Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview with Debra St. John

Sexy Heroes and Spunky heroines and sultry romances to tantalize your senses. Let's welcome TWRP author, Debra St. John!

**There will be a drawing to win one of Debra's wonderful tales. Details below.

Tell us a little about the author. (Bio, tidbits, likes, dislikes. If you use a pen name, why did you choose to do so?)

I’ve been reading and writing romance since high school. The reading part came easy, but although I always dreamed about publishing a romance novel, my first attempts were pretty lame. But many years later, after learning a lot, my dream came true with my first book “This Time for Always”. “Wild Wedding Weekend” is my second book from The Wild Rose Press. "This Can't Be Love" will be coming soon. I do use a pen name as I wanted to keep my “real life” separate from my “author life”.

I live in a suburb of Chicago with my wonderful hubby, who is my real life hero. In my free time, what little there is of it, I love curling up on the couch with him and watching movies. I’m still an avid reader. I always try to read for at least an hour before I go to bed each night. Some nights it happens, some it doesn’t!

Tell us about Wild Wedding Weekend due to be released April 2010. Without giving too much away, how does two world travelers end up married to each other?

Through a set of, shall we say, “interesting” circumstances, our hero and heroine, Abby and Noah, wind up on a game show together. Of course they end up winning the grand prize: a televised wedding! To Noah, a seasoned traveler, the resulting honeymoon is just another adventure. But for Abby, who’d much rather stay at home, it’s an experience way out of her comfort zone. Along the way they discover things not only about each other, but themselves as well. What can I say? Sometimes opposites do attract!

What inspired you to write the story?

To be honest, I don’t remember the specific inspiration. One day I thought, “Hmn…wouldn’t it be fun to write a story about two people who had to get married because of a game show?” Ta da, a romance was born. I did use a bit of real life inspiration; the places Abby and Noah visit on their honeymoon are the same places my hubby and I visited on ours.

Are your characters purely from your imagination or do you they resemble people you know?

The main characters are straight out of my imagination, although I did base Noah’s looks on Brad Pitt! There are some minor characters in the book I’ve based on people I know. My way of giving them a little shout out.

The Wild Rose Press offers e-books and print books. Do you have a preference?

I have to admit I am partial to print books, especially my own. There’s something incredibly special about holding a book I wrote in my hands and having it on my library shelf.

What are your current projects and works in progress?

In addition to “Wild Wedding Weekend” coming out April 9, I have another book under contract with The Wild Rose Press. “This Can’t Be Love”, which will be my third novel with them, is a spin off of my debut novel, “This Time for Always”.

Currently I’m about a third of the way through my latest WIP. I actually get to meet my editor (All of our contact so far has been through e-mail.) at a conference next month, so I’m hoping to have it done so I can pitch it to her then.

Tell the readers where they can find you:

Readers can visit me at my website www.debrastjohnromance.com or at The Acme Authors Link, http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com, where I’m the Sunday blogger.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement. Being an author has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I’m having the time of my life since that dream came true. Thanks so much for visiting here today, and a great big thank you to Karen for having me!

WILD WEDDING WEEKEND Blurb:

All Abby Walker ever wanted was to live a normal life in her small suburban-Chicago house. After traveling around the world in her youth, staying put in one spot is a dream come true. But when she winds up on a game show as a favor to a friend, her life takes an adventurous turn she isn’t at all prepared for.

Noah Grant has put his small-town Indiana roots behind him. He travels all over the world, enjoying the freedom and adventure. He has no intention of settling down anytime soon, if ever. But then he finds himself married to Abby in a bizarre quirk of fate, and he realizes his life will never be the same.

Their passion flares as hot as the sultry Caribbean air. But is passion enough to turn their Wild Wedding Weekend into a lifetime of love?

Excerpt

“I really am sorry.” Abby's mind whirled. The thoughts tangled. The Noah she’d spent the last couple of days with wasn’t anything like the man she’d imagined him to be. The man even he claimed to be. Who was the real Noah?

She didn’t have time to ponder the question, because he took both her hands in his, drawing her attention back to him. “Know this. While we’re married. For this week, this trip, this asinine show, I am committed to you.” He paused and raised one hand to tuck a wisp of hair behind her ear. “Totally. Completely. Committed. To you.” With each word his voice and head lowered, until the last was a whisper against her lips.

His hand slid around to the back of her neck, then up into her hair, unfastening the clip and tossing it aside. He tangled his fingers in the strands that fell free, using enough force to keep her from pulling away as he deepened the kiss.

Abby had no thoughts of moving even the slightest bit away. She wrapped her arms around him as the tip of his tongue teased the fullness of her bottom lip. When she opened to him and he dipped inside, she almost melted from the instant flood of liquid heat that suffused her body. The warmth spread to her limbs and made her pliant as, his mouth never leaving hers, Noah lowered them both to the bed.

Buy WILD WEDDING WEEKEND at:

www.thewildrosepress.com/wild-wedding-weekend-p-3962.html

Buy THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS at:

www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=903

Blurb: As manager of a local bar, The Corral, Sharlie Montgomery has put the past behind her. That is until Logan Reed walks back into her life, turning her world upside down. His presence brings back painful reminders of the past: the love they once shared, the money he took from her father, and the baby she gave up for adoption.

Logan wants to buy The Corral, and he’s come back to town to prove he’s made it on his own without the Montgomery money. Sparks fly whenever Sharlie and Logan are together. Anger, fear, and jealousy aren’t enough to erase the love they once felt for each other. But is love enough? Logan wants a family—the one thing Sharlie can’t give him.

*Debra will be giving away one pdf copy of her book to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment, ask a question or just say hi and you're entered in the drawing. Don't forget to leave your contact info.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview with Zohra Saeed

Zohra Saeed has written a romantic story set in the Middle East. Discover how she came to write this authentic tale about a Muslin woman and her love for a Canadian man in 1930, Bahrain.

*She's here to answer your questions and she's running a contest today, too. All details are below.


Tell us a little about the author. (Bio, tidbits, likes, dislikes. If you use a pen name, why did you choose to do so?)

I have been an advertising copywriter for more than 25 years, and have written ad copy – for films, radio, and print- in India, Bahrain and Canada. As part of my work I have also written two books that were commissioned assignments – one on a hotel in Calcutta and the other a real estate project here in Bahrain. I have had articles published in The Statesman (An English language newspaper) in Calcutta, India; The Globe & Mail, Canada and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada.

I currently live in Bahrain with my husband who is a banker, and we h
ave two children – one in the financial field in the US and the other a chef in Canada. That’s the ‘Cook’s Tour’ of my life.

Interesting bits - I was born in Ambala, India at a time when the Indian Air Force was just beginning its independence from the British Raj. My father had been a fighter pilot in WWII and was on the Burma front fighting for the Allies against Japan – many stories. My mother, a teacher – and strict grammarian - was a remarkable woman, and I was and still am very influenced by her, although she passed away 12 years ago. She always claimed that I would live by my pen although when I was a child I had wanted to be a doctor. I studied English Literature at Delhi University and have had a lifelong romance with words. However, this is the first time I have attempted to write a ‘romantic’ story. The exercise has opened many avenues – as has reading excerpts and promos from the other authors in this group.

Likes/ Dislikes: Love words, words, words! From cryptic crossword puzzles, word games, anagrams to stories, poems, writing and a fine turn of phrase. Reading – anything, sorry I am an indiscriminate reader. Dark Chocolate – any time. Sherry, not so easy to get here. My husband – top of the list and my two grown up and grown away children. Nova Scotia – which I think is the world’s most beautiful spot – and I feel qualified to say so as I have visited about 20 countries and lived in three. Gardening and pottering around plants. Now, if I could fit a dog somewhere in my life I’d be complete.

