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Jenna Jaxon’s BELEAGURED

 

Beleaguered2

When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?  

Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna.  Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.

During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.

Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives. Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves.  With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves.  But which love will survive?

 

Jenna’s Blog

First two books in the series at Amazon Betrayal and Betrothal

@B&N  Betrayal and Betrothal

THE RELUCTANT FIRST LADY and giveaway with Venita Ellick

 

New Women’s Fiction That’s Stirring Up a National Debate

by Venita Ellick 

 

About the Author:
Venita Ellick was
fated to be a writer. She was named for a character in a book her mother was
reading at the time of the birth. As a young girl, she spent so much time in
libraries that librarians would save books for her almost daily visits. She
began writing stories in the first grade, which her mother
patiently read. The intervention of a career as an educator and raising three
sons delayed her focus on writing, but she has now completed three novels. The
Reluctant First Lady is her fourth.Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
captivated her as a teenager. The power and imagery of the printed word made
her wonder what each heroine was thinking and feeling. She wanted to be the woman
with the cape and hood standing on the edge of the cliff with the wind whipping
around her. The mysteries that could be found in stories fascinated her and are
echoed in The Reluctant First Lady.Ellick draws on her experiences as a wife, mother, teacher, and principal to
create her characters. Her sense of humor and recognition of the absurd and
often whimsical nature of life have allowed her to capture her characters’
lives with authenticity and emotional resonance.Venita and her husband David have experience as a two-career couple. They live
on an island in the state of Washington.

 

The Reluctant First Lady asks – 

 

“Just how much should a woman sacrifice for the person she loves?” 

 

 Summary:

Ashley Taylor has been straightforward with her husband, the president-elect of the United States. She supported his candidacy, but she has no intention of assuming the traditional role of First Lady—a position she describes as “First Hostess.” Instead, she will resume her own career as head of one of the largest art museums in New York. The aftermath of her decision triggers reactions from the public, news commentators, late night comedians, and other political factions. While Ashley and Michael wrestle with saving their marriage and preserving their professional lives, the country debates whether the role of First Lady is a necessity, how the media influences the lives of public figures, and how much a woman should sacrifice for the person she loves.

From Chapter 3 of The Reluctant First Lady

Applause and pandemonium broke out on the other side of the curtain, indicating Michael had reached the end of his speech.A stage manager nodded and, with Ashley and the twins leading the way, followed by the vice president- elect, his wife, and family, she stepped onto the stage and into the bright lights. The noise from the crowd grew in intensity as each of them came into view. They all walked forward to stand beside Michael, Ashley and the twins to his left; Robert Hughes, Catherine, and their children to his right.The chaos and elation vibrating through the crowd was intoxicating. Cheers from a wildly exuberant audience and music blocked out what individuals were saying, but the camaraderie of those on the stage was evidenced by their smiles, hugs, and claps on the back. Before the world, she and Michael looked like the perfect couple. Michael pulled his family, plus Richard and his family, toward him while photographers snapped pictures of this historic event.Amid the excitement, it almost went unnoticed that a reporter shouted a question at Ashley. She ignored him, hoping he would go away.The reporter repeated his question. “Mrs. Taylor, what causes do you intend to champion during the next four years in the White House?”Ashley winced inwardly, but no outward expression marred her serene expression. She had a choice. She could tell the truth or continue to go along with the lie. Damn it. She’d been dodging questions like this for months about what special causes she intended to champion if her husband were elected. In fact, she’d become a master of evasion, not something she was proud of. Unquestionably the smartest thing to do would be to give the same canned response she’d been giving throughout the campaign. It would be a lie, all of it. But then she wouldn’t be accused of rocking the boat, a boat, she might add, that she knew was taking on a lot of water.

She was tired of being evasive. She was sick to death of lying by omission. Michael’s managers had convinced her that he wouldn’t be elected if she declared her intentions. But, Michael had been elected. Was it possible that she was making more of this than necessary?

She leaned toward the reporter and his microphone and began speaking in a quiet, clear voice.

“First, I’d like to thank everyone here and at home for their incredible support throughout the campaign. I’m extremely proud of Michael and have always believed he’d be a great leader and a great president. The American people have chosen wisely and well this day. As for me, with the election over, I’ll be returning to my job as director of the Cameron Museum of Art in New York. It’s never been my intention to serve as the First Lady. Over half of the families in our country are two-career families. Our family isn’t any different. In fact . . .”

Ashley felt Michael’s hand on her elbow. “Ashley, just smile and wave. We’re getting off of the stage now.”

Manic ReadersIn the story, Ashley and Michael’s children are grown.  Do you think that the story would have been different if they had been young children?

Venita: Yes. We are more aware of the example we set for our children when they are young. Personally, I think we mother until we die. We never lose the chance to teach our children by example. However, some of the plot ideas could not have been in the book if Ashley and Michael’s children were still at home. In fact there was a situation that occurs in the book that was irresponsible on Ashley’s part, as far as setting a good example for her kids. 

Plus, there is the whole area of trying to keep your children living as normal of a life as possible in an entirely unnormal environment. My hats go off to the First Ladies who have done such a good job raising their children in such an exceptional situation.

Manic Readers has an ecopy of THE RELUCTANT FIRST LADY to give to one lucky commenter.  Would you want to be First Lady and raise your children in the glare and scrutiny that goes along with the office?  Giveaway ends @12am est 5-27-14.  Good Luck!

Links to Venita Ellick Author:

Amazon     Goodreads     Website     Facebook     Pinterest

Great Book at a New Price – $2.99

Buying Links for The Reluctant First Lady:

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     iTunes

GREAT GIVEAWAY


Be sure to sign up for The Reluctant First Lady’s Giveaway.


Grand Prize 


Signed copy of book 


and 


$20.00 Amazon Gift Card


4 – Second Prizes – Signed copy of book

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet Neils Williams author of THE GLASS HOUSE

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Meet the author!  Neils will be at Winchell’s Pub and Grill,  5445 Simmons St  North Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday May 24 at 12 pm.   
Those who live in the Glass house shouldn’t throw stones.”

With a newly wed wife and a successful architect career, things are looking up for Todd Clemons. But when estranged millionaire Thomas Glass comes to town, Todd discovers his business is more in demand than he bargained. Dangerously in demand. Forced to work for Mr. Glass against his will, Todd must complete the task at hand save himself and his new family or else this may be the last project of his life.

 
 
I was confused to see her there. She still had three days before coming back. “Baby.” I choked. “Sweetheart, I don’t kn—know what’s go—ing on” She sobbed between words. “I was trying to surprise y—you by showing up early. I hope you’re ok. Just please….pl–please do what the man says. He said every time you refuse …they will torture me a—and kill us both” She cried. “Starting now!” Thomas in the video exclaimed.
 Just before the video ended he smacked her across the side of her head with the gun. “You son of a bitch!“ I jumped up ready to rush him again. I had stopped in my tracks when he raised his gun. “Where is she? What did you do to her?!” I yelled. “Don’t worry she’s in safe hands as long as ya finish.” He answered calmly.
I felt helpless. I couldn’t believe my wife was in danger right along with me. She had nothing to do with this. She doesn’t deserve to be taken hostage. I took a few steps back as tears ran down my face. I had no choice. I scanned the room and spotted the pile of tools in the back corner. I walked over to them and knelt down. My tears had landed on the power drill as I picked it up from the pile. “Ok.” I started.
I wiped my face as I stood up. “I’ll finish it.” I said meekly. as I continued to look at the tools. Thomas was already standing. “Excellent!” he exclaimed. He turned and made his way out the door. “Well I’ll leave ya to it.”  He said as he entered the security key in the door. I sighed in defeat as I picked up a piece of wall panel. “Don’t worry sweetheart. I’ll get us outta here.” I mumbled as I began drilling.
GET YOUR COPY HERE
About The Author
Born and raised in St Louis, MO Neils Williams is the son of an entrepreneur. He has been writing since a very young age creating deep worlds for his readers to jump into. In his free time he enjoys writing poems/music, watching reality tv and entertaining. Neils Williams now lives in Las Vegas, NV and loves to hear from his readers. He can be contacted at pen2neils@yahoo.com
Upcoming Events”
Book singing!-Prize drawing at the Event!
5 star rated by NY Times bestselling author Mary Monroe as “A Captivating Story” Neils Williams’ novella “The Glass House” takes you on a suspenseful roller coaster of tragedy and triumph.
Now you can meet the man behind the story! Enjoy food and beverage as you listen to excerpts from the writer himself. Buy your copy of “The Glass house” on Amazon and B&N or at the event and get it personally signed! Enter into the prize drawing at the event and find out what you could win!

Kickin' it Olde School with Selah Janel

My newest book, Olde School, is a combination of many genres: fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, horror, and comedy…but one genre seems to stand out to people more than others when I’m going down the list: fairy tales. I find myself getting certain types of reactions. People are either curious, dismissive, or they think they know where I’m going with something.
I get that fairy tales are very “in” right now. After a long dry spell of having been shoved to the very edges of genre fiction, it seems that every Grimm and Perrault story is being rehauled and revamped. Either they’re reworked as ultra-dark, gritty epics, or they’re re-crafted to make the heroine seem more acceptable to modern sensibilities and the romance is played up. While I get the appeal, those choices always baffle me. Some of the early versions of these tales (often going back before Grimm and co.) are extremely dark in their own right, and while it may be hard to swoon over romance in the form of a concise narrative, it’s still there. Many tales from around the world have strong female characters, elements of adventure, and run much longer than “she met a guy and they got married the end.” We sell ourselves short by focusing only on the familiar versions of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and on and on. What about Allerleirauh and Aschenputtel? What about Katie Woodencloak and Vasilissa? There are so many tales that deserve to be discovered.
I’m not against turning familiar stories on their heads, but to me it seems that after a while, all of the reboots read the same. There’s nothing wrong with that – they’re obviously popular for a reason. Still, I wanted to scratch an itch I’d had for a long time. I wanted to write something that I really wanted to read. Something that combined my love of more obscure fairy tales with other questions. Why were all of these stories told from the human perspective? What did the trolls and dwarves and goblins and talking animals have to say about their adventures? Surely their whole lives weren’t just to be accessories for a human protagonist, otherwise that just seems a sad way to live.
I made the decision almost immediately that my main cast would be mostly made up of creatures, and besides two human leads and some side characters, I stuck to that. However, I made it a point to not necessarily write them as creatures. They have their own personalities and problems, just like anyone else. Paddlelump is a troll, but he’s soft-hearted. His friends have marital or money problems of their own. The girl he kind of likes is a waitress who knows how to take care of herself, so why would she need him? The lord mayor that wants his land may be a pixie, but his motives have everything to do with politics and self-preservation and nothing to do with how he looks. There are conspiracies going on that makes it hard to trust the ogres one might have grown up with, and while racism is supposed to be a thing of the past in Kingdom City, it sometimes has a habit of leaking out. These were interesting things to play with, but there was one other element that kept things from getting boring.
For some reason, I didn’t want to write another story set in some medieval-esque kingdom or village. It didn’t make sense that a fantasy world wouldn’t modernize at some point, and Kingdom City very much reflects that thought process. The monarchy is moving slowly toward a democracy, royals are abundant and are just as likely to form startup companies as they are to seek a place in court. Girls may still want to marry up and be the princesses of stories, but they frequent dating sites to get some advantage over the lawyers and doctors that are capturing princes’ hearts. The city is playing with rezoning and automation, but that contradicts the traditions it was built on.
However, everyone knows magic doesn’t exist. It’s wives tales and rubbish, even in this fantasy world. Rumpelstiltskin is based on an ancient serial killer and is now a successful horror movie franchise. Schoolgirls fight as to who’s better: Cinderella or Snow White. They’ve been revamped in that world as well, fading into past history and prettied up in the latest romantic historical dramas and teen movies. Sure, there are pixies and nixies and elves and all the rest, but anything they might pull are parlor tricks and not real magic. Real magic doesn’t exist.
Until it does. And it’s nothing like what you’d expect. I’d hate to ruin the surprise, but have you ever looked at all those stories that involved girls talking to trees that talked back, sentient animals, fairy worlds, and had the sudden thought that a lot of those elements of the “other” are shared with the horror genre?
Even with otherworldly threats falling down around the main cast, though, they don’t lose their sense of humor. It was important for me that there be some self-aware elements to the book, that there was some silliness. Humor is a coping mechanism. Life isn’t completely somber, even when it’s falling down around you, so why are fairy tales suddenly so serious?
My point is that you don’t have to look at a genre or subgenre as just one thing. Old stories don’t have to be retold the same way (or revamped the same way). I’m not saying my take is any better or worse than anything else, but I’d like to think that I’m taking a slightly fresh look at an old art form, and giving people a lot of little different ways to enjoy it.

