Posts Tagged ‘Guest Author & A Giveaway’

Everyone please welcome Harlequin author Amy Knupp who is the “October Author” at ALBTALBS! :D This sounds dorky, but I first “met” her on twitter, and then at a few conferences. She’s totally fabulous, and I think she’s the best.

1. Do you collect anything?  Good intentions and calories.

2. What would your ultimate meal consist of? Describe each course and beverage.  I don’t know exactly, but it would definitely include bacon.  And cheese…lots of cheese.

3. What was your first job? Your most interesting one?  I worked at Dairy Queen for a total of about 6 years in high school and college.  I still have dreams about making that perfect curl on the top of the cone (and I’m pretty sure I still could, even though it’s been a LOT of years.)  Most interesting job?  Easily the current one I have as a freelance copyeditor (www.blueotterediting.com).  Not only do I get paid to read, but I get to indulge my punctuation OCD-ness. :)

4. What are five of your biggest pet peeves? What do you think would be fitting punishments for each?  1. Drivers who swing their car out to the right to take a left turn.  2.  People who use the word “irregardless.”  3.  Insurance companies that think they can prescribe what’s best for my health.  4.  Radio stations that ruin really good songs by playing them every twenty minutes.  5.  Wizard of Oz comments when I tell people I used to live in Kansas.  (I hate Wizard of Oz.  Don’t judge me.) [I'm a little surprised Amy doesn't have punishments for them... she seems like she'd be the type. ;X]

5. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?  I’m not very adventurous with food, so it’d probably be some kind of Blizzard combo from back in my Dairy Queen days.  The most disgusting one I remember was Nerds candy and Whoppers…together in vanilla ice cream.

6. If you have to listen to a song 24/7 for four days, which one would you choose?  I would throw the iPod in the lake after about an hour, no matter what song it was.  I love music but need to have a variety.

7. Cowboy boots, Stilettos, or Go Go boots?  The only one I own is stilettos, so if I have to choose one, I’d go with that.  My shoe of choice would be my fur-lined Sketchers.  They’re ugly, comfy and warm, and during the Wisconsin winter, comfy and warm win out.

8. How’d you come up with your author name? Have you ever forgotten your author name/accidentally ignored someone when they called out to you?  My parents gave me the Amy part and my husband gave me the Knupp part, so no, I’ve never forgotten or ignored. :)

9. Who would win in an ultimate death match? A Ninja or a Viking? A ninja.  Vikings are all big and bad-ass, but I’m thinking they’d lack the finesse of a ninja.

10. What was your favorite book as a child?  There was a book in my grade school library called A Letter to Amy.  I checked it out EVERY week just because my name was in the title.  No memory of what it was about, but it just shows how important a title is, right? ;)

11. What did you do with your first royalty check?  What I do with all my royalty checks…pay bills.  Glamorous, yes?

12. What’s your writing process?  Plot and plot and figure and plot and start writing and then figure out my plot sucks and won’t work for my characters.  From there, I pretty much have to wing it.  You’d think skipping the plotting stage would be a good idea for me, but that causes me more anxiety than it’s worth.  That original plotting craziness seems to be a necessary step in order for me to get to the eventual story.

13. What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?  I’m pretty sure I could win a belching contest but I’ve never had the nerve to try one in public.  (I do rule the Knupp house, even though I’m the only female, though.  My mom is so proud.)

14. Which is worst? Hang nail, splinter, or paper cut?  Paper cut!

15. What’s the first type of alcohol you ever tried to drink? What do you prefer to drink now?  Kahlua and cream is the worst because I detest coffee.  I prefer gluten-free beer…or vodka.  I try to avoid having them together because that never ends well.

16. Is there a genre you’d like to write but haven’t? What genre would you personally never try to write?  I plan to try young adult, but probably most of what I write will always have some kind of romance in it.  I would never ever try to write historical because I am a history idiot for the most part.

She’s giving away copies of her upcoming November book After the Storm. Have you ever read a book by Ms. Knupp before? What questions do you have for her? Remember, the more off the wall the better! :D

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Hello friends! Today we have the lovely and wonderful Portia Da Costa visiting with us! She’s been a part of the romance community for some time, and knows a lot about the changes, and is one of the star Black Lace authors. And she has stories with numerous other publishers as well. If you’ve never read a book by her before, you’re missing out – but no worries – here’s a chance!

THE STRANGER – Not Your Typical Hero

Portia Da Costa

In a publishing landscape of dominant billionaires, vampire warriors, Navy SEALS and other tough male leads, the eponymous ‘stranger’ in my new release from Black Lace, The Stranger, isn’t a typical hero, at least on first impressions. Paul – the name he later remembers – is something of a little boy lost, despite the fact that he’s a grown man in his twenties, or maybe early thirties. Turning up suddenly in the life of widow, Claudia Marwood, he’s an amnesiac in fancy dress, confused, clearly far from his home and his life, and grateful for shelter and a place to stay. The only things that are familiar to him are his senses and his body.

Claudia is a woman dwelling in loneliness, somewhat lost herself after the death of the older husband she loved, but after a period of mourning, she’s ready to embrace life and its pleasures once again. One look at the handsome stranger, who she first sees bathing naked in the river near her house, and her passion and her desires spring to life again in full flower, and she yearns to offer him solace and reassurance with her touch, and her body.

In this scene Claudia comes to the bedroom where the stranger is sleeping, ostensibly to check on him and make sure he’s not worried by a thunderstorm outside; but really, she’s drawn irresistibly to the sensuality and mysteriousness of the beautiful younger man who’s suddenly wandered into her life. It’s not long before she discovers that despite his amnesia and confusion, the stranger’s physical vigour and his powerful sex drive are still intact!

N.B. Something of a period piece now, The Stranger is a reprint of a title first written in the early 1990s, and thus predates a lot of the familiar technology we take for granted today e.g. mobile phones, high speed internet, GPS etc.

*** *** ***

Once she had got over the initial shock of the young man’s nudity, Claudia allowed herself to breathe properly again…

When Claudia finds a sexy stranger near her home she discovers that he has lost his memory along with his clothes.

Having turned her back on relationships since the death of her husband, Claudia finds herself scandalising her friends by inviting the stranger into her home and into her bed…

‘My name is Claudia Marwood.’ She twisted their fingers into the conventional grip of greeting, and her companion did the honours, shaking her hand.

‘And I’m…’ He grinned and shrugged.

‘The man with no name?’

He smiled again, then scrunched up his face, as if a physical effort might prise free elusive knowledge. ‘Is that from a film?’

Claudia nodded.

‘Well, I’ve just remembered my first fact. Thank you.’ Leaning forward, he suddenly touched his lips to hers.

It was like being hit by the lightning outside. The fleeting contact of his mouth was electric, and filled Claudia with such a wave of passion that she couldn’t breathe for a moment.

This is insane, she thought. She was making a complete idiot of herself. ‘I’d better go now and let you get some rest,’ she said, and made as if to get up from the bed and run for it.

The hold on her hand turned to steel again. A carefully gauged, velvet covered steel, but steel nevertheless.

‘Stay.’ His voice was husky, already changing, ‘Please!’

She should have asked ‘why’, but she knew why. In the dim light, his blue eyes were steely too, almost polished; alive with a message that was unmistakable.

‘Are you sure?’ she asked, then had to smile, knowing that under any other circumstances this was a question the man would ask.

The stranger nodded, answering her smile with a beautiful and very male one of his own. ‘At the moment it’s the one single thing in the whole world I am sure of.’

Claudia was imprisoned by him. At the centre of their stillness, she felt the balance of power tilting on its fulcrum; her lost boy had found his way, and taken command.

‘Let me turn the light out,’ she said faintly.

‘Must you?’ His voice was teasing now: deep and intense, but flirtatious.

‘Yes, I think I must,’ insisted Claudia, fighting not to go under entirely. She drew a deep breath when he released her, then she reached out and flipped off the lamp.

‘I can imagine you,’ he said as she slipped off her robe, feeling glad of the darkness to hide her confusion. It was a long time since she had bared her body for a man, and even longer since she had been naked before a new man, a lover, not her husband.

The stranger lifted the covers, and shaking with nervousness and longing in equal parts, Claudia slid into bed beside him.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, and then she was in his arms, her bare skin against the cotton of his pyjamas, her mouth sought by his for their first true kiss.

Expecting boyish haste, she was astonished when he began to kiss her quite slowly. His lips were gentle and mobile against hers, the pressure they exerted complex. Without thinking, she opened her mouth and his tongue darted forward, accepting her gift, searching and finding her own tongue with its tip. He tasted strongly of spearmint, the toothpaste she had left for him, and she wondered why she had never realised how such a common flavour could seem so exotic.

