The Best Laid Plans—by Caroline Kimberly

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Writing has always been my passion.  My best childhood memories are of floating on an inner tube in the middle of the lake during the heat of summer—my best friend and collaborator, Jami, floating next to me. We’d giggle and splash and dream up characters and plots, talking incessantly about all the adventures our fictional beings would have.  The possibilities seemed endless.  No idea was too silly or too small, and even the most unconventional storylines were given due consideration.  (Or at least as unconventional as a pair of preteen girls can be.)

For me, creating a character and watching how his or her distinctive personality unfolded was fascinating.  Crazy as it seems, it wasn’t long before I’d set myself aside and let the characters mold the story.  How would the heroine react to this obstacle?  What would the hero do in this situation?  Will they ever find their happy ending?  Letting characters evolve outside of the storyline always had an interesting impact on the plot.  Often, it led to unexpected twists and turns that weren’t originally part of the story.

That is certainly true with the writing I do today. Before sitting down to write, I outline each story and carefully consider each character.  I know how the story starts and I know how it (should) end.  Yet, somewhere, somehow, my characters take on a life of their own.  All my well-laid plans are suddenly in danger as unforeseen problems pop up: The heroine would never get herself in that situation!  Would the hero really do that??  How can I ever get them back on track???

It’s a bit frustrating when my own fictional characters derail me.

an inconvenient kiss CARINA_0714_9781426898709_AnInconvenientKissIt happened in my debut novel, An Inconvenient Kiss, a regency romance set in British India.  The heroine, Georgiana Phillips, is fiercely determined to be independent…so much so that she frequently becomes her own biggest obstacle.  Because Georgiana’s character grew even more feisty and headstrong than I’d originally envisioned, the hero, Simon Ashford, really needed to keep up.  Thankfully, Simon developed a great sense of humor and a healthy dose of grit.  Still, their path to romance wound up being more, well, adventurous than originally planned.

I’ll admit it’s not always an easy way to write. There were ideas and storylines I really wanted to include that just didn’t fit with Georgie and Simon’s personalities—and there were even a few moments when I worried they’d never make it.  In hindsight, however, I think the story is better for letting the characters run a little bit amuck.

And it leaves material for new characters who will undoubtedly run off with my carefully outlined plans and make them their own.

Do you ever have to modify projects because you’ve sabotaged your own ideas? If so, has the outcome been better or worse for it?

About the Author

Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life making up stories to help offset the daily grind. It wasn’t until she was in graduate school, however, that she realized she wanted to write for a living. Since then, she’s worked as a newspaper reporter and as a copy editor for a children’s book publisher. Historical romance has always been her favorite genre, however, and brainstorming romantic romps makes her life as a soccer mom much more interesting.

She lives in Minnesota with her very patient husband, two busy daughters and three lazy cats.

For more information about Caroline, please visit her website at http://carolinekimberly.com/.

Video Game Culture Meets Erotic Romance—by Jeffe Kennedy

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When Carina asked me to do more stories like my Facets of Passion series, only as full-length erotic romance novels, I knew right away what the first story would be.

I’d long been following the travails of Anita Sarkeesian. For those who aren’t familiar with her story, here’s a concise summary from Wikipedia:

In 2012, Sarkeesian was targeted by an online harassment campaign following her launch of a Kickstarter project to fund the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. At the same time, supporters donated over $150,000 to the project, far beyond the $6,000 she had sought. The situation was covered extensively in the media, placing Sarkeesian at the center of discussions about misogyny in video game culture and online harassment.

I was one of those Kickstarter supporters, not because I have much investment in the topic itself—I don’t play video games—but because I believe profoundly in a person’s right to research what’s important to them. That’s a basic human right.

going under Carina_0714_9781426898693_GoingUnderMore, I wanted to explore a heroine who’d go through this kind of thing, what kind of courage and resilience that would require. My heroine in Going Under, Emily, is a video game designer who runs afoul of this kind of misogynistic online harassment. Unlike Sarkeesian, however, Emily collapses under the pressure. She’s wicked smart, amazingly creative and has few social skills. Her career and marriage destroyed, she uses her hacking genius to create a new undercover identity and re-emerges as Phoenix, a reclusive and male video game designer.

