Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Confessions of a Fantasy Romance Author--Guest Helen C. Johannes--Plus Giveaway!

I met Helen C. Johannes at my first WisRWA conference when we both had the thrill of receiving our first sale roses. But I really got to know her and admire her through her writing. She spins an amazing tale, a perfect seamless blend of landscape politics and personal passions. Please welcome Helen!

I confess—I’m Helen C. Johannes and I write Fantasy Romance. I can’t help it. That’s just where my brain goes—straight to heroes on horseback wielding swords and wearing armor.

You know that song from the movie Footloose (the Kevin Bacon version) where they’re driving tractors at each other and the soundtrack is playing “I Need a Hero,” someone who’s “fresh from the fight”? That’s my kind of guy. That’s Arn, Prince of Val-Feyridge, and the hero I’ve had stuck in my head since high school.

He’s a ruthless warrior, so tough men fear him—and secretly want to “be” him. If only they knew how much he’s sacrificed to reclaim his rightful title. He loves no one, trusts but a few, and is focused on the one object that would fulfill his destiny, reclaiming the lost Crown of Tolem. He’s scarred inside and out, but he’ll be damned if he lets anyone see those wounds.

Can you tell I love him?

He needs a healer. Too bad she’s the one woman he shouldn’t fall for, a low-born member of the wrong side who could be both a witch AND a spy. Of course Aerid is neither, but she is stubborn, principled and anti-war.

So where did this story come from? And why did it have to be a fantasy?

It came from my formative reading in fairy tales, Tolkien, and medieval history/literature. It came from spending part of my childhood in Germany, the land of castles and fabulous medieval ruins. It came from watching the race riots of the Civil Rights Movement and reading about the brother-against-brother Civil War and watching the Middle East continually burst into flames. It came from all the ways people find to pigeonhole and stereotype others instead of getting to know them as individuals.

And it had to be a fantasy because, frankly, I prefer to play by my own rules. I could set up precisely the kind of geography and legend and political situation I needed, one that would legitimately have spawned these characters. That doesn’t mean it was easy, or that all the pieces came together quickly, but I confess to being something of a control freak, and if I set all the variables in a story, then I know what they all are.

What did I get for following my heart and writing about the hero who’s been in my head since high school? Publication, finally, of THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE by The Wild Rose Press and an EPIC Award for Fantasy Romance.

I want to thank Mary Hughes for opening her blog to me today. She’s a great cheerleader for WisRWA authors and for those of us who write FFPT (fantasy, futuristic, paranormal, and time-travel) romances. In honor of my visit to Mary’s blog, I’m giving away an electronic copy of my book. Post a comment by Friday, March 1st to enter your name in a random drawing. Include your contact information in your comment/entry for a chance to win.

Amazon paperback and Kindle

A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom? Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first?

