Monday, June 20, 2011

Ghosts and Humor and Love, Oh My!

MINNETTE MEADOR is one talented writer. She writes SF, Historical, and now a paranormal romance with humor. She is genre bending and does not skimp How one person can write in each of these genres and keep you glued to your seat is amazing.  My first exposure to Minnette's writing was with her Starsight novel.  I was drawn to the Spider Robinson quote--a favorite writer of mine, and when I finished it I knew this was someone to watch.  Then I read her first Centurion Novel, The Centurion and the Queen. I must admit, I thought no one who writes SF well can also write a good historical.  Boy was I wrong.  Historical Romance is definitely a genre Minnette can handle.  So, now she has a ghost story with humor and romance, A Ghost of a Chance.This is a woman who is always pushing the envelope.  Believe me, I am not going to misjudge her again. It's already in my buy list for the release date on Wednesday.


Please join me as we find what makes this author tick.  I am certainly excited to download my copy of A Ghost of a Chance ASAP.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head?

I am a devoted ghostie. I not only believe in them, but I've seen them quite a few times. It was late at night, just as I was getting to sleep (and I think after a Ghost Hunters marathon), it suddenly dawned on me that a poor guy who sees not just one or two ghosts, but all of them, might make for an interesting comedy. Voila! Keenan steps in and the book takes off from there. I had a blast writing this and, since it's my very first comedy, it was nice to laugh instead of cry like I usually do with my historicals or fantasies.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what?

I think in some ways, Keenan is a male Minnette. Like him, I put out streetlights when I'm angry or upset on a walk. I have seen ghosts and I consider them more of a pain in the ass than something that frightens you. I LOVE the Hawthorn District of SE Portland, including the Bagdad theater, micro brew, McMenamin's and The Hotcake House. These are all places that are as familiar to me as my husband's smile.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

I think I like the scene with the succubus on the 2nd night. It is surprising and life changing for Keenan.

You've written in a number of genres: SF, Historical, and now a paranormal. Is there a theme that carries you to all these different places, or are you one of those writers who just like variety?

I always seem to have music somewhere in my books, whether as a main character, like Starsight, or as something important, like A Ghost of a Chance. However, I really do like variety; I am an avid reader and I've never met a genre I didn't like, so I guess that carried over into my writing. The ideas that pop into my head know no genre boundaries!

What's next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming releases? Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?

I'm am extremely excited about my next two projects: The Gladiator Prince, historical romance (third book in the Centurion Series, though this one is completely stand alone), and The Bell Stalker, an urban fantasy thriller. See blurbs below for more info. I will be in downtown Portland on July 30th from 11am-5pm at the Pioneer Square for the NW Book Festival, and then at Jan's Paperback Books for a book signing on August 4th from 12-4.

THE GLADIATOR PRINCE:  Book III of the Centurion Series
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2011  Resplendence Publishing.
Prince Thane is the last surviving royalty of the Trinovantes Tribe in Roman Britannia, having surrendered to the Romans after the Boudicca Revolt to save his two daughters, whose identities he sacrifices his freedom to protect. He is condemned by Nero himself to become a gladiator, to fight until he dies in the arena. When his two daughters are taken in a slaver's raid, Thane escapes, forcing the daughter of his master to take him to Rome to save his children.

Little does he know that the beautiful Syrian woman holds not only the key to his passion, but a secret that triggers a disaster that ignites the world. Will this spoiled willful girl betray him in the end or sacrifice herself to save them all?

THE BELL STALKER - an urban fantasy thriller
RELEASE DATE: October 26, 2011  Resplendence Publishing
For a year, Belle Stark has struggled to conquer fears plaguing her since being attacked by a maniac who continues to roam free and the murder of her father. And she nearly succeeds, until she discovers her lover's murdered body spread over the furniture, making Belle a prime suspect.  Certain her attacker is to blame, she seeks help from her ex-husband, homicide detective Mike Cranston, the one person she swore she would never let back into her life, or heart.

In their hunt for answers, the two uncover more than a lunatic: a supernatural underworld hidden beneath the tall skyscrapers of the city and a secret that could kill them both. Faced with a terrible choice, Belle surrenders herself to the hands of a monster and Mike must solve an ancient mystery before it's too late to save her---

Thank you for joining us Minnette!
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm surely buying everything Minnette is writing.  Now, if only I could get them all right now and stock up for all my business trips.

NOTE:  Resplendence Publishing marks this as a book with sexual content that may not be suitable for anyone under 18. If you are uncomfortable with explicit sexual content, you may not find this particular book suitable.

Here are the fine retailers that carry Minnette's books.

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fishing for Love


This week we are featuring Leigh Duncan, and her new Harlequin American Romance, The Daddy Catch.  I first met Leigh several years ago while visiting a friend in Florida.  I have to say she is one of the nicest, sweetest people I've ever met.  Even though it was our first introduction, I immediately thought "this is the kind of woman I would hang out with if I lived in Florida."  She is down to earth and considerate of others.  Yet she walks with quiet confidence.  I only wished I wasn't clear across the country where I rarely get a chance to see her in person.

