paranormal

Werewolf Legends and Lore with Dani Harper + Giveaway!

I’m excited to have my Kensington sister Dani Harper here today!! She just released the third book in her Changling trilogy, Changeling Dawn, and she’s here to talk about some pretty fun stuff!
Plus, there’s a GIVEAWAY!!

Dani’s shapeshifter series about the Macleod family and their friends! Long-lived and able to become wolves at will, they call themselves Changelings. Almost two centuries ago, they were forced to flee the wolf exterminations in Scotland and start a new life in the wilderness of northern Canada.

Today, that wilderness has been largely settled, and an entire community has sprung up around the Changelings. The Macleods and their pack live as humans most of the time, hiding in plain sight. But there’s just enough unspoiled forest left for them to joyfully run as wolves whenever they please. They seem to have the best of both worlds – but there are still dangers lurking for their kind. And love, when it arrives, brings dangers and complications of its own.

The two highest laws in the Changeling world are never harm a human and never turn a human against their will. The wolf within, however, has its own primal rules. If a Changeling’s life is in danger, the wolf will emerge to defend it. It will also rise, unbidden, to defend a mate at all costs. And Changelings mate for life.

Each book in the series can stand alone, because each focuses on one member of the Macleod family. The first novel is Changeling Moon, the second is Changeling Dream. The third novel was just released, Changeling Dawn.  For info and excerpts, check out Dani’s website at http://www.daniharper.com.

Hi, I’m Dani and one of my hobbies is collecting wolf and werewolf myths and legends, and I’ve brought seven of my favorites to share with you.

  1. In some European legends, particularly in Scandinavian countries, some rivers and streams are said to be “lycanthropic”. This means that you can become a werewolf just by drinking the water! Lycanthropic water is said to possess a “lurid sparkle” and a faint smell that is like nothing else. As it flows, the water makes sounds that resemble human voices, and dogs and horses are afraid of it.
  2. Reports of an enormous wolf-like animal in North Wales date back to 1790, when a stagecoach travelling between Denbigh and Wrexham was attacked and overturned by an enormous black beast almost as long as the coach horses. Known as the Welsh Werewolf, its attacks continued for a few years then mysteriously died out. Two centuries later, beginning in 1992, over 70 sightings of a large wolf-like animal have been reported!
  3. In Mexico, the werewolf is called the “nahual”. A nahual is a witch who can shapeshift into a black wolf or coyote. According to the legend, not every witch can achieve this transformation — only a few have a natural gift. In addition to having the inborn talent, the witch must also jump over a wooden cross, or go into deep trance-like sleep, or put on an animal skin, or cover his or her body with an ointment made of herbs.
  4. Werewolves in Sweden and Norway are called the ‘Varulv’. According to the legends, these people become werewolves by choice by putting on an enchanted article of clothing such as a belt. They are not necessarily evil, and in fact, in some stories only the most faithful could achieve the transformation!
  5. In Latvia, ancient texts show that the wolf was honored as a deity or as a servant of God. In old Latvian folk songs the wolf is called God’s dog. When wolves howled, they were once said to be praying to God and should not be ridiculed or hunted. The Greeks of Athens also had great respect for the wolf and decreed that any man who killed one had to pay for the funeral for the animal.
  6. The 11th Century Russian Prince Vseslav was considered to have been a werewolf and capable of superhuman speeds. One account says: “Vseslav the prince judged men; as prince, he ruled towns; but at night he prowled in the guise of a wolf.” A commemorative coin, showing Vseslav and a wolf, was released in 2005.
  7. Legend says that the town of Gubbio, Italy, was being terrorized by a large wolf that preyed on both livestock and humans. Saint Francis was said to have the power to talk to animals, and he went alone to speak to the wolf about its habits. He was successful in negotiating peace between the villagers and the wolf, and the creature lived among them like a dog for the rest of its li

If you enjoyed the above, consider pressing the LIKE button on my Facebook Fan Page. I post wolf and werewolf trivia there every day!

GIVEAWAY!
One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Changeling Dawn. This is an International giveaway and a name will be drawn at random on Tuesday, Feb. 10.   There are several ways to earn points to better your chances of winning — the first step is to leave a comment or ask Dani a question!