His hold on her was measured too, hands flexing just enough to keep her against him; no grabbing, no groping, no force. His body was warm and firm through the cotton that covered it, his erection a hot brand against her thigh.

Suddenly, his self-control seemed to rip away the years from her. She became the impatient adolescent, surging against him, anxious to explore his body, to touch and caress it. She scrabbled at the buttons of his pyjama jacket, trying to bare him, wanting to taste him, to devour him.

‘Hush!’ he whispered, reaching between them, taking both her hands in his. ‘There’s no hurry… I’m not going anywhere.’ He gave her fingers a little squeeze, then eased her onto her back and made her lie still, her arms at her sides.

‘You’re very lovely, Claudia,’ he said, letting his long hand settle at last on her breast, ‘So soft and warm. You make me feel so safe to be here.’

His fingers cupped her curves, first one, then the other, as if he were weighing and assessing her, the touch light and infuriatingly playful. Claudia longed for him to squeeze her, to be rough and forceful, to take her breath away, to ravish her. She shifted her thighs, trying to rub herself against him.

The stranger laughed softly. ‘I never realised I was so desirable. Did you want me this much when you were watching me by the river?’

Read more about The Stranger here

*** *** ***

Portia Da Costa is a veteran British author of romance, erotic romance and erotica, who’s been published since the early 1990s. She loves writing about sexy, likeable people in steamy, scandalous situations, and has penned novels, novellas and novelettes for Black Lace, Harlequin, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and a number of other houses, plus over a hundred short stories for magazines and anthologies. Best known for writing BDSM themed stories with modern settings, she’s also written Victorian erotic romance for HQN. Her contemporary erotic romance IN TOO DEEP was a recent Sunday Times Bestseller.

When Portia isn’t writing or reading she loves to chill out and watch the television, or spend time online, chatting with friends on Twitter, and on message boards and elsewhere.  She lives in the heart of West Yorkshire with her husband and her adorable cat Alice.

TwitterWebsite, Blog

So! As I said – we have two giveaways today! One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Stranger as soon as Portia gets her author copies. In the meantime, another lucky person will her/his choice from Ms. Da Costa’s self published books! (You can check them out here.) Whee!

Also – this was supposed to be a GA&AG interview… but you all know how things have been going, so I didn’t get those to her, so I have a challenge for all of you! To enter the drawing – respond to Portia, and also, I want to see what crazy questions you come up with asking her! You know how these zany interviews normally are. The crazier and more off the way the question is, the better! :D

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Today we have totally awesome author Alyssa Day visiting with us, and she’s also a life saver. She’s a rock star that saved my bacon at the last minute, so yay Ms. Day!

She answered a few questions, obviously opting for the ALBTALBS style author interview. Without further ado, the questions! (I also gave her a strict time line – kinda like – negative time – so… pretty impressive, huh?)

What do you think is the best commercial of all time?
The Sprint herd of dachshunds commercial. “STAMPEDE!” Cracks me up every time.

What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?
I can sing the French national anthem in French and the national anthem of the Philippines in Tagalog. (!!!)

Did you go to prom? if so – describe your dress. Would you admit to wearing it today, much less actually wear it? ;)
Didn’t go. Was DESPERATELY shy in high school, and was dating an older guy (out of HS). (I dunno, I think if you were dating a  guy out of HS you weren’t that shy… since you had a older boyfriend ;))

What was the first type of alcohol you tried to drink? How was that experience? Do you still drink that?
Beer.  ICK. Hated it. Like some beers now, but more of a wine girl.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Either for before you begin a book, while you’re writing it, or around the time the book is released?
Yes, every new release day, my family and I go “visit” my new book at the bookstore and then go out to dinner.  It’s a welcome bit of celebration in a crazy industry.  While writing, I listen to one music CD over and over and over during the mad rush at the end of the first draft. (Norah Jones, Come Away with Me.) I’m like Pavlov’s dog: put that CD on and I start drooling.  Er, writing.

What would you put in your ideal candy bar?
Dark chocolate, caramel, and pecans. And possibly nacho chips & jalapeños.

What tv show do you wish was still on the air?

Did you ever read under the covers at night as a child with a flash light or night light? [So your parents wouldn't know you were awake?] Ever have any mishaps with it?
YES! OMG, yes! Read The Exorcist when I was only 10 and living in the Philippines and scared myself so badly I had to sleep with the lights on for weeks!

What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about the most embarrassing thing to happen at a conference?
You don’t have that kind of money. (Guys, I think that’s a challenge! Anyone want to start up a fund? :P)

Do you collect anything? If yes, what and why?
I have an involuntary snow globe collection, thanks to my crazy husband. Also, we have a tradition between us that whenever one of us travels for work, we bring the other one a gift to try to win the “Most Tacky” prize. The item must be no larger than 1 or 2 inches tall/wide, so we don’t fill up our house with this crap.  Judd (aka Navy Guy) is currently ahead with the sumo wrestler he got me in Japan.

What’s your favorite hair care product? shampoo, conditioner, and other?
My Paul Mitchell Smoothing Serum. Could never time travel to the past–my hair would be a frizzy mess without it.

If you could be a character in any children’s literature book – which book would you choose, and who would you be?
Prince Caspian. Or Batgirl.

Ms. Day is giving away TWO prizes today! One person will win a print book from her Warriors of Poseidon series and another will win an audiobook to the series! Wow!

So – have you read any of her books? Do you like Atlantis, or Greek Mythology? Does the name Poseidon mean anything to you? Or in general – have any questions to ask Alyssa? Remember, the zanier, the better. Outrageous questions are encouraged! :D

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You guys! June is over! (Thank goodness) I can’t believe July is here, and yet it is. The year is more than half over! As you know, the first Tuesday of the month is a Guest Author & A Giveaway post, and we’ve got Roxanne St. Claire with us today! She has been around the romance community for many years, and writes in various genres too, so I expect she’s quite familiar to most of you. :D (And she’s shared an exclusive excerpt with us before…)

1. Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Either for before you begin a book, while you’re writing it, or around the time the book is released?
Before I write “Chapter One” I have to have a picture that captures the looks and attitude of my hero. So, I have to spend days and days (sometimes more, if you can believe that) surfing the internet for pictures of hot guys. I also like to have a title I love, even if I know it might not make the final cut. Those two things are worthy procrastination techniques, er, I mean pre-writing goals.

2. What is the super power you would most like to have? and least like to have?
I would like to be bullet proof and nothing — no words, no weapons, no mean looks, no gossip, no lies, no pile of hungry red ants, no monsters, no nothin’ — could hurt me. Least? I would never want to be able to read people’s minds. Why? Because I’m not bullet proof.

3. What do you think is the best commercial of all time? (Is it online?)
It was a pro-bono ad written and produced by my stepson for a homeless shelter, and he won an Emmy for it! Here it is!

4. What’s the first type of alcohol you ever tried to drink? Where did you have it, and how old were you? What’s your favorite drink now?
Southern Comfort and orange juice, freshman year in college. Blech. My drink depends on my mood and surroundings, but I find that most situations call for wine. Perhaps all situations. In fact, this interview just called for some. Hold on…I’m pouring. Things might get more interesting now.

5. Would you shave your head for $50,000.00? If yes, would you do it for a lesser amount/what’s your minimum? If no, how much would it take for you to go bald? And then… would you do anything with your hair?
For $50,000? That’s a good question. There’s a book idea in that question, I tell you. Since I have so many friends who’ve lost their hair to chemo, I might be convinced to shave but only to give the money to cancer research. Otherwise, it would seem pretty smarmy to me. And, trust me, no one would want my paltry, bleached strands that don’t hold a curl and can be blow dried in less time than it takes most people to apply their product.

6. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about at a conference?
I got yelled at by Sister Tarsisius for claiming I had a headache, and stood in the hall of St. Gabriel’s in front of her and peed my pants. (Second grade, true story.) At a conference? Same thing. Only it was Kresley Cole and I was laughing.

7. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever eaten? What about the best thing? What’s your favorite dish? Your favorite fruit? Your favorite vegetable? Is it “just because” or is there any reason for each?
Honestly, I don’t think of food as “interesting” or not. I am married to a foodie of the enth degree. I think of food in terms of delicious, more delicious, and “oh my God, I will never divorce the man who made this meal.” Fave fruit is a dessert he makes based on a recipe by Adriana Giramonti called “Strawberries Italian Style” that is TO DIE FOR. Here’s recipe.  We serve those over puff pastries and they’ll give you a buzz, so don’t serve to the little ones. Vegetable? What is this vegetable you speak of? Do French fries count?