What’s erotic about this, you may ask?

I figured what a woman like Emily—isolated, wounded, a literal hermit if not a virtual one—needs most to heal is human contact. Profound, hot and wildly sexual human contact. With a guy who is the opposite of the trolls who broke her spirit.

That’s where Fox comes in. He’s an investigative reporter determined to uncover the identity of the enigmatic game designer, Phoenix. He’s undercover, pretending to be a novelist. An ambitious, driven and sexual man, he decides very quickly that his lovely and skittish neighbor Emily is the perfect candidate to absorb his restless energy as he completes the painstaking work of waiting for Phoenix to make a mistake and reveal himself. His relentless curiosity and determined seduction are what can crack Emily’s careful walls.

His glad-hearted, playful and open sexuality is what allows her to heal.

Fox brings to Emily the kind of internal resilience she’d been missing. Of course, without realizing it’s her, he may also be the one to bring her career crashing down once again. That’s what I wanted to find—what it would take for someone to withstand that kind of horrific online harassment.

I’m not sure I could take it. But, wow, I admire women like Anita and Emily.

The official blurb!

Knowing all too well the damage online trolls can inflict, game designer Emily Bartwell takes privacy seriously. Living in solitude and working remotely under a male alias gives her a sense of security. The sexy writer renting the house next door ignites desires she’d forgotten she had, and when he invites her to play games of a very different sort, Em is ready and willing. Even if it means breaking all her own rules to abide by his.

Undercover tech reporter Fox Mullins is so close to the biggest scoop of his career: finding the elusive programmer Phoenix. An increasingly erotic adventure with his reserved but passionate new neighbor is the ideal way to heat up the chilly Pacific Northwest nights as he tracks the brilliant gamer.

At first Fox is happy to help Em explore her newly awakened kinky side, no holds barred, no strings attached. But as they push the limits of intimacy, both physical and emotional, Fox discovers he’s not the only one keeping secrets. And revealing hers may mean betraying the one woman who embodies everything he desires.

 

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

IMG_47902-smallHer most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns;  the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, will hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy

5 Fun Facts about PROBLEMS IN PARADISE, Texas Nights #3—by Kelsey Browning

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problems in paradise CARINA_0714_9781426898686_ProblemsInParadiseProblems in Paradise, book #3 in my Texas Nights series, was the first book I wrote from start-to-finish under contract. I’d like to say it was easy going since I’d learned so much in editing the first two books, Personal Assets and Running the Red Light.

Well…Paradise has lots of plot strands and gave me fits along the way. But between my amazing (and patient!) editor Deb Nemeth and me, we whipped the book and the characters into shape.

So today, I want to share with you a few of the stories behind the Problems in Paradise story:

  1. I researched the…ahem…ins-and-outs of food poisoning by chatting with a county health department nurse in Texas. Believe me, I know more about making you sick from food than should make you comfortable. ;-)
  2. Beck Childress was the first law enforcement hero I’ve written in any of my books.
  3. Beck has a bit of a junk food obsession, but his original bad habit was dipping Copenhagen (tobacco). My editor eighty-sixed that real quick, so Beck tossed the can and picked up a Slim Jim instead.
  4. Beck and Eden were one of the most challenging couples I’ve written because they’re both pretty serious folks. That meant they needed to show their fun and playful sides with one another. How did they do that? Redneck wine glasses, that’s all I’m saying.
  5. I thought I knew what Eden’s BIG SECRET was until I wrote the scene where it’s revealed to the reader. Then I was like “Holy crapola, so THAT’S her deal!” Then, she totally whacked me over the head with another one later in the book. That Eden, she’s a sneaky one.

I’m thrilled that early readers are saying this is their favorite Texas Nights book so far. It means all that hard editing work was more than worth the effort. From reader’s mouths…

I was laughing out loud, getting my heart strings tugged on, and just generally SMILING the whole time I was reading. ~ Brooke

You will root for this couple that are like complete opposites but are still great for each other, if only everyone would get out of their way. If you like romantic comedy and contemporary romance, you really need to check this one out. ~ Julie

This contemporary romance is full of twists and turns, some laugh-out-loud moments, and hot steamy sex. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down until I had read the last word. ~ Pamela

As a reader, do you enjoy learning about the stories behind the story?

