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Raves, Rants, and Releases

I wrote my first rant/hate letter to Trane today.  Now they’re telling us that they have no idea when our compressor will be in — because a hurricane in Mexico washed out all the roads.  Nothing can stop a Trane…except a hurricane in Mexico?!?  Meanwhile, school starts in two weeks and my kids are sleeping on the floor in our bedroom (and have been since June) because that’s where the window unit is.  Oh, and it hit 115 heat index this week.  Yay for Trane! 

As for raves, thank you to Nicole for her review of Beautiful Death:

I really enjoyed this book. I actually considered yelling at Joely over Twitter at one point while I was reading it… because it was 2am, I had tons of things I needed to do the following day, and I couldn’t. Put. The. E-reader. Down.

And finally, a huge congratulations to my friend Jenna Reynolds who has another Ellora’s Cave book releasing today!  I had the pleasure of reading Madison Avenue Vampire and I loved the 1960s touches that really made this a unique vampire read.  She writes that Mad Men inspired the story:  what if Don Draper were a vampire?  If you’re in the mood for a sexy read with an interesting time period, check it out!

P.S. I’ll post the winners from the Break 20 Contest this Friday when I hopefully share the next snippet of Shadowed.  We didn’t hit 20 reviews on Amazon but that’s okay–we still generated several ratings and reviews.  Thank you to everyone who participated!

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I’m Melting

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Nadia Lee’s blog talking about changes in my writing process over the years.

Sorry about my lack of blog posts lately.  I’m suffering from the dog days of summer.  Can’t seem to wake up early, can’t seem to stay up late, can’t focus.  Thank God the kids go back to school in two weeks, but that also means I have school shopping to finish.  I need to organize, clean out their drawers and their room, all of which is complicated by no central A/C.

Yes, we’ve been without A/C since Father’s Day.  Cross your fingers–Trane says they’ll get the part this week.  *sweats*  Of course, the heat index was 115 today.  *melts some more*  Even with a little window unit in my office over the garage, it’s been hitting 80 and worse in the afternoons.  No wonder I don’t have any energy.

Tomorrow, straight temp is supposed to be 100.

Yes, I’m melting.  Even my coffee consumption is down.  Bring on the iced tea!

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Vacation Reads Week 4

With my novella done, I was able to participate this week!  Check the main hub for links (later today and this weekend as the posts go up) to read my post about The Bloodgate Guardian.

In this collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, author of The Chocolatier’s Wife and editor of StereoOpticon, a collection of re-told fairy tales, gives us several new stories and an interesting look at the classic ‘Cinderella’ as well. Cindy’s stories examine the roles of women, our expectations, and the aftermath of the classic happily ever after in interesting, sometimes disturbing, ways.

Every Word I Speak: Most of us know the fairy tale of the girl who, because of her kindness, was given the gift of gems and flowers that fell from her mouth with every word she spoke, but what happens afterward? Who can she trust and what will they want from her? This version of the story is a dark and troubling tale, and absolutely delicious for those of us who like our fairy tales unmarred by a Disney ending.

What Will I Do When This Dream is Over?: Matilda is a unicorn, calmly cropping the grass in Emmy’s front yard. Hank is her ex-boyfriend, who can’t see her anymore because, she’s afraid, he’s angry with her for not putting out. Emmy’s been preparing for the day Matilda would show up all her life. It’s been like a dream, always there. She’s been called upon to do a job, to save the world, and now it’s time. Emmy’s off on an adventure. She hopes she’ll win, beat the bad guys, save the day, but if she does, what happens after?

The Fortunate Ones: Once upon a time, there lived a people who were always fortunate. And then they discovered that their fortune resided in their women, so they turned them into a commodity to be bought and sold. Annabelle is living the dream with her very successful husband, except he beats her sometimes, when he’s angry, when things don’t go right. She doesn’t like knowing she’s a commodity. She doesn’t like thinking like that. But she has to, and it’s up to her to save herself. If she can. If she can take her fortune back into her own hands.

But Can You Let Him Go?:The fairy godmother who provides Cinderella with her pretty clothes and shoes and the ride to the ball is paying penance for her mistakes. When she’s not passing judgement on foolish and avaricious humans, she’s hunting for Cinderella, the Cinderella in this tale, at this time, and the handsome prince who will give Cinderella her happily ever after. She needs to get it right. She needs to save them both. If she doesn’t, she’ll never see her people again. Her sister, however, is determined to see her fail, and she’ll do all in her power to make that come to pass.

Deadly Lucidity by Julie Achterhoff

Caught in a tangled web of dreams and nightmares, Marie Reilly is being hunted by a psychopath in the dream world she can’t escape. Her single ally, a Ranger named Murphy, may be her only hope. He must help her reach the Great Fortress, where they’ve been told there is a way back to her reality. Together, they fight their way through the twists and turns of Marie’s mind so she can have her life back. But what of their growing passion for each other? How can Marie leave the man she has come to love behind in this nightmarish world he has called home as far back as he can remember?