8. Do you prefer Winter Olympics, or Summer? And which sport/event?
My favorite part is the opening ceremonies! Seriously, it’s all downhill (especially skiing, ha ha) from there for me.

9. Which ancient culture/civilization would you most like to visit? Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, Africa, or South America? Why?
Oh, somewhere around Jerusalem in 33 AD. I would love to have been there and met Him.

10. What is a question you always wish people would ask you [as an author or otherwise]?
Tell me about your next book! Why,thank you, Limecello, I will! My first Young Adult book, Don’t You Wish, releases in TEN DAYS (a week from today, now,) from Random House/Delacorte. This is a parallel universe story full of hilarity, emotion, romance, and a little (very little) quantum physics. I love this book and think everyone in this universe and the one parallel to us should read it. Also, it has been optioned for film!! You can ask me about that, too!

11. Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? Least?
Aladdin! Sinbad! Ali Baba! My favorite fairy tales are from a book I still have, called Tales from the Arabian Nights: A “tween-age” book. My mother ordered it from her monthly book club when I was ten, and I think I’ve read the Aladdin fairy tales a thousand times. I still have the book, all yellowed and dog-earred, with some of my favorite lines highlighted and notes in my little girl handwriting. Here’s an example of something I underlined.

On his fourth voyage, Sinbad was almost eaten by cannibals, who did not mind his being skinny.

12. What did you do with the money from your first royalty check?
That sound you hear? That’s me guffawing in laughter. My first royalty check was worth less than the postage on the package the statement came in.

13. What TV show do you wish was still on the air?
Dallas. Wait! They brought it back. And, honestly, they should have left it off the air. The lesson is: you can never go home, even to South Fork. Especially to South Fork. JR’s eyebrows were epic, though.

14. Which do you prefer? 15 degree weather, or 105 degree weather? Along those lines – would you rather go to Nebraska, or Vermont?
I’m a hot weather girl, which is why I live in Florida. I can take anything but being cold. I have been to Vermont many times (gorgeous!) so I would choose Nebraska…with someone to keep me warm.

15. Which has been your favorite genre to write? Is there any new one you want to try? Which genre are you focusing on now?
I love ‘em all! I’ve written more romantic suspense than anything, and I guess that’s my wheelhouse. (Free book to anyone who knows where that expression began!) I’m comfortable in that genre, that’s for sure. But, this past year, I’ve written only contemporaries and young adult, and I’ve found them both to be fresh and fun. I’d like to try an epic paranormal YA fantasy next. (Did I say that?)

16. What is one luxury you simply cannot live without?
Pedicures. Cleaning ladies. Finishing salt. Why must it be one?

17. What would you put in your ideal candy bar? What’s your favorite snack food? Are you a sweet, or savory girl?
My ideal treat is both sweet and salty. Hands down, my number one favorite snack is (are?) chocolate covered potato chips made locally, sold here and obviously in invented by a woman in the middle of PMS. Ladies, you will thank me for this link, I promise.

18. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing? What is one career/profession you could never do? Why? (To both)
If I weren’t a writer, I would have convinced my husband to open a restaurant and I would be the hostess, a job I was born to do! I love strangers, I love food, and I have a bit of a control freak in me (You can’t sit there!!!). His name is Rich and my daughter decided the restaurant would be called “Rich With Flavor” – can you beat that? Barring that, I would have been Christiane Amanpour, traveling to warzones to cover heartwrenching news stories and have drunken, lusty affairs with brooding foreign correspondents.

I could never do anything that requires math, for obvious reasons.

As you can see, Rocki is herself quite the character! :D Thank you so much for visiting with all of us today, Ms. St. Claire!

Roxanne is giving away a copy of Barefoot in the Sand and Don’t You Wish – two winners! So what questions do you have for her? Have you ever read her category romances? (That’s how I “discovered” her way back in the day! … Or was it French Twist? Either way, you should read all of them. :D)

Y’all know the drill. Have you read anything by Rocki before? Which genre that she writes is your favorite? And, as always – my challenge to you. What crazy questions do you have for her? *NB you can find how the giveaway is run here.

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Hi friends! Birthday month is almost over :( And not a single present! But that’s okay, because you know what? I have presents for you! And you know what’s a great gift? A fun visit from author Julie Anne Long! She’s answered some questions, and is also sharing an exclusive excerpt of A Notorious Countess Confesses which isn’t out until October 30! Whee!!!

Ms. Long is also a sneaky one, so keep an eye out for her! ;) Anyway, let’s start out with those questions!

1. Which would you prefer wearing – cowboy boots or stilettos?
Cowboy boots. Where else would I keep my miniature pearl-handled  derringer?

2. As a child, did you ever imagine your stuffed animals came to life?
“Imagine”? What do you mean? Didn’t…yours?  I suspect my Breyer horses of galloping all over the place while I was sleeping.

3. What do you think about clowns?
I try not to think about clowns.

4. What author promo has been most effective for you?
It’s so difficult to meaningfully quantify the impact (though it’s tempting for anyone who likes to analyze things, and boy do I) of any particular promo. I think I’ll instead offer a bit of advice: think the smartest (and it sounds simple) thing any author can do is to make sure the readers who love her books know when she has a new one coming, however that works best for you—newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or so forth.  Maintain a consistent, ongoing connection with your readers. It’s such a pleasure.

5. What was your favorite book as a child? Which character in it did you most want to be?
I loved so many books as a child it’s nearly impossible to choose one. But when we were little, my sister and I went through a phase where we were obsessed with all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. We played “Little House on the Prairie” every day. We baked mud pies on baking day and pretended to milk our poor Malamute (she was the stand-in for a cow) and churned fake butter. If I could have been Laura Ingalls Wilder riding Black Beauty, that would have been SWEET.

6. What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste is on your bathroom counter right now? What about your toothbrush? Are there brands for either you prefer?
My toothbrush, huh? It’s pink. And has bristles at all different heights. The toothpaste is Crest and apparently it does an awful lot of things—whitens, brightens, scrubs, freshens my breath—and the tube is huge, about the size of a forearm, maybe because I bought it at Costco.

7. If you were to become a bear, which type would you choose?
I think I might like to be a Giant Panda. I quite like the idea of the word “Giant” in front of my name.  Their scientific name, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, translates to “black and white cat-foot,” and I’m for anything to do with cats. They’re omnivorous, and so am I. Black and white as a color combination never goes out of style.  And they look unbearably (unbearably. Ha!) puffy and adorable, but they’re still BEARS, and they might just attack anyone who irritates them.

8. What is your secret plan for world domination?
Little do you all know, but I’ve been dominating the world for some time now. You are all puppet s in my intricate master plan. ;) But I’m a benign (and subtle) despot.  But you have nothing to fear: unlike Chase Eversea in Since the Surrender, I don’t have any issues with puppets.

9. Do you collect anything? If no, have you ever collected anything? What did you do with it?
I don’t collect anything with real conviction. Unless you count, of course, books (then again, I’m sure most of the people reading this blog have prodigious libraries).  I love very old books, but I don’t have a lot because  I like to come across them serendipitously—I love thrift stores and rummage sales and the huge Friends of the Library sale at Fort Mason for that sort of thing. I have several books with lovely worn Art Nouveau covers. I have a few special Art Deco objects. The older I get the less stuff I seem to want, and I’m particular about what I acquire.

10. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Deceased authors?!? That’s an alarming notion! Are they zombies? Will I need to serve brains??
If I may resurrect five authors, let’s see…if I don’t do this completely off the top of my head I’ll be mulling forever, so I’ll do this completely off the top of my head. I want to laugh, think and flirt during my dinner party, and I want my guests to get along with each other and have a wonderful time, and you didn’t specific fiction authors (and I love wriggling through a loophole), so I’ll invite Jane Austen, Benjamin Franklin (a thinker and a flirter if ever there was one), Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize winning Physicist; I read his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”, many times—he was a kick. I wish I knew him), and George Gordon, Lord Byron. I think they’ll all hit it off.

Exclusive excerpt from A Notorious Countess Confesses, coming October 2012
copyright 2012 Julie Anne Long (It’s so exclusive and early Avon hasn’t even posted the cover on Amazon yet! Eee!)

