Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Author: Stefanie London

I was fortunate to meet Stefanie through the Harlequin forums and was not at all surprised when she landed a contract with the Harlequin KISS line. This lady knows how to write! Her debut novel Only the Brave Try Ballet is fantastic and I'm pleased as punch that she was able to stop by and share a bit about what being a writer means to her.

I've always wanted to be a writer. It sounds so cliche, but it's true! I took as many English subjects in high school as were available, and I crammed a for English Lit subjects into my Bachelor of Business. I claim this was a move to protect my sanity from the accounting and economic subjects that were part of the core curriculum.

Writing a book is no easy task. It takes hours and hours of work, it eats into your social life and it keeps you awake into the wee hours of the morning. But writers have this drive that surpasses the need to keep a clean house or the need to get adequate sleep. 

Here are five signs that you've got a writer's mind:

1. You constantly think 'what if'...' and follow the thread of thought until a scenario builds in your mind
2. You lay awake at night thinking about imaginary things
3. You listen in to conversations on the train/in the office kitchen/at cafes and make up histories for the people talking
4. You hear voices (and they don't tell you to kill people...or maybe they do?)
5. You get invested in characters (whether they're from TV, movies, books etc) and you wonder about them past the conclusion of the series/show/book. 

If you've always wanted to write, if you've wondered why you imagine strange things, if you love telling stories then put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. You never know where it might take you.

Only The Brave Try Ballet:
Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!
Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!
But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!
Purchase from: Amazon (US | UK | CA | Aus), Harlequin Mills & Boon (US | UK | Aus)

‘Once more from the top.’
As the music started he followed her lead, bending with his feet in first position. The teacher in her couldn’t ignore the fault of his techniqueas he bent his hips moved out of alignment and his feet rolled inwards. She instinctively reached out to correct the error but retracted her hand when her brain kicked into gear.
‘I don’t bite.’
His wolfish grin seemed at odds with the promise of safety, but Jasmine wasn’t going to let some arrogant joker mess with her head. Shewas the teacher; she was the one in charge here.
‘You need to keep your hips steady.’ She stepped forward and placed a hand on each hip. His muscles were tight and flame-hot beneath her palms. He bent down into plié once more and she guided him, ignoring the frisson of electricity that shot through her.
Make sure your core is pulled in. It will increase balance and stop you rocking forward.’
‘Like this?’ He grabbed her hand and placed her palm against his stomach. She could feel the ripple of each muscle through his T-shirt. His sports tights moulded every curve of his muscle, every bulge…
Jasmine gulped, her blood pounding as though she’d run a marathon. Get it together.
‘Yes, like that.’ She withdrew her hand, the heat of him still burning her fingertips.
She was going to strangle Elise, her soon to be former best friend, for roping her into this disaster waiting to happen. She was going to—
‘Earth to Bun-Head.’ Grant waved a hand in front of her face, chuckling when she returned her focus to him. ‘I don’t see how this is helping my hamstring. Shouldn’t we be stretching or something? We need to speed up this flexibility thing. I’ve got an important game coming up.’
He shook his leg and rubbed at the muscle.
‘Flexibility is a slow process. You can’t turn up to one ballet lesson and expect to be a contortionist. It takes time.’
‘I’d settle for being injury-free,’ he replied. ‘But if you want to show me how you can put your ankles behind your head then be my guest.’
‘This is not Cirque du Soleil.’ Jasmine bit each word out through gritted teeth.

Stefanie London
Sparkling, contemporary romances with a pinch of spice

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Author: JM Bray

I am a lucky gal. Why? you ask. Well, despite his crazy busy schedule celebrating the release of Mending the Shroud (the second in the Shroud trilogy), author JM Bray dropped in with me to chat about his books, his writing process, and the 1980s. 

Let the interview begin!

You've mentioned in the past that your inspiration sometimes comes from dreams. How often does this happen?

Great question. Not as often as I’d like, and usually a ton come at the wrong time. Most often the dream ideas come when I’ve let a story idea stew for a while, and the pressure of it wanting out builds. Unfortunately, that usually happens while I’m working on another piece. I’ve finished the first draft of Shrouded (book three) and am editing a first pass so I can send it to critique partners. To stay focused, I don’t let myself write another story. Of course that’s exactly when the new novel starts waking me up with ideas via dreams. I’ll have about 4-5 day where it happens repeatedly, then nothing for a couple of weeks. It’s sort of an all or nothing kind of thing

Speaking of all or nothing, you've been working on the novels from the Shroud trilogy with great diligence. Since it's set in a different time period and features fantastical elements, did you have to do any research? 


What kind? 