Why did I choose the pen name of Zohra Saeed? As I said, this is my first romance, and though it may seem normal to you, when I really began to take note of the Red Rose site, I was taken aback by what would, over here in the Middle East and even in Bahrain – which is relatively free, be considered rather explicit covers, blurbs, etc. In fact, I live in daily dread that the authorities will block access to the site. Also I do hope to write children’s stories – here in Bahrain - so thought it might be wise to separate the two personas. That’s why I decided on a Middle Eastern name after all, the story is set here in the Middle East. My name Rohini (a Sanskrit/Hindi word) means the morning star or Venus and Zohra is the equivalent in Arabic. Saeed, happens to be the name of my old guru and mentor who is a film director in India and it’s Muslim so I combined the two.

Your new release Desert Flower is about Noor, a Muslim woman who falls in love with a Canadian, Andrew McInnis. Without giving too much away, tell us little about their plight to be together.

Before I proceed to tell you about Desert Flower I need to tell you how the story came to be written. Someone in Halifax asked me, “How hot does it get there?” So I decided to write a description of the unrelenting temperatures, “How can I explain that sort of heat to you? Dry. The air so hot you can hardly breathe…” but out of nowhere this romantic story forced itself in upon me as if it just had to be told. I wrote frantically for seven straight days every lunch hour in my office and then that weekend I carried on and suddenly the story was done. It stayed with me for almost ten years until I returned to Bahrain in 2003. A few months before I found Red Rose I shared the story with a few Bahraini girls who told me that it was really authentic and I ought to find a publisher.

Desert Flower is set sometime around the 1930s in Bahrain when the Island was a Protectorate of Britain and oil was first discovered in the Middle East. At that time not many Bahrainis and even fewer girls could speak English. But Noor comes from a relatively progressive family, one that has allowed her to learn English at a girls’ school set up by a Sheikha who has been to England. The idea was that she could help her father in his business, as a lot of foreigners had started to come to Bahrain and so that she may find a better husband. Because of her ability with English she is chosen to interpret for her father when the Canadian Andrew McInnis comes to his residential outlet to buy carpets. And it is over the following weeks while explaining about the carpets that the two fall utterly and hopelessly in love. Back then a girl would never have been able to choose her husband, so the danger of falling in love with anyone, let alone a complete foreigner was unthinkable. Remember that even today it is not commonly done, certainly not among the more traditional families and even among the so-called ‘educated’ families where a great deal of wealth is involved, it is frowned upon. Noor is torn, she is the oldest of her father’s children – he has, as was common then, taken four wives – and so a weight of responsibility rests on her. But, she reads. Her mind has been opened and for the first time in that kind of a home an independent will and a personal desire is born. Her struggle is huge and we are privy to her feelings, her emotions and her awakening to her own sexuality. So, do they escape, can they escape? I leave our readers to find out.

Noor is a Bahraini girl. How much research went into creating your character?

Research about Noor. Some of this comes naturally to me. For one, I have lived here in Bahrain for almost sixteen years and have known many Bahraini girls and older women having worked with them. For the other, I am from India, where I was born and grew up and where similar attitudes, including honour killings, still exist in villages and among some business families. So this is not alien to me. What I did need to research was life in the 1930s in Bahrain. I relied heavily on two books, Memories of Bahrain by Aisha Yateem and Islands of Bahrain by Angela Clarke in addition to conversations with many Bahrainis – men and women.
In your story, Noor’s father has the right to hunt down the two lovers and kill them. Is this a true threat for a young Bahraini woman if she chose a man her father didn’t approve of? Honour Killings. Yes, this was true back then in Saudi Arabia and Noor’s family takes much of their attitudes from there, including the ‘full hijab’ which means a complete covering. Bahraini girls otherwise didn’t cover their faces completely. In my story Noor does, it is part of her mystique. Just once, the first time, Andrew sees her face and it’s a case of love at first sight. Today, if a girl from a traditional home should choose her own husband, the family would still ostracise her. However, honour killings are still done in places like Pakistan and are not unknown in Saudi Arabia. So the danger is quite real.

What are your current projects and works in progress?

