Bonnie Vanak | ‘The Mating Season’ and why Montana Shifters are the sexiest

Bonnie Vanak is no stranger to a full plate. She released two new novels in her Werewolves of Montana series this spring, and she is already looking forward to the rest of the year. In between the craziness of writing and publishing her books, she took a moment to chat with our Miranda Owen about THE MATING SEASON and THE MATING DESTINY, why she loves setting her books in Montana, and the appeal of shifters and fae in her stories.

When I think back to the first werewolf book I read of yours – THE EMPATH (Draicon Werewolves Book 1) – and compare it with your current Montana Werewolves series, I am amazed by the intricate world-building and unique spin you always put on the werewolf myth. What is it about werewolves that captures your imagination?

Thank you! I love writing about werewolves because of the loyalty, the fierceness in which they protect their own, and the alpha traits of the males. When I set out to write the Werewolves of Montana, it was with the intention of writing a darker, much sexier series than THE EMPATH, which was published by Harlequin. I loved writing Nocturnes for Harlequin, but faced certain restrictions, and with the Werewolves of Montana series, since it is self-published, I have the freedom to write what I please.

Why Montana as a setting? Do you have a fondness for that geographic location, or does it just seem like the best fit for the story and characters?

I love Montana, the wide, open plains and the cowboys. I went there years ago with my mom on a vacation and I enjoyed the mountains, the honesty and openness of the people. There’s no pretense, which is so refreshing. Probably because they are all working too hard to preen and act important!

The Mating Season

In you April release – THE MATING SEASON – Tristan is a character who has appeared in previous books in your Montana Werewolves series, did you always plan on giving him his own book?

Yes, from the beginning. I didn’t create him until THE MATING HUNT, and he first appeared to punish Arianna for turning into a wolf in front of Skins (humans), which is strictly forbidden. His character has evolved over the series and now I’m glad he’s finally getting his own book!

I loved your story TEMPTATION. How long before you write a story for that heroine’s brother? I found him to be a fascinating character.

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it. Justin, who is like a brother to Skylar, will get his own story in the future, but not for a while because I have a lot of other projects on my plate. And I want him to play an important role for series. When you read THE MATING SEASON, you will get an idea of how important the dragons will be in the series.

You’ve had so many different types of magical characters in your books – elves, fae, wizards, werewolves, dragons, etc. – is there any type of magical being that you haven’t written about, that you’d like to feature in a future story if you got the chance?

I’m itching to write a dark Fae, which I will in the future. The idea keeps circling back. I did make brief mention of the Midnight Kingdom in The Mating Season, which is a world where all paranormal creatures can live as they are and use their powers freely. I did sketch out an idea for a dark werewolf, a big, bad werewolf who is very dark, almost an anti-hero, and very, very sexual.

I like your books, and I like historical romances, yet I’ve never read any of your historical romances. What can you tell readers about them? Are they straight historical or do they have any magical or paranormal elements in them as well?

My Egyptian series started out with elements of paranormal. I had to tone it down because my editor at Dorchester said it was too paranormal. But The Falcon and the Dove, my first book and my first historical, is essentially a reincarnation romance. The rest of the series, however, is pretty much straight historical and the books take place in Victorian and Edwardian Egypt and sometimes England.

Authors usually say that the book they are currently working on is their favorite but, other than what you’re working on right now, do you have a favorite character you’ve created or story?

I must confess I like writing the guys more than their mates, and I really enjoyed creating Aiden and Tristan. But Xavier, the Crystal Wizard, got to me in a special way because he’s so powerful, quirky and yet so lonely. All the heroes in my books are alpha, but they have a vulnerability about them, and they may not admit it, but they all need love, too!

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on Navy Seal Protector, my next romantic suspense for Harlequin, and I’m also working on THE MATING GAME, Xavier’s story. You’ll see why at the end of THE MATING SEASON why Xavier’s story has to come next. I gave Xavier his special love for Elvis songs to acknowledge my husband’s fondness for the King of Rock and Roll. Readers can check out what I’m working on and the latest releases by going to my website: www.bonnievanak.com and signing up for my newsletter to access free stories on my Members Only page or by checking out my Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/bonnievanakauthor

About Bonnie Vanak

Bonnie Vanak

After years of newspaper reporting, Bonnie Vanak began working as a writer for a major international charity. She travels to destitute countries to write about famine, disease and other issues affecting the poor. When the emotional strains of her job demanded a diversion, she turned to her childhood dream of writing romance novels. Bonnie’s books have been translated into five languages, including Spanish, Italian and Japanese. She has received numerous accolades for both nonfiction and fiction writing, including three Writer’s Digest awards. Her sixth Egyptian historical, The Scorpion & the Seducer, is a May 2008 Leisure release. Enemy Lover, her second werewolf paranormal for Silhouette Nocturne, is a November 2008 release. She lives in Florida with her husband Frank.

Draicon | Werewolves of Montana

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A conversation with SARAH-JANE STRATFORD

If you’re a fan of Foyle’s War or other period pieces on PBS / BBC, then check out RADIO GIRLS for a glimpse behind the scenes of the start of the BBC. Mixing fictional and non-fictional characters, Sarah-Jane Stratford brings the era to life. You’ll soon be digging into Wikipedia for more details!

How did you first learn about Hilda Matheson, and how did you come to write about her?

I came across her name during research—just a short line, saying she was the first Director of Talks at the BBC. Not the first woman, the first director, period. Which seemed quite a thing in 1926. As I kept reading about her, I realized what an influential, yet unknown, feminist she was. She was in M15, recruited there by T.E. Lawrence (aka, Lawrence of Arabia); she was political secretary to Lady Astor, who was the first woman to be elected as a member of Parliament; and then she was hired away to the BBC, where she developed the concept of what talk radio could be. (Anyone who enjoys NPR or the BBC owes her a debt.) She went on to write the first ever book on broadcasting, and developed an outline for effective wartime broadcasting, which was used throughout WWII. History is full of amazing women who did extraordinary things but whose names we don’t know—in the case of Hilda, I’m determined to change that.

We learn midway through the story that Hilda is a lesbian. What did you notice in your research about the BBC and its attitude toward gay people—both those behind the scenes and in front of the microphone?

The BBC was reflective of a lot of cultural institutions in that it attracted creative, progressive people and it pretty much goes without saying that a number of them were LGBT. Male homosexuality was illegal, but lesbianism wasn’t. (There’s a delightful myth to the effect that Queen Victoria didn’t think women got up to such things—the accepted truth is that men didn’t want to alert women to the idea of it.) That said, most women found it safer to keep their preferences quiet.

Hilda was keen on having all the most famous and influential people of the day come broadcast. Plenty of them were gay and it did bother Reith, who was not just homophobic, but downright Puritanical. Whether Reith knew that a good percentage of his staff was gay or not, I don’t know, though he might have been prudent enough to know he couldn’t vet everyone on the basis of their sexuality. Reith definitely had issues with the “morality” of a lot of the broadcasters, but had enough commercial sense to not block most of them—all the better for us!