Whew...that could go a lot of ways. Here’s a few examples:
  • Astronomical: I needed to know how often Jupiter aligned with the Pleiades constellation and was visible on moonless nights. That’s 11.8 years by the way.
  • Location: If someone were going to commit suicide from the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, what would they see? 
  • Spiritual/Personal: How does someone in a same sex relationship, who also is a Christian, align their beliefs with the God of the Bible? I took a swing at a possibility, then interviewed a gay friend and let him read it. He loved the scene.

[Interviewer's Random Note: If you ever need to gather information about South California, you now know the expert. Seriously, this man knows a ton and has connections...]

Okay, so you've earned your research badge...But you're not off the hook yet! In your books you're having to balance a number of characters, from strong heroes to kick-ass heroines. Since you've had to work with both, do you find the male or female perspective easier to write? 


Why's that?
As a guy, it fits the ‘write what you know” mantra. But I’ve run into interesting situations with this, because I write what I and other male friends would actually say or how we might react. However, readers are used to reading male perspectives written by females and what they believe men are thinking...the two are not necessarily the same. At times I’ve had to adjust the “actual” male perspective to meet the readers “expected” male perspective.

I’d give examples, but the idea is to attract readers, not piss them off. Right?

Right. And, those of you reading this, please note his willingness to compromise, a most valuable trait. 

Okay, JM, it's time for the hard questions now! If you could steal one author superpower from a famous writer, who would you steal from and what power would it be?

The ability to pound out large amounts of quality words each day. My very best day writing, I hit 4k words, but usually it’s around 1K. To have the kinetic power of Steven King and write a seven hundred page manuscript in six months...Oh yeah.

Favorite 80s movie quote...go!

Only one? There are so many good ones. Since I’m limited we have to go with the classic: “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”

If you had an archnemesis, what would he or she be like?

I’d love to say the Kurgan, from the movie the Highlander. Best villain ever! How can you not love a guy who rattles off lines like he does? Notice how self-controlled I am, not listing them. But actually, since I try to get along with everyone, my archenemies would probably be more like Sean Connery’s character, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, a friend who I knew I’d eventually have to defeat.

Ouch! And while facing that enemy, what kind of battles would you two have? 

Sword fights that lasted for half an hour, so we’d have to take a break, have a drink and a laugh or two, then go back at it.

Of course, you would win said battle. Excellent job answering in that speed round!

Before we finish up here, let me pick your brain one last time. With book 2 of 3 complete and that final third story going through revisions and edits, have you thought about the projects that are sitting in your To Be Written pile?

Two are currently waking me up. One is a time travel story, that involves the post office Dead Letter Department, a woman motorcycle racer in 1930, the election of FDR, Randolf Hearst plus a lot more.

The second is about a guy who’s been alive for the past two thousand years, but isn’t a vampire. It starts in the first century near Jerusalem and includes chases on camel-back, sea battles, shipwrecks and sibyls.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat, JM!

If you have any other questions for JM Bray, feel free to ask here, or stop by his Twitter (@jmbraybooks) or Facebook ( account.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moon Dance

Every author I know has scenes that they eventually cut from the story for one reason or another. When I finished Red Moon and began work on Blood Moon, one of the scenes I left behind also happened to be one of my favorites: Flynn and Evie's wedding.

Fortunately, Blood Moon's release and Escape Publishing's incredible support has granted me an opportunity for this short to see the light of day. If you pre-order Blood Moon during the month of July, I will be sending you an exclusive PDF copy of the short story Moon Dance (The Sinclair Pack #1.5). Just direct message me through my Facebook page or my website, including your order confirmation number and the email you'd like the story mailed to, and I will add you to the list. PDFs will be sent out July 25th; if you pre-order after that date, I will send you the PDF when I receive your information.

I can't wait to share this story with you and have you experience that special moment in Flynn and Evie's lives.

Blood Moon can be preordered at the following sites:
Amazon (Kindle)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Release Day Celebration: Mending the Shroud

The second in the fresh, exciting romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off – with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond our own. 

After accepting bodily possession and saving the world, Vincent thought his life would get easier. He thought wrong.

The Shroud may not have torn wide open, but it did tear a little, and the retribution for the failure is coming hard, fast, and directly at Vincent and the people he loves.

His only hope is to once again accept possession from Coleman and do battle with the deformed, terrifying Kafla. But this time, he's not alone. Jule, the woman he loves and hopes to marry, is possessed as well, and together the four of them become a formidable team.

Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, but only a supreme sacrifice can mend the Shroud and save both their lives and their worlds.

Mending the Shroud Links
Goodreads - Amazon - AmazonAU - iBooks - B&N (coming soon!)

About the Author
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his "day job", he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named "Tuffy" at tracks in the southwest.

Connect with JM

Twitter: @jmbraybooks
Facebook Author Page: