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Andrea Cooper: “The Garnet Dagger” and “Viking Fire”

Since The Garnet Dagger is written from Brock’s point of view, we have Celeste here today to answer a few questions that readers might not know.

Andrea: What did you think of Brock when you first saw him?

Celeste: Magical. He took my breath away. I felt compassion for him, which is why I healed him as soon as Father Morgan left. I could not leave him in pain and in such a weakened state. His dark hair hid his face, but I knew he wasn’t human—I healed him anyway even though at the time I didn’t know what darkness clouded his green eyes. I could have taken the dagger and left him there, but I felt such kindness for him that I couldn’t leave him to the whims of Father Morgan. His sarcasm, even while being tortured, made me feel proud even though I didn’t know him. I’d seen too many cower and whimper over the years that his words were refreshing.

garnetAndrea: Why didn’t you give the garnet dagger back to Brock?

Celeste: Well, he gave it to me. First, he didn’t say I couldn’t keep it. (She dusts off imaginary lint from her shirt, then looks up), Besides it belonged to me. Sort of.  It’s hard to explain, but it was as if someone broke off a piece of my soul and fused it into the dagger. I also knew in anyone else’s hands, it would bring ruin. In Brock’s it would either cause him to leave me or if he used it against me it would destroy him. If the Warloc took it, he would bring his reign of evil. Later, I offered to give it back, but Brock said I could keep it.

Andrea: Some say you have Brock wrapped around your finger.

Celeste: What? That’s insane. If that were true, he would have listened when I told him not to kill the Bergone. That would have saved us a lot of trouble. I also told him to leave once he confessed about what he thought the garnet dagger was for, yet he hung around and then followed me.

Andrea: When did you know Brock was the one?

Celeste: I knew before he did—or rather before he could admit it to himself.

Andrea: What did you do after you left Brock in the woods?

Celeste: Despite what happened to my aunt, I needed to see for myself if she was still alive or not. No doubt my aunt’s magic had blasted not only the Bergone, but herself and home as well. I had to be sure. I was careful in case the Warloc had laid a trap back there, but it was as I feared, she was dead.

I journeyed to a nearby village of my aunt’s friend and fellow witch. She wasn’t as experienced as my aunt, but I had no one left. The Warloc had killed everyone I was close to. For weeks I mourned my aunt and tried to forget about Brock. Then I studied her magic and practiced for the battle to come. I journeyed to the Warloc’s lands two days before Nivel and Brock arrived.

Andrea: What is your greatest regret?

Celeste: Sigh, there are too many. I guess it would be not telling Brock what I felt when I touched the dagger. Maybe he would have listened and still come up with the same conclusion that he did, maybe not. But I was too new at trusting others to take that chance at the time.

Andrea: What is a misconception readers may have of you?

Celeste: That I know all the answers. I don’t. Sometimes I just wing it and hope for the best. My instinct usually leads me on the right path. It’s only when I second guess that soft voice inside me that things go wrong.

Celeste: That I’m not kind. I am. It’s just whenever you’ve gone through years watching your kindness used as a weapon against so many innocent people for years, you learn to guard your feelings from others. I hope that by my actions; even if they are not understood at the time, show my intentions. I have only done what I have done to save mankind and Brock—even from themselves.

Andrea: What would be a romantic evening with you and Brock?

Celeste: That we would be able to make love all night, he doesn’t need sleep you know, and cuddle as we watched the sunrise. We wouldn’t have to go anywhere or have anyone, like Nivel, with us. We would be alone for an entire day. I get so tired of traveling and fighting the villain. I just want a night off with my love. To smell his musky pine scent and feel his hands on my body and kiss his full lips. To explore every inch of him with my hands and my lips. Taste him with my tongue and mouth.

Which reminds me…are we done here?

Andrea nods and Celeste leaves the room. Closing the door, she leaps into Brock’s arms and gives him a big kiss.

Interview With Andrea Cooper

authorWhat inspired you to start writing?

I wrote poems when I was fourteen until my senior year of high school. For novels, ironically, it was reading a historical romance that wasn’t logical in my opinion. The hero, a Viking, for no reason I could fathom just gave up his beliefs for the heroine. I thought I could write a better story, so I tried. However, I’ve always been a story-teller.  Earliest memory I have was in first grade, I was the kid my friends came to at recess and asked what we were going to play – or rather what plot and characters we were going to act out.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing novels since my late twenties. Of course this was when I had a full-time job and a child so condensed down, it probably equals five years total writing time. But I’ve been making up stories and characters longer than I can remember.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Read. Read the authors you love, read authors you hate – but understand why. Read writing manuals, take classes, join a critique group. Most importantly, if you have passion for writing do not let anyone discourage you—just keep trying. If you are a real writer, then you’ll write regardless if you are published are not because you can do nothing else.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the last three years, I don’t suffer from writer’s block; I suffer from lack of time and sleep. The only time I’ve writer’s block is when I have to write nonfiction then I’d rather do anything else 😉

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Depends on the story.  For Viking Fire, my historical romance, it was the plot. What would happen if a feisty highborn Irish lass was forced to marry her enemy—a Viking? For The Garnet Dagger it was the character. Everyone knows what happens when a vampire bites a human…but what if the victim is Elvin?

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mostly a pantser. First I come up with an idea, character, or a situation. Then I brainstorm and start thinking ‘What If’ questions. I do not plot per se, I have a general idea of where the story is going to go, and sometimes the ending will change slightly. I enjoy it when characters take over and guide me. However, if they get us lost, I pull out the dreaded outline and map out where we’ve been and where we’re going. Hopefully since there are surprises for me that come up when I write, it will be a surprise for the reader as well.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Elva in Viking Fire starts off as only the handmaid in the story, or she was when I first started writing this novel. As her character unfolded as she tries to help Kaireen and Bram, so too did it unfold when I was writing. I had no idea of her secret (despite hints she gave me) until she let lose her hair – literally.

Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

I am working on revisions of the second book in The Garnet Dagger trilogy. Another historical romance set during 16th Century Japan, and two Viking romances one which I need to finish and the other edit.

What are you reading now?

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward. I’ve never heard of her until recently on Goodreads so I wanted to see what everyone’s excitement was about. It took forever to get this book from the library.

What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

There are many, but I’ll name just a few: Terry Goodkind, Anne Bishop, Julie Garwood, Yasmine Galenorn, Kim Harrison, PC Cast, and Christine Feehan.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

I have a four year old and a nine month old, so my writing schedule is when the baby is sleeping and the other one is engrossed in playing—or after they’ve both gone to sleep.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Despite always making up stories and characters, I wanted to be a teacher. However, I think my belief was it would be a perfect class of kids who would love to learn and listen…and that’s not reality. I’m happy with my life now and am ecstatic about being a published author.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Mexican is my favorite food—or rather TexMex. I love spicy foods and cheese.  And chocolate, got have that in there too. Least favorite? Catfish or Tilapia—I like any other fish out there except those two.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

That I am one of those writers who had a drawer full of novels before I published my first one. I have eight completed novels, two have been published, and five others in various stages.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?

There are many, but if I had to pick one, it would be Terry Goodkind. I fell in love with his Sword of Truth series and it inspired me to try my hand at writing a fantasy story, which became a paranormal romance, The Garnet Dagger and my first published novel.

What would we find under your bed?

Hopefully nothing. I banished the boogie man to the closet years ago, that’s why I always sleep with it closed 😉 It’s also good feng shui to have nothing under your bed, so it doesn’t hurt to follow that advice J

If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Scotland. My ancestry on my mother’s side is Scottish. I would love to touch the old stones that make up the McLaughlin castle ruins and know my ancestors once lived there. It’s also a quick ride from there to England, Wales, Ireland, and France—so it would be like several trips at one time 😉

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Yes, I love Robert Frost’s quote: “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader; no tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” To me it means letting the characters come to life rather than playing dictator.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?

Currently, I write in paranormal (with a historical setting) and historical romance. I’ve tried to write a contemporary novel, but I don’t enjoy reading those much. It’s difficult to do, in my opinion, because things can become dated very quickly. I’ve thought about writing YA as that is one of the genre’s I do enjoy reading besides historical, paranormal, and fantasy.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

I would like to write more and have three books published next year. Thankfully I already have them written, but am chipping away at edits.

When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

After I read a historical novel, that wasn’t logical to me, I thought I could write a better story. However, it wasn’t until after I wrote my second historical novel that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been a storyteller and have made up characters and plot since early childhood and have never stopped.

Every writer dreams of getting “the call.” What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first?

I was at home with my three year old and one month old when I got “the call.” I was so excited that I didn’t believe it at first. My husband was the first one I told.

Who gave you the writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

The best writing advice I received was from an Elementary teacher. She said to read the last sentence on the last page of your writing first. Then read the sentence before that and so on. It’s hard to do, but excellent for editing.

Describe the “perfect hero.” What about the “perfect hero” for you?

The perfect hero is compassionate without being wimpy, intelligent without being cruel, brave without being reckless, and passionate without being compromising. It’s hard to find that balance.

The perfect hero for me is my husband. Especially when he watches the kids and cooks breakfast while letting me snooze on the weekend.

What are favorite pastimes?

Besides writing? I love to read. I don’t have nearly as much time as I would like. I also used to play video games (hack & slash, dungeon crawlers)…in fact I have the latest Diablo on my computer but with two kids under the age of four, I haven’t played in months.

What has been your biggest adventure to date?

Having my daughter. Even though I had two boys before her, she has been completely different from them.

What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Though I love my dishwasher and microwave, I’d have to say my laptop. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be  able to write or check all the social media out there and would lose my mind much sooner than anything else.

Describe the ideal romantic evening.

Both kids in bed by 8pm and a babysitter at the house while my husband and I go have dinner and watch a movie. I know it’s not romantic to some, but if you have kids, you know it’s amazing to be able to chew your food and have a conversation and then just to snuggle with your honey while watching a good movie without someone calling “mom is the sun awake or asleep?”

About The Garnet Dagger

Everyone knows what happens when a vampire bites a human…but what if the victim is Elvin?

Forbidden to cross the Elvin barrier into human lands, Brock cannot sate his curiosity. Cursed by a vampyre bite that forces him to feed on the life-essence of others, he is unable to touch another without taking their life. Chained by prophesy, he must find a witch, pierce her heart, and draw her blood for his cure.

Celeste must escape the monks who have held her prisoner for years. Her magic has been kept dormant by her captors. An ancient powerful Warloc craves her powers. If he succeeds in devouring her magic, she and his world will die.

When Brock falls in love with Celeste before realizing her demise is his cure, will love triumph over his desire to be healed? Will he risk everything to save her from a Warloc, an oath breaker, who also wants her dead?

The Garnet Dagger Excerpt

I’ve known death. For over half a millennia, I escorted many to death at the end of my sword. In the eyes of the dying, I watched it shroud them. Foolishly, I thought many more eras would pass before death came for me. It came so swiftly that I could not run; I could not escape. At a village, dressed in human clothes, I took in everything. By observing for eons, I understood and spoke their language. The world of mankind fascinated me. Their hobbled homes burrowed into the ground.