Excerpt from CHAPTER TEN

Shivers racked Aerid, coming so hard and fast she had bitten her lip bloody, but she refused to make a sound while the Prince rode with her clamped to his body. Her life depended on saying nothing until this man—the Demon Himself for all the cruel efficiency with which he had dispatched their attackers—gave her leave to speak.
Trees whipped by; a bit of moonlight beamed down on a narrow track, and always the horse’s mane lashed her face. She had given up breathing, gulping air whenever the horse’s stride loosened the Prince’s grip a fraction.
The horse slowed, and the Prince straightened in the saddle, allowing a sliver of night air to slide between their bodies. She shuddered at the shock of it, realizing the skin under her tunic was damp with the sweat soaking through his. She had ceased to feel his heartbeat as separate from hers. Both thundered in her ears, and the sweet scent of fresh blood—on his hands, his clothes, his weapons—mingled with horse lather, man-sweat, and her own fear.
He guided the stallion off the track and into a stream. Krenin followed, as did a riderless horse that had raced with them out of the village. Aerid guessed it was one of those that had charged her in the square. Instead of crossing, the Prince headed the stallion downstream, letting it pick its way through fetlock-deep water. Krenin made no comment. Aerid stole a glance in his direction, but the Prince’s Second seemed still in control of his horse although he slumped over the animal’s neck. Around them, water rushed and hissed over stones, the sound echoing the blood-rush in her veins.
The Prince’s arm tightened, drawing her hard against the planes of his chest. Aerid sucked in breath, digging her fingers once more into his tunic sleeve. Every movement reminded her, perched sideways as she was on the saddle pommel, all that kept her out of the water and away from trampling hooves was the strength of his arm—and that arm was trembling. Not with the fear still rattling through her, for he was Tolemak and a warrior. Nor with weakness, though the wound she had stitched a scant seven-night before could yet give him cause. No, in that moment when he had recognized her—in that awful moment after the shock—she had seen all too clearly the fury vibrating through him now. And the knowledge that it had not abated even a whit made her flinch when he bent and his voice lashed at her ear.
“Tell me, witch, and tell me true—does Krenin know who you are?”
The question itself startled Aerid, not its harshness, for she had expected that. Twisting her head, she caught a glimpse of eyes like coals in a face dark and set.
“I mean,” he said, each word measured and knifesharp, “either who you are or who you pretend to be.”
She flushed, knowing full well what he meant. “I—I think not, m’lord. ‘Twas dark and—”
“Then you’ll do nothing to enlighten him. Hear?”
She heard him clearly despite the water-song and hoof splashes she was sure prevented their voices from carrying to Krenin. She understood, too, what underlay his warning. He wanted no one to know that he, the exalted and invincible Prince of Val-Feyridge, had been tricked—trapped—into sparing the life of an Adanak—and a woman!—only to cover the fact he and all his army had been duped into believing—for weeks!—that she was a boy, and a D’nalian. Oh, he had chosen well the moment for his question, Aerid thought, a rush of indignation beating back her shivers.
“Aye, m’lord, ‘tis safe with me, your secret.”
His arm clenched so, she feared he would crush her. “I should have let them kill you!”
He had to feel how her heart fluttered like a trapped bird under his arm, but the breathlessness made her almost giddy, not frightened. Her words had power, and her tongue spat out more of them. “Why did you not? If I be to you what you believe of me, why did you not leave me to them? ‘Twas surely—”
“You helped Krenin. Why?”
Why indeed? Krenin was Tolemak, her enemy. But he had been alone, and injured, and there were so many of them, and they were thieves, not good men, and she could not stand by and watch while… Tears scorched her throat. The Prince would not understand any of that—not
he, the warrior who swung his arm and lopped off heads and limbs without thought of who the bearers might be or where they might be from or who they might have waiting for them—
“‘Twas—’twas not by choice!” Turning away, she pressed knuckles to her mouth to stop its trembling.
He made no response, only straightened away from her and turned the horse toward a grassy bank. When the animal had climbed out of the water, he opened his arm. Unprepared, Aerid slid straight down and fell into marshy grass. She gaped as he dismounted and, looking impossibly tall and featureless in the faint moonlight, stood over her. “Understand then—’tis not by my choice that you’re here, now.” Dropping the stallion’s reins, he walked toward Krenin’s horse, pushing aside the stray that had followed them.

Author Helen C. Johannes lives in the Midwest with her husband and grown children. Growing up, she read fairy tales, Tolkien, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, and Ayn Rand, an unusual mix that undoubtedly explains why the themes, characters, and locales in her writing play out in tales of love and adventure. A member of Romance Writers of America, she credits the friends she has made and the critiques she’s received from her chapter members for encouraging her to achieve her dream of publication. When not working on her next writing project, she teaches English, reads all kinds of fiction, enjoys walks, and travels as often as possible.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Name Nixie and Julian's Baby!

I've set up a couple polls here and on Facebook. Help me pick the name for Nixie and Julian's little one! Baby Emerson will be born September 17, a couple months after the events in Beauty Bites.