***

OldeSchoolCoverFinal_650X433Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.
Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.
Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians

Kindle     Amazon UK    Nook     Kobo
authorpic200x200Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield. Olde School is the first book in her new series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

Blog   Facebook author page    Twitter   Amazon Author Page    Goodreads

 

WHEN YOU LET GO with Unoma Nwankwor

when_you_let_go_cover3An answered prayer. An unforeseen betrayal. A family healed by grace.  Amara and Ejike Dike had been married for six glorious years. Amara was convinced Ejike, was the perfect gift from God. Loving, charming and very easy on the eyes. They had a beautiful life. Well, not so beautiful. Amara’s inability to bear children made her feel like a less than the perfect mate for her husband.
Then after many years, God lifted her faith and had finally heard her cry. The Dikes couldn’t be happier.
A surprise visit from Chinelo, Amara’s long lost cousin, turns Amara’s world upside down and threatens to turn her once-perfect existence into ashes.
Ejike loved his wife with a passion. They shared a burning desire and faith in God that burned deep. However Chinelo’s appearance would open a Pandora’s Box that had purposely been kept shut.
Faced with the loss of all she holds dear, Amara finds herself at crossroads. Would she lean on God’s sustaining grace to let go and travel the rocky path to forgiveness? Or would she throw everything to the wind and walk away?
When You Let Go is a novel about people who know what the Word of God instructs but struggle with actually doing it when the chips are down.

To be entered for an ebook giveaway of AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING sign up for Unoma’s newsletter here.

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Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents. Unoma Nwankwor spent her childhood and early adulthood years in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. She is a romantic at heart and is passionate about telling stories of faith and hope about love. She hope to capture her readers through stories that are faith based with an element of love. After all, “and now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13
She is the published author of An Unexpected Blessing (2013) and The Christmas Ultimatum (2013) and many published flash fiction and short stories. Her work has appeared in Africa Book Club and the Kenyan Ezine ;Wamathai and well as numerous radio shows and blogs. She is currently working on her next novel When You Let Go (May, 2014) and A Scoop of Love (October, 2014).
Her readers are in love with her unique way of telling stories that capture the essence of her present home base; Atlanta Georgia and her Nigerian culture. She calls them her God-given stories and strives every day to be a use her gift to His glory.

Website   Facebook    Twitter
Email: unwankwor@kevstelgroup.com

Kindle     Nook

 

FALLEN ANGEL and bad boys with Cameron Skye

What is it exactly about a bad boy that makes a girls panties fall off? 
I find myself attracted the bad boy not only in books or tv but in real life.
Books – Nick Roman from Fallen Angel (of course) and Tyler Malone from Alisa Anderson’s Give and Receive Series.
Television-Damian on Vampire Diaries, Klaus on The Originals, Tony Soprano from the Soprano’s.
If he’s a bad boy I’m there!
In trying to break the bad boy habit (I’m not quite there yet) I’ve started looking into the reasons behind why I’m attracted to them in the first place. I mean, the person behind Nick Roman in Fallen Angel, definitely is a bad boy. Yet, I still find myself totally in love with him.
Why the frill is that?
In examining my head (a very scary thing to do), I came up with a few behind why.
He makes me feel adventurous…dangerous.
I knew from the moment I met him Nick he wasn’t going to fulfill some biological desire to be my baby’s daddy.  To me he was exhilarating…tantalizing…dangerous. I knew I shouldn’t be with him. Hell I was warned by multiple people.  He’s way too dangerous…stay away from him!
Yet I did it anyway.  The call of becoming his bad girl became too much to handle. I cracked, totally falling for his charms and personality. And, he has a personality that is for sure.  One that permeates confidence.  Hell, enough confidence for ten men.
Let’s be real girls…we find confidence super sexy in a man. We love a man who knows how to handle his business with absolutely no reservations about what he says or does. We love men who have a swagger in their step.  A contagious charisma.  He is who he is.  There is no need to brag or boast about his shit.  He lets it all do the talking for him.
Usually, that confidence follows him into the bedroom.  They are experienced, they take control.  They never second guess a move, they just do it.
Let’s face it, there is no way in hell Nick could have ever got away with half the sh88 he did if he didn’t have the confidence to back that sh88t up.  Oh and trust me, that confidence did follow him into the bedroom =)
In keeping with personality traits, I found him to be completely mysterious. Oh, how I do love a good mystery.
I had a very strong desire to find out what made this man tick. Why was he like he was?  What made him do the things he did? I had to find out! While giving it my best shot, to this day I have not yet cracked the code to Nick Roman. I probably never will…but I’m still having fun trying.
Given all the above, the truth really comes down to I thought somehow I could save him.
Come on!  This man was/is the Holy Grail of challenges.  I thought maybe, just maybe I could turn him into a gentleman, a good guy…my baby’s daddy. Somehow, the hurt inside of his soul could be removed by my love. I could help him grow. I would help him heal.
The fact was it was I who needed to grow and to be healed.
Ladies, take it from a bad boy junky – do the “right” thing and date good guys.  Guys who don’t engage in illegal activity, who are loyal, trustworthy.
If you meet a man like this run! Run far…run fast from a complicated man to love, where the road to happiness is never easy. Where there is frequent heart break, pain, misery.
But know if you don’t maybe…just maybe you’ll be lucky enough for love to find a way in the end and ending up one hell of a story to tell!
This one is mine…

He opened the door for her, and she climbed into his Benz. When he shut the door and climbed into the car as well, she knew there was no going back. He smiled at her, his look one of anticipation…and lust.
Journey blared from the radio as they drove quickly down the Jersey Pike. She couldn’t help but laugh at him singing Any Way You Want It. Neither of them spoke and you could cut the building sexual tension with a knife.
They pulled up to what had to be his infamous apartment. She knew he had a house in Elizabeth along with his wife. His wife…..Jess knew when she walked in there with him exactly what she would be doing to her and was shocked she truly didn’t care.
He jumped out of the car, opening the door for her. When she got out he grabbed her hand, leading her up wooden stairs. When they reached the top, he told her to stay on the porch for a moment. He then took out his gun, opened the door and went inside. Within a few minutes he reappeared.
“All clear.”
“Had to make sure we were alone?” Jess rolled her eyes as she walked past him. Trying her hardest not to sound jealous.
“Had to get the video ready.” He was sarcastic, and sounded harsh. And bitter.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…you’re married and-”
“I have not slept with my wife in years. She barely let me touch her when I was allowed to.” Nick laughed humorlessly. “Look, can we not do this now? Yes, I’m married. You deserve an explanation, and sometime, I’ll give you one, but not tonight. Is that ok with you?
When she turned from the door the blue sun dress she wore swayed yet clung to her hips. He saw her back was bare almost to her ass. She spoke without turning.
“Consider the subject closed. For now.”
“Thank you. Want a drink? Wine?”
“Sure, wine would be great.”
He disappeared around the corner and she moved to the couch in front of the bay window to look out. Nick returned with two glasses of wine and stopped in his tracks.
Jess’ hair hung over her shoulder in cascading curls. The moon shone through the window and caught her dress making it almost transparent. He was still standing there when she turned, settling onto the couch, crossing one long leg over the other. She spread her arms out on the back of the couch expansively.
“It’s beautiful.”
He finally made himself walk toward her and handed her the wine as he sat down.
“Not half as stunning as the view from here, kid.”
She turned slightly, angling her knees as close to him as possible. At first glance he appeared to be completely relaxed. He had one arm resting on the back of the couch while the other gripped his wine glass. He sipped his wine and she noticed his free hand was in a fist, his jaw tight. It was like he was holding himself under rigid control.
He leaned forward and placed the wine on the table, reaching over taking hers as well. He placed his hands around her waist, lifting her onto his lap with little effort, moving her legs so she was facing him. Putting both hands in her hair, he pulled her to him and kissed her, claiming her mouth with brute force he couldn’t control. His tongue filled her mouth with an intoxicating taste of wine…and Nick.

NikkiPart1psjpegWhen Jess packed up her belongings and fled her small hometown in Kansas, she never looked back. Free from her family’s dark past she was finally able to pursue her lifelong dream as a professional dancer. She never expected to find herself at his door…or at his club.
Nikolas was unlike any other man she had ever met. Sexy…Alluring…Predatory. Dangerous. The kind of man with more secrets than even she had. Every instinct warned Jess against knowing him further, but she always did like playing with fire…
Nikolas Roman took one look at Jess and knew she was trouble from the very start. But something about the defiant twist of her mouth and the wide, haunted eyes of a damaged soul touched him in places he had long ago thought dead. He knew he needed to stay far away from her for his own sanity, but like a moth to a flame he was helpless to resist…
Working at Takers gentleman’s club was the last place Jess thought she would find herself, but she quickly learned how the game was played. See what you want, take what you can get…but at what cost?

Alisa Anderson
well…alisa did stuff and is still doing stuff. only now she has two boys crazy enuff to want her as their mommy. hey, at least she tried to warn them, so her job is done. she doesn’t like to capitalize, partially because she likes how lower case letters look visually, but mostly out of laziness. please don’t judge. it could be you. and she would say, hey. you’re alright, buddy. you’re ok in my book. now c’mere for a hug. the hug might be pushing it. air kiss? you are strangers, after all, with only a mutual love of poor grammar.
​she lives for a world full of controllable anatomically correct, android men programmed to meet her specific feminine needs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge with a big waggle of the eyebrows). who look like the rock. and ian somerhalder. and idris elba. and that’s it she promises. variety. gotta have variety, right?
​but alas…apparently that exists only in johanna lindsey’s genius mind. so until then, she enjoys her incredibly warped sense of humor. she reads tons of erotica and romantic, drippy goo that makes her heart go pitter patter. then she thought, hey. what, she said to herself. (softly, of course, so no one finds out she is indeed, 2 nuts short of a fruitcake) maybe you should write this stuff too. maybe someone will like it and maybe buy it. so she said, huh, you think? then she said, well…yeah, i wouldn’t have suggested it…(inserts sarcastic tone) and then she was like lose the attitude, ok? then she was all, would you just shut up and write, already? sheesh! and she did. 🙂
Cameron Skye
When Cameron is not in the lab working toward a Ph.D., in Neuropsychopharmacology, which in laymen’s terms is basically finding the effects drugs have on mood and behavior, she is writing stories, crating vivid, intense characters you will never forget.
She believes while life can take you down every path but the right one, eventually everyone will find their happily ever after.
Does your mother know what you’re reading?

Alisa’s Website   Cameron’s Website   Facebook   Twitter   Blog 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

Review of IN VELVET by Burt Weissbourd with giveaway

In-Velvet_VBT

 

Thanks for taking the time to visit Manic Readers Mr. Weissbourd.  

You’ve had some amazing experiences…Volunteer a the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, teaching English in Thailand, and producing Ghost Story with Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Patricia Neal.   Can you tell us a bit about them?    Did you meet any of those great actors?

I was a volunteer at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris just after May 1968 (the student uprising). I worked in a new section called ARC (Animation, Recherché and Confrontation). It was a wonderful experience meeting many young artists (some of whom I’m still in touch with) who were doing happenings, conceptual art, performance art and all kinds of experimenting. I participated in a continuous conversation with them about what “art” could be and do that influenced my writing today.

Producing Ghost Story with Fred Astaire, Melvyn Doulas, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr etc. was an important experience for me. Yes, I met them all, occasionally hosting dinners for all of them together. It was like going back to another time – a time when telling great stories with great charm and flair was the norm. Those dinners were unforgettable.

What are the differences between running a production company and an investment company?

Running a production company is more entrepreneurial than running an investment company. At a production company, what you hope to do is get films made. To do that, you need to develop good material and then convince directors and actors to commit to that material. Finally, you have to convince a studio or an independent financier to finance it.
Running a successful investment company is about understanding what’s happening in financial markets and being able to read trends and directions. The way I do it, the choices I make are not stock specific. Rather, I pick managers then decide how much is allocated to long equities, how much is allocated to fixed income, alternative investments, etc.

How did all these experiences help you as a writer?

Producing movies was hugely helpful to me as a writer.

I began my career as a producer working closely with screenwriters.

A newcomer to Hollywood, I approached writers whose movies I loved – movies such as “Klute,” “Two for the Road,” and “Ordinary People” – and worked with those writers and others, including working with Ross Macdonald, a legend in crime fiction, on his only screenplay.

This was the “New Hollywood” (1967 – 1980) and I found writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters that would draw you into a deeply moving story.

As a producer developing a screenplay, you look for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say, a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. This is exactly what I try to create in the books that I write.  I learned how to do that as a producer developing screenplays.

About In Velvet…Why did you make Rachel a bear biologist rather than a ranger or some such?

I made Rachel a bear biologist because an old male grizzly bear is so central to the story, and I wanted someone who could “think like a bear.”

