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JUST GOTTA SAY and GIVEAWAY w/ LAURA KAYE

Laura, thanks for stopping by Manic Readers today, can you tell us a bit about your newest release, JUST GOTTA SAY?

Thanks for having me here! I’d love to!

JUST GOTTA SAY is my debut erotic romance, and it releases this Friday, September 30. It’s a ménage a quatres story (yep, that’s means foursome!) and has a bit of male-male sexiness to spice things even more. Here’s the blurb:

Callie Davis stumbles upon two of her three male roommates in a surprising, molten-hot midnight tryst and discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. Desire to play with them grips her, and she can’t stop fantasizing about having multiple men, particularly her three long-time best friends.

Callie is thrilled when a guys’ night out gives her the perfect opportunity to recreate her fantasy, with the help of a threesome porn video and a bag of sex toys. That is, until Lucas, Jack and Noah return early and catch her in the act. More than anything, the guys want to make her fantasy come true. But Callie has a secret, and she can’t help wondering if being with all three men will risk the future she’s always wanted with one of them.

As three strong sets of hands caress and undress her, Callie surrenders to desire, because sometimes you just gotta say…yes.

Why the move into erotic?

I’m not sure it was so much of a “move” as an expansion, if that makes sense. What I mean by that is just this: all my stories have strong eroticism. I write detailed, explicit sex scenes in all my stories. It’s just how they come to me and, since I intend each of the sex scenes I write to further plot or character development, I believe the detailing helps show that progression. I don’t think of myself primarily as an erotic romance writer, but I do write erotic. So, JUST GOTTA SAY just took that element and expanded on it.

This story attracted me for several reasons. First, because, to me, group fantasies are just so damn sexy and erotic. The idea of one woman being the focus of multiple men’s desires and attention. That’s just hot! *winks* Also, I’ve always liked friends-to-lovers stories, and I think that’s what makes Just Gotta Say not only off-the-charts sexy but also sweet and romantic too. Plus, I couldn’t not write it—the characters would not leave me alone.

Did you intentionally go w/ the old fashioned vampire feel for Forever Freed?

Not exactly. Lucien Demarco came to me as a fully formed character. He knew himself, his story, and how it had to be told. I tend to write character-driven stories, which means I let the characters dictate what kind of story theirs is and how it would best be told. And Lucien was a complete force of nature. He dictated FOREVER FREED from beginning to end and pestered me non-stop whenever I wasn’t writing, which is why I finished the initial 145K draft in just 11 weeks… Reworking all that for publication resulted in the final 95K novel plus a draft of a prequel (Forever Damned) I hope to return to in the not-too-distant future. A sequel is also outlined (Forever Young).

Can you tell us about your WIP’s?

I have a couple things in the hopper right now. I just finished Book 1 in my Hearts of the Anemoi series with Entangled Publishing. North of Need is a contemporary fantasy romance that releases 11/1. The four Anemoi were directional wind gods the Greeks associated with the seasons. I’m now in the midst of writing Book Two, West of Want, scheduled to release in March 2012. I’m also in the middle of edits on a dark paranormal erotic series tentatively called The Vampire Kings series with Harlequin Nocturne. These are novellas in their Cravings line and the first, In the Service of the King, releases February 2012. It’s funny because North of Need is some of the lightest paranormal I’ve written, while the Kings series is much darker. Something for everyone! *grins*

Do any your WIP’s hearken back to your earlier writing?

I think all my writing is connected by a theme that I’ve realized runs through all my stories—people’s desire to belong somewhere, to someone. To have that safe place to land, to know you’ll always be wanted and accepted. Every one of my stories deals with that in some way. I didn’t set out to write that as a theme, but it’s really become important to my identity as a writer, which is why I strive very hard to not only make my stories hot and erotic, but also meaningful and emotional. Because the sex is simply the physical manifestation of the emotional connection that belonging brings.

Does your muse require anything special to get those creative juices flowing, other than two minutes to rub together?  It’s got to be hectic with work, children, husband, and home.

Fortunately, my muse isn’t picky and doesn’t have a required routine that needs to be observed. You said it—with a full-time job, two young children (ages 7 and 5), a husband, a house, etc., I have to write whenever I can. The only real routine I have is my need to reread what I’ve written to get my head back in the story. Otherwise, I’ll write anywhere, any time.

Can you tell us a bit about your historian work and archaeological training?  Have you ever been on a dig?

I have a Ph.D. in American history and work as a college professor. I’ve worked on quite a few digs, beginning in graduate school. I went to William and Mary, and we used to like to joke that you couldn’t throw a trowel in the ground in the Williamsburg, VA, area without hitting a colonial archaeological site. Which was kinda actually true. I absolutely love archaeological fieldwork.

Do you have certain “go to” authors you’ve been with for years?

As a reader? Absolutely. I’ll read anything by J.R. Ward, Sherrillyn Kenyon, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Preston & Child.

Do you have a favorite genre?

Paranormal romance, hands down.

Have your reading tastes changed over the years?

I read more romance now than I did when I was younger, but my reading has always been in the paranormal realm.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

No. I couldn’t begin to pick just one.

