Missy Jane | BORN OF MAGIC: Character Interview

Spoilers Ahead

Missy Jane: Today we’re talking to Master Wynnston and Master Kephas, the two heroes of Born of Magic. Welcome gentlemen, and thank you for the interview. I know you’re both quite busy.

Wynn: (chuckles) Thank you, Missy. I wouldn’t say we’re very busy at the moment. Kephas has his royal wedding approaching, but I’m free so long as Zephara doesn’t need me.

Kephas: (groans) Gods, don’t remind me of the wedding. Do you realize the entire kingdom has been invited?

Missy: Aren’t you excited?

Kephas: Not at all. I’d much rather steal my bride away and have a quick handfasting like Nel did. He avoided all of the crowds and fuss that way.

Wynn: The king would kill you.

Kephas: (sighs) Yes, I know. So instead I’m allowing the royal house of Kadmos to plan out the most important day of my life… I can’t wait for it to be over.

Missy: (laughs) Let’s talk about the journey you both had to take to find your women. Was it a surprise that you found women so compatible and irresistible?

Kephas: Yes.

Wynn: Absolutely. But it was a relief as well. We have watched Orestes and Nel with their women, and they all seem so happy and content.

Kephas: Not that any of us realized we were missing anything before they found them.

Wynn: True. It took us all by surprise when Orestes admitted how attached he’d grown to his little human lover.

Kephas: (snort) Never let him hear you call her that. Ever.

Wynn: (chuckles) Well she is small, even for a human. Anyway, their attachment was a complete surprise. More so because he was never in the habit of taking human lovers as some of our other brothers were. But the attachment was undeniable. I have to confess, I was quite envious.

Kephas: I as well. But now we have nothing to be envious of.

Missy: True. Neither of you had an easy time of it though, but I guess you would both say it was worth it?

Kephas: Oh, certainly.

Wynn: Without a doubt. I’d walk through the many hells to find my Zephara if the need ever arose.

Missy: Aww, that’s so sweet.

Kephas: (snorts) More likely she would fight her way out before you finished putting your boots on, brother.

Wynn: (chuckles) True. She is amazing. It’s a bit daunting at times that she doesn’t need my strength.

Missy: I’m sure she still appreciates it, as well as your many other fine attributes.

Kephas: (rolls eyes) Now you’re going to swell his head so bit it won’t fit through the door and you’ll be stuck here with him. Besides, he’s not that wonderful.

Missy: (giggles)

Wynn: He’s just jealous. But thank you for the compliment. Zephara is a very fine woman and one of the most amazing wizards I’ve ever met. I’m truly a lucky man.

Missy: I’d say you’re both lucky men. A princess and a wizard. You can’t do much better than that, especially since you both have to spend much of your time guarding the kingdom. I’ll bet it’s a relief they can both take care of themselves.

Wynn: Mmm…

Kephas: Most of the time. Sometimes, it’s nice to know we can still step in and protect them, though.

Wynn: When they allow it, of course.

Kephas: Of course.

Missy: (chokes down a laugh) Of course. Well, thank you again for the interview, and congratulations to you both. I know you will both be very happy for a long future together with your ladies.

Both Masters: Thank you.

BORN OF MAGIC by Missy Jane

Gargoyle Masters #2

Born of Magic

Guarding the kingdom is child’s play compared to guarding their hearts.

As his month-long guard duty comes to an end, Master Wynnston should be looking forward to well-deserved time away from the king’s castle. Instead, he feels strangely reluctant to leave. When Zephara of the Pastelle race arrives, he realizes why.

The stunning, silver-eyed ambassador is the woman his heart, body, and soul have been waiting for. She’s also a powerful wizard who will endure the test of the Twenty. Wynn has never been afraid to woo a strong woman, but winning and keeping Zephara’s love will test him to the limit.

Meanwhile, pure chance has finally led Master Kephas to find the runaway Princess Theodora. But before he can return the frightened, skittish beauty to her father, he must win her trust—and her heart.

Physical strength will do Wynn and Kephas no good as they face their challenges. And two women will search deep within themselves for the strength, courage—and tenderness—to bring two powerful men to their knees.

Warning: If you’re looking for ugly stone creatures, move along—you won’t find them here. If you like hot, protective males who aren’t intimidated by strong, assertive females, settle in and turn the page.

Romance Paranormal [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: July 12, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619234628 / eISBN: 9781619234628]

About Missy Jane

Missy Jane

Ms. Missy Jane is the alter ego of a Texas mother of four who has been married to the same wonderful man for over twenty years.
A few years ago Missy finished reading a book by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, titled The Outstretched Shadow, and thought “Now, what if…” and a monster was created.
Missy now spends most of her time lost in worlds of her own making alternately loving and hating such creatures as vampires, shape-shifters and gargoyles (to name a few).
When not writing, she spends her time reading, taking photos of her four beautiful daughters and training her husband to believe she’s always right.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Missy Jane: Anyone who would like to know they full stories of Masters Wynn and Kephas just need to pick up one book, Born of Magic, now available through Samhain Publishing here

Excerpts from Missy’s paranormal and erotic tales can be found at www.authormissyjane.com and http://msmissyjane.blogspot.com/.