Current projects These include a children’s story set in Bahrain – completely in verse – a strict 6/6/8/6 quatrain that I’m rather pleased with. Still finalising illustrations with the friend on whose idea the story is based. Another children’s story set in India is currently under consideration by a print publisher there. And I’m working on a much longer story set in Bahrain, which I don’t want to talk about yet. I may do one more romance in a more modern Bahrain, but it’s early days and still gestating.

Tell the readers where they can find you:
Where to find me: I have just started a blog – http://fictionpals.com and have some free stories there. But this is a blog where I encourage readers to send in their writings and will publish them solely at my discretion. It isn’t until recently that I have discovered flash fiction, I have been writing stories this short most of my life. Thank goodness there’s finally a genre for them! I will also put a bio on it which I may add to from time to time. My other favourite medium is verse so I expect to put some of that on too.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
Anything else Desert Flower is perhaps the most authentic account you will get, in a romantic story, of the Middle East. Life here is very different from the west. Deep down attitudes haven’t changed much, especially attitudes to women. Having said that there are tiny, tiny changes being made. Bahrain is a very progressive, forward-looking country, women here constitute almost 50% of the work force and it was thanks to them that I began to look for a publisher. I was delighted to receive a 5 star review from Book Reviews R Us, so I do believe that this is both a thrilling and an informative read.


Story blurb:
Nowhere, not in school, not in books, not anywhere that I could imagine had I seen a stranger like that. He had a fine-cut face, a sharp nose, clear eyes as blue as the sky in winter, his skin was pale as creamy milk, paler than my breasts, yet there was nothing feminine about him. His hair was honey-gold, it curled around his head like a halo and his beard was just slightly darker than that. He was an angel sent from heaven to take me through the valley of death to the crystal waters of paradise. The next thing I heard was the thunder in my father’s voice, Gabriel banishing Adam and Eve from Eden, the swords of the guardian angels clashing a warning. “Get back into the women’s quarters. How dare you come with your face uncovered, displaying yourself to the whole world! Have you no sense of manners, of decency? Out! And send Eihab’s mother to me instantly. Shameless!”

Years, no, centuries of obedience made me back into the doorway. My face burned with shame. The hot tears shot into my eyes. Shameless! Shameless! How could he say such a thing to me?

Noor, a beautiful Bahraini girl is a Muslim and dares not even expose her face to the Canadian Andrew McInnis with whom she was falling desperately in love. Her father’s stern presence never leaves the two alone. And yet under his very nose the lovers secretly plot to run away even though it could mean that the family, at Noor’s father’s bidding, would hunt them down and kill them. Do they escape? Will Noor have the nerve to follow Andrew’s plan? Will centuries of upbringing prevent these two young lovers from following their hearts?
Also a link to buy your book and I’ll add that, too.

Buy Desert Flower by Zohra Saeed at Red Rose Publishing:http://redrosepublishing.com/bookstore/product_info.php?cPath=76_82&products_id=537


Contest: Visit Zohara's blog http://fictionpals.com and answer the following questions.

1) In which city does Shiv live?
2) What is the name of the collection from which these stories are taken?

3) What does the voice in Space Invaders call the player after he says, “you must softly and suddenly vanish away”?

4) In Space Invaders, what was different about one coin?
5) In A Very Special Relationship why does she weep tearlessly?

***The first three with all the correct answers get a free copy of Desert Flower.
Contest ends midnight PST April 22nd and winners will be announced on April 23rd. Good Luck! Email the answer to: info (at) kmnbooks (dot) com and I'll forward them to Zohra Saeed.





Monday, April 12, 2010

Brigit Aine 's World

Let's give a warm welcome to paranormal author, Brigit Aine. She's here to tell us about her romance magazine, review site and her new release in the Torrent’s Talents series.

*Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. Details of a second contest listed below.

Thank you so much to Karen for having me today. I really appreciate the chance to highjack her blog for a bit. I am so excited…and I have something new and exciting to let everyone know about… well I have lots of things I am involved in to let everyone know about so I suppose I should start.