Are you currently reading anything?

I go in cycles with reading. While I’m deep into writing, I don’t let myself read because I’m a bit of an obsessive reader—once I start a book I usually can’t stop myself until I’m done. LOL Last week I needed a break, and thus I tore through five books, the last of which was Olivia Cunning, Backstage Pass. I’m back in the writing saddle now, so no books for me!

Is there anything special you’d like to share with Manic Readers?

Thank you for having me here! And thanks to the readers for sharing in my stories and bringing my characters to life! Also, to enter to win an ebook copy of JUST GOTTA SAY, leave a comment with your email address! Good luck!

Thanks so much Laura for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit with Manic Readers.  I’ve enjoyed it!

Buy Laura’s Books

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WANT TO WIN JUST GOTTA SAY? The Just Gotta Blog Tour started on Monday, 9/26. See my blog post that lists all the dates and stop! A giveaway everyday!

A multi-published author of paranormal, contemporary and erotic romance, Laura Kaye’s hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong. Laura is the author of the bestselling contemporary romance HEARTS IN DARKNESS and the bestselling and award-nominated paranormal romance FOREVER FREED. JUST GOTTA SAY is Laura’s third published book and debut erotic romance. Her fourth book, contemporary fantasy romance NORTH OF NEED, is the first in a 4-book series and releases November 1. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Lost City Shifters – Jaguar Shifters by Eleri Stone

Recently I’ve heard a lot of people talk about paranormal burnout and it’s a little hard for me to relate, not only as a writer but as a reader. After all, I can’t remember ever not being interested in stories with a paranormal slant and that was before I discovered romance. I loved the YA books Lois Duncan put out in the 80’s…psychics, haunted dolls, and astral projecting evil twins (Eek!). As a teen, I was a big fan of horror and fantasy, from the epic to the contemporary. Discovering romance was a revelation to me and paranormal romance, heaven.

What I think is exciting about paranormal romance today is that authors are beginning to draw more heavily from the fantasy and horror genres for inspiration and are using non-traditional characters, plots and mythologies on which to build their worlds. They’re keeping what I love about paranormal alive—the dark and dangerous stories set on the outskirts of human society, the mystery of the hidden, forgotten and unknown. At the same time, they’re exploring the boundaries of the genre, expanding it and creating fresh new worlds in the process.

It’s what I’ve tried to do with Lost City Shifters. For those new to the series…

The stories revolve around the Yaguara, a tribe of jaguar shapeshifters living deep in the Amazon jungle. For centuries they’ve inhabited an ancient city well beyond the influence of human culture.

Their society is traditional, isolationist and based on the premise that strength is the highest virtue.

They’re ruled by a King who’s earned his place in a bloody tournament of succession.

They resent human intrusion into their territory and are distrustful of them to the extent that until the events which take place in Mercy, taking a human mate was forbidden.

There’s an ongoing conflict between those who want to deal head on with the reality of human encroachment and a more traditional group clinging with increasing desperation to the old ways.

From this world comes the story of my newest release, Redemption. Adriano was caught in a power struggle, used as a scapegoat and sent into exile. Five years later, he wants nothing more than to be able to return home. He’s on the brink of recovering a priceless artifact from a damaged archaeological site in Peru, knowing that the Yaguara can’t afford to let it fall into human hands and confident that he’ll be able to exchange it for a pardon.

Sophie is the inquisitive and hard-working archaeologist who keeps getting in his way. Adriano’s plan to seduce her as a distraction backfires and what follows is a fast-paced adventure through a labyrinthine tunnel system hidden beneath the ruins.

I’ve been told that what people enjoy most about the series is its different take on shapeshifters. Well, that and the fact that love doesn’t magically transform these predators into pussycats. So what do you say, is there room for a little paranormal love in your heart?

Where you can find me:

Website: http://eleristone.com/

Twitter: @EleriStone

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EleriStone

Take One At Bedtime with Jenny Twist

Hi everyone. This is the first time I’ve visited Manic Readers, so perhaps I’d better introduce myself.

My name’s Jenny Twist (it’s my real name) and I’ve been writing now for about ten years, but have only recently had my first book published – Take One At Bedtime. I had always wanted to write but life kept getting in the way, so I didn’t actually get started until my husband and I retired to Spain.

Not long after we moved here Stephen King brought out his seminal On Writing, which has been my bible ever since.  One of the things he does in the book is set the scenario for a short story and suggest that you finish it. The result in my case was Waiting for Daddy, the last story in the book. I was so pleased with it that I sent it to a local magazine, Streetwise, which publishes, amongst other things, short stories for English people living in the Costa del Sol. To my delight, they asked me to provide a piece every month, alternating between articles and short stories. This was really good for me, as it gave me deadlines to meet and I really set to and began to write down stories I’d had in my head for years (which felt a bit like cheating) and the occasional new one. I also started writing stories for competitions, one of which was set in Spain in the 1950s and became the first chapter of my novel, Domingo’s Angel.

