Archive for May, 2011

Dragonfire Series Chat with Deborah Cooke

Posted May 24, 2011 By Jennifer

First of all, I have to say, if you don’t belong to a book club, you should find one. Or you can do like I did and start your own. I’ve met some of the nicest, most fun people though my book club. We have an awesome time talking about the books we read, and about other stuff in our lives. We’ve gotten to be really good friends. We don’t always agree on the good and bad parts of books, and that’s a fantastic thing, it makes the discussions really interesting. So… look in your area for a club that reads the kinds of books YOU like to read. If you can’t find one… CREATE one. Usually a bookstore or library will help you get started. A few flyers and a little orgainzation and you’ll be on your way!!!

That said, my book club just finished up reading the first 6 books in Deborah Cooke’s Dragonfire series. They were soooooooooooo good!!!! She’s written an incredible dragon shifter mythology, and has an awesome cast of supporting characters. (I’m working on a review of the newest book, so keep an eye out for that soon.) We were lucky enough to have Deborah “join” us right after the 6th book came out for an online  Q&A. It was so much fun. She was a really good sport about answering a TON of specific questions about why or how things happened in the story. Of course there was a fair amount of fangirling on our part, as well, lol.

Below is an abridged transcript of the chat. (Some things about future releases were removed at the author’s request, and some of the silly chatter was removed to improve the flow of the transcript. Keep in mind, this chat took place BEFORE we read book 6.)

**THIS CHAT CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ALL CURRENT BOOKS IN THE DRAGONFIRE SERIES** If you haven’t read the series yet… stop… now… go… buy… read!!! If you have read them, and have ever wondered about little things here & there… we may have answers for you. Not to mention a lot of insight about the series from the person who knows it best.

Jennifer: Why did they bury Magnus at the end of the fourth book, instead of making sure he was exposed to all the elements like they KNEW they would have to do?
Deborah Cooke: They made a mistake. Everything collapsed and they were thinking about saving everyone’s skins, so they made a mistake.
Deborah Cooke: But of course, in terms of story, it HAD to be Rafferty who finished Magnus. So that had to happen in Rafferty’s book.
Jennifer: Are Sophie and Nikolas going to be reincarnated into characters we’ve met… or will meet? Or will they come back as “themselves” in the future?
Deborah Cooke: Oh, you need to read the YA series. Because the resolution of Sophie’s story only happens when she passes the torch of being Wyvern along to someone else.
Deborah Cooke: And yes, Sophie and Nikolas get their HEA.
Jennifer: woo hoo!! haha… Can’t wait for that!
Jennifer: Can dragons be all races, from all over the world? It seems like up to this point they all either know each other, or know OF each other. Yet know one knew about Chen. Are there others, in other areas, and of other ethnic backgrounds, that they don’t know? And is Chen the same “kind” of dragon? or is he something more like a traditional “oriental dragon”?
Deborah Cooke: That’s one of the fun things about the series, is expanding it beyond Europe.
Deborah Cooke: I wanted to write about a series of guys – because the trait runs in families – who knew each other, or knew something of each other, but got surprised by other dragons in the world. So, Chen is from another culture, one that reveres dragons and he has a different suite of powers (or secrets) and ambitions because of that legacy.
Deborah Cooke: Magnus, for example, wanted to rule the Slayers, but Chen, Chen wants to rule the world… And I like that!
Deborah Cooke: But genetically, the Pyr – dragon shape shifters – are all from the same stock in my world, just as people are. I’m not finding a lot of Pyr in Africa for Dragonfire, but there are other shifters from Africa and South America in the YA series.
Deborah Cooke: Back to the origins of Pyr, I do a lot of research into mythology about dragons. There’s a lot in Europe, and in China, which is where we get Erik and the guys and Chen.
Jennifer: Why aren’t there any female dragons, aside from the Wyvern?
Deborah Cooke: Because it’s my world and I made it that way. I think women are special, don’t you? <g>
Jennifer: We want more badass women dragons, lol!
Deborah Cooke: LOL. I’ll think about it. Wyverns aren’t really badasses, though.
Jennifer: We love that the women in the stories aren’t whiny and wimpy… this is a TOUGH group to please when it comes to women leads, lol.
Deborah Cooke: Maybe we need a mutant strain for a new series.
Deborah Cooke: I HATE heroines who are 2D2L.
Deborah Cooke: I’m glad you like my heroines!
Jennifer: One of our favorite parts of the book is Garrett mocking blowing dragonfire… how do the children fit into the stories? What are they told about dragons? Will we be seeing the younger generation in Zoe’s book?
Deborah Cooke: Yes! All of the kids are in Zoë’s series, which is great because they’re teenagers – they have buckets of rules and are ready to break them. I really enjoyed getting to know the kids and the dynamic between them.
Deborah Cooke: It also was cool that Zoë – unlike all the adult Pyr we know – isn’t growing up alone and isolated from other Pyr.
Jennifer: There could be some “interesting” situations if they let the “dragon out of the bag” in their kindergarden class, lol.
Deborah Cooke: Yeah, but they come into their powers at puberty – which is a lot more trouble, if you think about it. All those hormones!
Jennifer: What happens to their body after they die? Why did Quinn say someone was going to be surprised when the body washed up in book 1… yet in book 2, Tyson’s body disintigrated in the pool?
Deborah Cooke: Quinn was thinking that the body would remain in dragon form, because he saw his dad dead in dragon form. But many of the Pyr actually shift back to human form during the death throes, as a distress thing. There’s some doubt as to which way they’ll end up.
Deborah Cooke: Tyson, though, was Slayer, which changes the body chemistry of the dragon in question. We’re learning more about Slayers all the time.
Jennifer: a round of nodding heads here… that was a very good answer, lol
Deborah Cooke: I like nodding heads. Makes me feel like I make sense. Much better than being a delusional person who sits in the spare room and makes up stuff about dragons!
Jennifer: Are they ever concerned they’ll be videotaped shifting in the city? It’s one thing to think “they’ll never believe their memory”, but an earthquake in the middle of NYC is bound to draw attention, and propably people with videophones… what happens then?
Deborah Cooke: Well, they’ve been relatively careful about alleys and shadows – of course, in DARKFIRE KISS, they get caught, and that changes everything.
Deborah Cooke: I was surprised they didn’t get caught in WHISPER KISS but I guess they were lucky. <g>
Jennifer: How big are the dragons? Compared to what? (wondering how everyone fit in Ginger’s kitchen when Donovan shifted)
Deborah Cooke: I don’t know. They’re big. Bigger than people. Smaller than houses. How big do you think dragons should be?
Jennifer: Maybe we chalk it up to ginger has a BIG kitchen?
Deborah Cooke: Ginger had a big ol’ country kitchen – but nobody said it didn’t get cozy in there!
Jennifer: hahahahaha
Deborah Cooke: Those guys are pretty much all pals – they can rub scales anytime. And they keep their wings folded against their backs, too. I think that if you hang with dragons, you have to do some space management. High ceilings. Big doorways. Ginger got lucky.
Jennifer: We just had an impromptu Puff the Magic Dragon concert in front of my Books-A-Million, lol  we’re nuts, lol.
Deborah Cooke: What are you drinking down there at book club, hmm? Little drinks with umbrellas?
Jennifer: Actually, one of our book club girl’s birthday was the other day… we’re eating ice cream cake, lol.
Deborah Cooke: I’ll have a piece of ice cream cake now, thanks.
Jennifer: You should come to meetings! LOL
Deborah Cooke: Oooo, that sounds good. Just a teensy commute to get to your meetings from here! Maybe it’d be worth it.
Jennifer: Are there any other shapes the Wyvern can change to? Dragon/human/salamander are mentioned, but are these the only options? Could the slayers who change shape choose other forms? How does Chen change to a woman?
Deborah Cooke: That’s like four questions! Okay…
Deborah Cooke: The Wyvern traditionally assumes three forms – dragon, woman and salamander. By drinking the Elixir, Slayers assumed some powers of the Wyvern, including the ability to take the salamander form. But Chen, Chen has some deep old mojo going on PLUS drinking the Elixir. You’ll have to stay tuned to learn all of his deal.
Jennifer: This is another multi-parter, lol… What happens if the Pyr meets his firestorm BEFORE the eclipse? Is there any reaction? (Like if Niall had met Rox at some point during his “mentorship” of Thorolf) Does the firestorm process start with the eclipse? And what if they deny the firestorm completely? Do they not get another chance, EVER? Is there some consequence?
