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Inez Kelley ~ Sweet as Sin

LET’S GET READY TO RUUUUUUUUUUMBLE!

*SUNDAY!* *SUNDAY!* *SUNDAY!*

Er, uhm, I mean….

*MONDAY!* *MONDAY!* *MONDAY!*

Damn, just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Oh well.

When you talk about a monster something, it is over the top, all-powerful and the biggest and baddest thing out there. Monster trucks have tires the size of grown men and crush everything in their path.  Pizza hut has a Monster Pizza that is bigger than anything else on their menu. There is a place in my hometown that sells Monster Fries- french fries with brown gravy in a serving bowl. One order can feed a family of four easily.

Bigger, better, badder.

When I wrote Sweet as Sin, its working title was Monster Love. The title was two-fold. Yes, it was my biggest, baddest and best story to date but that wasn’t all. The hero, John Murphy, is a YA fantasy writer. He is called ‘The Master of Monsters’. Unfortunately, he has things in his past he has to deal with, monsters of his own mind.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of MONSTER is:

1: a: an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure

b: one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character

2: a threatening force

3: a: an animal of strange or terrifying shape

b: one unusually large for its kind

4: something monstrous; especially : a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty

5: one that is highly successful

John is all of those things. His past shaped his mind in abnormal ways that have cause him to deviate from the norm. There is no doubt he is a threatening force. Although not gargantuan, he is a big man who can terrify with his presence.  He can be and is cruel. He is also extremely successful. To him, monsters are real. They are more real than people.

Carina Press felt ‘Monster Love’ was a deceptive title since most people see monster and think paranormal. This isn’t, it is a contemporary but I can see where they are coming from. However, the title still fits. The only thing that can save John from himself is one hell of a woman and a rock solid love… a monster-sized love. That’s what you get with Sweet as Sin.

~~~~SWEET AS SIN excerpt~~~~

“I write under the name J. B. Flannigan.”

“Oh my God! You write Jondi?” Dumbfounded, Livvy stared at him. Jondi and his monster friends were heralded as America’s answer to Harry Potter. The Young Adult fantasy series had swept the nation like a firestorm and become a literary sensation. She’d stood in line with Andrea last winter to buy the third book in the series the day it came out.

Jondi, a shaggy blue monster with bright green sneakers and ball cap, captured the spirit of innocence. His best friend was Thorn, a six-foot bat with red eyes and wicked fangs. In Book One, Thorn had frightened and terrorized the New Woods of Gillimat until Jondi befriended him. Now the two were inseparable, one gentle and kind, the other menacing and frightening but loyal to the death. Embraced by schoolchildren and parents alike, some claimed the content too dark, too frightening, but good always triumphed and the morals somehow got through. The darkness hid a tale of hope. Livvy wondered if the same was true for the author.

A hint of bitterness crept into his tone. “Supposedly anyway. I have a bit of writer’s block.”

Somehow, the admission was for so much more. The look that had crossed his face had been two-fold—misery and terror. A surge of unexpected protectiveness swept through her and she desperately wanted his flippant arrogance back, anything to erase his troubles.

She hummed with a teasing smile. “The Master of Monsters here on Elmcrest Drive. Well, well, I’m in the company of greatness.”

His eyes shot to hers, pain almost hidden, and he winked. “The Master bit was my publisher’s work, not mine, but if you want greatness, we’ll talk later.”

The flirtation was so blatant it was intoxicating, and it had been so long since she’d had a drink.

~~~~

SWEET AS SIN

She’s made for sin. Sin is something he knows intimately.

John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he’s driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.

Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won’t lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she’s as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?

Buy Sweet as Sin at Carina Press, AMZ, ARe, BoB or B&N

Inez Kelley is a multi-published author of various romance genres. You can visit her at her website http://inezkelley.com/ Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inez.kelley

ALMOST AN OUTLAW with Patricia Preston & chance to win!

Hi, Patricia.  So glad you could join us today.  Welcome to Manic Readers.

Thank you so much.  I’m thrilled to be here!

What are three things you must have when you are writing?

  1. My notes on the chapter I’m writing.   I often outline in longhand while sitting in my recliner, so I need my notes when I sit down at the computer.
  2. Music.  On first drafts, I want music playing when I write.  Mostly instrumental pieces that often serve as my story’s soundtrack.
  3. A large glass of sweet iced tea.  Most people would need coffee but I am from the South.  I want sweet tea.  My favorite being the kind served at Cracker Barrel.