I spent several years sending stories to magazines and getting them rejected or   ignored and I had really given up hope of ever getting any published. It seemed there just wasn’t a market for the kind of stuff I like to write. I tried my hand at more middle-of-the-road romance, which is what the English magazines prefer, but they all have their existing stable of authors and aren’t really interested in looking at anyone else. Most didn’t bother to reply at all. Those who did were usually quite obviously using a form letter and clearly hadn’t read the work in question. I once, to my amazement, got quite a rude letter from a major magazine publisher which appeared to be criticizing an entirely different piece. The comments didn’t relate to my story at all. What amazed me was that they should be so unkind to people who submit stories to them. Surely many of these are their own readers. Do they really think it’s a good idea to insult them?

By this time the novel was nearing completion and I began sending it out to publishers and agents. I had higher hopes for the novel because it seemed to be a more commercially viable proposition.

During my research on publishers I had a very close shave with a vanity publisher which had disguised its true nature so cleverly that I was about to sign the contract when my husband, re-reading the small print, noticed it was ‘author-funded.’ I could have committed myself to paying £3,000 (about $5,000) to a publisher who would have had no interest whatsoever in marketing my book, since it had already been paid for printing it.

Then I discovered the site The Passionate Pen. If you are an author looking for a publisher, you really need to know about this site. It not only lists all the publishers who pay YOU (rather than the other way round), and all the reputable agents, but it also has a list of the ‘bad guys.’ Through this site, I found the wonderful publisher, Melange Books, then called Midnight Showcase.

I sent them the novel, but I noticed that they specialised in short stories, albeit with word counts considerably longer than mine. So I enquired whether they would look at shorter stories if there were enough for a whole book. They would and they accepted the anthology a few weeks later. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.

A few weeks after that they accepted the novel as well. (I’ll talk to you about that in my next visit). I had gone, in a matter of weeks, from struggling writer to soon-to-be-published author with TWO BOOKS to my name.

Take One At Bedtime was published 23 April this year and Domingo’s Angel on 10 July. I have since had another three stories accepted, Doppelganger, which appeared in the anthology, Curious Hearts, on 24 July, Uncle Vernon, which will be included in an anthology scheduled for October, Halloween Treats, and Jamey and the Alien, which will appear in a Christmas anthology. My cup runneth over!

Some of the stories in Take One At Bedtime have been in my mind for so long that it’s difficult now to remember where the ideas originally came from.  But I can remember a few.

The Apple Tree, for example, is based on a ghost story told to me by another student one drunken night after the college ball. I thought about it on and off for years afterwards, trying to come up with an explanation for how the aunts could have been dead and alive at the same time.

The Scam is based on a real incident that happened to a friend of mine in a motorway service station in Madrid. It was my way of getting revenge. I thought what if they’d picked on someone with the power to get their own back? My friend, incidentally, didn’t like the story. She is much more forgiving than I am.

If you would like to know a little bit more about Take One At Bedtime, here is the blurb:

TAKE ONE AT BEDTIME

Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret’s house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?

Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.

There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.

But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.

It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look.

Just one look.

WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.

Published by Melange Books 23rd April – Editors’ Pick. http://www.melange-books.com/authors/jennytwist/twisttakeoneatbedtime.html

Available on Amazon and Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Take-One-Bedtime-Jenny-Twist/dp/161235064X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314428115&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Take-One-at-Bedtime-ebook/dp/B0053CYTA2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306922804&sr=8-1-spell

Excerpt from the tale: Victim of Fortune:

She reached up and switched on a hanging lamp above the table, then marched across to the door and switched off the main light. Instantly the room was plunged into near total darkness. Only the space in the middle of the table was illuminated with a deep, rosy glow. He noticed that the lamp was draped in some soft, silky material of a deep red. Behind him came a stumbling sound and a muffled curse as the old woman tripped over something on her way back to the table.

After some fumbling, she resumed her seat and carefully unwrapped the object she had removed from the windowsill. It was a simple glass globe on a wooden stand, but she gazed at it reverently as if it were a holy relic.

Passing her hands over the top of it several times and crooning under her breath, her face bloodied by the red light, she could have been some ancient priestess communing with her dreadful gods.  Gradually, he began to get the impression that her face was under-lit, that the globe itself was giving out a milky luminescence. She closed her eyes and swayed slightly, then opened them wider than before and peered into the globe.

“I can see a strange land,” she declared in a sonorous chant, her voice suddenly taking on a deep and powerful note. “It is a dreadful place, all red desert and black rocks. And it is hot.” She drew her hands back from the globe as if she could feel the heat scorching her flesh. “So hot.” She moaned.

She seemed to have forgotten the presence of the young man and he leaned forward, trying to see into the globe. It remained clear and empty, bland and innocuous.

“There are terrible storms here. The winds rage over the surface and rains fall on the black rocks. A terrible place.” She drew her breath in a long whistle. “The rain is poisonous. Nobody could live here. How could anyone live in this desolate place?”

She lifted her eyes and looked at him, but it was clear that she wasn’t really seeing him. In a daze, she returned to the crystal.

“Yet there are people here. There are buildings, and I can see people walking amongst them. I think they are people.”

