Archive for July, 2012

Q&A with Candace Havens

Posted July 19, 2012 By Jennifer

Hello there!! I’m so excited about today’s guest. I have been a HUGE fan of the books Entangled Publishing has been putting out right from their start last year. This week they’re launching a NEW paranormal imprint, Covet. Candace Havens has been publishing books, along with her many other pursuits, for some time, but is joining in the Covet launch with her new title, TAKE IT LIKE A VAMP. Below is the top secret trailer for the book (no spoilers, but lots to make you WANT the book, lol). And to help celebrate her release, Candace kindly took some time to answer our author questions.

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”? Every book has a different soundtrack when I’m writing. Sometimes it takes me a while to find that groove, but when I find the right music for the book, everything seems to come together. When I’m editing, it’s a whole different story. The only albums I can listen to are Joss Stone.

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’ve had to teach myself to write anywhere since I travel a great deal. But I prefer my desk in my home office. That’s where I write the fastest. And that’s where I use the class I teach Fast Draft where you write a class in two weeks.

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? I’m usually working on the next project or two. When I started in the business, I did watch lists and numbers. But it was driving me insane. So now, if figure if something good is happening my publisher/editor/publicist/assistant will tell me. They are all good people and it’s great to have a team like that. I do a few book signings in town. Not so much for this one, since it’s an e-book. BUT on Monday at the 16th at 7 p.m. ET go to shindig.com/even/candace–havens where we are having a live event party. Doesn’t cost you a thing.

4) What was your favorite Halloween costume (or other costume party costume)? One year it rained on Halloween and none of the other kids went out. My dad dressed me like the Morton Salt girl, and people gave me giant bags of candy because they thought it was funny. Best costume ever. I also did a thing years ago where a bunch of friends and I velcroed small cereal boxes with a knife in them to our t-shirts. We were the Cereal Killers. (Smile)

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 don’t take vacations. Ever. But I think about it a lot. Anywhere there is a beach and and waves to listen to would be great. Even better if I didn’t have to cook, clean or get on the computer at all. I went two days without Internet last weekend when I was at a writer’s conference and I nearly came unglued. (Smile)

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? Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. I’m going off the rails on a crazy train, sort of fits my life. Not so much the rest of the lyrics. 🙂

7) If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would be it and what would you do all day? Nick from Take It Like A Vamp. That’s the latest book, I know. But he is sooooo hot. As long as he doesn’t bite me, it’s all good.

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) I’d like the set the record for writing the fastest novel ever.

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? I’d take out the word hate for obvious reasons. And I’d add the word amazeballs. I love that word. And maybe fantabulous.

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? I get very excited about dumb things. Like sno-cones and pedicures. Like almost manic. They think it’s hilarious that it takes so little to please me.

Thank you, so much, to Candace for chatting with us the day before the big release. I can’t WAIT for Entangled’s Covet launch tomorrow. TAKE IT LIKE A VAMP will debut, along with two other titles… Jenna Bennett’s TALL, DARK and DIVINE, and DECEIVING THE WITCH NEXT DOOR by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez. Trust me, peeps… you don’t want to miss ANY of these titles!!

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Words & Music Monday with Adrian Phoenix

Posted July 16, 2012 By Jennifer

Hello all!! I’m so excited about this week’s guest, Adrian Phoenix!! Such an amazing author, and FANTASTIC taste in music. Adrian is stopping by, not only to share some of her awesome musical influences, but to give away some BOOKS!!! Check below her post to see how to win your choice from her Hoo Doo series or her Maker’s Song series.

Emotional

Soundscapes

Adrian Phoenix

Dante Baptiste from The Maker’s Song series was born—along with his friends, family, and dark New Orleans setting—while I listened to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. It was Danzig’s Lucifuge album (the song “Killer Wolf” in particular) that gave rise to Devlin Daniels and Gabrielle LaRue of the Hoodoo series and C.C. Adcock’s bluesy southern rock LP Lafayette Marquis that inspired Kallie Rivière, Layne Valin, Dallas, Belladonna, and their magical Louisiana bayou world.

Music is my muse. Always has been and I imagine it always will be. Music sculpts characters and stories from my subconscious and provides an emotional soundscape for both. Whenever I see a movie, the score or soundtrack can make or break key moments. It’s not just the performance that can break your heart or perch you on the edge of your seat in dread—the music enhances and underscores the emotion/drama on the screen.

The soundtracks from Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Crow, The Thirteenth Warrior, Lord of the Rings, The Last of the Mohicans, The Assassination of Jesse James by that Coward Bob Ford, Batman Begins, The Velvet Goldmine, The Matrix, Moulin Rouge, The Social Network, are all examples of this (for me, anyway). I am always moved emotionally when listening (and writing) to these soundtracks. The emotions invoked run the gamut from heartbreak and loss, to desperation, to furious action, intense passion, to wild, reckless adventure and risk and heroic sacrifice. I can’t think of favorite scenes from any of these movies without hearing that particular scene’s music and vice versa.

I can’t think of Supernatural without hearing the classic rock and metal that Dean Winchester loves and which defines and identifies the show: Foghat, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynrd, Ozzie, Queenryche, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Nazareth, AC/DC among many others. All perfect for this show, especially the opening song by Kansas, “Carry On My Wayward Son.”

The same goes for True Blood, can’t think of it without hearing the blues and sex-drenched opening song, “Bad Things” by Jace Everett. (Also the place where I discovered C.C. Adcock. YAY.)

For Dante, I plumbed the depths of his pain, rage, and heartbreak in Nine Inch Nails songs like “Terrible Lie,” “The Great Below,” “Wish,” “March of the Pigs,” “Closer,” the entire Downward Spiral album (especially the deluxe version with “Burn” added in), “Something I Can Never Have,” actually the entire Still album is one I played over and over. “Sunspots,” “The Line Begins to Blur.”

For Dante and Heather’s relationship, “We’re in This Together” on NIN’s The Fragile album sounded like the kind of promise, one brimming with fierce determination and love, Dante would make to Heather.

As for his destiny, the dark path unwinding beneath Dante’s boots, more NIN in the form of “The Beginning of the End,” “Me, I’m Not,” “My Violent Heart,” “The Great Destroyer,” and “In this Twilight.”

But I didn’t limit myself to just Nine Inch Nails, LOL. I also listened to Rammstein’s Mutter album, Queens of the Stone Age, Chevelle, Muse, Linkin Park, Modwheelmood, Saul Williams, Stabbing Westward, among others. Music that grabs your emotions and packs a punch to the heart.

Could I create without music? Sure. But it wouldn’t be as much fun. Whenever I’m stuck, I listen to music and before you know it, I’m writing again, the music carrying the images forming in my mind as my fingers fly over the keyboard.

Thanks so much for having me here and allowing me to ramble about one of my favorite subjects. Below are links to sample chapters to the books and other places where you can find me. 😉

Here’s the first chapter of Black Dust Mambo. (Hoodoo Book 1)

And the first two chapters of Black Heart Loa. (Hoodoo Book 2)

You can read a chapter from the first book in The Maker’s Song series. Here’s a link to the first chapter of A Rush of Wings.

You can also find me at:

WebsiteFacebook Fan PageTwitterMySpaceGoodreads

Pocket After Dark

So… ladies & gents… have you checked out the free samples?? Are you ALREADY a HooDoo series or Maker’s Song series fan?? Can you imagine these songs fitting into the story?? Let me know what you think of the songs mentioned here (I’m so excited to see Stabbing Westward on the band list… my personal favorite… What Do I Have To Do) and how you think they fit the series. Each comment below will be an entry to win on of Adrian’s books!!! Two winners, chosen randomly after midnight pacific next Sunday night (July 22nd), will be able to pick their choice of one book. This is the perfect way to start out if you haven’t yet, or pick up the latest, if you’re a little behind. Big thanks to Adrian for joining us, and for the awesome offerings. I can’t wait to hear what you all think!! Good Luck!!