The poll is to the right, just under the banner.

You can add options to the Facebook poll.

Poll on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/questions/10151443628469621/

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3T Writing Tidbit

Using the right word usually means picking striding vs lumbering when describing how a hero walks. But there are mistakes that are easy to make. Savvy readers will wince and even casual readers will know something is off. Here are some of the more common gotchas.

There, their, they're. "Look there! They're screwing their story."  ("Look there (place)! They're (they are) screwing their (possessive--think mine!) story.")

Discreet, discrete. This is one of mine. "Be discreet about who you tell. Keep who you tell discrete." (Discreet is careful; discrete means distinct parts--remember ete keeps the ees distinct, separate.)

It's, its. This is bizarre because "its" is the opposite of the general possessive rule (Nixie's book). But "it's" is NOT possessive. Think yours, mine, ours--its. In this case "it's" is the contraction (it is). So it's really hard to know its possessions.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thanks and hugs to my readers!

My Edie and the CEO giveaway/release tour is over--whew, what a party! Big thanks and hugs to all my readers, to those who commented, and to those who participated in the Rafflecopter giveaway.

And the winner of the Kindle/Nook giveaway is Chris Bails! Congratulations to Chris! Chris has requested a Kindle Paperwhite which has been ordered and will soon be on its way.

My profound thanks to Author's Angels for putting together another flawless tour. Thanks too to all my lovely hosts!

Heart Breaking Reviews
Romance Book Craze
Harlie's Books
Read Your Writes **INTERVIEW
My Life Beyond Labels
My Fiction Nook
Tattooed Book Review
Guilty Pleasures **REVIEW
Melinda Dozier
Blackraven Erotic Cafe
Storeybook Reviews
AJ's Reading Nook
Simply Ali
What's On The Bookshelf
Reality Bites! Let's Get Lost!!
Sugar and Spice Reviews
My Odd Little World
Blackraven's Reviews
A Little Fiction of Every Flavour
Literary R&R
Smardy Pants Book Blog
Sarah Aisling

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Dream Heist Team--Guest Tamara Morgan

Tamara's tagline is "Laughter is good. Love is better." A woman after my own heart :) She's here today celebrating her BRAND NEW RELEASE Confidence Tricks. Please welcome fellow Samhain Publishing author Tamara Morgan!

My Dream Heist Team

One can’t really write a heist romance without spending considerable time watching heist movies. (At least, this is how I justify spending countless hours with my television and calling it research.) In all my *ahem* research, I discovered that between the plotting and explosions, the sexual tension and the humor, the very best movies always boil down to a great team.

Good Example: Ocean’s Eleven, which has possibly the best heist team of all time.
Bad Example: Tower Heist, a movie I’m still trying hard to forget.

Since I live firmly in the land of fantasy, I decided to make my very own heist dream team composed of real-life experts, movie greats, and eye candy.

  • Point Man: George Clooney, naturally. Danny Ocean will forever be my favorite heist lead, and I refuse to replace him with anyone else. He will wear tight pants and swagger.
  • Driver: Jason Statham. I don’t actually know if he’s a very good driver in real life, but no action movie is complete unless he’s in it. True fact.
  • Generic Token Hot Girl: Emma Stone. I know, I know. It’s a terrible cliché, but every heist movie has a pretty young thing to lighten the atmosphere. Emma made an awesome con woman in Zombieland, too, so she can bring some extra talent.
  • Wise Old Man Who Has Since Retired: Morgan Freeman. Ah, Morgan Freeman, fulfilling Wise Old Man roles since the 1980s.
  • Pick Pocket/Planter: David Blaine. I’m not gonna lie—real life magicians are kind of hot. Shiny shirts. Fast hands. Guyliner.
  • Demolitions/Tech Guys: Mythbusters. I don’t know why anyone would plan any kind of high-tech break-in without the Mythbusters. And not just for their mad skills at blowing things up. I love red hair. And mustaches.
  • The Muscle: The Rock, of course, preferably a la The Tooth Fairy. That will forever be my favorite The Rock role.
  • Guns: Michelle Rodriguez. Now, I don’t always condone the use of guns in a heist movie (in fact, they’re better when the cast has to use alternate means), but if someone has to come in blazing to save the day, I want it to be her.
  • Comic Relief: Amy Poehler. No real reason. I just love her.
  • Chameleon (You know, the person who blends in with any crowd and changes costumes at the drop of a hat?): Daniel Day Lewis. Seriously. I didn’t even know he was a real person until like last year. The dude can transform. 

