Posts Tagged ‘contest’

Contest News – Ann Aguirre and A Reading Challenge

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Go enter Ann Aguirre’s Hell Fire ARC contest.

She’s giving away 8 ARCs on her blog, and two on Twitter. Check it out. Enter. You won’t be sorry.

Over at The Riskies we’re setting up a Read-Along. Help us decide what book to read. There will be some prizes during the Risky Reading.


Interview with Judi Fennel — Plus a Contest!

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Today I’m author Judi Fennel visits my blog to talk about her new release. It’s got mermaids. Is that awesome or what? Please note, Judi has a great contest going so check it out at the end of this post!

About The Author

Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

About the Book

She’s on a mission to save the planet. . .

Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret. . .

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger. . .

For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem– until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line. . .

What people are saying

Fennell’s got detailed worldbuilding, creative secondary characters and an impressive use of mythology in this great read. While this title is part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone. Angel and Logan are both incredibly textured characters.
RT BookReview Magazine 4 Stars

Judi Fennell has extraordinary imagination and has certainly used it in creating this exciting and colorful story. Her characters are wonderful.
Fresh Fiction

The best blend of both worlds. I… love each and every character in Catch of A Lifetime (and) found (it) well worth diving into.
Long And Short Reviews 4.5 Books

4 Stars!
Affair de Coeur Magazine

Catch of a Lifetime is a heart warming tale. Ms. Fennell Ms. Fennell has created a delightful world that, I have enjoyed escaping to. It is both dangerous and fun.
Anna’s Book Blog

The Interview

1. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?
Angel actually wouldn’t care whether she had one or not. She can change her tail to legs and back again, so she’s pretty happy. Maybe if she could extend that change from two days to six months, that might do it. But she’s a scientist; she prefers facts and evidence to magic.

2. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with an intense craving for something, what would the craving be?
Ice cream. Peppermint. Frozen iceberg chips just don’t have the same flavor.

3. Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?
Darth – Ming ruled a planet. Darth has a bigger focus; he wants every universe out there. Ceto has a bone to pick with The Gods and she wouldn’t mind having more power than them. As for the sharks, they’d just be happy to have a say in what happens on The Council. Actually, that’s not true. I could see A.C. using that as a stepping stone to the throne. Maybe even Poseidon’s trident.

4. What do you consider the heart of your story? That is, what is the issue or emotion that propels things forward? Spill your guts on this one.
Angel wanting to be someone. I hadn’t seen that coming when I wrote her story. All of a sudden, she’s thinking about how much she wants to be so much more than "Just Angel." I hadn’t realized. I love when things like that happen when I’m writing a story. All along, she’s known why she’s pushing so hard for the job she’s after, but I hadn’t realized why until that moment. It makes writing magical.

5. If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

I always love this question because while I can pick actors/actresses for my characters, I have a hard time seeing them as the characters because the characters are such vivid personalities in their own right. But, by all means, let Hollywood come calling! For Angel, I see Jessica Alba, and for Logan, Hugh Jackman. I have yet to see a Michael anywhere, though. And I’d pull Susan Sarandon in for Ceto, and either Pacino or DeNiro for A.C. Hell, this is a "what if" so let’s get both. There are enough thug hammerheads to go around Hollywood mafiosos. Ray Liotta, too.

6. Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?
The first five chapters. 🙂 Yep, I wrote five chapters before the opening of the book. They showed Angel escaping Hammerhead Harry, and what happens when she shows up on the boat and Michael sees her. But I think the book is stronger written the way it was published. Those five chapters, however, make good "freebies" on my website and will go up over the next few weeks.

7. Do you have a sample chapter posted?
I have an excerpt on my website.

8. Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.
Because she loves my stories enough to buy them! And my next series, too. And hopefully more after that. Seriously, though, Deb Werksman is amazing. She knows just how to get to the heart of the story and build it outward from there. She can see things that need clarification and convey them wonderfully. Not that I like having to do those kinds of revisions, but all of my books are stronger because of the role she plays.


To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn and the Hibiscus House bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi’s website,


The holiday extravaganza continues

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Two more signed books are up this time, both by the fantabulous Amanda McCabe

The Winter Queen

Cover of The Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe
Sent to Serve
As Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-Waiting, innocent Lady Rosamund is unprepared for the temptations of Court. She is swept up in the festivities of the yuletide season and, as seduction perfumes the air, Rosamund is drawn to darkly enticing Anton Gustavson. . .

Seduced By A Master!
With the coming of the glittering Frost Fair, they are tangled in a web of forbidden desire and dangerous secrets. For in this time of desperate plots and intrigues, Anton is more than just a handsome suitor– he may have endangered the life of the woman he is learning to love . . .

Spirited Brides

This book includes two wonderful stories for your enjoyment! How could you possibly resist?

Cover of Spirited Brides by Amanda McCabeOne Touch of Magic
Sarah, Lady Iverson, is forging ahead with her late husband’s work by excavating an ancient Viking village on an estate owned by Miles Rutledge, who inherited the property from his uncle. Although dismayed that a dig is being performed on grounds best suited for crops, he’s intrigued by Sarah’s scholarly pursuits–and by a connection between them that promises wealth beyond any buried treasure.

A tour-de-force — Rakehell Reviews

A Loving Spirit
Visiting Royce Castle in the wilds of Cornwall delights Cassie Richards, for she’s always been intrigued by the stories of its ghosts–and by the enigmatic lord of the manor. Rational-minded Phillip, the Earl of Royce, has no time or patience for silly rumors of phantoms–or the attentions of attractive young ladies. But when Cassie arrives at his mother’s invitation, he’s hard put to deny an unexpected infatuation that might just bloom into love…with some spiritual guidance.

An engaging romp with a romance that’s sure to please — Romance Reviews Today

How to be in the running to win these two books

Easy! All you have to do is answer the following question before December 31 is over — here in California. Shortly after that I will choose a random winner. If you don’t leave me a way to contact you, you’ll have to commit to checking back after the 31st to see if you won. I reserve the right to choose another winner if previous winners fail to timely respond. Void where prohibited.

The Question

Which would you rather have, exquisite taste in fashion or an unerring sense of timing. Why?



Carolyn’s Holiday Extravaganza Continues With More!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

OK. Here’s the winnings. Also, All these books are signed by the author!

Cover It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale

Lisa Dale’s It Happened One Night

Sometimes Love Finds You When You Least Expect It
Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns tot he one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward.
Eli has always been there for Lana– after all, that’s what best friends do. But Lana isn’t the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible. . . and a love that will last for all time.

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

Victor and Jaqueline Torres imagined moving to the U.S. would bring happiness and prosperity-instead they found a world of frustration. While Victor put long hours into his restaurant business, Jaqui devoted her life to her daughters, until they grew up and moved on. Even their eldest, Victoria, is torn trying to reconcile being the perfect Argentine daughter and an independent American woman. Antonio and Lucia Orteli face the same realities, especially when their only son Eric leaves their close-knit Argentine community in pursuit of his own dreams. When Eric unexpectedly shows up at the Argentine Club-the heart of the Argentine community in southern California-he starts a series of events that will bring these two families closer than ever. New relationships are formed and old ones are put to the test, as everyone must learn how to balance different cultures-and different dreams-without hurting those they love.

Seduce Me by Robyn DeHart, Legend Hunters Series: Book One

Cover of Seduce My by Robyn DeHartFielding Grey is a treasure seeker with a taste for danger and experienced women. His latest mission: wrest Pandora’s fabled box from a notorious criminal mastermind. Not in the job description: save an innocent damsel in distress.

A bookish miss, Esme Worthington has favored dusty tomes over society balls, and thrilling tales over flirtations. But when two scoundrels break into her home, she is thrust into a real-life adventure. Pursued and suddenly possessing the forbidden box, Esme can’t resist peeking inside. Under the spell of Pandora’s seductive curse, she’s soon offering herself to Fielding – body and soul. With her reluctant rescuer determined to resist her charms, can the two outwit an enemy who will stop at nothing to seize their precious prize?

Spine-tingling adventure and sexy secrets! Robyn DeHart’s vibrant characters sweep the reader into a clever and sensual romp that is not to be missed.
— Julia London, NYT Bestselling Author of Highland Scandal

SEDUCE ME is a rousing and rollicking romantic adventure! If you like THE MUMMY and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, you’ll love SEDUCE ME. Robyn DeHart proves that falling in love is the greatest adventure of all.
— Teresa Medeiros, NYT Bestselling Author of Some Like it Wild

Find out More

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

What happens when a lady desires not one man, but two?
Cover of A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore
Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul… until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love… but life and death.