Would you like to win a signed print of Joel Santana’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast? Find out how here?

Gwyn Cready’s Perfect Weekend

The thing about weekends is they’re rarely perfect. The other thing about weekends, though, is if you chase perfection too hard, you’ll destroy any chance you have of achieving it. It’s sort of like a soufflé in that regard. A perfect weekend requires both underplanning and overdelivering.

Fresh Fiction pic

When I think about that elusive, never-to-be achieved perfect weekend, I think a lot about unstructured time. By unstructured, I don’t mean time in which I’m doing nothing. I am genetically incapable of doing nothing. The idea of stretching out for an hour by the pool with my eyes closed give me hives. Nor do I nap—at least not willingly–though I will occasionally nod off for five minutes in a movie. (I blame the dark.) Unstructured time means time in which I can do whatever I want for as long as I want. So, for me, the perfect weekend would be something like this:

Friday

Afternoon swim with husband. We have a heated pool at our condominium. Heaven. Better than cocktails and that’s saying A LOT.

Head to a late afternoon movie. (Yes, we’re that old.)

Head somewhere for dinner—Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, sushi, Mexican, BBQ, noodles—we like it all.

Home for a TiVoed episode of John Oliver or Sam Bee.

Read myself to sleep (Maybe three pages before the book falls out of my hand. I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I feel sorry for J.K. Rowling that my book came out the same week as hers.)

Saturday

Coffee on the terrace, preferably on a cool day, preferably with my dog at my feet. Read the newspapers.

Head to our favorite diner for poached eggs and bacon.

Unstructured morning and afternoon, but usually I’m writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing. Sometimes I make jewelry. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I’ll actually go to a bricks and mortar store to shop for clothes. Rarely I’ll knit or crochet. Even more rarely I’ll clean. Cleaning is the Sasquatch of activities.

Late afternoon swim with husband.

Make dinner. I usually do the cooking, but my husband makes a killer pad see ew.

Watch more TiVoed shows. I only really like scripted TV shows (What can I say? I’m a writer.) And I really only like good scripted TV shows—Better Call Saul, Sherlock, Silicon Valley, Veep, and, of course, Outlander.

FaceTime with darling daughter at college. (Son would rather stick a steak knife in his eye than FaceTime.) Call son. Son doesn’t answer. Text son to say I’m thinking of him. Son doesn’t respond. Resolve to believe son was touched by the message and have that be enough.

Sunday

Sleep in. Sadly, this doesn’t mean much when you’re old. My current goal: Sleep late enough that I don’t wake up before the newspaper’s been delivered.

Coffee on the terrace, dog at feet.

Head to our second favorite breakfast place—a Greek diner. Have small Greek salad and a grilled pita for breakfast. Steal a bite of gyros from husband.

Unstructured time for rest of morning and afternoon, but usually I’m writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing.

Late afternoon swim with husband.

Make dinner and curl up to watch whatever Masterpiece Theatre or HBO have going on.
Son replies to text.

Go to bed happy.

EVERY TIME WITH A HIGHLANDER by Gwyn Cready

Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands

Every Time with a Highlander

Third in the Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series from Gwyn Cready, the “master of time travel romance” (Booklist)

She can work her magic on any man

In a quest to bring peace to her beloved Scottish borderlands, fortune-teller and spy Undine Douglas agrees to marry a savage English colonel. Desperate to delay the wedding long enough to undermine the army’s plans, Undine casts a spell to summon help and unexpectedly finds herself under the imperious gaze of the handsome and talented Michael Kent, twenty-first century British theater director.

But in this production, he commands the action

Though he abandoned acting years ago, Michael will play whatever part it takes to guard Undine’s safety—he’s used to managing London’s egocentric actors and high-handed patrons, after all. But not even Shakespeare could have foreseen the sparks that fly when the colonel’s plans force Undine and Michael into the roles of their lifetimes.

Romance Time Travel [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492601999 / eISBN: 9781492602002]

About Gwyn Cready

Gwyn Cready

Gwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.

Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands

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Amanda Bouchet | Laugh / Cry – What emotions were stirred in A PROMISE OF FIRE

Did any scene have you laughing or crying while you wrote it? Please share a snippet.

The moment I saw this question, I knew exactly which scene I wanted to share. There are (I hope!) some chuckle-worthy moments in A PROMISE OF FIRE, especially when the hero and heroine can’t decide if they need to kiss or fight. I definitely prefer comedy to tragedy myself, but there’s one scene that always makes my eyes prick, no matter how many times I’ve read it, and I love that stirring of emotion just as much as I love to laugh.

Cat, the heroine in A PROMISE OF FIRE, survived an abusive and unhappy childhood. While her past impacts both her and the story immensely, the novel is really more about the now—and the future. Her past shaped her, though, making Cat who she is when the story starts: rebellious, fierce, a survivor, a protector, and a little bit hard. Only a few key players from Cat’s past have any real page time, the ruthless Andromeda being one of them. Flashbacks show some key moments with Andromeda who, as my kids like to describe the villain in Disney movies, is “the evil bad guy” of the heroine’s troubled past.

But not all of Cat’s memories are bad, and one person, Eleni, was the counterbalance to all the terror and terrible. Eleni, a force of good in Cat’s childhood, has a small but essential role in the narrative because she’s so important to Cat’s future, which is what this novel is really about.

Here’s a flashback I’d like to share from A PROMISE OF FIRE.

Eleni and I are running up a hill, about to crest the rise and tear down the other side. I’m pushing hard, my seven-year-old legs straining to keep up with her longer, stronger, nine-year-old ones. I’m only a few feet behind, and her laughter whips back to me on the wind. My heart soars. We escaped. It won’t last long, but we escaped them all.

We hurtle over the top of the hill and run smack into a shepherd boy and his flock. Eleni and he crash to the ground in a tangle. I stumble, too, scraping my knee and knocking over a lamb. It makes a pathetic bleating sound, hops to its feet, and scampers away. All three of us stare at each other, stunned, and then the boy’s father is there, picking everyone up.

The color leaches from his face when he sees the Fisan royal crest on Eleni’s shoulder clasps. Stammering apologies, he falls to the ground, prostrate, dragging his son down with him until both their foreheads are flat against the grass. Eleni commands them to stand, but they’re too scared to rise farther than their knees, keeping their eyes downcast.

I barrel around a few sheep with my usual finesse and then shove a half-wilted posy of flowers I’m clutching in my hand at the boy. He’s about my age. I don’t want him to be scared.

The wind tosses my dark hair. It’s loose, and I know I look like a wildcat, with dirt and bruises and scrapes all over me. The boy’s eyes widen. He hesitates, but when I try giving him the flowers again, frowning and huffing, he takes the drooping blooms from my grubby hand.

The shepherd murmurs endless apologies, begging for Eleni’s mercy. Begging for their lives. She smiles sweetly and kneels in front of him, taking a jeweled clip from her hair. Her blonde locks lift on the breeze, pale, dawn sunbeams framing her shining face. The clip is entirely encrusted with sapphires, tiny Fisan pearls forming a row of delicate sea stars across the center. Blue and white. Ocean and ice.

She places the treasure in his hand and gently wraps his work-worn fingers around it. “To feed a village,” she whispers.

Without flashbacks like this, mentions of Cat’s past would be too one-dimensionally negative and risk feeling caricatural. Experiences with Eleni are important building blocks of Cat’s character and help to form the person readers meet at the novel’s outset. Surrounded by evil, impressionable, completely terrorized, and with powerful magic stirring within her, young Cat could easily have gone the same way as the sociopathic Andromeda. Even though Eleni is only on the fringes of Cat’s story, a secret light the adult Cat keeps alive in her heart, Eleni’s innate goodness shines through whenever she’s mentioned. The reason this scene touches me so deeply is that we see Eleni through Cat’s eyes and somehow understand that she was the linchpin of Cat’s humanity, the person who makes it possible for Cat to become the heroine of her own story rather than “the evil bad guy” of someone else’s tale.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog. I would love to hear from readers about moments in literature that have made them laugh or cry!

A PROMISE OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet

The Kingmaker Chronicles #1

A Promise of Fire

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

Award-winning author Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England and studied French at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She moved to Paris, France, in 2001. Her first novel, A PROMISE OF FIRE, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

Click here for more of A PROMISE OF FIRE and the Kingmaker Chronicles!

Romance | Fantasy [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492626015 / eISBN: 9781492626022]

Superb high fantasy pits an escaped soothsayer against an ambitious warlord in love

Jolyse Barnett | Dating 101: How to Recognize a Bad Date

Back in college, a guy friend of mine asked me out to dinner. We’d been friends more than a year and hung out together quite a bit, so I didn’t suspect it was an actual date until I learned the restaurant he’d chosen was across the US-Canada border, about two hours from campus, and that he wanted to make a day of it. Open to the idea of travel, I agreed to give it a go.

On the big day, my friend showed up in a suit and tie. Feeling underdressed in spite of my new shirt and pants, I changed into a dress and heels. Back in the eighties, that involved the wearing of panty hose. He’d put a lot of thought into our itinerary, though, so I decided I could tolerate a little itchiness.