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Reading Roadtrip: Mississippi

Posted July 12, 2012 By Jennifer

All through the month of July, I Like These Books and Icey Books are hosting a Reading Roadtrip. Blogs from all over are participating, and sharing information about books or authors from each of the 50 states, and a few neighborly countries.

Today, here, we’re going to talk about some vampire urban fantasy that takes place in Mississippi 🙂

Jeannie Holmes’ Alexandra Sabian series takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi. There are two books in the series so far.

BLOOD LAW

To stop a vampire killer, she’ll have to slay her own demons first.

A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, nearly one-half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an Enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up—beheaded, crucified, and defanged—killed in the same gruesome manner that Alex’s father was murdered decades ago. For Alex, the professional has become way too personal.

Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex’s one-time mentor, lover, and fiancé, Varik Baudelaire. Still stinging from the betrayal that ended their short-lived engagement, Alex is determined not to give in to the temptation that soon threatens to short-circuit her investigation.Like it or not, though, as the body count grows, and the public panic level rises, Varik may be her only hope to stop a relentless killer who’s got his own score to settle, and his own bloody past to put right.

BLOOD SECRETS

When Alexandra Sabian sinks her teeth into an investigation, she doesn’t let go.

Alex allowed a case of murdered vamps to get personal and is suspended from the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation. Now she’s facing an official inquiry but has a chance to redeem herself. The catch: She must once again work with Varik Baudelaire, her former mentor and ex-fiancé, as he spearheads a search for a missing college student. But Varik has been keeping secrets from Alex and his mysterious past is on a collision course with his present.

When Alex and Varik discover a carefully handcrafted doll at a crime scene, neither of them can see how close the danger really is or that a killer known as the Dollmaker has made Alex the object of his horrific desire. Now the only way out of the Dollmaker’s lair is through the twilight realm of the Shadowlands, where all secrets—for better or worse—will be revealed.

So… on this reading road trip around the country… Jeannie and I would like to invite you to spend a little time in Mississippi with Alex and Varik. Jeannie Holmes is offering *signed copies* of both BLOOD LAW and BLOOD SECRETS to one random commenter!! Winner will be chosen at the end of the road trip, at midnight on July 31st. Each person that comments below will be entered to win the two signed books. If you tweet, post, pin, or otherwise promote this contest, and include a link to that in your comment, you’ll be entered a second time.

Thanks to everyone for stopping in… be sure to click the Road Trip graphic at the top of this page to see the other stops around the country, all with contests for you to enter!! Good Luck, everyone!!

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Going UnderCOVER with Cover Artist Kanaxa

Posted July 10, 2012 By Jennifer

Yesterday we heard a little about the musical influences in Moira Rogers’ newest Bloodhounds release, ARCHER’S LADY. Today, we’re lucky to have a bit of “undercover” info from the cover artist for the series, Kanaxa.

1) You’re an established author in the sci-fi genre (as Nathalie Gray), as well as a cover artist. Did you intend to be involved in both aspects of the publication world? How did you go from one to the other? Do you design your own book covers?

I have always enjoyed reading comics, and I think that’s why I process stories visually. I’m one of those who will pick up a book for its cover. I may not buy it, but a good or intriguing cover will stop me and in the end, that’s what covers are for.

After a few years in the publishing industry, my interest in the art process only grew, especially after having my eyeballs burned by some of the more, hmm, underwhelming science fiction romance covers out there, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

I kept bitching about how we needed some SFR covers that kicked butt, that had rivets on them, that portrayed women in strong, assertive roles (with lots of cool scifi guns, if possible). Almost as a bet with myself, I tried making one, thinking, I can do that shit, man. Oh boy. No one will ever see the aberration, but it did hook me. I couldn’t put my graphic pen down! Red Sage Publishing were the first to buy my covers, followed by Samhain Publishing, for whom I have created over 100 works (and still do).