… one of the best historical romances I have read this year.
— Fallen Angels Reviews

… delivers almost too thoroughly on its heart-tearing premise.
— Publisher’s Weekly

…an up-and-coming new writer who displays a skillful touch…
— New York Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee

…a unique plot filled with powerful emotion and complex issues.
–Romantic Times

How to Win All These Books!

Leave a comment with an answer to this question:

Do you ever cry at movies? If yes, what’s the most recent movie that got you teary-eyed? No worries if the answer is no.

I’ll choose a random winner on 12/24, okay?


Even More of Carolyn’s December Extravaganza

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I have 3 copies of Zoe Archer’s Half Past Dead

Cover of Half Past Dead by Zoe Archer
In this round, there are three books up for grabs AND you get two stories by two great authors.

Samuel Reed had no idea magic existed, until it almost destroyed him. Thirsting for vengeance against the enemy who made him something less than human, Sam returns to England and crosses paths with Cassandra Fielding. His best friend’s little sister has become a fearless woman on a dangerous mission of her own. And against all odds, she sees past what he’s become, and stirs a desire he thought he’d lost forever….

Two…novellas combine themes of love and zombies. Vintage horror, high adventure, and soul-aching romance blend in Archer’s compelling The Undying Heart, prequel to the upcoming Blades of the Rose trilogy…. Readers [will] love Archer’s powerful, polished tale.
— Publisher’s Weekly

Four Stars! These zombie stories stand out in a genre dominated by vampires. The two tales of lovers reunited feature strong, courageous women who won’t let zombies stand in the way of getting their man. Archer’s imaginative and unusual tale will have you cheering for the characters, while D’Arc delivers a creepy and pulse-pounding story of danger.
— Romantic Times

So, three of you will win a copy of this book. Awesomeness.

Here’s how to throw your hat in the ring:

Leave a comment (and a way to contact you) in which you answer one of the following Three Questions

Question 1

If you woke up one day and discovered you could do magic (NB: This does NOT make you god-like) would you:

  1. Quit your day job and schedule a long vacation to Paris
  2. Serve up some revenge. Ice cold
  3. Read the Manual you found on the foot of your bed, THEN serve up some revenge, arctic style
  4. Only use your powers for good
  5. Other.(Please explain)

Question 2

Speculate on why Yours Truly is so fixated on revenge.

Question 3

Look down. What’s on your feet? How come?

You have until Thursday December 17th to get your comment in.



More of Carolyn’s Holiday Extravaganza!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Today’s contest is for a signed copy of Susan Crandall’s Pitch Black PLUS a surprise.

Cover of Pitch Black by Susan Crandall In an effort to give her newly adopted teenage son, Ethan, a fresh start, Philadelphia journalist Madison Wade relocates to a small Tennessee town. When Ethan goes on a camping trip with three other teens and returns without their chaperone, Ethan’s past casts him as suspect in a crime. The secrets Madison uncovers as she tries to clear her son brings danger from unexpected places and puts her at odds with the local sheriff — a man who has been trying to win her heart.

Let me just say that I LOVE Romantic Suspense, and this storyline is exactly what I love. I would totally steal this book if Susan hadn’t sent it to me so I could give it away to deserving blog readers such as yourself.

Praise for Pitch Black

Keep the lights on bright for PITCH BLACK! — Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author.

Prepare to be thoroughly captivated by Crandall’s PITCH BLACK world! — Karen Rose, New York Times bestselling author.

In addition to Pitch Black, I will send along a surprise. Maybe another book. Maybe a little something from one of my two favorite stores in Petaluma. Total surprise even to me. Maybe it will have something to do with the title, maybe not. It just depends how I’m feeling. Maybe I’ll send along something silly from my other favorite store in town that has some awesomely cool silly stuff. You won’t know because it will be a surprise!

To enter this contest, leave a comment with a way to contact you. In your comment, please answer the following question:

You have this weird neighbor that you have never, ever seen in daylight. He came over once when you were having a block party and the festivities went on late into the night. He’s tall, good looking but extremely pale. He has a lime green iPod. He’s an extremely good dancer and appallingly good at Trivial Pursuit. It is now 12:01 AM. You are alone in your room. It is PITCH BLACK because there’s a total eclipse of the moon and you are in bed unable to sleep until you know who won the 1974 World Series. You just happen to have your weird neighbor’s phone number and a fully charged cell phone. You call . . .

What happens next?

If you prefer, feel free to answer the question as if the weird neighbor is a woman.

Just make something up. Or go for it. Or something.

This contest is open until end of Monday, December 14. (Pacific Time)


ETA: Comments are now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!


Carolyn’s December Extravaganza Continues!!

Monday, December 7th, 2009

This contest is also for three signed books — but one winner will rule them all. Which books you ask?

::Rubbing hands with Holiday glee::

Elizabeth Hoyt’s Prince Trilogy!

The Raven Prince Cover of The Raven Prince By Elizabeth Hoyt
There comes a time in a Lady’s Life . . . Windowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits…

The Leopard Prince
Cover of The Leopard Prince By Elizabeth Hoyt
The One Thing a Lady Must Never Do . . . Wealthy lady Georgina Maitland doesn’t want a husband, though she could use a good steward to run her estates. One look at Harry Pye, and Georgina knows she’s not just dealing with a servant, but a man. . .

The Serpent Prince
Cover of The Serpent Prince By Elizabeth Hoyt
When the Devil Meets an Angel. . . Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes in content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man — a naked unconscious man — and loses her innocence forever . . .

Ahh. Don’t they just sound wonderful?

To win all three of these signed novels, leave a comment about . . . uh . . . Heh. Answer this question:

If you were a shape shifter, which animal would you prefer to be? A raven, a leopard or serpent? Please support your answer with evidence. Feel free to make it up. Or whatever.


Please leave a way for me to contact you if you’re the winner, otherwise you have to commit to check back here to see if you won. Contest open until, uh, Thursday 12/10/2009.


Carolyn’s December Extravaganza! Win Stuff. And Stuff.

Friday, December 4th, 2009

It’s the holidays and I’m in a giving mood.

So, here’s what I’m giving out today.

Three (3) copies of Veronica Wolff’s Lord of the Highlands. Signed. Did I mention they’re signed by the author herself?

What’s the book about you ask? Well, I decided to interview the book to find out.

Yours Truly: Hi and welcome to my blog. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to find out what you’re about. Can you describe yourself?

Lord of the Highlands: Thanks so much for having the three of us here. //riffling of pages//

YT: Pick a representative to speak, OK, it’s hard to understand you when you all talk at once.

LotH: Only time and a woman’s love can liberate him.

YT: Oh, that sounds good. Say, what do you look like?

LotH: Cover of Lord of The Highlands by Veronica Wolff

YT: Wow. You’re kind of hot. Is that sword heavy?

LotH #1: Yes. Did you know Veronica Wolff’s Scotsmen are pure temptation — USA Today bestselling author Sandra Hill. ?

LotH #2: He was her one true love. He just lived in another century.

YT: Just like Alexander Skarsgard is my One True Love. Only he doesn’t live in another century. He lives in Los Angeles, which is worse.

LotH #3: An online dating service may have pronounced Felicity "unmatchable" but she’s determined– and destined– to find her perfect mate. All it takes is a mystical deck of Tarot cards to put her dreams to the test.??

YT: I think that dating service was wrong about– oh. You mean the heroine of the story? OK. Hmm. So what happened with the Tarot cards?

LotH #1: Light a candle. Choose a card. And old Scotland is only a wish away. . .

YT: OK, just a sec. schwippppp. Is vanilla scented OK?

LotH 1,2 and 3: pages riffling

YT: Well hold on. I don’t like that card. Wait. Right. Got one. The Knight of Pentacles. Ooh, armor. Now what?

LotH #1: Scarred by betrayal, Will Rollo lives to defend the monarchy against traitors. . . and he rides alone.

YT: Hey, just like the Knight of Pentalces!

LotH #1: The last thing he needs to contend with is a love-struck woman. So when Felicity appears, spirited by magic, Rollo’s determined to crush all tender feelings for her. But as passion binds them in a dark era, where witchcraft is punishable by death, Rollo must make a daring choice: send Felicity back to her own time, or endanger both their lives.

YT: I have a really great idea. I’m going over to and getting a number between 1 and 324. When I get back, you guys tell me the first sentence of that page.

LotH 1-3: silence

YT: 190.

LotH #2: Chapter 23.

YT: OK. Two sentences.

LotH #3: The feel of the minister’s hand repulsed her.

YT: Ooh. A bad guy! Let’s do that again!

LotH #3: Very loud page riffling

LotH #2: A man alone is no man.

LotH #1: Thank you for having us in your lovely home even though the inside of your bag is very dark. And your desk is very dusty. We are looking for new homes now. Can you help us?

YT: Yes, I can.

Dear blog readers, please leave a comment about what you like about Scotland or would probably like if you were there. Or make something up. Three of you will win a signed copy of this book. Leave me a way to contact you or check back soon to see if you won.

ETA: This post is now closed to comments since a winner has been declared!


Interview with Nalini Singh Plus a Contest!!

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Photo of Author Nalini Singh
I’m totally Psyched to have New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh visiting my blog today. Yay!!!! She has a brand new book out and I’m pimping her right here. That’s right. Nalini Singh. Right here at my blog! squeeeeeee! Plus, there’s a contest. You could win a free book. Read through to the end of the post to see what you need to do.

And, if you happen to subscribe to my newsletter, one of you will win a book, too! Because I’m awesome that way, and so is Nalini. Need proof? Read on.

Carolyn Poses Important Questions to Nalini

Carolyn: Eric Northman or Vampire Bill?

Nalini: I think Eric. Or maybe Bill. Eric. Bill. Do I have to choose???

Yes. You have to chose. I’ll put you down in the Eric column.

Carolyn: You’re walking along the forest path when an amazingly hot elf blocks your way. (Assume he closely resembles Orlando Bloom after a 16 week workout regimen rigorously observed.) After you admire his impressive sword with jeweled hilt, he offers you one of two gifts, your choice. Which do you choose, the Elixir of Immortality or fluency in any language?

Nalini: On the face of it, this one is a no brainer – the Elixir, of course, because if you have a millennium or two, learning languages isn’t going to be a problem.

However, I’m not sure I’d like to live forever – especially if it was only me who was changed. Can you imagine what it would be like to watch everyone around you grow old while you remained forever young? It would be different if those I loved were also given the chance to be immortal. (The gift and price of immortality is actually something I’ve considered a lot, as it’s one of the threads in my Guild Hunter series.)

You raise some good points. Plus, what if the Elixir didn’t confer eternal youth? Elves can be tricky that way.

Carolyn: Which creeps you out more? Spiders hanging from the ceiling (right over your bed) or eyes that glow in the dark (in your closet)?

Nalini: The spiders, hands down! (Have you seen The Grudge? That scene where all that hair is hanging down from the ceiling? Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy!)

I spend many nights staring at my closet.

Carolyn: Dark chocolate or milk?

Nalini: Chocolate in any form is a winner for me.

Glad to hear it, Nalini. It’s important to be open minded and flexible about these things.

Carolyn: For the purposes of this question, assume these two items are equal in value. I know you wouldn’t want to be cheap. You’re shopping someplace exclusive with someone else’s bucket o’ cash. What do you get me? Diamond earrings (highest quality and exquisitely cut and set) or a brand new top of the line Jag (insurance pre-paid for life of car)

Well, if it’s someone else’s (endless) bucket o’ cash, why not both? *g* But if I had to choose, I think I’d go for the diamonds – you could wear and enjoy them 24/7 if you so wished. (Though I suppose you could live in your Jag if you wanted to.)

You are my BFF.

About the Book

Out 3 November 2009
Cover of Nalini Singh's Blaze of Memory
Nalini Singh returns to the Psy/Changeling world and its “breathtaking blend of passion, adventure, and the paranormal” as a woman without a past becomes the pawn of a man who controls her future. . .

Dev Santos discovers her unconscious and battered, with no memory of who she is. All she knows is that she’s dangerous. Charged with protecting his people’s most vulnerable secrets, Dev is duty-bound to eliminate all threats. It’s a task he’s never hesitated to complete . . . until he finds himself drawn to a woman who might yet prove the enemy’s most insidious weapon.

Stripped of her memories by a shadowy oppressor, and programmed to carry out cold-blooded murder, Katya Haas is fighting desperately for her sanity itself. Her only hope is Dev. But how can she expect to gain the trust of a man who could very well be her next target? For in this game, one must die. . .


More about Nalini’s Books


…When it comes to delivering stories that grab you by the throat and don’t let go, Singh is in a class by herself! — Romantic Times

…BLAZE OF MEMORY had me in tears with the tenderness that Dev and Katya exposed in each other. This story adds immensely to the series . . . You will want to revisit this love story again and again. — Romance Junkies


Leave a comment with your answer to the question below by midnight (Pacific Time) on Friday November 6 to go into the draw to win a signed copy of Branded By Fire, the previous book in the series.

Read an excerpt of Branded by Fire (warning, excerpt may singe your eyebrows off).

Contest Question: If someone wiped your memory and left you on a hero’s doorstep, which hero would you want it to be?

(Carolyn’s answer: Eric Northman. Doh. Others of you may disagree which just means more Eric for Carolyn!)


Interview with Meljean Brook — Plus a Contest!

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Photo of Author Meljean BrookWoot!! Meljean Brook is here! In case you don’t know, Meljean’s book Demon Forged hit bookstores the same day as Indiscreet. What you may also not know is that there is a character in Indiscreet whose last name, by a huge, amazing coincidence, has the last time Brook. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Hah. I was desperate for a name for this guy, and there was Meljean’s book. . . Brook. That name is teh awesome! said I. So I stole her name. It’s in my book now. Forever.

Meljean writes the awesome Guardian series, and if you like paranormal I really do urge you to read her books if you haven’t already started. I love this series. I really really do.

Read on to the end of this post to find out how you can, if you’re really clever, get yourself in a position to win a signed copy of Indiscreet AND Demon Forged.

Demon Forged, by the way, was a Romantic Times Top Pick, so you know it’s good. (Hoo boy is it!)
Cover of Demon Forged by Meljean Brook

Carolyn Interrogates Meljean

1. Thinking back to yourself at, say, five years old, were there any clues then that you’d end up writing novels? If so, what were they? When did you know you had the writing bug?

At five, definitely not. By sixth grade, though, I was reading constantly and making up my own stories. Most of them remained in my head, though I scribbled out ideas and scenes. By eighth grade, I was practicing my pseudonym autograph all over my notebook covers (it looks almost exactly the same as it does today.)

For a long time, though, it wasn’t something I seriously pursued. I wrote all of the time, but I didn’t think of it in terms of: I’m going to be published and make a living this way. I just really enjoyed writing, and I especially enjoyed writing the kinds of things that I loved reading. After a while, though, and a few trips through other (sensible) career choices, I decided: I’m going to try to do this. And then I got a little unexpected help in that area, and actually did it.

2. Regarding your fan fiction, can you talk a little bit about how, why, when and how long you were writing it?

As I mentioned above, I’d been fiddling with stories for a long time. I’d already noticed that I had a tendency to include romance and fantasy elements in my work, but I didn’t really finish anything. I’d have great ideas that just petered out along the way. For a long time, this didn’t bother me, because I was just having fun … but then it started irritating me more and more. I wanted to write a romance (not as a career yet, but just to write it) but I knew I needed to finish it. But something just wasn’t clicking.

And at the same time, I was in college, and the writing was kind of a side-thing. So were comic books, and reading fanfiction. And it just happened that I read a fanfic that inspired me, and I became obsessed with a certain couple — Batman and Wonder Woman — and so I wrote a chapter in a fanfic romance. Then another. And I said to myself: This is it. This is where we find out if you can finish a novel-length story. It took me a couple of months, but I did … and I loved not just the story, but the process. So I wrote another fic, and another, for about two years.

But I realized I wasn’t satisfied with writing these characters anymore, because I’d begun writing mostly alternate universe fics (where the characters are different versions of Batman and Wonder Woman — alternate timelines, different worlds, etc). I still had a lot of BM/WW stories to tell, but I wanted to start writing my own characters. I also decided that I was going to finish the story, and submit it, and work toward being published. So I began altering and expanding on of the alternate universe fanfics, and that eventually morphed into the Guardian series.

And in what might have been the luckiest moment of my life, my fanfic caught the eye of my editor, who was a BM/WW fan. She asked if I had anything original to submit at the time I was working on what would become Demon Angel. That story wasn’t strong enough yet for a contract, but she offered me a spot in the Hot Spell anthology.

3. Your style of story telling reminds me of some of the Epic Fantasy writers, whose complex characterizations unfold with such incredible richness. Is this a deliberate choice or is it just the way it works for you?

It’s both, I think. The simple answer is that it’s just the way it works for me — it’s the way my style and my voice just are. But it’s also a choice as I’m writing. I love to peel away the layers, I love characters with complexity, who aren’t easily defined. I love digging into them, and hurting them, and making them laugh and love. Plus, this is romance, and love is rarely simple — so I do my best to show every side of a character, so that I am convinced (and hopefully the reader is, too) that the love is deep, and true, and will truly last an eternity.