Get your copy of PROBLEMS IN PARADISE from any of these retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Books-A-Million | Carina Press | Goodreads

 

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, and Bad Dog. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series.

 

Connect with Kelsey: Email / Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest

#RWA14 Carina Press Spotlight: Why we’re not at war with self-publishing

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In the spirit of last year, where we introduced “Carina Uncensored” in our 2013 RWA spotlight, we’re doing something a little different in our 2014 spotlight at RWA. We know that authors have a lot of choices–both in workshops at RWA and also in publishing–so we want to give attendees the best possible chance to get to know Carina Press, understand our philosophy, and ask questions not just of us, but our authors. Below is the information for our spotlight. If you have any questions you’d like to ask ahead of time, please ask them in the comments so we can get the information included in the presentation. RWA will be recording the Carina Press spotlight, so even if you don’t attend, you can still hear it at a later date. However, the author Q&A portion will not be recorded.

Carina Press and Self-Publishing: Why We’re Not at War

Carina Press Publisher Spotlight

Saturday, July 26th 2014

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Conference Room 13–14, Marriott Rivercenter Hotel

Join editorial director Angela James and editor Kerri Buckley at the Carina Press Spotlight where they’ll discuss:

 *Carina Press sales, marketing and editorial insights

* How Carina Press works with authors

* What Carina Press is looking for right now

* Why they think self-publishing is good for their business and why they don’t think it’s “us versus them” (they actually like self-publishing!)

 And back from last year’s spotlight, by popular demand, Angela and Kerri will leave the room during one 15-minute segment while five Carina Press authors take over the presentation and give frank and honest answers to the questions you want to ask.

Come for the information, leave with swag!

Want to ask questions via Twitter during the presentation? Make sure you use the #CarinaRWA hashtag & we’ll have someone monitor that hashtag and we’ll answer your questions, both in the spotlight and on Twitter! (**access to hotel wi-fi permitting. If we’re in some sort of conference dead zone, there won’t be much we can do)

Author Spotlight: Julie Moffett

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Julie Moffett’s Lexi Charmichael Mystery series doesn’t just deliver when it comes to suspenseful sleuthing, but it also features a hilarious geeky heroine that fans adore. No Biz Like Show Biz takes Lexi to glamorous Hollywood to deal with something truly chilling…reality television. Keep reading to find out more about what’s in store for Lexi, as well as a note from Julie Moffett herself.

Love to Laugh? by Julie Moffett

17638_2014-01-17~571I love to read books that make me laugh. If a writer can elicit a smile, a chuckle or even make me giggle or laugh aloud, I rate the book as a winner. Laughing makes me feel good. I like leaving a story with a smile on my face.

For those of us who write humor, I assure you, it is not an easy task. We rely solely on the power of our words. Visual cues, canned applause, and sound tracks are not available to us. We must craft the situations and reactions using just the right language and dialogue. Sometimes it works and other times (more often than not) the scene goes out the window.

As a writer of humor, I know I won’t always be able to make everyone laugh. After all, each of us has a different idea of what’s funny. There are even people I refer to as “humor-challenged.” So, I just have to go with what feels right.

How do I use humor in my writing? I look for the humor in everyday life. People would rather laugh than cry when faced with difficult life experiences such as death, disease or hardship. I often play off experiences I’ve had, nearly had, or have happened to a friend. Most importantly, I’m not afraid to laugh at myself. I find the best humor comes from within—an honest, hair-brained moment I can share with others through the eyes of my fictional characters.

About No Biz Like Show Biz

No_Biz_Like_Show_Biz

Lexi Carmichael: helping geeks everywhere get some.

Okay, so it’s not exactly as it seems, but that’s what is happening on the dating reality television show called “Geeks Get Some” that I, Lexi Carmichael geek extraordinaire, am called to work on. Not that I’m a fan of reality shows (I can barely deal with my own reality), yet I’ve been sent to Hollywood to find a hacker who’s screwing with the results of the show’s online voting system.