The drive to our destination was pleasant, and the weather and stroll through the city’s historic district was beautiful—almost enough to distract me from the torture of navigating cobblestone streets in heels. Turned out, those scratchy nylons were a blessing in disguise, since they helped contain the swelling in my newly twisted ankle. Next up was our museum visit. I stifled a groan at the thought of all that walking, and instead asked if he wouldn’t prefer hanging out with me on a bench in the nearby park. He rolled his eyes and assured me I’d love the place. Apparently, I’d become a war history buff somewhere between the car and the museum that sunny spring afternoon, because never before had I expressed such an interest. Still, the way my friend’s eyes lit up when he spied the military paraphernalia made me reluctant to set him straight.

When our tour was complete, I allowed a sigh of relief to trickle out. I’d failed to notice how long my friend’s legs were or how fast his stride prior to trekking eight exhibits in ninety minutes. I’m pretty tall for a woman, but my bugger of an ankle wasn’t cooperating, and my toes had started to whine. I’d survived, however, and we were off to the restaurant next. Who knew? If I were lucky, he’d use the restroom early during our meal, and I’d have a chance to request a little ice for my ankle and have it resting discreetly beneath our linen-covered table before he returned. We’d enjoy our candlelight dinner together, and all would end well.

As fate would have it, the moment we stepped onto the plaza across from the restaurant, my friend let out a blood-curdling scream. My heart racing, I turned to see white and grey goo covering his perfect hair. Must’ve been a big bird, too, because the slime was even dripping onto the shoulder of his immaculate brown jacket.

I admit it was an unfortunate circumstance, and I can’t fault the guy for being upset. But after the initial shock, I’d expected him to laugh, or at least acknowledge the humor he might see in the moment, if not then, one day far into the future. Only he didn’t. In fact, he did just the opposite, turning toward me—his face red and veins bulging dangerously at the temples. That’s when I realized I was laughing. Not at him, of course, but at the irony of the situation. He’d been so intent on having the perfect date, only to have a bird come along and make a total mess of it. My giggles died and I apologized profusely, then I hobbled over to the nearest shop to return with a peace offering of paper towels.

But the damage was done. Perhaps, if I hadn’t laughed, he wouldn’t have responded with anger. Perhaps he would’ve even been able to laugh at himself. Then again, maybe not. We didn’t go to dinner that night, and the ride back to campus was one of the longest, most uncomfortable experiences of my life. We remained casual friends the remaining college years, but he didn’t ask me out again. That’s just as well, because I wouldn’t have accepted. Even at the tender age of nineteen, I knew life wasn’t going to always be sunshine and roses, and that I wanted, heck, needed to surround myself with people who choose to see the bright side of life…even when they’re covered in bird poo.

TEXT ME, MAYBE by Jolyse Barnett

A Single in the City Story

Text Me, Maybe

He’ll play her game, but in the end, she’s going to be his.

New to the Big Apple, the last thing Lexie Bloom needs is to fall for two guys at once. Especially when she can’t have either. One is her personal trainer, an Adonis way out of her league. The other? A Brit Lit professor her svelte boss insists she woo for her—via text message, no less. Little does she know, the two are the same man

Matthew Hennessey is intrigued by his shy new client at the gym. But before he gets the chance to ask her out, he discovers she’s the one crafting the flirty texts sent to him by a woman who wouldn’t know Lord Byron from Lady Gaga. To get to know her better, he allows Lexie to play her role. She may have given up on the idea of romance, but Matthew’s bound and determined to show her love is alive and well in New York City.

Romance Contemporary [Entangled Lovestruck, On Sale: August 8, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633756373 / eISBN: 9781633756373]

About Jolyse Barnett

Jolyse Barnett

Jolyse Barnett is a country girl living her happily-ever-after in suburbia with her real-life, hunky hero, two offspring aptly nicknamed Thing One and Thing Two, and a cuddly cat that sleeps 23-7. When she’s not tapping away at the keyboard or with her nose in a book, Jolyse can usually be found in her backyard dreaming about tropical escapes.

Christmas in New York | Single in the City

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Christi Barth | How A Wine-Soaked Idea Became A Sexy Book

Did you ever wonder how a writer’s mind works? Because – spoiler – it isn’t pretty. But I’ll give you a peek. Here’s the flat out truth – I was more than a little tipsy when the idea for my Naked Men series originated. I was at a wine tasting at Fleming’s Steakhouse (twenty-five wines in two hours – hence the tipsiness!). The idea of a series revolving around five guys who share a blog seemed like a winner. Okay, lots of hysterical things seemed like a winner that night, but this one really had legs. Like the wine (that’s a joke only for wine snobs, but I promise they’ll be ROFL over it). Obviously the guys all had to be different. I still have the paper with the original scribbled ideas: the jock, the jerk, the manwhore, the smooth talker, the big business tycoon. Then I drank more cabernet. You know – to celebrate having an awesome idea!

wine

So the next day – after much water was consumed – I had to figure out how to turn a fun idea into a book. Because five guys typing a blog post on their laptops is, in fact, not a viable idea. The incredibly talented Sue Grafton said, “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” Now, I’m not sure what makes being a sheep that much better than a goat, seeing as how I could eat goat cheese all day long. But you get the point. The hard part is the execution.

