Interview with Erin Quinn, Author of The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love

Please give Erin Quinn a warm welcome! She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her latest release, The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less. 

[Erin Quinn] How about I do it in 1? 

Crazy. I’m a writer with a full time day job and a family. How could I be anything else?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love?

[Erin Quinn] The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love is about a woman who manages to cheat death.  It happens–you hear about it on the news.  People who’ve died and seen the light, their loved ones, or their maker, only to be miraculously revived and returned to the living. 

In Roxanne’s case, however, it’s happened four times.  Now she’s got the attention of a reaper who’s determined that her next death will be her last.  He takes over the body of a suicidal cop with one goal:  track her down, reap her mortal soul and destroy her physical being so there’s no more coming back for Roxanne Love.  But with the human body the reaper has stolen, comes emotion and sensation that he’d never expected.  His mission no longer seems clear and as he and Roxanne evade evil that has seeped into the human world, he discovers that not only can’t he resist Roxanne, he can’t resist life.  But reapers don’t belong among the living and a dark and powerful entity is willing to do anything to make sure Roxanne’s fifth death will be her last.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Erin Quinn] When I was sketching out the basics of this story, I read an article about a young girl who woke up on an autopsy table just before they cut her open.  That sparked a million ideas and as I worked through them, I fell in love with the idea of  a woman who doesn’t die and the reaper who feels she’s cheated him and so comes to collect her in person.  Another aspect that intrigued me was the idea of death longing to be part of the living.  My reaper (Santo) comes to this world filled with arrogance and a healthy bit of curiosity.  Four times he’s held Roxanne in death, four times he’s lost her.  But it’s not until he holds her in the flesh that he realizes that despite what he’s told himself,  it’s not her death he’s interested in..

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Roxanne?

[Erin Quinn] Guarded, giving and generous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Reece had a theme song, what would it be?

[Erin Quinn] Born to be Wild.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Roxanne is never without.

[Erin Quinn] The love and support of her family. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Roxanne’s purse?

[Erin Quinn] A gun or lipstick

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Roxanne’s greatest regret?

[Erin Quinn] Roxanne thinks she wants to be like everyone else.  In the beginning, her biggest regret is that she’s not ordinary.  Of course, Santo helps her see past that and accept that being extraordinary isn’t such a bad thing..

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Erin Quinn] As a young adult, I was a voracious Stephen King reader and a consumptive romance reader.  I would get through one of King’s books and love every word…except I always wished he’d put a little smut in it.  Then I’d get through a Harlequin and wish there’d been a few thrills and chills in it.  So when I started writing, I wanted to combine those elements.  If I can scare you a little while I make you fall in love, my job is done.  :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Erin Quinn] Coffee, laptop or pen/paper and most important…time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Erin Quinn] Probably Gone Girl, although that one left me unsettled and depressed so I can’t say I liked it but I definitely won’t forget it.  Brilliant writing and characters, intriguing story but definitely not a feel-good book.  :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Erin Quinn] Charlotte’s Web.  Read it in first grade and fell in love.  I even wrote to EB White and got a letter in return.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Erin Quinn] I love movies and good television (Dexter, Game of Thrones, Shameless, Downton Abby…..)  I love to read, of course and I love to spend time with my family.  I have two amazing (almost adult) children and a wonderful husband who pries me out of my office when I’ve been holed up too long.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Erin Quinn]   I’m everywhere!  www.erinquinnbooks.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

About the book:

Love and death make dangerous bed partners.
She cheated death….
All Roxanne Love has ever wanted is to be normal—marriage, kids, the life of June Cleaver. She tries to fit in but can’t conceal her ability to defy death–not from the world, not from the darkest creatures of the Beyond and not from the Reaper determined to destroy her. Now Roxanne is on the run, her only ally a compelling, dangerous detective with secrets of his own. Against her will, she’s drawn to his quiet strength and heated touch. But can she trust him with the truth?
….until she felt death’s kiss.
Incognito as guilt-ridden cop, Santo Castillo, the Reaper’s plan is simple: get close to Roxanne, uncover the secret of her immortality and cut it at the source. Yet with this borrowed body come emotions the Reaper hadn’t expected. Now nothing is clear but his conflicted desire to protect the woman he came to kill. As destiny forces them to face an enemy hell-bent on using Roxanne to wipe out all of mankind, she and Santo must choose between love….and salvation

About the author:

Erin Quinn is an award winning author who writes haunting romance for the thinking reader. Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in the Booksellers Best, WILLA Award for Historical fiction, the Orange Rose, Readers Crown, Golden Quill, Best Books, and Award of Excellence. Look for Erin’s latest release from Pocket Books, THE FIVE DEATHS OF ROXANNE LOVE, August 27, 2013. Go to www.erinquinnbooks.com for more information.

