Congratulations 2014 RITA Award Finalists!

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Last week the Romance Writers of America announced the nominations for the 2014 RITA® Awards and we’re thrilled to see that two amazing books from Carina Press were nominated! Congratulations to our authors and all of the other nominees! Visit the RWA blog for the complete list.

 

Paranormal Romance
Witch Bound by Eleri Stone
Gina Bernal, editor

Book two of Twilight of the Gods

Raquel Lindgren knows what her future holds. An arranged marriage. A new home in Ragnarok, Iowa, with another clan of refugees from Asgard. She should be happy. But there’s a mental block preventing her from tapping in to her true abilities as a witch. And she’s more attracted to the best man than she is to the groom…

Fen can’t believe he’s falling for his best friend’s future wife. As a hound, a wolf shifter, his duty lies with the pack. He’s seen too many hounds destroyed by love, and he’s sworn never to take a mate, never to have children of his own. He can’t deny his desire for Raquel, but she deserves more than he can offer her.

Raquel’s been raised to trust in magic, her clan and her destiny. But when a vengeful demon threatens to break out of Asgard and destroy the clan, Raquel learns she must trust in love if she is to take the future into her own hands.

For more tales of modern-day Vikings, check out Demon Crossings.

 

CARINA_1213_9781426897603_MineUnderMistleToeRomance Novella
Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Angela James, editor

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did notinclude a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London–and all its difficult holiday memories–for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Starting Over

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I started Reaper’s Touch about three years ago. Some stories you have to work for every word but Reaper’s Touch was easy. Wild West meets bio-plague apocalypse. Cowboys vs. Zombies. The world was interesting, the characters came to me fully formed and whispering in my ear, and the story seemed to practically write itself. So why did it take so long to get here?

After I finished Reaper’s Touch, I jumped right into the second story. It’s a big world and I wanted to explore all of it. But as I started writing that second book, I became dissatisfied with the first. I hadn’t set everything up well enough to support a series. I’d made the story too small, the world too confined. I’d done a disservice to characters I’d come to love.

A new first scene came to me and it was much better than the one I had. From there, I kept going until I had a completely new story. It was a lot longer than the original and a whole heck of a lot better.

It’s funny because starting over is a theme in the book too. For Abby, being a Ranger is the only life she’s ever known and there’s no way out as far as she can see. But she wants better. And that’s the opportunity she’s presented with when she meets Jake. Better. Even though it’s a risk. Even though there are no guarantees that everything’s going to turn out okay. Even though she has to turn her back on the familiar and safe. She reaches for better too.

So, three years. I’m so incredibly excited that Reaper’s Touch is finally out! Have you ever felt like you were waiting for something forever?

***

nullAbby is a Ranger, part of an elite group who defend the border against Reapers—humans infected with a parasite that turns them into mindless cannibals. Rangers are immune to Reaper infection, and as one of the only female Rangers, Abby is expected to settle down and breed more Rangers—a fate she’s keen to avoid. When she’s ambushed on the plains, she’s ready to go out with guns blazing—until a mysterious, handsome cowboy rides to her rescue.

Jake has his own motives for helping Abby, beyond aiding a damsel in distress. He’s a Reaper, and while he’s learned to wrest control of his mind from the parasite, the effects won’t last without a permanent cure. And he needs Abby to get it.

Abby and Jake are natural enemies and unlikely partners. But when their search reveals a conspiracy between Reapers and the rich industrialists who own the mountain cities, they must work together to find the cure—or lose the border, and each other, forever.

***

nullA lifelong fan of fantasy, Eleri started reading romance as an adult and was instantly captivated by the strong female protagonists and character-driven storylines. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction and they all end with a happy-ever-after.

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The Art of Titling Books

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The original title for Witch Bound was Runed which I thought was a clever play on words because runes are so important to the story. Witch Bound is based on Norse mythology where runes are used not only for communication but also for spell-casting and divination. Raquel is a witch with enormous potential but she has trouble controlling her gift. She’s only able to cast small spells through the use of bind runes. The hero, Fen, is an artist who helps her to design a runic tattoo that allows her to better control her gift.

So…Runed.

I was overruled. In the end, I think it was a good call because titles are supposed to interest people enough to buy the book and Runed really only makes sense after you’ve already read the story.

