Reflection

She’d been missing for a decade, a decade of tough choices, harder decisions, and more blood and death than he could’ve imagined. Yet seeing Alana in the flesh, even for that blink of time, shredded him more than any of the missions he’d accepted from the Treaty since her disappearance.

He hadn’t known it was her.

How had he not?

Ana. His Ana.

– Ashes, Sophie H. Morgan

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This past week, on the 21st of April, it was Ashes’ one year anniversary. It’s hard to believe only a year has passed since my debut book crept into the world, hopeful of being liked. I feel like I’ve journeyed for longer than that, picking up pieces of wisdom and criticism along the way, and learning so, so much about writing and the business of it.

In that year I’ve been privileged to make friends with so many fantastic authors who’ve shared their experiences. I’ve had another book, the second in the Divided Kingdom series, release. And I’ve had the news that my publisher may be closing down.

Life is like a box of chocolates. That may be true, but not for the reason Forrest Gump asserted (I always agonise over the included leaflet to pick one!) Life is one big treat, filled with the good (caramel), the bad (coffee, bleh) and the average (strawberry). It’s important to remember when your mouth is dripping with the taste of bitter beans that we all should be grateful for what we have. I know I am. And there’s always something good on the menu.

I’m excited about another year in this business we call stories. So much has happened in the space of those twelve months; it stands to reason this time next year, so much more could have occurred! The third book in the Divided Kingdom series will hopefully be released, either by Samhain or another publisher. I’m working on two other books, in two different worlds, one a light pararomantic comedy, the other a dark pararomantic fantasy. One or both could be out or planning on being released.

So you see there is much to look forward to on the writing side, and on the reading front. I have found new authors in the past year: Rosanna Leo, Selena Robins, Lauren Smith, D.B. Kennison, Sarah McLean, Lorraine Heath, Sabrina Jeffries, Larissa Ione and more! How many fantastic stories are waiting for me to discover them? That is the benefit of another year.

And it all started from hitting ‘send’ to Samhain. 🙂

If you haven’t read the first in the Divided Kingdom series yet, click here to find out what Goodreads’ members make of it, or read down for a blurb. 🙂 Happy reading!

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Secrets can burn

Reared from birth to rule the Phoenix territory, Ana fled her future and her past when her parents were murdered. Now she secretly leads a rebellion to stop the human ruler, Edward, from experimenting on supernaturals.

When she finds herself cornered by an assassin, she knows just what to do: Roast him and toast him. Then recognition sends blue-tipped flames licking through her veins. It’s Cade, the royal bodyguard who once rejected her youthful confession of love.

When Cade regains consciousness from the force of Ana’s punch, he’s still reeling from shock—and fury. He’d loved the princess, and for ten years he thought her dead. Though his inner jackal growls with desire for her, she is the key to completing his mission for Edward—hunt down the rebel known as Liberty.

Ana can’t believe Cade doesn’t know the truth about Edward. If she can convince him of it, his blade could turn the tide of the rebellion. But first they must get beyond their past, or the whole kingdom could go up in smoke.

Product Warnings
Contains incendiary sex between a phoenix princess with a secret identity, and a jackal shifter who can take a lot of heat. Boys from the “hood”, a king jacked up on enhanced DNA, and killer heels. Anybody got a match?

Find Ashes on Samhain, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo

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Interview: Selena Robins

The astute among you will recognise the name of the fabulous author I get to host (and interview!) today. Weeks ago, for my debut post, I reviewed the fantastic WHAT A GIRL WANTS by Selena, and I’m thrilled to be able to host her today. If you’re intrigued about the review I gave for the book, you can check that out here. 🙂 With no more ado, welcome, Selena and let’s get to grilling 😉

Thanks so much for appearing on my blog today, Selena! To kick off, name something I wouldn’t be able to find out about you through Google.

I was once on a game show. “How Smart Are You Canada?” I was on a team of romance writers, and we competed against other teams. We didn’t win, the group of English Teachers won. Imagine that?

Not at all! Romance writers clearly should have won. Can you tell us a little about WHAT A GIRL WANTS? Besides how fantastic is, of course 😉

WHAT A GIRL WANTS is a contemporary romance set in Hawaii with a friends-to-lovers theme, coupled with dysfunctional family dynamics, extreme sports, pillow fights, chocolate, cherries, semi-naked golf, assisted showers, sensuality with comedy and a splash of suspense/mystery. There are a few twists and everyone who has read this book have said, they just didn’t see the resolutions coming, and were surprised at the ending.

Including me – which both delighted and vexed me, ha! I do like to guess. Do you have a dream cast for this book?

This is always a hard question to answer, because I see the characters in my head a certain way and although I do use visual aids for inspiration, they never quite make the cut from my own imagination.

However, if Hollywood came knocking, I wouldn’t hesitate to give my opinion on a dream cast.

DREAM-CAST-WAGW-1.jpgMaddie – Emma Stone

Alex – Antonio Cupo

Reece – Kelly Cuoco

Tim – Liam Hemsworth
Felicia – Kelly RutherfordDREAM-CAST-WAGW-2.jpg

Maxwell – Richard Gere

Crystal – Kerry Washington

Victor – Stanley Tucci

 

Can I just say I heartily approve your casting choice of Liam Hemsworth and Antonio Cupo? I’ll reread WAGW with new eyes *swoons*

What is your favourite part of writing?

I love the creativity and freedom of editing, revising and polishing. I do struggle with letting it go and saying, okay, this is good, but then I think, is it good enough? I enjoy going back and refining it, because I get to tap into the characters emotions a bit more.

A common issue among writers, eh? Is the writing ever good enough? 🙂 What other projects are you working on?

SelenaRobins_OnceUponAKiss_1600px.jpgI’m currently finishing up ONCE UPON A KISS, plus I’m working on a ghost writing project, which I can’t talk about just yet, and I’m also working on my short story TEMPTED BY AN ANGEL and turning it into a novella (thanks to the outpouring of support and demand from readers who want more of characters and this story).

Yes, I cannot wait to read more about ONCE UPON A KISS! I hear tell it’s got a mistaken identity theme – which I LOVE. I always find the big reveal really captivating 🙂

 

Who are your biggest influences in how you write?

Other authors who I love to read, and readers who reach out and connect with me.

Very true, who are we without our readers?! What one book would you reread over and over again?

THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank

It’s witty, poignant, hopeful and each time I read it I get a different message from it. Also a great reminder of how life can turn on a dime, and to be grateful for what I have and not give a thought to what I don’t have.

I love that. How great to take what could be a very sad book and take something optimistic from it! I loved going around Anne Frank’s house when I visited Holland, but there was an air of unrest, of history that shivered on my skin. It’s nice to think what we could learn from it. 🙂

On a lighter note, 🙂 , what flavour of ice cream best describes you?

Cookies and ice-cream flavor.

*salivates* NICE. To end, tell me your best pickup line.

LOL! I’ve never used one and married for 24 years, I wouldn’t know where to start. If I were to advise anyone on a pick-up line, I’d say the best would be to just say, “Hello. Let’s cut to the chase. I like your smile. I want to get to know you. I’m not a bunny-boiler or stalker, let’s have chat.”

*sniggers* At least it’s original to inform you’re not a psychopath upfront 😉 Thank you so much for being my guest today, Selena! And make sure you all check out the fabulously hilarious WHAT A GIRL WANTS and look for Selena’s latest release ONCE UPON A KISS, out late May. 🙂

Selena Robins is the author of genre-defying romance novels written with wit, sensuality, mystery and a lot of fun. A chocolate guru, addicted to cooking shows, she dances with her dog and sings into her hairbrush. Selena also writes children’s literature under the pen name Maddie Ryan.

To learn more about Selena connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and/or her website.

Snippet Sunday

Ah, Sundays. Have to be my favourite day of the week. A day when you’re encouraged to put away the work and read in an armchair or stuff your face with excellent food. Or maybe that’s just in my house 😉

Of course, for a writer, there’s no rest for the wicked of mind. I often spend Sunday afternoons in bed with my characters, and today, I thought I’d give you a sneak-peek at what I’m working on.

To avoid spoilers for the Divided Kingdom fans, I’ll tuck book 4’s teasers away and instead focus on my other work in progress. Book one of a planned trilogy, it bases around New York in an alternate world where ghosts – so to speak – are alive and well. A strong-minded woman with talent is brought to her knees by a dark, gorgeous man with hidden intentions. I’m keeping the plot close to my chest, along with any specifics – don’t want to give the game away! 😉 – but here’s a little snippet to whet your appetites. Hope you enjoy it – and have a great Sunday, whatever you’re doing.

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Amusement flashed in those sin-dark eyes. His movements as he went about pouring himself a drink were lazy but leashed, as if at any minute he could burst into action.

Jade made no pretence she wasn’t studying him. She’d known he was gorgeous, though the sharpness of his features created a predatory look that didn’t come through on the glossy pages of Forbes. Like his office, the man was harsh edges, black and white, dark hair and white skin. And like his space, he was ruthlessly organised, from the strict cut of his wavy espresso-coloured hair to the three-piece tailored suit he wore as easily as the aura of power.