She uttered a low moan, closed her eyes and shuddered, then her eyes snapped open and she looked directly at him, seeing him.

“You!” she cried. “You come from this place!”

For more excerpts and other stuff, go to my website.

https://sites.google.com/site/jennytwistauthor/

Thank you so much for sharing my visit and thank you, Manic Readers, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my writing.

‘Bye for now.

Jenny Twist

Reality Check with Barbara Longley

I’ve been wracking my pea-brain for a blog topic, and yesterday something happened that gave me an idea. I belong to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and we meet the second Saturday of each month. I’m the treasurer, so that means I have to attend—physically that is. I spend a lot of time in my head, and meetings involving a lot of sitting and being talked at usually send me into my own daydreams. Vaguely aware, I knew the group was talking about libraries and providing a presence to promote our organization and writing in general. Someone said something about our published authors, and someone else mentioned my name. Huh? I kind of came out of my imaginary world to listen, and that’s when everything for this blog clicked into place. Bear with me. This is more circuitous than linear.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had this romanticized notion about the birth. First, I was certain I was carrying a boy. I bought all kinds of overalls, cowboy pajamas, and boy stuff. Second, I was convinced that the moment my baby was born, there would be this instant recognition and bonding.  After all, the child grew inside my body, and I anticipated the birth moment with great longing. I was the kind of expectant mother who held conversations with my unborn. I wrote letters even. Yep. I was that mom-to-be.

Reality. After seventy-two hours of labor. Yes, you heard right. We went the mid-wife route, and they are reluctant to intervene with the process unless mother or child are compromised. Anyway, after seventy-two hours of labor, my daughter was born. Due to the prolonged labor, her face was smooshed flat, and her tiny head had taken on a comical cone shape. I held her in my arms for the first time, gazed at her, and the first thing that popped into my head was, “Who the hell are you?”

There was no moment of instant recognition. Though we bonded, I can’t say that I knew her at all.  In fact, I’m still getting to know her, and she’s a grown woman with a husband and a home of her own.

What does this have to do with my debut novel, HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD?

I had this romanticized notion about what I’d feel like once I was finally published. During that meeting on Saturday when my name was mentioned in conjunction with published authors, I didn’t immediately see myself as part of that group. I realized I don’t feel any different at all. I don’t think of myself as “published” versus “non-published.” My friends and family certainly don’t treat me any differently. I still have all the angst I had prior to publication, only the angst subject matter has changed. Now it’s—can I stay published? What if my books really suck? Before it was—will I ever get published? What if my books really suck?

Hah! I’m still the same insecure geek who spends way too much time in my head. Being published hasn’t changed me at all.

Thank you so much for inviting me here to guest blog, and thank you readers for joining me. For an excerpt of HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD, please visit my website   Barbara Longley

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You can find HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and wherever e-books are sold.

Cursed with immortality, Dermot MacKay craves death. To lift the faerie curse placed upon him and his men over 1,600 years ago, he must return the soul of his reincarnated wife to the exact place and time of her murder. But her soul is currently residing in the very modern Sidney St. George—and first he has to convince her to accompany him to Scotland.

Sidney doesn’t believe Dermot’s wild claims of immortality and rebirth, yet she cannot deny that she is drawn to the sexy Scot. Nor can she explain the sense of déjà vu his touch elicits. Desperate for answers, she agrees to go with him—only to learn too late that to help the man she loves is to lose him forever…

BREATHING SPACE WITH IAN FYDELL


How many of you have ever looked up at the stars and wondered what’s out there? I bet many of you have. When I was seven years old my parents took me to see a movie some of you may know. It was a “little” film called Star Wars. I can remember pulling up to my house and when I got out of the car, I lagged behind and stared up at the stars wondering…was there a Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker out there battling for control of the universe? Or were there other forms of life somewhere in space…and that’s where it all started for me. Later on in Junior High School, my English teacher would encourage me to continue writing as I did well in creative writing assignments. This was before we had computers at home and I remember handwriting many short stories and sharing them with my teacher and family members. Before I knew it, along came my teen years. Friends, cars and girls took up most of my free time. In my junior year of High School I had met the girl I’d eventually marry. Flash forward a few years and I was working a full-time job, then came children, a house with a mortgage and big responsibilities. Writing was always in the back of my mind, but I never could find the time to write. Unfortunately, one day at my job I was severely injured by a piece of machinery. This injury forced me into a new role…Mr. Mom. It was a tough adjustment going from bread winner to bread baker. It was a stressful time in my life and I was told I should look into a hobby. Playing sports and working out weren’t an option because of my injury. One day it hit me! I thought, why not go back to that time when I was a seven year old kid who loved to look up at the stars and dream.