There had to be drama (don’t worry – there is lots of sex, too). So I turned the five guys into high school friends who survived a near-fatal accident. The three days they spent struggling to survive turned them into the men who became my heroes. Griffin realized nobody would rescue them, and he had to take control of the situation. He grew up to be a Coast Guard rescue pilot (see it taking shape?), and the hero of book 1, RISKING IT ALL. Josh did not do well going without food for three days. He pulled a little of a Scarlett O’Hara (“I’ll never be hungry again” – thank you, Margaret Mitchell!) and turned into a chef.

And Knox, who was petrified that at fifteen he’d die a virgin, grew up to become that manwhore (well, I call him a Casanova because it sounds slightly more classy) that I’d first envisioned. His adolescent fear informing his choices as an adult made him a tad more sympathetic. His giant brain (what he saw as the reason behind his unwanted virginity) turned him into a gajillionaire (technical term, I swear), so he also became the tycoon from my original idea. Then he was interesting enough to be the hero of book 2, WANTING IT ALL. Especially once I decided that the perfect heroine for him would be a woman who moved to D.C. solely for two reasons (in order of importance): 1) to get married ASAP, and 2) to find her newly discovered half-brother. See how that makes them absolutely wrong for each other?

Spoiler: it turns out they just might be perfect for each other. You’ll have to read the book to find out. And to get peeks at my other heroes who started out as wine-soaked figments of my imagination and grew into super sexy men who just need to find the right women…

WANTING IT ALL by Christi Barth

Naked Men #2

Wanting It All

After narrowly surviving a bus crash in high school with his best friends, science geek Knox Davis resolved to become so successful that he could have anything and everything he wants. Now he’s über-wealthy, a huge business success, and a notorious ladies’ man. Knox refuses to limit himself to one woman, but when his latest conquest—a blond beauty from the Alaskan bush—challenges his superficial ways, Knox begins to see the world through her eyes, and finds he likes what he sees.

A nurturer at heart, Madison Abbott wants to put down roots. She left Alaska to meet Mr. Right—and to track down Logan, the half-brother she’s never met. Instead, she finds Knox. Although the sexy-as-sin bachelor may not seem like marriage material, Madison’s starting to think that Knox is The One. But Knox refuses to settle down, especially once he learns that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Now it’s up to her to convince Knox that she’s everything he really wants.

Romance Contemporary [Loveswept, On Sale: August 9, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781101965214 / eISBN: 9781101965214]

RISKING IT ALL by Christi Barth

Naked Men #1

Risking It All

Griffin Montgomery helps people. As a teenager, he kept his best friends alive after their soccer team’s bus crashed in the Alps. Now, as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, he saves lives with reckless abandon—until he goes too far and earns a lengthy suspension. Working on the Naked Men projects keeps his mind busy, but Griff’s itching to get back in the action. That’s when he finds his latest rescue mission: a pretty wallflower who’s stuck in her comfort zone.

Chloe Widmore doesn’t take risks. As a professional letter writer, she gets enough excitement out of expressing other people’s emotions. So when the hottest man she’s ever seen invades her coffee shop, Chloe surprises herself with how much she wants to be with him. Routines make her feel safe. Griff makes her deliciously unsafe, in so many ways. But falling for him is one risk she might just have to take . . . whether she’s ready or not.

Romance Contemporary [Loveswept, On Sale: March 8, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781101965207 / eISBN: 9781101965207]

For info on the entire series as well as my other books, please follow me on any/all of my sites! Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page |Facebook |Instagram

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance. Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.

Aisle Bound | Shore Secrets | Bad Decisions | Naked Men

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Asa Marie Bradley | From Slush Pile to Double RITA® Finalist

On March 25th this year, I was running around looking for my wallet and keys so I could leave the house for a routine doctor’s appointment. When the phone rang, I snatched up the receiver and muttered a distracted “hello” as I tried to close the zipper on my purse. On the other end was Romance Writers of America board member Priscilla Oliveras. She quickly had all of my attention when she asked me if I was sitting down and then told me my debut novel, VIKING WARRIOR RISING, was a RITA® finalist in both the Best Paranormal Romance and Best First Book categories. I don’t remember what else Priscilla told me as I blabbered and cried in response. I was so loud, my husband and the dog rushed into the kitchen to see what had happened.

On the drive to the doctor’s office, I called my agent and my editor to give them the good news, which led to more happy tears. And when I rushed into the medical clinic, I told the receptionist and all the people in the waiting room. They had no clue what I was talking about, but nodded and smiled. Maybe they just wanted to placate the crazy woman who couldn’t shut up and had mascara trailing down her cheeks. I have no recollection of the actual appointment past my doctor past asking “How are you today?” and getting an earful back of what a fantastic morning it was. (Later on she sent me an email that started, “You seemed a little pre-occupied, so I thought I’d send you a summary of what we talked about.”)

