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Stepping Back in Time

Shelley, Bangui, CAR

I’m stepping back in time today with a photo of me taken in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Several local ladies visited our camp and offered to braid hair. I kept mine in for about three weeks. When I’d had enough of braids and unfastened them, I had the hair style from hell. The worst hair day ever!

Today I’m visiting Keira Kohl with Julia Maxwell, the heroine of Past Regrets. There’s also a giveaway.

Have you ever had your hair done in braids?

Play Me – A Sports Romance by Diane Alberts

Play Me by Diane Alberts

Today I’d like to welcome author Diane Alberts with her new contemporary romance release Play Me. Welcome, Diane!

Thank you so much for having me here today to talk about Play Me!

Give us an elevator pitch for your book, Play Me.

It’s about a woman who’s scared to fall in love, and the childhood friend who refuses to give up on her, no matter what she throws at him.

Where did the inspiration for Play Me come from, and how much research did you need to do during the writing of your sports romance?

Ironically enough, the idea came from a Twitter conversation! I tweeted that I was spending Valentine’s Day on the bleachers of a middle school basketball game for my teen, and a friend said there had to be a romance book in that somewhere. Next thing I knew? I had Garrett and Kiersten in my head.

What do you think are the characteristics of a good hero in a romance?

He has to be strong, stubborn, and willing to admit he’s wrong. And, above all, once he meets the heroine, no other woman can exist in his eyes. It’s all about her, even if he’d previously been playboy of the worst sort.

Describe the sights, sounds and scents we might experience if we were to visit Garrett Kelly during a normal day.

He’d smell like cologne, and he’d more than likely have red pen on his hands from correcting papers. He’d be twitchy toward the end of the day, because it would be time to go play ball. And, above all, he’d shoot you the brightest, hottest smile you’d ever seen.

Play Me is a friends-to-lovers story. What is your favorite plot type to write and why?

I love when the hero falls in love with his best friend’s sister (which is also in the book). It will always be my favorite trope to read and write. I love waiting to see how the brother reacts, and what happens after the truth comes out.

Is there any part of the writing process that you find particularly challenging and why?

The beginning of a book is always the slowest for me. You have to lay the groundwork for why they are the way they are, and it takes a lot of time and concentration. It also says how they will react to everything you throw at them throughout the whole book.

Describe your writing area to us. Is there any one thing you must have before you start writing each day?

I have my desk set up in the dining room, and it has some of my books in the one corner. On the other, I have a small Thor action figure (My hubby got it for me, because I love Thor) and an Eiffel tower light. I put my coffee on a candle warmer, and then the words all flow.

What project(s) are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a few more contemporary romance books for Entangled Publishing, and a New Adult book as well, written under Jen McLaughlin.

And now, here’s a question from Diane for you – So, tell me! What is your favorite quality in a hero?

CONTEST – Diane is giving away an e-book – Winner’s choice of a pdf of Try Me (Take a Chance #1) or Love Me (Take a Chance #2). To enter the draw answer Diane’s question above or ask her one of your own in the comments section.

clip_image002Play Me

Take a Chance Book 3
Diane Alberts

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Date of Publication: July 29, 2013

ISBN: 9781622661923

ASIN: B00DTDH8X2

Number of pages: 120

Cover design by L.J.Anderson

Amazon BN

Book Description:

Even the best-laid plans can go awry.

Single-mom Kiersten Worth knows a bottle of champagne and night of hot, no-strings-attached sex is the perfect solution to her jilted bride blues…and Garrett Kelly, long-time friend and her teenaged son’s sexy basketball coach, is just the stud for the job.

Garrett wants more from the elusive temptress than a casual affair, but he never expects it to come in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. When he proposes an unorthodox solution—move in and raise their baby together—Kiersten has to decide whether to let down her guard and open her heart to the man who secretly loved her for years, or risk losing his tender embrace for good.

Books in the Take a Chance Series:

Try Me: Take a Chance Book 1

Love Me: Take a Chance Book 2

Play Me: Take a Chance Book 3

clip_image004About the Author:

Diane Alberts has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author.  Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another.

She is a multi-published, bestselling author with Entangled Publishing, Swoon Romance, and Decadent Publishing. She has, as of this date, four books with Entangled Publishing, one book with Swoon Romance, and five older books with Decadent Publishing. Her February release with Entangled Publishing, ON ONE CONDITION, hit #18 on the Barnes and Noble Bestseller List, and TRY ME hit #76 on Amazon. Her Swoon Romance novella, CAPTIVATED BY YOU, hit #31 on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list.  Her goal is to write so many fantastic books that even a non-romance book fan will know her name.

She also writes New Adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. Diane is represented by Louise Fury from the L. Perkins Agency.

Website: www.dianealberts.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeAlberts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianeAlberts6

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5081315.Diane_Alberts

A Supernatural Caged City: Enter at your peril!

Kenya WrightKenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university. However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

Now Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.

1. Welcome, Kenya! Give us an elevator pitch for your book Fire Baptized.

Lanore is a Mixbreed that lives in a supernatural caged city. One night, she stumbles upon a murder and catches the killer’s attention. She spends the rest of the novel trying to discover the murderer’s identity.

2. Describe the sights, sounds and scents we might experience if we were to visit Lanore when she’s with other shifters during a normal day.

Sounds: The caged city is called The Santeria Habitat and is based on the Santeria religion. You’ll hear supernaturals chanting spells, drumming wooden drums shaped like hour glasses, and dancing to salsa music.

Sights: The caged city is divided into five districts. Each district is themed after a Santeria god’s colors and favorite items. In Shango District the buildings are painted in the god Shango’s favorite color orange. Even the hookers strolling around in different shades of orange. His favorite wife is Oshun so the eastern part of his district is in her favorite color, gold.

Scents: If you walk near Linderman’s Blood Factory, you’ll be assaulted by the scent of blood. If you’re lucky enough to travel toward Oshun boulevard, you’ll smell roasted meats and honey cakes.

3. How do you go about developing your characters? Do you normally start with a character or the plot?

I always start with the character and then create the plot.

I have a ten page questionnaire that I fill out for each character. Some of the questions ask about the character’s personality and story goals others are fun and ask things like “what would this character have on their book shelf?” or “what would this character have a nightmare about?”.

4. Is there any part of the writing process that you find particularly challenging and why?

I hate the revision process. I always have to cut away parts of the story. I always wish I could just keep it all, but in the end, information dumps and tedious conversation is boring to the reader.

5. What is it you like about writing urban fantasy, and what advice would you give to an aspiring author wanting to write in this genre?

Urban fantasy allows you to combine three genres together; mystery, fantasy, and romance. I love that I can include all of that into one book.

My advice to other authors is to have as many people as possible read your work before you publish it, and actually listen to what they say, whether you like it or not.

6. What do you like doing besides writing and reading? Is it dangerous?

This is so sad, but as soon as I saw this question I thought… sex. That was the most immediate answer that popped in my mind, so I’m going to go with it.

Hmmmm…. Is the sex dangerous?

Well, it is always with my husband and he’s a pretty careful dude. So I would say no. (Although it was that one time on the roof with a toilet plunger, but…. Just joking. Lol!)

Now a question from Kenya for you:

I am always on the hunt for a great book. I just read Angel Fall which was outstanding. I’m wondering if I could get some good 2012 Indie recommendations.

Fire Baptized Virtual Blog Tour

CONTEST:

Answer Kenya’s question above to go into a draw to win a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate. The prize will be drawn at the conclusion of Kenya’s tour. To increase your chances of winning follow the rest of Kenya’s Virtual blog tour.


Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright Blurb:

Since the 1970’s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend Meshach and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

See a book trailer for Fire Baptized.

Purchase Fire Baptized

Recipe: Orange and Cranberry Biscuits

First things first, before I get to my post today – I’m visiting Get Lost in a Story and talking about my recent release, Cat Burglar in Training. I’m also doing a giveaway. I hope to see you there!

Weekend Cooking MemeWeekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love and is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. On Saturday mornings, publish your post — perhaps a cookbook review or maybe just some favorite food-related quotes.

Make sure to leave a link, so we can read what you have to say. I hope you’ll join in when your weekend (or recent) reading or movie watching fits in with the theme. Remember, the definition of Weekend Cooking is free and easy, if you think your post even remotely fits the theme, grab the button and sign in to Mr. Linky.


Author Maria Zannini shared this recipe with me a few weeks ago. The cranberry and orange combination works really well. Luckily this recipe makes a large batch of biscuits because they taste delicious!

 

Cranberry Biscuits with Orange Frosting

Cranberry Biscuits with Orange Frosting

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar/white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter softened/8 ounces
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 Tablespoon orange juice
1 egg

Mix all the above together using either spoon or electric mixer. Then stir in:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Then stir in:
2 cups chopped cranberries

Heat the oven to 375 F. Grease cookie sheets. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls on the cookie sheets. Keep about 2" between them.

Bake 12-14 minutes. Cool them on wire racks for at least 30 minutes.

When they are cool, frost them with a mixture of:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar/icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
enough orange juice to make a soft spreadable frosting.

Sharing recipes is a lot of fun, and this one is going into my keeper file. Do you have a favorite recipe that you received from a friend?

A Chat With Leah Braemel

My special guest today is Leah Braemel, a friend and fellow author at Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Leah has a new release out called Texas Tangle. It’s currently locked and loaded on my reader, and I can’t wait to find time to read it. Meantime, I asked Leah a few probing questions about herself and her writing. I think she deserves a medal – any woman who lives in a household of males is definitely braver than me!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

That’s good that you asked for me to tell a little, because there’s not much to tell. I’m the only Canadian-born member of my family – my mother, father and sister are all English. I’ve been married for 32 years and hope to last another 64 (only half-kidding on that one) and have two sons who have just finished school (one high school, one college) but still live at home. Oh, and I have a cat, Spike, who is very disgusted that my lap is often taken by my laptop instead of him. (If you noticed, they’re all males, even the cat. So no frilly stuff in this household. They won’t even allow flowers on the wallpaper, the upholstery or the curtains. Plain colors only please. Talk about testosterone poisoning.)

As for my writing…I wrote my first story when I was around seven. My sister and I were addicted to a brand new science fiction show called Star Trek. (Yes, this is during its first run, before it was known as “The Original Series.” My sister was so enamored of it that she started writing her own scripts. That was the first time I twigged to the fact that people wrote books, that I could write down the stories that I’d tell myself when I went to bed each night. I wrote down one of my ideas and showed it to my sister who was my very first critic. She was also my last critic because after that horrific review (which was probably dead on the mark) I vowed to never show anyone my writing Ever. Again. And I didn’t. For close to 40 years. Oh, I wrote lots of non-fiction manuals for my job, and I wrote newsletters and articles and such, but my fiction I kept hidden and didn’t dare show anyone until the mid 90s. I can’t remember why I trusted that particular friend with my writing but she told me I should try to get published. But I blew her off. “Everyone’s trying to get a book published, I wouldn’t stand a chance” I told her. And I kept that stance until about 2004 when I met a lady on line who was trying to get published. I showed her a bit of my writing and she also encouraged me to get published. She became my critique partner, but after opening her first critique I wondered how the heck she thought I could get published, there were comments made on every line. Of course, she was right on the money and soon I’d learned about showing versus telling, and passive verbs versus active verbs. Then she did the unthinkable. Because I’d been waffling about actually submitting any of my work to an editor or agent, she issued a dare. Next thing I knew I was registered for the 2007 RWA conference and had an appointment with an editor who asked to see a partial of my story.

Texas TangleYour new book, Texas Tangle, is a ménage a trois. What attracted you to write a ménage a trois?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Texas Tangle wasn’t supposed to be a menage until Brett walked in as a secondary character. Then one thing led to another, LOL, and the story demanded it. Menages are always a challenge to me because although I do know a few couples (triples?) who have had them in real life, they’re not generally socially acceptable. After Private Property came out, I had a reader mention that she’d loves to read about menages that end up turning long term, so I played around a bit with Texas Tangle to see if I could find a situation where I could see it being an obvious solution that all parties could live with.

Where did the idea for Texas Tangle come from?

Partly from a trip to Texas I took a few years back, and partly because I love the rural way of life (I was raised on a farm.) As for Nikki’s being robbed, that’s drawn straight from real life — being robbed, excuse me, burgled, steals more than your belongings, they steal your peace of mind. I’ve known quite a few women very similar to Nikki and a couple like both Brett and Dillon, so when I started writing the story, they just seemed naturals for that setting.

What do you tell people when they ask you about writing love scenes or ask the inevitable question of your husband – do you do all that stuff?

It sometimes depends on how I’m feeling or how they ask. Most times I laugh it off and say I have an active imagination and my husband grins and says he loves being my research assistant. There have occasionally been people who are a little more judgmental in their questioning so I have to bite my tongue and not ask them if they would ask Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben how many people they’ve killed in real life researching their stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to Mr. Deaver or Mr. Coben, of course.)

What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

Depends upon the season — throughout the winter, sitting inside by the fireplace, curled up beside my hubby watching a movie. In the summer? If it’s too hot, then I’m sitting inside curled up beside my hubby writing while he watches golf.

What tip would you give to an aspiring writer who is just starting their writing journey?

Write! Seriously. You can’t find your voice until you’ve written for a while. And if you do plan on getting published at some point you have to have something finished to submit to an editor. That can only be accomplished by writing until you can type those two lovely words “The End.” (Then the editing begins, but that’s another story.)

If you want to know more about Leah, her website is at http://LeahBraemel.com and her blog is at http://leahbraemel.blogspot.com. They can also follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

And here’s an excerpt from Texas Tangle

Brett reached for Dillon’s front door then stopped. Why couldn’t Dillon have been home? At least that way he knew he could control himself. Even though he’d stayed away a full month, he still hadn’t gotten her out from under his skin.

Get it over with. Give her the news, then stay far away.

He lifted his hand and after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on the door. Maybe he’d get lucky, and she wouldn’t be here. Maybe she’d gone into town with Dillon.

The door creaked open, and there she was, wearing one of the white shirts he’d left behind, a pair of cut-offs beneath. She’d left the top three buttons undone, giving him a tantalizing view of her cleavage. His cock punched against his zipper at the thought of unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, of spreading the fabric wide and tasting her nipples.

Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to Dillon on a plate?

“Brett?” She looked startled to see him. “Come on in.”

He followed her into the kitchen, watched her fiddle with the coffee maker. Nikki never fiddled and, more importantly, she wasn’t looking at him. He made her nervous. Did she worry he might try something on her again?

His fists clenched at the thought that he might have scared her, made her think he might take what she wasn’t willing to give.

“I didn’t mean to drive you away.” She made a gesture of impatience. “I’m sorry, I’m being selfish. I just…I’ve missed you.”

The heated blood racing through his veins headed south when she smoothed her hands down her front, tightening the fabric over her breasts, accentuating that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

Did she realize how beautiful she was with the color high in her cheeks when she blushed? Longing spun his senses until he felt like he’d been caught in a twister, especially when she turned those soulful eyes on him. The lost tone in her voice cut right through him, pierced defenses he didn’t know he’d erected.

Purchase Texas Tangle from Carina Press

Leah is giving away a download of her ebook Private Property to one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the draw is either ask Leah a question or tell us what you say to people who give you a hard time about reading romance. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 14th of July.

Interview with agent Holly Root

Today my special guest is agent Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency.

Shelley: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become an agent?

Holly: I actually had no idea that “agent” was a job until after I’d already landed in publishing. When I moved to New York I knew I was interested in trying something a little different than the editorial work I’d been doing, and that led me to make my way to the agency side. Agency work allowed me to work with authors shaping their books but also shaping their careers.

Shelley: What are the most recent books you’ve sold?

Holly: This summer was busy with renewing contracts for clients at Pocket, Grand Central, Harlequin and elsewhere, and that’s always fun, seeing an author’s series continued. I have some great debut fiction heading out on submission soon too.

Shelley: You’re going on holiday. What books do you take with you for your reading pleasure?

Holly: If I were leaving tomorrow I’d take the four books at the top of my TBR pile: Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl, Malinda Lo’s Ash and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Unfortunately there are no holidays planned soon!

Shelley: A query letter is very important these days. What mistakes or problems do you see in the query letters you receive?

Holly: Most are just not quite ready for prime time—clear first drafts, or letters that lay out the entire plot to less than stirring effect. I also see many letters that say, “Writing this was very therapeutic.” I find most authors feel that way, but it doesn’t affect the market appeal of the work so it doesn’t belong in your query.

Shelley: How would you describe your ideal client?

Holly: Crazy talented as a writer, thoughtful as a person, and cool-headed enough for the wild ride we’re about to go on together. Ideally we’d also have similar communication styles; nothing is harder than working on a subjective endeavor like fiction with someone who doesn’t speak your language editorially.

Shelley: Do you offer editorial advice for your clients?

Holly: Yes. We do at least some editing before every submission. Once there’s an editor involved, I defer to that person so as not to have extra voices whispering in the author’s ear while writing, but I am always available for advice, even if the advice is just “write it and see.”

Shelley: A lot of aspiring authors struggle with high concept and the fact agents and editors are looking for a high concept in submissions. What is your advice to writers with regard to high concept and how would you define it?

Holly: I actually did a blog post on just this question, so I’ll refer readers here: http://waxmanagency.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/recipe-for-success-high-concept/

Shelley: For authors who live outside America, one problem that comes up is setting. Is a US setting necessary or does it depend on the genre?

Holly: That’s an excellent question. For contemporary genre fiction I think a setting outside of America is a bit tougher sell, but of course historicals (mystery, romance, general fiction) have often, even primarily been set outside our borders. If you’re in the more upmarket fiction market there’s more openness to settings beyond the US as well.

Shelley: What is your best craft tip for aspiring authors wanting to submit to an agent?

Holly: 90% of writing is rewriting. I don’t know that it ever gets easier, but I know that the more you learn to self-edit and polish, the stronger you’ll be at those skills.

Shelley: Thank you very much, Holly!

For more information about the Waxman Literary Agency, and up-to-date details of genres they represent or would like to see in the future, check out their website and blog.

Interview with Meankitty

Cats Next 10 Miles

I visited Jody Wallace and Meankitty today. Meankitty asked me some tricky and probing questions. My interview is here.

Interview, Threesomes & Touch of Fire

Author, Selena Illyria is having a menage a trois week. I was really excited when she asked me to participate. Here’s the link for my post here.

I also have an interview over at D. Renee Bagby’s The Multiverse’s Archival Chambers

Pop back tomorrow to see if you’re the winner in my blog participation contest. Nothing like a little suspense!

And finally, check out Maria Zannini’s book coming to a store near you in May…

THE APOCALYPSE IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
Buy TOUCH OF FIRE by Maria Zannini
www.mariazannini.com

Interview with my character, Jonno Campbell

Would you like to meet Jonno Campbell from Cat Burglar? He’s visiting…maybe I should say flirting with Alyssa Brooks today.

Here are the links: MySpace and at Alyssa’s website.

Interview: Emily Gee

Thief With No Shadow by Emily GeeTHIEF WITH NO SHADOW is New Zealander, Emily Gee’s debut book. I caught up with Emily and asked about her recent release.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your new release, THIEF WITH NO SHADOW.

Me? Well, I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying–everything from ancient Greek to canine behaviour to geophysics. I love to travel, and have lived in Sweden, worked in Scotland, and backpacked in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Currently I’m home in New Zealand and have a job in the wine industry in Marlborough.

THIEF is a dark and romantic fantasy novel. It’s set in a world where magic runs in certain bloodlines and nightmarish creatures live alongside men. The heroine Melke is a wraith and can become unseen. She’s forced to steal in order to save her brother’s life. Unfortunately her theft has devastating consequences….
Read the rest of this entry ?



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