Interview with Misty Dietz, Author of Come Hell or High Desire and Giveaway!

Please welcome Misty Dietz to the virtual offices! Misty dropped by to chat about her recent release Come Hell or High Desire.

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Misty! Thank you for joining us today.

[Misty Dietz] Thanks so much to Julie for hosting me today on MMC! Super excited to be here! :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Misty Dietz] Oh yikes. Empathetic, optimistic, cheerleader, peace-keeper, detail-oriented, yet non-linear. Wear my emotions on my sleeve.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Come Hell or High Desire?

[Misty Dietz] Come Hell or High Desire is, at heart, a story about redemption. In their dangerous quest to find a missing woman, the scarred hero and heroine learn to forgive themselves, move beyond the past, and believe they’re worthy of love, trust, and scorching desire.

Sloane projects a very different aura on the outside than she actually feels. She’s tormented by guilt, and while she’s managed to be successful at her career, she feels an inner desperation to atone that has her making decisions that aren’t always the best for her. She doesn’t let too many people dig beneath her put-together façade. Then she meets Zack…

Zack tells himself he doesn’t give a shit what people think, but it’s a lie. His crushing guilt makes his walls steep. But being a protector is hard-wired into his genes just as dominantly as his broad shoulders and sexy green eyes, so when the woman he can’t stop thinking about finds herself in the cross-hairs of a dangerous web of deceit, he doesn’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to save her.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Misty Dietz] COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE was born when I learned about the extra sensory perception called psychometry, which is the ability to touch an object and know its back story. I’d never heard of that and was completely intrigued. It’s like the person “reading” the object gets echoes of the life force that last touched it. Fascinating right?

Inspiration also came from several other sources: the Red River which is one block from my house and the border line between North Dakota and Minnesota; my heroine’s boutique Skinny Dipping was fashioned after a local Fargo, ND, shop called O’Day Cache; and finally, I drew inspiration for Zack, my hero, from three men whom I love the most: my hubby (Zack’s calm and protective nature), my brother (Zack’s introspection and fearlessness), and my first love—my dad—who is a construction entrepreneur (Zack’s like-a-rock steadiness and down-in-the-trenches work ethic). Sloane was born complete and perfectly imperfect ready-made in my mind. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Sloane?

[Misty Dietz] Empathetic, unpretentious, sexy.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Zack had a theme song, what would it be?

[Misty Dietz] Lonely No More by Rob Thomas **swoon**

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Sloane is never without.

[Misty Dietz] Her dragonfly cadet hat. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things will you never find in Zack’s bathroom?

[Misty Dietz] Hair gel, liquid soap of any kind, or a hand mirror.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Sloane’s greatest regret?

[Misty Dietz] Not solving a crime before it took a deadly turn.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Misty Dietz] Being outside in nature, music, and reading other stories.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Misty Dietz] A big glass of water, a comfortable chair, and (in winter) my electric lap blanket.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Misty Dietz] Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Misty Dietz] No clue. My mom says I practically came out of the womb reading. Some of the earliest pictures of me show me holding a blanket and a book. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Misty Dietz] Hang out with my hubby and kids, read, bake, kayak, paddleboard, shop, pop in on various social media sites.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Misty Dietz] I’m a total social media lover! I especially love Facebook http://facebook.com/mistydietzwriter and Twitter http://twitter.com/mistydietz but anyone can contact me via my website http://mistydietz.com as well.

Thanks again for having me! And I’d like to hear from you guys now… Which point of view do you like to read best? First person or third?