At Carina Press, what they do when they don’t like the original title is send you a retitle worksheet. They ask for lists of key words and phrases, comparable titles within the same genre and suggested replacement titles. Here’s my keyword list:

1. Runes

2. Wards

3. Witch

4. Hound

5. Gate

6. Power

7. Portal

8. Wedding

9. Clan

10. Magic

11. Demons

12. Hunt

Witch: Enchant, Bewitch, Spell, Bespell, Charm, Becharm

Hound: Beast, Shifter, Hunt, Chase

We came up with Witch Bound which I love because it refers back to the central romantic conflict. Fen is a virgin because hounds are magically bound to the first woman they have sex with and he’s never wanted to give someone that much power over him until he meets Raquel. The problem is she’s engaged to marry his best friend through an arranged marriage that was signed before she was born. So, Witch Bound. It fits well, don’t you think?

Anyone care to test their book titling skills? What would you have come up with?

About the Book:

Raquel Lindgren knows what her future holds. An arranged marriage. A new home in Ragnarok, Iowa, with another clan of refugees from Asgard. She should be happy. But there’s a mental block preventing her from tapping in to her true abilities as a witch. And she’s more attracted to the best man than she is to the groom…

Fen can’t believe he’s falling for his best friend’s future wife. As a hound, a wolf shifter, his duty lies with the pack. He’s seen too many hounds destroyed by love, and he’s sworn never to take a mate, never to have children of his own. He can’t deny his desire for Raquel, but she deserves more than he can offer her.

Raquel’s been raised to trust in magic, her clan and her destiny. But when a vengeful demon threatens to break out of Asgard and destroy the clan, Raquel learns she must trust in love if she is to take the future into her own hands.

About the Author:

Eleri Stone was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Iowa, married her college sweetheart, and settled in the Midwest where she still lives with her husband and their three children. A lifelong fan of fantasy, she started reading romance as an adult and was instantly captivated by the strong female protagonists, character-driven storylines and guarantee of a happy-ever-after. Writing fantasy and paranormal romance, she is the author of the Lost City Shifters series (shapeshifter paranormal romance), the Twilight of the Gods series (paranormal romance based on Norse mythology) and the Spellcraft series (secondary-world fantasy romance).

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Meet the Lost City Shifters

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Rebellion is Book 3 in the Lost City Shifters series. For those who haven’t read the first two books and want to jump in with Rebellion, I put together a quick and dirty primer to catch you up:

  • The series revolves around the Yaguara, a tribe of jaguar shapeshifters living deep in the Amazon rain forest. For centuries they’ve inhabited an ancient city well outside the influence of human culture and, as a result, the society which has developed is traditional, isolated and based on the premise that strength is the highest virtue.
  • They’re ruled by a King who earned his place in a bloody tournament of succession. That would be Gabriel Alvarez—a half-human outcast who fought his way to the crown, going through the ruling family’s champion, Iada Silveira, and claiming her as his mate in the process.
  • They resent human intrusion into their territory and are distrustful of them to the extent that until Gabriel assumed the throne, taking a human mate was forbidden.
  • Secrecy is of the utmost importance in preserving their way of life. After an earthquake in Peru disturbs a buried temple threatening to expose an ancient tablet that would reveal the location of their home, jaguar shifter Adriano races human archaeologist Sophie Martin and a pack of revenge-minded wolves to get to it first.
  • There’s an ongoing conflict between those who want to deal head on with the reality of human encroachment and a more traditional group clinging with increasing desperation to the old ways.

That brings you right up to the events in Rebellion when Gabriel offers the North American wolf pack a treaty that will allow them to setup a research facility in Yaguara territory in exchange for wolf help in ending the civil war.

Here’s the description:

Cole Brandt is a wolf shifter, sent by his pack to the Amazon jungle to negotiate a treaty. He’s unaware that the kingdom of jaguar shifters he’s meant to meet with has split—and Cole’s suspicion that jaguars are selfish and deceitful is confirmed when he’s seized by the rebel faction.

Taya Silveira, a jaguar shifter and fierce warrior loyal to the king, resents being assigned Cole’s rescue. She doesn’t approve of his pack’s involvement in her jungle—to her, wolves are greedy, weak creatures who will exploit the resources the Yaguara protect.

Struggling against centuries of ill will and prejudice, Cole and Taya must work together to prevent a devastating civil war. They can’t deny their physical attraction—with the heightened senses of shifters, their desires are plain. But if they give in to passion, they may be forced to choose between staying with their tribes, or staying together.