Rocks crunched on top one another with thatched roofs woven from straw. Never had I seen a home or inn that was higher than three levels, as if they were afraid of the sky. I delayed my return to my people as I watched human jugglers bounce torches and knifes. It was autumn equinox and the festivities would continue well into the night. Children laughed as they chased each other. A trail of leaves from their costumes twirled after them. It was dark when I reached the forest. Since I was already late, I hiked uphill to a shortcut rather than take the long path back home. I didn’t need to alert any of my kind near the barrier at this hour. Liana would wonder why I was late.

Tonight was the two month anniversary of our hand twining ceremony. One more month as was custom, and then we’d be wed. A gasp rustled through the trees. The roots shot a warning through to me with stifled caution. Adjusting my pack, I continued on instead of changing back into my Elvin clothes. After I passed the border which kept humans from entering our land, then I’d change. In the distance, I heard a groan. Curious, I spun in the direction of the sound. The autumn wind breezed through my worn human clothes, chilling me. But someone needed help. I turned in the direction of the sounds. Whatever made the noise should be a few yards ahead.

I hiked slower than my normal speed, so as not to startle whatever human called out. My leather boots crunched upon dried, diseased leaves and bark. Horrified, I glanced up. Branches twisted around each other to suffocating. Lifeless limbs cracked in the wind. Flesh of the trees sloughed off in layers, exposing its bones. Gashes hollowed out chunks of warmth. Fragments of leaves clung to finger tips, marking sepulchers of the dying trees. Trees mourned with wails like splitting wood, and I brought my hands over my ears. I must flee before I became infected, they told me. Flee before the stain of this defilement creeps into you, they warned. Trees spoke to my kind, always had. Yet these trees were in such agony of death that I could not breathe. Felt as though my lungs had folded in on themselves, like a moth unable to break loose from its cocoon.

Nothing I could do for them, and if I lingered too long, whatever disease gnawed upon them may choke me. Where would I go if I carried something so foul as to devour trees from the inside out? I’d never return to Tamlon if I brought this infection with me. I drew away, but a movement at the base of a decaying tree to my right caught me. My night vision picked up the sight of a human. His sallow face seemed to glow in the moonlight. Poking out from rags lay his arms and legs, which resembled skin stretched over sticks. So cadaverous was his face, I’d have thought him dead if he hadn’t moved.

“Please,” he said and his voice sounded like cicada’s vibrations, “help me.”

“What ails you in this troubled place?” I wondered if my voice, foreign to my ears in speaking the human’s language, revealed my nature.

“I am lost.” His dark eyes crinkled around the corners. “Without strength to rise. If you would but assist me up, I’ll be on my way.”

I’d never touched a human on purpose before. Was it that that gave me pause, or dread that stilled my heart? My feet itched to flee. As soon as I helped him, then I’d leave. I gritted my teeth and reached a hand down.

His gnarled fingers snapped on my arm, making me wince. Jerking me forward, his face contorted. Surprised by his strength, I fell beside him. Blackness curled around me. Teeth, fangs, broke through the skin on my neck. Then I knew him for what he was, a vampyre.

The Garnet Dagger Book Trailer  http://youtu.be/ISi0u9LoseM

Crimson Romance ebooks | Amazon | B&N 

About Viking Fire

In 856 CE, Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.

Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?

Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a younger son in his family. A marriage to the Laird’s daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and if his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe—Irish or Viking. However, the Laird’s feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?

With the blame for a rival laird’s death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.

Viking Fire Excerpt

Viking_fireIreland 856 CE

“I renounce Father for this.” Kaireen threw the elderberry gown. Dressed only in her leine, she glared at the new gown on the stone floor.

“Shame on you and your children for speaking such.” Her handmaid, Elva, gathered the damask and then dusted off the rushes. “It’s a wonder one of the clim has not scolded you from your hearth for such talk.” She wore her white hair twisted in a chignon, underneath a linen head cloth. Strands of white hair poked out the sides of her covering.

“No, curse Father for a fool.” She plopped on her bed and a goose feather floated away. With a huff, she leaned against the oak headboard. Red curtains puffed like a robin’s chest around oak poles supporting her wooden canopy.

Her bare feet brushed against the stone floor. Why was she not born plain like her two older sisters? Already they had married and expected their second bairns by spring. Well, at least so far she had enjoyed twenty years of freedom. Neither of her sisters had had matrimonial dreams of love matches. Both were arranged marriages.

“You know your da arranged a marriage within a season.” Elva smirked.

Kaireen shook her head. “To another land holder,” and waved a hand in disgust, “not t-this heathen. Twice they raided our land in the last month alone. Many a raid has come from them. Now father wants me as wife to one of them?” She clenched her fists. “No, I will not marry this Viking.”

Elva smiled, reminding Kaireen of the rumors of her handmaid’s uncanny foresight.

Whispers of Elva making strange things happen and often blamed as the cause of Kaireen’s stubborn refusal to behave as a laird’s daughter should.

“You’ve not seen him yet.” Elva wiggled her brows.

“So?” Kaireen shrugged. “I would like to never see him.”

“Well then, would you not like to know if you have a handsome husband or not?” She waited for her response, but Kaireen scowled at her. Elva chuckled. “I would rather get a good look at him now than the morning after.

Kaireen’s ears heated. “I am not marrying.” She shook her head for emphasis. “So there will be no morning, nor night, nor wedding.”

“If he is handsome, I may fight you for him.” Elva smiled, deepening the wrinkles around her eyes.

“Welcome to him either way.” Kaireen laughed.

Viking Fire Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/bpk2ZMGwJik

Crimson Romance ebooks | Amazon | B&N |Google Books

About the Author

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn’t until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.

What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl).

Andrea writes paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.

She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndreaRCooper.author

Twitter: @AndreaRCooper

Website: www.AndreaRCooper.com

Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18104475-viking-fire

 

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Interview With Fantasy Author Loretta Laird and “The Passer”

Today my guest is Loretta Laird, author of The Passer. Please tell us a little about yourself, Loretta.

eyeMy name is Loretta Laird and I write fantasy romance.