How is Maisie’s trajectory from “traditional girl” to budding career woman reflective of changes women were experiencing in the 1920s?

The standard paradigm of a 1920s young woman is the flapper—the woman who embraced short hair, short skirts, makeup, and, most importantly, an unprecedented freedom. But many women, especially those like Maisie who grew up poor and uneducated, still desired or felt obliged to pursue traditional roles. In some ways, the war exacerbated this. True, there were far fewer men to marry, and this prompted a lot of women to enter the workforce. But there were also many who felt it was their duty to have children and thus renew the country. Maisie never had a proper family and so wants to gain one via marriage. But the environment at the BBC helps her realize she has other interests and boundless energy, like her mentor, Hilda.

How has women’s role in the media changed since the 1920s?

The BBC was exceptional from the outset in that it not only included women, it placed a number of them in prominent positions. It was also more liberal (sort of) in its attitude towards married women working. But that was the exception, and what we have seen—too slowly—is women’s inclusion becoming the rule, not the exception. Hilda was unusual in having a job that would normally have gone to a man, as the department she helmed quickly became one of the most critical in the BBC.

It’s only recently that you see—and hear—more women’s voices throughout media and sadly, they’re not necessarily given the same respect as a male voice. But I think the continued presence of women like Rachel Maddow, Christiane Amanpour, Audie Cornish and so many others in print and online journalism keep us edging closer to parity.

What media do you think Hilda would consume today if she were alive?

I think she would still love the BBC and the Guardian. She would certainly love the Internet and likely be a huge influencer on Twitter. I know she’d be pleased to see so many publications, in print and online, run by and for women, and the rise of LGBT-focused media would thrill her no end. Between her sense of humor, sharp news sense, and interest in speaking truth to power, programs like Last Week Tonight and especially Full Frontal with Samantha Bee would be regular viewing for her. If she wasn’t a producer on one of them, that is.

The election of 1929—the first where all women could vote—plays a strong role in the book. What excited you about getting your characters involved in that event?

I teared up as I was writing both the scene where Maisie breaks the news to Hilda that the Equal Franchise Act is about to pass, and when Maisie casts her first vote. So many women (and some men too—thanks, fellas!) had fought for this right for decades. Fought—been imprisoned—beaten—died. Women over 30 were awarded the right to vote in 1918, but I knew that, for women like Maisie and Hilda, the 1929 victory was the ultimate culmination of a long, hard slog for equality.

About Sarah-Jane Stratford

Sarah-Jane Stratford

Sarah-Jane Stratford is an author and essayist who has written for the Guardian, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, Salon, and Guernica, among others. She is also a member of WAM! (Women, Action, and the Media).

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About RADIO GIRLS

Radio Girls

The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC.

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.

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Author Interview with Janet Finsilver

What genre do you write in?

I write a cozy mystery series with an amateur sleuth. I like the elements of this genre. There are interesting characters and a small town setting. There is no graphic violence so the reader doesn’t need to worry about suddenly finding a scene that puts an unpleasant image in their mind. It’s a “safe” read. You know your favorite person will be back in the next book.

Tell us about your books.

In the first one, MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, Kelly Jackson, executive administrator for Resorts International, flies to Redwood Cove, California, after the manager of a bed and breakfast has a fatal fall off of a seaside cliff. It’s a straightforward assignment until a group of crime-solving senior citizens, the Silver Sentinels, cry murder. Kelly and the Sentinels work together to find out the truth about what happened. In the second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, a guest is found stabbed and one of the Sentinels, Gertie Plumber, is attacked. Kelly and the Silver Sentinels must solve the crimes before another life is lost

What makes your books different than others in this genre?

I have a crime-solving group of five senior citizens, the Silver Sentinels. The Professor, Hebert Winthrop on his birth certificate, drives a vintage gold Mercedes. In addition to the Professor, the group consists of Gertie Plumber with her cane, Mary Rutledge carrying the ever-present container of goodies, and the Doblinksy brothers, Ivan and Rudy. Their monochromatic hair color ranges from the Professor’s white to Rudy’s steel gray. They began their crime-solving career when pickpockets were preying on tourists. They helped catch the thieves and decided to continue their investigations in other areas that were creating problems in their community. They’re a caring group of people someone can turn to in a time of need.

Dogs with special abilities are featured in the books. I read about a clinic training dogs to detect cancer. They were having a great deal of success. I began collecting articles about many of the unusual ways dogs add to our quality of life and decided to incorporate what I learned into my books. Fred, a cancer-sniffing basset hound, romps his way through MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE. Jack and Jill, two rescued beagles trained to sniff out bedbugs and termites, appear in MURDER AT THE MANSION. Princess, a feisty, bow-legged Chihuahua and retired hearing assistance dog wearing a jeweled collar, will debut in book three.

What are you currently working on?

The third book in the series is tentatively titled MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE. Despina Manyotis, better known as “Auntie,” predicts the future by reading patterns in Turkish coffee grounds. Murder occurs and one of the members of the Silver Sentinels is attacked. My protagonist works with them to solve the crimes.

About Janet Finsilver

Janet Finsilver

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. Murder at Redwood Cove, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, Murder at the Mansion, is scheduled to be available on June 7, 2016.

Kelly Jackson

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About MURDER AT THE MANSION

Murder at the Mansion

Kelly Jackson returns to California to manage Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast. While the inn is being renovated, she is assigned the task of inventorying a historic collection of objects from the 1800s housed at nearby Redwood Heights and to assist at the mansion during the Whale Frolic Festival. She’s also asked to learn what she can about the disappearance of some jewelry from visitors’ rooms.

Shortly after she arrives, Kelly finds a guest stabbed in one of the rooms, the door and windows locked from the inside. Then Gertrude “Gertie” Plumber, a member of the Silver Sentinels, a crime-solving group of senior citizens, is attacked. The police question Gertie’s son, Stevie, who is working at the mansion with his bed-bug and termite-sniffing team of beagles, Jack and Jill, about the jewelry thefts as well as the murder. Kelly and the Silver Sentinels must work together to solve the crimes before another life is lost and Stevie is put in prison.

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About MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE

Murder at Redwood Cove

Bed, breakfast…and a body!

If it weren’t for the fact that she’s replacing a dead man, Kelly Jackson would love her new job managing the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast on the coast of Northern California. But Bob Phillips did plunge off the cliff to his death…and Kelly’s starting to think it may not have been an accident. Bob’s retired friends—The “Silver Sentinels”—are also on the case, especially when Kelly is attacked…and another body turns up. Kelly has her hands full with overseeing the B&B’s annual Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival, but she’s also closing in on the killer…who’s ready to send Kelly on her own permanent vacation…

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Meet Anita Hughes, author of ISLAND IN THE SUN

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she’s very good at her job. That’s why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best songwriters of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he’s forty-two and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

For Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn’t even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He’s determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities, and open her heart—perhaps for the very first time. Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough chats with author Anita Hughes about her delectable new offering.