You can find more information about the Lost City Shifters series here and read an excerpt from Rebellion here.

I usually run a $25 gift card giveaway with my new book releases but this time around, I’m going to make a donation to either the Rainforest Alliance or the International Wolf Center. Vote Jaguar or Wolf to help me decide where to send my money:)

About the Author:

Eleri Stone was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Iowa, married her college sweetheart, and settled in the Midwest where she still lives with her husband and their three children. A lifelong fan of fantasy, she started reading romance as an adult and was instantly captivated by the strong female protagonists, character-driven storylines and guarantee of a happy-ever-after. Writing fantasy and paranormal romance, she is the author of the Lost City Shifters series (shapeshifter paranormal romance), the Twilight of the Gods series (paranormal romance based on Norse mythology) and Threads of Desire (a secondary-world fantasy romance).

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Not out to rule the world

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I grew up reading fantasy and have always been particularly drawn to stories that involve magic. Give me a wizard, mage, or sorcerer and I’m pretty happy. Often these books are about conquest where the magic shown is used almost exclusively in warfare. As a writer, I’ve always wanted to explore magic in a fantasy world that was relatively stable.

That was the seed of inspiration for Threads of Desire. In Saria, the borders of the empire are well-established. The Sarians engage in healthy trade with their neighbors. Power within the empire is balanced between the wealthy aristos, the emperor who controls the standing army and the Guild mages.

The practice of dark magic, any aimed at hurting another person, was outlawed centuries ago. The magically gifted of Saria aren’t vying for world domination. They’re rounded up when they’re young and trained by the Guild in a craft—sculpture, painting, architecture, metalwork, glasswork. The power of the Guild comes not from their ability to inflict mass destruction, but from their ability to create unique and magnificent works of art.

The heroine in Threads of Desire is a master weaver who, because of a falling out with the first mage, wants nothing to do with the Guild. Outside of the Guild’s protection, she’s been living on the streets, trying to earn enough money to leave the capital city. When she captures the interest of an aristo at the Southton market and is presented with the opportunity to start a new life, she grabs onto it with both hands.

Here’s the blurb:
Guild-trained weaver Ily is furious her rival Kal, a smug yet wickedly sexy rug merchant, outsells her at every turn. She knows her magically crafted rugs are far superior to anything he can produce, but can’t compete with his charming personality.

When Kal fixes his lusty attentions on Ily, she is reluctantly aroused by his interest. She knows he desires her and against her better judgment, she wants him too. A chance encounter leads her to make him a scandalous offer: her body in exchange for enough money to leave the city. She sees their time together as a temporary erotic adventure…until Kal reveals that what he truly wants from Ily is more personal–and more dangerous–than bed play. And she must choose between taking her chance at a new life or risking it all for a man she never meant to love.

For more information about Threads of Desire or to purchase the book from Carina Press, please click here.

So, what do you think? Is there room in fantasy for magic that’s more domestic than epic? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Eleri Stone was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Iowa, married her college sweetheart, and settled in the Midwest where she still lives with her husband and their three children. A lifelong fan of fantasy, she started reading romance as an adult and was instantly captivated by the strong female protagonists, character-driven storylines and guarantee of a happy-ever-after. You can visit her on her website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

 

Take a Liking to a Viking

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I grew up in New Jersey and moved to Iowa to attend college which is where I met my husband (in a strange but beside-the-point story). And while we’re busy living out our own happily-ever-after here in Iowa, part of me still considers New Jersey my home. New Jersey and Iowa are very different but the one thing they do have in common is that they’re two of the most maligned states in the Union. One is synonymous in people’s minds with pollution, crime families and reality TV. The other with corn, tractors and caucuses. And really those are the kinder generalizations. Now, it might be that I’m just hyper-aware of these things, in the same way that when you’re pregnant it seems like every other woman you see is pregnant too, but these two states get picked on a lot. And I love them both.

I set my new book Demon Crossings in Iowa and I’ve been fielding a lot of “why Iowa” questions. Considering some of the misperceptions floating around about my adopted state, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain a little bit about the where and why of the setting. Demon Crossings is based on Norse mythology and I wanted to set the story somewhere in America with Scandinavian roots. We love to camp in the driftless area of Iowa (called that because it was not glacierized during the last glacial period). It’s a beautiful, hillier, more wooded corner of the state just west of the Mississippi. It was also settled by Norwegian immigrants who remain very proud of their heritage.