Tell us a little about your journey as a writer.

It started when I was in the sixth grade, or that is as early as I recall.  I wrote a short story for a class contest and finished in first place.  I actually remember the title, Priscilla’s Christmas, but nothing else.  Have no idea what the story was about.  Ever since then writing has been a part of my life.  There have been times, years when I put writing on the back burner, but I have always returned to it.  Writing is a gift that remains with you forever.

Do you have a day job?

Yes, I do or I would definitely be a ‘starving artist’.  I’m a single gal so the day job is a necessity.   For the present, I have to be content to moonlight as a writer.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I love creating characters and living with them in their world until their story is told.  I love that and I’ve always found it to be a little sad when I reach the end because that’s when the characters and I say goodbye to each other.

Fill us in on your new novella, Almost An Outlaw.

I have always called it my outlaw story.  It is a novella that takes place during the week leading up to Jesse James’s wedding.  My widowed heroine, Darcy, is Jesse’s cousin and I used the history of the James-Younger gang as the basis for plotting the story.  The hero, Austin, is associated with the outlaws through his friendship with Frank and Cole during the war in Missouri.  The villain is a ruthless bounty hunter who plans to collect the large reward for the outlaws by using Darcy to lure them out of hiding.

At the heart of the romance is Darcy’s inability to forgive herself for her husband’s death and Austin’s refusal to wed a woman who doesn’t think she deserves a second chance.

What is your advice to new writers?

You have to make writing a priority in your life.  Over the years, I have seen talented writers never accomplish anything because they didn’t make writing a priority.  They had great ideas and amazing talent that I envied so much.  They wanted to be writers and they had good intentions, but writing requires sacrifice.  It is hard work and it is work you have to do alone.  You have to be dedicated enough to say no to your family and friends.  You have to claim your time to write.  No one else will do it for you.  And, it doesn’t matter how many workshops you’ve attended or books on writing you’ve read, the work has to be done.  You have to finish the story.  And, you will never finish unless you make writing a priority.

What’s in the future for you?

Happiness, I hope!   Maybe another sale.  I have another novella under consideration and I’m working on a sequel to Almost An Outlaw which features Emma and a Pinkerton agent.  I also have a few other projects in various stages.  Plus I have twin grandbabies, a boy and a girl, to spoil.

Where can readers find out more about you?

Readers are welcome to visit my blog at www.patricia-preston.blogspot.com.   There are links to my Twitter and Facebook page on the blog.  I love having visitors!

Thanks so much for being with us today.

It was great and to all the visitors today, please leave a comment for a chance to win a  free copy of Almost An Outlaw in PDF format.  I’ll chose a winner on Wednesday.  It might be you!

Almost An Outlaw blurb:

Rancher Austin Cade rides into Liberty looking for his old comrades, the James-Younger gang. He needs their help tracking down the horse thief who’s stolen his prized mare. In town, the former gunfighter is reunited with Darcy, the first girl he ever kissed—and never forgot.

Young widow Darcy Branson owns a shop full of fashionable ladies’ attire, but continues to wear mourning black so she won’t forget her role in her husband’s death. Austin stirs a passion inside her that has long been dormant, but can Darcy learn to believe in Austin—and love—enough to let go of her tragic past?

Time is rapidly running out… As a cousin to Jesse James, Darcy has attracted unwanted attention, thanks to her rumored association with the gang. Soon Austin and Darcy are faced with confronting not only their growing desire, but danger in the form of a deadly bounty hunter…

Excerpt from Almost An Outlaw:

Chapter 1

April 1874

“I wouldn’t wait nine years on any man.” Darcy Branson spoke to Emma Nash as they stood in the fitting room of Darcy’s dress shop. The upcoming marriage of Darcy’s cousin, Jesse James, to his longtime sweetheart, Zee Mims, was the subject of speculation among those who knew about the secret wedding. Darcy thought nine years was an unreasonably long courtship.

Of course, there was a lot to be said for waiting. If she had waited that long before marrying Stephen, she might have learned the truth about her Prince Charming before it was too late.

“At least Zee isn’t going to end up an old maid like everyone thought,” Emma said.

Darcy nodded as she helped Emma try on a lovely gown of topaz silk faille. However, there were much worse things than being an old maid. Like being a vengeful wife who had gotten her husband murdered. That was, indeed, worse.

Emma smiled with excitement as she looked at her reflection in the cheval mirror. “I do love this dress,” she said. “I don’t know how I will ever repay you.”