So what happens when I get there? Well, the producers convince me to continue my investigation from the inside. What should be an easy hunt for the hacker turns ugly when he sets his sights on me. Add to that a studio obsessed with ratings, a bunch of nerdy contestants, and my own confusing love life, and unraveling this mystery might make me a star—or get me killed.

Catch up with Lexi in No One Lives Twice, No One to Trust, No Money Down, No Place Like Rome!

What Readers Are Saying…

Loved it. Another thrilling story about the adventures of Lexi Carmichael. –Goodreads review, No Place Like Rome

No One To Trust is a great mystery combined with a little romance and a whole lot of smart chick empowerment, with a generous dollop of laugh-out-loud humor. –Goodreads review, No One to Trust

I SO enjoyed this book!!! Hilariously funny AND chock full of suspense! –Amazon review, No One Lives Twice

Keep up to date on all things Julie Moffett by visiting her on her website, as well as her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Genre Spotlight: Westerns and Cowboy Romance

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Are you looking for a journey in the wild west… and the opportunity to snag yourself a ruggedly handsome cowboy? Keep reading for three great cowboy recommendations as well as Ann DeFee’s top five reasons why Western romances are the best.

Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy! by Ann DeFee

What do you think of Big and Rich’s song lyrics?  If the number of book covers featuring shirtless cowboys with six-pack abs is any indication, I suspect if that question was asked of our readers we’d hear a resounding chorus of right on.  To better explain why I think cowboys are so appealing, I’m going to borrow  a few words from Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

 Let Me Count the Ways

1) They’re strong Alpha Males. How many people would jump off a galloping horse and wrestle a thousand-pound steer to the ground?  In rodeo terms that’s called Steer Wrestling or Bulldogging.

2) They’re tough, but tender. A cowboy’s day may start with the delivery of a foal, and then progress to twelve hours in the saddle doing all the chores necessary to keep a ranch running.

3) Cowboys embody  the pioneer spirit that’s the heart of America. I seriously doubt you’ll find a working cowboy in line to get the newest i-Phone.

4) Cowboys work hard and play even harder.  If you haven’t been to a rodeo, you should check it out.  Bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and steer roping are some of the more heart-stopping events, but my favorite is tie down roping, an venue that showcases the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse.

5)  I could go on and on, but I’ll finish by saying that cowboys have a traditional view of generosity and rugged fair play.  Their word is their bond,  and if you need it, they’ll give you the shirt off their back.  And that sends us on a return trip to the shirtless cowboy.

As a kid, I spent a considerable amount time at my uncle’s saddle shop in Paducah, Texas–the heart of ranch country.  Uncle Carl was renowned for his hand-tooled saddles, and a rite of passage for young cowboys was owning his first Carl Darr saddle.  The wonderful people I met have frequently found their way into my books.  They’re good folks who love family, God, and country.

And that in a nutshell, is why we all love a sexy cowboy.

New to Cowboy Romance? Why not start here…

 

A Hot Time in Texas by Ann DeFee

A-Hot-Time-in-TexasA sexy Texas Ranger and a classy, sassy heroine…

That’s all it takes for a hot time in Texas!

Etta Morrison had vowed never to get involved with another man in law enforcement, but she broke that vow when she fell for Texas Ranger Rafe Claiborne. Her reward? He left town without even a goodbye. But now Rafe’s back—and he wants to pick up where they left off.

Two years after Rafe skipped out on her, Etta’s over the moon with her new job as manager of the exclusive Sparkle Plenty costume jewelry store. In the world of synthetic diamonds, Sparkle Plenty is king—and this year, they’re providing the crowns for the San Antonio Fiesta Coronation. Except the crowns have gone missing. Next thing you know, people start dropping dead and a couple of jerks shoot up her store.

When Rafe hears that Etta may be a target, he decides she needs a bodyguard. Him. In addition to keeping Etta safe in the middle of murders and a diamond-smuggling conspiracy, Rafe has to convince her to forgive him. Not an easy task, but Rangers are tough and Rafe is tenacious.