Breathing Space: Book One Of The Exodus Trilogy takes place in the year 2095, and the Earth is in severe ecological decline. Pollutants, wars, deep mantle mining, and everyday disregard for our planet have finally taken their toll, and now earthquakes, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and plagues are regular occurrences.  Within a few decades, a century at most, Earth will no longer be habitable. Terraforming and conservation efforts have been ineffective; it’s just too late to stop the decline.   The novel’s action focuses on veteran Air Force Captain John Lewis, commander of Triton Station, an American space habitat dedicated to sending out probes to nearby stars in an attempt to find habitable new worlds. John is a troubled man faced with a daunting task, plagued by memories of his life back on Earth. Especially haunting are the recollections of his participation in the Third World War, and of those he lost during those dark days.   It takes 17 years, but the quest to find a new Earth pays off: a probe locates a habitable planet eight light years away. The Exodus-class probe transmits a video-feed back to Triton, allowing them to see what it discovers. The new world is teeming with life, including (to their wonder and dismay) a primitive species of aliens who appear to be the builders of a series of amazing pyramidal structures. The U.S. government immediately clamps a tight security lid on the discovery. After weeks of debate, the President and his advisors decide to put together a small advance team to explore the new world and to forge an alliance with its natives.    Given his decades of leadership experience and previous knowledge of the Exodus situation, Captain Lewis is tapped as the team leader. After a brief but intense period of training, the team heads for the new planet, Exodus, in a cutting-edge faster-than-light vessel that appears to have been reverse-engineered from alien technology.  After a six-month flight, they arrive to find much more than they’d bargained for.

A malfunction strands them in a sea of tall grass hundreds of miles away from their intended landing site. As they make their way across the plains, they encounter a variety of animals, including intelligent felinoid predators. Eventually the team makes contact with the primitive Toborg, furry hunter-gatherers who appear to have constructed the great pyramids observed by the Exodus probe. Soon after, they find that they are privileged to make first contact with not just one alien species, but two. The protectors and mentors of the Toborg, the highly advanced Zeta Reticulans, arrive several weeks into their stay. The Zetans are spindly humanoids with large heads, gray skin, and huge almond-shaped eyes who closely resemble the gray aliens of UFO lore. The Zetan spokesman reveals details of humanity’s origin and history that were previously unknown to the humans, including the fact that Earth is one of only a number of planets with human populations. Seventy thousand years before, the Zetans saved humanity from a fate similar to the Toborg’s. They remain in danger, however: two malevolent alien species, the Skreeeyep and the c’Cassra-fik-pta, plan to invade Earth and enslave Terran humanity. The Zetans are aware of the U.S. government’s plan to start colonizing Exodus, and approve of the plan if for no other reason than to save some of the human population from the invaders.    As a parting gift, the alien gives Captain Lewis a pyramidal ark containing various blueprints for more advanced faster-than-light drives and other tools they can use against the invaders. It is during the six-month ride back home that John Lewis discovers that the Zetans themselves aren’t all that they pretend to be…

I spent almost a year writing Breathing Space and about three more months of working with my publisher on editing and cover design. After it was all said and done, I was nominated as a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category. The Long Island Authors Group recently accepted my application after reviewing my book. I also signed over 200 copies of my book at Book Expo America NYC and have made several guest appearances on Scifi talk shows such as, The Kevin Smith Show, Cover to Cover and That Scifi Show. I will also be a guest on the VRO show on 8/24 @ 9pm and from 10/13/11 – 10/16/11 I will sign copies of my book at Comic Con NYC. My dream is to see the pages of my trilogy leap onto the silver screen and entertain moviegoers just as I was entertained when I was a seven year old boy.

I am not a fan of “predictable endings.” Why should the guy ALWAYS get the girl…why does the good guy ALWAYS have to win? When reading my trilogy I warn my readers to expect the unexpected.

If you’d like to order a signed copy of my novel you can go to my website, www.ianfydellexodustrilogy.com or you can purchase a copy from www.amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. Feel free to check out the website for news, interviews and more about me. I am also on Twitter: @IanFydell and Facebook: Fans of Breathing Space: Book One Of The Exodus Trilogy. Feel free to contact me, I’d love to chat with you.

A SCANDALOUS PROPOSITION by Wendy Soliman

In an increasingly crowded marketplace it’s tough thinking up original concepts for books. It’s even more challenging if, like me, you’ve already written a few and exhausted your best ideas. God forbid that I should churn out variations on the same theme! Annoyingly there’s nothing under the sun that hasn’t been done before, probably far better than I ever could. So I need that elusive angle, a magic twist if you like, that makes old themes seem fresh and exciting.

With Regency romance it can’t have escaped your notice that we have millions of dukes, marquises, earls and assorted other rich landed gentry littering the literary landscape. A prime example of too many chiefs and not enough Indians if ever I came across one but I guess that’s okay because we’re all fascinated by the exotic lives of the indolent rich, aren’t we?

With A Scandalous Proposition, my latest Regency due to be released by Carina Press today, I had a good long think about hero material before putting fingers to keyboard. What particular type of guy from the period makes my heart beat just that little bit faster? Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe sprang immediately to mind. What is it about men in uniform? Do they do it for you as well? From that one lustful thought Major Lord Adam Fitzroy was born. See, I couldn’t resist making him a lord, heir to a duke in fact. How predictable is that?