“You owe me nothing.” Darcy smiled, happy that she could provide a pretty gown for Emma, who could not have afforded it otherwise. Some of the well-to-do old biddies in town said she was too generous toward the less fortunate. She didn’t think so. Generosity reaped its own reward. “Mister Caruthers will be completely smitten with you.”

Blushing at the mention of her beau’s name, Emma turned to Darcy. “Why don’t you wear that emerald gown you bought in Saint Louis to the wedding?”

“No.” She always wore black.

“It is time—”

“No.” It would never be time.

“Stephen has been dead for almost three years now. Long enough that no one would think ill of you if you put aside mourning colors.”

Darcy removed the tape measure that hung around her neck. She was a graduate of the San Francisco Academy for Young Ladies, where she had been taught good manners and social graces. She knew exactly what was and was not proper. She sighed. “The rules of etiquette change nothing.” They were only words in a book. “They can’t change what is inside me.” They couldn’t change what she had done. She splayed her hand over the waist of her black bodice. “Black suits me.”

The jingle of the bells attached to the front door of the shop came as a welcome diversion. She left Emma to admire herself in the mirror and went to wait on her customer. She stopped short when she saw the customer was a man. Rarely did a man enter her dress shop, only the occasional local business owner looking to buy his wife or sweetheart a gift. The tall, dark-haired man standing with his back to her as he looked at the ready-made frocks on display looked more like a gunman than a gentleman. A black duster fell from the wide span of his shoulders to his knee-high boots, and he held a center-dented black hat in his left hand. Men who dressed like him lived in the saddle. Uneasiness spread through her. The large bounty offered for her cousins, Frank and Jesse James, had brought a number of unsavory men into the town of Liberty. It was a dangerous time, especially for those connected to the outlaws. No one trusted outsiders.

The customer appeared particularly interested in the expensive emerald gown that Emma had suggested she wear to Jesse’s wedding. It was a lovely dress. One she had fallen in love with the moment she saw it in Saint Louis.

She squared her shoulders as she made her presence known. “May I help you?”

HISTORY WORTH READING WITH SANDRA WORTH

A Royal Unsolved Mystery

Sandra Worth

Ask anyone about the Princes in the Tower, and they’ll probably tell you Richard III murdered his two little nephews for the throne. Contrary to what they believe, however, the mystery of the Princes in the Tower is a cold case file, and their disappearance remains unsolved to this day, five hundred years later.

Let’s talk about murder.

Did Richard III murder the princes, or did someone else? Was a murder even committed? If the princes weren’t murdered, what happened to them?  Historians have considered a wealth of scenarios and new research lends weight to the possibility that one of the princes survived, as many contemporaries thought!  This is what my research convinced me was the case. A closer look at the evidence might persuade you, too.

The facts.

After he took the throne, Richard sent King Edward’s two sons to live at the Tower. At the time, it was a royal residence, not the torture chamber it became under the Tudors. Londoners heard the princes playing in the garden and saw them shooting arrows. Then abruptly, one autumn day in 1483, the arrows stopped flying. The little princes were never seen again. That is all we know for certain.

What happened next.

In 1492, a mysterious young man appeared in Europe, claiming to be the younger prince in the Tower, Richard of York.  There had been many rumors about the survival of the younger prince, but no proof. This young man was put forward by Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, sister to Richard III.   Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the princes in the Tower, was alive at the time, and a prisoner of Henry VII. She was the only one who could definitively identify the young man as genuine. As soon as the news of the survival of Prince Richard thundered across Europe, the Tudors announced she had died of an illness.

Very convenient for the Tudors, and devastating to the cause of the young pretender who has been recognized as the true king of England by all the crowned heads of Europe, and is about to return to England to claim his crown.

Was he, or wasn’t he?

Was this young man the true prince? Many at the time believed he was. There is evidence even Henry Tudor believed he was. But Tudor propaganda has been so effective that the question is rarely raised in England. Aside from a sprinkling of a few authors and historians who championed the young pretender’s cause over the centuries, it’s taken for granted that he was a fraud. Now, a new book presents evidence that can be taken to suggest this young man, nicknamed “Perkin Warbeck” by the Tudors, was really who he said he was—the younger prince who vanished from the Tower. King James IV of Scotland certainly believed in him. He supported the young man not only with men and money and arms, but gave him the hand of his royal cousin, Lady Catherine Gordon—a dazzlingly beautiful and spirited girl who believed utterly in her husband to the end of her days, and who later became known as the “Pale Rose of England.”