YZM: You tend to set your books in exotic locales, like Majorca, Rome, and Lake Como, to name a few. Have you travelled to these places?

AH: My parents were European and I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia so I have always loved to travel. I have been to most of these places when I was young. I particularly love Spain and the Costa del Sol and Majorca. The scenery is breathtaking and the culture is fascinating. Now with children and living at the St. Regis, Monarch Beach, I’m quite happy to stay at home.

YZM: There are many—and delicious sounding!—references to food in the novel; do you do a lot of cooking?

AH: That’s a funny question because I am not a good cook. I grew up eating very healthy food that didn’t include a lot of sauces or preparation. But I love wonderful dishes like I love beautiful clothes. I think food can be a real visual and culinary experience. Presentation is important and so is the use of fresh ingredients. I generally leave the cooking to the gourmet section of my grocery store!

YZM: Music is another major theme in ISLAND IN THE SEA. Does this reflect a personal passion?

AH: Yes, I have always loved music. I associate music with different times of my life and it conjures up memories so easily. I walk for forty minutes a day and I always play music. I don’t think I could walk without it!

YZM: Filled as they are with stunning locales, fashion and food, your books could be described as escapist in the best sense of the word. Care to comment?

AH: I am a huge fan of escapist fiction! We all need a break from our daily lives and it is not always easy to get on a plane. I like to be transported somewhere when I read and write. Often when I’m writing I think I’m actually at the location and it’s like taking a short holiday. (complete with a little drama and heartbreak).

YZM: What’s in the works currently and where is your next novel set?

AH: My next novel, SANTORINI SUNSETS, comes out on August 2 and is set on the spectacular Greek island of Santorini. CHRISTMAS IN PARIS comes out on October 4 and I’m currently writing a book set in St. Bart’s. So lots of great locations.

YZM: What’s the one question I did not ask that you wish I did?

AH: Maybe what do I love to do besides write? The answer is always the same: be with my children!

About Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named “One of Australia’s Next Best Writers.” (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program.

She lives in Dana Point, CA with her family, where she interrupts her writing to watch the glorious sunsets.

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About ISLAND IN THE SEA

Island in the Sea

A Majorca Love Story

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she’s very good at her job. That’s why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he’s 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn’t even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He’s determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she’s not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet’s help to give it to her.

As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn’t been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

Island in the Sea is Anita Hughes’ captivating sixth novel, filled with exotic descriptions of food, fashion, and romance.

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About THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND

The House on Primrose Pond

A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.

After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

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About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

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Meet Kat Martin

Last week Kat Martin published her latest novel INTO THE WHIRLWIND to great fanfare here at Fresh Fiction! Reviewer Helen Williams instantly put down the book and wanted to know more from Martin about her BOSS, Inc. series, how she picks the right leads for her books, and what she has coming out next.

Helen Williams: Did you already have Dirk and Meg’s story developed when writing Ethan and Valerie’s story?

Kat Martin: Originally, I didn’t plan to give Dirk a story at all, but at the end of INTO THE FURY, he was so sad I had to give him one! I had to make things right for him and Meg. (smile here)

HW: Do you find it difficult to continue a series or does each story flow right into your next story?

KM: Sometimes the stories flow, as with INTO THE WHIRLWIND, where I knew the characters, immediately realized the kind of threat Meg might have to face could involve her child. Other times, I struggle, which I am doing now on a new project.

HW: Since some of your characters have some sort of military or special ops background is this from experience or do you just enjoy these types of stories?

KM: No special background, except that I live in a family of mostly men. Some have had military experience, all are very supportive of men in the service. I have a high respect for the military and I believe the kind of background a former soldier has makes him a good candidate for a hero.

HW: When you decide on a story what comes first — the character or the storyline?

KM: It can go either way. In WHIRLWIND, I knew Dirk and Meg from Into the Fury so the story came as a result of what happened in that book. In FURY, Ethan Brodie’s story, I knew the setting would be Seattle and that the hero would be related to the Brodie brothers of Alaska. But actually that book started more with story. I thought a book revolving around a group of beautiful lingerie models and hot bodyguards would be interesting and fun.

HW: How do you decide what makes a good story for the characters?

KM: I wish I could tell you. As I said, story and character go hand in hand for me. One has to fit the other. I really have no idea how I decide, just little elements that have to come together.

HW: How long does it take to develop and then write the story?

KM: I spend a total of six months writing a novel and I work pretty much every day.

HW: Looking forward to Luke’s story in February 2017 — will there be more?

KM: Luke’s story, INTO THE FIRESTORM, turned out to be one of my personal favorites (so is Whirlwind. I loved Dirk and Meg together). After that I’m heading to Texas for a trilogy that begins with BEYOND REASON, out in June of 2017. Multi-millionaire, Lincoln Cain goes head to head with Carly Drake, a woman determined to compete in a man’s world.

HW: Do you plan to write anymore stories in the Against Series/Raines of Wind Canyon?

KM: I think the Texas Trilogy will be a little more along those lines. Two brothers, Linc and Josh Cain, and Cain’s business partner, Beau Reese. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get those three written.

About Kat Martin

Kat Martin

For New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin, a career in real estate led her down the road to romance.

Through real estate, Kat found her own perfect match–her husband, Western author Larry Jay Martin.

“We were on opposing sides of a transaction–I represented the seller and he represented the buyer,” Kat recalls.

A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author!

“It was quite a romantic story,” she admits. “I’d still like to see it get published.” Then, after doing some editing for her future husband, she thought she’d try her own hand at writing.

Kat moved on to become the bestselling author of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date, 15 million copies of her books are in print, and she’s been published around the globe, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Estonia, Lithuania, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Thailand, Portugal, Turkey, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Argentina, Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece.

When she’s not writing, Kat also enjoys skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe. Currently, she’s busy writing her next book.

Raines of Wind Canyon | Brodies of Alaska | BOSS, Inc. | Trask Family

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About INTO THE WHIRLWIND

Into the Whirlwind

A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a private investigator, no one can handle the heat like the men of BOSS, Inc.

Megan O’Brien is at her wit’s end. Her three-year-old son has been kidnapped. No police, says the ransom demand. Fearing for her son’s life, Meg has no choice but to turn to her former bodyguard, Dirk Reynolds.

Dirk’s never forgiven Meg for the way she left him after their brief affair. But with bounty hunter Luke Brodie on his side, Dirk knows he’s got to help Meg rescue her son.

The few clues they’ve gathered send them spiraling into a murky world of big banking and international crime. Meg may be way out of her depths, but she’s seeing a side of Dirk she never suspected—one no woman could possibly resist.