For the story, I wanted a small community bound by a shared heritage. I wanted someplace isolated enough to keep a secret. And I wanted a town that felt completely and utterly mundane even though its people were anything but normal. So…Iowa. Here are some pics to set the scene:

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(Thank you MP Mitchell for permission to use these beautiful photos.)

This is the setting for Demon Crossings. Here’s the blurb:

Private investigator Grace tracks a kidnapped child to middle-of-nowhere Iowa. Encountering a strange creature she knows can’t be a local animal, she doesn’t need her psychic abilities to figure out the sleepy town is not what it seems. When she meets the intriguing Aiden, she’s plunged into a world of Norse gods and fire demons where the Wild Hunt still rides the night.

Aiden needs Grace’s help to cross the portal between worlds and rescue his daughter. Grace is unlike any woman he’s ever met. He’s drawn to her courage, distressed by her vulnerability and doubtful of her motives. But he knows that her visions are the key to defeating the enemy and bringing everyone home alive.

Grace wants a future with Aiden, even if it means she’ll never have a normal life. When a test run to the portal takes a terrifying turn, they must learn to finally trust each other or Aiden’s daughter, and their chance at love, will be lost forever…

If you’re interested in learning more about the parts of Norse mythology I used in the story, I’m running a series of posts about that on my blog here.

Thanks for letting me introduce you to the world of Demon Crossings. Hope you come visit!

And if you’d like to visit me

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So, seriously, tell me what it is about IA and NJ that makes them such easy targets. I know this is not all in my head.

Is it possible to have too much action?

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PhotobucketI was a teenager during the 1980’s and have fond memories of the action adventure movies produced during that much maligned decade. The last Star Wars movies were released in the 80’s, along with Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Temple of Doom and the Last Crusade, Romancing the Stone, ET, Goonies, and Die Hard. Filmmakers back then seemed to have a knack for combining high stakes peril with engaging characters you wanted to root for when the chips were down and the cards were stacked against them.

That particular brand of action movie is scarce nowadays (although 2009’s Star Trek was awfully reminiscent and I loved the heck out of it for exactly that reason). In today’s films, you can still find larger than life heroes, outlandish plots and loads of action but a lot of times they come across as just a series of action clips strung together (Cowboys and Aliens, I’m looking at you).

So what’s missing?

I think it’s the spirit of adventure. And by that I mean the kind of adventure where triumph isn’t necessarily finding the lost treasure but it’s finding the courage to take that next step into danger when it’s the right—or even the only—thing to do. I’m talking about the thrill of exploration and the wonder of discovery. Romance.

I tried to capture some of that spirit in Adriano and Sophie’s story, Redemption. Adriano is a jaguar shapeshifter, a mercenary who was sent into exile five years ago by his people the Yaguara after being setup as a scapegoat to end a political conflict. He wants to go home and is on the brink of recovering a priceless artifact from a damaged archaeological site in Peru, knowing that the Yaguara can’t afford to let it fall into human hands and confident that he’ll be able to exchange it for a pardon.

Sophie is an inquisitive and hard-working archaeologist who keeps getting in his way. Adriano’s plan to seduce her as a distraction backfires and what follows is a fast-paced adventure through a labyrinthine tunnel system hidden beneath the ruins.

The site in Redemption was modeled after a real archaeological site in Peru called Chavín de Huántar which captured my imagination when I first heard of it—dark tunnels, a forgotten culture, an ancient temple constructed by a priesthood who actually believed that they could transform into jaguars (while under the influence of psychotropic drugs). It’s been called a real life temple of doom and I have to admit that my love of Indiana Jones definitely influenced my decision to set the story there and flavors its telling.

So, there is a lot of action but the real story belongs to Sophie and Adriano. It’s about whether these two people from very different cultures can find common ground in what they love and whether they’ll find the courage to leave the past behind and let their attraction develop into something more.

If you’re on the fence about diving in, you can find an excerpt here.

Also, I’m giving away a free copy of Redemption to one of the commenters today. Just drop a comment letting me know what your favorite 80’s movie is…or if you hate them all and always secretly hoped that Indy would choke on his fedora. Make sure to leave an email address where I can reach you if you win. I’ll leave the contest open for 24 hours.

Note: Redemption is the second book in the Lost City Shifters series after Mercy but it can be read as a standalone story.

Where you can find me:

Website: http://eleristone.com/

Twitter: @EleriStone

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EleriStone