I am a romance-aholic! I love to get lost in a book though seldom get the opportunity being a busy mum. I enjoy cooking, mostly cakes as that’s what I love to eat. My ambition is to buy a cabin by a lake and sit and write all day, creating worlds and stories that are enjoyed by many.

What inspired you to start writing?

I just thought I would give it a try and see what happened. I think turning 40 made me want to give something new a go.

How long have you been writing?

About a year.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

If you’ve got a story inside that wants to get out, set it free! Always good to have an honest friend that will give their opinion – not just one who tells you what you want to hear!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes, I do. I work full-time so I am not always in the mood when I sit down at night. I find it helps to re-read the work I did the night before then it sometimes inspires me. If not, I just switch off and do something else. Usually, I then find that I can’t sleep as ideas bombard me at night!

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

The plot, with me. The characters just grow from there. Then I like to go back and give them a back story.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The chemistry between the two main characters is electric and I loved the sexual tension that built up.

Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

The second book in the trilogy and a story about a woman who finds herself in court tried with running a brothel. It is called M.I.L.F.

What are you reading now?

I am reading Matilda with my daughter.

What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Julie Garwood tells a ripping historical love story and Christopher Paolini is a talented writer of fantasy.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

Busy! I work full-time and have 4 daughters so not much time left for anything else.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher. That is what I am!

What is your favorite food? Why?

It’s got be cake. I just love the luxury and comfort of it.

What would we find under your bed?

Nothing! I have just moved in to a new house and it is still spotless. Ask me again in 3 months.

If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Niagara Falls. I love the sound of all that water.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

“Come up and see mu sometime!’ Mae West

Describe the ideal romantic evening.

I don’t have them anymore; I just write about them!

About Fellnesia

Fellnisia is the setting of my book and I have created a world that I would love to live in. Kins are categorised by the colour of their eyes and they have characteristics unique to each group. Blue eyes are Water dwellers. They live in mountain hamlets near cool, clear mountain streams.

Green eyes are our Air dwellers. They live in treetops homes deep in lush green forests.

Brown-eyed kins are Earth and they are where our Passers warriors spring from. They live in villages at the base of The Fire Hills of Dargoon, home to the noble freegan who are dragon-like beasts that have been enslaved by the evil Greenflack.

About The Passers

From the dawn of time, the passing of a soul has been treated with dignity and respect. The process of ‘passing’, where a soul leaves the body and travels to that of a trained warrior or Passer, has been the way of the land of Fellnesia for generations. The Passer’s task is to then transport the soul to its final resting place. That place is dependent on the kin of the deceased, Air, Water or Earth.

Untitled-2_edited-1One such kin, Air dwellers, find their beloved leader has died. His soul is duly ‘passed’ and, as his family mourn, Greenflack; a rival claimant to his throne arrives with an army bent on death to any remaining kinfolk. The young Passer king, Lambord, recklessly rescues Fernella, the beautiful young princess, from her certain doom.

Several years later, Jadara; a young girl born in the kin-home of Water faces her father and the truth of her birthright. She is the rightful heir of the Air kingdom that has been ruled so cruelly for many years by Greenflack.

Jadara must now face her destiny and embark upon on a quest with her childhood friend, Thanly, and the group of nomadic, tattooed Passers led by Lombard, her father.

Jadara learns to fight and love under the guidance of Adamen, a handsome young Passer, as she travels towards her destiny.

Betrayal and pain come her way before she finally faces Greenflack, saves her people and steps up to her destiny.

Excerpt

Adamen appeared with the carcass of a freshly slain dapple draped over his shoulder. Its antlers had been sliced through and were carried in his left hand, as was the custom for the killing of such a beast. Even animals had the right to a Passing and there were ways to respect the order of life. Removing the maleness of the creature ensured its passage to spirituality. Slinging the body of the creature to a nearby flat stone, Adamen withdrew his cleaned weapon and took up a stance worthy of his experience. He flashed Jadara a fearsome grin.

“Princess,” he confronted her with a quick bow. “Shall we?”

“Warrior,” she inclined her head whilst keeping her eyes on his and backing a safe distance away. Her pulse throbbed in her neck at the closeness of this raw male. He was obviously fresh from a hunt and this made him dangerously tense and alert.

Adamen sniffed the air, catching her scent on the soft breeze. He was a skilled hunter and could read the instincts of animals intuitively. His Earth upbringing close to the Fire Hills of Dargoon, served him well as a Passer. He had had to survive a harsh world since birth and only the fittest made it this far with Lambord. Adamen’s sire and older siblings, all boys, had trained him well so nothing could distract his focus in a fight. Nothing until now. The fresh smell of apple blossom on the wind caught him off guard. For a split second, his thoughts paused on how that scent would taste. That was enough for a sharp pain to course through his thigh. Amid hoots of laughter and taunts from his peers, Adamen saw the retreating blade of a bow sword. Sticky sweet blood seeped from his wound and trickled down towards his knee.

With a growl equal to a fire freegan, Adamen pounced, swinging his long sword over his head. Jadara was quick and dodged several potentially fatal blows before she felt a stinging in her shoulder. Lambord, who’d seen enough stepped forward and held his hand between the two.

“Peace!” he ordered. “Blood for blood and now rest.” He shot Adamen a warning glare just to ensure the younger man’s compliance.

Adamen nodded and offered his hand to Jadara. She extended hers then recoiled quickly as she felt the warm pulse that Adamen’s touch had stirred within her. It spread like liquid through her body and brought an instant blush to her cheeks.

Arrogant in his victory, Adamen’s smile widened at the response he had stimulated in Jadara. His own body hardened automatically at the attraction he felt.

Jadara looked away, furious with her body for betraying her in front of this warrior, again.