A little bit of set-up here: Shortly before this excerpt takes place, the Countess of Wareham and Reverend Sylvaine had an inauspicious and very brief first encounter, right after morning services at the church in Pennyroyal Green. They’re coolly polite to each other, but our jaded countess is unmoved by the admittedly handsome vicar,  and Adam privately thinks the countess, though beautiful, seems remote and untouchable, “as sealed and gleaming as a jar of preserves,” and therefore not terribly interesting to him. When Lady Wareham  and her maid run into a little carriage trouble on the Sussex downs and the countess steps out of her carriage while her maid goes in search of help,  they have another little encounter when he accidentally startles her. Do impressions change? Let’s see…

She leaped back with a stifled shriek, clapping her hand to her heart.
“Sweet Merciful Mary Mother of God, ye shouldna sneak up like that! Ye creep like a cat ye bloody big …”
She stopped.
A very ripe Irish accent, long dormant but apparently healthy and whole and frisky and unleashed by shock, echoed across the countryside. Bloody big bloody big bloody big …
Ohhhh. The shame of it.
She wanted to close her eyes and sink deep, deep into the earth.
Instead, she forced herself to look up—very up—at who proved to be the Reverend Adam Sylvaine, the vicar.
He appeared entirely unruffled. Apart from his eyes, that was. They fair danced like flames with wicked, wicked, downright un-Christian mirth.
One of her horses whickered into what threatened to be a never-ending silence.
Be a gentleman, she silently willed him. Leave it lie. Pretend you heard nothing at all.
Up his eyebrows went.
“Biiiig …” he prompted.
She eyed him stonily.  Bastard, she was tempted to complete. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound.
He waited. Patient as Job. Wicked as Lucifer. Amused as hell.
“Vicar,” she completed inanely, finally, on a mumble.
His head went back as though this was almost too good to be true, then came down on a nod.
“I suppose I am,” he agreed thoughtfully, though his voice held a suspicious tremble. Stifled laughter. “I suppose I am a big …vicar …. Though no one has ever before accused me before of creeping like a cat. Something to do with being … well, big, I suppose.”
The vicar was taking the piss out of her, as her brother Seamus would say, and quite effectively, too.
She looked full into his face then. His eyes were such a disarming blue—the color of deep, still water, of Lough Leane in Killarney—they made her strangely restless. It was if the weather inside him was always clear and temperate. Like his conscience and unblemished soul, no doubt, she thought sardonically. An unprepossessing black wool coat—Weston hadn’t stitched up that one, she knew this for certain—whipped behind him in the stiffening wind, which was also doing its best to pluck a carelessly knotted cravat from the confines of a gray, striped waistcoat  of no discernible pedigree.
And as though it they were was a beckoning road, her eyes followed the line of longer, finer, harder thighs than a vicar had any business possessing down to the dusty, creased toes of his boots. Which most definitely had not been made by Hoby.
Her eyes stayed safely on the ground. She took advantage of a moment of unexpectedly necessary composure gathering in the wake of the revelation about his thighs.
“I thought vicars were supposed to wear dresses.”  She said this almost testily. At least she had gotten  control of her accent.
“Oh, a dress is optional.”
Ping! Insults bounced from him, it seemed.
“And by ‘dress,’ I suppose you mean ‘cassock’?” he added helpfully. “Difficult to creep like a cat in a cassock, you see, Lady Wareham. It swirls about one’s ankles, flaps noisily in the breeze. One needs stealth to stop iniquity in its tracks.”
In … iquity?
The word was a slap.
But … perhaps he was jesting? Surely he was? Did he know about her? Was the whole of this horrid village going to take turns plaguing her in turns? Would they turn out with boiling oil?
“Is that why you’ve suddenly appeared? Did you scent iniquity on the wind then, Reverend Sylvaine? Do you roam the Sussex countryside sniffing for it, like a truffle-hunting pig?”
He didn’t reply for so long she finally turned to look at him.
To find he’d gone as rigid as if he’d been driven into the ground.
Something about that stillness made her think that angering him would be very unwise, indeed. Which seemed a peculiar thought to have about a vicar. But despite the fact that he wasn’t blinking, he didn’t seem angry. He was studying her the way one might study a lock about to be picked. The only movement was his hair. The breeze lifted it, let it fall, lifted it, let it fall. Hidden in the dark blond were dark gold or copper threads and strands sun-bleached to silvery fairness. In the silence and stillness it was absurdly fascinating.
“I’ve dozens of cousins and a number of siblings, Lady Wareham. If you’ve siblings, you won’t be surprised to learn that my hide is quite callused. It’s nearly impossible to offend me.”
He said it evenly. As if he hadn’t just seen right through her, and neatly incinerated her defenses, as surely as if she were a petulant child.
“Some might interpret that as a challenge, Reverend.”
He went quiet again.  And then he smiled. Very, very faintly. Just enough, it seemed, for her to notice the elegant shape of his mouth. To tease out one dimple at the corner of it. And when at last he spoke, again she felt his voice more than she heard it, like fingers brushed along the short hairs at her nape. It had gone soft, so soft. But somehow it wasn’t gentle.
“Oh? Did you come to Pennyroyal Green for challenge, then, Lady Wareham?”
She stared at him.
He stared back.
And to her astonishment, heat slowly washed the back of her neck, the backs of her arms, and tightened the bands of her stomach. It was suddenly more difficult to breathe. It occurred to her that she’d never seen a man who was so … contained. Yes: That that was precisely the right word. As though something in him, some potential, required control. And whatever it was, whatever he was, pulled at her. The way earth pulled water into it. It felt stronger than she was, and her entire life had depended upon her being stronger than anyone.
She turned abruptly away. She inhaled in the hopes of clearing her head, but the traitorous air had turned to wine or some such; her thoughts staggered like foxed heirs at a gaming hell.
He was only a vicar, she reminded herself. The man had caught her in a rare moment of weakness amidst a particularly vulnerable episode in her life. That was all. And she was very weary, of course. After all, the church nap had hardly been the restorative kind.
She tugged her pelisse about her more snugly and stared toward her halted carriage with a little frown. Where the devil was Henny?
“It seems one of our horses threw a shoe,” she said finally. Her voice was fainter than she would have preferred.
She wondered if she’d disappointed him.
He’d been watching her. She half suspected he knew the number of her eyelashes now.
“I see,” he said easily enough, after a moment. “I was on my way to visit a parishioner when I saw your stopped carriage. And as since there’s no worry about brigands on this road since One-Eyed William haunted these parts a few decades ago, and as this isn’t precisely one of the more scenic parts of Sussex, I feared something might be amiss.”
One-eyed William? Was he jesting?
She said nothing.
“I’ll just have a word with your driver then, shall I?”
When she didn’t reply—for she couldn’t seem to find her voice—he turned. She listened to him take one step, then two steps away, and somehow the sound of his footsteps seemed like the sound of failure.
“Reverend Sylvaine …”
He stopped, turned back toward her, his brows raised in a query.
The surest way to regain her power was to deploy what made her powerful.
“I must ask your forgiveness. I fear you startled me from my manners, and … I’ve never before met a vicar, you see, and it seems like such an interesting, important role. Pray, how does one become a vicar?”
She, possibly better than any other woman in England, knew the way beneath any man’s ramparts—whether he was the Home Secretary or the King of England or a coal monger: It was flattery, served up with flirtation and innuendo.
She was startled when Reverend Sylvaine drew up visibly, instantly almost comically wary.
“One of the best ways, I’ve learned, to become one is to be related to the family who owns the living,” he living.” He said shortly. With just a hint of irony.
And said nothing more.
“Must one be faultless of character? Entirely … free of vices?”  She folded her hands before her and aimed her gaze up at him through her lashes with the precision of a rifleman.
The vicar glanced down at her demurely folded hands as though she’d unlocked a pistol. And then he slowly looked back up into her face.
He hesitated.
“I suppose it depends on how one interprets the word.”
A masterpiece of circumspection, that sentence.
His eyes were now unreadable as an empty sky, shuttered. Hers, she was fairly certain, thanks thank to some collusion between her thick black lashes and the color of her eyes and the angle of sunlight and the sheer intent to charm, were sparkling.
“Have you any vices, Mr. Sylvaine?” Her tone implied that she sincerely hoped he did, that she would be understanding and forgiving, would indeed find them fascinating, and that her own would nicely complement his.
The vicar was now as tense as a bunched fist.
And then a faint dent appeared between his eyes.
Alas, by no stretch of the imagination could she interpret this expression as “bewitched.”
“None, I’m certain, that would interest you.” He said it gently, and turned his head just slightly back toward the road, where his duties apparently awaited. As though, of all things …
… he was bored.
She was speechless.
“I should think it’s safe enough to walk alone along this part of the green, Lady Wareham, but perhaps you oughtn’t go far until you know the country better. Perhaps you’d prefer to wait inside your carriage out of the cold?”
She knew when she’d been dismissed. Pride—and astonishment—prevented her from flailing.
“Seeing to the safety of your flock, are you?” she managed almost lightly. Her voice was faint from the jostling her pride had taken.
He smiled politely. “And to my duty as a gentleman.”  More of that peculiar, distancing gentleness.  “I apologize for startling you. It wasn’t my intention.”
To her horror, heat bloomed in her cheeks again.
“My maid is very nearby,” she said shortly, struggling to hide her embarrassment. “And I don’t mind the cold.”
“I’ll just see if I can be of some assistance to your driver then, shall I?”
When she said nothing, he made a very elegant bow and turned away from her. She stood still as a stone, watching as he hailed the driver and her footman, who greeted him cheerily. All those male heads gathered together, the wigged one and her stocky, hatless driver and Mr. Sylvaine’s fair one, conferring in low voices. While the driver gently held the horse’s head by the harness, the vicar bent and lifted up the glossy animal’s hoof and inspected it. Evie watched in astonishment as he tugged his cravat free of his waistcoat and carefully, almost tenderly, wrapped the horse’s hoof to the evident approval of her staff.
And then he turned and waved a farewell, striding up the road, no doubt toward his original destination. Cravatless.
She watched him go.
At last she heard the huffing of Henny’s breathing before she saw Henny, and then Henny crested the hill, skirts lifted in her hands, exposing a few inches of thick, sturdy ankle decorously covered in thick, sagging, thick woolen stockings. “I fear no one answered me knock at the door, m’lady.”
She dropped her skirts and froze in place when she saw her mistress’s face.
Her eyes went wide.
Then she narrowed them shrewdly and swiveled her great head about and raised a hand to shade her eyes when she saw Adam Sylvaine walking away, posture like a soldier’s, stride long and easy.
Silently, they both watched him.
They in fact watched long enough for it to become ridiculous.
He never once looked back.
“Now that one is a man,” Henny pronounced finally. As though they’d been debating the topic.
Evie snorted. “The country air has curdled your brain.” She tossed her head and strode toward the carriage. Henny followed on her heels, still huffing.