At the end of this second phase of my blog tour we’ll be drawing the name for the prize winner. When I contact the winner, I’ll explain the type of character he or she will be naming. Thank you so much for being here! xo, misty ;)

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE excerpt: 

            A quaver steamrolled through her nerves—excitement, wonder, and fear winding her up into a miasma of feeling. He backed up a step, his eyes a brand, scorching their way from her teeth worrying her lips, to the tips of her breasts, across the stubbornly rounded expanse of her stomach and curve of her hips to her sex, over the length of her legs, and back up again until his fevered eyes captured hers and turned her insides to magma.

            “God, help me, Sloane. I need you. Every beautiful square inch of you.”

            She could feel his need radiating off his body in waves that threatened to knock her to her knees. Her lips parted, but she couldn’t speak. Couldn’t move. The intensity of the feelings coursing through her rooted her to the soft rug beneath her feet. She shivered when he finally peeled the shirt over his head.

            “What’s wrong, baby?” he whispered, frowning, not touching her but near enough that she could feel his body heat.

            “Nothing. I…” She closed her eyes and rubbed her arms, trying to find her old, confident self. When she opened them, she was staring at the black panther tattooed across his chest. It was so alive, seeming to move with every breath he took. She reached up to touch it and felt his muscles twitch. Her heart throbbed. So much emotion.

            “I need you, too.” Her words were barely audible. She didn’t move. Hesitating, he watched her for a few moments—enough time for her to realize he understood what was happening.

            Surrender.

            It was her first. A this is who and what I am when all the chips were down. A glimpse into her soul. An offering with no expectation of reciprocation. She quavered like a mouse before the lion, knowing she’d never be quite the same when Zack left her arms this time.

“A heroine to root for, a hero to die for, Misty Dietz has crafted a classic romantic suspense in the tradition of Kay Hooper. A winning debut!”
—Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Dietz brings us a fresh, interesting plot and draws readers into the entertaining story right from the start.” —RT Book Reviews

Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase link:

About the book:

Torn between dangerous desires…

Framed for a series of brutal murders, rebel-turned-CEO Zack Goldman must go to ground. When he discovers that sexy boutique owner Sloane Swift has a shocking gift—terrifying visions that connect her to his mentor’s missing daughter—he can’t believe her refusal to help him. Nor can he believe he’s actually falling for the frustrating woman.

Their chemistry will either find its perfect equation…

Helping an accused killer ranks low on Sloane’s to-do list, no matter how hot the attraction burns between them. But putting to rest her overwhelming guilt over the missing girl’s fate proves more difficult than she ever imagined…that is, until her heart and conscience begin to align.

…or detonate everything in its path.

As the real killer locks in on Sloane, Zack will stop at nothing to keep her safe. And as they earn each other’s trust—with danger in hot pursuit—they may just lose their hearts in the process…

About the author:

Misty’s love affair with words started in middle school when she penned dark stories set in exotic locales she knew nothing about. In college, her boy-angst spilled over into disturbing reams of poetry. After grad school, real life hit, and the writing went into hibernation until she found her own happily-ever-after with an ultra linear man who is the long-suffering counter-balance to her zig-zagging tendencies. Now, she spends her days writing emotionally complex, adrenaline-fueled stories, teaching Zumba, enjoying her family and friends, and praying her children don’t come home with math homework. You may contact Misty through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Waiting on Wednesday – Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

 

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

The cover looks wayyyyy too photoshopped, but Hope Flames is about a vet and has an injured police dog. MUST read!

In stores January 2014

Veterinarian Emma Burnett won’t let anything or anyone sidetrack her from her job as new owner of the vet clinic in Hope. She let a man distract her once, with disastrous results. But when Luke McCormack brings in his injured police dog, Emma can hardly ignore him. Despite Emma’s best efforts to keep things strictly doctor and owner of the patient, Luke’s one hot distraction.

What are you waiting on?

Review: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

 

Title:  Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Author: Tony Cliff

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures.


Review:

What a fun read!  Selim is a lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps, and he’s content to be a soldier.  Sure, the sultan is a blood-thirsty jerk, but Selim’s life isn’t so bad.  He enjoys living a quiet life, brewing his delicious tea and keeping his head firmly attached to his neck.  All of that changes when he’s given the task of acting as the translator for a new prisoner.  Delilah Dirk is everything that Selim is not.  She’s bold and confident, and she thrives on danger.  She’s a master swordswoman, she’s traveled the world, and nothing intimidates her.  When Selim relates Delilah’s boastful stories to the sultan, his peaceful life comes to a screeching halt.  Delilah has arrived at the palace with one goal in mind, and that’s robbing the sultan.  When she escapes, Selim is accused of being her accomplice, and suddenly he’s living a life on the run.