4. How the heck did you come up with the idea of someone who looks in a mirror and sees Hell instead of his face? (Colin from Demon Angel) And a blacksmith/metalworker heroine (Irena in Demon Forged) explain that one, too.

For Colin, it was a combination of playing off of the classic "vampires can’t see themselves in a mirror" myth, and me trying to think of the absolute worst thing that I could do to him. He’s incredibly vain, so not seeing his reflection might have been enough — but throwing in a curse and making him uncertain about whether the hell that he sees is a reflection of his soul (until he discovers the truth and learns that he’s just seeing another realm)? Ah, the pain. It’s delicious. And it adds another dimension to his vanity, one that makes his character a little more sympathetic, and ties into the plot of the books. It was just one of those ideas that started out very small (me, wondering whether I should let vampires see their reflection) and just worked on several levels.

Irena’s character began in a similar way: just a tiny idea that grew into something bigger. In Demon Night, I introduced her, but didn’t even mention her by name. She creates a little metal piano for Charlie (which was more about Charlie at that point than Irena), and Charlie describes her as, "a hard-edged female." And that was it.

But I knew I wanted to use this character, I knew she was going to be important in the series (I knew I was going to need a female character who fills the role that Irena eventually takes in Demon Forged) so I began developing her backstory. Once I did, the pieces just fell into place, and much like Colin’s curse, her Gift played into both her character and the plot on several levels. I ended up making her into exactly what I needed from that one tiny line in Demon Night.

5. Since we’re on the subject of Demon Forged, can you talk a little bit about the ideas and characters of the book? Have you had them bumping around in your head for a while?

To answer the second question first: Yes and no. In this series, I have a general outline of Where I Am Going and What Needs To Happen On The Way, but I don’t have a habit of introducing or creating future heroes and heroines before I need them (with a few exceptions, like Michael). So I am usually about two books ahead when I begin deciding who is going to do what, and how they are going to do it. My process of creating Irena is a good example — I’ve known from the beginning that I need someone to [avoiding spoilers] do what she does at the end of Demon Forged. I had a vague idea of what kind of a character could do it. And so I’ll begin to shape the character as I go along, and I might begin to define and refine that shape in the books that come before hers — so in that sense, they are in my head for a while, but not from the beginning of the series. Irena wasn’t in my head at all as a character when I was writing Demon Angel, for example; there was just a Female Who Fulfills This Role Eventually blank to fill in.

And I think Irena filled that blank spectacularly. She’s one of my favorites so far — a sixteen-hundred-year-old former Roman slave turned Guardian, who has a Gift to manipulate metal, who is rough around the edges and blunt to a fault.

Then there’s Alejandro, who is essentially her opposite: subtle, quiet, and with an aristocratic background. No, actually — "opposite" is probably the wrong word. He’s her complement. What she isn’t, he is, and so although this makes for some wonderful tension and friction, they fit together wonderfully.

6. If you had a bazillion dollars, what would you get me? What would you buy your daughter?

I’d scour the world for a man who looks like Michael, pay for his wings to be surgically implanted, and then airlift him to your doorstep. Or, you know, just a drink at RWA, because I think that would be awesome to hang out.

I’d probably buy a bunch of plane tickets for my daughter, so that we could travel together. But she’d rather receive a pink unicorn doll or, "a dress with rainbows and stars and hearts on it, and rainbow socks, and sparkly heart shoes, and a ribbon with rainbow colors."

7. You write the most amazing, strong heroines. Please explain how you go about creating your heroines. The more detail the better because I need tips.

Pffft. I’ve read your heroines. You don’t need tips.

But it’s basically just starting with an idea, even a stereotype — a heroine who is a demon, a geek, a recovering alcoholic, a Victorian-type of lady — and then piling on the layers. I think that when the book is finished, it probably reads like I’ve been peeling away layers, but it’s really just a matter of piling them on as I go and then digging into them.

So for Irena, I had my basic idea, and then I had to make a decision which adds kind of a shallow layer: She’s angry.

Then I have to ask: Why is she angry?

And the answer might be as simple as: Because a demon hurt her.

But then it’s: But why did that affect her so deeply?

And that’s where I get to the fun stuff with my characters. It’s not just knowing what happened to them, because everyone has crappy things happen — but some things, we can shrug off more easily than others. So it’s figuring out why it matters so much. What did that demon touch inside her that all of the demons she fought and killed before didn’t?