So what do you think of the excerpt? Are you sold? Gonna preorder it right now? [Getting my hints? ;D] So you know the drill – ask Julie Anne Long any question you want! And one lucky commenter gets any two Pennyroyal Green series books of his/her choice! Fantastic!

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Hey y’all! You’ll notice I am NOT ON TOP of things lately. My apologies. No reason to get into it here/now – nor is it the place. Especially since you don’t want to hear what I’ve got to say, because the fabulous Leslie Kelly is here! She’s super awesome, and agreed to be a guest here even though I missed meeting her in NYC last year because someone *coughsJoycoughs* decided to get a second margarita. ;D No, actually, this was probably scheduled at least six months before that happened. Yeah I’m totally sleep deprived.

Anyway, it’s still part of the birthday month festivities! And today is extra special and fun because Leslie wrote a guest post and decided to answer some of those zany “author interview” questions! You’ll notice everyone in June is getting some from the same set. I did it on purpose. (Honest!) Thought it’d be fun to compare them. :D



Leslie Kelly

 After having written dozens of books during my fourteen-year career, I am always on the lookouts for projects that excite me creatively. My Harlequin editor has told me many times that she knows as long as she can keep me interested, she’ll get great books. If I get bored—if I feel like I’m doing the same old book again and again—writing is an utter chore.

Fortunately, a few years ago I was invited to participate in a new Blaze miniseries, called Blazing Bedtime Stories. Since that time, I’ve found something I really love to do—adapting fairy tales, standard tales or classics, and giving them a modern, sexy, fun Blaze twist.

I’ve now written several bedtime novellas, spicing up stories loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, The Prince and the Pauper, and Sleeping Beauty. I just finished the next story in the series, which is a mash-up of The Nutcracker and Coming To America which will be coming out in December.

Having realized that I wanted to do more than fairy tales, I thought about it last year and decided to try something different. I am a big William Shakespeare fan, and decided to write an updated, modernized, super-steamy version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Believe it or not, I’d never actually read that play, or seen any version of it, so my first job was to read it. I then took bits and pieces that I thought would translate well into a contemporary story, and layered them into my version, Blazing Midsummer Nights. I had a great time dropping in little Easter eggs throughout the book—from the setting in Athens, Georgia, to the “magical” woods surrounding the southern estate where the hero and heroine both live, to the names of their eccentric landlords (Tatiana and Obi-Wan…ha!) I played around with some dreams, some mystical tea, an overbearing father and a love quadrangle. I was thrilled with the result, and can’t remember the last time a story was so easy for me to write.

I loved doing that book so much that I began thinking of other types of story I could adapt for a Blaze release. I have read most of the “classic” novels and that’s where I went for my next bit of inspiration. I immediately thought of the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Though that book was incredibly racy in its day, it is relatively tame compared to what’s being published today, and I thought I could take the heat up another notch. The problem is, I abhor infidelity. I knew I would never be comfortable writing a married heroine who’s cheating on her husband, so I had to play around with the premise to reach my comfort level. So far, the story’s coming along really well and I think readers will like it.

Now, the “author interview!”

1.     How’d you come up with your author name?
Actually, Leslie Kelly is my real name. When I sold my first book, I just thought it would be easier to stick with my real name rather than a pseudonym. Looking back, I wish I’d chosen another one since my books get some attention for their steam content.

I also write dark romantic thrillers under the pseudonym Leslie Parrish. I was going back and forth with my NAL editor on possible pseudonyms—one would be too short, one too long, one too similar to another author’s. Finally I said, “Well, how about Parrish…since so many people will perish in these books?!” She loved it and that’s how we settled on that.

2. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? And what about at a conference?
I remember being in 11th grade, sitting in one of those open classrooms that were popular back in the 80’s. (Basically an enormous area, with “giant cubicles” for each classroom.) It was Mr. Virts’s Contemporary Issue class—he was my favorite teacher, it was my favorite class. Anyway, I was leaning back on the back 2 legs of the chair, and of course I leaned too far. Not only did I fly backward, but as I was holding onto the edge of my desk, I brought that with me. It did a complete flip-over, smashing into another girl who sat nearby.

I was mortified to say the least!

As for the conference—at the RWA conference in Dallas in, oh, I think it was 2004? I was in the bar (not even having had a drink yet, believe it or not) and was pulling over a really heavy chair to join my editor and a few other authors. I was wearing really super-thick-soled flip-flops, and the chair was heavier than I expected. I ended up pulling, but it didn’t budge, and I fell back on my butt. Flat, hard, SLAM on my tailbone. I was in utter agony. My roommate came back to the room and found me lying on the bed, face down, with a towel full of ice on my butt. I had to fly home to Florida that way, and when I got home and went to the doctor for an x-ray, I found out I’d actually broken my tailbone. Talk about painful!

3. If you were to become a spammer, what product would you peddle? And what would your message be? Come up with the most attention getting, creative, crazy thing. Yes, that’s a challenge.
Dick of the Year Awards. They’d go only to spammers who constantly hit me with Viagra or “finance minister from another country” schemes. I would totally love to counter by spamming those spammers with a whole bunch of “Congratulations, you’re a dick” messages!

4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing/researching a book?
Hmm, going to be careful with this answer…lol! Let’s just say there’s a book I wrote called Overexposed, which most readers call “The Cannoli Book.” While writing that book, I discovered I reaaaaalllly love cannoli. ;-)

5. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe definitely—they are two of my all time favorites. Mark Twain seems like an interesting guy to spend an evening with. I’ve always thought it so sad that Margaret Mitchell died such a tragic death, and since Gone With The Wind has long been a favorite, I’d invite her, too. Finally, Kathleen Woodiwiss, because she introduced me to the romance novel. I read The Flame and the Flower when I was twelve or thirteen years old, locked in my bedroom closet with a flashlight. My love affair with romance has continued ever since. She was, truly, the grand dame of our genre.

Now, Leslie has questions for you!!

I’m curious, am I the only one who loves these adaptations? Do you like seeing classic stories re-told in some new, original way? And what story would you most like to see made into a sexy, sassy Blaze?

Guess what?! Leslie said “I’d be happy to give away 3 backlist books, to random commenters, of any of my Blazing Bedtime Stories books.” So whee! Any comment – or fun questions for Leslie? (You can answer her question…) But I’m just waiting for that one outrageous one that tops my interview repetoire… ;D

*NB – ETA: So to clarify… the prize is a two-book set to each of three random commenters. Isn’t Leslie so generous? 

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This might be the best author interview. Ever. For any future author interviewees… this is where the bar is set! Meanwhile, we all know Meljean Brook is awesome. If you didn’t know that before, you definitely know it now. And the following is why. Imagine – if she’s so hilarious and witty here, what her books are like! (For the some time visitors who are thinking “Hey! It’s not the first Tuesday of the month!” You’re right. But it’s June.)