I enjoyed the interaction between Delilah and Selim.  Delilah is like a forest fire; she is a force of nature, and if you find yourself standing against her, good luck!  She is clever and resourceful, and nothing phases her.  Like a cyclone heading for landfall, it’s best to just get out of her way.  Selim, on the other hand, is quiet spoken, and he wants to live a long, happy, healthy  life.  He immediately realizes that he’s live a short, painful life if he continues hanging around with Delilah, but honor requires that he pay back the debt that he owes her.  She rescued him when he was about to be executed, and while he’s rather go hide somewhere safe, his pride won’t allow him to shirk his obligations.  Never mind that Delilah drags him from one deadly adventure to the next.  A debt is a debt, darn it!!

I loved Selim.  He thinks he knows what he wants out of life, but he really hasn’t a clue.  Racing about after Delilah is one heart pounding thrill after another, and while Selim professes to dislike his new circumstances, he has to admit that there are some advantages.  Fresh air, nights under the stars, the satisfaction of a good meal cooked from scratch.  Delilah’s an entertaining companion, full of death-defying tales of her previous endeavors.  When he’s given the opportunity to settle down and have that peaceful existence he’s longed for, he realizes that there’s something to be said for the company of a good friend.

At it’s core, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is the story of friendship.  Sure, it’s got all of that fun sword fighting, mass destruction, and running for your life, but this is the story of two polar opposites who discover that together they make a team to be reckoned with, and that together, they make a more cohesive whole.  The full-color, expressive art is just as engaging as the storyline, and the dialog is snappy and keeps the plot racing along.  This is a fun read, one that’s hard to put down.  I read it in one sitting, and was entertained from the first page to the last. 

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

[PR] Entangled Teen Release Party and Giveaway!

Welcome to the Entangled Teen August 27 release party! Today, we’re celebrating the release of The Liberator by Victoria Scott, Relic by Renee Collins, Everlast by Andria Buchanan, Ward Against Darkness by Melanie Card, and Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
The Liberator by Victoria Scott
 
Bad boy, meet bad girl.
 
Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn’t like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.
 
When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard.
 
With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.
 
 
Victoria Scott: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 
 
Relic by Renee Collins
 
After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.
 
 
Renee Collins: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 
 
Everlast by Andria Buchanan
 
Allie Munroe has only ever wanted to belong, maybe even be well liked. But even though she’s nice and smart and has a couple of friends, she’s still pretty much the invisible girl at school. So when the chance to work with her friends and some of the popular kids on an English project comes up, Allie jumps at the chance to be noticed.
 
And her plan would have worked out just fine…if they hadn’t been sucked into a magical realm through a dusty old book of fairy tales in the middle of the library.
 
Now, Allie and her classmates are stuck in Nerissette, a world where karma rules and your social status is determined by what you deserve. Which makes a misfit like Allie the Crown Princess, and her archrival the scullery maid. And the only way out is for Allie to rally and lead the people of Nerissette against the evil forces that threaten their very existence.
 
 
Andria Buchanan: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



Ward Against Darkness by Melanie Card
 
The last thing Ward de’Ath wants is more trouble. On the run from both the law and the criminal underworld, Ward and Celia flee Brawenal City only to stumble into the mansion of a powerful evil necromancer. And when Ward discovers the man possesses a dangerous grimoire, his duty leaves him no choice. He can’t allow the necromancer to keep the grimoire. But the mansion is filled with monsters–human and undead–and Ward has no way of telling who’s friend or foe. The only person he can trust is Celia who dominates more of his thoughts and feelings everyday. But there are still laws in the way of anything but friendship. She’s still dead and he’s still alive . . . for now.
 
 
Melanie Card: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
 
 
 
Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
 
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.
 
All Katy can do is survive.
 
Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?
 
Together, they can face anything.
 
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?
 
And will they even be together?
 
 
Jennifer L. Armentrout: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway
 
To celebrate the new releases, Entangled is giving away a paperback copy of each book. Enter using the Rafflecopter below!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Flirt Back to School New Adult Blog Hop!

I’m excited about this giveaway hop! You can win a special prize from Flirt, and I have a digital copy of Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne for one of you to win!