2) Can you describe a bit of your process, from conception to finished product?

**If you have, and are willing to share, a few images of the process… sketch, photo, beginning paint, photoshop work, end product… that would be fantastic. All could be watermarked if you like.**

I like to think I have a process, but I don’t, not really. I will walk into a light post because I saw something shiny on the ground. That’s the kind of methodical and organized person I am.

When I receive a cover art form, I go get myself tea then read every word of it before going for a quick visit on the author’s website to see what sort of taste he/she has. A website says a lot about a person. So when I think I have a good idea of taste, I start the hunt for good images or details. Sometimes a cover will take me 3-4 hours to create, and others will take 40+ hours. It all depends if I hit a vein right away or if I have to poke around (that sounded gross, but it’s the closest analogy I could find).

For your viewing pleasure, I have included a mock up (it took me a whole 15 minutes to make so please don’t just judge my work from this!)

  • 1. The Black Square of Doom (that’s when I stare at the screen a lot)
  • 2. Ah, here we have a nice bit of scifi sky. Looks nice. I’ll keep it.
  • 3. Hmmm, what about if I merged this image and that image.
  • 4. And for the yummy man.
  • 5. Drawing some nice light effect. A scifi cover needs some light effects, yo!
  • 6. Some type, play a bit with that. Bam, a cover!

3) Many authors use music to help get them in the mood for a certain storyline or character. Do you listen to music while you work? Do you have specific songs/bands that help set the mood for any particular series or characters you design?

I don’t use music for inspiration, surprisingly. I love music, but not when I’m working. Probably because I have the attention span of a Chihuahua.

4) How much input do you need about the book to design the cover? Have you ever started a project, then partway through had to change direction or rework parts based on info from the marketing people or the author?

I had it all: changed direction midway, redid entire drafts when it didn’t work for author/editor/management or spent 8 hours obsessing over a particular font only to change my mind and use another. I’m my own worst critic; if I finish a draft, stand back for a look and find that it doesn’t work, I drag it into the sandbox for future use and/or cannibalism. No mercy, man. A cover HAS to work. We get one shot to catch the reader’s attention!

5) You’ve mentioned on your site, and in other interviews, your plans for world domination. Are there aspects of either of your chosen crafts that you feel will help you on your mission?

I’m not at liberty to discuss my plans for world domination but I will share this: there will be silver gogo boots and heat ray guns involved. And that’s all I can say… 😉

6) What is your favorite part of cover art illustration? What is your least favorite part?

What makes my inner Chihuahua chase her tail with savage glee is when I see a positive Twitter storm or happy authors blogging/chatting about a cover I did for them. Conversely, a heart-breaker is when an author trashes his/her cover and invites others to do so. I know I can’t please them all, but I always, always try my damnedest to make authors proud of their cover.

Oh, another thing I dislike about the art process: fonts. Fonts. Are. The. Devil. I’m telling you, they are! I can spend 10 hours working on a cover and 8 hours just fiddling with the damn text. My Achilles’ heel. Good thing my art director is awesome with that and saves my (Canadian) bacon.

7) What’s your next cover related project (if you can tell)? Can you share any sneak peeks?

I can’t share any sneak peek because I want “my” authors to be the first ones to see their drafts (writing can be such an ingrate job that every bit of positive energy has to be cherished jealously). But I can tell you about my current project. It’s a paranormal romance that just demands some dark, menacing, anti-hero in an action pose. As soon as I’m done fixating on his belt buckle, I’ll be ready to show it to the author and bite my nails until I hear back from her. Waiting is very much like toenail-pulling!

Thanks for sharing your space with me. For those who have questions, I’d be thrilled to answer them. Fire away!