Problems in Paradise by Kelsey Browning

Problems-in-ParadiseBook three of Texas Nights

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Texas Tangle Series by Leah Braemel

tangledpastTwo cowboys are better than one! The Texas Tangle Series is everything you love about Westerns with a menage twist. Tangled Past features Sarah McLeod, a woman on the frontier who wants to find love, and must come to terms with her new husband and his best friend who desires them both. Texas Tangle is all about Nikki Kimball’s and her admirers, Brett Anderson and Dillon Barnett’s lives–society says Nicki can only choose one, but are the three of them strong enough to choose an alternative?

Get both books together in the Texas Tangle Series bundle!

 

Want to explore more Westerns? Click here.

What Makes a Hot Time in Texas?—by Ann DeFee

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A sexy Texas Ranger and a classy, sassy heroine…  That’s all it takes for a hot time in Texas!

But let’s spice it up even more by adding a diamond smuggling ring intent on murder and mayhem, an eclectic cast of characters, and the let’s party atmosphere of Fiesta San Antonio.  Then add a zesty flavor with a Jalapeno-hot romance.

CARINA_9781426898679_0714_AHotTimeInTexasA Hot Time In Texas is a sequel to Beyond Texas–a story that features a bizarre cult and mystical lights.  In Beyond Texas our hero and heroine, Rafe Claiborne and Etta “Munchie” Morrison have a brief, but sizzling fling.  Unfortunately,  the big, bad lawman screwed up, and two years later the beautiful blonde has zero interest in jump starting their relationship.  Impossible odds?  Perhaps for the average dude, but our hero is a Texas Ranger.

What better place to have a A Hot Time In Texas than in San Antonio during Fiesta–a ten-day, city-wide party dedicated to food, fun and celebration.  It’s Mardi Gras with a Hispanic flair.  And to get you in the mood for this story, I thought I’d share some sights and sounds of Fiesta:  the mouth-watering smell of tacos and enchiladas wafting from restaurants on the River Walk; little girls dressed up with colorful flower wreaths in their hair; pre-teens carrying out a cascarone (confetti-filled eggs) attack; the Bacchanalia of a Night In Old San Antonio; and last, but certainly least, fields of blue and red wildflowers creating a palette worthy of an Impressionist painting.

Now that you’re in the party mood, let me introduce my characters.  In Beyond Texas, Etta and Rafe were madly in lust, or at least that was the case until he beat feet out of town without so much as a check ‘ya later.  Uh-oh, Rafe ended up in a mess of trouble.   BEYOND TEXAS

Several years later, Etta has landed her dream job as manager of the exclusive Sparkle Plenty costume jewelry store in San Antonio.  Serendipitously, Rafe is now a Texas Ranger, and you guessed it–he’s stationed in the Alamo City.

In the world of synthetic diamonds, Sparkle Plenty is the equivalent of Nordstrom’s, and this year the company has been chosen to provide the crowns for the San Antonio Fiesta Coronation.  Unfortunately, the jeweled coronets have gone missing from the plant in Mexico.  Why would  anyone steal fake diamonds?  Could it be that the jewels are real and worth a king’s fortune?  But why would the smugglers assume that Etta’s involved?

As the plot thickens, folks start dropping dead at her feet, and then some felonious characters shoot up her store.  Maybe that big promotion wasn’t such a great idea.

When Rafe hears rumors that Etta has been targeted, he decides to become her bodyguard.  Not only does he want to ensure her safety, it’s the perfect excuse to spend quality time with her.  He’s determined to gain her forgiveness–not an easy task–but Rafe is tenacious, and Texas Rangers are known for always getting their man, or woman in this case.

Another fun aspect of this book is that like me, Rafe and Etta are Texas “foodies.”  Personally, I’ve never met a taco, a homemade tamale, or a tostada that I didn’t adore–ditto for Margarita’s, barbecue, and believe it or not, German food.  Even though I now live in Virginia, I sometimes have a hankering for a San Antonio fix–be it a chicken fried steak at the River Walk, a chimichanga at Mi Tierra, or a Shiner’s Bock at a local watering hole. And no, I don’t weigh three-hundred pounds!

So, if you’re in the mood for a romantic, fast-paced book where bad guys/and gals get their due, and the hero and heroine find true love, A Hot Time In Texas is right up you alley. Please join Etta and Rafe to cheer on the good guys and boo the bad actors.  And you’ll also get to meet their delightful–if sometimes eccentric–family and friends.

To find out more about my books, pop by my website, or you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Check out this Fiesta San Antonio youtube video

A Dragon-Haunted World—by John Tristan

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Goats whose milk spins spider-silk. Mice that grow human ears. Plants that have been altered to glow in the dark. Even though all of it has happened—here, in our world—it still sounds like science fiction to most of us.

To me, it also sounds a little bit like magic.

It was that feeling, that ambiguity between the cutting edge of weird science and the stuff of fantasy, that got me thinking about the story that would become The Sheltered City. It’s a story that could very easily take place on some futuristic version of Earth: the domed city, the mutant outcasts, the post-apocalyptic landscape. But this landscape hasn’t been destroyed by nuclear warfare or pandemics, but by dragons who are a little of both. Except of course, they’re alive—and hungry.

So why dragons instead of nuclear bombs or meteor strikes? Well, dragons are awesome, of course, in both senses of the word, and I’m not going to pretend that didn’t have anything to do with it! What’s more awe-inspiring than some winged malignant thing casting its enormous shadow on the world? But they’re also a pretty neat symbol for forces that we don’t understand. Off the edge of the map is where There Be Dragons, after all.

Maybe that’s what makes things sound like magic: their strangeness, their quality of being off the map that we’re used to. Of course, our wonders can be explained in a way dragons can’t be. If I wanted to, I could go and look up everything there is to know about our world’s floating cities of steel (aircraft carriers) or the tiny familiars in our pockets that can access encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge (smartphones).

Amon, the main character of The Sheltered City, doesn’t quite have that option with the threats that he faces. There’s no such thing as a quick Wikipedia check for him; the world he lives in barely has any of its books left after the dragons came, let alone libraries. Although, of course, he does uncover some of the mysteries of his world. Like what keeps the Last City sheltered from the dragons, and what his own connection is to those massive, eldritch monsters.

Amon might live in a world full of magic…but then, in a sense, so do all of us. What do you find magical about the world you live in?

the sheltered cityCARINA_0714_9781426898662_ShelteredCity THE SHELTERED CITY

Amon Vraja, last of the halfdead, tries to stay out of sight. His kind, twisted by the gift that grants them superhuman strength, are loathed and shunned. Under the enchanted leaves of the Last City, ruled by imperious elves whose love of beauty leaves little room for his ugliness, he’s not much more than the ghost of a dragon-haunted past.

When the young, headstrong elf-lord Caedian takes an interest in Amon, however, Amon’s days in the shadows may be over. Caedian needs Amon to find Caedian’s missing twin, and a halfdead brothel guard can’t just refuse an elf’s desires. Throughout the search, Caedian and Amon rely on each other’s strength and generosity, and Amon is struck by an impossible yearning for his elvish patron.

As they peel away layers of deceit and spiral closer to one another, they also near the horrifying truth of the elves’ protection. And when they discover it, they’ll face a choice: step outside the shelter of the world’s last city, or die where they stand.

John Tristan is a fantasy writer with a soft spot for men in love. You can find him on twitter at @johntwitstan or at johntristan.com.

Writing Crime Fiction…as a Wimp—by Shirley Wells

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I have to come clean right from the start and admit that I’m a complete wimp.

When I was five, for example, I begged my father to take me on the giant Ferris wheel at the funfair. “You won’t like it, Shirley,” he said, but I begged and pleaded and, eventually, he gave in. He always did. So we climbed aboard and the wheel began turning very slowly, pausing every few feet to let more thrill-seekers take their places. It then began to turn more quickly – and that’s when I panicked and decided I had to get off the thing. Yes, I was so terrified that leaping to certain death was far more appealing. Fortunately, my dad kept a tight grip on me and I lived the tell the tale.