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Tosca Lee | On The Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, Traveling, and Suspense

Tosca Lee, author of THE PROGENY, sits down with Fresh Fiction reviewer Debbie Wiley to talk about her new thriller.

Debbie Wiley: Hi, Tosca! Thank you for joining us today at Fresh Fiction! I absolutely love the concept of THE PROGENY as it combines the modern day with the historical in one phenomenal conspiracy-laden thriller. What sparked your interest in Elisabeth Bathory and inspired the writing of THE PROGENY?

Tosca Lee: Hi, Debbie! Thank you—and thank you for having me on Fresh Fiction! I’ve been wanting to write a thriller like this for a while. It was actually a fan who wrote to me and said, “What about a book on Elizabeth Bathory?” Though this book isn’t about Elizabeth Bathory herself per se, the legend of the “Blood Countess” does provide the mythological underpinning of the story about her modern-day descendants.

DW: THE PROGENY is obviously very well researched, from the historical aspects to the very settings themselves. What was one of your favorite moments in researching THE PROGENY?

TL: My favorite part was going to Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Italy—and taking my mom with me. I get a lot of my wanderlust from her (I swear, five minutes after I asked her to go she was already packing her bag). So we tromped all over from the ruins of the castle where Bathory spent her final years (literally walled up in a room), to the church her family built on their ancestral lands an hour from the Ukranian border, to ruin pubs in Budapest and the beautiful coast of Opatija, Croatia. We love traveling together, and it was another adventure to add to our book of memories. But the other thing is that my mother is a lifelong genealogist and while I was researching and writing this book, I learned that I’m distantly related to Bathory—something I had not known before. Crazy!

DW: What was the most fascinating or unusual thing you learned while researching Elisabeth Bathory?

TL: She’s been portrayed throughout history and by Hollywood as this female Dracula who bathed in the blood of virgins and killed 600-some victims… but what many don’t know is that she was quite singular for her time. She wasn’t only literate but spoke several languages, went to church, supported the arts and local ministries, was known to be a caring mother, and was also extremely wealthy. So wealthy, in fact, that the crown owed her an exorbitant amount of money. When her husband, who was a national war hero, died, she began to call in many of those debts. Add all that to the fact that she was a Protestant living under a Catholic, Habsburg king… and I think there’s a good conspiracy theory there.

DW: You’ve written books both as the sole author and as a collaborating author (such as with Ted Dekker). Does the writing process differ, and if so then how?

TL: It does for sure. Co-writing can take a great deal of time—at least at the beginning while you’re learning your process as a team—to talk through premise, theme, plot. To write and rewrite in order to combine your voices. It’s a great process, especially when you can get two authors together who bring complementary strengths to the table. Solo writing can be faster, and while it doesn’t require compromise with a partner, you are out there on your own, having to do it all. So they both have their perks and challenges.

DW: I love the references to FIREFLY and ROSWELL in THE PROGENY! What are some of your favorite tv shows?

TL: LOL. I love and miss both of those shows! These days I watch THE WALKING DEAD/FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, OUTLANDER, THE BLACKLIST, THE PATH, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, REIGN, THE VOICE, THE 100… honestly, I watch too much TV.

DW: And to follow up with the prior question, I caught the reference to a Steven James novel (he’s on my TBR pile). Who are some of your favorite authors, particularly those who have inspired your own writing?

TL: So the Steven James reference is an inside joke because he has a character reading a Tosca Lee book in one of his novels. 😀 We’re friends and he is literally a master storyteller (he has a master’s degree in storytelling!). I’m privileged to call a lot of brilliant authors friends—I’m always afraid to name names without fear of getting killed for forgetting someone (especially because you know every thriller or mystery author has a perfect murder inside him or her). Steven James, Ronie Kendig, Nicole Baart, Ariel Lawhon, J.T. Ellison are some off the top of my mind who inspire me by just doing what they do. They write a book, take a breath, and by day’s end they’ve plunged into a new one. New friends like Mary Weber, Maria V. Snyder, Scott Sigler—I’m just inspired by their examples.

These are authors with longevity, putting out great story after great story, or newer authors pushing the boundaries of the changing industry.

DW: The ending cliffhanger scene has me anxious for the next book! Can you give us any hints about that scene or tease us a bit with what you have on your plate for the future?

TL: The next book is done and in edits right now—and comes out in February! I can tell you that Emily/Audra is back, badder than ever. Questions will be answered, lives will be lost, and Audra goes up against impossible odds—with a few more twists along the way. :)

About Tosca Lee

Tosca Lee

Tosca Lee is a New York Times best-selling novelist whose works include the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and The Books of Mortals series (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign) with best-selling author Ted Dekker. Iscariot, Tosca’s highly-anticipated novel about the infamous betrayer of Christ will release February 2013. She is best known for her exploration of maligned characters, lyrical prose and meticulous research. Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College and has also studied at Oxford University. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States and lifelong world adventure-traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest.

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About THE PROGENY

The Progeny

New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee brings a modern twist to an ancient mystery surrounding the most notorious female serial killer of all time. A fast-paced thriller for fans of Lee’s Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and BBC America’s hit series Orphan Black.

Emily Porter is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self amidst centuries-old intrigues and Europe’s underground scene…and one woman’s mission to survive.

Buy THE PROGENY: Amazon.com | Kindle
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Irish’d for a New Cozy from Kylie Logan

And it came true!

Kylie Logan is just one of the many pseudonyms used by National Bestselling Author, Casey Daniels. To the enjoyment of many, she released a brand new series in May that will wet your whistle and change your palate. I was delighted when she accepted my invitation for an interview at the Cozy Corner. Please welcome, Kylie/Casey!

Kym: Hi Casey! Welcome to the Cozy Corner!

Casey: Thank you! It’s always fun to be here.

Kym: You’ve written under a lot of different pseudonyms, can you tell us a little bit about each one, and what defines her?

Casey: There have been a lot of them (probably more than anyone suspects) so I’ll just concentrate on the two most recent. One of them is Casey Daniels. Casey writes the Pepper Martin mysteries about a woman who works at a historic cemetery and solves mysteries for the ghosts there. They are light, funny, sassy. The other name I’m writing under these days is Kylie Logan. Kylie writes more traditional mysteries (no paranormal elements) in the cozy tradition. So far, she’s written the Button Box mysteries and the Chili Cook-off mysteries (neither series is around anymore) along with two series that are ongoing-the League of Literary Ladies and the Ethnic Eats mysteries.

Kym: You have a fascinating new release you wrote under the pen-name Kylie Logan titled IRISH STEWED, An Ethnic Eats Mystery. Can you tell our readers about your heroine, Larel Inwood?