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Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

>Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

RITA Nominee Kendra Leigh Castle & Dark Awakening

>Sometimes you meet people and automatically click.  It was was like that for me with Kendra.  She is so personable and warm I felt like I’d known her for far longer than a few emails.  I think you’ll feel that way about her after reading through the interview below, and I hope you all enjoy her as much as I have!

We have several giveaways today — 2 books and 5 handmade bookmarks.  Comment to enter!
 

Kendra’s Harlequin Nocturne RENEGADE ANGEL finalled in the 2011 RWA RITA, Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure Category.  And her newest release, DARK AWAKENING, just released last Tuesday.

I am a professed vampire novice, though you can’t be a living, breathing author of any genre without catching news of the hottest paranormal creature alive…or not.  So when I read my ARC of DARK AWAKENING I was immediately taken with the many and varied twists Kendra put into the storyline.

Here’s a desription of DARK AWAKENING:

Tynan MacGillivray has spent the better part of his three hundred years serving at the pleasure of the queen of the Ptolemy dynasty, her prized hunter in a world where blood is destiny. But the lowblood cat-shifter gets far more than he bargained for when his new target, a human woman whose rare abilities make her the only hope for saving the greatest of the vampire dynasties, turns out to be far more than she seems. 

Lily Quinn is an innocent whose beauty hides secrets that could change the world of night forever…and Ty will have to choose between the loyalty that has kept him alive, or a love that promises more than he ever imagined…if it doesn’t destroy them both.

So many aspects of this novel fascinated me: the way Kendra infused the Celtic Highlander history into a modern vampire hierarchy; the complication of social classes within this society and the internal and external conflict it brings to the characters; the constant spark between the hero and heroine from their first intense meeting; her superb worldbuilding.  Far too many elements of fine storybuilding to outline here.  I hope you’ll purchase this novel and enjoy all its intricacies personally.

Kendra, congratulations on finalling RITA! You attended the RWA National convention in NYC last month. Can you tell us what was different about attending the conference as a RITA finalist?

Thanks so much for having me over today, Joan! It was such a huge honor. And attending the conference as a finalist was amazing. This past year has seen a lot of wonderful forward movement in my career…a lot of things seemed to happen at once, and getting the RITA final for that particular book was really the icing on the cake. It’s so incredibly validating to be singled out by your peers as someone who is capable of writing something really special. The whole thing was magic.

Romantic Times said, “Castle’s world-building is superb and leaves readers wanting more.”

I find paranormal world building one of the hardest elements to establish in a concrete, believable, seamless way in writing. How do you do it?

I love that world-building quote from RT. It’s a huge compliment, particularly because having your characters interact in and with a world quite different from the everyday isn’t the easiest thing, at least not if you want to do it well. No one wants to get pulled out of the story and see the woman behind the curtain pulling the levers. Preventing that is always at the back of my mind!

I don’t pull everything together all at once. I’m a pantser at heart, despite the fact that I now have to write outlines for my editors (*sniffle*). So I normally start with a more nebulous framework for the world that gets added onto over time. In the case of the Dark Dynasties, I knew I wanted a caste system, a dark world ruled by disaffected nobles and populated by a vast underclass either serving or trying to avoid them. The idea of the bloodline marks came early, and in fact the first character I really “knew” was Queen Arsinöe. 

I, um, had thought she might be a bit nicer when I started. That happens sometimes. Anyway, that loose idea of the world I was operating in, and the relationship between the Ptolemy dynasty and their “pets”, the Cait Sith, got the ball rolling. And as Lily and Ty made their way through the story, the details got filled in. Someone once called my process “organic”, which is a really nice way of saying “fumbling around in the dark”, but it works for me. And frankly, I have a lot of fun discovering things at the same time as my characters!

I love the way you’ve given these paranormal characters such human quirks—Lily, the heroine, and her hopeless sense of direction, and Ty, the hero, his love for late night television and movies. These elements add depth and dimension to your characters.

Can you tell us more about your thought process behind those quirks? Are they characteristics of yours or someone close to you? What other quirky elements have you added to other characters in the past that have added dimension? How do you choose quirks for your characters?

Thanks! I don’t really pick and choose quirks for my characters. It’s more like they turn up with them and I just have to put them in the right situation to discover them. With Lily, some of her terrible sense of direction was born of necessity (she wouldn’t have met Ty if she’d gone the right way!), and some is just…her. Well, and me. I couldn’t find my way out of a wet paper bag, even with a map and a flashlight. Sharing that particular quirk with her was an early way of relating to the character, since she’s quite different from me in other ways.