Anyway, just because he has influential connections I wasn’t about to give him an easy time of it. When the book opens he’s on his way home to Portsmouth on furlough. He stops at an inn and impulsively rescues a beautiful woman from a difficult situation. That’s when things start to get interesting. He subsequently discovers that the woman, who introduces herself as Mrs Simon Smith, is actually Florentina Grantley, a Spanish émigré employed as companion to his mother, the dowager duchess. Bizarrely she also has connections to the local brothel. Adam, as a man of honour, ought to denounce her at once but where’s the fun in that? Anyway, she fascinates him and so his price for keeping her guilty secret is one wicked night in her company.

As if all that weren’t enough, whilst Adam was away fighting for king and country, his brother the duke upped and married Adam’s intended. Philippa, the lady in question, seems to think she and Adam can simply pick up where they left off. What a nerve! Oh, and she’s also pregnant but Adam has grave doubts about his ailing brother’s ability to father a child. Poor Adam, if I were him I’d leg it back to the Peninsula. Sounds to me as though he’d have a quieter life in the midst of a raging battle.

Anyway, here’s how he propositions Florentina.

“I beg your pardon?”

“And so we return to the question of our first meeting at that inn, where you were being pursued by a very determined man.”

Damnation, she’d hoped he would become too preoccupied with maintaining his position on the moral high ground to remember that.

“That was a misunderstanding” was all she could think of to say.

“Not that I blame him for his determination.” He spoke over her pathetic explanation and raked her body insolently with his eyes again. “In view of my subsequent discoveries about your occupation, it’s not difficult to conjecture your true purpose in visiting the capital.”

Florentina nibbled her index finger. Put like that she supposed he had a point. But she had no intention of embarking upon a discussion about Reynolds for fear of where it might lead. To divert him she recklessly broached the matter foremost in her mind.

“What do you plan to do with your knowledge? Shall you inform Her Grace?”

“That rather depends.”

“Upon what?”

“Upon you.”

“I don’t see how.”

“Then permit me to enlighten you. My actions are dependent upon your willingness to entertain me.”

“What!”

“Don’t look so outraged, Mrs. Smith. You are a courtesan of some sophistication and must know precisely what I have in mind. Nevertheless I shall articulate my terms, since it’s obvious that you wish to hear them spoken aloud. I require you to meet me in the summerhouse this evening.” He waved toward the structure in question, as though she didn’t already know its location perfectly well. “Once my mother has retired for the night, naturally. You’re already skilled at leaving the house when she’s abed, so that shouldn’t prove an impediment.”

He was serious. He actually wanted her to go through with this. Florentina felt her heart bang painfully against her ribs as she considered the awkwardness of her position. She’d been neatly outmanoeuvred and had little choice but to acquiesce. She knew that but reacted instinctively and her next words slipped past her lips before she could do anything to prevent them.

“Dios mío, that’s a scandalous proposition!”

Thanks for stopping by and if you get to read A Scandalous Proposition I do hope you enjoy it.

You can read the entire first chapter of A Scandalous Proposition on my website http://www.wendysoliman.com Enter the contest I’m running there and you stand a chance of winning a copy of the book. Good luck!

Follow me on twitter at: wendyswriter

My Facebook author page is: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.soliman.author?ref=ts A good place to keep up with the latest news of all my books.

My blog: http://wendysoliman.blogspot.com/

A Scandalous Proposition. Buy now from Carina Press

Wendy

THE FUND H.T. Narea’s Financial terrorism thriller

Mr. Narea, thank you for taking the time to stop by Manic Readers and satisfy my curiosity.

Manic Readers: Can you please tell us a bit about THE FUND, your debut novel?

U.S. defense intelligence operative Kate Molares is investigating a suspicious international money trail.  Her instincts place her at the center of a plot involving a terrifying new kind of terrorism—financial terrorism— perpetrated by a suave, handsome hedge fund mogul, Nebibi Hasehm, who is a Milanese of Egyptian descent.  His goal is to wreck the West by bringing the global economy to its knees.

Kate’s mission takes her from the defense intelligence command center on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. to the oil-fueled economy of Caracas, Venezuela; from the beaux arts buildings of Old Havana in Cuba to a hedge fund king’s magnificent back-country estate in Greenwich; from the UN to the site of a deadly Islamic conspiracy in the Iberian Peninsula.

Kate is in a race against time to fit together the pieces of this global puzzle…or risk the catastrophic destruction of the world’s financial markets.

Underlying the fast-moving international storyline, is an implicit critique of our financial markets to the extent that they have lost their way in correctly identifying and measuring risks and the lack of adequate regulation over the more aggressive risk-takers.

Your father in law was Paul Erdman, the “father” of financial fiction, and I understand that you helped him research and edit sometimes.  Did this put the possibility of writing a financial thriller in your mind; was it the current/recent financial crisis, or a combination of both?

I knew Paul Erdman since I was a freshman at Georgetown University, when I met and was smitten by his eldest daughter, Connie, now my wife.  Through the years, I spent countless hours talking with him about the word’s economy – its strengths, weaknesses and challenges, and yes, I helped research and edit several of his books.