The slosh of liquid hitting crystal added to the awkwardness staining the air. Jade eyed his casual behaviour with building annoyance. When he placed the glass topper back in the decanter, the chink added one more note to the irritation.

He couldn’t know what she was. Everyone who knew would die before letting her secret out. Though she didn’t know why else he’d meet with her, she was not going to let some arrogant, condescending Lord toy with her as he would a puzzle. Besides, Gram had always said, the best defence was a good offense.

So she planted her shaking legs. “Mr Cole, why did you bring me here?”

—Excerpt from Lord’s Desire, Sophie H. Morgan

Interview: D.B. Kennison

I’m thrilled to host a fantastic author on today’s blog. You might have read my glowing review of STILL LIFE by D.B Kennison yesterday – if you haven’t, you can read that here – so I’m pleased to get the ins and outs of this author’s mind from the horse’s mouth. Please welcome D.B. Kennison!

Welcome, Darlene! Thanks so much for appearing on my blog today. 🙂 Firstly, name something I wouldn’t be able to find out about you through Google.

I love to swim. So much so, that I think I must have been a fish or porpoise in another life. When I’m in a ‘zone’, I will swim at least a mile every day. 

Blimey, that’s good. I’m a strict landlubber. Or a dangle-your-feet-in-a-pool person 😉 Can you tell us a little about STILL LIFE (for those who haven’t read its awesomeness yet)?

51qlFbdgWRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_STILL LIFE is a quirky murder mystery that takes place in a small Midwest town. The leading lady finds herself in the middle of a police investigation and naturally butts heads with the detective in charge, which makes for an interesting premise as the story unfolds. It was a fun book to write, as I was able to include interesting real bits about Wisconsin throughout. Here’s the official blurb:
Randi Lassiter is twenty-nine, divorced, and remarkably content with her nonexistent social life. Mainly because she moonlights for an attorney nabbing adulterers—like her ex—with her camera.

When she stumbles across a mutilated body, it takes fast-talking to convince the arrogant detective she’s not a suspect. One look at him, and she pegs him as a guy who uses his sexy smirk to separate women from their panties.

When Detective Jon Bricksen is named lead investigator of the first murder this microscopic town has seen in forty years, he questions his decision to leave the death and violence of Milwaukee behind. Randi’s cleavage—and her questionable sleuthing skills—aren’t making his job any easier.

Theirs is a partnership of aggravation until her small-town network results in critical progress. Forced into an uneasy alliance, they battle a growing attraction—and a killer who’s out to make them the stars of his next piece of deadly performance art.

Sounds as good as it was! I love quirky murder mysteries – the quirkier, the better. Do you have a dream cast for this book?

It was challenging for me to come up with a dream cast for this project because I never pictured any specific individual in these character roles. Here’s my best shot.

Elisha Cuthbert – Randi Lassiter

Toni Collette- CJ DanielsMV5BMjE3MDUyNjM1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc3NDY2Mg@@._V1_UY317_CR9,0,214,317_AL_

Josh Duhamel – Jon Leuenberger

Jaimie Alexander – Becca Howell

OMG, I can totally picture Elisha Cuthbert – or Faith as I know her best 😉 – as Randi. She’s got so much sass in her pinkie alone! And Josh Duhamel, well, enough said. *strokes the pretty*

What is your favourite part of writing?

I love to immerse myself in the story and envision myself in the exact setting of place and time that I’m writing about. When I do this, I’m fascinated by how the characters end up revealing themselves to me, sometimes in a quite surprising manner.

Surprising…or frustrating, lol! Characters are the best when they’re a law unto themselves, eh? So, will there be a Randi Lassiter 2? What else is in the works?

Many!   I’ve started book 3 in the Randi Lassiter series as well as a spin-off trilogy featuring a crime analyst character from STILL LIFE. A thriller called RAGE (working title) which features a revenge plot played out on social media and involves a mash up of Internet Technology, psychology, and cutting-edge science, and a star-crossed romance set in Scotland. If I’m ever bored with one project, I just pull out another.

Wow, sounds varied and fantastic! That’s the best way to be as a writer, I think, so as not to let the writing reflect your boredom 🙂 I can’t wait for the sequel and that thriller sounds intriguing…

Who are your biggest influences (in how you write)?

I follow the advice of both Stephen King and James Patterson when it comes to writing. While each may have different methods to getting a novel finished, the two things I keep in mind when I’m creating are one, to get the story down as quickly as possible and edit later, and two, to speak plainly and avoid big words when little ones will do.  I’m also a big fan of Tami Hoag. She’s probably the most inspirational figure I think of when writing because she started out as a romance writer and grew to become a best selling author of suspense.