When I hit that, it informs so much in the story: her character, of course, but also how she interacts with other characters, how she views the world, what issues she has to overcome or address when she falls in love, how and who she trusts … and so even though I have plot points that I have to hit in this series, that I would have made happen no matter what character ended up being the heroine in that book, the way that the character approaches that plot point is so personal, it feels organic rather than just: Okay, this is where Some Random Female Fights A Dragon. At that point, it’s not just about getting my series from point F to point G — it’s about Irena winning, and how she wins, and what it means to her.

At least that’s how I hope it works.

8. Just why do you love Wonder Woman so much?

I can’t deny that some of it is nostalgia. I loved Wonder Woman in Superfriends and I loved Lynda Carter’s show, and so the character holds a special place in my little-girl heart.

But I know it’s more than that. Part of it is that I’ve always been drawn to female superheroes and strong female characters on TV — Charlie’s Angels, the Bionic Woman, Firestar in the Spider-Man cartoon, Diana in V (even more than Julie, the heroine of the series), just to start. Why am I drawn to them? I couldn’t say. But I do know that Wonder Woman seemed to represent the best and the strongest of them all.

So I think it’s fair to say that for a long time, it was just that she represented something. It wasn’t the character herself. But then I began reading comic books, and found more there to love. The idea that she will fight, but first she’ll try to find a way to solve problems without violence. That she’s not about making people better, but about people making themselves better … whatever "better" means. Which, when written down, sounds really corny — but I also think it’s something that resonates with me. I’m like Mulder, I guess: I want to believe. Not believe that Wonder Woman is real, but that whatever she represents can be.

Then again, maybe it’s no more corny that believing that romantic love can be a powerful, transformative, wonderful, complicated, and GOOD thing, and writing a series of books exploring that idea.

But it’s not just feelings and ideas — she’s had some kickass stories, too. There’s a great series on livejournal that talks about them: When Wondy Was Awesome ( by bluefall. I don’t agree with everything bluefall has to say about the character and her adventures, but I do a lot of it.

9. Complete this sentence: Michael belongs to Carolyn because . . . If you can’t explain (or won’t because it’s just so obvious) then can you tell us about how his character evolves through the series? Any hints about what happens to him and when his book is coming up?

Michael belongs to Carolyn because … I’m afraid of being hurt if I say he doesn’t.

Ha, I love questions about Michael, because I just can’t answer a lot of them. Michael is a difficult character to write because he’s SO old, and he’s so powerful, and he’s seen so much … and yet I have to imagine all of that and what it would be like. So as much as I love his character, I also recognize that he’s kind of unknowable … and that I’m going to have to make him knowable in order for his romance to work. So, to that end, I’m completely destroying him (so that I can show what he’s made of when I put him back together.)

…and that’s all I can say about that.

His book has always been planned as the last book, and I’ve known who his heroine is since Demon Angel. His book should be the eighth full-length book, which is only three away: first is Demon Blood, then another untitled Guardian book which will feature a h/h from Demon Blood, and then Michael’s book.

10. What else are you working on? I understand you have a Steampunk book coming out.

The steampunk series is something that has been germinating since I first submitted my Demon Angel manuscript to my editor. If she didn’t like that, I was going to write a steampunk proposal. So that’s been in the back of my mind for years now, and so last year, the chance came up to propose it again. I pitched it as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets The Pirates of the Caribbean, called it the Iron Seas series, and my editor gave me the go-ahead.

The pitch isn’t accurate, although the basic elements are there: There are pirates, and there’s an alternate Victorian atmosphere with clockwork and steam-based technology. There’s also giant squid, nanotech, zombies, dirigibles, and some sexy, sexy times.

And I love writing it. I don’t have a release date yet for the first novel, The Iron Duke, but the first novella will be coming out in August 2010, in the anthology BURNING UP, with Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, and Virginia Kantra. Huge, huge fun.

The Contest Low Down

For a chance to win a signed copy of Meljean’s Demon Forged, all you have to do is leave a comment. If you want to add in something about why Michael belongs to me, that would make me feel happy, but not affect the chances of your being the winner, who will be randomly chosen on Friday, October 23. If you don’t leave me a way to contact me, then check back here Friday or Saturday to see if you won.

For a chance to win a signed copy of Indiscreet, head on over to Meljean’s blog. I’m over there today where I’m sure she’s being super nice to me.