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

1. What’s the best admonishment your mom ever gave you, or that you’ve ever given a kid? e.g. if you make that face it’ll freeze like that. or… if you walk from the kitchen to the table w/ a fork in your mouth you’ll stab yourself through the throat and die.
Honestly, I don’t remember. My mom worked all of the time, so she wasn’t often there to scold us. My sisters and I stayed at my grandma’s every day after school, and I do remember the time that she got us to stop fighting by saying that “Sisters fighting, that’s what witches do” — with the unspoken message behind it that witches were, of course, minions of Satan, and so any sisters who fought would end up in Hell.

My grandma was awesome, though. You wouldn’t believe how freaking amazing her cinnamon rolls were. Worth going to Hell for, that’s for sure.

2. What would you name a pet rock? Why? And how would you decorate it?
Dwayne. Then I’d dress it up like a chef and run around with it, yelling, “Can you smeeeelllllllllllllllllllll what the rock is cooking?” Then I’d try — and fail — to arch one eyebrow at my audience.

3. What two movies from different genres would you most like to see combined in a mash up?
An Abraham Lincoln biopic and a vampire slaughterhouse movie– Oh wait. (Right?! I watched the trailer like six times when I first heard about it a few months ago. In fact…)

4. Who would win? A Ninja or a Viking? Do you ever watch Deadliest Warrior? If so – which was your favorite pairing?
I’ve never seen Deadliest Warrior. But I’d love to see a T-Rex versus Chuck Norris.

A viking would totally win. The ninja would be sneaking up, all stealthy-like, and then the viking would suddenly toss his head, and the long, blonde hair streaming from his horned helmet would wrap the ninja up like a boa constrictor and squeeze him to death.

5. How’d you come up with your author name?
Math class. I was done with my work and bored, so I began factoring out pieces of my name: (Mel)issa (Jean) Hol(brook) = Meljean Brook. Then I began practicing my author signature all over the front of my notebook. It stuck, I guess.

6. What do you think about clowns?
I like it when they come to my windows at night and peek in, because I’m usually sobbing in bed. They make me happy with their smiles, even though I know they are also crying inside.

7. What author promo has been most effective for you?
Not being a dick. And giving away lots of books. The best author promo is always a solid story, but it’s often hard to get our work into the hands of readers. So I do everything I can to get my work out there, and let the writing do the rest.

8. What was your first job? Your most interesting one? (If writing for the latter, aside from that?)
If you don’t count picking berries in the summers, my first real job was working the drive-thru at a Burger King.

The most interesting job I had was working the Help Desk at the university — mostly because you never knew what you’d walk in on when you went into the (supposedly empty) computer labs late at night.

9. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? And what about at a conference?
Ah, well. Ninth grade, I was in love with a senior who sat in front of me in a language class. One day after lunch, we were walking back across the playground toward the high school (and I was trying to be coy and flirty) and I walked right into metal pole of the basketball hoop. Huge clang! That was awesome. (I’ve also run into a ski lift pole on a snowboarding trip with my first boyfriend. And ran smack into the glass doors of a city hall and rolled down the front steps, onto the sidewalk.)

Miraculously, I haven’t embarrassed myself at a conference yet. But if you want entertainment, just keep an eye on me … especially if I walk near any poles.

10. What did you do with the money from your first royalty check?
I paid for a stripper to come and hose me down with whipped cream.

Nah. I honestly don’t remember. I probably paid a bill. Whatever it was, it wasn’t very special (and, heh, the check wasn’t very big.)

11. What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever eaten?
Fish eyeball. Mostly because I just wanted to see if I could. It wasn’t really good or bad (though the ginger sauce around it was AMAZING. If you ever make it to Newport, OR, try the rock fish at Kam Meng restaurant. Or anything in their clay pots. So, so good.)

12. What TV show do you wish was still on the air?
The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from the 80s. Those poor kids never got home.

13. What is your secret plan for world domination?
I don’t think it’s all that secret. I intend to turn everyone in the world into a dork by inundating their Twitter streams and Facebook feeds with my tales of spilling food down my shirt and falling down. Then I shall put on my Wonder Woman costume and rule as Queen of the Dorks. It’ll be quite simple, really.

14. If you were to become a spammer, what product would you peddle? And what would your message be? Come up with the most attention getting, creative, crazy thing. Yes, that’s a challenge.
Oh, I’d peddle this thing — I’ve wanted to since I first saw it. (O_O) Meljean provided the link, but I’m going with that emoticon because… well because.

And the e-mail subject line would have to be:


Penis + precious metals = a sure thing.

15. Can you name at least three US Supreme Court Justices without looking? Do you know your state senators and US representative?
Yep. I’m not political online, but I follow it all pretty closely at home.

16. What was your favorite class in high school?
Not PE, that’s for sure.

Probably my anthropology class, but honestly — I liked almost all of them. People called me The Brainerd, and I earned that title. (And they didn’t even know that my dad actually comes from a town called Brainerd. So it was truly meant-to-be, or something.)

17. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing/researching a book?
It’s really difficult to say anything is the most interesting. I never really put them against each other on a sliding scale — and there are a lot of really amazing things out there that I run across. Truth is always more awesome than fiction.

I did read a really great book while writing my last, though: “In the Heart of the Sea, the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.” It’s an (at times harrowing and really awful) account of what befell the whalers of a ship that was rammed by a sperm whale and sank (and which inspired Moby Dick.) In the same vein, “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,” which describes what happened after an expedition ship was caught in the Antarctic ice. Simply amazing stuff.

18. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Oscar Wilde, because he’d make fun of us all, but in such a fabulous way that we probably wouldn’t realize how deeply we’d been insulted until afterward.

Shakespeare, so that he could tell the naysayers and conspiracy theorists who believe he didn’t write his plays to stop being ninnies.

Virginia Woolf, though I’d let her eat in a room of her own.

Ambrose Bierce, because I suspect that he and Oscar Wilde would either trade the most amazing set of witticisms and barbs ever, or make out. Both options would be fun to watch.

Aphra Behn, simply because she sounds like she had an amazing life.

So what’d you think? Do you have any follow up questions for Ms. Brook? (Please say yes – imagine her answers!) She’s also giving away the winner’s choice of The Iron Duke, Heart of Steel, or any of her Guardian books (winner’s choice.) International entries are fine. And guess what? Meljean has so very generously decided to give two prizes! So, two lucky winners! (And for our new friends, this is how the giveaway works.)

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You guys!!! If you don’t know who Day Leclaire is, you really should. She’s a wonderful author. Writes for Harlequin Desire. (And if you’ve never read one of her books you really should give them a try.)

1. What’s the first thing you learned how to cook? What’s your favorite thing to cook? Do you have a “signature dish”?
Cook?!?  I’m supposed to write and cook?  Listen, if I could have my kitchen surgically removed from my house, I would.  I do not find cooking relaxing.  I find eating relaxing, lol.  I grew up with two sisters.  They cook.  I was assigned to KP after A) burning more meals than not; and B) forgetting to pull something out of the freezer for dinner because I had my nose stuck in a book.  As for my “signature dish,” I believe that falls under “take out.”  ;)

2. If you have to listen to a song 24/7 for four days, which one would you choose?
Adam Lambert singing Mad World.  Still gives me chills, even 2 years later.  A close second would be Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s amazing rendition of Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.  I could listen to that one all day, every day.

3. What two movies from different genres would you most like to see combined in a mash up?
Star Trek, Voyage Home and Pride and Prejudice, the A&E version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  Would love to see Darcy in a deep conversation with Spock, and Kirk trying to put the moves on Lizzy.

4. Which do you prefer – 15 degree weather, or 105 degree weather? What would you do on that day?
The answer’s pretty much the same for both.  I’d either curl up by a pool (or even better, in the pool) with my Kindle and a big glass of iced tea.  Or I’d curl up in front of a roaring fire with a mug of hot tea and—oh, yeah—my Kindle.

5. How’d you come up with your author name?
I literally plucked it out of thin air.  I wanted to use St. Clair, but Sandra Brown had used that name for her Harlequin books.  So, I chose Leclaire, instead.  And instead of spelling it more normally, I was foolish and went with an alternate spelling.  No one spells it correctly.  Okay, a few people do, but darn few.  Ah, well.  I was really young.  Lesson learned.  But if you’re going to pick a pseudonym, guys, be smart!  Learn from Leclaire!

6. What do you think about clowns?
I try not to.  Clowns exist.  They are, for some, part of the known universe.  It’s a part of the universe I’d rather not explore.  I find them vaguely alarming because they’re so unpredictable and bizarre looking.  And then, of course, there’s Stephen King (thanks a lot, bud!).  Can’t look at a clown without thinking of the book, It.  <shudder> (I’m so with you!)