I think we all must follow the advice of King Stephen – whose book ON WRITING is a must for writers! I’ve heard of Tami Hoag, but never picked her up. *Wanders over to Amazon*

What one book would you reread over and over again?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Obviously a stellar choice for all sorts of reasons. If I could step into a book and live the life of one character, Claire Randall Fraser would be it.

I really need to read this book – or watch the series! Everyone is always saying how good it is. 

One last quirky question: what flavour of ice cream best describes you?

Rocky Road. It’s been an arduous journey to get here but all that angst has made me the writer I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Fantastic answer! (And a very yummy one, though sadly I can’t eat marshmallow 😦 I live vicariously through you!) Thank you so much for coming on my blog today, Darlene. To end, give me your best pickup line 😉 

Pickup line, that is rich (snort). Okay, just for the record, I’ve never purposely flirted. I wouldn’t know how. I can make my characters do it, but if I had to…then it would come out awkward, strange, and just wrong. If I had a pick a line, it would be this: “Hey handsome, I love that shirt. You know what else would look good on you. Me!”

*snorts* You can find STILL LIFE at Amazon, Samhain Publishing, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers. And find out more about Darlene though her website, her Facebook page or look her up on Twitter!

img_5748_1_1.jpgDB Kennison was born and raised in Colorado where some of her fondest memories took place with a book tightly fisted in her hands and days were spent reading and daydreaming. As a kid, she remembers weekly trips to the library and the excitement of getting to pick something fresh and new from the stacks. She still feels that way when looking for a new book to read.

After moving to Wisconsin, she came to love life in a small town and along with it, an appreciation of great beer, and cheese. Her heart is there among the rolling hills and limestone bluffs.

DB currently lives in the middle of nowhere with her handsome, supportive husband, and three spoiled dachshunds, which vie for position as daily muse.

As someone with an active imagination, she is constantly weaving tales and now putting it all down on paper. What an adventure!

Review: STILL LIFE by D.B. Kennison

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a recent book I’ve really enjoyed, so to kick off a new week, this blog post will focus on my thoughts on my most favourite of recent reads: STILL LIFE by D.B. Kennison. From the same pub house as me, the book is a romantic crime/suspense and one well worth a read. In addition to my review, I’ve also invited D.B. Kennison herself along to the blog to get inside the mind that spawns such plots as the one in STILL LIFE. You’ll find that posted tomorrow, but for now, this is what I thought of STILL LIFE, the book.

51qlFbdgWRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’ll start by saying I didn’t guess the end. That sounds stupid, but when you’re a writer, you tend to bend over backward trying to guess whodunit. Kennison weaves her tale well, leading you in circles upon circles to a place you hadn’t expected – and I liked that. I hate when the writer chooses to reveal the killer or it’s so obvious, any idiot who picks the book up halfway can guess. Trust me; that ain’t happ’ning here.

The basic plot is small town PI/real estate broker, Randi stumbles onto a corpse and ends up striking major friction with the big-city-turned-small-town detective who came to Podunkville to escape homicide. Suffice it to say, he isn’t happy with the woman who pulls him back in. A series of events create hilarious tension between them, as well as their own strong personalities…until they can’t fight their mutual attraction anymore.

The start reminded me of a black and white comic caper, with its banter and PI sneakiness and the physical comedy. This pops up occasionally throughout the book, as well as the aforementioned hilarious banter between Randi and anyone she comes into contact with – especially her fantastic sidekick who I adored – and several descriptions in the book that Kennison writes so humerously, you can’t help but smile. This humour is spliced with gritty fact, real crime details woven in so you understand procedure and experience some of the horror of finding a body. I found the crime details really interesting – it’s clear Kennison has researched the subject thoroughly, and this helps bring the book to another level. I really believed what was happening in the pages.

In addition to it being interesting and funny and gritty, it’s Also. Very. Sexy. Like, fan yourself sexy. Like, open the window sexy. I love the friction of enemies-turned-lovers plots in romances, so enjoyed Randi and Jon’s sniping, envisioning their locking gazes, the accidental touches, the heat that simmers below every insult. With the crime side being so detailed, I was a little worried the romance would get lost, but Kennison balances the elements well so you feel like neither side is too heavy.

All in all, I thought the book was sharp, well-researched, sexy as heck and very funny. It was very easy to read and was paced well so I never felt it dragged. A fantastic debut and I look forward to seeing more of Kennison’s books.

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If I’ve piqued your interest, you can find the book on Goodreads, Amazon, Samhain Publishing and Barnes and Noble, as well as many other online retailers. 🙂