What have you learned about being an author since you started writing professionally, Julie?

    Gosh, I’ve learned so much! I started out reading a couple of books on how to write and taking a women’s literature class at the local community college. That was ten years ago. I started writing professionally three years ago, starting with a novella titled Native Vengeance, which was published on the Demon Minds website for their Halloween edition that year. That experience
taught me that I might have what it took to write a full length novel. I started out small because I thought I’d test the waters and see if anyone thought I could write well. I was pleased to get my first acceptance letter, as well as recognition for my writing skills. Learning that someone else enjoys what you’ve written is one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever experienced!
    I had some idea because I got an “A” on my class final, which was to write something. I went way overboard and wrote an entire three-act play titled Angel in the House! I wrote that in six weeks, too! So that gave me some validation about my writing. That’s when I also found out there just wasn’t enough time to write anything and homeschool my five children at the same time
    So I waited until most of them were out on their own to start writing my first novel, Quantum Earth. While writing this book, I learned all about the predictions for the year 2012 from the Mayan calendar. I also learned that I could create characters and scenes that would last through to the very end. It took me several months to write Quantum Earth. It takes up a lot of your day to
day thinking to write a book. It keeps you up late at night, too.
    Then I learned about writing query letters and synopsises to send out to publishers and agents. They have to really hook them from the very start. I learned that different publishers require different things from a potential author. Some want just a query at first, some want a query and a synopsis, and some want these plus some pages from your manuscript. You absolutely have to
follow what they want exactly. If you don’t do this part just right, that alone will cause them to say no. I found out that some publishers are very nice, sometimes even giving you advice, but some of them aren’t very nice, and can say some rude things to you.
    I had to find sources for publishers. I used Writer’s Market and Duotrope mostly. I learned to keep track of whom I sent out to so I wouldn’t duplicate myefforts. Then I learned the pretty painful feeling of being rejected over and over again. That was very hard for me because I don’t take rejection well! Those were a tough few months of sending out my work very carefully, and getting nothing back but negative replies.
    I had already learned that there were people who liked my writing, so I tried not to give up hope. I tried to see every no as one step closer to that magical word, “yes.”  Finally, after sending out at least fifty queries, synopsises, and/or pages, I got a very big yes from an e-book publisher. She said Quantum Earth was exactly what she was interested in and loved it from start to finish. But one thing I had learned was that e-books were just sent by email. They are not really a solid book you can hold in your hand. This put me
off a bit, so I contacted one of the publishers who said they wanted more about Quantum Earth and asked them if they were interested in publishing it. They said yes, too! Now I had a decision to make, and not much information about the pros and cons. But I knew I wanted to see my book in print as a real book, so I ended up having to be the one to say no to the first publisher. That was a twist. She was very disappointed, but understood.
    So it happened that All Things That Matter Press was the one to publish my first real book. A year later they published my second book, Deadly Lucidity. For this book I learned all about lucid dreaming, among other things. During the time I’ve been with ATTM Press I’ve learned so much from Deb and Phil Harris. They run this small press, and I couldn’t be happier with them. Deb has taught
me everything I could possibly want to know about editing, and Phil has taught me all about promoting books and creating a name for yourself. They are experts at what they do. An author has to learn how to sell their own books by doing interviews, blogging, publicity, creating an author platform, and many other ways to get people to buy their books. It’s not an easy process. I work on this
almost every day.
    I’ve also learned so much from other authors, especially the ones that are also published at ATTM Press. We have a yahoo group where we keep in close touch, sharing ideas and supporting one another. Another source for my education is my friends on facebook who are also writers. I have learned a lot from these and other sources, and continue to learn what it takes to be a writer.  Now I’m at the point where I am starting to do some teaching, myself. I recently got an offer to teach at a writer’s retreat next January in Georgia. I’m very excited about that, and hope that I can help others on the path to writing.
    As of this writing I am finishing up my next book, Earthwalker, which will be available by Christmas.
Link to video trailer for Deadly Lucidity:

Link to Blog:

Link to buy Deadly Lucidity:
Link to BookBuzzr preview of Deadly Lucidity:

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Vacation Reads – Week 3

REQUIEM by Heather S. Ingemar

Hattie Locke has a gift: when she sings, the dead dig themselves from their graves to listen. As a death-siren, her life has always been this way.

Then the dead begin to show up in numbers far beyond expected. With each song she sings, they grow pushy and demanding, rushing the stage to reach her. Trapped in a place where her dreams of music become her nightmares, Hattie is left with nowhere to turn.

But then she meets a boy, who promises freedom from her curse.

