"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

VBTC Review - Pandora's Box by Katie Salidas

After a few months as a vampire, Alyssa thought she’d learned all she needed to know about the supernatural world. But her confidence is shattered by the delivery of a mysterious package – a Pandora’s Box.

Seemingly innocuous, the box is in reality an ancient prison, generated by a magic more powerful than anyone in her clan has ever known. But what manner of evil could need such force to contain it?
When the box is opened, the sinister creature within is released, and only supernatural blood will satiate its thirst. The clan soon learns how it feels when the hunter becomes the hunted.

Powerless against the ancient evil, the clan flees Las Vegas for Boston, with only a slim hope for salvation. Could Lysander’s old journals hold the key? And what if they don’t?

And how welcome will they be in a city run by a whole different kind of supernatural being?

My Review:

This was a great installment to the Immortalis Series. I loved the introduction to a new supernatural species - Werewolves. Salidas did a great job of not over-doing it with this phenomenal breed. Though we still see their strength, they do not overpower the actual plot of this series.

Fallon, Alyssa's best friend from human life, remains a strong character in this book. She maintains her humanity while becoming a first time, mortal member of this clan. I love the interaction between Fallon and Nicholas, the snarkiness kept things humorous and bright. Alyssa still has an inborn need to protect Fallon, but I think Fallon has grown quite a bit and can definitely defend herself.

The entire plot of this title was wonderful. With new elements, and even a few deaths, Salidas has vividly brought us into her world. As we are reminded that curiosity is still a human fault, Fallon and Alyssa open a Pandora's Box that was delivered to Lysander. This brings a whole new form of trouble to this clan. When trying to fight this unknown, they are taken to Boston where we meet a few new vamps and a werewolf pack. We are taken into the wolf way of life, learning that there are more connections between supernatural beings than was ever thought.

While learning the truth of the past, old vamps revisit and sacrifices are made. The ending of this had me reeling, and yes, Miss Katie, A Cliffhanger? Really? LOL. Way to keep your readers yearning for more. I loved it, and the ending is not what you will expect and a complete twist that I've not come across in any other reads in this genre. Overall, I enjoyed this read very much. The tension of the plot was excellent, I just thought  the action that led to it moved just a tad too fast, and I wished it had been drawn out just a smidgen more. I can't wait for book four in this series!


You can find all of the Immortalis Series on Amazon.com or at Written In Blood

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

VBT Pit Stop At the Round Table & Giveaway with M.D. Cliatt - The Public Pretender

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond Monica. We're so happy to have you with us today. Monica is on tour with the Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and you can view her schedule HERE. I also had the pleasure of interviewing her live at BK Media Entertainment, and you can listen in HERE.

I'm a wife and a mother who loves to tell stories. I live in Central Pennsylvania where I'm a staff attorney in a law school clinical program, and I'm an adjunct law professor who teaches juvenile justice and legal writing. I used to be a public defender specializing in representing children, and for the most part, loved the work. I thrived on the heat of courtroom battle, but the highs are very high and the lows are very low and I burned out. Now, I spend time grading papers, supervising law students as they represent indigent clients in court and reading with my sister in our long distance book club.

Now that we're all settled in my lair, let's get started shall we?

BK:  Please tell us a little bit about your current release...
The story is about a fiery criminal defense attorney, Maeven Dayne, who specializes in representing juvenile defendants. When it comes to her job, she’s driven and passionate. When it comes to her family, she’s devoted, but her job is demanding and distracting. She pleases her husband when she decides to quit her job to spend more time with the family. But, on Maeven’s last day at work in the courtroom, a juvenile probation officer she despises drags a weeping young girl before an irritated judge for an unscheduled hearing while Maeven is packing up her things to leave. She is walking out of the courtroom, fighting her urge to turn around when she hears the probation officer had the girl incarcerated for weeks without notifying her parents or arranging for representation. Maeven can’t resist the girl’s pitiful pleas for help and intervenes.

BK:  What inspired this particular novel/book?
Because I was mad about the way the juvenile justice system works and how little families knew about it, I started writing a guide. A creative spring erupted in my mind while I was writing, and I couldn’t force myself to stay within the rigid lines of legal exposition. It seemed fitting because I spent more time using stories and analogies to explain to kids and their families what was happening to them in court. And, admittedly, I enjoyed the fictional narrative more.  