Why Yellowstone?

I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone Park and I think it’s a national treasure. There is no place like it in the world – the geothermal features, the landscape, the wildlife, the mission. It’s a place where the well-being and preservation of wildlife comes first. I was intrigued with this starting point: what if something went very wrong? What if there was unseasonal animal behavior in a remote corner of Yellowstone Park?

IN VELVET and Inside Passage both feature what could be called wild untamed natural environments.  Are they particular favorites of yours or do you have other reasons?

My years of fishing both in Yellowstone and up the Inside Passage led me to know and love both of those wild places.

Who’s in control, you, the characters, or a bit of both?

I like to think that I’m in control, but when the writing is going well, the characters take on a life of their own and often surprise me.

Why strong female protagonists dealing with authoritative corruption? 

I’m interested in strong women and how able they are when confronted with harsh realities.

WHY do you write?  Is it a choice or do you HAVE to?

I love to write. It allows me to focus on things I really care about. After producing movies and managing other people’s problems, writing – choosing the problems I want to deal with – is a genuine pleasure for me.

Do you have favorite genres or author(s) you enjoy reading?

Yes, I love the old mysteries – Hammett, Chandler, Macdonald and I love great character-driven thrillers – Stieg Larsson, Ross Thomas, ( Scott Turow – though his work is part mystery/suspense, it’s very character driven) etc.

We have some authors and preferences in common…What’s your favorite way to relax?

I love fly fishing, especially on the Madison River in Montana. It’s my favorite way to relax.

Have you read anything lately you’d highly recommend?

Yes, I’d highly recommend WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple.
That does sound like a good read.  Thank you  so much for visiting with Manic Readers, Mr. Weissbourd.  I’ve enjoyed your visit.

My Thoughts on IN VELVET

When Dr. Moody is discovered dead in a bear’s cache the Northwestern corner of Yellowstone is closed for bear management.  Rachel Stanley is the bear biologist who discovered Dr. Moody and the bear in question is hers, Wooly Bugger.  During her field trips Rachel is seeing out of season behavior, mutations, and what appear to be extinct Irish Elk.  Rachel doesn’t buy the official line for why the Northwestern corner of Yellowstone is still closed and is determined to get to the truth. 

IN VELVET has a large diverse cast of characters so a brief introduction to the main ones is necessary.

The Northwestern corner of YellowstoneNational Park ~ Without Yellowstone and its unique ecological system there would be no story.  Yellowstone is the main character.  The park’s description is vibrant and detailed making it easy to experience its beauty and wonder vicariously.

Wooly Bugger ~ Rachel’s wily old grizzly. Wooly Bugger is as integral a character as the people.

Rachel Stanley aka the bear lady ~ divorced single mother of Molly & Rainey’s ex-lover.  Rachel is socially awkward at the best of times.  Strong and determined, she’s perfectly suited to her work and protective of the park and animals, especially Wooly Bugger.

Rainey ~ burned out teacher, fly fisherman, former P.I. & Rachel’s former lover.  Rainey is thoughtful, methodical, and quietly intense. Sheriff Jesse has it out for Rainey for a variety of reasons.  They’re currently in a stalemate but given Jesse’s ability to turn situations to his advantage that won’t last long.

Lloyd ~ owner of the local café & teller of tall tales.

Jen Donahue ~ Chicago cop on leave trying to retrieve her son, Jimmy, from her ex- husband, affectionately known as Cockeye.  Jen and Rainey meet in one of the most offbeat ways I’ve ever read.  Jen’s looking for help regaining her son and Rainey just might be the answer to her prayers.

Sheriff Jesse Stinson ~ What does he not have a finger in, legal or illegal.  Crooked as a dog’s hind leg with a mean streak a mile wide Jesse is not a man to cross lightly. He owns the county and most of the people in it.

Gummer Mosk ~ Enforcement ranger for the North Yellowstone sub district & Jesse’s partner in various illegal activities.  Gummer is fond of animals and young women.  He has an eye on his future.

Bodine ~ Poacher and associate of Sheriff Jesse.  As they say back home, he’s a mite tetched, not the amusing or entertaining tetched either.  Bodine’s one of those people you give a wide berth, crossing the street to avoid them.  Scary.

Mitchell Picker ~ Assistant superintendent of North Yellowstone and bit of a twit.

Dr.Moody ~ Researcher of thermophiles in the Sentry Hot Springs.  Ray Moody is dead when we “meet” him.

Phillip Renard ~ Dr. Moody’s former French assistant.  Phillip is carrying on with Dr. Moody’s research.  Phillip is self-serving.

Danny Briley ~ Government Grant Administrative Officer and friend of Rachel’s.  Danny’s a bit of a hippie.

IN VELVET is Mr. Weissbourd’s second book and it’s been my pleasure to read both.  One of the main features, and personal favorite, of his work to date is the intelligence of his characters, men and women alike.  Not only are they intelligent but each possesses a different type of intelligence.  Combined with their fortitude, depth and diversity it adds up to a character treasure trove.  They may be meanern’ the devil, annoying as all get out, awkward, or chill you to the bone, but they engage and never bore.  Not once did I roll my eyes wondering WTFrill?  Their behavior is always spot on and realistic.  That’s the scary part.  People that cruel and adept at hiding it actually exist; the stuff of nightmares for me.

You too can learn the wonders of thermophiles!  Naturally, given the animal mutations and out of season behavior, there’s a lot of scientific discussion involved.  Science is not my forte by any stretch but Mr. Weissbourd makes it understandable, plausible and interesting without talking down to the reader.  That’s quite a feat.

IN VELVET hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until the last page.  Each chapter has sections focusing on different characters and their actions moving the story and events at a rapid pace.  Once started it’s best to strap on your seatbelt and make sure you have time to enjoy this astute high octane ride. IN VELVET left me breathless, a bit contemplative, and completely satisfied.  Beneath the action packed thrill ride IN VELVET was about the consequences of actions, decisions, and the manipulation and exploitation of Nature for all the wrong reasons.  Nature has a way of getting her own back. Secondly it’s about forgiveness because without it there’s no moving on or growth.  And last but not least, second chances, because most, though not all, people are worth a second chance.

4.5 stars

 

In Velvet

Mr. Weissbourd is offering one (1) lucky commenter a print copy of IN VELVET (Sorry U.S. only).  Fishing…yes or no & how.  Do you clean your fish?  I’ve fished with a cane pole and rod & reel.  Yes I had to bait my own hook & clean my fish. In the interest of honesty I wound up cleaning all the fish whenever I went.  🙂  Giveaway ends @ 10 pm est 5-23-14.  Good Luck!

