new release

CP Release Week Celebration!!

>

My critique partner, Elisabeth Naughton, releases the third book in her ETERNAL GAURDIAN series, TEMPTED, Tuesday and we’re celebrating here on One Word At A Time all week long!!

Today, Wednesday and Friday I’ll be posting fun interview questions (these are not your mama’s interview questions). Elisabeth gives her answer, and I, as her CP for somewhere around 5 years now, give an answer from MY point of view. Outta be fun!

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I’ll be posting excerpts from TEMPTED.

EVERYDAY, I’ll be giving away the 2 first books in the series, MARKED and ENTWINED, each with a matching handmade bookmark from those who comment that day.

Sunday, I’ll choose one name from everyone who have commented during the week to WIN an ARC of TEMPTED with a matching bookmark!

Hope you’ll come by everyday to learn a little more about Elisabeth and get a little sneak peak of TEMPTED.

Interview, Day One

Do You Like Going Window Shopping?
E: What’s the point if you aren’t going to buy anything? The older I get the less I enjoy shopping of any kind.
J for E: Window what? If it’s in the window, it’s destiny and meant to be in my closet.

Ever Been Addicted To A Game?
E: Solitaire. It’s the bane of my existence.
J for E: Literati–I kick Joan Swan’s ass every damned game! She sucks! She rarely plays with me anymore. Can’t figure out why.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
E: I’m an amazing painter. Of walls. Stop laughing, it’s true. My walls are very pretty and I get compliments on them all the time.
J for E: I can hold down a pint of vodka like nobody’s business and curse more in the first chapter of my manuscript than a drunk sailor on leave.

What is your favorite beverage?
E: Vodka
J for E: Hel-lo!

What is your weapon of choice for the Zombie Apocolypse?
E: Vodka
J for E: I rest my case.

First impression of your significant other.
E: Cute. And old. Why the hell is he talking to me? (I was a lowly freshman in college. He was a senior.)
J for E: Hot. I’m going to keep him around. He’d make good research material when I become a romance author and need those midnight snacks. No, not that kind of snack! Get your mind out of the gutter–you’re crowding mine!

Favorite Midnight Snack?
E: Peanut butter on white bread.
J for E: Foster Freeze Blizzard, which the significant other (see above) runs out pick up for me.

Click for larger image….verah pretty!!
You know you want one! Enter now!!!
Your turn! Answer the question below to enter for 1 of today’s 2 prizes:
1) A copy of MARKED and matching bookmark
2) A copy of ENTWINED and matching bookmark
Have you ever had a job where you had to wear a uniform?
US/Canada shipping only
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

>CP Release Week Celebration!!

>

My critique partner, Elisabeth Naughton, releases the third book in her ETERNAL GAURDIAN series, TEMPTED, Tuesday and we’re celebrating here on One Word At A Time all week long!!

Today, Wednesday and Friday I’ll be posting fun interview questions (these are not your mama’s interview questions). Elisabeth gives her answer, and I, as her CP for somewhere around 5 years now, give an answer from MY point of view. Outta be fun!

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I’ll be posting excerpts from TEMPTED.

EVERYDAY, I’ll be giving away the 2 first books in the series, MARKED and ENTWINED, each with a matching handmade bookmark from those who comment that day.

Sunday, I’ll choose one name from everyone who have commented during the week to WIN an ARC of TEMPTED with a matching bookmark!

Hope you’ll come by everyday to learn a little more about Elisabeth and get a little sneak peak of TEMPTED.

Interview, Day One

Do You Like Going Window Shopping?
E: What’s the point if you aren’t going to buy anything? The older I get the less I enjoy shopping of any kind.
J for E: Window what? If it’s in the window, it’s destiny and meant to be in my closet.

Ever Been Addicted To A Game?
E: Solitaire. It’s the bane of my existence.
J for E: Literati–I kick Joan Swan’s ass every damned game! She sucks! She rarely plays with me anymore. Can’t figure out why.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
E: I’m an amazing painter. Of walls. Stop laughing, it’s true. My walls are very pretty and I get compliments on them all the time.
J for E: I can hold down a pint of vodka like nobody’s business and curse more in the first chapter of my manuscript than a drunk sailor on leave.

What is your favorite beverage?
E: Vodka
J for E: Hel-lo!

What is your weapon of choice for the Zombie Apocolypse?
E: Vodka
J for E: I rest my case.

First impression of your significant other.
E: Cute. And old. Why the hell is he talking to me? (I was a lowly freshman in college. He was a senior.)
J for E: Hot. I’m going to keep him around. He’d make good research material when I become a romance author and need those midnight snacks. No, not that kind of snack! Get your mind out of the gutter–you’re crowding mine!

Favorite Midnight Snack?
E: Peanut butter on white bread.
J for E: Foster Freeze Blizzard, which the significant other (see above) runs out pick up for me.

Click for larger image….verah pretty!!
You know you want one! Enter now!!!
Your turn! Answer the question below to enter for 1 of today’s 2 prizes:
1) A copy of MARKED and matching bookmark
2) A copy of ENTWINED and matching bookmark
Have you ever had a job where you had to wear a uniform?
US/Canada shipping only
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

>Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

RITA nominee Dana Marton Excerpt + Giveaway

>

Many of you may have run across my guest today.  Dana Marton is not only a multi-published author (27 books now!), but she also runs www.prizesforreaders.com!  A girl after my own heart!!

Today, Dana offers an excerpt of her June release, GUARDIAN AGENT. 
And she’s GIVING AWAY an ecopy of the full book as well!!
Just comment to enter! (Open Internationally)

Guardian Agent

Chapter One

Dark waters lapped the century-old palace’s foundation, eager to claim the forgotten building on one of Venice’s backstreet canals. At four on the February morning, tourists still partied on in the distance, drunk on love, youth and full-bodied Italian wine. Gabe Cannon could hear both the water and the faint beat of the music, but he couldn’t hear the half dozen men in the building with him. His new commando team spread out like ghosts moving through the night.

“Target on the roof,” the team leader’s voice whispered in his earpiece.

He stole up the crumbling stairs, ready for the rogue soldier who needed to be brought in before he caused more damage. He’d known Jake Tekla ten years ago in the army–a decent guy back then, but war could change a person, could even twist a man’s mind.

Static hissed in his earpiece before the words, “Kill order authorized. Repeat, authorized to shoot on sight.”

His instincts prickled. Standard procedure called for an attempt to capture first, and see what information they could gain during interrogation. Usable intelligence trumped a quick kill, every time. Then again, he worked for a private security firm now: XO-ST. Xtreme Ops Shadow Teams. They did things differently than his previous employers, the army and the FBI.

Gabe reached the roof. Plywood patches formed a psychedelic pattern in the moonlight—an unexpected break. Not having to sneak around on crumbling Mediterranean roof tiles would make this much easier. He stole forward and eased into the cover of a crooked chimney stack.

He caught a silent shadow at the door he’d come through–Troy, one of his teammates, joining him. Odd how Gabe had been last into the building, but first on the roof. Maybe the others had pulled back on purpose, testing the new guy. Another person might have been annoyed, but he’d expected this much. He wasn’t afraid of having to earn his stripes.

Dormers, chimneys and ridges blocked visibility. Clouds kept drifting over the moon. Scan. Move forward.Take cover. A night game of hide and seek in a labyrinth, with a fair chance that the ramshackle roof could open up under his feet any minute.

Then he stole around a dormer and spotted the target at last. Jake Tekla blended into the night in black fatigues, similar to Gabe’s, black ski mask in place. A lot slighter than Gabe remembered. Looked like being on the run had taken its toll on him. The man crept toward the edge of the roof, his focus on the jump he was considering.

No visible weapons.

Yet another thing that didn’t add up. Not for a government-trained, seasoned soldier.

Gabe inched closer, watching for a trap. He flicked the safety off his gun. Come on. Turn. He moved another step closer then stopped with his feet apart, gun raised, silencer in place.

His target sensed him at last and spun around.

Oh, hell.

Gabe caught the curve of a breast in the moonlight, and his finger froze on the trigger as he stared at the woman.

She could be a trap–Tekla’s accomplice or a decoy.

He had a kill order.

Most of the men he worked with squeezed the trigger each and every time, preferring to err on the safe side. He’d been like that once. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He pushed the North Village incident from his mind.

The woman stared at him for a startled moment, then her instincts kicked in and she ran. Or tried. He lunged after her, caught up in three leaps and brought her down hard. She was lean, yet soft, every inch unmistakably feminine. But none of that feminine softness showed in her fighting spirit. She shoved against him with all she had. She had to know she was conquered, yet she refused to yield, stirring some of his base instincts.

“Stop,” he hissed the single word into her ear as he did his best to subdue her.

Plywood gave an ominous creak on the other side of the ridge, the team moving into position to cover the roof and inspect all its nooks and crannies. Something stopped Gabe from calling out even as the woman did her best to scratch his eyes out, fighting in silence. Enough small things about this op had triggered alarms in his mind for him to want to see what he had here before he called the rest of the team in.

He patted her down one-handed, although if she had a knife she would have probably used it on him by now. He kept his voice low. “Did Tekla send you?”

She tried to buck him off. He managed to hold her down with one hand and ripped her black mask off with the other. Wavy dark hair tumbled free, eyes going wide with panic even as her full lips snarled. Despite the semidarkness, he couldn’t miss her beauty, or the fact that she had Tekla’s eyes and nose.
“Who are you?” he asked, even as the answer was already forming in his mind.

The man had two sisters, the younger one a teenager and the other somewhat older. The one under Gabe now was all woman and then some. Definitely not the teenage sister. He’d met both once at the airport when Tekla and he had gone home on a short leave over Christmas, back in their army days. They didn’t have parents, he remembered suddenly. Tekla had enlisted so he could support what was left of his family.

What in hell was his sister doing on the roof? No way his team’s intel could be so bad on an op like this. They weren’t fighting in the chaos of some distant battle field. The target’s sisters were supposed to be living with a distant aunt in Arkansas, according to the op files.

His mind ran all the options as he pressed her down a little harder to keep her still. He wanted to believe that Brent Foley, the team leader, hadn’t known who she was when he’d given the kill order, but being naïve didn’t pay in this business.

But if Brent did know… Eliminating one of Tekla’s sisters might push the guy over the edge, bring him out into the open as he came in for revenge. XO-ST’s small army for hire consisted of ex-soldiers and ex-agents, conducting outsourced ops for the U.S. government and anyone else who could meet their price. Brent wrote the book on how to reach goals by whatever means necessary.

Except, Gabe hadn’t signed on to kill innocent women, no matter how badly he needed the money. He motioned to her to stay down and stay quiet, then eased his body off her a little so she could breathe.

“Is he here?” he whispered.

After another spirited minute of resistance, her muscles went slack and she lay there, breathing hard, despair filling her eyes. She shook her head.

He pulled up all the way. Her gaze slid to his gun, and she swallowed, her body stiffening. Fear came onto her face, that wide-eyed look of people who know they are about to die. She didn’t beg, nor did she offer her brother’s life for her own. She simply met Gabe’s gaze and lifted her chin.

She still looked impossibly young, although he figured she had to be around twenty-six or twenty-seven by now. Her slim body might have looked fragile next to his, but her eyes shone with defiance. Which wouldn’t be enough, not with a kill order in place and a team of mercenaries spread out around them.

“I’ll come back.” He secured her with a plastic cuff to the iron scroll that decorated the roof’s edge, with one smooth move.

He switched on his mouthpiece as he turned from her, ignoring her silent struggle. “Target escaped the roof. East end.”

He ran along the edge toward the other side where a six-foot gap separated the old palace from the next building. Dark shapes materialized from the shadows. He jumped without giving the steep drop below him much thought. As expected, his clear purpose and energy drew the rest of the team behind him.

He dashed forward as if he could see a man’s disappearing back somewhere up ahead. He didn’t slow for twenty minutes and several rooftops later. Then he braced against the edge of the roof as he stared down onto a dark, abandoned bridge below him. “Lost visual contact.”

A four-letter word came through his headset, then, “Did he look hurt?”

“No.”

“I could have sworn I clipped him before we lost him last week.” A moment of silence. “Spread out.”
As the team scattered, Gabe made his way back to the old palace, trying to think of the woman’s name, not expecting much after ten years, surprised when it did pop into his brain: Jasmine.

She was going to take him to Tekla. He would bring the man in himself, making sure she didn’t get hurt in the process. Things could get out of hand when a cornered person was confronted with an entire commando team. For all he knew, the other sister was here, too. His jaw muscles tightened. He had no respect for a man who would use his sisters as a shield. Gabe vaulted from roof to roof, watching out for crumbling edges.

If he could complete the mission without bloodshed, he wanted to give it a try. Maybe saving a few lives, after having taken so many, would even the scales a little.

Except, he found the palace roof empty.

Leave a comment to enter to win a full ecopy of GUARDIAN
 
Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.  

She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi.

Find Dana Marton:

Email
MySpace
Facebook
Twitter

>RITA nominee Dana Marton Excerpt + Giveaway

>

Many of you may have run across my guest today.  Dana Marton is not only a multi-published author (27 books now!), but she also runs www.prizesforreaders.com!  A girl after my own heart!!

Today, Dana offers an excerpt of her June release, GUARDIAN AGENT. 
And she’s GIVING AWAY an ecopy of the full book as well!!
Just comment to enter! (Open Internationally)

Guardian Agent

Chapter One

Dark waters lapped the century-old palace’s foundation, eager to claim the forgotten building on one of Venice’s backstreet canals. At four on the February morning, tourists still partied on in the distance, drunk on love, youth and full-bodied Italian wine. Gabe Cannon could hear both the water and the faint beat of the music, but he couldn’t hear the half dozen men in the building with him. His new commando team spread out like ghosts moving through the night.

“Target on the roof,” the team leader’s voice whispered in his earpiece.

He stole up the crumbling stairs, ready for the rogue soldier who needed to be brought in before he caused more damage. He’d known Jake Tekla ten years ago in the army–a decent guy back then, but war could change a person, could even twist a man’s mind.

Static hissed in his earpiece before the words, “Kill order authorized. Repeat, authorized to shoot on sight.”

His instincts prickled. Standard procedure called for an attempt to capture first, and see what information they could gain during interrogation. Usable intelligence trumped a quick kill, every time. Then again, he worked for a private security firm now: XO-ST. Xtreme Ops Shadow Teams. They did things differently than his previous employers, the army and the FBI.

Gabe reached the roof. Plywood patches formed a psychedelic pattern in the moonlight—an unexpected break. Not having to sneak around on crumbling Mediterranean roof tiles would make this much easier. He stole forward and eased into the cover of a crooked chimney stack.

He caught a silent shadow at the door he’d come through–Troy, one of his teammates, joining him. Odd how Gabe had been last into the building, but first on the roof. Maybe the others had pulled back on purpose, testing the new guy. Another person might have been annoyed, but he’d expected this much. He wasn’t afraid of having to earn his stripes.

Dormers, chimneys and ridges blocked visibility. Clouds kept drifting over the moon. Scan. Move forward.Take cover. A night game of hide and seek in a labyrinth, with a fair chance that the ramshackle roof could open up under his feet any minute.

Then he stole around a dormer and spotted the target at last. Jake Tekla blended into the night in black fatigues, similar to Gabe’s, black ski mask in place. A lot slighter than Gabe remembered. Looked like being on the run had taken its toll on him. The man crept toward the edge of the roof, his focus on the jump he was considering.

No visible weapons.

Yet another thing that didn’t add up. Not for a government-trained, seasoned soldier.

Gabe inched closer, watching for a trap. He flicked the safety off his gun. Come on. Turn. He moved another step closer then stopped with his feet apart, gun raised, silencer in place.

His target sensed him at last and spun around.

Oh, hell.

Gabe caught the curve of a breast in the moonlight, and his finger froze on the trigger as he stared at the woman.

She could be a trap–Tekla’s accomplice or a decoy.

He had a kill order.

Most of the men he worked with squeezed the trigger each and every time, preferring to err on the safe side. He’d been like that once. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He pushed the North Village incident from his mind.

The woman stared at him for a startled moment, then her instincts kicked in and she ran. Or tried. He lunged after her, caught up in three leaps and brought her down hard. She was lean, yet soft, every inch unmistakably feminine. But none of that feminine softness showed in her fighting spirit. She shoved against him with all she had. She had to know she was conquered, yet she refused to yield, stirring some of his base instincts.

“Stop,” he hissed the single word into her ear as he did his best to subdue her.

Plywood gave an ominous creak on the other side of the ridge, the team moving into position to cover the roof and inspect all its nooks and crannies. Something stopped Gabe from calling out even as the woman did her best to scratch his eyes out, fighting in silence. Enough small things about this op had triggered alarms in his mind for him to want to see what he had here before he called the rest of the team in.

He patted her down one-handed, although if she had a knife she would have probably used it on him by now. He kept his voice low. “Did Tekla send you?”

She tried to buck him off. He managed to hold her down with one hand and ripped her black mask off with the other. Wavy dark hair tumbled free, eyes going wide with panic even as her full lips snarled. Despite the semidarkness, he couldn’t miss her beauty, or the fact that she had Tekla’s eyes and nose.
“Who are you?” he asked, even as the answer was already forming in his mind.

The man had two sisters, the younger one a teenager and the other somewhat older. The one under Gabe now was all woman and then some. Definitely not the teenage sister. He’d met both once at the airport when Tekla and he had gone home on a short leave over Christmas, back in their army days. They didn’t have parents, he remembered suddenly. Tekla had enlisted so he could support what was left of his family.

What in hell was his sister doing on the roof? No way his team’s intel could be so bad on an op like this. They weren’t fighting in the chaos of some distant battle field. The target’s sisters were supposed to be living with a distant aunt in Arkansas, according to the op files.

His mind ran all the options as he pressed her down a little harder to keep her still. He wanted to believe that Brent Foley, the team leader, hadn’t known who she was when he’d given the kill order, but being naïve didn’t pay in this business.

But if Brent did know… Eliminating one of Tekla’s sisters might push the guy over the edge, bring him out into the open as he came in for revenge. XO-ST’s small army for hire consisted of ex-soldiers and ex-agents, conducting outsourced ops for the U.S. government and anyone else who could meet their price. Brent wrote the book on how to reach goals by whatever means necessary.

Except, Gabe hadn’t signed on to kill innocent women, no matter how badly he needed the money. He motioned to her to stay down and stay quiet, then eased his body off her a little so she could breathe.

“Is he here?” he whispered.

After another spirited minute of resistance, her muscles went slack and she lay there, breathing hard, despair filling her eyes. She shook her head.

He pulled up all the way. Her gaze slid to his gun, and she swallowed, her body stiffening. Fear came onto her face, that wide-eyed look of people who know they are about to die. She didn’t beg, nor did she offer her brother’s life for her own. She simply met Gabe’s gaze and lifted her chin.

She still looked impossibly young, although he figured she had to be around twenty-six or twenty-seven by now. Her slim body might have looked fragile next to his, but her eyes shone with defiance. Which wouldn’t be enough, not with a kill order in place and a team of mercenaries spread out around them.

“I’ll come back.” He secured her with a plastic cuff to the iron scroll that decorated the roof’s edge, with one smooth move.

He switched on his mouthpiece as he turned from her, ignoring her silent struggle. “Target escaped the roof. East end.”

He ran along the edge toward the other side where a six-foot gap separated the old palace from the next building. Dark shapes materialized from the shadows. He jumped without giving the steep drop below him much thought. As expected, his clear purpose and energy drew the rest of the team behind him.

He dashed forward as if he could see a man’s disappearing back somewhere up ahead. He didn’t slow for twenty minutes and several rooftops later. Then he braced against the edge of the roof as he stared down onto a dark, abandoned bridge below him. “Lost visual contact.”

A four-letter word came through his headset, then, “Did he look hurt?”

“No.”

“I could have sworn I clipped him before we lost him last week.” A moment of silence. “Spread out.”
As the team scattered, Gabe made his way back to the old palace, trying to think of the woman’s name, not expecting much after ten years, surprised when it did pop into his brain: Jasmine.

She was going to take him to Tekla. He would bring the man in himself, making sure she didn’t get hurt in the process. Things could get out of hand when a cornered person was confronted with an entire commando team. For all he knew, the other sister was here, too. His jaw muscles tightened. He had no respect for a man who would use his sisters as a shield. Gabe vaulted from roof to roof, watching out for crumbling edges.

If he could complete the mission without bloodshed, he wanted to give it a try. Maybe saving a few lives, after having taken so many, would even the scales a little.

Except, he found the palace roof empty.

Leave a comment to enter to win a full ecopy of GUARDIAN
 
Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.  

She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi.

Find Dana Marton:

Email
MySpace
Facebook
Twitter

Author Sherry Isaac on Imagination + Excerpt + Giveaway

>My guest today, Sherry Isaac is an amazing writer and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

She will be giving away one copy of her book and 5 custom made bookmarks. Post a comment or ask a question to enter!

Welcome, Sherry!!

KNOWLEDGE PLANTS THE SEED. IMAGINATION MAKES IT BLOOM.
by Sherry Isaac
 


Write what you know.
That’s the advice we’re given when we start to write, but what does it mean? Does it mean that, because I don’t know a Phillips from a Robertson, a mallet from a hammer, a G-clamp from an A-frame, my hero can’t be a carpenter?
If it does, then it’s re-write time again.
True, author John Grisham (A Time To Kill, The Chamber) uses his knowledge and experience as a lawyer to write his legal thrillers. But did Anne Rice actually interview a vampire?
Or did she draw on her knowledge of New Orleans and the gothic impressions of the ornately decorated churches of her childhood, and fill in the rest with imagination?
Don’t know about you and Stephenie Meyer, but I’m going with the latter.
When looking for a starting point in a story, nuggets of truth are a great place to find inspiration. It is imagination that dictates where the story will go, and how it will end.
My maternal grandparents, Isaac and Katie, are gone, but a year or so before my grandfather, who went first, passed, I heard a story. A story of how they met.
Isaac and Katie both fled Russia in the days following the revolution. Isaac ended up in Winnipeg, Katie in Ste. Anne, a small farming community southeast of the city.
Isaac, educated and wealthy in his homeland, retired a machinist. I don’t know where he worked or what he did in the twenties, but suspect it was factory-oriented. As the story went, Isaac and his cousin knew where to go to meet girls.
And on what day.
Like many girls her age at the time, Katie worked as a domestic in the city, and Wednesday was the standard day off. Woolworth’s on Portage Avenue, in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, was the place to meet their girlfriends and ‘spend their earnings on ox-blood lipstick and the new flesh-colored stockings that were al the rage’.
There are a lot of blanks in the story. Who caught whose eye, who said what, and how a chance meeting turned into a life-long love is a mystery. In the end, a fact: In a city park, under the shade of a tree, my grandparents shared their first afternoon together.
A scandalous afternoon spent… Kissing!!!
Grandpa, you sly dog.
What I knew for sure when I started to write seriously was that someday I would write a piece honoring Isaac and Katie’s lifetime devotion.
Isaac had a steadfast rule: Never ask a girl out more than twice. A third date meant you were serious.
Bit of a player, perhaps?
After that afternoon with Katie, he confided in his cousin: “Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
What I knew for sure when I heard that detail was that someday, somehow, in some story, I would have to use that line!
Years later, the two things I knew for sure came together, and I wrote what I knew, filling in the blanks with imagination, dicing it up with a little research to get the details right.
Imagination fuels the give and take of dialogue, gestures, the dance of body language: ‘She turned to the inside leaf of the dust-jacket; her hazel eyes darted across the lines. Simon slid three book lengths closer and pointed to the open page. “That looks interesting. What’s it called?”’
Imagination sorts through the fashion of the day: ‘There were morning girls, too anxious and eager to please, in their flapper dresses, all pearls and feathers, bare arms and knee caps… The shapeless lunch-hour girls disguised their curves in boyish clothing, with hairstyles to match and hats that hid their eyes…’ and settles on the heroine’s look: ‘Her flowing floral print dress fell to mid-calf, slender ankles tapered into low-heeled Mary Janes. Her fair hair caught the light, rippled finger-waves that skimmed her fine jaw’.
Imagination devises a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain, the clank of metal on a wooden sidewalk, and Simon’s reaction,“Bloody hell!”, to shape setting and character.
Imagination is a twist, a tango, a Texas two-step. Writer and reader, the partners. A cluster of clues fill the reader’s mind and soon the scene takes shape. When the young man in wide-cuffed trousers who dreams of owning a Ford Model-T suggests a date, “Why don’t I treat you to a soda?”, the reader supplies the malts, the floats, the egg salad sandwiches.
A Love of Reading is not memoir. Outside of their initial meeting and their life-long marriage, the heroine and hero, Lila and Simon, bear little resemblance to my grandparents.
The end result ‘reveals,’ in the words of author and reviewer Tanaz Bhathena, ‘nuances of a love that is all at once innocent, mysterious and timeless’.
I like to think my grandparents are proud.
~~~
A LOVE OF READING
Short Story Excerpt
Sherry Isaac
“Simon, it’s your turn. I can’t read anymore! My voice is getting hoarse.”
The spring sun was warm so they’d sought the shade of a large weeping willow. Simon lay in the cool grass, his legs crossed at the ankles, his hands behind his head. He’d been wrong, ole Roger Ackroyd held out for several chapters. Simon removed the long blade of grass from between his teeth. “But I love the sound of your voice, Lila. Even when you speak of poison and suicide, it’s like an angel sighing.”
Lila sat on Simon’s jacket so she wouldn’t stain her skirt. She tapped the toes of his boots with the book. “Oh, stop!”
Simon rose to his knees and tossed the book aside. “If you’re tired of reading, I know something else we could do.” He crawled toward her until his face was inches from hers.
She lowered her long lashes. “What would that be?” Her rosebud lips barely moved. Her breath was warm, sweet.
He leaned closer, his lips a mere breath away from hers. “This.”
Simon rode his bicycle to work the next day without incident. The journey seemed to last only seconds as he pedaled the last stretch down McPhillips Street. He entered the gate and saw Jacob leaning against the fence, waiting for him.
“Where’d you get to yesterday?”
Simon dismounted and parked his bike. “Nowhere.” He lowered the brim of his hat, chin tucked under to hide his broad grin as he walked toward the plant entrance.
Jacob was ahead of him, walking backwards so they could face each other. “You met her, didn’t you? You finally met her!”
Simon bit his lip to erase his grin before answering. He stroked his chin, eyes downcast, as if considering a complicated mathematical formula. Numbers and symbols danced in his head, the language that didn’t exclude him. The tactic worked. He could meet his cousin’s eyes with an aloof expression. “I might have.”
Jacob pulled off his cap, waved it in the air and let out a whoop. “I knew it! About time, too. What’s her name?”
The smile would not stay hidden. It spread across Simon’s face and made his cheeks cramp. “Lila.”
“Lila? Mm. Even I could fall for a dame with a name like that. What’s she like?”
Simon stopped and pressed his lips together. “You know I don’t kiss and tell.”
“She let you kiss her? In Woolworth’s? You’re smoother than Rudolph Valentino! So what now?” Jacob landed a playful jab on his cousin’s shoulder. “You gonna gently remove the hook and let her go?”
“Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
~~~

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

Enter to WIN a copy of Sherry’s book or 1 of 5 custom bookmarks by posting a comment or ask a question!

**US/Canada only**

**MUST leave a contact email to WIN!!!**

>Author Sherry Isaac on Imagination + Excerpt + Giveaway

>My guest today, Sherry Isaac is an amazing writer and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

She will be giving away one copy of her book and 5 custom made bookmarks. Post a comment or ask a question to enter!

Welcome, Sherry!!

KNOWLEDGE PLANTS THE SEED. IMAGINATION MAKES IT BLOOM.
by Sherry Isaac
 


Write what you know.
That’s the advice we’re given when we start to write, but what does it mean? Does it mean that, because I don’t know a Phillips from a Robertson, a mallet from a hammer, a G-clamp from an A-frame, my hero can’t be a carpenter?
If it does, then it’s re-write time again.
True, author John Grisham (A Time To Kill, The Chamber) uses his knowledge and experience as a lawyer to write his legal thrillers. But did Anne Rice actually interview a vampire?
Or did she draw on her knowledge of New Orleans and the gothic impressions of the ornately decorated churches of her childhood, and fill in the rest with imagination?
Don’t know about you and Stephenie Meyer, but I’m going with the latter.
When looking for a starting point in a story, nuggets of truth are a great place to find inspiration. It is imagination that dictates where the story will go, and how it will end.
My maternal grandparents, Isaac and Katie, are gone, but a year or so before my grandfather, who went first, passed, I heard a story. A story of how they met.
Isaac and Katie both fled Russia in the days following the revolution. Isaac ended up in Winnipeg, Katie in Ste. Anne, a small farming community southeast of the city.
Isaac, educated and wealthy in his homeland, retired a machinist. I don’t know where he worked or what he did in the twenties, but suspect it was factory-oriented. As the story went, Isaac and his cousin knew where to go to meet girls.
And on what day.
Like many girls her age at the time, Katie worked as a domestic in the city, and Wednesday was the standard day off. Woolworth’s on Portage Avenue, in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, was the place to meet their girlfriends and ‘spend their earnings on ox-blood lipstick and the new flesh-colored stockings that were al the rage’.
There are a lot of blanks in the story. Who caught whose eye, who said what, and how a chance meeting turned into a life-long love is a mystery. In the end, a fact: In a city park, under the shade of a tree, my grandparents shared their first afternoon together.
A scandalous afternoon spent… Kissing!!!
Grandpa, you sly dog.
What I knew for sure when I started to write seriously was that someday I would write a piece honoring Isaac and Katie’s lifetime devotion.
Isaac had a steadfast rule: Never ask a girl out more than twice. A third date meant you were serious.
Bit of a player, perhaps?
After that afternoon with Katie, he confided in his cousin: “Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
What I knew for sure when I heard that detail was that someday, somehow, in some story, I would have to use that line!
Years later, the two things I knew for sure came together, and I wrote what I knew, filling in the blanks with imagination, dicing it up with a little research to get the details right.
Imagination fuels the give and take of dialogue, gestures, the dance of body language: ‘She turned to the inside leaf of the dust-jacket; her hazel eyes darted across the lines. Simon slid three book lengths closer and pointed to the open page. “That looks interesting. What’s it called?”’
Imagination sorts through the fashion of the day: ‘There were morning girls, too anxious and eager to please, in their flapper dresses, all pearls and feathers, bare arms and knee caps… The shapeless lunch-hour girls disguised their curves in boyish clothing, with hairstyles to match and hats that hid their eyes…’ and settles on the heroine’s look: ‘Her flowing floral print dress fell to mid-calf, slender ankles tapered into low-heeled Mary Janes. Her fair hair caught the light, rippled finger-waves that skimmed her fine jaw’.
Imagination devises a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain, the clank of metal on a wooden sidewalk, and Simon’s reaction,“Bloody hell!”, to shape setting and character.
Imagination is a twist, a tango, a Texas two-step. Writer and reader, the partners. A cluster of clues fill the reader’s mind and soon the scene takes shape. When the young man in wide-cuffed trousers who dreams of owning a Ford Model-T suggests a date, “Why don’t I treat you to a soda?”, the reader supplies the malts, the floats, the egg salad sandwiches.
A Love of Reading is not memoir. Outside of their initial meeting and their life-long marriage, the heroine and hero, Lila and Simon, bear little resemblance to my grandparents.
The end result ‘reveals,’ in the words of author and reviewer Tanaz Bhathena, ‘nuances of a love that is all at once innocent, mysterious and timeless’.
I like to think my grandparents are proud.
~~~
A LOVE OF READING
Short Story Excerpt
Sherry Isaac
“Simon, it’s your turn. I can’t read anymore! My voice is getting hoarse.”
The spring sun was warm so they’d sought the shade of a large weeping willow. Simon lay in the cool grass, his legs crossed at the ankles, his hands behind his head. He’d been wrong, ole Roger Ackroyd held out for several chapters. Simon removed the long blade of grass from between his teeth. “But I love the sound of your voice, Lila. Even when you speak of poison and suicide, it’s like an angel sighing.”
Lila sat on Simon’s jacket so she wouldn’t stain her skirt. She tapped the toes of his boots with the book. “Oh, stop!”
Simon rose to his knees and tossed the book aside. “If you’re tired of reading, I know something else we could do.” He crawled toward her until his face was inches from hers.
She lowered her long lashes. “What would that be?” Her rosebud lips barely moved. Her breath was warm, sweet.
He leaned closer, his lips a mere breath away from hers. “This.”
Simon rode his bicycle to work the next day without incident. The journey seemed to last only seconds as he pedaled the last stretch down McPhillips Street. He entered the gate and saw Jacob leaning against the fence, waiting for him.
“Where’d you get to yesterday?”
Simon dismounted and parked his bike. “Nowhere.” He lowered the brim of his hat, chin tucked under to hide his broad grin as he walked toward the plant entrance.
Jacob was ahead of him, walking backwards so they could face each other. “You met her, didn’t you? You finally met her!”
Simon bit his lip to erase his grin before answering. He stroked his chin, eyes downcast, as if considering a complicated mathematical formula. Numbers and symbols danced in his head, the language that didn’t exclude him. The tactic worked. He could meet his cousin’s eyes with an aloof expression. “I might have.”
Jacob pulled off his cap, waved it in the air and let out a whoop. “I knew it! About time, too. What’s her name?”
The smile would not stay hidden. It spread across Simon’s face and made his cheeks cramp. “Lila.”
“Lila? Mm. Even I could fall for a dame with a name like that. What’s she like?”
Simon stopped and pressed his lips together. “You know I don’t kiss and tell.”
“She let you kiss her? In Woolworth’s? You’re smoother than Rudolph Valentino! So what now?” Jacob landed a playful jab on his cousin’s shoulder. “You gonna gently remove the hook and let her go?”
“Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
~~~

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

Enter to WIN a copy of Sherry’s book or 1 of 5 custom bookmarks by posting a comment or ask a question!

**US/Canada only**

**MUST leave a contact email to WIN!!!**

Career Author Jackie Braun Celebrates 25th Release!!

>Welcome my guest author today — Jackie Braun. Jackie She sold her first book to Silhouette Romance in late 1999 and started writing under the Harlequin Romance banner with the release of her third book in 2004.

Today’s release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG is Jackie’s 25th published novel — yes, you read that right! 25th! And today she answers interview questions about longevity in publishing and her own writing style. Plus, we’ve got an excerpt AND a giveaway!!

Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release,
MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG

Jackie, you worked as an award winning journalist for 17 years before leaving to write full time. Can you talk a little about that transition?

It wasn’t as difficult as I expected from a creative and time-management standpoint. I had a 3-year-old at the time and was already very good at multitasking. The big transition was getting used to not having a regular paycheck. That was hard — going from getting paid every week to wondering when the next check would come or, in the case of royalties, how much it would be. I did a lot of freelance for the newspaper still, including writing a weekly column. I invoiced them monthly. So that helped. The really big help, though, was my husband. He’s in charge of our household budget. If you could see the Excel spreadsheets he keeps to determine where every penny goes, you’d be green with envy. The man is a god. (And he has a cute butt!)

You worked for 5 years as both a full time journalist and a full time writer. As an author struggling with this very problem – day job and writing – what tips can you give for maintaining sanity while progressing as authors?

Ah, you assume I maintained my sanity. Ha! And double ha! Seriously, I got up early every day – we’re talking 4 a.m. There was no other way around it.

This is your 25th book! Happy Anniversary! What are the key character elements writers need to stay successful in this business for that long?

Gosh, I’m not sure I know. I will say I wasn’t willing to fail or give up. Life has a way of raining on your parade. During the time I wrote those 25 books I lost my brother to cancer, my grandmother, my mother-in-law to cancer, my dad and my father-in-law to cancer. My husband and I built a house. I left a career and became self-employed. We adopted two children, including a so-called “special needs” toddler from China. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and beat it. On and on and on … People talk about writer’s block, but when you’re a professional writer, you don’t have that option. You just write.

Your books often contain humor. I’ve found humor very difficult to write. Is there a trick to writing humor?

I don’t know. My husband and I like to laugh. We find it preferable to the alternative. I can remember times in our marriage when it felt like the world was falling apart and laughter saved us. So, in addition to writing about people’s struggles, humor just naturally leaks into my stories.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable characters even when they are doing the seemingly unbelievable. Readers need to relate to your characters.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Nope. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

Immense satisfaction and pride.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A room of your own and quiet time to work.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I’m able to be home with my kids. This makes me crazy during deadlines, especially in the summer, but it’s worth it. My boys are 6 and 11 now. I’m going to blink and they’ll both be grown and gone.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Some books all but write themselves, in which case we’re talking two to three months. Others, four or five months.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write every day. I currently do about 24 hours a week of freelance as a journalist. Since the deadlines for that are pretty much daily, I fit my book writing around that.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know that I have one.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

In the summer I like to poke around in my flowerbeds. I love gardening, even though it’s a constant battle to keep the bugs and critters from mowing down all of my perennials.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are really proud of me. I’m blessed to have such great support.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?

Sometimes my characters take off and do something I wasn’t planning. I always follow their lead.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? 

“In the Shelter of His Arms.” It came out in 2005 and was named Harlequin Romance of the Year by RT.

What do you think makes a good story?

Believable characters, great conflict and an emotional payoff for readers.

What are you reading now?

You mean besides children’s books with my kids? I’m reading “Bed of Roses,” the second book in Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series.

What new author has grasped your interest? 

None at the moment, but then my TBR pile is overflowing.

What are the hardest/easiest scenes to write?

For me, the hardest scenes are love scenes. The easiest, those that include humor.

What are your writing strength/weaknesses?

Really? You’re asking me that? I plead the Fifth.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what really strikes you about their work?

I love Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, LaVyrle Spencer (Gosh, I wish she hadn’t retired), Jennifer Weiner, Liz Fielding … Again, it comes down to characters for me. They all write amazing characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

When she spied the invitation amid the pile of bills and junk mail, Chloe McDaniels’s lips pulled back in a sneer. She’d been expecting it, but that didn’t make her reaction any less visceral.

Tillman High School’s Class of 2001 was set to celebrate its ten-year reunion.

Chloe did not have fond memories of her New Jersey high school. In fact, she’d spent her four years at Tillman ducking into bathroom stalls and janitors’ broom closets to avoid the unholy trinity of Natasha Bradford, Faith Ellerman and Tamara Kingsley.

She’d known the girls since grade school. They’d never been friends, but neither had they been enemies… until the start of their freshman year when, for reasons that had never been terribly clear to Chloe, she’d become their favorite target.

Literally.

Somehow on that first, already awkward day of high school, they managed to attach a “Kick Me” sign to the back of her shirt just before the start of first period. It was the last time Chloe ever accepted a friendly back slap without taking a gander over her shoulder afterward. As cruel pranks went, it wasn’t terribly original, but it was effective. She’d taken enough sneakers to the seat of her favorite jeans to feel like a soccer ball.

Then, between third period and lunch, Simon Ford had happened along.

“You might not want to wear this,” he’d said simply, removing the sign and handing it to Chloe. That was his way. Understated.

Good old Simon. He always had her back. Or backside, as the case had been. They’d been friends since his family had moved into her family’s apartment building at the start of third grade and their friendship continued to this day. Thinking of him now, Chloe picked up the phone before realizing the time. It was well after five on a Friday. He was probably out with his girlfriend.

Chloe realized she was sneering again. Well, it couldn’t be helped. She didn’t like Sara. The long-limbed and lithe blonde was too…too…perfect.

She glanced down at the invitation. Perfect Sara would never find herself in this position. Perfect Sara would have been the homecoming queen and the prom queen and the every other kind of queen at her high school. Unlike Chloe, whose only class recognition had come in the form of “curliest hair” and “most freckles.”

Yeah, that was what a girl wanted to be remembered for, all right.

Her gut told her to ball up the invitation in a wad, spit on it and, with expletives she knew in four languages, send it whizzing into the trash can. Her heart was a different matter. It was telling her to reach for a spoon and the pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream in her freezer.

Diet in mind, she went with her gut. Sort of.

She lavished the invitation with every foreign epithet she could think of before heaving it in the trash. But, while she bypassed the ice cream, she booted up her computer and downloaded a recipe from her favorite cable cooking show, Susie Kay’s Comfort Foods. If it was all but guaranteed to clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease, Susie Kay made it.

Tonight’s dinner selection was a case in point. Macaroni and cheese with not one, but four kinds of cheese and enough butter and calories that Chloe swore her clothes fit tighter just reading the ingredients. Not good considering she was already wearing her fat pants.

Actually, the pants were elastic-waist exercise gear that she didn’t exercise in but instead reserved for days when she felt particularly bloated. Today was just such a day. Strap a few cables to her and she would be right at home gliding down Sixth Avenue like one of those huge helium balloons in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Even so, that didn’t keep her from making the mac and cheese and eating half of the six servings.

The wine she poured for herself was an afterthought. She’d been saving the pricey bottle of cabernet sauvignon for a special occasion. This definitely was not it, but three glasses later, she didn’t care.

Chloe set the wine aside and went to her stereo. Music. That’s what she needed now. Something with a wicked beat and a lot of bass. Something she could dance to with reckless abandon and maybe work off a few extra calories in the process. She chose…Celine Dion.

As one weepy ballad after another filled Chloe’s Lower East Side studio apartment, her willpower wilted like the water-deprived basil plant on her kitchen windowsill. Again muttering foreign curses, this time aimed at herself, she fished the crumpled invitation out of the trash. When the telephone rang, she was still sitting on the kitchen floor smoothing out the wrinkles.

It was Simon.

“Hey, Chloe. What are you doing?”

Anyone else—her older and uber-chic sister, Frannie, for instance—and Chloe would have felt compelled to come up with some elaborate reason why she could be found home alone on the official start of the weekend.

Since it was Simon, she confessed, “Drinking wine, wearing Lycra and listening to the soundtrack from Titanic.”

“No ice cream?”

How well he knew her. Despite her best intentions, the mint chocolate chip was next on her list. “Not yet.”

“Want some company?” he asked.

Did she ever. She and Simon always had a good time together, whether it involved going out or just hanging out. Still, his question surprised her. Wasn’t he supposed to be with his girlfriend tonight? She liked thinking he’d throw over Perfect Sara to be with Comfortable Chloe. Liked it so much that she immediately felt guilty. She was a terrible friend. To make up for it, she would share her ice cream and what was left of the wine. “When can I expect you?”

“Right now. I’m standing on the other side of your apartment door.”

If he were a boyfriend—not that Chloe had had one of those in several months—this news would have sent her into a panic. Her apartment was a mess. For that matter, so was she. Her red hair was a riot of curls thanks to the day’s high humidity. And what little makeup she’d applied that morning was long gone. But this was Simon. Simon, she reminded herself, after a glance down at her unflattering attire had her wanting to flee to her bedroom and change.

It was sad to admit, but he’d seen her looking worse. Much worse. Such as when she came down with the chicken pox in the sixth grade or the time in high school when she’d succumbed to salmonella after her cousin Ellen’s bridal shower. Aunt Myrtle made the chicken salad, which was why, henceforth, the woman was only allowed to bring paper products or plastic cutlery to family gatherings. The coup de grace, of course, was last December. Three days shy of Christmas, the guy Chloe had been dating for the previous six months dumped her.

Via text message.

And she’d already bought him a gift, a Rolex watch, which she couldn’t return since the street vendor who’d sold her the incredibly authentic-looking knockoff had moved to a new location.

So, now, she flung open the door, feeling only mildly embarrassed by what her hair was doing, by the mac-and-cheese stains on her shirt or the fact that her lips had probably turned a slightly clownish shade of purple from the wine she’d enjoyed.

“Hey, Simon.”

Where can we find you online?

Website: www.jackiebraun.com
Facebook: as Romance Author Jackie Braun 

Remember: Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG
**US/Canada shipping only**

*MUST leave a contact email to win*

>Career Author Jackie Braun Celebrates 25th Release!!

>Welcome my guest author today — Jackie Braun. Jackie She sold her first book to Silhouette Romance in late 1999 and started writing under the Harlequin Romance banner with the release of her third book in 2004.

Today’s release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG is Jackie’s 25th published novel — yes, you read that right! 25th! And today she answers interview questions about longevity in publishing and her own writing style. Plus, we’ve got an excerpt AND a giveaway!!

Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release,
MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG

Jackie, you worked as an award winning journalist for 17 years before leaving to write full time. Can you talk a little about that transition?

It wasn’t as difficult as I expected from a creative and time-management standpoint. I had a 3-year-old at the time and was already very good at multitasking. The big transition was getting used to not having a regular paycheck. That was hard — going from getting paid every week to wondering when the next check would come or, in the case of royalties, how much it would be. I did a lot of freelance for the newspaper still, including writing a weekly column. I invoiced them monthly. So that helped. The really big help, though, was my husband. He’s in charge of our household budget. If you could see the Excel spreadsheets he keeps to determine where every penny goes, you’d be green with envy. The man is a god. (And he has a cute butt!)

You worked for 5 years as both a full time journalist and a full time writer. As an author struggling with this very problem – day job and writing – what tips can you give for maintaining sanity while progressing as authors?

Ah, you assume I maintained my sanity. Ha! And double ha! Seriously, I got up early every day – we’re talking 4 a.m. There was no other way around it.

This is your 25th book! Happy Anniversary! What are the key character elements writers need to stay successful in this business for that long?

Gosh, I’m not sure I know. I will say I wasn’t willing to fail or give up. Life has a way of raining on your parade. During the time I wrote those 25 books I lost my brother to cancer, my grandmother, my mother-in-law to cancer, my dad and my father-in-law to cancer. My husband and I built a house. I left a career and became self-employed. We adopted two children, including a so-called “special needs” toddler from China. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and beat it. On and on and on … People talk about writer’s block, but when you’re a professional writer, you don’t have that option. You just write.

Your books often contain humor. I’ve found humor very difficult to write. Is there a trick to writing humor?

I don’t know. My husband and I like to laugh. We find it preferable to the alternative. I can remember times in our marriage when it felt like the world was falling apart and laughter saved us. So, in addition to writing about people’s struggles, humor just naturally leaks into my stories.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable characters even when they are doing the seemingly unbelievable. Readers need to relate to your characters.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Nope. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

Immense satisfaction and pride.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A room of your own and quiet time to work.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I’m able to be home with my kids. This makes me crazy during deadlines, especially in the summer, but it’s worth it. My boys are 6 and 11 now. I’m going to blink and they’ll both be grown and gone.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Some books all but write themselves, in which case we’re talking two to three months. Others, four or five months.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write every day. I currently do about 24 hours a week of freelance as a journalist. Since the deadlines for that are pretty much daily, I fit my book writing around that.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know that I have one.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

In the summer I like to poke around in my flowerbeds. I love gardening, even though it’s a constant battle to keep the bugs and critters from mowing down all of my perennials.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are really proud of me. I’m blessed to have such great support.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?

Sometimes my characters take off and do something I wasn’t planning. I always follow their lead.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? 

“In the Shelter of His Arms.” It came out in 2005 and was named Harlequin Romance of the Year by RT.

What do you think makes a good story?

Believable characters, great conflict and an emotional payoff for readers.

What are you reading now?

You mean besides children’s books with my kids? I’m reading “Bed of Roses,” the second book in Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series.

What new author has grasped your interest? 

None at the moment, but then my TBR pile is overflowing.

What are the hardest/easiest scenes to write?

For me, the hardest scenes are love scenes. The easiest, those that include humor.

What are your writing strength/weaknesses?

Really? You’re asking me that? I plead the Fifth.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what really strikes you about their work?

I love Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, LaVyrle Spencer (Gosh, I wish she hadn’t retired), Jennifer Weiner, Liz Fielding … Again, it comes down to characters for me. They all write amazing characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

When she spied the invitation amid the pile of bills and junk mail, Chloe McDaniels’s lips pulled back in a sneer. She’d been expecting it, but that didn’t make her reaction any less visceral.

Tillman High School’s Class of 2001 was set to celebrate its ten-year reunion.

Chloe did not have fond memories of her New Jersey high school. In fact, she’d spent her four years at Tillman ducking into bathroom stalls and janitors’ broom closets to avoid the unholy trinity of Natasha Bradford, Faith Ellerman and Tamara Kingsley.

She’d known the girls since grade school. They’d never been friends, but neither had they been enemies… until the start of their freshman year when, for reasons that had never been terribly clear to Chloe, she’d become their favorite target.

Literally.

Somehow on that first, already awkward day of high school, they managed to attach a “Kick Me” sign to the back of her shirt just before the start of first period. It was the last time Chloe ever accepted a friendly back slap without taking a gander over her shoulder afterward. As cruel pranks went, it wasn’t terribly original, but it was effective. She’d taken enough sneakers to the seat of her favorite jeans to feel like a soccer ball.

Then, between third period and lunch, Simon Ford had happened along.

“You might not want to wear this,” he’d said simply, removing the sign and handing it to Chloe. That was his way. Understated.

Good old Simon. He always had her back. Or backside, as the case had been. They’d been friends since his family had moved into her family’s apartment building at the start of third grade and their friendship continued to this day. Thinking of him now, Chloe picked up the phone before realizing the time. It was well after five on a Friday. He was probably out with his girlfriend.

Chloe realized she was sneering again. Well, it couldn’t be helped. She didn’t like Sara. The long-limbed and lithe blonde was too…too…perfect.

She glanced down at the invitation. Perfect Sara would never find herself in this position. Perfect Sara would have been the homecoming queen and the prom queen and the every other kind of queen at her high school. Unlike Chloe, whose only class recognition had come in the form of “curliest hair” and “most freckles.”

Yeah, that was what a girl wanted to be remembered for, all right.

Her gut told her to ball up the invitation in a wad, spit on it and, with expletives she knew in four languages, send it whizzing into the trash can. Her heart was a different matter. It was telling her to reach for a spoon and the pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream in her freezer.

Diet in mind, she went with her gut. Sort of.

She lavished the invitation with every foreign epithet she could think of before heaving it in the trash. But, while she bypassed the ice cream, she booted up her computer and downloaded a recipe from her favorite cable cooking show, Susie Kay’s Comfort Foods. If it was all but guaranteed to clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease, Susie Kay made it.

Tonight’s dinner selection was a case in point. Macaroni and cheese with not one, but four kinds of cheese and enough butter and calories that Chloe swore her clothes fit tighter just reading the ingredients. Not good considering she was already wearing her fat pants.

Actually, the pants were elastic-waist exercise gear that she didn’t exercise in but instead reserved for days when she felt particularly bloated. Today was just such a day. Strap a few cables to her and she would be right at home gliding down Sixth Avenue like one of those huge helium balloons in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Even so, that didn’t keep her from making the mac and cheese and eating half of the six servings.

The wine she poured for herself was an afterthought. She’d been saving the pricey bottle of cabernet sauvignon for a special occasion. This definitely was not it, but three glasses later, she didn’t care.

Chloe set the wine aside and went to her stereo. Music. That’s what she needed now. Something with a wicked beat and a lot of bass. Something she could dance to with reckless abandon and maybe work off a few extra calories in the process. She chose…Celine Dion.

As one weepy ballad after another filled Chloe’s Lower East Side studio apartment, her willpower wilted like the water-deprived basil plant on her kitchen windowsill. Again muttering foreign curses, this time aimed at herself, she fished the crumpled invitation out of the trash. When the telephone rang, she was still sitting on the kitchen floor smoothing out the wrinkles.

It was Simon.

“Hey, Chloe. What are you doing?”

Anyone else—her older and uber-chic sister, Frannie, for instance—and Chloe would have felt compelled to come up with some elaborate reason why she could be found home alone on the official start of the weekend.

Since it was Simon, she confessed, “Drinking wine, wearing Lycra and listening to the soundtrack from Titanic.”

“No ice cream?”

How well he knew her. Despite her best intentions, the mint chocolate chip was next on her list. “Not yet.”

“Want some company?” he asked.

Did she ever. She and Simon always had a good time together, whether it involved going out or just hanging out. Still, his question surprised her. Wasn’t he supposed to be with his girlfriend tonight? She liked thinking he’d throw over Perfect Sara to be with Comfortable Chloe. Liked it so much that she immediately felt guilty. She was a terrible friend. To make up for it, she would share her ice cream and what was left of the wine. “When can I expect you?”

“Right now. I’m standing on the other side of your apartment door.”

If he were a boyfriend—not that Chloe had had one of those in several months—this news would have sent her into a panic. Her apartment was a mess. For that matter, so was she. Her red hair was a riot of curls thanks to the day’s high humidity. And what little makeup she’d applied that morning was long gone. But this was Simon. Simon, she reminded herself, after a glance down at her unflattering attire had her wanting to flee to her bedroom and change.

It was sad to admit, but he’d seen her looking worse. Much worse. Such as when she came down with the chicken pox in the sixth grade or the time in high school when she’d succumbed to salmonella after her cousin Ellen’s bridal shower. Aunt Myrtle made the chicken salad, which was why, henceforth, the woman was only allowed to bring paper products or plastic cutlery to family gatherings. The coup de grace, of course, was last December. Three days shy of Christmas, the guy Chloe had been dating for the previous six months dumped her.

Via text message.

And she’d already bought him a gift, a Rolex watch, which she couldn’t return since the street vendor who’d sold her the incredibly authentic-looking knockoff had moved to a new location.

So, now, she flung open the door, feeling only mildly embarrassed by what her hair was doing, by the mac-and-cheese stains on her shirt or the fact that her lips had probably turned a slightly clownish shade of purple from the wine she’d enjoyed.

“Hey, Simon.”

Where can we find you online?

Website: www.jackiebraun.com
Facebook: as Romance Author Jackie Braun 

Remember: Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG
**US/Canada shipping only**

*MUST leave a contact email to win*