Ty’s love of late night television and his knowledge of pop culture was one of those things that just clicked into place. The guy is up all night, every night. Often, he isn’t doing much. What’s a bored vampire to do in the wee hours? Jaden, his friend, likes to cook. That was one that just sort of happened, and I got mushy over it. “Aww, a vampire who likes to make comfort food!” Weird, maybe, but revealing of his personality. I love things that humanize the dark and dangerous heroes.

In addition to having a heated sexual chemistry, your hero and heroine seem to spark in every interaction. What is your philosophy on creating characters whose interactions light up the page and keep the reader invested?

It’s a delicate dance, and I always know if it’s not working. Imaginary characters can be surprisingly stubborn to work with! I think for me, I try to hit a balance between the hero and heroine having enough in common to relate, but enough differences to intrigue and infuriate one another. I know dialogue is key for me…I love to have them talk, and dialogue is one of my favorite things to write. Between the verbal sparring (which all of my hero/heroine combinations do) and dealing with a magnetic sexual pull between them strong enough that even getting close sets off fireworks, I always hope readers will pick up on and enjoy all of that sexual tension. I’m glad you think I’m managing it!

You are married to a Navy fighter pilot—an undeniably heroic career. What has prompted you to write about vampires, werewolves and magic instead of something more Suzanne Brockmann-like where you’d have your own expert in-house? 

(As an aside, I ask this question because I’m married to a career firefighter and for a very long time wrote about cops and FBI agents. My critique partner kept asking me, why don’t you write about firefighters? My first sales were of heroes as ex-firefighters. So I thought I’d pass the question along.)

It was amazing to watch Brian when he was flying (he developed some serious back problems around the ten-year mark, and after a couple of surgeries has moved into defense acquisitions). There were things I got a kick out of (flight suits!) and we had a wonderful, tightly-knit community I enjoyed.

But you know, it’s really funny…living with the Navy day in and day out has made it far less appealing to write about. Not that it’s bad, but I write to create a fun escape, and being a Navy spouse is my everyday reality. Apart from that, I’ve always been drawn to stories with a magical and/or supernatural element. I’ve never been much interested in writing tales without it! And by the way, thanks to you and your husband for pursuing (and supporting) such a challenging and heroic career.

As the wife of a military man, you’ve moved around a lot. How do you think that has affected your writing?

I don’t know if or when I would have started writing seriously without the Navy! I was very good at finding excuses not to buckle down. And with having babies early on in our marriage, the excuses were pretty valid. But then we got stationed in the Nevada desert, which was like being sent to the moon for this New Englander, and I knew it was put up or shut up time. If I couldn’t write a book in a place with…we’ll be nice and say “few distractions”…it wasn’t going to happen. As far as the further moving affecting my writing, I think it’s helped me set things in different locations. I’ve seen a lot of places!

You have three children and your husband must be gone quite a bit with his career. How do you manage your writing and promotion schedule?

“When do you find time to do this?” is the number one question I get from pretty much everyone I know! Actually, my husband is around most of the time now that he drives a desk instead of a jet, and that has helped immensely. Still, he’s at work all day, and I play chauffeur to the kids (11, 9, and 5, respectively). We have three dogs and a cat. Life is wonderfully (sometimes insanely) full. So I write when the house is quiet, which means staying up late. Sometimes, as a deadline approaches, very late! But I expect that when the youngest heads off to kindergarten in the fall, I’ll find myself with something that could be a regular work day…and not that I’m anxious to see my baby go, but being able to get all that writing time in when I’m at my most awake sounds awfully nice.

Thank you so much for having me, Joan! Those bookmarks are gorgeous, and I also have a signed copy of DARK AWAKENING to give away to one lucky commenter! I’ll be here all day to chat, so if you’ve got questions about the writing process, my books, or paranormal romance in general, fire away!

Kendra Leigh Castle writes dark paranormal romance and lives in Southern Maryland with her husband, three children, and menagerie of pets. You can find her online at www.kendraleighcastle.com, on Twitter as @KendraLCastle, and on facebook.

Thank You, Kendra! 

Comment on Kendra’s interview or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes: (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)
* MUST leave a contact email * 
  • A print copy of DARK AWAKENING
  • A print copy of RENEGADE ANGEL
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

>RITA Nominee Kendra Leigh Castle & Dark Awakening

>Sometimes you meet people and automatically click.  It was was like that for me with Kendra.  She is so personable and warm I felt like I’d known her for far longer than a few emails.  I think you’ll feel that way about her after reading through the interview below, and I hope you all enjoy her as much as I have!

We have several giveaways today — 2 books and 5 handmade bookmarks.  Comment to enter!
 

Kendra’s Harlequin Nocturne RENEGADE ANGEL finalled in the 2011 RWA RITA, Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure Category.  And her newest release, DARK AWAKENING, just released last Tuesday.

I am a professed vampire novice, though you can’t be a living, breathing author of any genre without catching news of the hottest paranormal creature alive…or not.  So when I read my ARC of DARK AWAKENING I was immediately taken with the many and varied twists Kendra put into the storyline.

Here’s a desription of DARK AWAKENING:

Tynan MacGillivray has spent the better part of his three hundred years serving at the pleasure of the queen of the Ptolemy dynasty, her prized hunter in a world where blood is destiny. But the lowblood cat-shifter gets far more than he bargained for when his new target, a human woman whose rare abilities make her the only hope for saving the greatest of the vampire dynasties, turns out to be far more than she seems. 

Lily Quinn is an innocent whose beauty hides secrets that could change the world of night forever…and Ty will have to choose between the loyalty that has kept him alive, or a love that promises more than he ever imagined…if it doesn’t destroy them both.

So many aspects of this novel fascinated me: the way Kendra infused the Celtic Highlander history into a modern vampire hierarchy; the complication of social classes within this society and the internal and external conflict it brings to the characters; the constant spark between the hero and heroine from their first intense meeting; her superb worldbuilding.  Far too many elements of fine storybuilding to outline here.  I hope you’ll purchase this novel and enjoy all its intricacies personally.

Kendra, congratulations on finalling RITA! You attended the RWA National convention in NYC last month. Can you tell us what was different about attending the conference as a RITA finalist?

Thanks so much for having me over today, Joan! It was such a huge honor. And attending the conference as a finalist was amazing. This past year has seen a lot of wonderful forward movement in my career…a lot of things seemed to happen at once, and getting the RITA final for that particular book was really the icing on the cake. It’s so incredibly validating to be singled out by your peers as someone who is capable of writing something really special. The whole thing was magic.

Romantic Times said, “Castle’s world-building is superb and leaves readers wanting more.”

I find paranormal world building one of the hardest elements to establish in a concrete, believable, seamless way in writing. How do you do it?

I love that world-building quote from RT. It’s a huge compliment, particularly because having your characters interact in and with a world quite different from the everyday isn’t the easiest thing, at least not if you want to do it well. No one wants to get pulled out of the story and see the woman behind the curtain pulling the levers. Preventing that is always at the back of my mind!

I don’t pull everything together all at once. I’m a pantser at heart, despite the fact that I now have to write outlines for my editors (*sniffle*). So I normally start with a more nebulous framework for the world that gets added onto over time. In the case of the Dark Dynasties, I knew I wanted a caste system, a dark world ruled by disaffected nobles and populated by a vast underclass either serving or trying to avoid them. The idea of the bloodline marks came early, and in fact the first character I really “knew” was Queen Arsinöe. 

I, um, had thought she might be a bit nicer when I started. That happens sometimes. Anyway, that loose idea of the world I was operating in, and the relationship between the Ptolemy dynasty and their “pets”, the Cait Sith, got the ball rolling. And as Lily and Ty made their way through the story, the details got filled in. Someone once called my process “organic”, which is a really nice way of saying “fumbling around in the dark”, but it works for me. And frankly, I have a lot of fun discovering things at the same time as my characters!

I love the way you’ve given these paranormal characters such human quirks—Lily, the heroine, and her hopeless sense of direction, and Ty, the hero, his love for late night television and movies. These elements add depth and dimension to your characters.

Can you tell us more about your thought process behind those quirks? Are they characteristics of yours or someone close to you? What other quirky elements have you added to other characters in the past that have added dimension? How do you choose quirks for your characters?