Did I learn my lesson? Apparently not. My husband and I went to Bulgaria on holiday and had the opportunity to spend 20 minutes on a chair lift. He reminded me that I hate heights, but hey, although the mountain was pretty steep, we were never going to be too far above the ground. So we climbed on the rickety chair lift and my heart leapt into my mouth as it clanked alarmingly. I still have nightmares about that.

When I’m in the house alone at night, the noises I hear are always made by axe-murderers.

As for the sight of blood … well, let’s just say I’ll be the one lying on the floor.

What I love most about writing is being able to transfer all my terrors onto my characters. For instance, in my latest mystery DEAD END, private investigator Dylan Scott is receiving death threats. Me? I’d totally freak out.

What about you? What gives you nightmares?

dead endCARINA_0714_9781426898655_DeadEndAbout DEAD END:

“Dylan Scott? It’s payback time. You’re going to die.”

Somebody is making threatening calls to private investigator Dylan Scott. This is one case with plenty of suspects—a lot of dangerous people would love to see Dylan with a bullet between the eyes. The twisted trail brings Dylan face-to-face with old foes and a few new ones—and they’re all keeping deadly secrets…

But as he chases leads across London, his adversary is hunting down victims and is drawing ever closer to his ultimate target: Dylan. Someone from Dylan’s past is on a killing spree, and if he doesn’t connect the dots in time, the dead end will be his.

 

Shirley was born in the Cotswolds and lived in places as diverse as Cyprus and the remote Orkney island of Hoy before settling in Lancashire where the Pennines provide the inspiration for many of her mysteries. When she isn’t writing or walking with her dogs, Shirley loves reading, photography, listening to music and drinking wine. She’s also a season ticket holder at Burnley Football Club. Find Shirley at www.shirleywells.com

Romantic Suspense – Give Us Your Drama!

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Publishing trends can be funny. What’s “dead” one year could very well be on a must-have list the next, and vice versa. Romantic Suspense is all the rage at the moment—it’s being asked for at conferences, highlighted on third-party retailers, and hailed as the next “big thing,” once again. That’s exciting to us, because the Carina editors have a special kind of love for heart-pounding stories of love mixed with danger, and Romantic Suspense has always been a genre we actively acquire.

We’ve seen incredible success with and reader investment in Marie Force’s New York Times bestselling FATAL series and others, and are eager to expand our already-robust offerings in 2015 and beyond.

Angela James, Editorial Director, has been asking for a great series featuring mercenaries. Anti-heroes and anti-heroines welcome. Strong female protagonists a must! She is looking for something both action-packed, with lots of things blowing up and getting shot (she’s bloodthirsty!), and also sexy. Heroes who are totally into their heroines will be adored. Heroines who can hold their own against alpha dudes and kick some ass will be moved up to the top of her reading queue.

Kerri Buckley, Editor, would like to see a romantic suspense series set in the wilds of Alaska. Think “Northern Exposure” with a strong suspense arc. She’s also looking for romantic suspense with Eastern European anti-heroes. Real Russian bad boys, please. And finally, suburban spies. Kerri would love to see a high-octane romantic suspense series centering on spies gone deep undercover in an American suburb.

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, is actively seeking a New Adult romantic suspense. Angsty, thrilling, with active characters and a real sense of danger. LGBTQ/PoC welcome—show her the diversity!

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would love to acquire a military romantic suspense series, featuring intense alpha heroes and men or women in uniform—SEALs, Rangers, SAS, marines, firefighters, pilots, smoke jumpers…

Melissa Johnson, Freelance Editor, would love to edit a romantic suspense standalone or series that has a new adult flare. She’s looking for well-crafted danger and intrigue, and high emotional drama between the main characters.

Mallory Braus, Freelance Editor, is looking for romantic suspense series that feature a ”Band of Brothers” feel. Especially stories that involve a group-a specialized FBI team, a crew of firemen, a police unit, etc. Where the job risks are high, and there’s a solid connection. Also, thanks to a sudden obsession with television shows “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD,” she’d love to read a series based around a fire rescue squad or an intelligence unit.

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to find a military romantic suspense series—m/m or m/f, historical or contemporary.

Have you been working on something that fits the bill for one of our editors? Submit your story HERE.