Even with all these great personal qualities, the real reason you should read Leigh's books is because they are just darn good. Her books are charming, heartwarming, and uplifting.  Most of all they are romances that make you feel good. When I finish one of her books I just want to curl up and say Thank You.

Here's the blurb for The Daddy Catch.

More than hooks and lines are in the lesson plans when an upcoming fishing trip with his new business partners forces a hunky thoracic surgeon to hire a feisty fly fishing guide.  Dan Hamilton is a foster care success story whose wildest dreams are within reach when he’s asked to join in building a medical center on Florida’s east coast.  Widowed Jessica Cofer wants little more than to help her young son grow into an honest man and preserve the natural beauty of Phelps Cove. Their temperatures rise faster than mercury on a summer day...until she learns the handsome doctor has his eye on more than her curves—he plans to steal the land from under her feet.

Maggie,  thanks so much for inviting me to Behind the Book.  I’m thrilled to be here today.  Before we get started, though, congratulations on your just-released book, Eternity, and the upcoming release of Expendable.  They both sound like winners!

Well thanks, Leigh.  I certainly hope the readers see it that way too. :)  So, let's get on with this interview. After all, this week is all about you and your wonderful Harlequin American Romances.

So, what was the initial spark that put this story in your head?

THE DADDY CATCH actually started out as an entry in a short story contest.  My husband had stumbled across an ad for the Robert Traver award in one of his fly fishing magazines.  This contest offered an amazing thousand-dollar prize for a story about fly fishing.  Hubby challenged me to enter—more as a dare than anything else, since I’d been writing, writing, writing and not selling, not selling, not selling.   Over the next couple of months, I wrote a mistaken identity story that revolved around a doctor who spies a fly fisher on his way to work.  Her grace and beauty inspire him to take up fly fishing, but he’s a smug sort who’s certain he’ll master the sport without help.  When he visits a fly fishing shop, he quickly realizes three things—the owner is the lovely woman he saw in the river; he needs her help in learning how to cast; and, by the end of their first lesson, that he’s made his “catch of a lifetime.” 

Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for submission that year.  And by the time the contest rolled around again, the judging committee had switched gears.  Instead of fiction, they wanted essays about fly fishing. 

So, that short story collected dust in my desk drawer until after I sold my first book (THE OFFICER'S GIRL, April 2010).  When my editor asked, “What else do you have?” I pulled that short story out and took a hard look at what parts of it would work for Harlequin American.  There wasn’t much, except for the germ of the idea—a woman fly fishing guide and a doctor.    

I loved The Officer's Girl!  I'm so glad you had another idea and could develop it.  I must admit, I've never read a romance before where fly fishing is a key element. Congrats!

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that?  If so, what?

Several years ago, I took a Voice class from Barbara Samuel O’Neal.  Up until that time, I’d tried very hard to weed my personal experiences out of my manuscripts.  But in that class, Barbara taught us to use our experiences, to incorporate them in our writing.  What a valuable lesson that was!

Hubby and I both love to fish, although we approach it differently.  I’m one of those throw-out-a-hook-kick-back-and read-a-book types.  He’s an avid fly fisher.  We’ve both caught our share of fish and love the exhilaration of something huge on the other end of the line.  And we both practice catch-and-release, returning our fish to the water so they can brag to all their friends about the big one they got away from. 

I pulled from all of those experiences in writing THE DADDY CATCH.  When Jess takes her little boy to Phelps Cove where she hopes he’ll catch his first red fish, I called upon my own memories of fishing for reds.  Those fish are notoriously skittish so, of course, our hero Dan, startled the school, costing Jess’s son Adam his catch-of-a-lifetime and setting up the conflict for the rest of the story. 

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

The very last one.  This scene wasn’t part of the manuscript when I submitted THE DADDY CATCH.   But my editor thought the book needed a more romantic, more emotional ending.  She was right!  Now, I can’t read that last chapter without getting all teary-eyed.  And I wonder how I could ever have thought the book was finished without it. 

You seem to have found a home with Harlequin American Romance.  What is it about this line that fits what you want to write?

 Each of the Harlequin lines has its own focus, its own heat level.  Harlequin American romances are set against the backdrop of home, family and community.  That means children and small towns are almost always features of our stories, both of which I love to write.  These books are a little shorter than some of the other lines and because of that, we don’t have a lot of subplots or extra characters that could distract from the primary focus, the romance.  I love that about Harlequin American Romance.

What's next for you?  Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?  Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?

Right now, my editor is looking at my next two proposals for Harlequin American.  The first one is a reunion/second chance at love story with a heroine I absolutely love.  Mandy grew up on the professional rodeo circuit, but walked away from that life to go to school and become a lawyer.  Sparks fly when her client sues Mandy’s first love for custody of his daughter.  I’m not sure which story I like better.  That one, or the one that takes place during an old-fashioned cattle drive across the heart of Florida.  Both sound like the perfect fit for Harlequin American, don’t they? 