Casey: Laurel is an interesting woman. She started out life in the foster system and consequently, is used to being on her own, making her own decisions and her own way. When she was a teenager, she was taken in by a foster mother named Nina who taught her to love good food and to appreciate hard word. Years later, Laurel became the personal chef of a Hollywood superstar. I won’t go into details, let’s just say that things didn’t work out the way Laurel hoped. At loose ends, Laurel goes to Hubbard, Ohio (the suburb of a small town!) to help Nina’s sister run what Laurel’s always been told was a classy restaurant. Only when she gets there, she finds out that Sophie’s is a greasy spoon diner in an old train station. Business is dying thanks to all the new trendy places in the area, and Laurel’s got to think fast if she’s going to save the restaurant. It would be easier without the smothering interference of Declan Fury who runs the Irish gift shop across the street. Declan is part of huge, crazy family and family is something Laurel doesn’t understand. And then there’s the body that Laurel finds her first day on the job. That complicates things, too!

Kym: There’s always a secondary character that readers love and you have a great cast of supporting characters, from Laurel’s aunt Sophie to Declan Fury-shop owner, suspect, and charmer extraordinaire. Who got under your skin the most? Who did you identify with, and who has a tendency to steal the show if you allow her/him to?

Casey : Oh, I’m pretty sure Declan could steal the show-or anything else!-if I let him get away with it. You’re right, he is a charmer and that made him fun to write. But Sophie’s pretty charming in her own way, too. She likes to play the old lady card to get her way, but she’s cagy and clever, the perfect sidekick!

Kym: The series is set in a “run-down greasy spoon” in Hubbard, Ohio that immediately made me think of Harvey’s at Kansas City’s Union Station. Harvey’s, however might be the type of restaurant your heroine was looking for when she packed her bags and moved to Hubbard;) Tell us a little bit about the diner Laurel is determined to rescue.

Casey: Sophie bought the Terminal at the Tracks years before Laurel arrived in town. It’s one of those small town staples, a place where people gather after bowling or church on Sundays. And Sophie loves the place with her whole heart. Laurel, not so much. The décor is outdated, and so is the menu. Fried baloney? Meatballs and rice? For a woman used to working with the finest ingredients and all the trendiest cuisines, this is a come down, indeed! But there is real heart at Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks. The guys who lost their jobs when their factory moved to Mexico gather there every day for lunch. Families still stop by after softball games and to celebrate birthdays. If only Laurel could think of a way to attract more attention to the diner (a way that doesn’t include a murder victim) she might be able to help Sophie keep the place afloat. That way comes to her in a flash of inspiration-ethnic foods! Everyone’s comfort food favorites. And with charming, handsome, maddening Declan always hanging around, it’s no wonder she chooses to start with Irish food!

Kym: What was the biggest challenge you had to over-come with this book?

Casey: Good question because every book has its own set of challenges. With “Irish Stewed” I think a big part of the challenge was getting Declan’s family right. He’s part of this huge, chaotic Irish family, and maybe it’s no coincidence that my husband comes from a huge, chaotic Irish family. That certainly helped me with the research! Coming up with trend cuisines and recipes that Laurel tries out at the Terminal was hard, too, because I am not a cooker of fancy food. Tonight, it’s pork chops. Last night was red beans and rice. It’s hard for me to relate to exotic ingredients.

Kym: Your stories gravitate toward cooking and Ohio. Is that because of your love of the two, the genre, or something else?

Casey: Ohio is a natural because it’s the only place I’ve ever lived. And there are so many cool places to write about! In the Pepper Martin books, its historic Ohio cemeteries, and there are so many and they are endlessly fascinating to me. In the Kylie books, I write about the Lake Erie islands (League of Literary Ladies) and of course, the small town in Ethnic Eats. As for the food connection, I’ve already confessed that I’m not much of a cook. But like so many other people, I sure like reading about food and thinking that someday, maybe someday, I’ll try out all the delicious recipes I come across.

Kym: Can you tell us a little bit about your next Ethnic Eats Mystery, French Fried?

Casey: What fun it was to get into the whole French culture thing! In “French Fried” we meet a friend of Sophie’s who came to this country from France years ago. She’s got secrets, and so do some of the other people who happen to be in town, including a bestselling romance novelist, a man who’s an expert on the Statue of Liberty and someone who doesn’t want one whisper of his past to get out. Laurel’s going to have to her hands full, that’s for sure!

Kym: Do you have another release coming soon under one of your other pseudonyms?

Casey: Yes, the 10 th Pepper Martin mystery will be published by Severn House Publishers this fall. It’s called “Graveyard Shift” and in it, Pepper has a chance to work with legendary lawman, Eliot Ness.

Kym: I have not read your Pepper Martin mysteries with paranormal elements, but am totally intrigued by the series. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it?

Casey: I happen to have a special place in my heart for these books and for Pepper. To tell the truth, in book #1, she was pretty shallow and self-centered. She’s the daughter of a cosmetic surgeon who went to prison for Medicare fraud and when he did, Pepper’s spoiled lifestyle went down the drain. Forced to (gasp!) get a job, she takes the only one she can find, as a tour guide in a historic cemetery. As if that’s not bad enough, she finds out she can see the ghosts there and since she’s the only one who can, they go to her for help. Over the course of nine books, she’s really grown up and she’s worked with a dead Mafia don, a novelist, a prison warden and even a dead president! As I mentioned earlier, in this latest book, she’s working side by side with Eliot Ness who in addition to being the leader of the Untouchables in Chicago, was once Safety Director of Cleveland. Pepper’s chip-on-his-shoulder, tough-as-nails cop boyfriend, Quinn, is back and there’s a new and far more annoying man in her life, too, Caleb Beauchamp, a country boy who knows more about the paranormal than he should.

Kym: What’s next on your calendar?

Casey: Something really different-under the Casey Daniels name, I’m writing my first historical mystery! Tentative title is “Miss Barnum and the Feejee Mermaid Murders” and it’s about a (fictitious) sister of PT Barnum who works with him at his American Museum in New York City. Talk about research! What do I know about New York in 1842? Truth is, not much, but I do know a delicious setting when I see one and a museum filled with mummies, “freaks,” ancient statues, and performing seals sounded too good to pass up. I don’t have a firm date yet, but I’m thinking the book will be out in mid-2017.

Kym: Where can you be found on social media?

Casey: I’ve got Facebook pages under both names, and a website for each persona:

www.caseydaniels.com

www.kylielogan.com

Where all my books are listed.

Kym: Thank you for joining us at the Cozy Corner!

Casey: Thank you for the opportunity! It’s always great to check in with readers!

About Kylie Logan

Kylie Logan

Kylie Logan is a pseudonym used by Casey Daniels. She’s the author of several mystery series. As the daughter of a Cleveland Police detective and head of security for the Cleveland Library System, she came by her love of cops and books naturally.

Chili Cook-off | League of Literary Ladies | Ethnic Eats

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

***Casey is giving away one copy of And Then There Were Nuns, her latest League of Literary Ladies Mystery to one of our fab readers who comments on this post, and a copy of Irished Stewed, An Ethnic Eats Mystery to another reader who comments! How awesome is that!***

Good Luck and until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Author of DEAD MAN’S CARVE, A Tickled to Death Mystery and DEAD ON ARRIVAL, A Malia Fern Mystery.

Meet Jennifer Ashley

Miranda Owen: First, let me say that I am such a huge fan. How do you find the time to write so many different varieties of romance books, in addition to your historical mysteries? What is your process like?

Jennifer Ashley: Thanks so much! How do I find the time? The short answer is: It ain’t easy!

The longer answer is: I write every day. I start each morning, at breakfast, writing. I’ve made that a habit for years. So, even if I wake up wanting a day off, by the time I get to my computer with my bagel or toast, my brain turns on and starts creating a story. I can write anywhere from 500 to 2000 words during my breakfast sessions. That’s very helpful. If I can then do a few more writing sessions during the day (I can write 1000-1500 words an hour if I don’t goof off), that becomes a good chunk each day.

In this way, I can write a full novel (100,000 words) in two months. That includes the first rewrite / revision. That’s two months if I’m not interrupted with real life—usually the work stretches to three months until it’s final, final, final.

I plan my schedule six months to a year in advance, so while I’m working on one book, I can be thinking about and making notes on the one I know is next on my plate.

This all sounds more efficient than it is—I get behind, I end up working on edits for one book while trying to write another. It’s a little crazy at times! But overall, that’s how the books get done. Between shorter and longer books, I can write from 6 to 11 books a year.

MO: I adore your Shifters Unbound series. For me, two of the things that really make it stand out from other paranormal romances, are the fabulous heroes (and heroines), and the strong theme of “family” that runs through every book. Are character creation and getting that strong sense of family and place things that you focus on every time you write a story?

JA:When I worked out the Shifter world, I did go for a strong sense of family. Many animals in the wild are very social (lions, wolves), and rely on family for protection, food, and companionship. I wanted that to come through in the books. Incidentally, I was working up the Mackenzie family series at the same time, and I wanted a strong sense of family in that series as well.

I also like strong characters, both male and female. I try to dig deeply into their pasts to figure out what makes them who they are. Again, I developed the Mackenzie family and the Morrissey family around the same time. I spent a lot of time on their backgrounds. When I was ready to write the books (in both series), it was easy to step into their characters.

MO:There is so much discussion in online book groups about “alpha” versus “beta” heroes. Often a fan’s explanation for not liking typically “alpha” characters is because they lump a lot of negative personality traits in with their definition of “alpha hero”. This kind of drives me crazy because I always point out that you can have a strong male hero without having him be a jerk. I always reference your heroes as examples. What do you try and capture with your heroes? Who are some of your favorite heroes – both that you’ve created and those you’ve read?

JA:I realized a long time ago that being strong (or alpha) does not necessarily mean being aggressive or bullying. In fact, what I’ve observed in real life is that very aggressive and bullying people are actually weak—they have to try to beat everyone else down in order to control their own fears. A person who is kind and compassionate can be very strong, because they’re not afraid of other people. My idea of an “alpha” hero is one who is protective and courageous, has a good sense of who he is, loves those he is close to, and will do anything for those he loves. He’s a caring dad, brother, son, mate.

Some favorite heroes I’ve written are: Ian Mackenzie (MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE), Sean Morrissey (PRIMAL BONDS), Tiger (TIGER MAGIC), Zander (the forthcoming GUARDIAN’S MATE), Malcolm Mackenzie (STOLEN MACKENZIE BRIDE), Egan MacDonald (HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER), Mick Burns (Stormwalker series), and Captain Gabriel Lacey (Capt. Lacey Regency Mysteries).

Favorite heroes I’ve read: Everyone’s favorite Jamie Fraser (he proves you don’t have to be bullying and cruel to be a great and strong hero); Lord Michael Kenyon (SHATTERED RAINBOWS by Mary Jo Putney)—well, most heroes by Mary Jo Putney. Robert Grey from Joanna Bourne’s SPYMASTER’S LADY.

MO: Favorite heroines – both that you’ve created and read?

JA: From my own books: Ainsley Douglas (THE MANY SINS OF LORD CAMERON); Rae Lyall (from the forthcoming GUARDIAN’S MATE); Janet Begay (Stormwalker series); Bertie Frasier (RULES FOR A PROPER GOVERNESS); Kat Holloway from the Kat Holloway mysteries (SOUPCON OF POISON).

From authors not me: Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher mysteries); Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs’ series); Zoe from FIREFLY; Mma Ramotswe (THE NUMBER ONE LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES). Elizabeth Hoyt writes some great heroines as well.

White Tiger

MO: In your latest Shifters Unbound release, WHITE TIGER, a few of the main characters are children or cubs. You write such great child characters. I look forward to one reading a story about Connor and, when he grows up, possibly Olaf. Are children more difficult to write?

JA: I find it fairly easy to write children—that is to say, they’re as easy or difficult as adults. I try to approach writing kids as I would any character, thinking about their individual personalities, backgrounds, needs, fears. I’m lucky I remember very clearly what I thought when I was a child. Or maybe I just haven’t grown up yet!

I am often asked if I’ll write Connor’s book (I will), and that of other cubs in the series. Probably. I many characters in Shifters Unbound, which means many more books. :-)

MO: In WHITE TIGER, with the ranch and everything else, I felt like the story had a little “wild west” flavor. Is that something you were going for?

JA: I live in the west (have for most of my life), so to me, it felt normal, LOL. I did like taking the Shifters out of Shiftertown and having things a little more wild, a little more uncertain. So yes, I was going for that kind of a feel.

MO: One thing I really enjoyed about WHITE TIGER, as well as the previous book, WILD THINGS is that you took the shifters out of their element – out of shifter towns – and at times out of their home state. Were you looking to shake things up, or did that just fit the stories?

JA: In WILD THINGS, I took some of the action to New Orleans because the heroine in Lion Eyes had come from NOLA, and I mentioned there was a Shiftertown there (or close to the city). I thought it would be cool to explore that area, which I will probably come back to. I already knew Zander was going to be from Alaska, so a trip there for our hero and heroine was necessary.

In WHITE TIGER, I liked postulating what life would be like for Shifters who wanted nothing to do with Shiftertowns. They’d have to find a place to hide, to raise their families, to live. I wanted to explore the difficulty of that, and talk about what the Shiftertown Shifters gave up in order to survive.

It’s also nice to not be bound by the setting of Shiftertown. I like to show that the Shifters are more free than laws and restrictions in their world make it seem.

MO: In WILD THINGS you had a psychic and a haunted house. Can you see yourself writing a book or series of the spooky variety with things like ghosts and psychic phenomena?

JA: I had a blast writing Jasmine’s haunted house! To me, houses have personalities—I can feel that when I walk into one. Does it have good vibes? Or creepy ones? I took that idea and ran with it for Jasmine’s house. I’ll come back to it.