Thanks! I don’t really pick and choose quirks for my characters. It’s more like they turn up with them and I just have to put them in the right situation to discover them. With Lily, some of her terrible sense of direction was born of necessity (she wouldn’t have met Ty if she’d gone the right way!), and some is just…her. Well, and me. I couldn’t find my way out of a wet paper bag, even with a map and a flashlight. Sharing that particular quirk with her was an early way of relating to the character, since she’s quite different from me in other ways.

Ty’s love of late night television and his knowledge of pop culture was one of those things that just clicked into place. The guy is up all night, every night. Often, he isn’t doing much. What’s a bored vampire to do in the wee hours? Jaden, his friend, likes to cook. That was one that just sort of happened, and I got mushy over it. “Aww, a vampire who likes to make comfort food!” Weird, maybe, but revealing of his personality. I love things that humanize the dark and dangerous heroes.

In addition to having a heated sexual chemistry, your hero and heroine seem to spark in every interaction. What is your philosophy on creating characters whose interactions light up the page and keep the reader invested?

It’s a delicate dance, and I always know if it’s not working. Imaginary characters can be surprisingly stubborn to work with! I think for me, I try to hit a balance between the hero and heroine having enough in common to relate, but enough differences to intrigue and infuriate one another. I know dialogue is key for me…I love to have them talk, and dialogue is one of my favorite things to write. Between the verbal sparring (which all of my hero/heroine combinations do) and dealing with a magnetic sexual pull between them strong enough that even getting close sets off fireworks, I always hope readers will pick up on and enjoy all of that sexual tension. I’m glad you think I’m managing it!

You are married to a Navy fighter pilot—an undeniably heroic career. What has prompted you to write about vampires, werewolves and magic instead of something more Suzanne Brockmann-like where you’d have your own expert in-house? 

(As an aside, I ask this question because I’m married to a career firefighter and for a very long time wrote about cops and FBI agents. My critique partner kept asking me, why don’t you write about firefighters? My first sales were of heroes as ex-firefighters. So I thought I’d pass the question along.)

It was amazing to watch Brian when he was flying (he developed some serious back problems around the ten-year mark, and after a couple of surgeries has moved into defense acquisitions). There were things I got a kick out of (flight suits!) and we had a wonderful, tightly-knit community I enjoyed.

But you know, it’s really funny…living with the Navy day in and day out has made it far less appealing to write about. Not that it’s bad, but I write to create a fun escape, and being a Navy spouse is my everyday reality. Apart from that, I’ve always been drawn to stories with a magical and/or supernatural element. I’ve never been much interested in writing tales without it! And by the way, thanks to you and your husband for pursuing (and supporting) such a challenging and heroic career.

As the wife of a military man, you’ve moved around a lot. How do you think that has affected your writing?

I don’t know if or when I would have started writing seriously without the Navy! I was very good at finding excuses not to buckle down. And with having babies early on in our marriage, the excuses were pretty valid. But then we got stationed in the Nevada desert, which was like being sent to the moon for this New Englander, and I knew it was put up or shut up time. If I couldn’t write a book in a place with…we’ll be nice and say “few distractions”…it wasn’t going to happen. As far as the further moving affecting my writing, I think it’s helped me set things in different locations. I’ve seen a lot of places!

You have three children and your husband must be gone quite a bit with his career. How do you manage your writing and promotion schedule?

“When do you find time to do this?” is the number one question I get from pretty much everyone I know! Actually, my husband is around most of the time now that he drives a desk instead of a jet, and that has helped immensely. Still, he’s at work all day, and I play chauffeur to the kids (11, 9, and 5, respectively). We have three dogs and a cat. Life is wonderfully (sometimes insanely) full. So I write when the house is quiet, which means staying up late. Sometimes, as a deadline approaches, very late! But I expect that when the youngest heads off to kindergarten in the fall, I’ll find myself with something that could be a regular work day…and not that I’m anxious to see my baby go, but being able to get all that writing time in when I’m at my most awake sounds awfully nice.

Thank you so much for having me, Joan! Those bookmarks are gorgeous, and I also have a signed copy of DARK AWAKENING to give away to one lucky commenter! I’ll be here all day to chat, so if you’ve got questions about the writing process, my books, or paranormal romance in general, fire away!