Alrighty… you heard the lady… if you have any questions about the cover design for ARCHER’S LADY, ask away!! Comments on this post, and on yesterday’s music post from Moira Rogers (Donna) will be included in the drawing for a free ecopy of either ARCHER’S LADY (Bloodhounds, #3), or if you haven’t started reading them yet, WILDER’S MOON (Bloodhounds, #1). Good Luck, everyone!!

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Words & Music Monday with Moira Rogers

Posted July 9, 2012 By Jennifer

Today’s Words & Music Monday post is actually part of the Blog Tour for Moira Rogers’ new release ARCHER’S LADY! This is the third installment of the Bloodhounds Series, and is full of action and really wild, wild west vampire awesomeness.

Our two day jaunt on this blog tour starts today with the Donna half of Moira Rogers (the other being the Bree half) sharing some musical inspiration. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my review of ARCHER’S LADY, and an interview with Bloodhounds Series cover artist, Kanaxa!!

My house is always loud and full of activity, so sometimes the closest I get to “peace and quiet” is slapping on my headphones, firing up iTunes or Spotify, and getting to work.  So yeah—I’d say music is pretty vital to the way I work.

Bree and I always make playlists for our books.  Sometimes, it’s music the characters would love, other times it’s all about what fits them thematically.  When working on Archer’s Lady, we listened to quite the eclectic mix of tunes, that’s for sure.

The Last Steampunk Waltz (Ghostfire) & Sinner’s Prayer (Sully Erna)

These two songs are, to the greatest extent, our Bloodhounds theme songs. We listen to them on repeat while working on every book.  Both have a very otherworldly beat, they fit so well thematically that we suspect they wrote them just for us. (Okay, maybe not.)

Badass (Saliva) & Animal I Have Become (Three Days Grace)

I love these songs for sweeping, cinematic fight scenes.  It doesn’t get any better than this brand of angry, insistent hard rocking—and, of course, the Bloodhounds are all of the above!

The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)

You’ve got to know when to walk away…and know when to run.  Never is this more true than in the Bloodhounds universe, where calling the wrong bluff out near the Deadlands could get you a couple of bite marks in the neck instead of bullet holes in the chest.

Desperado (Johnny Cash)

No, it’s not a typo. Though the Eagles first cut this song—and what an awesome job they did—it’s among the tracks that Cash covered as part of his American series of recordings.  I chose this track for Archer not only because of the lyrics but for The Man in Black’s rough vocals.

Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers) & Heart of Gold (Neil Young)

If it wasn’t so damn anachronistic, Archer would put these on a mixed tape for Grace.

The Beast In Me (Johnny Cash)

Another Cash song, this one Archer’s personal theme song.

La Pistola Y El Corazon (Los Lobos)

I’ll never be able to write anything with gunslingers set in the West—alternate history or otherwise—without including a little Los Lobos. LOVE.

So, ladies & gents… have you seen something you like in this playlist?? Something you’ve never heard, but clicked and loved?? How about the Bloodhounds Series?? Alternate wild west with vamps & shifters, anyone?? I’m not going to past the whole blurb here, because I *know* you’ve all clicked the link above and saw it for yoursef, lol… but I can’t help myself… for those of you who did NOT click above… this is the disclaimer for ARCHER’S LADY:

Warning: Contains a partly reformed con-artist heroine with a bruised heart and a mostly retired bank-robbing hero with a weary soul. Also included: vampire schemes, mad scientist plots, an alarming amount of dirty talk and some borderline-criminal bedroom antics in an alternate Wild West.

Let’s talk wild, wild west… comment below with your thoughts on this playlist, or the series in general. Tomorrow, after midnight pacific, one random commenter will win their ebook choice of ARCHER’S LADY, or if you haven’t started the series yet, WILDER’S MATE. Be sure to pop back in tomorrow for my review, and for a fun interview with the awesometastic cover artist for this series, Kanaxa!! Good Luck everyone!!

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