I’m not sure if I’d ever write a ghost series, though I never say never, and if I could put a weird twist on it, who knows what I’d come up with?

MO: Whenever I start a new mystery series, one of the things I like to know is whether or not there is a dash of romance in the series, or whether it’s a straight mystery series. Mixing mystery and romance in a series isn’t necessary for me in order to enjoy it, but I like knowing. Having never read either your Captain Lacey or Kat Holloway historical mystery series – is there any romance in either of them?

JA: The Captain Lacey series does have a romantic arc. It’s not obvious in book 1 (HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR), but that’s because Lacey doesn’t meet his heroine-to-be until book 2 (A REGIMENTAL MURDER). Lacey can’t stand her at first, but as the series grows, the two characters begin to better relate each other. Lady B. turns out to be very good for him. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the romance deepens with each book.

The Kat Holloway mysteries will have a romantic arc, which I think is clear from the introductory story (A SOUPCON OF POISON). Kat and Daniel McAdam have sparks right away, and the romance will develop from book to book.

In each mystery series, the romance is woven in with the main story, with the relationship moving a little further each time. I love writing romance this way—it feels very natural to me.

MO: I was so excited when you broke into contemporary romance with your Riding Hard series. Why cowboys?

JA: I love cowboys! As I say, I more or less grew up in the west (Texas, Arizona, Nevada). I live in the west now, have for many years. My husband’s family is from Texas (they take up entire central part), so I’m very familiar with Texas Hill Country and Austin. I rode horses quite a lot when I was younger and loved it, and happy I could put that experience to good use.

I’d been wanted to write Westerns for a while—I have to credit author Cheyenne McCray for making me get off my butt and do it!

MO: Did you always plan on writing books about the Malory family when you centered this Riding Hard series around the Campbell family, or did something about the characters intrigue you as you wrote about them?

JA: When I first started Riding Hard, I planned to write five books, one for each brother of the Campbell family, oldest to youngest. But when Kyle and Ray Malory walked in, I realized I had two more hot guys on my hands with stories to tell. So the series expanded to seven. Kyle’s and Ray’s books will be the final two.

MO: I love paranormal historical romance and I really love your Nvengaria series. Can you describe for readers who may be new to the series what the logosh are? How do the lifespans of the logosh compare with humans?

JA: Thanks! The logosh I conceived of as shape-shifters who can take the form of animals, humans, or kind of demonlike creatures. They aren’t actually demons; they are supernatural beings who evolved in the mountains of Nvengaria (where a lot of magic floats around)—Nvengaria is a country in the Balkans, tucked between Moldavia and Transylvania. Logosh live longer than humans, but not as long as the Shifters in Shifters Unbound (who live 300-400 years). The logosh were among the first “shifters” I wrote—they aren’t based on anything but my crazy imagination.

MO: I’m thrilled that you will be coming out with a revised and expanded version of the story THE LONGEST NIGHT because it was always a favorite for me. Do you have a rough idea of when it will be released?

JA: The Longest Night is the story of a logosh who can become a wolf (and human) and a Scottish woman (sister of the hero of Highlander Ever After). When I first wrote it, I had a word count restriction, because it was published in an anthology with three other writers. I remember going through and cutting, cutting, cutting! Self-publishing has given me the chance to put things back in!

I wish I had a good idea of when the book will be out. I’m going through all four books in that series, having them re-edited and proofread. I’ve gone through all of Penelope and part of Mad Bad Duke—Highlander and Longest Night are still waiting. I plan to republish them once they are all finished. I have so many other new books to write, though, that they get pushed aside, sadly. But I’m working on it! I hope to have them back out this year, or at latest, early next year.

MO: What are you currently working on? Any Mackenzie or Riding Hard teasers?

JA: I am working on: Next Captain Lacey novel (ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR); a Shifter book that will be out in 2017; the next Kat Holloway mystery; an Immortals series novella (FORBIDDEN TASTE) that will release in a multi-author boxed set in October; a contemporary Christmas novella (which will be remotely tied to Riding Hard) for another multi-author boxed set. (Whew)

After that, I will work on more Riding Hard—I am hoping to write Tyler’s and Ross’s books close together and release them one month or so apart. I will also be working on the next Mackenzie (Alec Mackenzie, brother to Malcolm from Stolen Mackenzie Bride). Not sure when these books will be out—possibly late this year.

And of course, I’ll be rereleasing the Nvengaria series.

I don’t have a set publication schedule yet for the rest of 2016 (except the next Captain Lacey book on May 17; and the next Shifter (GUARDIAN’S MATE), first week of September. I’m actually going to take a vacation in between!

About Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over Europe and Asia, once sailing from San Francisco to Japan in a cargo ship. She has now settled with her husband and cat in the sunny southwest to work hard on her next books and drink gallons of gourmet iced tea.

Her books have won the Golden Quill and RT Reviewers Choice awards and RWA’s RITA award.

Immortals | Shifters Unbound | Highland Pleasures | Riding Hard | Nvengaria

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Meet Amy Sue Nathan

Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends—and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman—Izzy feels like she’s stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That’s when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that’s when life gets complicated.

Blogging about her “new guy” provides Izzy with something to do when Noah’s asleep. What’s the harm in a few made-up stories? Then, her blog soars in popularity and she’s given the opportunity to moonlight as an online dating expert. How can she turn it down? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious “Mac,” someone online suspects Izzy’s a fraud, and a guy in-real-life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are. That’s when Mrs. Feldman steps in, determined to show her neighbor the havoc that lies can wreak. If Izzy’s honest, she could lose everything, and everyone. Is the truth worth any cost?

Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough catches up with Nathan to ask about what gets her going, what she loves best and what she hopes readers will take away from her whimsical yet wise novel.

How do you get started writing a novel? What was the inspiration for this one?

My novels, stories, and essays always start with one sentence that pops into my head, captures my attention, and demands that I write it down. The story usually is there, somewhat fully formed shortly thereafter. With The Good Neighbor, it was the first line in the book: “The doorbell rang an I knew it was my ex, just like when my lip tingled and I knew it was a cold sore” that came to me. I knew about Izzy Lane from that one line. For a long time, I’d had the write about the way we sometimes portray ourselves online. I also wanted to explore the how’s and why’s of lying in real life and online. I’d been blogging since 2006 made it meaningful to make Izzy a blogger. The difference between me and Izzy is that while we were both anonymous bloggers (I blogged anonymous for two years) I did it to tell the truth and Izzy does it so that she can fib her way through some of what’s going on in her life.

What was your favorite scene to write? How about your least favorite?

My favorite scene to write happens near the end of the book when Izzy has a bit of a panic attack and an out-of-body experience. That sounds awful doesn’t it? It meant so much to me to get it right, that feeling when everything is swirling around, when you’re acutely aware of your own body, when sounds muffle, and you feel woozy, but you keep going. It has happened to me in real life just once or twice and I knew it needed to happen to Izzy.