Kendra Leigh Castle writes dark paranormal romance and lives in Southern Maryland with her husband, three children, and menagerie of pets. You can find her online at www.kendraleighcastle.com, on Twitter as @KendraLCastle, and on facebook.

Thank You, Kendra! 

Comment on Kendra’s interview or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes: (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)
* MUST leave a contact email * 
  • A print copy of DARK AWAKENING
  • A print copy of RENEGADE ANGEL
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

Cynthia Eden Talks Paranormal Power

SUPER HAPPY RELEASE DAY to my friend Cynthia Eden!

Cynthia is here today talking about POWER.  Paranormal power, specifically!

~ One random commentor will WIN a copy of NEVER CRY WOLF, which releases today.
~ Five random commentors will WIN a custom bookmark made for NEVER CRY WOLF.

RUNNING WITH A DANGEROUS CROWD

Lucas Simone is not the kind of guy you mess with. He’s big, he’s strong, and his eyes hint at a wilder side most women can’t handle. Of course, that’s because his predatory instincts are no metaphor—he’s a genuine Grade-A top-quality werewolf, tough enough to fight his way to dominance over the scariest pack on the West Coast. There’s only one chink in his armor. Unlike most alpha dogs, Lucas has a reputation for protecting the weak and innocent.

Sarah King is counting on that protective impulse—it’s the only thing standing between her and certain death. There are only two problems: one, she’s not quite as innocent as she’d like Lucas to believe. And two, if he doesn’t stop stoking Sarah’s animal lust, it’s only a matter of time before her own wild side gets unleashed…

Read Excerpt HERE

BUY HERE 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Let’s Talk Power

Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for checking out my post today—and a huge thanks to my awesome host Joan for inviting me over!

For this post, I want to talk about power. Power can come in various forms—and when you start talking about paranormal characters, well, power can sure mean many, many things.

The hero of NEVER CRY WOLF is a wolf shifter, the alpha of his pack. So, yeah, he knows a thing or two about power. You want protection, you want strength, then you turn to Lucas because he can generally kick butt.

When I wrote his book, I wanted to give him a heroine that would be just as strong as he was…just as powerful. But I didn’t want her to be a wolf. Instead, I created Sarah King to be a charmer. In my paranormal world, charmers are beings that can communicate with animals. (Think the cool snake charmers, but imagine that those guys actually talked to snakes like Harry Potter could. J) Sarah King is a charmer who can communicate with wolves, and while on the surface, it may seem like her paranormal gift doesn’t give her the same power that Lucas possesses, well, that surface glance would be deceptive.

Different powers…different degrees of danger.

Remember the old line about how opposites attract? When I write, I like to give my characters opposite power characteristics. That tends to make things interesting. J When I wrote about my Ignitor heroine (a woman who could burn anything, any time), I paired her up with a demon who could control fire in ETERNAL FLAME. Opposite powers, but when those two got together, the sparks flew.

So, tell me…what’s your favorite paranormal power?

One random commenter will be picked to win a copy of NEVER CRY WOLF.

Cynthia Eden www.cynthiaeden.com
NEVER CRY WOLF—Available 6/28/11 Kensington Brava
Be afraid of the big, bad wolf…

>Cynthia Eden Talks Paranormal Power

>SUPER HAPPY RELEASE DAY to my friend Cynthia Eden!

Cynthia is here today talking about POWER.  Paranormal power, specifically!

~ One random commentor will WIN a copy of NEVER CRY WOLF, which releases today.
~ Five random commentors will WIN a custom bookmark made for NEVER CRY WOLF.

RUNNING WITH A DANGEROUS CROWD

Lucas Simone is not the kind of guy you mess with. He’s big, he’s strong, and his eyes hint at a wilder side most women can’t handle. Of course, that’s because his predatory instincts are no metaphor—he’s a genuine Grade-A top-quality werewolf, tough enough to fight his way to dominance over the scariest pack on the West Coast. There’s only one chink in his armor. Unlike most alpha dogs, Lucas has a reputation for protecting the weak and innocent.

Sarah King is counting on that protective impulse—it’s the only thing standing between her and certain death. There are only two problems: one, she’s not quite as innocent as she’d like Lucas to believe. And two, if he doesn’t stop stoking Sarah’s animal lust, it’s only a matter of time before her own wild side gets unleashed…

Read Excerpt HERE

BUY HERE 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Let’s Talk Power

Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for checking out my post today—and a huge thanks to my awesome host Joan for inviting me over!

For this post, I want to talk about power. Power can come in various forms—and when you start talking about paranormal characters, well, power can sure mean many, many things.

The hero of NEVER CRY WOLF is a wolf shifter, the alpha of his pack. So, yeah, he knows a thing or two about power. You want protection, you want strength, then you turn to Lucas because he can generally kick butt.

When I wrote his book, I wanted to give him a heroine that would be just as strong as he was…just as powerful. But I didn’t want her to be a wolf. Instead, I created Sarah King to be a charmer. In my paranormal world, charmers are beings that can communicate with animals. (Think the cool snake charmers, but imagine that those guys actually talked to snakes like Harry Potter could. J) Sarah King is a charmer who can communicate with wolves, and while on the surface, it may seem like her paranormal gift doesn’t give her the same power that Lucas possesses, well, that surface glance would be deceptive.

Different powers…different degrees of danger.

Remember the old line about how opposites attract? When I write, I like to give my characters opposite power characteristics. That tends to make things interesting. J When I wrote about my Ignitor heroine (a woman who could burn anything, any time), I paired her up with a demon who could control fire in ETERNAL FLAME. Opposite powers, but when those two got together, the sparks flew.

So, tell me…what’s your favorite paranormal power?

One random commenter will be picked to win a copy of NEVER CRY WOLF.

Cynthia Eden www.cynthiaeden.com
NEVER CRY WOLF—Available 6/28/11 Kensington Brava
Be afraid of the big, bad wolf…

New Year’s Giveaway: Day 10, Darynda Jones

>Darynda Jones, like Vivi Andrews, was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist® with me.  She also went on to WIN the 2009 GH for Best Paranormal Romance with her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, which sold to Saint Martin’s Press in a three book deal. 

The novel comes out in hardback this February, and I thought about attempting to win an ARC. But when I discovered the chances (like 1 in hundreds), and went to her website to read an excerpt, which sent me running directly to Amazon to place my pre-order.  Screw those chances — I had to have this book.  As soon as it came off the press.

Darynda has a sense of humor that had me laughing out loud, characters I immediately had to get to know better, an engaging voice so easy to read I felt like someone was talking to me and a premise that is fresh and so fun!

I know Darynda through Twitter, RWA and a chapter of RWA we both belong to, Kiss of Death Mystery and Suspense.   She is as sweet as she is funny, and I’m so pleased we connected this year.

Up For Win Today:
Darynda’s debut paranormal romance, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

Read the excerpt that caught my attention: HERE.

Upcoming Releases:
SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT, August 2011

Works In Progress:
THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, December 2012

Contact Info:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Email

Have a great weekend everyone!  Hope you’ll come back next week for more AWESOME authors including Kris Kennedy, Alison Kent, Sylvia Day, Margie Lawson and the fabulous Elisabeth Naughton!

>New Year’s Giveaway: Day 10, Darynda Jones

>Darynda Jones, like Vivi Andrews, was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist® with me.  She also went on to WIN the 2009 GH for Best Paranormal Romance with her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, which sold to Saint Martin’s Press in a three book deal. 

The novel comes out in hardback this February, and I thought about attempting to win an ARC. But when I discovered the chances (like 1 in hundreds), and went to her website to read an excerpt, which sent me running directly to Amazon to place my pre-order.  Screw those chances — I had to have this book.  As soon as it came off the press.

Darynda has a sense of humor that had me laughing out loud, characters I immediately had to get to know better, an engaging voice so easy to read I felt like someone was talking to me and a premise that is fresh and so fun!

I know Darynda through Twitter, RWA and a chapter of RWA we both belong to, Kiss of Death Mystery and Suspense.   She is as sweet as she is funny, and I’m so pleased we connected this year.

Up For Win Today:
Darynda’s debut paranormal romance, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

Read the excerpt that caught my attention: HERE.

Upcoming Releases:
SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT, August 2011

Works In Progress:
THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, December 2012

Contact Info:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Email

Have a great weekend everyone!  Hope you’ll come back next week for more AWESOME authors including Kris Kennedy, Alison Kent, Sylvia Day, Margie Lawson and the fabulous Elisabeth Naughton!