She stormed off into the woods with Lambord’s voice behind her saying, “We leave as soon as we mount up.”

Jadara walked until she reached the babbling stream and stood for a moment, allowing the rhythmic sounds to sooth her temper. She was unaccustomed to the feelings that betrayed her when Adamen was nearby. Thanly, her truest friend, deserved her loyalty and if anyone was to claim her as a Primary Mate, shouldn’t it be him?

As if to taunt her further, her skin began to prickle and her heart rate increased as she heard footsteps behind her.

“A lucky strike,” she murmured not turning her head for fear of the troublesome blush reappearing.

“I’m flattered you knew it was me,” teased Adamen crouching down to the stream with a white cloth in his hands. She watched as he soaked it through then squeezed it out, folding it over to make a pad. She gasped as he stood up, towered over her and applied the pad to her shoulder.

He mistook her gasp for pain and had the grace to look ashamed. “Does it hurt?” he asked gently.

“N..no,” she replied. “The water is just cold,” she added. The first thing she could think of to cover her true emotion.

“So brave,” he crooned, rubbing the cloth seductively over her shoulder and across her neck.

His lips were so close to her ear that the words made their own light caress across her cheek. He moved in closer and she turned her head towards his.

Adamen could fight it no longer, he leaned in to the soft lips before him and kissed.

It was hard to describe who was more shocked at Jadara’s passionate response. She returned his kiss with fervour, moving her lips in response to his. His kiss deepened and hardened and hers matched the pace. Her body pressed into his hard chest and a soft moan escaped from her.

“Damn!” cursed Adamen, pulling away and stepping back with his hand raking through his hair.

Contacts

www.lorettalaird.com

http://steamereads.com.au/

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/20138425-loretta-laird

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Loretta-Laird/258280974316057

Amanda Martin: The Book Wrote Me

I write romance novels. Contemporary women’s fiction is the category I’ve decided they fit into, or maybe Chick Lit. I’ve started (and almost finished) four.  I like female protagonists in their late-twenties/early thirties (like I keep thinking I still am). My protagonists are women who are searching for their place in the world, coming to terms with realistic relationships and (lately) having children. The novels are written in the third person, often from both male and female perspectives.

So why is my first self-published novel written in the first person? By a sixteen-year-old girl? And why is it about dragons?

I didn’t set out to write the book. The book found me: Last Easter to be precise. I woke one morning, after a broken night full of strange dreams, and the entire story was in my head. Unfortunately by the time I’d wrestled past two small children to find pen and paper (or, more accurately, my mobile phone) the story had evaporated, as they so often do. I believe if I could only capture my dreams, writing would come much easier to me than it does now.

All that remained was the idea of dragons and the first line of the story.  “My name is Leah, and I know the time and place of my death.”

In the twelve months since I wrote that first line it hasn’t changed much. It now reads “My name is Leah. For a quarter of my life I have known the time and place of my death. I have spent the last four years running, from the truth, from the place. I can’t run from the time. It’s tomorrow.”

And that’s how Dragon Wraiths was born. By the beginning of May 2012 (less than a month after the dream) I had written 35,000 words and I still didn’t really understand what the novel was about. I hadn’t got to the part with the dragons. I was lost and decided Young Adult literature was not for me.

I abandoned the novel and concentrated on releasing my novel, Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes (or Pictures of Love as it was called then) as a self-published e-book.  My writing journey is interspersed with self-doubt, not just about my abilities as a writer but about combining writing with the raising two small children. I often feel that, if I’m going to send them to nursery two days a week, I should be earning money on those two days. I wanted a finished book out there earning pennies and I felt the Chick Lit novel was a better bet.

Then in July I found out about the Mslexia Children’s Novel competition and remembered my languishing YA novel. Baby Blues was with beta readers and I decided, Why not? Suddenly I had a deadline of September for completion of the first chapter and November for the finished/edited manuscript. I discovered I work best to deadlines. Generally I’m terrible at knuckling down and getting on with editing but I really wanted to enter the competition.

To cut a rambling story short I entered the Mslexia competition and was long-listed (meaning they requested the full manuscript). I didn’t make the shortlist but I was encouraged enough to pass the novel to friends and family. Their reaction was amazing. My stepdad, who is a slow reader, finished the book in a day and said “Next one, please.”

I started querying the novel, although it is over-length for a YA book at 112k words (the average is 60-70k). When that didn’t work I decided to self-publish and see what happened.

And so here I am. It’s early days, I haven’t sold many copies, but over 1200 have been downloaded during free promotion days. I’ve received several positive reviews, including one that compared Dragon Wraiths to Anne MaCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series. Praise indeed.

I’m still not sure self-publishing is for me. Or Young Adult for that matter. But I’m glad Dragon Wraiths found me, in my sleep-deprived state. I enjoyed writing and editing it more than anything I’ve done before or since. Thinking about the Happy Ever After ending still makes me smile and leaves a warm feeling in my heart. And who knows, one day it might be as famous as Dragons of Pern. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

About Dragon Wraiths

DragonWraiths2It’s the day before Leah’s sixteenth birthday. Instead of planning the perfect party she’s stuck in a shabby B&B in the middle of nowhere. She’s not worrying about pimples and presents: she has bigger things to freak her out. Like her Mother’s dying words telling her she will die on her sixteenth birthday. Spending her teenage years escaping from falling trees, burning buildings, killer bees—and the unseen enemies trying to murder her. Or falling in love with a boy who won’t admit she exists, even though they’ve been on the run together for months.

As her birthday approaches, Leah tries to piece together the events that led her there and wonders if she’ll live past lunchtime. What she doesn’t know is her future will include conspiracies, dragons, new powers: Her first kiss.

And the responsibility to save two worlds.