That was when I got the first taste for writing what he called ‘fi-fi’.  However I never really imagined that I would write one myself, until I started seeing the makings of a story based on dangerous patterns I saw in the market before 2008.  I delivered a first draft of my manuscript months before Lehman collapsed.  My agent, Lynn Nesbit and others who read that earlier version realized that my story actually predicted aspects of the market unraveling in September 2008.  I had to make several re-writes because several aspects of my storyline started to come true.  There are many parts of the climax that have yet to come true.  You’ll have to judge for yourself if they are outrageous or just plain scary.

While listening to your radio interviews I heard some interesting information:

You wrote THE FUND to get the possibility of this occurring to a wider audience, more so than an insider financial report would.  Was this in the hopes that those who have the where withal to do something about this scary situation might actually start the ball rolling to fix it?  There was also the DOD report that closely parallels your book. For those who haven’t heard these interviews could you expound on these a bit please?

When I created my plot outline for The Fund, I could not have predicted how very real the threat could be.  After all, I was merely writing a novel.  But then as the 2008 crisis unraveled, I could see certain real-life parallels.  And then, a couple of months ago, through my contacts in Washington, I got my hands on a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense titled ‘Economic Warfare’.  Eerily as I read the report, I realized that the U.S. Government had spent considerable time studying certain threats – the very ones outlined in my novel!

The vulnerabilities outlined in the Defense study are already acknowledged publicly by the likes of the SEC, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. Department of Defense study was recently made available to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.  The thrust of the study sets forth alarming conclusions about the vulnerabilities faced by the U.S. economy to offensive acts of ‘financial terrorism’, both before and after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The study describes how unregulated hedge fund activity coupled with easy access to complex financial derivatives instruments create opportunities not only for exploitation by profit-seeking capitalistic market players, but also by ideologically-driven parties with more surreptitious goals to weaken, if not destroy the U.S. financial system – just like one of my characters, Nebibi, who develops a plan to manipulate financial markets via derivatives.

Per the study, the 1st phase of these attacks has already taken place – namely the accumulation of oil-derived wealth through price spikes, particularly on sovereign wealth funds and Islamic finance funds.  The study sees this wealth as the necessary funding to create manipulative market strategies.  Similarly, my character Nebibi creates the world’s largest Islamic Shariah-compliant fund, with unwitting assistance from a fee-hungry U.S. investment bank.

The 2nd phase centers on aggressive derivatives trading strategies focused on weakening the liquidity position of select U.S. financial institutions.  My storyline takes my characters to Greenwich, a world recognized center for hedge fund activity, and the location of one of the largest hedge fund failures, Long Term Capital Management.

The 3rd phase delivers the coup de grâce of attacking the strength of our currency and its position as the world’s preeminent reserve currency.  This threat is now all the more real for people now with the U.S. debt downgrade.  Other countries will now begin to look for long-term alternatives to the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  I would be giving away too much if I continued talking about this parallel from my book, but I hope I’ve piqued readers’ interest to read ‘The Fund’.

I recently met with the analyst who developed that Defense Department report, and he was pleased to see that my novel reflected to so many of the same issues.  From his perspective, a work of fiction can be an equal, if not greater vehicle to educate people about the risks we’re both concerned about.

By the way, in the news this very morning out of Pakistan it seems there are other aspects of ‘The Fund’ that were in fact in the works by Al-Qaeda operatives – kinetic attacks on oil-related economic interests in the U.S. and Europe.

What would you suggest as a feasible fix to the derivatives dilemma?  How hard would this be keeping in mind the balance needed?  Can derivatives, and thus their danger, be eradicated completely?

The most important thing to realize with respect to finance is that one can never have profit without risk.  People and institutions run into problems when they don’t correctly assess the level of risk they are undertaking, such as was the case of those famous bundles of U.S. mortgages and Madoff’s scam.  If a financial transaction sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Unfortunately, many who work in the industry and those who rate them and regulate them, forgot this simple rule.

Derivatives are not inherently dangerous and in fact, provide a valuable tool of transferring risk in financial markets, which increases efficiency in pricing of risk.  That’s true as long as institutions trading them have adequate capital to protect against possible losses.  The issue today is the multiplier effect of this market which now tops $600 trillion, more than ten times global GDP.  And regulators’ major concern is to understand who is holding these derivatives and if they are adequately capitalized to deal in them.  The top five U.S. institutions hold 95% of all derivatives and even more alarmingly, on a risk basis, this represents three times their capital cushion.  If things go south again, they would be wiped out.

The regulators’ solution is to place derivatives onto centralized exchanges, essentially putting them in the light of day, where all can see who is holding the eventual risk.  Without getting too technical, guess what new problem arises with that solution?  The creation of new ‘too big to fail’ institutions – the centralized exchanges themselves!  Now, here’s a follow-up question– Guess who would then be the lender of last resort to those central derivatives exchanges in the event of a major financial disaster?  The same white knights that financed the band-aid of the 2008 crisis – the U.S. taxpayer.  Got any spare change?

Do you believe the “too big to fail” appellation or should they, as individuals often do, be allowed to fall?