BK:  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I developed a voracious appetite for reading as a child. I marveled at the way an author could magically transport me to another world by using my imagination and without the use of pictures, videos or soundtracks. So, I started buying journals to write stories, but I never finished any of them.
BK:  How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
I just write about what I like and the types of characters and subjects I don’t see.

BK:  What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
Emotional upheaval.  Sometimes, I trudged through some dark memories to create content for characters. And then, I just had to fight off procrastination.

BK:  What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
Besides the main character, I enjoyed writing about three other characters: Crow, Nathan and Jason.  Since you asked for one, I’ll pick Nathan, the main character’s husband. His love, protection, patience and genuine concern for his family and others are at the core of his character. When his love for and trust in his wife is pushed to its limits, his reaction to the challenge is pivotal to the plot. I just love the way he loves. I’m sorry, but I just have to add that I enjoyed her youngest son’s snarky humor and laughed out loud, cried over her oldest son’s scenes and found myself fascinated by Crow, her shady, but loveable former client. 
BK:  Which was your favorite scene to write?
I love the courtroom scene where Maeven first hears about this young girl’s predicament. It’s her last day of work, she has just finished her last case and she keeps telling herself to keep moving. The probation officer she detests is waiting and watching to make sure she’s leaving before he addresses the judge to explain the young girl’s case. Maeven’s conscience is tugging at her and the sheriff is looking at her with an expression on his face that begs her to stay. She succumbs to her conscience, turns around and then intervenes. The judge and the probation officer are livid by the time she’s done.   

BK:  Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series?
Yes, I’ve developed the plot for the second book. The characters are still alive in my head and there are characters and relationships I’d like to explore. It helps that one of my students told me that she liked to see more of Maeven’s adventures, so I don’t feel totally stupid about doing it.  

BK:  Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?
I wake up around four in the morning when I’m the only one, besides the dog, stirring around my house. I turn on some instrumental music so lyrics don’t distract me, get a cup of tea or hot water with lemon, a pillow, a blanket and park myself on the couch in front of my bow window. Hopefully, I find my writing vibe and voice and get lost in my imagination with a particularly intriguing character and/or plot. I write for a couple of hours and then head off to work where I teach and supervise law students.

BK:  What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I like sneaking off to the movies with my husband during the middle of the day and reading with my book buddy, my sister.

BK:  What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you? 
I ran away from home when I was seventeen, moved in with my school bus driver and then married my high school sweetheart a few months later. Twenty one years and two teenagers later, we’re still like newlyweds.  

BK:  What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
Right now, my book buddy and I are reading Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance. We read a lot of fiction in different genres. I love to read Jane Austen and J. K. Rowling.

BK:  Please tell us one piece of advice you were given as an author that you carry with you when you write? 
Write what you know and break some rules.
BK: I love that!

BK:  What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
Here’s the one piece of advice I haven’t mastered, but I’m trying: write every day.

BK:  What are you currently working on?
I have three projects swirling around in my brain right now. I’m working with my sons on a fantasy novel about a pregnant queen, I’m flirting with an idea for a romance novel, and as I said earlier, I plan to write a sequel to The Public Pretender. 

BK:  Where can readers connect with you? 

Maeven discovers people are profiting from imprisoning innocent kids. A whistleblower ends up dead, but he left clues. When her oldest son is beaten, arrested and detained on false charges, her husband receives a message proposing an offer: Maeven must quit the girl’s case, or they lose their son. The problem? Can she sacrifice one for the other?  

        Down a dark and an empty hallway lined with closed, gray metal doors, loud angry voices bounced off the walls. The sickening sounds of fists pummeling flesh and furniture crashing to the floor took her by surprise. She quickened her pace to get to the office to see what was happening, her heels clicking on the linoleum. She didn't want them to hear her so she walked on the tips of her toes.
        From the doorway of an office with dim light, she could see the silhouette of a person standing in front of a desk. The silhouette picked up a heavy object and bashed someone else behind the desk over and over again. She gasped in horror. Frightened, she slipped into the janitorial closet next to the office and hid. She didn’t close the door all the way so that she could see. Someone screamed and then she heard a groan. From the closet she watched the attacker run out of the office and down the hallway to a pitch black stairwell.
        She trembled behind the closet door. She saw an eerie green glow coming from the office where the attack happened, and she could hear a muffled voice. Her muscles tensed and beads of sweat appeared on her forehead. Silence enveloped her. Her fear paralyzed her, but she forced herself to move fast to get out of the closet and into the office. The sweat began to creep down her face and sting her eyes. She was wasting too much time. She eased out of the closet and looked both ways. No one in sight.
        The office door was ajar; she slipped inside. Finding the room in disarray, she took two apprehensive steps forward. She stumbled over black loafer clad feet. A body wearing faded blue jeans lay on the floor behind the mahogany desk bleeding from the head. The janitors would find dark red pools tomorrow morning. She took two steps forward. Her feet straddled both sides of his legs as she crouched over the body. From the glow of the screen saver on the computer, she could tell the hair was caked with blood.
        She waddled near his head and then reached down with her hand to touch his neck as if she were checking a child for a fever. No pulse.  She could feel her stomach churn with nausea as she stared at the blood on her fingers.  She stood up and then stared down at him.
        She reminded herself about why she came, and she used her clean hand to rummage through papers with a sense of urgency, files and books on his desk. She had to find those papers. She looked in the metal file cabinet behind his desk. The soft hum of a clarinet and a sultry male voice crooning from the radio on the corner of the desk startled her.  She switched it off. She opened the first cabinet drawer and found a box of tea bags. She opened the second drawer and found a battered manila file.  She grabbed it, and the papers inside the file crackled in the silence. She opened the file, unfolded the first page, held it up near the computer screen glow and skimmed it. Yes, these were the papers she needed, and she shoved the file under her arm.
        She looked down at the body and noticed his eyelids were open. She crouched down and bent over him, putting her ear close to his mouth. She could hear shallow breathing coming through his lips. Horrified, she stood upright and looked for his phone. Shaking, she lifted the receiver off the desk phone.  She heard a dial tone, and then used her index finger to push the numbers 9-1-1.
        A male operator's flat business voice asked, "911, what's the problem?"
        She didn't answer. She laid the receiver on its side on top of the scattered papers and then ran out of the room.  As she ran, she stumbled but caught herself by grabbing the doorknob. She turned to take the route down the hallway opposite the attacker's path. She headed for the other darkened stairwell, skidded to a stop at the top of the stairs and then took off her shoes. She let her hand slide down the metal handrail as she flew down the metal steps until she reached the bottom. 
         She ran for the side door, and the red and white "EXIT" sign above the door beckoned to her. She burst through the door and raced toward alley, escaping into the cool evening air.  As she ran, the bells from the cathedral next door chimed several times. 
        She turned at the sound of a car driving toward her. A black sports utility vehicle sped around the corner of the building and down the alley. She ran away from the light of the street lamps to cower in the dark behind the bushes alongside the wall.  
        The black vehicle pulled up to the corner of the alley and parked.  The attacker got out with a gas can, walked to the sidewalk, and up to the building. She ran down the alley in the opposite direction from the attacker toward her parked car behind the courthouse. Once inside, she jammed her key into the ignition and started the engine.  She threw the file and her shoes on the seat and pressed the gas pedal.  
        She passed a speeding police car with flashing lights.  Through her rearview mirror, she saw it come to an abrupt stop in front of the building she just escaped.   Two officers jumped out of the car just as glass shattered overhead and flames exploded through the windows.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

GFP Tour Stop with Tori St. Claire - Stripped

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond. May I offer you a beverage? 

Yes, I think I’ll try some of that mystic brew. It sounds fascinating. Don’t suppose I could get you to tell me what’s in it, hm?

LOL Sorry. The witch's secret is safe with me :)

Now that we're all settled in my lair, I'm de-bite-fully glad you stopped in.

BK: Please tell us a little bit about your current release...

STRIPPED is an erotic romantic suspense, that is darker and edgier than many of its genre counterparts. There’s a true element of, “should I root for this heroine or not?” in the story. My heroine is part of an elite group of CIA agents, who are, in a nutshell, hired killers. There’s really no way to glorify that. There job is their job is their job. What they do is in the interest of national security. But they are morally ambiguous characters who are, at the core of everything… human. They possess heart. A lot of it. And amidst a world of danger, deceit, and constant suspicion, they won’t hesitate to embrace pleasure at every fleeting opportunity.

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to. As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.

BK: What inspired this particular novel/book?

(Chuckling) Raw imagination in all honesty. The Ke$ha song, Take it Off, gave me a visual that triggered the core idea. But that particular scene never became a part of the story and never really influenced the plot. The rest of it was a combination of things. I have a fascination with everything Russian, so that explains the Russian influences. From that point forward, the plot demanded the rest of the intricacies: Where can I set elite crimes? Vegas. What country would be most likely to appreciate kidnapped American women? Dubai. Why would Brandon resist Natalya? Because she represents everything he’s spent his life hating.

Most of my books are a product of what my imagination has done with something I’m fascinated with. I can think of only one I’ve written that was inspired by something real or tangible. And like STRIPPED, most of the ideas start with a flash of a scene, a sound-byte of a phrase, etc, that leads to something significantly different than what I saw/heard. But the initial thought triggers, and I play with it until a storyline develops.

BK: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I didn’t ever realize I wanted to be a writer. I always wrote. One day, after a dare, I was an author. Laugh! Seriously… the earliest I remember writing was around 6-7 when I wrote a poem for my deceased grandmother. As a pre-teen my friends and I used to pass a notebook around writing off each others writings about rockstars. (I had a band! And one day I shall reincarnate Vette, the drop-dead sexy bassist who secretly wore gold, wire-rimmed glasses.)

I wrote my first “true” romance novel at 17, in my English class, while the class was watching Watership Down for two weeks. I recently read it, and while it’s nowhere near publication-worthy, it’s not half-bad.
I wrote on and off; worked for a fantasy gaming company and developed story-arcs; finished a couple Native American and Medieval romances; started a bunch of stories that slipped away when I had my children.

In 2008 I sat down to write after not doing so for a few years. I wrote a scene, which I then made fit a previous plot idea. I think that’s when I decided I wanted to be published. I wrote two others and was dared to try erotica. The product wasn’t erotic, but it was my first published book.

BK: How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

I can honestly say that mine is quite a bit darker than the ones I have read. In particular, my characters, if not the overall plot. You won’t meet an Opal who has a nice background, or is likely someone you’d want your children to grow up and become. Also, I. Love. To. Plot. You should see the spreadsheets I have for any particular book, let alone series. I love to plot, and subplot, and sub-sub-plot ;) I also deeply adore red herrings.

All of which you’ll find in my Black Opal books.

BK: What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

Mm. I spent days figuring out the end, and how Natalya was going to… pull of what she did… I knew I wanted one particular thing to occur, that is on the “news” in the story – for those of you who’ve read the book – but how that whole thing was going to happen eluded me. It finally came together when I stopped thinking and was staring blankly at the television watching, I think, America’s Got Talent results.

BK: What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?

Hands down Natalya. I really, really like her internal struggle.

BK: Which was your favorite scene to write?

Oh wow. That’s a toss up between the office scene where Natalya has her mind on achieving what she wants, and Sergei’s scene in the bedroom. I can’t give details :P

BK: Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series?

It’s absolutely a series. The second book releases in 2012. And it’s always intended to be a series in one fashion or the other. I don’t plan any book without a way to create a second or third. In this case, the Black Opals came into being during my first edit pass, on the fly. But a follow up to STRIPPED was always in the works.

BK: Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?

Laugh! There’s nothing eventful in my daily life. I get my eldest demi-demon off to school, I put in a couple hours work doing web maintenance, I pick up my child, we feed our menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, pigeon, and mouse (saved from the mouse-addicted cat), we eat, they play, they get in trouble. When they are done trying to destroy my house in every way possible and become sweet little angels because they are sleepy, they go to bed and I get my time to write until the wee hours of morning. Then we get up and do it all over again.

BK: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Really, I’m so busy with the children and the animals, that writing is my hobby time as well as my career time. We do have game night on Friday nights. Right now the demi-demons are into dominos. We watch movies. We read. I like to socialize with my writerly-friends when I can. Right now though, it’s a pretty quaint, pretty home-body life, and I thrive on the time to myself when I can tick off plots.

BK: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Hm. That’s a hard question. I’m pretty modest actually. And I’m fairly shy when I first meet people.

BK: What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

Obviously I read a lot of romance. I won’t name favorites because there’s just too many and I know many of them. I’d hate to pick a name out of a hat and inadvertently offend. So aside from romance I’m a big action and speculative fiction reader. Steve Berry is my all-time favorite author, hands down.

BK: Please tell us one piece of advice you were given as an author that you carry with you when you write?

There is no one piece of advice I carry with me when I write. I have been very blessed to learn from some really wonderful authors who have all imparted what’s become a collective of information that contributes to everything I do. I can’t name anything specific.

BK: What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?

Move beyond the rejections, and put faith in the phrase, “This is just one opinion.” Truly, I never realized just how speculative writing is until I had an offer from my agent. As courtesy to those other agents who had my book in consideration, I notified them I had an offer. Every one of them declined my manuscript – not that I was still shopping -- and not one had remotely the same reason. The book sold a week and a half after partnering with my agent. So don’t get bogged down with the idea that a rejection is a rejection of your talent/work. It is just a decline to work on that specific project.

Further, if you really think about it, it isn’t an every day occurrence that a book goes to auction, or bidding wars begin on shopped manuscripts. Which loosely translates to the fact that the vast majority of books are shopped to multiple publishing houses, but only one editor ends up loving it enough to take it on. Many of those books go on to become best sellers or at least popular sellers. Really, it is all about subjectivity. Believe that.

BK: What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m promoting two books! Laugh. Ah, aside from that I’m in edits for the second Black Opal book, and the second book as Claire Ashgrove, Immortal Surrender. I’ll begin work on a new project, and finish out my Inherited Damnation series the first part of this year as well.

BK: Where can readers connect with you?

(Both websites have links to individual blogs)
TWITTER: @ClaireAshgrove

About Tori St. Claire:

Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.


“No.” Sitting forward, Brandon folded his hands on the stack of papers atop his desk. “You worked with Kate. That was when? Ten years ago? Have you danced since then?”
“Fifteen, and no. But I’m quite capable.” Only because Dmitri made her dance for him. She supposed she could consider that a benefit. If he hadn’t insisted on private pole dances, her body would have forgotten how.
The reproachful arch of a dark eyebrow hinted at doubt. “What makes you certain you can compete with the girls who’ve been doing this for years?” His gaze dropped to her breasts, then slid slowly back up to lock with hers. “Beyond the obvious.”
Natalya’s body flushed with heat. She crossed the opposite leg over her opposite knee, unsettled by the blatant appreciation in those tawny eyes. How many times had Dmitri looked at her with the same suggestion in his gaze?
How long had it been since she’d liked being stripped bare with a mere glance?
The sudden tingling of her skin disturbed her. Moretti could very well be one of Dmitri’s faithful—he had more than one cop on the take. While Dmitri understood her job required a bit of . . . feminine finesse . . . he’d only grant her so much leeway. If she gave him a reason to suspect her allegiance, he’d slice her throat before she could see the knife glint. And the way her body was warming beneath Brandon’s heated stare spelled trouble.
Determined to ignore his blatantly sexual gaze, she focused on the small white scar across Moretti’s chin and dredged up every reason she could think of to convince him into giving her the job. “I danced well. Was the crowd favorite for a while. I held the job all through college, and two years in, the girls were coming to me for dance suggestions, costuming, on-the-spot fixes for breakdowns. Advice on how to handle the more exuberant customers.” She took a breath and began counting items off her fingers. “I hired. I fired. I kept the drugs out of the dressing rooms. I trained the girls on the pole—Kate said you needed someone strong with the pole. My core body strength—”
“You’re hired.”
Natalya snapped her mouth shut. Slowly, she blinked. “What?”
“You’re hired.” Moretti stood, stretching out his muscular thighs that even his loose denim jeans couldn’t disguise. He shoved his left hand into his hip pocket. Against her will, Natalya’s gaze dropped to his crotch. Her breath caught at the tightening of his fly, the hard ridge that evidenced arousal.
When she yanked her gaze back to Brandon’s, his eyes flashed dark gold, telling her he knew exactly where she’d been looking. His voice, however, belied his awareness. “We open in three hours. I’ll need you here early to help get the girls settled in.”
“The girls?”
He fished a set of keys out of the top right desk drawer and held his fist over her hand. “These are to the dressing rooms. I have a copy, you have a copy. No one else. Kate’s our star. She goes on at ten, and every two hours after. Jill follows. Beyond that, you’ll have to talk to the girls.”
Natalya moved her hand beneath his, palm up, waiting for the keys. “And me?”
“I need a housemom more than I need a dancer.” His fingers brushed the base of her wrist.
Ignoring the chill that raced to her shoulder, she blinked again. “A housemom?” He had to be kidding! She needed to be onstage. Scoping out the crowd. Looking for Discovery, as he was bound to be looking for potential targets.
Brandon lifted his hand a fraction. “A housemom.”
Or the job wasn’t hers. The hard line of his chiseled jaw voiced what he didn’t say.
Hell, not if she had anything to say about it. She was here to crack a case, and she couldn’t do that locked away in the back of the house.

Thank you for taking time to chat with me today Tori. Love the sound of the book, is now on my TBR. Can't wait to read it. You can view Tori's tour schedule HERE. You can also enter for a chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by following and commenting along the tour, and at the end one lucky winner will be randomly drawn from her entire tour. 

Goddess Fish Partner

Friday, January 6, 2012

GFP Tour Pit Stop with Bryan Young - Blood Veins

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond Bryan! I'm so glad you are here to chat about your book, Blood Veins. Now that we're all settled in, let's get started shall we?

BK:  Please tell us a little bit about your current release...
Blood Veins is a science fiction novel about a young prince, Alexander Novelle, who loses his older brother and his father when his kingdom is invaded. The invaders come from the mountain which is supposed to mark the end of the world and be where only God resides. The story is about his journey to the mountain and his quest to find out who these invaders are, where they came from and what really happened to his family. Along the way he and his companions will face mysterious assassins, underworld savages and renegade Dolus survivors. What they find at their destination will shatter their perceptions and lead to unknown perils none of them are ready to face.  

BK:  What inspired this particular novel/book?
There was a rescue scene I kept imagining in my head over and over again. I would even dream about it. Finally one day I decided I had to write it down. It is actually the first chapter of Blood Veins.

BK:  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I finally made the commitment to be a writer after I wrote down the above scene. I had always loved to read and I would take notes and jot down ideas. The idea of writing a story seemed daunting, but after I finished that first scene I just kept going. I really got into the story and looked forward to writing as much as I looked forward to reading a good book. There were times I just didn’t want to stop working on it.

BK:  How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
That is honestly something I haven’t worried about before. When I started writing Blood Veins I was writing it for me and didn’t really have an audience in mind. It wasn’t until after I few friends and family members read it and told me they liked it that I decided to try and publish it. I try my best to make the characters feel real and to give them their own unique voices. If the characters are genuine I think they will stand out on their own. One thing I do is try to make sure I’m not reading a similar style of book while I’m writing. I find that reading different stories than what I usually read can help give me a fresh perspective and sort of shake things up in my head.

BK:  What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
The hardest thing was making sure everything was at a consistently high level of writing. There were times when I felt like I was really flying a long but when I would go back and read what I wrote, I realized that I had let myself slip and some of the writing just wasn’t very good. It’s a long process writing a novel and keeping the same high standard through the whole thing can be difficult.

BK:  What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
I think my favorite character to write for was Percival. Percival is one of Prince Alexander’s closet friends and leader of an elite group of soldiers called Forest Company. I really enjoyed writing him because he is a mess mentally. During the story his faith is shaken as there are certain falsehoods about the Laristan church that come to light during the invasion. He also thinks of himself as a ladies’ man and a smooth talker, but he falls for the lead female character Briah and completely falls apart over her as well. She is a member of a sisterhood that is religiously opposed to the Laristan Church and Percival struggles with that too.

BK:  Which was your favorite scene to write?
This is actually a really tough question as there are obviously a few scenes that I really like. I think my favorite scene is one between Briah and Percival. It’s fairly short but basically Percival and Briah are having a conversation where Percival is only half paying attention because he is mooning over her. He says something about how beautiful she is but he doesn’t mean to. Briah is flattered but when she tells him so, he is so embarrassed he just stares at her unable to speak. The best part is his friends see the whole thing and make fun of him afterwards. I think it is pretty funny.

BK:  Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series?
I do plan on it being a three book series, but didn’t originally. What inspired it is that the story actually just got away from me. The story grew as I was writing and at a certain point I realized I just had too much to write and too many characters to develop for one novel.

BK:  Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?
A day in my life starts out with me waking up to my wonderful daughter saying something like, “Snack! Snack!” from the other room letting me know she is ready for breakfast. My baby girl is two and we usually spend the morning together before I have to drop her off at day care on my way to work as a banker for Sterling Savings Bank. The only time I truly have to myself is on my lunch break, so that is usually when I get the majority of my writing in. Then after a long day with customers that are always pleasant my wife and I will have dinner, hang out with our daughter for a bit and then off to bed. Nothing too exciting.

BK:  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My wife and I like to take our daughter on walks, there is a park close to our house and she loves to play on the slide. I like to golf with my buddies and in the fall my dad and I have season tickets to the Oregon Duck football games. I was a bigger swimmer when I was a kid and I can’t wait for the summer so I can take my daughter to the pool and teach her how to swim.

BK:  What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Well after they read this novel and see how good it is they won’t believe it’s my first one!

BK:  What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I like to read science fiction, historical fiction and history. I am a huge Star Wars fan and must have about a hundred Star Wars Novels. I also really like S.M. Stirling and his Dies the Fire series. I enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss’ first two entries in the Kingkiller Chronicles and am currently working my way through A Game of Thrones. As far as history is concerned there is a book called Six Frigates, about the founding of the US Navy, and a book called the Road to Armageddon, a fascinating book about the Crusades.

BK:  Please tell us one piece of advice you were given as an author that you carry with you when you write?
Write EVERYTHING down. There is nothing worse than having a great idea as your making dinner or walking to work only to forget it when you are finally in front of your computer or whatever else you use to write. I always carry a notepad and pen on me so I don’t forget anything.

BK:  What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
A common complaint I have heard is that the dialogue doesn’t sound realistic. I make sure to listen and observe people around me. Real people are the best way to get a feel for how people really talk and it can also provide you with a lot of different perspectives and points of view. It can be hard to make characters sound unique, but it’s made easier if you can channel someone you have met in real life.

BK:  What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a sequel to Blood Veins. Its working title is Sand and Blood. It’s in its early stages and I wouldn’t want to spoil Blood Veins for anyone so there isn’t much to say.

BK:  Where can readers connect with you?
I like to keep things simple when concerning social media so I only have a facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Brian-Young/209003422499368

BIO:Brian was born in Salem Oregon and currently resides in Eugene Oregon with his wife and daughter. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in English. He squeezes in time for writing in the early hours of the morning and during lunch breaks at work.

A black wave has passed over the thriving kingdom of Larista. Mysterious invaders calling themselves the Dolus have swept over the land laying waste to everything in their paths and leaving ghost towns in their wake. No one knows where they came from and no one knows what their purpose is. Tasting nothing but defeat after defeat the light of hope is fading in the kingdom; but the guerrilla forces resisting the Dolus invasion have received new information. This news has provided a small glimmer that could possibly spark into something more. Captain Maximus Rex leads a daring rescue mission deep in the Laristan forests to save the lone surviving member of the royal family.

Once freed Prince Alexander Novelle along with his friends and comrades face a perilous journey deep behind enemy lines. Their destination is Castle Varanasi. The once proud Laristan capital, gateway to heaven and salvation, lies in ruins under Dolus occupation. Mysterious assassins, underworld savages and renegade Dolus survivors stand between them the answers they seek. What they find there will shatter their perceptions and lead to unknown perils none of them are ready to face.

Bryan is offering one lucky commenter a chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card, randomly drawn at the end of his tour. You can follow Bryan's tour HERE for more chances to win.

Thank you Bryan for taking time to chat with me today. I wish you much success in the future :).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

GFP Tour Stop with Amanda Arista - Claws and Effect

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond.

May I offer you a beverage? A lascivious latte if you will.

Now that we're all settled into my lair, I'm de-bite-fully glad you stopped in.

BK:  Please tell us a little bit about your current release...
Claws and Effect picks up three months after the happenings of Diaries of an Urban Panther. After four assassination attempts, Violet is getting tired of everyone trying to make her something she’s not. The lieutenants of the Pride want her dead. Chaz wants a traditional girlfriend. A pack of lost mongrels want a leader. And a new panther comes prowling into town new to the shift needs a teacher. Matters are only complicated by her dreams of violent power and prophesy from her psychic connection to Spencer, her sire, still trapped in the Neveranth but getting stronger with each passing month. In true Violet fashion, there are ups but mostly downs with some heartfelt moments and humor.

BK:  What inspired this particular novel/book?
The original idea for the first book came from a simple question: what would you do if you were trapped in the back alley with a monster? Violet’s initial reaction was what I would have done: thrown my shoe and run like hell. I knew that Violet’s story wasn’t over after the first book. She’d come into her power, but she’d done some damage in the process, to herself, to the city, to her new boyfriend. Hence the second book, what happen in the aftermath of her triumph? Even after this book, I don’t think that all of Violet’s questions are answered, so yes, I can see even more Diaries in the future.

BK:  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer, more Dean Koontz than Hemingway though. I never considered myself one until recently. Writing was something I did for myself. Outside of some stories for class work, my creative life was kept to the pages of many spiral bound notebooks under my bed. I enjoyed journalism all throughout school, but it had been harped on that I needed to find a “real job.” It wasn’t until I joined the SMU Creative Writing Program that I got the courage to not only show my work to someone else, but also call myself a writer. I came to appreciate that writing wasn’t what I did in the shadows, but who I was. That’s when I realized I was a writer.

BK:  How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
I’ve always thought that Violet was different because she was a normal single girl,  a little out of shape, and addicted to coffee. And she talks like it. She wears her heart on her sleeve and you can hear that in her narration. There is a lot of first person paranormal out there, but with Violet it was more of a funny, “how’d I manage to get myself in this situation?” tone rather than a hard-boiled, “I’m the thing that goes bump in the night” tone. The initial attack and the subsequent ones never changed fundamentally who she was. She’s still Violet Jordan, just with two times of the month to worry about and a new set of skill to fight for her family.

BK:  What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
I’d finally given Violet the Happily-Ever-After that she deserved, and I knew I was going to have to take that away from her. The magic and the pack stuff is like breathing for me, so that’s not the hard part. I could through a million bad guys at her and not blink.  Undoing her happily-ever-after was hard for me.

BK:  What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
I completely fell in love with Tucker Briggs. I’ve never written healing male before. He really becomes strong and I loved that development into what Violet needed, not a romantic interest but a brother. The Tucker Briggs that you see in the first few pages is not the Tucker Briggs at the end.

BK:  Which was your favorite scene to write?
The fight with the motorcycle gang of Warthogs was probably my favorite. Not only was it the first of the pack fighting together, it was the formation of her pack. It just hit all the right physical and emotional notes for me and I hope it reads that way.
BK:  Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?
Coffee, Day Job, Coffee, Day Job, Puppy play time, hubby smooching time, something else sweet, and then I set down to write.
BK:  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I bake. A lot. The people at the day job love it. I bake especially when I’ve got some sort of story block and I’m avoiding my characters at all costs.

BK:  What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I’m adopted and normal. I still come across people who think that all adopted kids have attachment issues or are different from the rest of their family. I’m just like my Mom, down to the odd sense of humor.             

BK:  What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN!! Dean Koontz was my first horror and my first sex scene. Jude Deveraux taught me how to create a good romance without creating a wimpy heroine (I hate wimpy heroines). Alice Hoffman taught me the craft of writing and how to summon an emotion in one beautiful sentence.

BK:  Please tell us one piece of advice you were given as an author that you carry with you when you write?
My Freshman English teacher, Mrs. Johnson: “Writing should be like a skirt, long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.”

BK:  What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
If you write, you are a writer.

BK:  What are you currently working on?
Spoilers! There might be another Diaries in the works, ,but there were a few characters in Claws and Effect that demanded to have their own stores told, so I’m trying to get those out.

BK:  Where can readers connect with you?
I’m all over the place. Connect away!
Facebook: Amanda arista
Twitter: @pantherista

Amanda was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel.
She has a husband who fights crime, one dog who thinks he’s a real boy, and another who might be a fruit bat in disguise.
She spends her weekends writing at coffee shops, practicing for the day that caffeine intake becomes an Olympic sport, and plotting character demises with fellow writers Wolvarez, Killer Cupcake and Keith (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

Claws and Effect picks up three months after the happenings of Diaries. After four assassination attempts, Violet is getting tired of everyone trying to make her something she’s not. The lieutenants of the Pride want her dead. Chaz wants a traditional girlfriend. A pack of lost mongrels want a leader. And a new panther comes prowling into town new to the shift needs a teacher. Matters are only complicated by her own dreams of violent power and prophesy, some coming from her psychic connection to Spencer still trapped in the Neveranth but getting stronger with each passing month. In true Violet fashion, there are ups but mostly downs with some heartfelt moments and humor.

                I had already tossed his laundry into the washer and fixed him a grilled ham and cheese when he came down the stairs. We were at the point in a relationship that I could wash his clothes, but I couldn’t take them off. 
                “You’re the best,” he said as he flopped down at the kitchen table and ripped into grilled cheese.
                “Yeah. I hear that a lot.”
                “So did you meet with those comic guys today?”
                “Oh.” I slid onto the kitchen counter and watched as he avoided what had just happened like the plague. Chaz was good at that. I wondered if it was part of his superhero package: quick healing, überstrength, superspeed, and the ability to leap over problems in our relationship in a single bound.
                “Yeah, and then I got attacked by a wind elemental and saved by Tucker Briggs.”

Giveaway: Harper Collins will be giving away a $25 gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the Claws and Effect Virtual Blog Tour.

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us today Amanda. I am looking forward to reading your book and wish you the best of success in the future.

You can follow Amanda's tour HERE.