoned off her energy.  Her strength, hatred, and rage that powered her ferocious will to live disappeared in an instant.

He’s feeding on me.  He’s eating me alive.

She’d seen the horrors, watched as the aliens drained their victims and left them mindless shells to die twitching and screaming when the virus struck.  She’d hated those weaklings and despised their stupidity, never understanding the horrific compelling need to give up the fight. 

There was nothing she could do to stop him; worse, the longer he fed, the less she wanted him to stop.

Rest, peace, safety, all lies he silently promised while he crushed her against him and drained her lifeforce.  Surrender, his body purred against hers.  Death won’t be so bad.  I’ll be gentle, sweet, good, I promise.

His blood coated her face, filled her mouth, and slid down her throat in a hot, liquid flood, but she was the one dying.  Little by little, Isabella flickered lower, a candle guttering in the silent, cold night.  Her defenses crumbled.  He was all around, inside her, soaking her up, drinking her most horrible dreams and memories, seducing her to death.

Lost, all she could think about was how incredibly good his blood tasted.