Available

Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble  • Smashwords

Excerpt

My name is Leah. For a quarter of my life I’ve known the time and place of my death. I’ve spent the last four years running – from the truth, from the place. I can’t run from the time. It’s tomorrow.

I look down at the words and, with a sigh, think about scrubbing them out. I sound like I’m writing a gothic novel instead of an explanation of my life. Out the window I can see a bunch of bedraggled birds lined up on the power cables like sheet music. It reminds me of tortuous piano lessons with Miss Hay. I’d probably rather be there than here right now. At least rapping my knuckles with a ruler didn’t actually kill me.

Past the power-lines, low hills fill the horizon. Not the dancing green hills I grew up with. No, these are craggy like a huddle of grumpy old men waiting for the bus. The sky is grey, the hills pewter and ochre, mixing to form a muddy palette of colours. It doesn’t feel like summer. The nearest thing to sunshine is the gold swirling pattern on the curtains. I know if I turn around to face the room I will see the matching bedspread and frilly lampshade. It’s a wretched place to spend what could be my last day on Earth.

Uncle Theo says he chose this place, “for the location, Leah, not the décor.” Just as well.

They’re downstairs, Luke and Theo. I wonder what they’re talking about. What is there left to say? Either we’ve done enough, and I’m far enough away to escape my fate, or this time tomorrow they’ll be heading back south without me. It doesn’t seem the basis for a jolly conversation.

About the Author

AmandaMartinHeadshotAmanda Martin was born in Hertfordshire in 1976. After graduating with first class honours from Leeds University she wandered around the world trying to find her place in it. She tried various roles, in England and New Zealand, including Bar Manager, Marketing Manager, Consultant and Artist before deciding that WriterMummy summed her up best. She lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, two children and labradoodle Kara. She can mostly be found at http://writermummy.wordpress.com

Contacts

Blog: http://writermummy.wordpress.com

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WriterMummy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterMummy

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B00BSPIVC0

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6917684.Amanda_T_Martin

Website: www.amanda-martin.co.uk

Check out Amanda’s previous post on Susana’s Morning Room

Interview With Amanda Martin and “Two-Hundred Steps Home”

Jane Routley and “Mage Heart”

Kitten Avignon

Fantasy Vogue interviews one of the main characters in Jane Routley’s Mage Heart.

It’s just past midday in a quiet quarter of Gallia and I’m sitting in a comfortable green velvet and gilt armchair in a pale green salon. Across from me sits a very beautiful woman in a gown with a tight high-necked bodice that rises from huge swirling skirts of aqua green silk.  Her collar and neck are trimmed with just a hint of extremely expensive Morian lace, but other than the huge diamond ring on her finger, she is dressed with surprising plainness.

The fascinating Kitten Avignon, actress, courtesan, painter’s muse, fashion icon and paramour of Gallian ruler Duke Leon Saar, rarely grants interviews but today she’s made an exception for Fantasy Vogue.

Vogue – There are so many rumours of your early life, Madame Avignon. Everyone knows you come from the great Western Empire of Aramaya. Most people say you were born on the streets of Akieva, yet there are persistent rumours that you are somehow related to the Aramayan Ambassador, Prince Deserov.

Madame A – I have heard those rumours.  I doubt the Prince would thank you for spreading them.  I am a person of quite humble birth, although not a street urchin.

Vogue – How humble?

Madame A – Twinkling smile.  Humble enough to want to keep it to myself, darling. I was forced to go into the theatre at quite a young age to keep the wolf from the door.

Vogue – So why was it that the Ambassador’s wife Princess Deserov fainted when she first saw you?

Madame A – Laughter  Mere coincidence. The poor lady was simply taken ill.

Madame A is an expert fencer and not just with words.

Vogue – Rumour also has it that you are an accomplished swordswoman.

Madame A – I could not say as to my abilities, but I do follow the discipline. A wonderful way to stay fit. I was very well taught by a Soprian Assassin. They have a special technique of swordplay for women and children, a way of keeping those they love safe.

Vogue – So your teacher was an “admirer” then?

Madame A More laughter  Now would be telling wouldn’t it? And I never kiss and tell. But many gentlemen have been very kind to me. The theatre has always been my first love, but if gentlemen are kind enough to give one gifts and take one to supper, why it would be churlish to decline them, wouldn’t it?

Although many call Madame Avignon a courtesan, and far worse names, she did indeed first come to popular attention in lead roles in plays such as The Countess of Faro and To Have and To Hold.  But since she has become involved with the Duke of Gallia she has retired from the theatre.

Does she miss it?

Madame A – A little at first, but my life has become very busy of late organising my Green Salon afternoon soirees, where clever and entertaining people are able to meet the Duke, and fund raising for the women’s charity hospital at St Belkis.

When first Vogue learned of the project we were startled that a great fashionista like Madame Avignon, a lady with the ear of the Duke, should bother herself with the poor.

Madame A -Back in Aramaya the great families always took an interest in the poor and the work of the Church. It was a way of showing their piety. Being from a very humble background as I am, I have a great deal to thank nuns for.

Style icon all the way, many of the great families of Gallia have begun to take an interest in the charitable activities of St Belkis nunnery. Perhaps they are encouraged by the way the common people cheer Kitten Avignon when she rides through the streets.  Perhaps they just want to curry favour with the Duke.

The women of the great families also copy Madame A rich unfussy elegance and far less flashy jewelery is now worn in Gallia since her ascendency.

Vogue – So Madame Avignon, the important question. Shoes or bags?  Which do you dote on more?

Madame A – Oh darling they’re both lovely but for me it’s always hats.  The bigger and more befeathered the better.  A theatrical person like me likes to make a little splash when she enters a room and nothing says glamorous like a really marvelous hat.