WELCOME TO FLIRT’S "BACK TO SCHOOL" NEW ADULT BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY!


Welcome to Flirt University’s Back to School celebration! It’s time for the Three R’s, Flirt style—Reading, (W)Riting, and Romancing! In the spirit of getting to know one another on the first day of school, Flirt, Random House’s New Adult imprint, has set up a New Adult blog hop so you can discover other blogs that love the hottest new romance genre.

As part of the hop, Flirt is giving away its signature "I <3 New Adult" tote (for carrying books, ereaders, and other fun things), and its signature "I <3 New Adult" mug (perfect for that morning coffee pick-me-up)! Just check out the Rafflecopter below—stop by each blog for more chances to win, and to meet awesome New Adult fans and reviewers!

Head back to Romance at Random on Tuesday, September 3 to find out if you won (we’ll email winners, too!), and don’t miss your first Flirt University "lecture" from one of Flirt’s esteemed New Adult Author Professors! They’ll be sharing their thoughts on everything New Adult!

I am excited to be part of this blog hop for a couple of reasons.  First, I love reading, especially romance!  It’s been fun seeing the changes in the genre over the last few years, and it’s exciting to see all of the new authors and new twists on traditional romance tropes.  I’m also super geeked to see so many people giving romance a try, and I’m looking forward to meeting new readers and romance authors!

GIVEAWAY!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here for a list of all of the participating blogs!   http://romanceatrandom.com/flirts-back-to-school-new-adult-blog-hop-and-giveaway

Now for my giveaway! 

Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Flirt New Adult Romance

On sale October 28, 2013

978-0-345-54911-2

The rules are clear—until they’re broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.

“Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?” 

Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?

As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.

But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Spotlight and Giveaway! To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro

Today I have a spotlight for To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro! Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of the book – open Internationally!

 

To Catch a Princess by  Caridad Pineiro

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Imprint: Ignite

About the book:

Untold wealth, a loving family, a solid career in America: the only thing Princess Tatiana lacks is the one thing she really doesn’t want—a husband. Unfortunately, her parents have just arranged her marriage to a royal from the old country. Are they kidding? It’s the twenty-first century!

Police Detective Peter Roman is a royal living incognito … and escaping a secret that has haunted his family for years. He’s been quietly in love with his best friend Prince Alexander’s sister for as long as he can remember. Little does she know that he is secretly the Grand Duke to whom she is unwillingly betrothed…

When a series of high-end jewelry heists threatens Tatiana’s exclusive charity exhibition in glamorous Monaco, the two must trap the clever jewel thief before he strikes again. In a fight for their lives, Peter’s secret identity is revealed. With danger and passion increasing to the breaking point, she must decide: catch a thief…or trust the heart of her true love.

 

Watch for Caridad’s upcoming September 2013 release, For Love or Vengeance the first in a four (4) book Reborn Series.

 

 

About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Caridad Pineiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project – to write a book for a class lending library. Bitten by the writing bug, Caridad continued with her passion for the written word and in 1999, Caridad’s first novel was released. Over a decade later, Caridad is the author of more than thirty published novels and novellas. When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista.

Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Purchase link:

GIVEAWAY!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Tony Cliff on Writing Strong Female Characters and Giveaway!

Today’s special guest Tony Cliff has a guest post for us, and after, you can win a copy of his graphic novel Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.

Writing Strong Female Characters by Tony Cliff

I don’t know whether she meant it sincerely or whether she was just trying to tease me, but when a notably feminist-minded female friend saw the cover for my first little Delilah Dirk comic back in 2007, she said, “oh! You made a feminist character.” Knowing how vocal this friend could be about feminist issues, it was often fun to bother her about it with a grab-bag of stereotypically misogynist remarks, so she could have been returning the favour by maligning-but-not-really my labour of love. Pointing out that the project I’ve been working on for months secretly demonstrates feminist principles would have been a sort of, “ah ha, you’re part of the club and you didn’t even know it” statement. Whatever her intentions, she was the first person to posit that Delilah Dirk might be a “strong female character.” Since then, presumably because I am a human male and the incongruity is astonishing, I am often asked why and how I have written a “strong female character.” Let me tell you!