7. What author promo has been most effective for you?
I can’t answer that, yet.  I haven’t done a lot of author promo.  So far, I’d have to say my website and Facebook.  I tend to connect most through those two venues.  But I’m still experimenting.  I have a Twitter account, but haven’t gotten comfortable using it, yet.

8. Do you eat marshmallows straight out of the bag, hold them at the edge of the fire till they’re lightly golden brown, or torch ‘em till they’re black and crackly on the outside?
Okay, embarrassing admission.  I don’t like marshmallows.  Never liked smores.  Don’t like Rice Krispie squares.  They’re too sweet and slick. :(

9. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? And what about at a conference?
At school?  I guess when I had the flu, but had to give an oral report, got drunk on Nyquil and kept calling militia “mill-a-tah.”  I think the swaying and giggling didn’t help, either.  At a conference…?  Oh, lord!  Yeah, that was nasty bad.  It involved Catherine Coulter, of all people.  I was scheduled to moderate her workshop.  I’d been given the wrong time by the conference chair, never double-checked it, and showed up late.  Not only that, but I gave Catherine the wrong time, too.  But she did check and showed up on time.  Unfortunately, she’d scheduled her flight out of St. Louis based on my timeline which meant that about the time I wandered in, she was wrapping up and needed to run—halfway through her talk.  Yeah, that didn’t go down well.  I learned a really valuable lesson.  Always double check everything.  And don’t screw with Catherine Coulter.  ;)

10. As a child which character/book(s) would you most want to be [or be in] a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, Madeline L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, L.M. Montgomery, or Gail Carson Levine? (Or another one? Perhaps Nancy Drew, etc.)
Hands down, Madeline L’Engle.  A Wrinkle in Time is my all-time favorite YA Fantasy.  To this day I reread that book on a regular basis.  YA Fantasy is my first love.  The romance genre comes in a close second.

11. What would you put in your ideal candy bar?
Basically, everything that’s in a Snicker bar, only with pecans, rich dark chocolate, and caramel.

12. What tv show do you wish was still on the air?
Star Trek.  Star Trek.  And more Star Trek.  Did I mention, Star Trek?

13. What is your secret plan for world domination?
Create the perfect world within my books and convince everyone to go there.  Once I have everyone transferred over, I will have total control.  I can write everyone’s story so they all end happily-ever-after.

14. If you were to become a spammer, what product would you peddle? And what would your message be? Come up with the most attention getting, creative, crazy thing. Yes, that’s a challenge.
Fairies.  Your own personal fairy.  You can have a good luck fairy, a fairy godmother (aka shoe fairy—a very popular selection), a fairy that will bring you the man of your dreams (sorry, selection arrives as-is, no returns accepted), a money fairy (aka Midas fairy—touch at your own risk), a genie fairy (three wishes only, some restrictions apply, please read the accompanying brochure for full details), a dragon fairy (caution recommended, not compatible with combustibles of any kind), and our most popular fairy, the house fairy, perfect for those who need assistance with all those pesky household chores, everything from cooking to ironing to cleaning.  Particularly adept at ridding your home of dust bunnies.  Don’t wait to order, quantities are limited. (I’m sold! Sign me up!)

15. What was your worst traveling mishap ever? Or most constant one? (Did your luggage get stolen by a monkey? Is the flight canceled every time as soon as your ride drives away from the airport?)
The flight was delayed, so they handed out drinks.  I had a flight attendant bring me a cup of boiling hot tea right before we were cleared for takeoff.  I don’t know what she was thinking.  It was a rough takeoff, the tea went right in my lap and scalded me.  I mean serious burns.  I’m one of those crazed women who has the kitchen sink in her purse.  I actually had some Neosporin on me and was able to apply it fairly quickly so it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could have been.  This was before the infamous McDonald’s incident.  But man, that was a miserable flight.  The other “worst ever” flight was when we ended up sitting on the runway for SEVEN hours on a trip to Hawaii and running out of diapers for my 1 year old.  Yeah, that was a joy all around.

16. Walk in pantry, walk in closet, or extra garage space?
Closet, of course!  You can never have too much shoe space.

17. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing/researching a book?
Shh.  Don’t tell anyone, but dragons are real!

18. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party? Douglas Adams, Charles Dickens, Tolkien, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and I’d sneak Jane Austin in to balance out all the men.  What I wouldn’t give to hear those guys go at it!

Bio: USA Today bestselling author, Day Leclaire, lives and works on a remote barrier island off the North Carolina coast, a perfect setting for writing passionate books that offer a unique combination of humor, emotion, and unforgettable characters.  Described by Harlequin as “one of our most popular writers ever!” Day’s tremendous worldwide popularity has made her a member of Harlequin’s prestigious “Five Star Club,” with sales totaling well over fifteen million books.  She is a three-time winner of both The Colorado Award of Excellence and The Golden Quill Award.  She’s won Romantic Times magazine’s Career Achievement and Love and Laughter awards, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best Award, and has received an impressive ten nominations for the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA© Award.

Day’s June Harlequin Desire is A Very Private Merger.  Winner-take-all business tycoon Jack Sinclair is on the hunt to get what’s his: a slice of competing shipping empire The Kincaid Group.  As the illegitimate and ignored heir, his reward has been a long time coming.  And he has sexy, brilliant Nikki Thomas by his side to help make it happen.  Right?  Not exactly.  Nikki is a corporate investigator on the Kincaids’ payroll, so her loyalty is more than a little divided.  Her hidden agenda is enough to make Jack want to walk away.  But passion offers a second chance–until another truth is revealed that could tear them apart for good. There are five mini-stories leading up to the book, all of which are available for free on her website.  And in December, look for Day to continue her Dante series with Becoming Dante.  Drop by Day’s website at:  www.DayLeclaire.com for more details or you can send day an email at:  Day@DayLeclaire.com.

Ms. Leclaire is giving away a copy of her newest book A Very Private Merger to one lucky commenter. So what’d you think? Any questions or comments? I think it’s clear that anything goes. ;D

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Today we’ve got Zoë Archer. She’s also got a new book out… today! How perfect is that? And not planned at all… >.> As you all see, first Tuesday of the month! Crazy! May! So, happy release day to Ms. Archer and congratulations on the release of Demon’s Bride! She opted for one of the über professional ;) author interviews.

1. What’s your favorite “lesser” holiday? E.g. Arbor Day, etc. What’s do you think should get it’s own “holiday” and what day would you want it to be?

National Cookie Day.  Any of the National Food Days are worth celebrating.  We should have National Boot Day, which is celebrated by free pairs of boots.

2. Do you like your name, and have you ever wanted to change it?

I do like my name, because I made it up! (She’s a cheeky one, isn’t she :P)

3. What’s your favorite form of social media? Least favorite? What would you combine to make the ultimate social media platform?

Twitter is like a nonstop pajama/cocktail party.  Right now, the Facebook interface is confusing and cluttered.  I like Tumblr because I can post photos (often of hot guys in suits or period costumes).  If we could combine Tumblr and Twitter, I think I’d never get any work done.

4. Ultrafeast. What dishes should be served? (Either you’re making it, or someone else is – whatever you prefer.)

Sweets!  My sweet tooth knows no bounds.

5. What’s with the jumpsuits you and Carolyn Jewel were are always joking about?

With a very few exceptions, jumpsuits are one of the least flattering garments ever invented.  Carolyn and I keep challenging each other to wear jumpsuits to the RITAs–but neither of us have been brave (or foolish) enough to do it.  Yet.

6. What was your favorite cartoon or comic book character growing up? What about now? What super power would you most like to have? And least?

I loved watching Battle of the Planets.  It was the American-dubbed version of a Japanese animated series, and it featured a group of four guys and a girl that flew around in a ship called the Phoenix.  The girl, Princess, kicked anime ass.  I don’t really watch cartoons or read comics now, though I enjoy Gingerhaze’s hilarious fangirl drawings.  I’d love to be a super-powered thief/spy.  I’d hate to be the world’s greatest shirt-ironer.

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about at a conference?
The most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me at school was all of junior high.  I’m positive I’ve done something awful at conference, but I’m deliberately blocking it from my memory.

8. How do you feel about the dentist? And the optometrist/ophthalmologist? Any stories to go along with either of those?

I don’t care about going to the dentist.  When I was 13, I was hit by a car, and had dental work for years.  Root canals, bridges, extractions, you name it.  Going to the dentist doesn’t faze me any more.  And I’ve had contacts since I was a kid.  Eye stuff doesn’t bother me, either.

9. Walk in pantry, walk in closet, or extra garage/outside storage space? [Which would you prefer and why?]

Walk in pantry.  I love to bake, and I dream about having a place for all my ingredients and pans within easy reach.