Most people aren’t aware that the term “Too Big To Fail” first surfaced during the Latin American sovereign debt crisis in the 1980s.  That was my first introduction to the world of banking, giving me an incredible opportunity as a recent graduate to work with Ministers of Finance in solving their countries’ debt overhang.  At the time, the term was used in the context of countries – as in ‘Mexico is too big to fail’.  Back then, as it is now, the thinking behind the term is that certain countries or institutions have the potential to cause damage of a systemic nature, far beyond their own borders or their own shareholders.  U.S. regulators learned this lesson the hard way, when they let one of them fail – Lehman.  The resulting negative impact was felt across global financial markets, affecting broad populations.  My concern is that next time we are faced with a similar crisis, governments be it the U.S. or European nations, have significantly far less capital resources and even less political capital to be able to avert the potential systemic damage.  ‘Too Big To Fail’ may become ‘Too Big To Save’.

Are you able to give us any details regarding your next “work in progress’?

I have two projects that I’m working on.  One picks up where ‘The Fund’ left off.  I’ve spent the last few months researching with friends in places like Wall Street, Washington intelligence circles as well as places outside the U.S. both east and west.  I’m very excited about the new challenges that my characters will face – and let’s hope it doesn’t all come true again!

I also have Paul Erdman’s last unpublished manuscript that I’m working with an editor on for re-writes.

After all this stressful high finance what’s your preferred method to relax?

I teach the off-semester at Georgetown University and that academic environment is an exhilarating change of pace.  And I continue to advise my international clients on finance issues.  I spend a great deal of time with my family.  We have two teenage daughters and soon enough they’ll be off to college, so my wife and I savor each minute we still have them at home.

Do you have a favorite book?  Are you currently reading anything?

Quite often, my favorite book is the current one that I’m reading.  Right now, I’m in the middle of Henry Kissinger’s ‘On China’.  I had the pleasure to sit for a seminar class with Dr. Kissinger at Georgetown and as a life-long student of international diplomacy, I always find his first person narrative of history fascinating reading.

Thank you again for visiting Manic Readers, Mr. Narea, and explaining this in plain English for those of us who aren’t involved in the world of high finance.  I have to admit it scares the bejeezus out of me; murky goings on that can have such a disastrous effect on millions…truly terrifying

Click on the below links to find out more about Mr. Narea and his debut novel, THE FUND.


Website: http://htnarea.com/

Macmillan: http://us.macmillan.com/thefund

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuthorNarea

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HTNarea

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fund-H-T-Narea/dp/0765328909

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Fund/H-T-Narea/e/9780765328908?itm=1&USRI=h.t.%20narea

Perfection is Overrated by Adrienne Giordano

As a reader, I love sinking into a book with flawed characters. And I’m not talking about minor flaws.  Call me twisted, but I like characters who are damaged. Of course, they need to be likable. I want to connect with them and watch them overcome whatever challenges they face in the book. In short, when the end of the book comes, I want to watch them face their fear, conquer it and grow from the experience. That, for me, makes for a great read.

I tried to do this with Isabelle DeRosa, the heroine from my latest release in the Private Protectors series. In A Just Deception Isabelle is an emotional war zone.  Due to events from her childhood, she has learned to self-protect and has grown into a loner who doesn’t trust easily. She’s also a lawyer who chose this profession because she wanted to support herself. My Izzy doesn’t want to depend on anyone else.  She’s lonely, but she’s a survivor. And to her, that’s all that matters.

If I’m being truthful, Isabelle is my most damaged character (so far!), but something about her inner strength called to me. I teamed her with Peter Jessup, a Mr. Fix-it who loves a challenge.  Peter is no slouch in the emotionally damaged territory and Isabelle finds comfort in that. He allows her to be raw and unfiltered without judging her. Sometimes, that’s what someone with secrets needs.

So, yes, these characters are far from perfect. They are simply two people who think, despite their flaws, they’ve got it all figured out. And, as a writer, I love it when that happens because I get to prove to them how wrong they really are.

Readers, who is your favorite flawed character?

Here is a little more about Peter and Isabelle:

The protector: Peter Jessup, former Navy SEAL, currently employed by Taylor Security. He likes being the hero—in charge and in control.

His client: Lawyer Isabelle DeRosa. The sexy brunette is the personification of Peter’s fantasies. She’s willing to get physical but nothing more serious.

The assignment: When Isabelle becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her cousin, Peter is there to protect her and help her find the real killer. Their investigation leads to a big-name charity that seems to draw cultlike followers. Isabelle manages to infiltrate the group and become close to their leader, leaving Peter both jealous and worried for her.

As their search leads to danger, Peter realizes he’s falling in love with Isabelle. He wants all of her, but she’s too used to guarding herself to let him in…

Want more?  Check out Adrienne’s prior post on MAN LAW on July 7th.

Adrienne’s Bio:

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women’s fiction.  She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. A Just Deception, book two in the Private Protectors series is available from Carina Press. Risking Trust, book three in the series will be available on November 7, 2011. For more information please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com.  Adrienne can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Adrienne’s books available at:

Carina Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble