Archive for May, 2012

Words & Music Monday with Crista McHugh

Posted May 28, 2012 By Jennifer

This week’s music chat comes from a VERY busy lady. Author of MANY “works-in-progress”, and new (again) mommy, Crista McHugh. Thank you SO MUCH to Crista for sending us this post before her new little guy arrived. Congrats to your family on your new arrival!!

Thank you, Jennifer, for having me over for Words &Music Monday. I do most of my plotting/scene work while driving in the car. Occasionally (or to be more specific, when I’m stumped on a scene), I’ll crank up the radio and listen to music. But being a writer, I’m drawn more to the lyrics than the melody. Sometimes a line or two of a song will spark a scene, help me figure out a character’s motivation, or sometimes even inspire an entire story (ex – “Would You…” by Touch and Go).

My current WIP is a novel that’s been especially difficult for me to work through because it was a story I didn’t set out to write. It’s the sequel to a book I sold to Entangled Publishing (Tangled Web – think Stargate meets Ancient Rome), so I needed to come up with a story that equaled the intensity of the first book. I knew who the book was about and what the basic plot was since I had to come up with a synopsis when I sold it, but it was all the filler that was rattling around in my mind during the daily commute.

Then Ace of Base came on (Yes, I’m that old :P). As I listened to the lyrics of “Don’t Turn Around”, a scene bloomed in my mind. I saw the Heroine presenting the Hero with a choice—go with her or complete his mission—knowing he would choose the latter even though it broke her heart. I saw her putting on a brave face for him, telling him not to worry about her and that she understood his decision. And then I saw him turning around as he walked away and the way that one final glance tore her apart on the inside.

One little song had the power to inspire such an intense, emotional scene, and I knew I had a great turning point for my story.

As I wrote the novel, I found songs here and there that helped me work through certain scenes. “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails set the tone for the first love scene (there’s a bit of a power-play between this couple), whereas “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer fit the final love scene. “Perfect” by Pink helped me develop those scenes between the couple (out of bed) as they both came to term with their imperfections and found the beauty in them.

My next project is the sequel to A Soul For Trouble, continuing the story of a witch with the soul of a disembodied chaos god living inside her. Every time I hear “Little Talks” by Of Monsters & Men on the radio, I can’t help but think of the complex relationship between Arden, Loku, and Dev.

Are there certain songs that immediately cause a scene from a book to pop into your head? If so, what are they?

**Crista has been generous enough to offer one ebook copy of any of her previous books to one randomly chosen commenter!! So… let’s hear it… what song makes YOU think of a certain book, or certain scene in a book? Contest starts now and runs through Sunday night, June 3rd. Winner will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, June 4th. GOOD LUCK everyone!! Can’t wait to hear what music/book connections you’ve all got!!**

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Today we welcome Minta Hall, author of the recently released, THE MAGICIAN OF WALL STREET. Not familiar with Minta or her book?? Well… let’s fix that, shall we?

He’ll have to win her heart…and save her life Oliver Pendragon’s days as the Magician of Wall Street are over. He’s lost everything: his business partner, his reputation, and the love of his life, Abby Daltry. When Abby’s father offers him a way to get everything back— including Abby—Oliver can’t refuse.Abby Daltry wants nothing more than to break away from the controlling men in her life. When a tarot reading reveals that she’s in danger and that her ex-lover will be returning to her life, she’ll do whatever it takes to prove her independence. Oiver will stop at nothing to prove his love and to protect her from the man out to kill them both, but Abby finds out the truth about his deal with her father and issues an ultimatum: he can have her or the company. As danger looms and shots fly, will Abby give into the passion that rises to the Magician’s command—the Magician who all-too easily controls her heart?

From: The Magician of Wall Street, by Minta Hall. © 2012. Available from Amazon.com

BarnesAndNoble.com, from EntangledPublishing.com

Oliver Pendragon opened the door of the Tarot-A-While Bookstore and strode in with more assurance than he felt. Never show weakness. Never mind that the object of his quest could toss him out on his butt before he could say three words.

Never mind that if he failed, she’d be dead in a week.

He stood by the shop door, eclipsing the sun’s final evening glimmerings, but no one inside took the slightest notice of his entry. A small clutch of women huddled in the far corner. They sat on folding chairs and leaned forward, breathless as they focused on a woman sitting at a rickety card table.

The shop had the paradoxical charm of a little old lady in black motorcycle leather and spike-heeled boots. Despite the store’s predilection for mind-boggling merchandise in confusing disarray, Oliver noticed a state-of-the-art point-of-sale terminal on the sales counter.

Yes, this store suited Abby.

Anticipation throbbed through him, but he suppressed it. He’d known for months that the day would come when he’d at last be free to claim Abigail Daltry again. But now that he was here at last, he wanted to savor each moment of this long-delayed reunion as much as he wanted to swoop in and whisk her back into his life.

Back into his arms.

Back into his bed.

Oliver stepped forward, still shadowed by the tall shelves, his curiosity piqued by the intensity of the group. The woman at the table held a pack of battered, oversize cards and laid them out in a peculiar pattern on the table. For a moment, he thought she was playing solitaire, then realized the cards weren’t standard playing cards.

He took another step closer, then halted. There, seated in front of the woman with the cards, was Abby. He took a deep breath, fighting for control, and found himself listening with unexpected interest to the other woman’s explanation.

The reader spoke quickly. “…The ninth card reveals your hopes and fears.” A practiced flick of her fingers flipped the card face up. Her face drained of color.

Abby leaned forward just as he was about to move. “What’s wrong?”

The reader looked Abby straight in the eye and her voice took on an ominous note. “Your reading is filled with warnings of a deceiver, a man who is not who he claims, not who you think he is. Beware this man.” With a sure movement but keeping her eyes on Abby, she tapped the last card. “This card shows the final outcome. It reveals the answer to the struggles you face.”

“Turn it over,” Abby said.

The reader hesitated for a moment, then turned up the card. “The Magician,” she whispered as she looked up, straight into Oliver’s eyes. “Beware the Magician,” she warned, while holding his gaze with a commanding glare.

Abby must have noticed the new focus of the reader’s attention because she turned and stared at him, too, causing the rest of the ladies to turn. He fell under the microscopic survey of a suddenly hostile audience.

Visibly gathering her composure, Abby stood and gestured toward him in a mock-courteous introduction. “Welcome to the Tarot-A-While Bookstore, Oliver. Ladies, may I present Mr. Oliver Pendragon? You may have heard of him. He’s known as…” Abby faltered under his glare.

Oliver’s voice felt rusty and his words came out harsher than he intended. “Say it.”

Abby glanced again at the reader and at the cards that accused him from the card table. She reached down and lifted the final card in the layout, holding it out in sardonic offering. “The Magician. Oliver’s called the ‘Magician of Wall Street.’”

**AFTER the Q&A… check out a way to win a copy of THE MAGICIAN OF WALL STREET from Entangled Publishing!!**

1) When you write, do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? If you like music playing, what is your preferred genre? Do certain characters have their own personal “soundtrack”?

I grew up with my bedroom just off the family room and the television was just on the other side of the door. So quiet wasn’t usually an option! I did my homework with family hubbub going on around me, dogs (we had three!) playing, and the television on. So perfect quiet tends to make me a little crazy. I usually tune the television on to a favorite cable channel, maybe the Science Channel, or one of the History channels, or Turner Classic Movies, and just let it play, though I don’t pay that much attention to it most of the time.

When I do listen to music, it’s usually music with brainwave frequencies embedded into it to help me focus and concentrate or be creative. I find that works really well for me. But for THE MAGICIAN OF WALL STREET the song that kept playing in my head while I was writing about the hero Oliver was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera. Somehow, that song seemed perfect for Oliver. Like the Phantom, Oliver is a little dark, a whole lot sexy, and madly in love.

2) Where do you write? In an office, at the dining room table, at a local coffeeshop? Do you prefer to write alone or with a group? If you write with a group, do you also read/critique each other’s work?

I write at home because although sound around me helps me focus and concentrate, having people around distracts me. I do have a reader that I use for feedback but not during writing sessions. 

3) How do you prepare for release day? Are you calm and focused, or do you get stressed? Do you like to make promotional appearances or stay at home to watch lists and numbers?

Since my book releases are in e-book format, it’s a little hard to do a book signing! Generally speaking, by the time the book is released I’m already deep into writing the next book, so book release day can come and go without a lot of notice. Maybe I’ll go out to dinner with friends, but it’s not a big celebration. I get more excited when I see the cover for the first time!  My publisher has an incredible talent for beautiful covers! 

4) What was your favorite Halloween costume (or other costume party costume)?

I don’t attend a lot of costume parties, but my favorite was probably a couple years ago dressing up as Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games. I love those books! She has all the right qualities for a heroine: strong yet vulnerable, and with a determination to rise above all obstacles to achieve her goals. I didn’t think through the costume all that well, unfortunately, so keeping track of the bow was a big problem!

5) If you could go anywhere on vacation (and not interfere with your deadlines), where would you go, and what 3 items (besides food and clothes) would you bring with you?

I would go to the Amazon rain forest and do a spiritual quest there. Other than a friend or two, I’d take with me my iPod (which has a solar recharger), of course a camera, and probably a large suitcase filled with sunblock — I’m one of those people who simply never tans and who burns right through clothing even when I’m wearing sunblock lotion. Just call me Minta the Mushroom! 

6) What song best describes your life? If you can’t think of one, who would you want to write/perform a song just for you?

I think it would be cool to have Lady Gaga write and sing a song for me! She’s not only very talented, I love her sense of outrageousness, and she’s off-the-wall enough to make the song really fun. I love her courage and her ability to follow her own dreams! 

7) If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would be it and what would you do all day?

I’m going to set aside heroes as an option for this question because it’s hard to choose among them, and you know what we’d be doing all day! However, looking at other characters, in THE MAGICIAN OF WALL STREET there are a couple of minor characters, two sisters Eunice and Griselda (“Grizzy”) who I think would be fun to hang out with. They are older ladies, maybe in their 60s, but not exactly anyone’s idea of a typical little old lady! Although they are minor characters in the book, I’d be willing to bet that following them through a day would be a real eye-opener. I have a feeling there’s a whole lot more to these two ladies than meets the eye, and it would be fun to find out what they do when they’re not showing up on stage in one of my books. 

8) What world record would you love to set for the Guinness Book of World Records? (Remember, they take ALL KINDS of interesting talents into account. Some world records include *fastest 100m sprint, barefoot, on ice = 17.35 secs… *fastest pumpkin carving of a face = 24.03 secs… *longest distance pogo stick jumping = 23.11 miles)

Well, I think the biggest competition is always with yourself rather than with other people, but I would say it would be great fun to go for making the world’s most elaborate sand castle. I lived in San Diego for many years, and the regular sand castle competitions there were unbelievable. Talk about talent! The folks who do those are utterly amazing! 

9) If you could have one word removed from the English language, from all dictionaries and out of everyone’s vocabulary, what would it be, and why? If you could ADD one word, what would it be?

The word I’d like removed from everybody’s consciousness as well as from the language itself is hate. There’s too much of that going around these days. That’s also one of the reasons I think love stories are so important; they remind us of how essential love is. 

Are you a fan of the Washington Post’s annual “Word Play Masters Invitational” contest, where people submit new words with their meanings? I love-love-love that contest. One of last year’s favorite entries would be my choice to add. It didn’t make the top-10 list, but I loved it. Shannon Fleming submitted it.  The word is:

“Gorgonzilla: A giant, mutant dinosaur known for targeting and attacking Japanese tourists throughout Italy, and whose most notable features are his rough, bumpy, blue-vein scales, and rancid-smelling atomic breath.”   

Uh, can you tell I love those old 1950s sci-fi monster flicks?  Yeah, I thought so!

10) What is one thing about you that your friends know and you would love your readers to know as well. Or… if you’re in a giving mood… what is one story that your friends LOVE to talk you into telling that you don’t generally volunteer?

A number of years ago I went to a week-long meditation retreat. Although I arrived highly skeptical, by the time I left I had discovered that all of us have tremendous psychic abilities that we may not be aware of. And all of us can learn to “be psychic,” often in a significant way. Most of us suppress those psychic skills because our culture doesn’t value them, but with a little training everyone can access them.

On occasion, I still teach workshops, often to very large groups, in which I show people how to begin to access their own psychic self. One of the exercises I almost always include in such workshops is to teach people how to do spoon bending. When I do that exercise, I hand out forks and spoons to everyone in the group and have them bend their own cutlery. Does it surprise you to learn that in large groups of several hundred people at least 85% to 90% succeed the first time they try? In small groups, the success rate is nearly 100% because I can give people individual attention if they need a little assistance. Heck, I’ve even taught spoon bending over the radio! 

The reason I teach it is not because it’s fun — well, okay, it is because it’s a lot of fun! — but because it’s an object lesson. If you have a good quality stainless steel fork, it’s nearly impossible to bend one tine of the fork with your bare fingers — try it sometime. But after I’ve shown you how to move a little chi energy around, and after you focused some of that energy through the fork for a few minutes, you’ll find that the fork literally softens in your hands to the point where you can easily bend and twist it into any shape you like. It becomes soft and malleable like modeling clay. Once you set the fork down and don’t touch it for a couple of minutes, it stiffens into that new shape and it becomes as hard and rigid as it ever was.

The picture shows some of the twisted forks that workshop participants have left behind after one of the workshops I’ve done with them. 

The lesson from all this is that chi energy, which generally seems almost imaginary when you’re first introduced to it, is very powerful — powerful enough to turn rigid stainless steel into something you can mold and shape with your fingers.

And the other lesson is that spoon-bending is a lot of fun!

So, my lovelies… Ms. Hall can teach you how to deepen access to energy and accomplish something fun like spoon bending. For a chance to WIN A COPY OF THE MAGICIAN OF WALL STREET, what unusual skill would YOU like to learn? Something fun and out of the ordinary that fascinates you, or that’s been on your “that would be cool to learn” list for a while. Leave a comment below with what unusual skill you’d like to learn and you’ll be entered in a random drawing for a copy of the book! (You can also comment on anything else in this post, but to enter the contest, you’ve got to list a skill 🙂 ) If you use twitter or facebook, share a link to this post for a SECOND entry into the drawing. (Please use the hashtag #TMoWSGiveaway so I can track the double entries.) Contest starts now, and runs through midnight pacific on May 28th. My review of this book, and the winner of the drawing, will be posted on May 29th. GOOD LUCK!!

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Words & Music Monday with Lisa Kessler

Posted May 21, 2012 By Jennifer

What… it’s no longer Monday, you say?? Not so… it’s only 9:25 on the west coast!! My attempt to catagorize and simplify my email wreaked havoc on me today, lol. The best laid plans of mice, men, & bloggers, ugh, lol. In any case…

Today’s guest is one of my favorite people to chat with, and has some really AWESOME reads out there!! Lisa Kessler is no stranger to this blogsite, and I’m so happy to have her back today to talk tunes with us.

I’m excited to be on Jennifer’s Books Make Me Happy blog today!

It’s pretty common in this age of iTunes and mp3 for writers to make playlists for their novels.  The music may inspire the tone of the book, or sometimes it’s to drown out the rest of the world while writing, and sometimes it can encourage you to keep typing even when you feel like you can’t write another word.

But I think there’s another huge benefit of a good book playlist…

Edits!

When I signed my four-book deal with Entangled for my Night Series, I quickly discovered that my book playlists REALLY helped to instantly send me back to my Night Walker world while I was editing!

Although Night Walker has only been on book store shelves for a couple of weeks, I actually wrote the book years ago.  I’ve done edits and made tweaks to it, but when I got my first round edit letter, I hadn’t really looked at the book in almost a year.  I’d been busy writing a new series that was very gritty and contemporary, so jumping back into my Night Walker world of cultured, ancient immortals was a little jarring…

Until I fired up my Night Walker playlist!