But rumour has it that her world is not all wonderful clothes and lovely parties. There are whispers that the lovely Kitten is in danger and that the Duke has insisted that she take on a magical bodyguard, Mademoiselle Dion, a plain quiet little thing, whom I glimpsed in the hallway when I cam in.

Madame A – Oh Mademoiselle Dion, yes she’s a sweet young creature and yet such a powerful mage.  Truly I think she may be one of the greatest mages on the peninsula.  Yet she was moldering away at the College of Mages because Gallians cannot believe a woman can be a powerful mage and they can find no proper position for her. Such a waste. I expressed my concern to the Duke and he agreed with me. He decided to place her with me, since I live so quietly now. She is learning the ways of society and in a while we shall see if we can find her a position really worthy of her talents, even if it is back in Aramaya.

Something in this story does not ring true. Hard to believe that a position in Kitten Avignon’s household would recommend Mademoiselle Dion to any respectable family. 

Vogue – Some say that you are in magical danger from a necromancer you offended back in Aramaya.  They say that’s why you came to Gallia in the first place.

She’s still smiling but I sense I’ve hit a nerve.  The laughter has gone out of her eyes.

Madame A – Oh they say, they say. The things they say. I mean they say I have breasts like watermelons. I mean, do these (She gestures at her chest) look like watermelons to you. Watermelons, I ask you. How uncomfortable would that be?  Now I fear you must excuse me.  Duke Leon is expecting me at the Palace soon and I must get ready. Thank you so much for a lovely interview.

She rings a little bell and a neatly dressed maid comes to lead me to the door. 

It is only as I am stepping down the graceful front steps that I realise that amidst all the humour over watermelons, she has not actually denied the rumours of a necromancer.   

About Mage Heart

Ticonderoga Publications and Clan Destine Press are very happy to announce the re-release of Jane Routley’s Chronicles of Dion trilogy.

mageheartFirst published between 1996 and 1999,  Ticonderoga and Clan Destine Press have brought these books back into print in 2011 as quality trade paperbacks and ebooks.

The trilogy comprises Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya. Fire Angels and Aramaya won the Aurealis Awards for Best Fantasy Novel in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

The Chronicles of Dion tell the story of Dion Holyhands. Provincial and naive—and the most powerful mage in the realm—young Dion is an innocent adrift in a world of intrigues and treacheries; a world where foul, hungry demons lurk just beyond the borders.

In Mage Heart, she has been called upon to serve her Duke’s favourite mistress: the extraordinary Kitten Avignon, Our Lady of Roses. The mesmerizing courtesan is a woman in dire jeopardy, stalked by a fearsome necromancer, who will not sleep until his beautiful prey suffers horribly and is destroyed.

And with Evil’s night approaching, shielding the Lady and herself from harm will require every ounce of a power Dion is only beginning to recognize and fear; a great gift suddenly imperiled by blossoming womanhood and dangerous desire.

Publishers Weekly: One of the genres bright new stars… Routley produces a fantasy that can be read for more than myth or pyrotechnics… While many fantasists simply add magic to political intrigue, Routley’s are noteworthy for the natural and inevitable intertwining of the two.  Well drawn backgrounds and characters add to the appeal.”

Ticonderoga Editor Russell B Farr: Jane Routley’s trilogy make for gripping reading, full of wonder, intrigue, romance and magic. I picked up Mage Heart and didn’t come up for air until I’d finished Fire Angels—we were visiting friends at the time and I wasn’t a very sociable guest, but I was very happy.

Print edition from Ticonderoga Publications through Indie Books Online http://www.indiebooksonline.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=131

Ebook edition : http://clandestinepress.com.au

About the Author

CD46Jane was born in Melbourne, Australia, went to Preshil, Strathcona, and Monash University where she studied history, and RMIT where she became a Librarian.

Jane has had a variety of careers, including Fruit Picker and Occult Librarian and she lived in Germany and Denmark for a decade.

Now back in her beloved Melbourne, working on the railways and living in a garden full of birds, Jane is the author of four books: Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya—as Jane Routley; and The Three Sisters as Rebecca Locksley.

Clan Destine Press is releasing Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya as the eBook trilogy: The Dion Chronicles.

Fire Angels and Aramaya won the 1998 and 1999 Aurealis Awards for Best Fantasy novels.

Her short stories have been widely anthologised, appeared in Meanjin and have been read on the ABC.

Jane also writes under the pseudonym SoftSenta for the Church of the Immaculate Confection chocolate site.

Her favorite writers are Jane Austen, Angela Carter, Sara Douglass, and Janet Evanovich and Jane’s current life ambition is to see an erupting volcano. (Everyone at Clan Destine fervently hopes she means from a safe distance!)

http://www.janeroutley.com

rebeccalocksley@netspace.net.au

Doing What You Have To Do: Guest Author Shay Lacy and “Sacrificed To Ecstasy”

A hearty welcome to my fellow Maumee Valley RWA member Shay Lacy, who also happens to be a new author with Ellora’s Cave. Shay has had a marvelously successful year, having released books with Crimson Romance and Lyrical Press, among others. Today is the release day for her erotic romance quickie, Sacrificed To Ecstasy.

Content Warning: If you are under 18 or offended by male nudity, you may not wish to scroll through the excerpt.

Last week was an emotional one for most Americans watching news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. I applaud the news services I watched for highlighting the small acts of heroism—everyday people simply doing what must be done to save a life. People who shed thoughts of self to answer a cry of pain. People who saw a need and responded. People who did the right thing with no thought of glory, fame or compensation, or risk to self. Everyday heroes. Everyone has it inside themselves to help the world in some way.

This is what my heroine does in Sacrificed to Ecstasy. One simple, everyday woman sees a need, hears a cry, feels another’s pain and responds. I love my heroine’s heart. Rayan considers the needs of other people before her own. She empathizes with people who are suffering. I love that nothing stops her from persevering. I love that she can still dream of being more than she is now. Finally, I love that she’s a romantic, wanting a man to cherish her.