Pale Rose of England.

My forthcoming novel, Pale Rose of England, presents the case for Perkin Warbeck as the younger prince in the Tower. But more than royal murder and the question of Perkin Warbeck, Pale Rose of England is about the beautiful Scottish princess Lady Catherine Gordon who gave up everything for love. To quote from the Romantic Times, this is “a love story amidst war, a history filled with glorious people and an unforgettable female character who triumphs when others fail; whose faith and love move a king and who has been lost to history until now.”

Catherine’s story of love amidst war is as compelling as the royal mystery that shrouds her husband’s identity.

***

Sandra Worth is the author of five novels that chronicle the demise of the Plantagenet dynasty in England and the rise of the Tudors. She has won numerous awards. Each book is the recipient of multiple honors. Visit her website at www.sandraworth.com

ONE REAL THING with Anah Crow & Dianne Fox

One Real Thing…and two very troubled heroes

Thanks to the Manic Readers for inviting us to drop by today!

Last week, our first book with Carina Press was released. One Real Thing is a contemporary gay romance about Nick Addison and Hollister Welles, two men who are each convinced that the other couldn’t possibly be interested in him—not that way. They’re friends and yet they both want more. How to keep them apart? How to bring them together in a way that matters?

In character-driven stories like this one, the best conflict comes from within. As authors, we’re always trying to push ourselves. Not just in terms of structure, but also theme. Troubled heroes are easy to do badly: are they too over the top? Beyond saving? Is manufactured trauma just a placeholder for character development?

Internal crisis is the most likely way that two people would get themselves backed into a corner like Nick and Holly do. The obstacles had to come from within. So we set out to create two people who were on different paths for the same reason—trying not to become what their parents had been.

The anxiety of parental influence is a theme most readers can relate to. The mundane nature of the core problem cuts some of the potential for unnecessary drama. Because it’s such a common trial, it’s easier to connect to it, easy to manipulate, and believable when resolved. The path the troubled heroes walk is one that everyone does at some point in their lives. To make it challenging, we simply started them in a harder place than most.

The other trials are also common concerns, magnified through the lens of too much to lose, too many ways to lose it. What does he think of me? He’s too good to be true. I don’t deserve him. If I’m going to fail, I might as well fail big.  I thought this was what I wanted, but when I got here, I found out I was wrong.

We knew if we could make the source of Nick and Holly’s troubles something easy to relate to, it would save them from being annoyingly melodramatic. If they are a bit frustrating at times, we all get frustrated with ourselves as well, so we can forgive them.

We hope that we’ve managed to do that with Nick and Holly—that in some way their experiences speak to your experience and that their troubles make them engaging, not enraging.

Excerpt from One Real Thing:

Holly woke up in hell. A nice hotel, sun slanting in the windows, Nick showering just feet away. Fucking Nick. Years with nothing but postcards and holiday cards, glimpses of Nick’s perfectly organized life, and then this. Like Holly had fallen down and needed rescuing. He didn’t. Holly pulled a pillow over his head and willed himself not to go looking for a drink.

He’d gotten where he was deliberately; he didn’t blame anyone but himself. He’d be damned if he’d give that away like he was some kind of puppet other people played with. Apparently Nick had missed that fucking memo. Now Nick’s interruption prolonged this continued failure to thrive that stretched in front of Holly like the Sahara. Christ, why did Nick have to pick now to give a damn?

Holly wanted a drink. He wanted not to be here, waiting for Nick to realize Holly was a mistake that didn’t belong anywhere near his life. Again. Yet, as desperately as Holly wanted to, he couldn’t bring himself to blow Nick off.

Nick walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, his dark curls waterlogged and his skin still beaded with moisture. He was across the room and digging through his suitcase before realization hit and his head came up. He stared at Holly for a long moment and then said, evenly, “Good morning.”

“Glad it is for someone.” Holly pushed up to sitting, trying not to whimper at the pain in his head. His own fault. He dragged the blankets up to hug them against his chest. He was tired of being looked at.

“Why are you doing this?”

—Anah Crow & Dianne Fox

One Real Thing at Carina Press: http://ebooks.carinapress.com/1F8EA701-A5CC-413D-8E27-90D7F50BEDF8/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=D8029ABD-E142-4505-A47E-40FEEE3CD86D

One Real Thing at authors’ website: http://foxwrites.com/published-works/one-real-thing/