First…I am co-owner of a fabulous FREE on-line romance magazine called Sensual Treats. We come out once a quarter and have some wonderful articles. Travel to romantic places features prominently and in June we are headed to Italy. We just got back from Greece. We also feature musicians, artists of sorts and have some every time columns. Food, advice from a counselor and now free de-classified ads. As well we have a great ad rate for authors. We feature new and promising authors, do interviews, have romantic short stories and in general are a fun place to hang out. Check us out at http://sensualtreats.webs.com and see for yourself. There are free reads (including the first book in my series “Red’s Wolf”), great recipes and all of our issues are archived so stop by and sign up.

Next…I have just become the administrator at a wonderful new book review site called Siren Book Reviews. I have great co-conspirators in Kayden McLeod and Kristin Manter. We are looking for books to review and reviewers…so be you a reader or an author, or both, stop by and check out what we are doing. http://www.sirenbookreviews.blogspot.com. I just want to tell you that I am having a blast with all of this as well.

Still more…I am having a great time with all aspects of the writing world. In case you think that one is just an author or just a reader or just anything may I be the first to say that this not the case. I have been asked to co-moderate groups, get involved with reviews, start new projects…and that doesn’t even touch on my on works in progress (which are coming along nicely) or the books I have out. Speaking of which…a small excerpt from a couple of WIPs and then I will chat a bit about my current release.


“Justice for Leanne” WIP (with an editor who is helping me whip it into shape):

Not hearing anything she figured it was safe to come out of the bathroom. He’d said he was going downstairs, but she didn’t trust him. Not that he had ever done anything to make her distrust him, he was just acting very different today.

He usually lounged on the bed, not under the covers. Remembering his hard body laying there on her bed, she wandered over to the spot he’d been in. Picking up the pillow, she inhaled and smelled the faint scent he had left behind. A nice woodsy scent that pushed her already stretched hormones into overdrive.

Running her hand over the sheets, she laid down on the exact spot, still feeling the warmth his body had left. Leanne closed her eyes, imagining Justice still there. Inhaling deeply, she ran her fingers over the silky material.

Her hand moved over to her stomach, and up between her breasts, creating goosebumps to break over her flesh.


“Prince of Shadows” (WIP w/working title)

“You’re thinking about it too hard,” a voice came from her left, startling her into sliding under the water and back up. Sure enough, sitting on her sink, out of arms reach, was Draken. The voice that had startled her belonged to the one man she had been unable to catch.

“Why, what, how…”Keri knew she was sputtering and not making sense but her brain wouldn’t form coherent sentences. Draken was sitting in her bathroom while she was in the tub. Sighing inwardly Keri just decided to go with it. This was a typical Draken pattern. Although he had never shown himself twice in one night.

“Well if you quit stuttering I would try to answer the questions I think you are asking.” His usual snobby tone when dealing with her was quite clear. Keri could never tell if he was like that only with her or if he was indeed a snob with everyone. She had a suspicious feeling it was only with her. Deciding her best course of action was just to keep her mouth shut and see if he kept talking Keri simply looked at him. Damn he looked good. A dove grey button down silk shirt was tucked into black slacks that looked like they had never been worn before. His hair was still mussed like the first night in the bar. He sat on her bathroom sink like it was the most comfortable lounge in the world. “That is better. Now. How. Well you are projecting your thoughts so loudly I would think that you may have more company than just me. Every paranorm in the county must be able to hear you. I mean really Keri didn’t they teach you how to shield your thoughts before you came topside?”


Finally…okay…so that was a bit about what I’m doing now…both in writing and outside of it…I do have current release…it came out in March with Eternal Press. “Cassie’s Awakening” is the 2nd book in the Torrent’s Talents series and is doing very well. There are a number of good reviews for it (links listed at my blog) and it is #2 for Eternal Press sales at All Romance E-Books. Below is an excerpt. It is available at http://www.eternalpress.biz.


Excerpt “Cassie’s Awakening”


“I repeat. What did you think you were doing?” Cassie asked, with more bravado than she was feeling. She had never felt anything like the pulsating emotions emanating from Jared. It seemed to overwhelm all her senses and she was struggling with just getting breath in and out of her lungs. She looked up at him and found herself face to face with eyes that were so intense she could see nothing but them. There was a slight glow that fascinated her; she had never seen eyes like this before, incredibly deep with a special inner light.

“Don’t ever touch Kraig again or let him touch you,” Jared growled from deep in his chest. He was having trouble keeping his wolf in check. When Kraig had kissed Cassie it was all he could do to not rip the pup’s head off. She didn’t know anything about being his mate, or even what it entailed, but Jared did and he was having trouble controlling the wolf because of it. He had barely managed to control changing, and he certainly wasn’t going to stop the rush of jealousy and anger at his mate being touched by another man. Not just a man, but another werewolf. And with that acceptance, he quit thinking and did what his wolf wanted. He kissed her.


Thank you for visiting with me today. Please take a moment to comment…I am running two contests. One is a random draw from those who leave a comment and the other is:


Where do I currently have “Kraig’s Kat” Torrent’s Talents 3 submitted? (you can find the answer at my website).

Brigit Aine

http://www.brigitsworld.com

http://www.brigitsworld.blogspot.com

http://www.twitter.com/brigitsworld

http://www.facebook.com/brigitsworld




Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm a Time Traveler and Love It!


Behind the Scenes of my Time Travel Romance
Creighton Manor



To write my historical time travel, Creighton Manor and give it a ring of truth, I had to do a little time traveling myself. I came across these wonderful books documenting life in Natchez during the 1870’s. Henry C. Norman obsession with photography gives us a vivid account of Natchez life through the years. He took portraits, street scenes, parades, ceremonies, news events and just ordinary day to day life photos. We have Joan W. Gandy and Thomas H. Gandy to thank for saving these photos and restoring them. They put together a fine collection of books with Mr. Norman’s photos, giving me a chance to walk the streets of Natchez in 1870 and observed life there. I didn’t have to visualize what the woman or men wore, I could see the dresses, kid shoes and bowler hats. I stepped into the mercantile and saw what I could purchase for the week and on the seedier side of town, a dram of whiskey would suffice at the Under-the-Hill Saloon. Natchez Collections can be purchased at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Thomas%20H.%20Gandy

In 1970, Natchez still relied on the steamboats for traveling and transporting goods. Mr. Norman’s photos are the only ones in existence to tell us what the steamboats looked like from the inside out. His photos of the steamboats gave me another idea for my story.

The Great Mississippi Steamboat Race took place in 1870. Captain John W. Cannon and T.P. Leathers were at one time partners. When they ended their partnership, a mutual hatred developed between them.

Leathers took the Natchez on a fast trip to St. Louis. He beat the J.M White record that had stood for twenty-five years. Everyone believed this is what brought about the race from New Orleans to St. Louis. Both Leathers and Cannon insisted they wouldn’t race, but no one believed them.

Cannon stripped The Robert E. Lee and took no passengers. He arranged a refueling in midstream. Leathers was confident that he would win and took freight and passengers with no preparations. Unfortunately, for the Natchez, the Robert E. Lee broke the New Orleans to St. Louis record with three days, eighteen hours and thirteen minutes. This speed has never been bettered by another steamboat.

Since my main character was a gambler, what could be better than having him place a bet on this race? I found my information in Time Life Books, The Old West: The Gamblers. I love this series it is full of facts and photos of long ago. The series was given to me from my parents in 1981 and the books still have a home on my bookshelf today. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred back to these books for tidbits about the old west.

You can still find used copies of this series at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Old-West-Gamblers-Time-Life/dp/B000UE11HC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265763074&sr=1-3

With these research books, I was able to travel back in time, walk the streets of Natchez and hear the distinct trills of the steamboat whistles without ever leaving my desk.


*If you wish to travel back in time, I'm offering one pdf copy of Creighton Manor to one lucky winner. To be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is tell me where you heard about my blog and what time period you'd like to visit.

Contest ends midnight April 11th.


Website: http://www.kmnbooks.com

Purchase Creighton Manor at Amazon