So there you have it…my dream heist team. Who would you want on your side?

About Confidence Tricks

A life of crime is easy…until love goes all ninja on your ass.

Asprey Charles has always assumed he would one day take his place in the family art appraisal and insurance firm. “His place” meaning he plans to continue to enjoy his playboy lifestyle, lavish money on his Cessna, and shirk every responsibility that dares come his way.

But when a life of crime is thrust upon him, he is just as happy to slip on a mask and cape and play a highwayman rogue. After all, life is one big game—and he excels at playing.

Poppy Donovan vows that her recent release from jail will be her last—no more crime, no more cons. But when she learns that her grandmother lost her savings to a low-life financial advisor, she’s forced to do just one more job.

It’s all going smoothly until the necklace she intends to pawn to fund her con is stolen by a handsome, mocking, white-collar thief. A thief who, it turns out, could take a whole lot more than money. If she’s not careful, this blue blood with no business on her side of the tracks could run off with the last thing she can afford to lose. Her heart.

Warning: This book contains masked crusaders, a remorseless con woman, and plans to boost a ten-million-dollar painting. Expect high speeds and fast hands.

About Tamara Morgan

Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.

Her home is in the Inland Northwest, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and variety of household pets. Feel free to drop her an email at tamaramorganwrites (at) gmail (dot) com or follow her on Twitter at @Tamara_Morgan.

Tamara's website: http://www.tamaramorgan.com/
Confidence Tricks at
Samhain Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Monday, February 4, 2013

Edie and the CEO Release Day!

My debut contemporary romance novella, Edie and the CEO, releases today! This is a fun, sensual romp you can recommend to all your friends :) And check out the GIVEAWAY deets at the end.

Edie Rowan is passionate about workers’ rights, wanting her Sixties protester grandparents to be proud of her. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Kirk is Mr. Ultra-Executive with his expensive hand-tailored suits and his eyes the steel blue of a finely tempered sword—but for the intriguing contradictions of his neat ponytail and square workman’s hands.
Edie’s latest disaster, a teambuilding exercise gone facepalm wrong, leads to a knockdown drag-out with rival manager Bethany “The B”—or add the “Itch”—Blondelle. The incident is the last straw for Kirk. He sends Edie to management camp and to her shock, announces he will drive her there himself. She wonders why he would want eighteen hours of enforced intimacy with her, even as she’s dazzled by his sparkling white smile and killer dimple.
Everett walks away from the confrontation with a headache. For years he has protected Edie from the fallout of her righteous crusading, but this may be the last time. A corporate backstabber is trying to eject Everett from his job. Even so, he’s looking forward to spending time on the drive with Edie, attracted to her sunny red curls, fiery personality and fine dark eyes.
Then a snowstorm forces them to seek shelter in an empty mountain cabin. Edie thinks she will take the lead in wilderness survival but Kirk proves more durable than his Italian loafers and silk sweater would suggest. The extended stay rubs them together in all sorts of ways, kindling emotional and physical flames. But when their corporate shells burn away, what secrets will be revealed?
“Funny, unique, witty and smart – the romantic comedy is back!” –Edie Ramer, author of Stardust Miracle
Want to win a Kindle or Nook (up to $120)? Join my Edie and the CEO Blog Tour! Complete details at Author's Angels.
Today's stops:
Heart Breaking Reviews
Romance Book Craze