I guess my least favorite scene to write was one that I’m the most glad I’d written — because it always makes me cry, and that isn’t always practical. Many readers have commented that they’ve been touched by the scene as well — and it’s when one of Izzy’s friends gets a letter.

In her on-line presence, Izzy tries to make her life sound better than it really is; do you think this is a common phenomenon?

Absolutely. Although the no-make-up, real-me, honest-life movement is strong, there are still plenty of perfect poses, happy faces, fabulous vacations, and smiling families online. Not that it’s all fake, but there’s just more to life than that. So many people forget that online isn’t all-inclusive and it can often makes people question themselves as to why they’re not as happy and peppy as everyone else. It’s important to remember that we all have things we’re not sharing online.

Can you talk about the role played by Izzy’s friends, especially Mrs. Feldman? Do you think that in today’s world, friends are more apt to function as surrogate families?

We live in a world where families of birth aren’t always close by, so I think as a global society we’ve taken on the task of building families wherever we go. You know the saying, you can pick your nose and you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. :) As lives become more hassled, harried, and complex, we seem moved to go back to basics. Even on social media we form small groups based on similar likes and values, we reach through the internet for answers and support. Away from the computer people also form friendships that function as families. I will say though that Izzy relies heavily on her brother Ethan and one of her best friends is her cousin, Rachel. Unlike me, Izzy lives near her family so I really enjoying writing these relationships for her.

What do you hope readers will take away from Izzy’s story?

The most important part of the story to me is that Izzy saves herself. She has help getting there, but she has to leave her comfort zone, let go of the past, and tread into unknown territory on her own before she can be happy with herself — and that’s when good things really start to happen. (Just like in real life!)

About THE GOOD NEIGHBOR

The Good Neighbor

Izzy Lane never thought of herself as a liar. In fact, she’s always played by the rules. She’s an excellent mother, has loyal friends, and a rich career as a school counselor. Fresh from a new divorce, however, Izzy feels like she needs a little fun. So when, on a whim, she starts a blog it seems like a rather benign indulgence. But as her online quips begin to gain traction, Izzy makes a slip. Somehow a new boyfriend winds his way into the picture. The problem? Izzy makes him up.

What, at first, feels like a harmless fib quickly spins out of control and Izzy must figure out how to balance fantasy and reality. Keeping up appearances while managing an absent ex-husband, two very nosy friends, a toddler son, and full-time job soon prove impossible, and Izzy feels utterly lost. It’s only when her long-time neighbor and surrogate mother, Mrs. Feldman, re-enters her life that Izzy begins to see the mess she’s made. And it’s with Mrs. Feldman’s guidance that Izzy learns to face reality, find comfort in new norms, and open herself up to the possibility of real love.

Buy THE GOOD NEIGHBOR: Amazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Amy Sue Nathan

Amy Sue Nathan

AMY SUE NATHAN lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the award-winning Women’s Fiction Writers blog. She has been published in Chicago Tribune, Writer’s Digest, the New York Times and Washington Post online, andHuffington Post, among many others. Amy has two grown children and is busy writing her next novel.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | PINTEREST

About THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND

The House on Primrose Pond

A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.

After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

Buy THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

Cozy Corner: I Checked Out A Fatal Chapter, Ripped From the Pages

The various story-lines of cozy mysteries never get old for me. Carving, cooking, knitting, sewing, surfing, travel, witches. What’s not to like? But my favorite theme has always been a story within the story. The mysteries wrapped around an author’s words and bound together in one beautiful package. The month of June promises to fulfill my late night reading binges with new who-dun-its from some of the best in the business: Elaine Viets, Lorna Barrett, and Kate Carlisle.

Add them to your to-be-read file, they’re the perfect addition to every cozy mystery library.

CHECKED OUTA Dead-End Job Mystery By Elaine Viets

Checked Out

When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….

Excited to explore the secrets of wine country, Brooklyn attends an excavation of the caves hidden deep under her parents’ commune—and the findings are explosive. A room is unearthed, and it contains a treasure trove of artwork, rare books, a chest of jewelry…and a perfectly mummified body.

A closer examination of the murdered man’s possessions reveals a valuable first edition of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hidden in the book is a secret map that unveils an even greater hoard of treasures brought to California by French winemakers fleeing the Nazi invasion with the commune leader’s grandfather, Anton, among them.

As reporters and art appraisers flock to Sonoma to see the precious bounty, questions begin to rise—did Anton hide these items to protect them, or did he steal them for himself? Who is the mysterious man left for dead inside the cave? But not all crime is buried in the past. When a new presence threatens the town’s peace, Brooklyn decides to do a little excavating of her own and solve the mystery of the treasure before anyone else is written off.…

Buy CHECKED OUT: Amazon.com | Kindle
| BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

A FATAL CHAPTER by Lorna Barrett

A Fatal Chapter

New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett presents another page-turning chapter in her Booktown Mystery series as mystery bookshop owner Tricia Miles finds out that murder is no walk in the park…

While out walking Sarge, her sister’s bichon frise, bookshop owner Tricia Miles is led by the agitated dog to a man lying in a gazebo. She’s startled when she recognizes Pete Renquist, the president of the Stoneham Historical Society, who appears to be suffering from cardiac arrest. When Pete later dies at the hospital, the discovery of a suspicious bruise and a puncture mark on his arm suggests he may have been murdered.

Haunted by Pete’s enigmatic last words to her, Tricia begins to consider who had a motive to kill her friend. Did Pete take his flirting too far, only to have a jealous husband teach him a lesson? Or did he discover something in the town’s historical records that his killer wanted kept secret? Tricia is determined to get to the bottom of things before someone else becomes history…

Buy A FATAL CHAPTER: Amazon.com | Kindle
| BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

RIPPED FROM THE PAGES A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle

Ripped From the Pages

When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….

Excited to explore the secrets of wine country, Brooklyn attends an excavation of the caves hidden deep under her parents’ commune—and the findings are explosive. A room is unearthed, and it contains a treasure trove of artwork, rare books, a chest of jewelry…and a perfectly mummified body.

A closer examination of the murdered man’s possessions reveals a valuable first edition of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hidden in the book is a secret map that unveils an even greater hoard of treasures brought to California by French winemakers fleeing the Nazi invasion with the commune leader’s grandfather, Anton, among them.

As reporters and art appraisers flock to Sonoma to see the precious bounty, questions begin to rise—did Anton hide these items to protect them, or did he steal them for himself? Who is the mysterious man left for dead inside the cave? But not all crime is buried in the past. When a new presence threatens the town’s peace, Brooklyn decides to do a little excavating of her own and solve the mystery of the treasure before anyone else is written off.…

Buy RIPPED FROM THE PAGES: Amazon.com | Kindle
| BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Author of DEAD MAN’S CARVE, A Tickled to Death Mystery and DEAD ON ARRIVAL, A Malia Fern Mystery.