Once I was back home, I got online and found out several friends were RITA and Golden Heart finalists. Whatever writing I had planned that day was put aside as I joined the romance community on social media to celebrate all the finalists. It was an incredibly joyous, but also a very emotional day. The honor was so unexpected. VIKING WARRIOR RISING was the third novel I had finished. I pitched and queried the novel for almost two years and received 47 rejections before it was published. At the time, the industry wasn’t sure the paranormal trend would continue. It seemed nobody wanted to take a chance on a debut author in the genre. I had almost given up on writing when I got an email from Cat Clyne at Sourcebooks. She had found the manuscript in the slush pile and sent me a very encouraging outline of the problem areas of my novel and invited me to rewrite the manuscript and resubmit, which I of course did. I was overjoyed when the contract offer came, but could never have imagined that the novel would end up rubbing covers—so to speak—with works written by such amazing paranormal authors as Thea Harrison, Angela Quarles, Sharon Ashwood, M.J. Scott, Kristen Callihan, and Nora Roberts. The Nora Roberts!

Even later in the weekend, as hubby and I celebrated with an extravagant brunch where the unlimited mimosas were almost as impressive as the chocolate fountain dessert, the whole thing still didn’t feel real. It wasn’t until the calendar crept closer to the month of July and I still hadn’t purchased a dress for the ceremony that it dawned on me that this was really happening. At the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, my badge sported two silver mini-RITA-statue pins and a green ribbon that declared my status as a finalist. The whole conference experience was like one long ball where I got to be Cinderella. Friends, acquaintances, and people I’d never met before made a point of congratulating me. Sourcebooks had sent a ton of copies of my novel to be included in the swag room. During the RITA and Golden Heart finalists reception, famous authors I fangirl over big-time hugged and congratulated all of the nominees. And I got to hang out with fellow Sourcebooks nominees Shana Galen, M.L. Buckman, and Theresa Romain.

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The experience confirmed what I already had learned about how RWA supports and encourage on a level I have never experienced before. An example of that was how quickly the “newbie nominees” bonded. I already knew my fellow Best First Book finalists Marnee Blake, Pintip Dun, Kristi Ann Hunter—we were all 2014 Golden Heart finalists together—and Leslie Jones and I have the same agent. Marnee created an online discussion group for our category as soon as the nominations were announced and I quickly got to know Sara Richardson, Elizabeth Harmon, and Scarlett Cole. By the time the conference rolled around, we’d already done cross promotion events together and when we gathered for a breakfast in San Diego it was as if meeting old friends.

At the ceremony, my stomach was fluttering with nerves as I sat between my agent and my editor at a large table filled with other Sourcebooks nominees and editors. The short twinges of disappointment I felt over not winning in either category were quickly overshadowed by the joy filling my heart when hearing friends’ names called. And afterward I joined in the celebrations taking place all over the hotel and online. Even though the award show was over, the romance community—writers, bloggers, readers, publishing professionals—were not done celebrating our love of this amazing genre where happily ever after—such as an unknown writer discovered in the slush pile ending up with a double RITA nomination—really do happen.

GIVEAWAY

What would be your reaction to getting great news? Or just congratulate Asa Maria for her fabulous win and you could be one of the FIVED to get a copy of VIKING WARRIOR RISING

VIKING WARRIOR RISING by Asa Maria Bradley

Viking Warriors #1

Viking Warrior Rising

Immortal Vikings are among us

Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.

Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.

But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.

Romance Paranormal [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: November 3, 2015, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492618843 / eISBN: 9781492618850]

About Asa Maria Bradley

Asa Maria Bradley

Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She also writes romantic suspense and currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed.

Asa graduated from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers MFA program at Eastern Washington University with an MFA in creative writing and also holds a Master of Science in Medical Physics from University of Colorado.

Viking Warriors

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E.R. Fallon | Adopting Pets in Fiction and in Real Life

One of the main plot concepts in my small town romance novel FINDING HIM AGAIN revolves around an adopted dog who helps serve as the catalyst that finally ties the hero and heroine’s lives fully together.

FINDING HIM AGAIN centers on RaeAnne, a single mother who returns to her small, rural farming hometown after the unexpected passing of her own mother and who brings her young daughter with her when she returns. In her hometown, RaeAnne ends up having the one romance she always regretted not pursuing. It turns out to be more than a fling and grows into something strong and everlasting.

When RaeAnne arrives home, much to her surprise, she finds that her father has adopted a dog named Blue from an animal shelter. RaeAnne questions her father’s decision to have gotten the dog so soon after her mother’s death but eventually Blue ends up winning over even the reluctant RaeAnne. In fact, possibly more than anyone in the story, she wants Blue to stay in their lives.

Blue is based on an actual adopted dog, my own, who I can say, has definitely won me over. Both dogs, fictional, and real, are hound mixes who were adopted from animal shelters. My own dog is an interesting mix of Pharaoh hound and miniature poodle. RaeAnne’s family never quite find out exactly what mix the dog Blue is. They just know that he’s some type of hound mix.