Now Hattie wonders: is ridding herself of her voice worth losing the music she’s lived to create?

Heather, tell us a bit about yourself and your novella, “Requiem”.

In some ways, Hattie reminds me of myself. I came from a musical family, and I delved right into all of it. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I’d mastered seven different instruments, and it was pretty much thought a guarantee that I’d pursue Julliard, or Berkeley, or some other prestigious music school. Imagine everyone’s surprise when I decided to major in English lit!

Thankfully, I had a more-or-less understanding family who allowed me the space to pursue my words (they knew I wasn’t leaving music completely, and they were right; I still play now and then) – however, I faced extreme opposition from others. It was these experiences that I drew on in creating Hattie’s unusual situation. What if my family hadn’t let me do my own thing? What if they reacted like these vehement strangers and teachers and friends who all thought they knew best for me?

Combine that with my morbid streak (zombies! death! magic!), and “Requiem” was born.

DEADFALL by Shaun Jeffrey

A team of mercenaries race to an abandoned mining village to rescue two children held hostage by rogue ex-soldiers. But the kidnappers are a ruse, the real threat more terrifying than any of them could imagine.

Aided by a couple of unsuspecting eco-warriors, mercenary team leader Amber Redgrave must fight to survive against foes that don’t sleep and don’t feel pain.

Now as the body count rises, so do the stakes, and when the dead won’t stay dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Shaun, what are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

As a writer, promotion is one of the hardest things to do as you’re competing against thousands of other authors for a reader’s attention. To promote my work, I participate in things such as this blog tour. I post on message boards. I maintain a presence on Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Goodreads and other sites. I help by sending out review copies. I do interviews in magazines and online. But it all takes time and obviously detracts from the writing side of things. I don’t think it matters whether you’re published by a major publisher or a small press one, most authors need to help promote their work. Now readers are a major part of this, and I would ask that if anyone has read a book and enjoyed it, they show their appreciation and help by posting a short review on any of the book sites such as Amazon or Goodreads etc, as it goes a long way towards helping an author along what is a long and lonely road. It only takes a couple of minutes, but I’m sure the author concerned would be most grateful.

For more info on my work, please check out


This week’s feature includes a mini-interview with a contributing author, Jaym Gates.

What was it like to write for Aether Age, Jaym?

I have to admit, when I first heard about the Aether Age project, I kind of wrote it off. Like so many other things, I’d heard about it on Twitter, when a couple of guys asked me if I would be involved. At the time, I was in California for a week, on vacation, and heading for some major deadlines.

I said I’d try. I wrote four different starts. My computer crashed, I was trying to put out a wildfire in the writing community I was administrating, I was running too tight on the deadlines as it was. On top of that, it’s been established that I don’t play well in other people’s worlds. I’m an unrepentant devotee of massive, detailed worlds, and had several failed collaborative attempts behind me.

A week before the deadline, I took my retired dinosaur of a computer and hammered out a first draft, a second draft, polished, sent it in 2 days before deadline…before the deadline was extended. The editors asked me if I’d be interested in writing another story. Ok, well, if you insist.

The world of Aether Age is difficult to write in, the first time through. Anything dealing with ancient Egypt or Greece is going to be problematic. The sheer level of detail is boggling, and the confusion. Was this ruler male, female, 1st Dynasty or 20th? Add a complex alternate history, and there are thousands of possibilities. It’s like trying to find the one special blueberry in a 5 pound box.

But, it does get a writer thinking. How would technologies change religion? How would airships change economy? How much horror would you get from mixing an unstable, unknown eternity of space with an endless pantheon of gods?

My stories explored the horror. What happens when criminals and monsters are abandoned on a rock, thousands of miles from anything they know, reliant on an atmosphere that goes away every now and then? What are those shadows in the dark? Where did the legends of Hades come from? What new gods would form in the endless depths of space, and how would they be worshiped?

Join me in the Aether, in the Age of Helios, this fall. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Check the master site, for links to more blogs and participating authors’ info.

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Vacation Reads Blog Tour – Week 2

This week’s Vacation Reads Blog Tour features four new titles, including interviews with the authors, book blurbs, and more.  Check for more information at the Vacation Reads web site and don’t forget to leave comments at at least one of our participating blogs (see Vacation Reads for the full list), as well as on the site itself, to enter our drawing to win prizes that include copies of our authors’ books, and more!


AETHER AGE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Brandon Bell
A past remade…

Take flight on airships, balloons, and wooden rockets. Soar with winged
hoplites, exiled princesses, explorers and philosophers.  Witness the struggle
for equality, freedom, and power like you never have before.

Explore a history transformed and travel into the heavens to discover what
awaits the civilizations of Humanity in…

Tell us about this anthology, Brandon.  What was it like for you to work as editor?