I was stunned how clicking the play button instantly transported me back into the world I wrote a few years ago!  Once the edits were in and I waited for the next round, I opened Book 2, Night Demon, which I hadn’t visited in ages.  I cued up the playlist and Bam!  I was right there where I’d been when I first hovered over the keyboard into the wee hours of the morning.

Similar to Pavlov’s dog theory, I think the music memory really helps.  If you were growing up in the 80’s, who doesn’t hear “I had the time of my life” and not immediately think of Dirty Dancing?  If you hear Celine Dion belting out “My Heart will go on” in the dentist’s office, doesn’t the Titanic pop into your head?

Am I the only one? LOL

For my Moon series, I had “I wanna do bad things with you” on my playlist, and when I hear it, I don’t think of the True Blood series on HBO, instead I’m immediately with the steamy passionate wolves.

So when I’m forced to jump between projects, the book playlists really help me shift gears and get back in the right frame of mind for the current work…

When I wrote Night Walker, Calisto had waited over two hundred years for his love to live again, and the night he finally sees her again, she has no memory of him.

It was powerfully passionate, and so is the playlist…

The entire movie soundtrack for the Mask of Zorro was on the playlist including the Marc Anthony duet “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You” which became one of Calisto and Kate’s theme songs.  It’s really romantic if you want to look it up… J

The playlist also has all of the classical piano pieces that Calisto and Kate play in the book.  I wrote those scenes while listening to the music.  I hope it comes through in the writing.

Come What May” from Moulin Rouge also played often, along with “Cry Little Sister” from The Lost Boys soundtrack.

And like magic, when I hear those songs, I’m with Calisto and Kate all over again! J

What about you?  Have you found your creative mind associates certain books or characters to the music you listened to while you created them?

Thanks for chiming in today!  And thanks for having me on the blog! J

Lisa

PS – The Night Walker book trailer music is the piano piece Calisto plays in the book during a very dark angry point…  Enjoy! J

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Mothers, tell your children: be quick, you must be strong.  Life is full of wonder, love is never wrong.  Remember how they taught you, how much of it was fear.  Refuse to hand it down – the legacy stops here.

~Melissa Etheridge, “Silent Legacy,” Yes I Am, 1993

I was lucky enough to be raised in a family that not only accepted people, no matter their differences, but one that welcomed people into it with open arms and no questions asked. It’s unfathomable to me the amount of judgement and hate people endure for the simple act of loving someone others might deem “unacceptable”. I’m participating in this Hop Against Homophobia because I believe that every individual who says “I love that YOU love” adds a voice to a larger cry for understanding and tolerance. I believe that every person who says “I love that YOU love” helps to end the misconceptions and fears that lead to discrimination and inequality.

I have friends and family very involved in the M/M fiction community, much more involved than I, and I’m proud to stand with them in the hope that this type of event will be unecessary in the future. If you’re interested in how International Day Against Homophobia began, or how you can get involved, you can visit their site here.

Now… for the fun stuff 🙂

For you, my lovely hoppers, I have a some special treats. Two very talented ladies have agreed to help me out for this event. First, an exclusive sneak peek from Amy Lane, and below, some giveaways from Ellis Carrington!!

I am addicted to Amy Lane’s Little Goddess series. Addicted in a way that is both embarrassing and wonderful. I beg for snippets, I try to bribe with cyber chocolates and twitter funnies… I have even offered to GO TO CALIFORNIA and DO HER LAUNDRY AND BABYSITTING so she can write QUICKENING (book 5 in the Little Goddess series) faster. Alas, my efforts have failed and I still wait. HOWEVER… for this event, Amy is sharing a 500 word snippet from the book!!! *pardon me while I dance like a loon*

Below is a fantastic peek into what’s coming for our Lady Cory and her crew. *WARNING* This snippet contains HUGE spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the Little Goddess series. I’m not even sure what to say to anyone who hasn’t read the series, except GET THEE TO YOUR PREFERRED BOOK STORE AND BUY THEM!!! If you ARE up to date with all the happenings at Green’s Hill… a gift from Amy and I:

I woke up thirty minutes later, on Bracken’s lap this time instead of Green’s.  You’d think they’d been practicing that move or something.  He had himself a book.

“No,” I said, looking at it in horror.

“But aren’t you at all curious?” he asked plaintively.

“There’s going to be pictures and it’s going to be gross.”  Oh God.  “Didn’t we see enough of the inner workings of my body this summer?”

Bracken was not a stupid man, but much of what I said puzzled him.  “We saw your blood.  And your…”  he floundered for words, “your grooming rituals which we will not discuss anymore because if you shave yourself bald down there again I’m going to have to beat someone.”

Okay, in my defense? I’d left a landing strip. Also in my defense?  If I’d been wearing the swimsuit I’d wanted, I would have let him find his own way through the damned jungle.  But he didn’t give me a chance to say that, oh no, because Bracken, the least discreet person I’d ever met, ever, had actually had to keep a secret for a month, and now he was going to make sure nothing about my body ever remained secret ever fucking again!

“Do you realize that your vagina is already swollen with more blood and secreting more fluids than usual?” he asked, and my eyes got so big my eyeballs got dry.

“Please stop.”

“But the things that are happening to your body!  You complain all the time about the lack of magic in the human world, and your body is becoming magic.”

“I’ve got a hair trigger stomach, Bracken—I’m not shitting around here.”

He scowled at me. “Why are you being obstinate about this?  I am just pointing out that—“  He stopped, and smiled a little, his eyes narrowing wickedly.

“Pointing out what?” I asked suspiciously.

He stuck out a finger then, blunt for the sidhe, but long for a human, and pointed it at my collarbone, which was peeking out of the collar of my oversized shirt.  Very carefully he traced along my clavicle, then down to the notch between both of them, then down as low as he could get before the collar of the T-shirt stopped him.  I caught my breath, because my breasts—normally very flat and very not-interesting—were actually swollen enough to push against his finger as it rested between them.  I’d probably deck him if he went for the sensitive nipples, but right there, the skin was so tender that just having his finger between them made my sex slick and my breath catch.

Bracken leaned forward and breathed in my ear.  “I’m just pointing out,” he whispered, “that your body is even more of a miracle than it always has been, and maybe we could explore that a little before you bitch Green and I out of your bed.”

I narrowed my eyes, because that last part hadn’t been the least bit nice, but his breath in my ear said otherwise.  It said he cared about me, and he wanted me, and he knew exactly what I needed to wrap my brain around my uterus—and it involved the usual pathways to that exact location.

So typical of our Bracken, lol. I can NOT WAIT for this book. If Florida were closer to California, I might just sit outside Amy’s window and make her tell me what happens, so I don’t have to wait for the words to hit the page, lol!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, to the lovely Ms. Lane, for sending a snippet to tide us over a bit longer. I hope you all enjoyed it.

And now, for some giveaways from Ellis Carrington!!!

First, Ellis’ newest vampire novella, IMMORTAL VALENTINE.

(Gay/Vampire/Contemporary/Public Places)

After a heart-pounding brush with danger on Valentine’s Day, Caleb runs into a handsome stranger and decides to roll the dice on a one-night-stand. But things don’t work out the way anyone intended when Caleb gets sick unexpectedly. He wakes up alone the next day, extremely confused and utterly embarrassed.

Angelo is an insomniac vampire who leads a solitary existence. He comes out of hiding once a year—on Valentine’s Day—to soothe one lonely human soul while drinking the blood he needs to survive.

But when Caleb falls ill, Angelo winds up connecting with a human as never before, and putting his own life at risk…

Ellis has also graciously offered a second prize. An (as yet) unreleased vampire/werewolf short called UNDER THE FULL MOON. (It’s 3K words, and there’s no hanky panky… but come on… VAMPS and WEREWOLVES, and you get to see it first!! You KNOW you want this!!)

Under the glare of the full moon, wolf-shifter Neiran finds the beaten and broken body of his nephew and the boy’s unlikely rescuer: a vampire named Andrei. Wolves and vampires have been at odds for centuries, and against his better judgment Neiran takes Andrei home to heal him, even allowing the vampire to drink Neiran’s blood to mend his wounds. But when Neiran wakes in the morning to find the vampire gone from his bed, he is stunned at the depths of his disappointment…

Andrei has never subscribed to the notion that vampires and wolves should be at war, but is still confused to find himself in a wolf-shifter’s bed after fighting his own brother to protect a young cub. He understands neither his growing attraction to the wolf nor his brother’s vengeful anger. Suddenly he no longer belongs in his family’s home, but is there a place for him in Neiran’s?

To enter, simply leave a comment about anything in this post, along with which of the prizes you’d like. You can comment on my thoughts at the top, Amy’s QUICKENING snippet, either of Ellis’ prizes, or anything else related to this event. Please remember to choose which prize you’d like in your comment. One winner will be chosen randomly from those who’d like IMMORTAL VALENTINE, and one winner will be chosen randomly from those who’d like UNDER THE FULL MOON. Contest is open until the end of the hop, Sunday, May 20th. Winners will be chosen and notified on Monday, May 21st through email.

Don’t forget to check out all the other authors, bloggers, and publishers who are participating… there are a LOT of them, and they’re ALL offering some kind of prize!! You can click HERE to see the full list. So… Good Luck to all of you… leave a comment below, hop along to the next blog, and don’t forget to be kind to someone today!!

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Hello all!!

I’m so excited about today’s post. Kira Brady is a debut author who’s first full length novel HEARTS OF DARKNESS will be out August 7th, with a prequel novella, HEARTS OF FIRE, releasing in July. Full of action, intreague, and sexy shifters… this is one new series you should ALL be keeping an eye out for!! *Check below for a cool way to do just that!!*

Here’s a little bit about what makes this new voice in UF/PNR tick.

TEA makes me happy

In the dreary Pacific Northwest, nothing chases away the chill from one’s bones quite like a mug of steaming assam. I start every morning with the ceremony of boiling water, spooning loose tea leaves into a strainer, pouring the water over the leaves into a cup just the right size to wrap my hands around, and steeping my brew to a perfect, caramel brown. At the first sip, the tension leaves my shoulders. By the fifth, I’ve woken. I am one step closer to calm, an apprentice Jedi ready to take on the Empire…or at least the piles of dirty laundry, legos underfoot, and blank pages waiting to be written.

Celebrations are also never complete without a full afternoon tea, and since tea makes me happy, there are always reasons to celebrate. Finished books, successful pitch sessions, rejections, requests, contest finals, contest wins, more rejections, more requests, writing retreats…until at last…First Sale! The Call! And then more novels written, starred Publisher Weekly reviews, future novels written. And those are only the celebrations related to writing!  You can see how tea is now, through practice, associated with happiness in my mind, so that every morning when I sip my first cup, I think to myself, “This could be a day to celebrate.”

I couldn’t write a book without tea in it, even set in Seattle, coffee snob of a city that it is. One of the settings in The Deadglass Trilogy that the mercenaries and dragon shifters frequent is a historic, haunted mortuary in Pike Place Market called Butterworth’s. The building in real life has been host to many failed restaurants over the years (all rumored to be sabotaged by ghosts). The building in my alternate Seattle is the site of Butterworth’s Opium Parlour and Tea House, which the villain owns. The hero likes to hang out there and listen to dead Seattle musicians play beneath the glittering gaslights. He drinks Darjeeling.

What’s your tea of choice? Favorite Tea Room? I’ve had tea all over the world, but my favorite still is the Queen Mary Tea Room here in Seattle. Throw out your favorite teas and tea places, and I’ll give away a signed ARC of HEARTS OF DARKNESS, book 1 in the Deadglass Trilogy to one random commenter. (US only, print.)

So… I KNOW there are a lot of you tea drinkers out there… I’m not one, but I’ve been told all about the wonderful flavors and aromas. Let’s talk tea, and you can win HEART OF DARKNESS straight from Kira!! Contest will be open until midnight pacific on Friday, May 18th. Winner will be chosen at random and notified by email on Saturday, May 19th. GOOD LUCK!!

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