Such a man I’ve given her. Take a look and tell me this man doesn’t make your heart pound.

Excerpt

“Are you alone, child?” There was a note of censure in the priestess voice.

“I was traveling with my betrothed.”

The priestess caught up to Rayan and walked by her side. “My name is Elida. What are you called?”

“Rayan.”

“Meaning dawn of the sun. Where are you from, child?”

“Elderhaven, near the plains. Raiders destroyed it six months ago. My family fled with the few other people who survived. We’ve traveled since then, trying to find a safe place to live.”

“A too familiar tale, unfortunately. If only there was someone to fulfill the gods’ prophecy that could save us.”

The brown lump in the distance distracted Rayan’s attention from asking about the prophecy. Her betrothed, Faram. She waited for a stab of grief, but felt only a faint sadness, mostly for the hopes that died with him, for a purpose to her life, for a home and a man who might love her some day. She’d run farther than she’d imagined. She hadn’t known she had such speed in her. It was amazing what a person could do when they had to.

She’d been desperate to reach the mountain to save her, and in a way it had.

When they reached Faram’s crumpled form she sank to her knees beside him. Death had twisted his facial features from plain to gruesome. Scarlet soaked the tunic on his chest around the ugly hole where he’d been stabbed. He’d tried to protect her, and to some extent had succeeded. At least she could say that about him.

“I’m sorry, child. I know there is little to ease your sorrow over his loss. But you have good memories of him.”

“I only met him three days ago, when he bought me from my family.” Rayan looked up at Elida. She didn’t want the priestess to misunderstand. “I’m not a slave. My family was starving. We had no home, no work, no food. I’m of age to marry and Faram’s wife had died. He needed someone to keep his home while he traveled. I offered myself as his wife for food for my family. It was an honorable trade.”

The priestess nodded. “Many such beginnings become strong marriages. It is a pity, though, that you did not have time to create children together. Although that hope might yet be realized. You had three days, after all.”

Rayan shook her head. “We were not yet married. Faram was taking me to his village temple to be married there. I asked him to wait until after the vows were spoken.”

Elida’s sharpened gaze pierced Rayan. “You are a virgin?”

“Of course.”

Elida shook her head. “There is no ‘of course’ in these violent times. How did you escape unscathed from your village?”

“My parents dressed my younger sister and me as boys. I begged Faram to allow me to continue the charade, but he said I was to be his wife and should dress like it.” She would not lay blame on his dead corpse.

“A virgin.” The priestess spoke in an awed tone. “Do you know Vashon’s prophecy?”

“No. We worshipped the other gods. I need to gather our belongings.”

“Yes. We should be gone from this place as quickly as possible,” the priestess agreed with startling alacrity. “We will take you with us.”

Rayan took a deep breath and dove her hands into the folds of Faram’s clothes. She wouldn’t keep what she found—she’d return it to his family. She owed it to them to report what had happened to him. She wouldn’t impose on them, but maybe they could help her find sanctuary somewhere.

The raiders had managed to steal his money belt before running her down. She’d have to ask the children if they’d found it when they searched the bodies.

She removed Faram’s ring and the few items he carried that the raiders hadn’t had time to steal—his merchant ledger, his metal fire starter, and his leather water bladder. Standing she looked around for her small bundle of clothes and the horse that carried the merchandise Faram peddled. She spotted the clothes a few feet away, but the horse wasn’t within sight in any direction. She remembered hearing it whinny in fright. It was probably halfway to the nearest village by now, if other raiders hadn’t caught it. Faram had been proud of the spirited brown beast. A more placid animal might not have wandered far or bolted. She must not speak ill of Faram now.

The children arrived as she reclaimed her bundle. With a calm moment to study them Rayan saw how poor and ill-fed they were. Their bones showed clearly under their skin. Their dingy gray clothing was stitched and patched to repair tears. She decided not to ask about Faram’s money belt. They needed it more than she did.

sacrificedtoecstasy_9781419943799_msrThe children glanced from Faram’s body to Rayan to Elida. Elida shook her head. “This is Rayan’s betrothed. His belongings are hers.”

Rayan insisted, “It’s all right. Take anything you want. I have what I need.” She tucked Faram’s belongings into hers.

The children looked again to Elida for permission. “Do so, but hurry. We must start back to the village. These raiders might have been part of a larger group.”

As the children knelt beside Faram’s body, the priestess took a protective stance with her staff held ready. She nodded toward the children. “The boy is Barnd, the brown-haired girl Davina and the blonde is Sylvan. Their families thank you for your charity.”

“I hope they will consider it enough for food and lodging for one night.”

“Child, you can afford many years of lodging if you would fulfill Vashon’s prophecy.”

“I own nothing but clothing. Faram’s things are not mine to barter. I am a simple merchant’s daughter with no shop and no merchandise. I have nothing of value to any of the gods, especially the god of fertility. My betrothed is dead and I told you I never lay with him.”

“And that is what you have to offer that is priceless.”

Sacrificed To Ecstasy is currently available on Ellora’s Cave and soon on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major e-book retailers.

http://www.ellorascave.com/sacrificed-to-ecstasy.html

Shay LacyAbout the Author

Multi-published author Shay Lacy lives in northwest Ohio with her photographer/graphic designer husband. She loves following the man of her dreams with a camera in hand and a pen and notebook in her backpack. Sensible secretary by day, romance author by night, when not lost in her imagination, or reading a good book, she is likely researching her next book with a SWAT team ride-along or a visit to a DNA lab.

Contacts 

Website: www.shaylacy.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/shay.lacy.7?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShayLacy1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/342562.Shay_Lacy