Aether Age: Helios was my first crack at working as editor.  By the time Aether
Age grew into something almost ready to open to submissions, Chris Fletcher made
the offer for me to co-edit the anthology, probably on the basis of my
involvement to that point, coupled with what he knew of me as a writer.  Being a
decent writer does not equal a decent editor, but I’d also done the guest post
on M-Brane outlining my ideas about what makes a good story, so Chris must have
believed he had enough data about what kind of editor I might be to feel some

I’ve read interviews with editors that I respect and blog posts by writers
discussing their experience in magazines and anthologies.  Writers sometimes
feel betrayed by the inclusion of another story, or otherwise compromised due to
an inclusion, exclusion, or lack of editorial vision.  And depending on the
lens, Chris and I could look either terribly unpromising or a potential win —at
least in the matter of a diversity of views: two white guys (ah, hmmm), a gay
guy and a straight guy (oh, could be interesting), a non-christian and a
buddhist (really?).  All these are just details, though.  Diversity was never
even a discussion we had, it just happened.  I’m happy on this point: we have a
nice balance of female to male and a great world-spanning contributor list.

Ok, but what about the stories? 

Yes, that’s what matters. I won’t name names, but I find reassurance that the
tale I liked least during our reading period has grown into one of my
favorites.  Story, well told, trumps the most jaded of reader expectations. 

Our guiding editorial principle was simply to cover the range of time envisioned

with interesting tales that varied in tone.  We didn’t want a bunch of dark
stories or only stories that dealt with swashbuckling and adventure.  Though AeA
has all that. 

Some of the stories are not ‘my type of tale’.  Not the sort of thing I’d
typically read.  And I’m really happy about those stories.  I know a book like
Aether Age, so difficult to blurb or explain, is going to be a hard sell for
readers of a more romantic or mainstream bent, but I wish I could put it in the
hands of exactly that reader.  There’s just enough darkness, danger, and
adventure to make the gentle moments and so very human relationships echo in the
way that only seems to happen when a set of stories are presented as facets of
their own history.

We all love superstars.  Having a superstar in AeA would help sell copies, for
sure.  Well, we didn’t get the literary equivalent of U2 or The Beatles.  And
that is good.  If you are like me, you’ve had that pet band you know and love
that just never attained the household name-recognition of the superstars.  The
Mars Volta, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Portishead… notwithstanding my
Canadian readers for whom a couple of these ARE huge bands, down here in Texas
these are the good stuff that no one seems to know about. 

Maybe we have some future superstars in our midst among the AeA table of
contents.  We certainly have writers who are widely published and making names
for themselves.  But for now, here’s the short story equivalent to the 
‘educational mixtape’ you might put together in the hopes of pulling your
hopelessly misled buddies away from Lil Wayne and Justin Beaber.

In that same spirit I present to you The Aether Age: Helios.  For your enjoyment
and edification.

THE KULT by Shaun JeffreyThe Kult – People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.

Tell us about yourself, Shaun.
My name’s Shaun Jeffrey, and having grown up in a house in a cemetery, it’s
pretty safe to assume I was never going to be writing love stories, and perhaps
goes some way to explaining my attraction to the dark side of the literary
I’ve been writing on and off for around twenty years, and it never gets any
easier. But then that’s all part of the challenge and the fun. If it was easy,
everyone would be doing it, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not
everyone can tell it.

Now along with cover pictures, I think taglines are important. They sum up the
story in as few words as possible and hopefully entice readers to buy the book.
Or at least to give it more than a passing glance. ‘People are predictable.
That’s what makes them easy to kill.’ That’s the tagline to my novel, The Kult,
which is a fast paced serial killer story that contains a mix of horror, crime
and mystery.

Is it true that it has been optioned for a movie?

The book was optioned at the end of last year by Gharial
Productions, and shooting on the film begins in September.  It will be interesting and exciting to see my story
brought to life, a story that award winning author Jonathan Maberry called ‘a
bumpy ride through nightmare country’. I have two other novels available,
‘Deadfall’ – when the dead won’t stay dead there’s going to be hell to pay. And
‘Evilution’ – humankind is about to change.

Details of these and any other projects can be found on my website: and sample chapters and my previously published short story
collection ‘Voyeurs of Death’ can be read for free at


What is your book about, Alix?

Based Upon Availability delves into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women,
each who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel.  While offering
sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest and
twisted moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and
death.  Trish, a gallery owner, obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and
dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands
of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out.
Southerner-turned-wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’
lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so
desperately wants children, she’s willing to pretend to be pregnant. And Morgan,
the hotel manager— haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that
weaves these women’s lives together.  

In this an utterly original read, I try to ask and answer the age-old question; ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while
examining the walls we put up as we attempt intimacy, and inspecting the ruins
when they’re knocked down. 

Alix Strauss

NATIVE VENGEANCE by Julie Achterhoff

Julie Achterhoff is the author of three books, Native Vengeance, Quantum Earth,
and Deadly Lucidity. They are paranormal thrillers. She grew up reading such
authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which influenced her own writing. She
has been writing since childhood, scaring her teachers with her horror stories.
Reading has also been a great influence on her. Her books can be found on in regular form, and now on Kindle for $3.19 a piece. They can also
be purchased from the publisher at You can read
parts of her books on BookBuzzr.

Why did you become involved in your particular genre?

I just love scary stuff! It’s exciting for me to write stories that will scare
people and make them wonder if something like that could really happen. When I
was a kid I read every scary book I could get my hands on. I loved H.P.
Lovecraft and others that kept me up at night. I enjoy creating characters who
are strong, yet also vulnerable, so the reader can relate to them throughout the
story. I also enjoy writing a strong storyline that will keep readers engrossed
until the very end. I also like adding a romantic element in my books. I think
that gives them a little spice. I believe that thrillers are the most
interesting books. They can really get to you!

Read more about these, and other great titles at Vacation Reads.

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Carina Guest: Leah Braemel

Thanks to Joely for inviting me to blog for her today.  I must admit that I have stared at a blank screen for days trying to figure out what was left to write about Texas Tangle that I hadn’t already covered.  So I sent a call out on Twitter begging for blogging ideas:

Author KJ Read asked “Tell us about writing: the good, the bad, the ugly. Pros and Cons of making writing your job.”

Ho boy, the good – the highs when you receive “the call” or “the email” from an editor saying they want your book. Figuring out a problem about your manuscript that has plagued you for months and finally seeing everything come together (which happened to me yesterday). Being able to write in your fuzzy jammy pants in the middle of the day—comfort rules, baby! Oh, and let’s not forget receiving a letter from a fan who loved your book (happened to me TWICE yesterday.)

The bad – getting a rejection letter. Getting a note from a fan saying they hated your book. Or even worse? The “meh” review that damns you with faint praise. You have to grow a thick skin, and between the moans and whining “oh, God, they’re RIGHT. I can’t write–they see what everyone else can’t!” you have to force yourself to accept that “reading is subjective.” Then you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and stop the pity fest. Because otherwise you’ll never write another word.

The ugly. Getting up at 3 AM because your characters just won’t shut up, then the next day looking at what you wrote down and having a “what the heck was I thinking? Who wrote this dreck?” moment. The hours spent at your computer writing dozens of blog posts answering the same questions “What inspired you to write this book? Where do you get your ideas?” trying to make your answers sound original.  Turning up for a chat scheduled by your publishers or some other group and finding the room empty. For the entire hour.  Obsessively checking your stats at Amazon the week/month/year your book releases. Spending an hour thumbing through the Chicago Manual of Style looking for whether a comma is needed in the first sentence of your manuscript or debating whether characters in the 1500s used contractions in their speech. (OMG, those discussions can get UGLY! For my part? Have you ever honestly read anything from the 1500s? They didn’t speak anything like we do now, if we tried to write that way our book would end up not only across the room but in the fireplace. While it’s lit!)

Drea Becraft asked: how about all-time favorite book? Or books other than yours you’re looking forward to?

All-time favourite book is a tough one because a lot of times it depends upon my mood.  There are times I would emphatically answer Tolkiens Lord of the Rings, and others where I’d say Patricia Brigg’s Moon Called or Silverborne and still others when I’d pull out Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I or Stephanie Lauren’s Devils’ Bride.

Book other than mine I’m looking forward too—whatever comes next in either of Patricia Brigg’s “Mercy Thompson” series or her “Alpha and Omega” series. Others I’m looking forward to? The next in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, especially Qhuinn and Blay’s story. (This is a huge admission because I’d previously gone on record saying I probably wouldn’t read her again after Phury’s and Rehvenge’s stories. Then she won me back with JM and Xhex’s story, Lover Mine.)

And finally Inez Kelley asked “How Leah reached her pervert status or how Gizmo Guy is your test pilot for certain scenes”

Have I reached pervert status? Seriously? Where’s my crown and sceptre? Or would that be collar and … oh, I just can’t go there!  Yes, I write kinky but I believe there are times when discretion is the better part of valor. And this is one of those times. Especially when it comes to questions involving Gizmo Guy. (For those who don’t follow my blog, I call my hubby Gizmo Guy.) But to satisfy Inez’s curiosity, I asked GG for a quote.  His reply? “I think I stand up very well, thank you.” Then he chuckled and said “I’m like British Air, love.” (Read this blog to find out what that means.)

And what type of kink was Inez referring to? Well, my latest novel, one of Carina Press’ launch titles, Texas Tangle.

    Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy. 
    Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart. 
    Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Want to know more about Texas Tangle? Visit her website to read more about it or download the excerpt or buy the book here.

Want to know more about Leah? Well, you can visit her website (follow the link above) or her blog. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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Vacation Reads Blog Tour

During the month of July I’m participating with several (30!) authors in a group blog tour called Seasonal Reading.  In July, we’ll be featuring sets of different books that will make great reads for the lazy days of summer.  Each weekend, we’ll offer great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more! 

1. Each weekend, we will be offering great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more!  To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on one of the blogs AND on the master site at Seasonal Reads.
2. BONUS DRAWING: If anyone features any of our titles on their blogs and send us the link (in the comments section), they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes. 
Winners will be notified in early August. 

ALSO: If anyone features any of our titles on their blogs and e-mails us the link, they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes.

Winners will be notified by e-mail.

* * *

ALIEN DREAMS, by John Rosenman

Captain Eric Latimore leads a four-person crew to Lagos to investigate a previous team’s mysterious disappearance. Once there, he discovers that an ominous alien presence is invading their dreams. Each member of his crew has the same dream–huge, seductively beautiful “angels” speak to them telepathically.

The creatures strand his crew on the planet and only Latimore can free them–if he survives.

What is different about ALIEN DREAMS, John?

I think Alien Dreams stands out from other space operas because I tried to open myself to and expand the vast conceptual possibilities of the genre.  Captain Latimore faces a unique threat to his crew on the planet Lagos: beautiful but deadly angel-like aliens who invade their dreams.  To save his crew, he must not only change into a gigantic angel himself, but mate with their ravishing queen for thousands of subjective years.  I believe this erotic scene breaks new ground, as does the hero himself, who is not one but two: a silent  brother exists within his mind and ultimately tries to take over.  Finally, Latimore must travel across the universe and do battle with a cosmic Gatekeeper for control of the universe.  In such areas, I try not only to explore new dimensions but to illuminate what it truly means to be human.

* * *

UNSEELIE, by Meredith Holmes

When Alfhild was a little girl, her grandmother called her a fairy princess and told her all of her favorite tales.

She’d never imagined they were real.

Anxious to avoid the swarming reporters and ghoulish souvenir hunters who won’t leave her alone when her brother Gulliver is tried and acquitted for multiple murders he almost certainly committed, a grown up Alfhild changes her name to Lorelei and flees Louisiana to the sanctuary she inherited from her grandmother, the ancestral home in England.

All is well until she wakes one morning to find a naked man in her rosebush.

And the games begin . . .

Can you tell about your book, Meredith?

I fell in love with urban fantasy by accident–one day I saw a card in a local metaphysical shop, one of those blank jobs that you fill out for random occasions, when you forgot a birthday or need to send a thank you note and don’t like what the mainstream card shops have to offer (you can only deal with so many dancing bunnies and softly flourished flowers, after all).  The card had a picture of a autumn-colored man clad in green velvet and wearing a crown of dark leaves.  A story sprang into my head about him and I called him Cadfael.  By that night, I had the first six chapters of Unseelie written (in their earliest, raw form); Alfhild, Cadfael and Du had taken off and were running away with my plot and the twists and turns of the Unseelie and Seelie Courts were just pouring out into the digital pages.  I blithely called it a romance but within a few more chapters, I realized no, it was urban fantasy, a genre I’d shunned as a fantasy purist… Well, fool me!  Now that is my genre of choice when I write and I’ve expanded from faeries to include demons, witches, and creatures of all sorts.

* * *

IVAN AND MARYA, by Anna Kashina

Every Solstice, every year, a young girl dies to prolong the life of a madman.

Every Solstice a hero tries to stop them…and dies.

But this is Ivan’s year. Though his brothers plot his death, and the villagers
whose daughters are dying warn him not to interfere, Ivan the Fool is determined to stop the sacrifice.

With the help of the immortals, gotten by sympathy, force, or guile, Ivan
believes his love will save the beautiful Marya from herself.

Where did the idea for IVAN AND MARYA come from?

I felt that Russian fairy tales have not been explored enough in fiction, and
they have so much to offer to a writer and a reader.  I built on a most
classical one, but also did something different with it.  My story is told from
two points of view — Marya, who is on the side of ‘evil’, and Ivan, who is on
the side of ‘good’, and the contrast between the two creates shades of depth
that amazed me when I was working on the story.  It was a pleasure to write,
and I constantly had this feeling of revelation, as if I am not making this up
but uncovering yet another layer of a fascinating world.  I also did my best to
make it as authentic as possible, down to the details of the Russian Solstice
celebration, an ancient tradition that is very much practiced today.

* * *


Tasmin, William’s wife to be, was chosen by a spell, as all wives and husbands are chosen. It’s a nice, tidy way to find a reasonable mate for almost everyone. Unfortunately, Tasmin is from the North, a place of magic and strange ritual, and William is from the South, where people pride themselves on being above that kind of insanity.

William doesn’t seem in a hurry to send for Tasmin, for which none of his family blame him. After all, she’s a barbarian. She, on the other hand, would like to know what’s keeping him. When he’s framed for murdering his patron, Tasmin takes matters into her own hands. She’s gotten to know William from his letters. He’s not a murderer and she’s going to help him prove it.

Someone out there doesn’t like him and is beginning to dislike Tasmin almost as much, and that someone isn’t at all averse to making sure William and Tasmin aren’t around long enough to celebrate their wedding.

Tasmin, of course, has other plans.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I am a part time writer… like everyone, I’m juggling a lot of delicate porcelain plates… one for writing, one for work, one for family, one for fencing.  It splits your focus… but it also gives you a lot of great ideas and experiences to pull from.  Would I like to be a full time writer?  For certain.  But I think that being forced to go out and talk to people every day, being exposed to life, enriches me and therefore will, hopefully, be reflected in my work.  So, in that way, it affects things positively… in the whole productivity issue, well… sometimes things are not so positive.

* * *

COMPOSING MAGIC, Elizabeth Barrette

Composing Magic: How to Create Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers guides you through the exciting realm of magical and spiritual writing.  Explore the process of writing, its tools and techniques, individual types of composition, and ways of sharing your work with other people. Each type of writing includes its history and uses, covering diverse traditions; plus step-by-step instructions, finished compositions, and exercises.  Intended for alternative religions, but it can be generalized to others or used by fiction writers to create background tidbits.

Why did you write this book, Elizabeth?

I spotted a gap in previous material — I have a knack for doing that.  Pagan/magical books tell people to write their own rituals, spells, etc. but rarely give any guidance on doing it.  Writing books tell people how to write in general, but there were no specific guides for magical writing and not many for spiritual writing.  I’m good at figuring out how I do what I do and then explaining it to other folks so they can work through the steps.  It wasn’t until the reviews came in for _Composing Magic_ that I realized this is a rather rare skill — most of them mention how clear and doable the instructions are.  So now I’m trying to make more use of this skill.

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Carina Guest: Claire Robyns

Thanks for having me here, Joely.

I’m Claire Robyns and I’m very excited about my Carina Press release as this is my debut book. Betrayed is a medieval romance set in Scotland during the reign of King James I shortly after his release from England. This turbulent period fascinates me – think of the most outlandish plot, and you’ll probably find a documented occurrence of a border laird doing just that.

 Betrayed releases from Carina Press on 5th July.


Two Feuding Families

Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father’s banishment. But now that he’s passed, she’s had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family’s rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation

Krayne is amazed at the wildcat’s repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle’s home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

 ~ * ~

And now, a little more about me and Betrayed…

In real life, I love my men beta. My husband leans a little to the alpha side, but I’m quick to rein him in when he gets out of hand, lol.

In my fantasies, however, I want my men alpha, and you just don’t get it better than with a Scottish laird. 

Krayne Johnstone became laird of Wamphray at the age of 12. He’s a man shaped by the harsh land. His heart is for pumping blood to his sword arm and nothing else. Before he could even start to fall in love with Amber, I had to teach the poor man what love is. But he is honourable and noble, and he has excellent reasons for distrusting scheming women.

Amber Jardin has led a pampered life in England and is totally unprepared for the barbaric realities of Scotland. But she’s not one to simper and bemoan her fate. She’s determined to shape her future and use whatever means on hand to do it. In this case, it’s her body. Amber is not perfect, far from it, but then I’ve never liked my heroines flawless. I don’t necessarily approve of everything she does, but I admire her courage and determination.

Here’s a small snippet that, I think, defines the characters of the hero and heroine, and how they interact with each other in this story. These two have such different views on life (and a woman’s place) and they were never going to have an easy ride…

   Her gaze slid down the length of this mighty warrior, missing no detail along the way, and she had to take a step back for fear of punching that expression from his face. “You will stand there, all muscle and brawn, and attack my only means of defence?”

   Krayne growled at the argument, refusing to admit she made a valid point. “God himself surely had a reason for blessing man with strength and ours is not ta question.”

   Her hands settled on the flare of her hips as a spark lit her eyes. “And God surely had a reason for giving women pretty curves and the intellect to use them.”

You can read a longer excerpt here.   Well, it’s been fun and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to share a little about my new release.  

You can connect with Claire Robyns on her website and blog.

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Carina Guest: Alice Gaines

 From Miss Foster’s Folly, by Alice Gaines ( available now from Carina Press ( 

      David Winslow, the Marquis of Derrington has arrived at the home of American heiress, Juliet Foster, to ask her to become his wife… 

      Miss Juliet Foster rose when he entered, but she hardly resembled the Juliet Foster he’d encountered before. Instead of a dress in mourning black, buttoned up nearly to her chin, she wore a ball gown in crimson silk. The bodice dipped low, scarcely covering more than the tips of her breasts. And what magnificent breasts they were. Not overly large as you sometimes saw among women who liked to wear low-cut dresses. Juliet’s were small pillows of flesh and sweetly rounded. Even from across the room, they looked powder soft.

      “Do you approve, Lord Derrington?” she said.

      He finally managed to move his gaze to her face. She wore an odd expression, more like steely resolve than anything else, with the uplifted chin and the determined set to her jaw.

      “‘Approve’ is inadequate to describe how I feel about how you look in that dress.”

      “I’m sure you can think of another one, then.”

      “I doubt it,” he said. “You’ve rendered me quite speechless, Miss Foster.”

      “It’s early yet,” she answered. “Whiskey?”

      “Now, I hardly know what to think.”

      “A man who has no opinion on spirits?” she said. “You’re not a teetotaler, I hope.”

      “Of course not.”

      “Good. Let’s have a drink.” She walked to a side table that held a silver tray with tumblers and several decanters. “Irish, Scotch, or American bourbon?”

      “Scotch, thank you.”

      She poured a generous amount from one of the decanters and then selected a second. From that, she splashed a tiny bit into a glass and drank it in one swallow. The look of determination returned to her features as she served herself a more substantial portion. Then, both glasses in hand, she approached him, and gave him his drink. “Please, sit down.”

      He took a seat on the settee, as that seemed the best place to launch a formal courtship. If she selected a separate chair, he’d have to figure a way to deal with the distance. She didn’t, though. She joined him, neither perching at the opposite end nor snuggling up next to him.

      “My dear Miss Foster, I believe you know I’ve come to admire you.”

      “Try the whiskey,” she said. “It’s very good.”

      Ah, yes. The whiskey. He might as well. He’d never launched a campaign to win a woman’s heart before. He’d always been strictly honest with his lovers, letting them expect a jolly good frigging and nothing more. A few had become friends, but he’d never lied to a woman about his intentions to gain access to her bed. He was exploring new territory here, and a little fortification might help.

      He took a swallow of his Scotch. Enough to burn the back of his throat and make him cough.

      Miss Foster slapped his back. “Are you all right?”

      “Quite.” He coughed once more and then cleared his throat. “It’s excellent Scotch.”

      “Good, then let’s talk for a while.”

      He took another sip of his drink, more carefully this time. “Miss Foster, you have me at a disadvantage.”

      She blinked. “I do?”

      “You don’t seem to realize how your presence affects me.”

      “Well, how could I if you don’t tell me about it?” she said.

      “It’s delicate to speak of.”

      “You don’t look very delicate to me, Lord Derrington.”

      Curse the woman. Why didn’t she play the game? Flutter her eyelashes at him. Swoon. At the very least, blush. That way he could watch a flush cover her breasts. Her small, firm breasts, now close enough that he only needed to reach out a hand to stroke them. He swallowed more of his Scotch.

      “It’s a matter of my heart,” he said. Surely, she couldn’t miss that message.

      “Oh, dear.” She pursed her lips for a moment. The same way she’d done the other night and made Priapus stand to attention. “That isn’t the organ I was interested in at all.”

      He gaped at her for a long second. “I beg your pardon.”

      “You see, there’s a favor I need.” She did blush, finally. And the flesh of her bosom did turn a delightful pink. And his body responded.

      “I’ve thought long and hard about this,” she said. “And I think you’re the right man.”

      “I certainly hope so,” he said.

      She took a big gulp of her whiskey and looked him in the eye. “I want you to take my virginity.”

      “What?” His drink fell to the floor, where the glass rolled around on the carpet, spilling what little Scotch was left in it. He pulled his handkerchief from his jacket and bent to blot up the liquid. Miss Foster appeared, kneeling over the spill. Now, he could look down directly at her bosom and the lovely rose color that covered it. She tugged at the handkerchief to take it from him and used it to pick up the last drop of whiskey.

      “Now, you see, if I’d served tea, that would have stained,” she said.

      “What did you say?”

      She looked up at him. “Hmm?”

      “A moment ago. What did you say?”

      “Oh, that.” She stared at his handkerchief for a moment. It was soaked with Scotch. She stuffed it into his glass, rose and took the whole to the table that held the decanters. “Would you like another drink?”

      “I’d like an explanation.”

      “I asked you to take my virginity. I assume you know what that means.”

      “My dear Miss Foster…”

      “Oh, please, don’t sound like that.” She came back and resumed her seat on the settee. “You can’t possibly be shocked.”

      “I’ve had women offer me the pleasures of their bodies, but none have ever done it so bluntly.”

      “I made my decision very rationally, Lord Derrington. Honestly, I should have lost my virginity years ago.”

      “And you chose me.”

      “You have quite a reputation,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job.”