I’ll just pass by arguing about whether Delilah Dirk is, in fact, a “strong female character.” Since that first mention, enough people have framed her as such that I’m just going to roll with it. No one that I am aware of has argued that DD is specifically not a “strong female character.” If I’m reluctant to embrace that term (as indicated by my liberal use of scare-quotes), it’s probably due to my personal tendency to be contradictory, but also because I am occasionally suspicious of peoples’ motivations in throwing the term around.

I’ll also pass by the question, “why do you write strong female characters,” because Joss Whedon has already addressed that question very eloquently. Listen to him here (http://youtu.be/cYaczoJMRhs?t=1m44s).

If possible, I would also defer to Joss Whedon about how to write strong female characters. He has more experience than I do. I’m not entirely sure what makes a “strong female character.” Others have invested years of post-graduate study in this topic – there are tests to see if your work of fiction has sufficiently fully-featured female characters, there are classifications, there are archetypes and stereotypes… I just sat down one evening to invent an adventuresome character who seemed appealing.

Here is the extent to which I considered Delilah’s gender: inspired by Hornblower and Sharpe adventures during the Napoleonic Wars, I wanted to have a sort of logistically hyper-flexible (i.e. “globetrotting”) action character, and the genre and setting were already chock-a-block full of male characters. Plus, a female character in 1810 naturally faces more obstacles due to societal norms, which I thought would present more opportunities for conflict. It would generate laughs, too, because our society has come so far since then that the gender roles are comically outdated. Feel free to roll your eyes in disagreement, if necessary – again, I am a White Male. I was also motivated by the mainstream comics I had encountered – mostly Image comics of the late 1990s. The female characters were across-the-board boring. Too serious, too bland, no sense of humour, no depth or colour.

Meanwhile, throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the platonic friendship of a few actual human females. I have studied them – made notes, measured and analyzed their behaviours and characteristics. I have dissected their droppings and run samples of their blood through complicated scientific equipment, at great personal expense. I have made a surprising number of astonishing conclusions!

There are differences, but all you need to figure them out is a little observation, a little time, and to not be a raging garbage bag of misogynist filth. Sure, there might be subtle differences between a male character and a female character who are identical except for their gender. But the gulf is not very wide. Maybe you know how to write characters who fall all along the personality spectrum, from a cruelly selfish man to heroically brave man, to a paralyzingly cowardly man. If so, you’re more than capable of embracing the socially and physiologically imposed differences between genders. They are minor by comparison. Yes, there may be aspects of a character that are forced on them by their physiognomy and anatomy, how they think of themselves, and how your society of other characters treat them based on their perceived gender, but this is where imagination and observation come in.

So how do you write a strong female character? And is this different from a believable female character? Is there something that separates strong from believable? Is it just the addition of swords? Is it some other “empowering” trait? After all, the forcefulness of how a character represents their gender is not necessarily an indication of their strength. I am suspicious that when people say “strong female character” what they really mean is “believable female character” or just anything except “curvaceous plot device.” Assuming you want to step away from having your character serve the limited purposes of a plot device (ahem, Princess Peach, ahem, every damsel in distress), I like two simple tools for the job: contrast and depth.

Contrast is a simple idea, and it applies to anything you’re creating, at any step in the process. It is a flexible and infinitely useful fundamental concept. Follow along. When you’re reading a WHERE’S WALDO book (or WALLY, I guess, for you Europeans), it is difficult to figure out Where Waldo is because he is surrounded by other humans, some of whom wear stripy things and/or share similar colours with Waldo. This is low contrast. It’s hard to tell where Waldo is because he’s surrounded by so many things that are similar. He gets lost in the Waldo-ness.

Conversely, if you put Waldo on a flat, deserted ice floe, voila! he’s easy to see. He is the only Waldo-shaped and -coloured object that’s visible. This is high contrast. Waldo stands out because of all the not-Waldo-ness around him. Meanwhile, the polar bear behind him? Neither you nor Waldo saw it coming, because a white polar bear against a white background is the epitome of low contrast.

You can (and ought to) apply principles of contrast to everything. Readability and understanding increase when contrast increases. So it goes when you are creating a character. Their happy moments stand out in contrast to their sad moments. Their angry, intense, moments stand out in contrast to their quiet, meditative, sitting-and-sipping-tea moments. I believe this is what sets an interesting (“strong/believable”) character apart from a dull character. Certainly, if you’ve heard the term “one-note character,” this is a way to combat that, and it’s the beginning of achieving a little depth of character. Just put them in situations where they’ll be motivated to have different feelings.