10. Coke with lemon, lime, vanilla, grenadine, or half and half? Or… pepsi? [and I don't mean the artificial pre-made stuff, but with freshly squeezed/added stuff] => if you’ve never had it… why not? and/but… which would you most prefer?

Coke Zero with Vanilla.

11. Did you go to prom? If so – describe your dress. Would you admit to wearing it today, much less actually wear it? ;)

I did go…for about 30 minutes.  You could say I wasn’t really invested in high school. And I’m not ashamed of my prom dress.  It was a very simple dark blue velvet sheath.  I deliberately bought it in the winter because I wanted a dark color, and I didn’t want anyone else to have a dress like mine.

12. What’s the best admonishment your mom ever gave you, or that you’ve ever given a kid? e.g. if you make that face it’ll freeze like that. or… if you walk from the kitchen to the table w/ a fork in your mouth you’ll stab yourself through the throat and die

She said that you shouldn’t marry someone without sleeping with them first.  I think that’s awesome advice.  And yes, I followed it.

13. What was your first job? Your most interesting one?

Oh, God, I’ve had so many jobs.  One of my first was working at an art school (for much of my youth, I thought I was going to be an artist).  I cleaned, and put supplies away.  Most interesting…?  I’ve blocked the horrible ones.  Once, I painted a mural at a launch party for a cologne, and then the guests came up and drew all over my mural.

14. “Celebrity Author” death match – who would you most want to take on? [you don't have to say why ;)]

Alexander Pope, because he was a misshapen dwarf, so I have a better chance of beating him up.  In a contest of wit, however, he’d win.

15. What author promo has been most effective for you?

Twitter.  Mostly tweeting pictures of hawt doods and general crankiness.

16. What items have to be close by when writing & not just the sensible stuff like research notes, but the other perhaps slightly goofy stuff (bowl of m&ms, stuffed animal, stress ball, pot of coffee).

Caffeinated things, mints, cats.

17. What’s your secret plan for world domination?

Let somebody else run the world.  I’ve got other things to take care of.

18. Would you shave your hair for $50,000? If yes, what would you do with the money? If no… what amount would it take for you to cave?

Yes, yes I would.  Hair grows back.  Money doesn’t.  I’d travel to Japan and New Zealand with my husband (fellow romance author Nico Rosso), then use the rest to put toward a down payment on a house.  I might buy Nico a motorcycle, too, so we could tear across the country raising hell.

I’m giving away a print copy of Demon’s Bride to a US/Canada commenter, or an electronic copy for international.

The Hellraisers, Book 2
Hell to Pay

Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.

But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal – one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.

Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart.

Read an excerpt

Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together.  Her steampunk romance, SKIES OF FIRE, is now available from Avon Impulse, and Nico’s steampunk Western, NIGHT OF FIRE, will be available in July. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles. WebsiteTwitterFacebookTumblr

To buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, Amazon UK

What questions do you have for Zoë Archer? Anything fun, or book related? Either are definitely welcome.

ETA: Zoë just sent me her book trailer – so here it is!

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YOU GUYS! Today we have Lauren Dane visiting with us. Yes, the Lauren Dane! Believe it or not I actually emailed her about this fifteen months ago! (Um… have I ever mentioned that I like planning in advance? It’s totally not as if I’m scheduled well into 2014 or anything…) >.> Anyway – point being! I heart Lauren Dane like whoa. Oh and yanno, her books are pretty good too. ;) I haven’t read all of them – but what I have, I give a big thumbs up to. But you’re not here to read my babbling. You’re here for the post!


No not that kind, though there’s that too, but what I mean is the combination of two people (sometimes three) who comprise the main character roles in a romance novel.

It’s been done before. Most of it anyway. In a zillion ways. What isn’t old is how much we love to watch the process of two people falling in love. To me, that’s the heart of any romance. Who these people are and what about them makes the other person’s heart speed.

Sometimes they know right away. They meet, sparks fly, they date and bam there’s love. Other times there’s a slow fall into love. There are things that may threaten their relationship directly like an ex or something. Or outside forces that work to tear them apart (the world ending, for instance, LOL)

In Beneath the Skin, Gibson de La Vega is the Bringer for his jamboree. He’s responsible for meting out justice and for keeping the cats in line. His family is powerful, as is his connection to them.

Mia Porter has done two tours in Iraq. She’s a pilot, it’s what she loves most in the world. But upon her return home she was attacked, nearly killed and that’s sent her reeling because her injuries may prevent her from doing what she loves best. She’s not a fragile flower. She knows how to use a weapon. She knows how to deal with bad guys. But it’s not her life anymore. She wants a quiet life and a good job. Maybe settle down and have some babies in a few years.

What she doesn’t need is another bossy alpha male in her life who wants to tell her want to do at every turn. She’s already got two brothers and a father.

She’s back in Boston, looking for a job, going to physical therapy and trying to plan her future when Gibson’s life slams straight into hers and holds on.

Thing is, despite the heavy duty physical and chemical attraction between them from the start, they’re not for each other. Porters and de La Vegas have been at odds for three generations.

So there’s an undeniable spark there between them and despite their best efforts (well maybe) to resist, they soon find themselves hot and heavy, as things on the outside begin to break down as well.

Gibson and Mia aren’t necessarily opposites, but he’s most certainly an alpha, bossy male. She’s got to push back a lot, which annoys her and also, deep down, comforts her. But she’s alpha enough to push back. And he is annoyed right back, but also deep down is comforted by.

There’s give and take, push and pull and a lot of family dynamics. Shifters aren’t humans after all, so Mia and Gibson’s way of problem solving isn’t always as polite as you might see in one of my contemporaries, but in the end, they find a balance because love makes you do that ;)

Here’s the first time they clash (though not the last!)

de La Vega CatsBeneath the Skin by Lauren Dane
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing

“Where are you?”

His savior came back with a shirt and some sweats.

“Where am I?” he asked her as he pulled the sweats on.

She rattled off an address that he didn’t bother relaying to Max, who’d have heard it the first time.

A fact his brother underlined when he began to give orders in the background before turning his attention to Gibson again. “Sending a car now. We’ll have a doctor for you. Do you need the hospital? Who are you with?”

“She’s one of ours. A cat.” He turned his attention back to the woman. “You never said what your name was. At least not while I was conscious.”

She looked him up and down as she decided to tell him or not. “Mia Porter.”

Well, shit.

“Did she say Porter?” Wariness edged Max’s voice.

She sighed. “Yes, that Porter family.”

“How do you know she’s not part of it?” his brother asked.

The brown of her eyes went amber as her cat rose close to the skin. He liked that. Though the look on her face was scary enough that he’d give her some space.

One hand on her hip, she snarled in response to Max, and Gibson was glad he got to see the glorious fury of this female. “You’ve got some nerve to make accusations while your brother’s blood is all over my sheets. Get this straight, asshole. My family may not love yours, but if I wanted anyone dead, I’d come straight on and do it so you knew it was me.”

Gibson liked some moxie in a woman. This one had that in spades. Too bad she was a Porter. “He didn’t mean it like that.”

She rolled her eyes, totally unimpressed by his name, or Max’s, for that matter. “Of course he did. Your grandpa wasn’t all that. Just a serial cheater with a swelled head. Not rare and not special. Dumb assholes getting shot and when you help them they accuse you of being part of it. How do I know you didn’t need getting shot anyway?” When she pointed a finger in his direction, her breasts jiggled a little bit. Enough for him to lose his train of thought a moment.

Max cursed in the background. He wasn’t usually this clumsy when it came to dealing with the cats in his jamboree, but he’d touched a nerve and Mia Porter was one pissed-off woman.

He tried for a sexy smile, most likely watered down by the blood. Though she was a shifter so maybe not. “I probably do merit it.” He spoke to Max again. “But this is Bertram’s doing. I scented his cats before I went down. I’ve got my men on it. I’ll be over in a bit.” He hung up and took in the wreck of her room before he went back out to the living room in her wake.

She favored her left side but was clearly right handed, and he remembered the freshly healed spots on her chest and arm.

“I’m sorry about that. He didn’t mean it, not the way you think. He’d have asked the same thing of any other person who happened to be around.”

“Clearly you seem to think I’m unaware of how your family runs things. I know how he meant it. Just like I notice he didn’t ask the question until he heard my last name.”
He sighed but didn’t argue because she was right in part.

“Did I hurt you?” He tipped his chin to indicate her right side.

Something passed over her features for long moments before she put it away. “No.”

I’m giving away a copy of BENEATH THE SKIN to one commenter to this post! International entries welcome.

Giveaway guidelines, and end dates/drawings can be found here.

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