Deborah Cooke: Uh, did you read DARKFIRE KISS yet? Because Rafferty and Mel meet before the firestorm sparks… I don’t think that counts as a spoiler.
Deborah Cooke: As for denying the firestorm…none of the dragon dudes have managed it yet. I keep thinking I’ll play it that way… but they’re not superhuman and they are heterosexual and they just, well, go for it.
Deborah Cooke: LOL. Mel and Rafferty meet before the firestorm and they do it, and THEN the firestorm sparks. And Rafferty, being Rafferty, starts to worry about repercussions when it’s a tad too late. I had fun.
Jennifer: What if the mate dies before the firestorm is satisfied?
Deborah Cooke: Well, that would be a bummer, wouldn’t it?
Deborah Cooke: I mean, these are romances – they’re supposed to have an HEA!
Deborah Cooke: I think of this stuff too – plus I like to mix it up a bit every time. I hate series that seem like the same story told over and over again, only the characters’ names changing. I want you to say “OH NO!” and keep reading. <g>
Jennifer: But do they get another shot in the future?
Deborah Cooke: Well, Erik got another shot, didn’t he?
Jennifer: We LOVE LOVE LOVE that the stories are written like a READER would want them… it’s like you got tired of reading the same old horrible stereotypes in every UF romance and decided to write a series that DIDN’T do the same old thing.
Deborah Cooke: Okay, now you make me wonder what the stereotypes are! I wrote stories I would want to read – that’s what I always do.
Jennifer: We liked that they don’t spend the whole story in someone’s bedroom… having a romance is fantastic… but it’s NOT the whole story.
Deborah Cooke: I love romance, and I love emotional depth, and I love action scenes. I cut my teeth writing medievals – lots of fights! And I love that action. Sex is good too, but it needs to be part of something greater IMO.
Jennifer: Romance stereotypes like whiny women, overly sexed couples. It still happens in some stories.
Deborah Cooke: I need to believe that the hero and heroine are still going to be together when they don’t want to get it on every hour on the hour. I don’t like whiny chicks, either.
Jennifer: You managed to pull off both the “reincarnation” idea and the “self sacrificial hero” theme in a way that even I appreciated… and THAT is a feat!!
Deborah Cooke: Reincarnation is a theme I keep returning to, it just interests me. My medieval THE WARRIOR is about that too and I also really like that book. I had a bit of a tussle with Delaney and his self-sacrifice thing, but I’m happy with how he came to terms with it.
Jennifer: We loved that the women are told about their dragon self early in the story, it’s not something that hangs over the majority of the book.
Deborah Cooke: I think that if the woman is smart, she’s going to get the dragon thing early – i.e. by seeing him shift – it can’t be a secret really. I’d rather have more interesting things be secret – like why he thinks he’ll never fall in love!
Jennifer: Will we see more of the dragon tooth warriors?
Deborah Cooke: Oh yes. I love those boys. So caught between here and then. I’d give them their own series, if I had my druthers. Imagine – you loved a woman 3000 years ago, but you love another one now. The conflict. The potential disloyalty… I could rip their little hearts out and then give them HEA’s. It would be awesome.
Jennifer: ok, last question
Jennifer: How much of the “elemental/harmony” and “green/care for the earth” theme from the book is based on your own life? Did you live that way, and it influenced the story? Or has the research for the story increased your own awareness of those things in your everyday life?
Deborah Cooke: Well, I think it’s a pretty timely idea. When I was putting together the series, I loved the idea of dragons having a treasure and thought it would be a great theme if their treasure was the earth. And that made them guardians of the elements, an idea I liked a lot. I live in a place where I’m bombarded with the idea of going green, of using energy responsibly, recycling, reducing your footprint, etc etc etc., so I didn’t think about it an enormous amount. I assumed everyone was hearing the same themes. I’m not sure that’s true, given how some readers have responded, which is interesting too.
Deborah Cooke: I’ve always been aware of environmental issues, but I guess not everyone is. I don’t think of it as a mission, but in this next book, the heroine is a photographer and she admires Edward Burtynsky. Wouldn’t hurt if more people knew his work!
Jennifer: *makes a note to google Edward Burtynsky*
Deborah Cooke: http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/ He takes pictures of trailings from mines and other industrial waste. They’re strikingly beautiful but horrible too.
Jennifer: But even the woman are involved in green living… earth efficient type endeavors.
Deborah Cooke: Well, I think of it as a common perspective or concern that the hero and heroine need to have, as a foundation for their relationship. And it’s fun. I really liked Niall pulling Rox’s chain about local yogurt.
Jennifer: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for chatting with us… we had a blast!
Deborah Cooke: THANK YOU for having me, for the suggestion and for setting it all up and for making it easy.
Deborah Cooke: I had such fun – it’s wonderful to talk to readers and hear what questions you have.
Deborah Cooke: Where are your hoards?
Jennifer: We haven’t looked at them yet, lol… everyone’s got their boxes by their chairs, lol.
Deborah Cooke: Do I need to explain mine or is it self-evident?
Jennifer: Why don’t you do a wee explaination.
Deborah Cooke: Okay, the hoard shot…
Deborah Cooke: There are two books from my amazing friend (a friend who sends books is always amazing, but Jen also picks the right ones.). There’s knitting wool (big surprise) Kidsilk Haze (my fave yarn) in purple (my fave colour) as well as a ball of self-striping sock yarn… i.e cheap entertainment for those who are easily amused (me). Also amber Bakelite knitting needles from my friend Diana, which I think are awesome – and so is Diana. The leash from my girl, who I love to walk, the address book which has all my friends and family in it (hahaha I thought that was sneaky!) and my stork scissors just because they’re cool – and I do a lot of needlework. They are repros from Lee Valley and very sharp. Then there’s the fused glass bowl – I bought it from an artist in Ann Arbor, and inside it are the two rings I always wear – my wedding band, for my DH, and a tricolor amber ring set in silver. I call that one the Diva Ring of Power. I like the dish because it changes color in the light. That’s it! My whole life in one shot!
Jennifer: I wish i had thought of the address book… I’m gonna add it in before I show my hoard, lol!
Deborah Cooke: I was very proud of that one. You have to give me credit for it. <g>
Jennifer: That’s awesome, thank you so much for playing along… that was really cool of you, and I will totally give you credit for it, lol.
**with Deborah’s permission, here’s one little teaser for the next couple of books…
Deborah Cooke: I can tell you that Dragonfire #7 and #8 are about bringing the strays back into the fold for the final battle.
Deborah Cooke: Okay, peeps, I’m off for food. Be good – and keep reading!

**If you’re interested in seeing what Deborah and our book club members would keep forever if they were a dragon with a hoard, CLICK HERE**

Big thank you goes out, once again, to Deborah who took time out of her day to chat with a bunch of silly girls about dragons. We had so much fun 🙂

Ok… so… did we ask the questions YOU would want to know the answers to?? Are you wondering anything else about the series? Post any other questions you have below, and maybe we can get them answered in a future chat. (One question WE realized we forgot to ask was “How do the dragons speak human English while in dragon form?”)

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Mother’s Day Celebrations

Posted May 8, 2011 By Jennifer

Hi everyone!

Today is the day we make an outward show of appreciation to someone who, in many cases, is the heart of our respective families. Whether we are who we are because of  or in spite of  her, our mothers shape our lives in so many ways.

I’ve searched, through the years and for many different reasons, for quotes or sayings about moms. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”  ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul

While this is, in my opinion, very true… I’ve also found that this is just as true:

“Mothers are all slightly insane.” J.D. Salinger

My mother was often a woman of extremes. She created magically, supported tirelessly, believed whole-heartedly and loved fiercely. If it was worth her time to do, she did it completely. I miss her desperately.

In honor of my mother, and mothers everywhere who inspire, encourage, and strengthen us, I asked some of our favorite authors to share a few thoughts about their moms.

Nancy Haddock, author of the Oldest City Vampire series

My mother has a checkered health past – polio twice, tumors, heart trouble, cancer, and severe osteoporosis. The woman does not give in or give up. We have a family joke that mom will get hit by a bus; the bus is totaled but mom is fine. Her example of perseverance has taught me determination and persistence, and damn the odds.

Lisa Kessler, author of Across The Veil

My Mom has always been my superhero.  She was only 17 when I was born, but she happily gave up her adolescence to face adulthood without any bitterness.  When she was 26 her marriage to my Dad ended, and yet, she did her best to be sure my life didn’t change.  We got to stay in the same house, same school, etc.  At the time, I had no idea how tumultuous her life must’ve been.  She kept me shielded from it as much as possible.
 
When she turned 30, cancer struck.  I was only 12 and terrified I might lose the most important person in my life.  My Mom assured me she wasn’t going anywhere and fought for her life with more strength and courage than I could ever imagine.  After a two-time struggle, she beat cancer for good and showed me how to be a great Mom to my own children. 
 
She taught me to always keep moving forward, and reach for my dreams.  I also learned that life is precious and we never know how long we’ve got so make every day count.
 
I love you Mom!

Wendy Delsol, author of Stork

In honor of Mother’s Day, I reflect upon the gifts my mother gave me as mere seedlings decades ago.
Ours was not a wealthy family. I grew up in the Detroit suburbs when the auto crisis was at its height. We got by, but there was never much discretionary money. When I was sixteen, my father died following an extended illness; this event pitched us into an economic tailspin.
It doesn’t seem like the sort of set-up to discuss gifts, but I know now that I’m stronger for having known adversity and learning from my mother’s adaptations.
I have often described my mom as a can-do individual. She knitted our sweaters, sewed our clothes—including award-winning Halloween costumes—reupholstered  the threadbare couch, painted and wallpapered rooms, built boulder-containing rock gardens, and found a way to get us from one paycheck to the next. She was both creative and hardworking.
These scrappy traits have served me well. A store-bought prom dress was not a possibility, but I could sew, and I remember being more than satisfied with my creation. And I’ve stitched together more than one set of slipcovers for my own couch. (This handiwork still covers the basement sofa and my boys are more than happy to have it as part of their lower-level kingdom.) When I wanted a large piece of artwork for my son’s beach-themed room and couldn’t afford one, I painted it—without ever having painted anything in my life. It’s no Picasso, but it covered the wall.
At age forty, after a health scare, I made a determination to become a writer. I know that my mother’s gift of a positive attitude and self-reliance was influential in this decision. Why couldn’t I write a novel?
On this Mother’s Day, I thank my mom, Elaine Peck, for the example she set so many years ago. Following her lead, I’ve always made goals and then put my shoulder to the task. Here’s to all the resourceful and inventive mothers out there who so cleverly weave life skills into their handiwork.

Jess Haines, author of H&W Investigations series

My mom has supported me through every crazy endeavor in my life. When I wanted to be a veterinarian, she was cool with it. (“Just don’t bring those animals in the house.”)  When I wanted to be a herpetologist, she was cool with it.  (“Look, I know you like those slimy things, but like them somewhere else. As in NOT IN THE HOUSE.”)  Okay, when I wanted to be a professional gamer, she drew a line.  (“Go OUTSIDE. How do you ever expect to get a boyfriend playing on the computer all day?!”)  Thankfully, she loves my writing, and loves to tell everyone she knows about it, and even comes with me when I go to writer conventions!  She’s my first and biggest fan, and I love her for that every single day

Jill Myles, author of the Succubus Diaries series

My mom was actually the reason I started writing. When I was a kid, I ran across a bunch of typed manuscript pages stuffed into her bottom drawer. It was the start of a fantasy novel that she’d worked on when she was first married, and she’d never finished it. I was totally fascinated by the fact that people could write their own stories! And I was so sad that she’d never finished it. I always think of my mom and that novel when I write, and she is the first person I send my books to. My mom is a wonderful inspiration. 🙂

Laurie London, author of the Sweetblood series:

Since I write paranormal romance, I thought I’d share an example of a strange mental connection that my mom and I have sometimes.

When I was in college, I had a realistic dream one night in which my dad came up to school and met me as I walked to class. Stepping from the bushes, he said that he had some bad news. My mom had died. I cried and cried and eventually woke myself up. Although it was only 5am, I was so upset that I had to talk to her, to make sure it really was just a dream. She answered the phone and assured me she was fine. The next time I went home to visit, she shared what had happened at work the night I called–she hadn’t wanted to tell me at the time because she didn’t want to freak me out more. At the nursing home where she worked as a night nurse, an employee’s ex-boyfriend came in demanding the girlfriend’s address. He was angry and scary and Mom knew he’d been abusive to his ex-girlfriend. When my mom refused to give it to him, he threatened her, said he would find where my mom lived and kill her. Terrified, my mom was somehow able to call the police. Fortunately, nothing more became of it. She had just gotten home when I called. We figured I must’ve sensed her distress 150 miles away and it manifested itself in my dream.

Happy (paranormal) Mother’s Day!

Kristen Painter, author of the House of Comarre series:

My mom has always been the quiet strength in our family, the prayer warrior, the peace keeper, the backbone. I am blessed to have her not only as my mom but as my friend.

I love hearing people’s thoughts about their moms. I hope you all have a lovely day, today. Share love and a smile with your mom if you’re able, remember her with love and a smile if you’re not, and accept love and smiles from those around you if you are a mom. Then remember to do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day… and the next day… (you get the idea.)

Thank you, to all the authors above who shared thoughts and memories of their moms. Here’s a little peek of me an my mom 🙂

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