It is frustrating to realize that I have just given advice that amounts to, “give the character more than one feeling,” because if you think about it that simply, it seems inconceivable that anyone could make anything even passably interesting for the maker without clearing this low hurdle. But I guess it needs to be mentioned. Those dour, guns-blazing ladies in my late-90s Image comics all had approximately two-and-a-half modes of expression: “scowl”, “scowl harder”, and “laugh derisively.” Sometimes they would look very serious while sunbathing by the pool, or on a boat, or on cloudy days. Not exactly a rich tapestry of emotion.

Conversely, in his series of novels, Horatio Hornblower is a well-rounded, fully-coloured character. The stories are no major touchstones in the history of literature, but they are solid, enjoyable, and are improved dramatically by the depth that C.S. Forester gives his protagonist’s character. Hornblower’s strength, resolve, and bravery stand out so much more impressively because they are contrasted against his worry, neuroses, and his internal conflicts.

For advice on achieving depth of character, I’m once more going to defer to someone with more expertise than me. After all, this is the sort of topic that one could write a book about, as many have. I like Lajos Egri. His excellent book THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING was written in the 1930s and is designed for the playwrights of the time. Nevertheless, it is a timeless, effective guide to building integrated characters and stories, whether you’re writing a novel, comic, movie, or even an actual play, as preposterous as that notion may be. If you didn’t know when it was written, you might mistake it for being more modern than McKee’s STORY. Egri’s emphasis is on designing stories that could not exist if it weren’t for the characters within them. Weak characters? Weak story. If that seems to you like it might be a recipe for the type of dull literary fiction that lacks the excitement of a good adventurous or romantic story, please see my earlier thoughts re: Horblower. Strong characters make for strong stories. A dull story is elevated and made interesting by entertaining characters, whereas the greatest roller-coaster of a plot is still mind-numbingly dull without interesting characters.

Much of Egri’s approach involves building a character up from their backstory. He is good at providing direction on how to do so. Now, admittedly, backstory and depth are not the same thing. But they can work in tandem. I find that one inspires the other.

Boiled down as simply as possible, depth can be found by giving your character likes, dislikes, wants, needs, preferences, quirks, and fears, among other things. Characteristics. Indiana Jones began as an homage to the heroes of adventure serials from the early 20th century. One of those is H. Rider Haggard’s character Allan Quatermain. Admittedly, I have not read a lot of Quatermain stories – maybe only three-quarters of one story – but you’d think that would be enough to give me a sense of his character. I know him only vaguely as a pith-helmeted avatar for the readers who would have revelled in what would have been exotic adventures back when those stories were written. What does everyone know about Indiana Jones? Whip, hat, competitive, and he’s scared of snakes. It’s not much, but it’s enough to be interesting, and it’s all established in the first ten minutes of his first story. The same can not be said for Quatermain. Say what you will about Wikipedia, feel free to contrast Quatermain’s “Appearance and Character” section with that of Indiana Jones or Horatio Hornblower.

At this point, I’ve wandered away from specifically talking about writing “strong female characters.” Though… I like to think that’s the eventual goal – some time far in the future, we might not need to differentiate between “strong female characters” and “strong characters.” Maybe you shouldn’t be writing strong female characters. Maybe you ought to write strong characters, making them ladies when that makes sense and men when that makes sense. Based on what I hear on Twitter and elsewhere, I can acknowledge that we’re not there yet, but I also get the feeling that I might be preaching to the choir: the type of person most likely to read about how to write a female character is the type who’s probably already inclined to do so, and that person is not the person who needs to be convinced of the value of a treating your differently-gendered characters equally.

So my hope is that you’ll keep writing your characters, and hopefully I’ve shared some viewpoints that complement your own. Perhaps I’ve simply illuminated some of my own biases, and you’ve encountered a type of thinking or some cognitive mistakes you want to avoid. Either way, I hope you’ll keep writing (or start writing) richly-developed characters and sending them out into the world so that, eventually, somewhere down the road, no one feels that a character’s gender requires a special approach to writing.

Thank you, Tony!!

About the book:

Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures.

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