Yes, they both sound perfect.  If your editor is smart, she'll take both of them!

As for travel, other than a quick appearance at the Florida Panhandle RWA chapter and a book signing next weekend (June 18th), I’ll be sticking close to home this summer while I work on those next two projects.  On July 24th, though, you can catch me at Fish Tales and Cocktails, a fund-raiser for Casting for Recovery, a group that sends breast cancer survivors on fly fishing retreats.  I also have a full slate of blog appearances.  You can read about those on the News Page of my website at www.leighduncan.com


As always, you amaze me, Leigh!  Great stories and now a great charity as well.
You can get Leigh Duncan's book, The Daddy Catch, at any of these fine retailers.  Add it to your summer reading list.  You will be truly happy you did!


Books a Million

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Living for 800 years a good thing?

Gosh, I haven't posted an interview in over a month!!!  I could tell you all the reasons -- too much work at day job, getting my new novel, ETERNITY, launched.  Then there was our vacation in Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks to celebrate our anniversary in mid May.  But I won't talk about all of that. :)

However, I do want to talk about my newly released novel, Eternity.  It is available in ebook now and will be available in print by June 20th.  Rather than gush over myself with an intro to the interview, I'll just answer the questions I ask everyone else. Then all of you can feel free to gush if you want--especially over my beautiful cover by the magnificent Bosha Struve.  I really do LOVE it! She's a genius.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head?
As with most of my books, it wasn't a single spark but several things that collided over a long period of time and then hit me over the head one day. Sometime in the mid 1990's I read an article in the science magazine Nature(Of course, then it wasn't on the web.) The article described scientists in Antarctica taking deep core samples in the ice.  The purpose was to determine if the ozone hole had grown over the last couple hundred years.  I was mesmerized by the idea of core samples revealing anything about past conditions.  Then I wondered, what else could be found in that sample? Diseases? Cures? What else could the jetstream carry over the poles and deposit in the ice?
Fast forward about twenty years when I was working at a medical university which served four or five hospitals and was doing a lot of health-related research.  The core sample idea came back to me and I wondered what if the sample yielded some type of virus?  A virus the world hadn't seen in thousands of years.  What if the ages of people in the Bible (some purported to be 800+ years old) was true.  Could it be that a virus existed in the time of Abraham or Moses that allowed people to live longer?
And if we found that virus today and were able to give it to people what would happen?  Would we give it to everyone?  Or would we use it as a means of power?  Would we charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for it and save it for the few?  If we distributed it widely, would we keep it from certain kinds of people? Why? Would there be people who didn't want to live for 800 years, perhaps people who thought it was against the natural order of things?  How would those people rebel? Of course, if everyone lives that long over population becomes a huge problem very quickly, and that brings all kinds of social chaos.  Thus an entire world was born.
It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that?  If so, what?
Because this is a made up world in the future, it isn't directly from my life.  However, many of the difficulties of this world are extrapolations from difficulties in our own world. As with many Science Fiction authors who deal in social systems, I examine things in my made up world that are reflections of things happening today that really bother me.  For example, every time I read about kidnaped children or human trafficking, I shudder.  Every time I read about the horrific things some countries to do their own people cry for the inhumanity of it and wonder why we haven't evolved to be better people?  Every time I read about people who join cults in order to feel accepted or a part of something, I wonder how religion is or can be perverted to motivate people toward a specific agenda.  All of these things are magnified in my dystopian world.  

However, in spite of all the evil in the world, I still truly believe that good will triumph in the end.  That there are people who will stand up for right and be counted and fight for their beliefs.  And those are the people who are my prime characters.  The characters, of course, don't always agree on what is right or how to get there.  But they do fight for their beliefs and they do each in their own way win back something for humanity.
Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?
There are many scenes I love, but I think my favorites are the dialogs between the three main characters--Miki, Rohin, and Anna.  They are a threesome that discovered the virus together and fight each other, and sometimes fight together throughout the book.   I think each one of them represents the difficult decisions we all face in life when we have to choose a direction in the face of huge odds.  It is these types of decisions that make us really look at all of our prejudices--really evaluate what is most important and what we are willing to sacrifice to get it.
What's next for you?  Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?  Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?
My next release is a Romantic Suspense novel, EXPENDABLE, from The Wild Rose Press. It will be available in August.  It also plays with some futuristic ideas, but a little closer to today's biotechnology--dealing with stem cells and gene manipulation.  I hope everyone will keep an eye for it. 
You can buy ETERNITY in ebook from these booksellers. When the print version releases on June 20th you will be able to buy it print from then or have your local bookstore order it. I'd love to hear from anyone about what you think living for 800 years might be like?  Would you want to live that long or would you fight it?