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Burt WeissbourdBurt Weissbourd is a novelist, screenwriter and producer of feature films. He graduated fromYale University with honors in psychology. During his student years he volunteered at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and taught English to college students in Thailand. After he graduated, he wrote, directed, and produced educational films. He began a finance program at Northwestern University Graduate School of Business but left to start his own film production company in Los Angeles. He produced films including Ghost Story starring Fred Astaire and Raggedy Man starring Sissy Spacek, which the New York Times called “a movie of sweet, low-keyed charm.” He’s a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1987, he founded an investment company that he still runs. Inside Passage, his first novel, was published in 2013. In Velvet is his second novel. Teaser, the sequel to Inside Passage and the second book in the Corey Logan trilogy, will be published in winter, 2014. He lives in New York City.

 

INTO THE DEVIL’S UNDERGROUND with Stacy Green

Thanks so much for letting me stop by Manic Readers to talk about my new release, INTO THE DEVIL’S UNDERGROUND.

The book was originally published as Into the Dark in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing, and I received the rights back this spring. I’ve grown a lot as a writer, and I knew there were thing about the plot and characters that needed to be fixed. So I contacted my amazing editor, Annetta Ribken, and told her to tear the book apart. The end result is about 20,000 new words, a much tighter plot, and stronger characters.

One of the biggest changes is the romance between main characters Nathan and Emilie. While it existed in the original book, it needed more. And I don’t mean more sexy time, but more development. Instead of sort of randomly falling for each other, Nathan and Emilie have an intense connection right from the start, because Nathan trades himself for a hostage. He knows Emilie is the target for the one of the masked robbers, and because Nathan is kept separated from her, I had to rely on nonverbal communication between the two of them. That was a challenge, but it made for a much stronger relationship.

Here is one of my favorite new scenes between Nathan and Emilie, as Nathan is trying to judge her captor’s state of mind and let Emilie know he’s there to save her:

“What about you?” Midway to the phone, Nathan stopped, pointing to the partner. “Don’t you want to know what he’s planning? This concerns you too.”

He heard Emilie’s breath hitch and was close enough to see nerves flush her pale face. She stared at Nathan, but he kept his attention on the other man.

“He knows he screwed me.” Joe nudged the barrel of the gun in Nathan’s side. “He lost his right to an opinion.”

“You agree with that?” Nathan wished he could see the man’s eyes well enough to read them.

A muffled sigh came through the facemask. “He’s right. It’s best I stay here.”

“Right there?” Nathan asked. “Seems to me it would be easier to watch the hostages if you were in between them. Or at least had them all where you could see them. Emilie’s blocking your view of the others.”

She shivered. The man seemed to swell in his black clothes, chest expanding, arms tightening the way a man’s do before they take a swing. “Don’t you have a phone call to make?”

Joe dug the gun deeper into Nathan’s side. “He does. Get on with it.”

Nathan should. But the ferocity of the partner’s body language and the desperation on Emilie’s sweating face pushed Nathan to the edge, where risks can pay off or cause massive tragedy.
“You know, SWAT thinks she’s in on this with you.”

“What?” Emilie’s voice cracked from nonuse. “I’m not. I don’t know this man.”

“I believe you,” Nathan said. “But I’m just telling him, his choosing to focus on you instead of all the hostages makes the cops think you’ve helped plan this whole thing.”

“What your people think is irrelevant. They’re too small-minded(hyphenate) to look beyond the obvious.” The partner cocked his head, rounding his shoulders.

“Maybe they are,” Nathan said. His gaze flickered to Emilie and then back to the masked man. “But I’m not.”

“Who gives a shit if they think she’s involved?” Joe said. “Maybe that’ll work to our advantage.”

“Don’t count on it.”

“Why?” Joe demanded.

“Because she’s not in danger. So all his attention on her works against you.” Nathan prayed this didn’t backfire on him. “They see you as less of a threat. And since you’re kind of the odd man out, SWAT thinks you’re not the person they need to talk to. Looks like these two are sitting back letting you do the dirty work, and they’ve probably got a separate plan.”

“I don’t have a plan,” Emilie burst out.

“Shut up.” Joe pulled his arm back and stepped toward her, but the partner shot to his feet like an electrical jolt had struck him.

Tall and strong, leaner and better dressed than Joe, he raised his own gun. “No more violence. Let’s get the call made and get out of here.”

Nathan caught a ripple of an accent but couldn’t place it. Emilie stood, her legs wobbling. She pitched forward, and Nathan caught her by the arm. She seized his forearm, her fingernails digging into his skin, her grip so tight he felt her pulse pounding in her wrist. He finally saw her eyes–they were a deep green, a pretty contrast to her fair, freckled skin and auburn hair.
They shined with panic. He squeezed her arm, hoping she could stay calm.

The partner yanked her out of Nathan’s grasp so hard Emilie teetered on her heels and then slammed into the teller counter. Mollie cried out and moved toward her, but Emilie waved her off.

Into the Devil’s Underground is available now!
tacy green

 
Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

Website     Goodreads     Amazon Author Page     Facebook     Twitter 

 

Francesca Pelaccia on Action Tags for Setting and Characterization

What do you learn about the two characters and the setting from the following exchange?

“Brian, is that you?” Lisa asked. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

“I’ve been busy,” Brian replied.

“Yes, your new job. A new job can be overwhelming.”

“It’s so far from home, too. Well, it was nice seeing you.

From the exchange you learn the characters’ names, that they know each other, haven’t seen each other in a while, and Brian has a new but distant job. Does the exchange make you care about the characters? Do you want to continue reading the story? More to the point, would your readers want to continue reading? The answer is probably “no”. The exchange between Lisa and Brian is nothing but small talk.

In writing there is no small talk.

In writing there are no conversations.

In writing there is only dialogue. This is not dialogue.

But, you say, you need to include this exchange between the two characters? You can. You just need to make it over into dialogue. You can either rewrite the whole conversation or simply add action tags to the existing exchange. Action tags are sentences that can go before or after dialogue to not only identify the characters who are speaking but describe where they are and what they are doing. Action tags report the actions, body language, facial expressions, or mannerisms of characters, which reveal or hint at their personality and emotional states. They also create settings and roll them out gradually as the dialogue unfolds. And they do this with very little words.

I’ve taken the exact wording between Brian and Lisa and added action tags.

“Brian?” Lisa almost dropped the boxes of shoes she had spent the whole morning fighting for with other bargain hunters. “Is that you?” She moved closer to the order counter. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

Brian stopped pouring honey into his coffee. “I’ve been busy.” He stumbled around a woman with a baby stroller to grab a lid.

“Yes, your new job.” She began to reshuffle her boxes to get to her purse. “A new job can be overwhelming.”

“It’s so far from home, too.” He pulled his car keys out of his coat. “Well, it was nice seeing you.”

The action tags showed the setting and continued to add pieces to it as the dialogue progressed. You can see the mall, Lisa’s purchases, the coffee counter, and sense that it may be winter from the mention of Brian’s coat. The action tags also suggested personalities. Lisa sounds like a bargain hunter and Brian attempts at healthy eating habits. How about the nature of their relationship? Lisa advances while Brian retreats. Lisa is interested but Brian is not. We may not have hooked the reader from this short dialogue, but we did create conflict and questions. Were Lisa and Brian ex-lovers? Why is Brian avoiding her? How good was that shoe sale? We also turned insignificant small talk into dialogue worthy of a scene.

Action tags are versatile. They can be revamped or as we authors say, rewritten or edited, to create new settings, new personalities, and new relationships. Here’s the same exchange between Brian and Lisa but with different actions tags.

“Brian?” Lisa dropped the towel on the lounge chair. “Is that you?” She weaved around the sun-tanning bodies, her feet sinking in sand, toward the hut turned bar. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

Brian poured vodka into a glass of fruit. “I’ve been busy.”

“Yes, your new job.” She grabbed a pitcher, leaned over the counter, and flung the ice water in his face. “A new job can be overwhelming.”

Brian added a pink umbrella to the drink and gave it to a buxom blonde “It’s so far from home, too.” He picked up a napkin and began to pat his face dry. “Well, it was nice seeing you again.”

In both examples the point of view is Lisa’s. You can have a different scene by presenting it from another character’s point of view. Here’s Brian’s POV. I’ve added a little narrative around the actions tags.

“Brian? Is that you?”

Brian dropped the bottle of honey into his cup, spilling the coffee over the counter. It was the “I love you woman”, “where are we going woman?”, “I want you to meet my parents’ woman”.

She threw her flamed-colored hair back. “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

“I’ve been busy.” He bumped into a woman with a stroller as he grabbed napkins.

“Yes, your new job.” The full lips that had damned him with words of commitment and some heavy but great kissing were addressing him. “A new job can be overwhelming.”

“It’s so far from home, too.” He threw the napkins on the coffee and dropped the cup in the trash. “Well, it was nice seeing you again.”

Since we’re not supposed to use creative dialogue tags such as cried, exclaimed, screamed, hollered, bellowed, whispered, and so on, a good action tag can tell the reader how a character says something. Lisa has finally had enough of Brian. She’s going to tell him how she feels. Her words are the same in each example, but her actions are different. What does each action tag tell the reader about her?

Lisa opened her boxes of shoes and whipped them at him. “I hate you, Brian.” (Angry drama queen.)

Lisa leaned in and swept her lips over his to his ears. “I hate you, Brian.” (Frightening! Nobody messes with her.)

Lisa took his coffee out of his hand, took a sip, and wrinkled her nose. “I hate you, Brian.” (Brian better watch his back.)

Some words of caution about action tags. If you use them, don’t include dialogue tags.

Lisa grabbed Brian’s arm. “What do you mean it was nice seeing me again?” she said.

“She said” is redundant. We know Lisa is talking because she grabbed Brian’s arm. Also, don’t overload dialogue with too many of action tags. Use only what you need to establish the setting or the look or feel of it, to reveal characteristics, or to show emotion.
rancescaFrancesca Pelaccia

www.francescapelaccia.com

Inside the Mind of a Writer with Lori Soard

Today, we are going inside the mind of author Lori Soard to find out how she came up with the idea for her latest book, Dear Viking. In addition to writing romance novels, Lori spends the rest of her work day writing articles and creating websites and promotional campaigns for authors and businesses.
Hello readers,
Today, I want to take you on a journey into my mind – a place I like to call Lori La La Land. I should probably offer a word of caution. It isn’t for the faint of heart inside my brain. My thoughts whirl a million miles a minute and I skip from one subject to the next faster than an hyperactive child filled with soda and sugar hops around the room.
I’ve often been asked where I come up with story ideas and it isn’t always an easy question to answer. Ideas seem to almost fall out of the sky at times. At other times, they come from song lyrics, something I’ve read or seen that sparks another idea, my daily life, stories I’ve heard about other people’s lives, a conversation I overhead at lunch or even a dream.
My latest book, Dear Viking, started with a dream I had one night. This was one of those extremely vivid dreams where you suspect you aren’t really dreaming at all. To find out, you pinch yourself, because the old wives tale is that you can’t feel pain in dreams. However, you pinch yourself and it hurts, so you still aren’t sure you are dreaming. It was one of those dreams that stays with you even after you wake up and part of you wants to go back to sleep so you can continue dreaming it.
My dream was pretty simple really. I was standing at the base of a hill looking up. It was night and it was one of those still, humid nights. I was in some type of old time village with a well with the bucket to draw water in front of me and a cabin-type structure behind me that I knew was my home.
The sky was pitch black with no hint of a moon or even a star to lighten things. However, about once every three seconds lightning would flash and light up everything. Back then, prior to Henryville getting struck by a tornado, I wasn’t scared of storms. I wasn’t scared in my dream either. I kept looking toward that hill as though expecting to see something and when the lightning flashed again, I did.
Outlined at the top of that hill was the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen in my dreams or awake. He was also slightly menacing. His hair was lifted by the wind and I knew he had light eyes and dark hair.
Then, I woke up. However, I couldn’t get my man standing on the hill out of my mind. I thought about him for days. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put him out of my mind until I wrote his story, so I wrote about a chapter to get the character down and forgot about it for a while.
However, as with those strong-willed characters that wind up having their own books, Rok, who didn’t even have a name at the time, would not leave me alone. He kept popping up in my mind, in my dreams and everywhere else he could think of. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew he was a Viking.
I don’t typically write historical novels, save for a short story or two. I really resisted writing this one because I wasn’t interested in writing about Vikings. Everything I’d ever heard about Vikings suggested they were rather brutal, greedy people.
Finally, when he wouldn’t leave me alone, I very grudgingly decided I would do some research on the topic. It took me another year to read old texts that had been translated, study the middle ages, map Viking travel of the time, discover a rare few were Christians and begin to wrap my brain around this society that was far more advanced than I had suspected.
There were hints of things that made me like them more, even if they could be rather brutal. It was expected of them to be warriors. They loved their families fiercely. Rok Erikson’s story began to take shape for me. He became even more real and I realized that a character who had raided a monastery (something Vikings did at times) would have encountered monks. What if one of those Vikings saw something special in one of those monks? What if a brief encounter made a huge impact on that Viking and forever changed him so he no longer fit in even in his own family?
That was it. I was writing the story. Once Rok’s character was in place, it was simple to write his brothers, who wouldn’t understand his Christianity or his new behaviors that were very unwarrior-like to Vikings. It was also simple to come up with the heroine, because she is basically me, but prettier, smarter and braver.
Leani loves her family and will do whatever she needs to protect them. That describes me pretty accurately. That is the basis for every choice Leani makes. She either is protecting her family, avenging her family or trying to get back to her family.
I had so much fun writing this story, but it is the only time I’ve created an entire book from a simple image from a dream. I am open to coming up with more characters and books that way, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
I hope you enjoy reading Dear Viking as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope you love Rok and Leani as much as I do. They really are interesting characters, and despite their differences, they are perfect for each other.
Blurb: Rök Erikson comes from a long line of Viking warriors. The tradition of his upbringing, his new Christian faith and the code of honor that says he must protect his family at all costs wage war within him. He and his brothers go on a mission to kill Jarl Van of Colby before the man can make another attempt on their father’s life. The code of honor insists that they either kill or be killed, however, there are dark forces at work of which Rök is unaware.
Leani is the daughter of the jarl Rök believes is making attempts on his father’s life. When the eldest brother reaches her village ahead of Rök and the rest of the party, he kills her father and defiles her frail sister. Enraged, and fearing for her own life, Leani drives a silver dagger into his neck. Leani is captured by the vile Eriksons and forced to leave behind her broken sister as they take her to face a trial for killing the Viking who murdered her father.
Leani’s life hangs in the balance as she struggles with her guilt over taking the life of another and tries to find forgiveness where none should exist. Her faith will be tested to the limits as she fights a growing attraction to her enemy, tries to hide the truth about her identity, uncovers a treachery that runs deep within the Erikson clan, and sees how God can come to your rescue even when all hope seems lost…

 Bright twines of lightning lit the sky. Leani lifted her head, allowing the rain to saturate her face. If she could only wash the sin of murder from her soul. The thunder stopped for a moment, as if the angels held their breath.

Leani looked to the crest of the hill. Lightning spooned across the night, highlighting the dark figure standing on the mound. Leani’s heartbeat hammered in her ears. She rose to her feet, braced for another confrontation.
A leather tunic covered his torso and a red cape was clasped with a bronze brooch. With the lightning flashing around his head and his long golden-brown hair blowing in the wind, the man looked like the war god. Impossible. Leani didn’t believe in gods. Her family had converted to Christianity when she’d been in her ninth summer.
An inner awareness whispered that she knew this man, had always known him. Yet, he was a stranger. The night closed around them once again as the storm paused.
Leani pushed aside the stubborn hair that kept blowing across her face. Her gaze was unfocused on the blackness of the hill. The very earth seemed to hiss with the next jagged burst of lightning.
The man was no longer in sight, and Leani wondered if he had been real. A weight settled on her spirit, like water washing over the sides of a sinking ship. When the light came again, the warrior was twenty feet in front of her, taking ground-eating strides.
Leani’s knees trembled. Had she avenged her father’s death only to meet the same shame as her sister? She glanced around frantically for a weapon. She would not give up her life or her virtue without a fight.
With each step in her direction, the man appeared even more imposing—broader of shoulder, firmer of resolve. Leani took a step backward and another. Lightning flashed and she had the impression of pale silver eyes. Piercing. Cutting. Another bolt and she saw an angled jaw and firm chin.
Halting when her back hit the rough planks of the door, Leani resisted pushing her way inside. Another assault would kill what little essence her sister had left in a hollowed-out body. If she kept the Viking monster from her dwelling, he would never realize another woman was within.
Leani summoned all her courage into a tight fist of bravery, letting it sit heavily in her midriff. Her only weapon lay buried in the fallen man’s neck.
Fear dissolved as the man passed her by and dropped to his knees beside the dead warrior.
“Brother.” His voice cracked on the word.
Leani edged closer. The warrior pulled the dagger free and held his hands over the wound as if he could hold the blood in.
Vikings were cold, heartless warriors. She’d been raised among them. Never had she seen such a display of emotion on a battlefield. They did not stop to cry over those who had fallen. Dying in war was glorious. Brother… Father… It did not matter the relationship to the fallen warrior. Vikings didn’t lament the passing of life from this world to the next.
“May the angels of heaven escort you on your journey to Valhalla with the Valkyries.”
The man’s voice had the sharp timber of cracking ice. Leani shivered again.
“Angels?” The word slipped past her curious lips. Was the man a Christian? But, he’d also mentioned the lovely maidens sent down from Asgard to escort slain warriors to the great hall of Valhalla.
The man rose slowly to his feet and turned to face her. Leani’s heartbeat pounded in her ears. He had called the vile, murdering beast brother. Had he seen her plunge the knife into his brother’s throat? Would he now ram his sword through her?
“Murderess.” The words sizzled off his lips like steam.
Leani raised her chin, fighting her own conscience at having taken another’s life. She had killed to avenge two wrongs and to protect others from the same fate as had befallen her sister. If that was wrong, then she was a murderess.
“Your brother was the murderer.”
“Your jarl tried to assassinate my family. My brother was justified in whatever he did.”
“J-Jarl?” The bitter taste in her mouth must have been a premonition. Had these men come here to eliminate her father for political reasons?
“Jarl Van of Colby.”
Leani expected the words and yet they still stole her breath. “Jarl Van is dead.”
“It’s no less than he deserves.”
If Leani had possession of the knife she’d sunk into his brother, she’d sink it into his flesh as well. Her father had been a gentle farmer. Now he lay dead because of this man’s brother. What would he do to her if he discovered she was Jarl Van’s daughter?…

Note: Lori is hosting a drawing on her website. If you sign up for her newsletter, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a $10 Panera gift card (US recipients) and an electronic copy of my book The Lipstick Diaries (worldwide). Visit her website and click Newsletter in the tab to sign up for her newsletter and enter the drawing.