FINDING HIM AGAIN features a sexy “everyman” hero and a feisty independent heroine who puts her daughter first in her life. King fits beautifully into RaeAnne’s family but not everyone welcomes him with open arms, and he realizes that in order to be with RaeAnne, he also has to gain the trust of her unenthusiastic daughter, Maddie.

Because of her upbringing, Maddie is distrustful of any new man in her mother’s life, and by proxy her own life. But because of an unexpected and testing event, Blue is the one thing that finally brings together and bonds King with Maddie, and finally completes RaeAnne and King as a couple, and RaeAnne, King, and Maddie as a family.

It is said that one of the true guarantees in life is a dog’s love. In addition to helping Maddie and King bond, Blue helps Maddie through a very traumatic experience and serves as a therapy tool. I know firsthand that my dog, who had a rough start to life herself, has helped me through some of the worst days of my life in the past years.

She’s been there for some of the better times, too. One of the ways I remember plot ideas for novels is by jotting them down in this old tiny notebook I’ve had since forever. The trouble is, I’m always misplacing the notebook. My dog and her terrific sense of smell are always finding it for me. She just knows when I’m looking for it and “points” it out to me.

One of my hopes for my novel is that it might encourage others to give an adopted dog a chance. Blue changed RaeAnne, her daughter’s, and King’s lives for the better. Just like my dog changed my life. And for all of you feline lovers out there, my next book features a cat.

FINDING HIM AGAIN by E.R. Fallon

Finding Him Again

She came home to find the one romance she always regretted not having

Years ago, RaeAnne and King were united by a traumatic experience in their youth. RaeAnne is now grown and has a troubled young daughter. When RaeAnne’s mother is killed in an accident, she returns to her rural hometown and is given a second chance to find love.

But RaeAnne discovers she is unwelcome by some in the town. When frightening incidents begin to happen to RaeAnne and her family, King steps back into her life. The quiet and sweet boy next door has grown up to be a capable and handsome man, who makes it his new mission in life to protect stubborn and independent RaeAnne, despite her resistance to accepting help.

As they fight obstacles along the way, can she learn to trust again and accept love, or will they only be friends who share a very big secret?

Romance Contemporary [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: August 23, 2016, e-Book, / eISBN: 9781786510761]

Robin Bielman | Summer Lovin’

Be free and happy and danceful and uninhibited and now-y! ~Terri Guillemets

I love that quote.

And I love summer. It’s my favorite season. I love the warm weather and sunshine and lazy days spent with my family, a good book, or in front of the television (while still in my pajamas, of course). I love wearing flip-flops and my favorite Writer Chick T-shirt. And right now I also love

  • Songs by DNCE, Flume, Justin Timberlake, and Calvin Harris.
  • Indulging my sweet tooth with a little tiramisu gelato from Haagen-Dazs. Curse you, Haagen-Dazs for making something I can’t resist!
  • The beach. Okay, I love the beach every day of the year, but I have especially happy memories of days at the beach during the summer months. These gorgeous pictures of waves that look like brushstrokes are pretty awesome, too.
  • This book dedication page. (It totally makes me smile.)
  • Instagram. I’m fairly new to the social media site, but really enjoy it. I’ve always liked taking pictures, much preferring to be behind the lens instead of in front of it, and it’s been great fun trying to capture parts of my days to share with people. I love looking at other’s pictures, too – there are so many talented photographers, travelers, authors, and I have to give a shout out to Entangled Publishing for book posts that are gorgeous.
  • And lastly, I love strawberries and apricots and white nectarines and pink lemonade with sugar around the rim of the glass and barbeques and setting my alarm clock a little later and birthdays & anniversaries and movies in the park and spontaneous day trips and time with friends.

What do you love about summer? Tell me everything!

About Robin Bielman

Robin Bielman

When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts all of her story ideas.

She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.

She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com.

Kisses in the Sand

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THE BEST FRIEND BARGAIN by Robin Bielman

Kisses in the Sand

The Best Friend Bargain

Olivia Lincoln has a plan guaranteed to get her life back on track. A plan that involves her best friend, Danny. And he’s on board, too…until she blurts out that they’re engaged and expecting a baby, and the news spreads like wildfire.

The problem? Danny doesn’t do marriage. Or family. And everyone knows it, including Olivia.

As irritated as he might be, protecting Olivia is what Danny does. But put best friends under one roof, add house rules begging to be broken, accidental nakedness, and pancakes in bed, and what started as a marriage between friends threatens to turn into the real deal…which would ruin everything.

Romance Contemporary [Entangled Lovestruck, On Sale: August 8, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781682812648 / eISBN: 9781633756649]

Meet Your Match: Mari Madison

Ready to play Author Match? I hope so because I’ve got an author on hand who you’ll want to check out ASAP!

Writes: Contemporary romance with my latest release, BREAK OF DAY, book #2 of the EXCLUSIVE ROMANCE series now on store shelves.

About: Contemporary romance author seeks readers for a novel with both heart and heat featuring a poor but determined heroine who’s clawing tooth and nail to get ahead in her TV news career and a rich, surfer weatherman hero whose happy-go-lucky attitude hides his deep, scarring family secrets. Must like workplace romance, humor, and John Hughes plotlines.

What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match:

  • Likes their beach reads with emotional depth.
  • Enjoys stories with some heat, but a lot of heart.
  • Has always wanted to live in the sunshine of Southern California.
  • Thinks surfers are super hot.
  • Is curious what goes on behind the scenes in a TV newsroom.
  • Wants a hero you can root for and fall in love with.
  • Likes an ending that is not only happy, but filled with hope.

What to expect if we’re compatible:

  • Two more books in the series (JUST THIS NIGHT, already released) and AT FIRST LIGHT (coming in February 2017.)
  • Frequent giveaways on my Facebook page.

BREAK OF DAY by Mari Madison

An Exclusive Romance #2

Break of Day

There’s a chance of a heat wave for the crew at News 9 San Diego…

Asher Anderson is an amazing surfer—with a body to match— but he’s pretty much the world’s worst weatherman. He’d prefer to catch the perfect swells in the morning so he tapes his forecasts in advance—it never rains much in San Diego anyway. The suits at News 9, however, would love to fire him, but since he’s the son of the station owner, they’ll just have to get creative…

Piper Strong thinks she’s scored her dream job when she’s promoted to weather producer. Glorified babysitter is more like it—she’s now responsible for bringing Asher back to shore. The problem is she’s afraid of the water, and she wasn’t counting on her growing attraction to Asher. But if Piper can just weather this storm, she’ll be able to carve out a career to be proud of—and maybe even a place in her heart for love….

Romance | Romance Contemporary [Berkley Sensation, On Sale: August 20, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425283141 / eISBN: 9780698408791]

Victoria Hamilton | The Music of Merry Muffin Mysteries

I love music, from the sounds of Motown and funk of the seventies, eighties girl groups like The GoGos and Bangles, through country and bluegrass to modern music like Bruno Mars, Rumer and light jazz artists like Stacey Kent and Karen Souza. I love classical music, too… Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn, Copland and lots of others.

But I would never have imagined getting hooked on… opera.

OPERA??

Well, yeah, opera. I started researching some opera just to reference pieces for Pish Lincoln to listen to for my Merry Muffin Mysteries. And I listened on YouTube, to some of the greats. And a funny thing happened; I was listening and watching Pavarotti signing Nessun Dorma, and realized… tears were streaming down my face. It was like my very own Pretty Woman moment (except I do NOT look like Julia Roberts); remember when Julia’s character is watching the opera with tears in her eyes?

I got it… I finally got it. Opera done right is an extremely emotional experience, a revelation, really. I went from doing research to get Pish’s picks correct, to becoming more interested, and watching opera videos for entertainment. But it is important to watch quality singers. I’ve found that opera done badly is worse than any other kind of performance done badly. It could put you off opera for life, and I can believe that is why so many folks think of opera as singers screeching high notes.

Only one thing remains for my complete conversion; maybe someday I’ll get to see a live performance by a quality singer. Let’s just say… it’s on my bucket list.

But in the meantime the internet is a fabulous place to find audio and videos of the greats. I recommend – of course – Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma, but also… Diana Damrau singing the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute, Jonas Kaufmann singing just about anything, and the luminous late Maria Callas singing… anything she darn well pleased.

It may seem like it’s highbrow or artsy, but opera started as the music of the masses, and in my case, it still is.

About Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of three bestselling series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries as Victoria, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper. She is also the bestselling author of Regency and historical romance as Donna Lea Simpson.

Victoria loves to cook and collects vintage kitchen paraphernalia, teacups and teapots, and almost anything that catches her fancy! She loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything… except writing!

Merry Muffin | Vintage Kitchen Mystery

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MUCH ADO ABOUT MUFFIN by Victoria Hamilton

Merry Muffin Mystery

Much Ado About Muffin

In this fresh mystery from the national bestselling author of Death of an English Muffin, baker Merry Wynter comes to the aid of an innocent woman accused of murder.

When muffin baker Merry Wynter sees an innocent woman accused of murder, it’s dough or die…

Opera singer Roma Toscano may have a crippling case of stage fright, but she certainly is stirring up drama in Autumn Vale, New York, as she prepares for an upcoming performance at Merry’s Wynter Castle. With her flamboyant style and flirtatious personality, Roma attracts fans as well as critics, including the town’s postmistress—and Merry’s bitter foe—Minnie Urquhart.

But Roma and Minnie’s heated rivalry goes cold after Merry discovers Minnie dead at the post office. While every clue seems to be another ingredient in the investigation of Roma, Merry thinks the case is half-baked, and she’s eager to get her mitts on the real killer…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425282588 / eISBN: 9780698406070]