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Monday, August 22, 2011

Guest: SARA CURRAN ROSS

The Organ Grinder

Award winning journalist Rebecca Eaton crosses the closed border of a troubled Asian country to interview a Human Rights activist and known terrorist. Three days later, after her reported mysterious disappearance, she turns up at the border tortured, beaten, minus her memory and one kidney.

When an attempt is made on her life in hospital, her employer sends Eaton’s estranged ex-lover and security expert Dominic Kane to bring her safely home.

Kane wants Rebecca back in his arms. But before he can entice her into a reconciliation he has to help her expose a worldwide medical conspiracy involving mass murder and the illegal sale of stolen human organs.

Kane has to protect Rebecca from the men sent to silence her and the terrorists who demand she ensures the medical criminals are brought to justice or four suicide bombs will be detonated in London.

Interview with Dominic Kane: The Man Behind The Woman

Dominic Kane is a name that has been on everyone’s lips since he helped his journalist girlfriend, Rebecca Eaton blow open an international criminal conspiracy to commit mass murder and steal human organs to proffer them for sale on the black market. The tall handsome, athletically built forty year old Security & Close Protection Consultant sits in front of me, casually dressed in a designer black sweater and trousers in the lounge of the Hotel Intercontinental in Paris, watching me intently with his piercing blue Paul Newman eyes. With his short light brown hair and neat designer stubble many in the media have likened his looks to film star Edward Norton.

I am lucky to get this interview. The couple have been hiding from the public eye and Dominic is at pains to protect Rebecca from further press intrusion so she can recover from her ordeal and injuries in peace. So much so the veteran journalist, Kevin Boyle dubbed him Rebecca Eaton’s “heavy man with a posh public schoolboy accent” when he made the mistake of testing Dominic’s tough security around Rebecca in the war torn Asian country of North Bundhara two weeks ago.

He gives me a grin, “What can I say? I was sent out there to do a job. He got in the way. Rebecca was lying in a hospital bed with serious injuries and having lost her memory. The last thing she needed was a journalist with a gripe against her hassling her for information. I did what I had to and removed him from the building in a manner he was unaccustomed to. He never came back.’ He gives me another infectious grin.

Dominic Kane is softly spoken with an accent that does indeed betray an English public school education. He is a man of few words but his tone is firm and commands your full attention. When he speaks people listen. A former Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Marines stationed in Afghanistan, Dominic is a man who is clearly aware of his power and doesn’t have to shout it out.

He first met Rebecca Eaton when she came to make her BAFTA award winning programme, ‘On The Frontline’ with his unit in Afghanistan. With Dominic in charge of Rebecca and her camera crew’s safety the couple were rumoured to have grown close after the unit came under heavy artillery fire out on patrol one day and Rebecca was injured.

“We were ambushed in a compound. We took some heavy hits and I had no choice but to ask Rebecca to pitch in and help out with the shooting. She’d had training like every other journalist has to before they are allowed on the frontline and I just knew I could trust her to come through. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. So yes we became close after that.’

I widen my eyes as he leans over to lift his coffee cup from the table and take a gulp. He is a little reluctant to talk about their clandestine affair in Afghanistan and the break up that followed but I persist.

“Rebecca became ill with post traumatic stress. She was forced to shoot at the enemy when we were ambushed in the compound. After that, she was nearly killed in an IED explosion. It was more than enough to effect anyone. She tried to keep it quiet. Being a female journalist she had to fight hard to go to Afghanistan. Any female reporter will tell you how tough it is to build a career in such a male dominated business.”

But Rebecca’s health was to deteriorate whilst in Afghanistan and she couldn’t hide her illness any longer.

“She wasn’t eating or sleeping. She lost so much weight. One afternoon I found her inside her tent rocking back and forth on the floor, lost in reliving the explosion. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times to men on the frontline who’ve experienced trauma but Rebecca thought she was tougher and could handle it. She needed help from a counsellor but she refused so I had to take action.”

There’s a hint of frustration in his voice and he talks of the whole affair as though he dealt with it like he would a military operation.

“I rang her station and got them to recall her. I...rather naively thought they would understand, just give her some time off so she could get back on her feet. She was pretty annoyed. Told me I’d ruined her career and that was the end of our relationship.” He sighs, “And she was right. They let her hang on until she won the BAFTA for them then they sidelined her and eventually pushed her out. She was out of work for a year. No one would take her on because of her illness.”

I sense frustration but no regret in his tone.

“I never meant to hurt her or her career but I would do it again. She needed help. Her doctor later told her that I’d saved her from having a full nervous breakdown by making her return home.”

I get the impression that Dominic hadn’t wanted their relationship to end and it was difficult for him to accept when it did. So it must have been harrowing to learn of Rebecca’s disappearance two years later. He must have feared the worse.

“I never believed she was dead. Not for a second. I knew she would find a way to get out of whatever mess she was in. You can’t keep a woman like Rebecca down. She’s a tough class act,” he tells me with pride.

Rumour has it, he was packed and ready to go with his team to locate her and bring her out of the country even before she was found and her employer contracted his company to provide her with security.

He grins, ‘Yes. It’s true.”

And by charging to her rescue no doubt he viewed the situation as an opportunity to facilitate a reconciliation. He smiles again but won’t go into detail. It’s enough to tell me that’s exactly what was on his mind.

It must have been difficult to say the least finding her lying in a hospital bed with so many injuries and having lost her memory.

‘Yeah it was.’ And perhaps an advantage, I venture. He merely treats me to another smile.

“She was in a really bad way. For one mad moment I just wanted to throw her over my shoulder, fly her home, bundle her in a car and hide her in my cabin in the Lake District to keep her safe. But getting out of the country proved more difficult than I imagined when South Bundhara decided to invade the North. There were a few hairy moments when I thought we might not make it.”

It’s an opportune moment to bring up the nickname that Rebecca gave him out in Afghanistan, Captain Caveman. He laughs.

‘She gave me that name when I wanted to carry her over my shoulder after she got shot in the Green Zone in Helmand Province. She wasn’t impressed with my offer. She didn’t want me treating her differently because she was a woman and acting like Captain Caveman coming to the rescue. She says I’m a bit of Neanderthal with her,” he laughs again. “But secretly I think she likes it.”

He’s been credited as the man behind the woman fighting to change the world and halt the medical exploitation of developing nations. How does he feel about that?

“I’m proud of it. I will do all I can to help her. Rebecca needs someone to ground her and keep her in check when she goes off recklessly risking her life.”

And is Dominic Kane the man for the job?

He grins. ‘She tells me I am and she’s right.”

He’s smiling but I can see that like myself and others who know Rebecca Eaton well he’s going to have a hard time keeping her behind a desk. She loves to be in the thick of danger and he is going to have his work cut out for him. Still the steely gaze he gives me when I inform him of my thoughts tells me he is determined and Rebecca is going to have a fight on her hands. One Dominic Kane may just win.


Visit Sara online here:



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Romance, or Abuse?



I thought today I'd talk about content in our books, and a somewhat disturbing trend I've been noticing in some. Romance, as a rule, empowers and enchants the audience, which we know is predominantly female. However, in a lot of books recently, and I'm speaking of mainstream romance not sub-genres, there seems to be a leaning toward heroines who want to be hurt by the hero. In a few cases I can think of, she actively provokes the "punishment" which invariably involves her being humiliated, and having rapturous orgasms while being essentially abused by the hero. I don't know about others, but that bothers me not only as an author but it really makes my skin crawl as a woman who respects herself.

Fantasy is a hugely important element in what we write when we choose the field of romance, and while everyone has less than romantic fantasies, is actively asking for humiliation and abuse the kind of message that should be accepted in our work? Romance, at its core, is about positive passion, acceptance, and the celebration of the most common desire the average person has - the driving need to not only find love, but to then experience it and share it with someone you are supposed to trust more than anyone else. When did it get to be about playing mind games, hurting someone on the deepest levels of their psyche, and then turning that into sexual domination? We, as readers, are being asked to accept that this is love/passion that is born in ultimate trust. Is that what I'm missing, that if you trust someone that much, it's acceptable for them to use your trust to hold you prisoner to sexual pleasure?

We preach sexual responsibility to our audience and publishers are now asking for it to be plainly visible in our work. I agree with that completely. But what about the emotional responsibilities that come with our work? It doesn’t really matter who your write for in terms of an audience, we ALL have young fans who are discovering romance books for the first time, and they are impressionable and seeking to learn to trust their budding instincts and desires. They want to know what love is, and how it works. Is it time to create yet more subgenres and warnings, or is it time for us to look a little more closely at what we’re presenting to our public, and then ask ourselves if there is a positive and loving message there? I don’t think anyone could in good conscience suggest that humiliating heroines is heroic… and by the same token, neither is abusing your hero.

A book that explores a traumatic experience is not what I’m referring to, in case anyone’s ready to take that stance in defence. What I’m talking about is the kind of story that presents us with a supposed loving relationship, then when the bedroom door opens, we have a domineering hero who uses sex to control his heroine – and we’re asked to believe that’s what she wants because she deserves it, and it’s a huge turn-on. Unless you back that with a damn strong back-story, I think most women would agree that being used and made to beg is not really a huge turn-on.

The floor is open, I’d love to hear your thoughts? Is this kind of story really romance, or is more accurately a psychological and emotional abuse?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Author: LAURA ENRIGHT


Today my guest is Author Laura Enright. Laura and I have known each other for a very long time, and have been good old-fashioned pen pals for over twenty years now. She's a funny, intelligent, creative lady who's just written her second book - and it's one I know many of you will find fascinating! How can it miss with a title like Vampires' Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers, and Other Undead? I asked Laura if she'd like to tell everyone a little more about her books, and she very graciously consented to give us a rare interview.... so let's get to it!

1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since high school (I’m 47 now). Actually, I wrote a little novel when I was 12, but haven’t a clue where I put it. About a woman who finds a collie on the beach. Which is the plot I think every twelve year old girl writes about at some point. I started a few novels in high school (never finished them). I didn’t pursue it with the determination I should have after high school. Part of that was because of some problems with self esteem (and some issues in my life). But in the 90s, I had some shake ups in my life and sometimes that sort of gets you motivated. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I had a chance to see what I was made of and suddenly, I didn’t have as many doubts about the writing as I once did. I worked on a Deep Space Nine novel and a Star Trek Novel. They didn’t sell. Then I wrote some original novels that I’m still trying to find homes for. A humorous science fiction novel with a western twist and an Asian dragon novel.


2. How long have you been a published author?

My first book Chicago’s Most Wanted (Potomac Books) was published in 2005. I did some op ed pieces for a friend’s Pagan magazine in Chicago in the 90s. Really, Chicago’s was my first major work.

3. What titles do you have available? Vampires' Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers, and Other Undead Oddities is not your first book, so tell us a little bit about your previous title?

Chicago’s Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters, and Windy City Oddities. (Potomac like long titles :) ). That was a trip cause it was my first attempt at nonfiction (I’ve primarily been interested in fiction…science fiction, fantasy, paranormal) and I’d never done research to that extent. It was a bit like jumping into a lake and hoping you could swim. But I had the contact thanks to a friend and I had to take advantage of that (something like that is gold in publishing) so I did. It was funny…after I got the editor’s e-mail from my friend, I was trying desperately to think of a topic for a book. While I was at the library where I work, clearing books, I happened to look at the cart I was clearing (while the question of what to write about was on my mind) and I saw all these travel books on Chicago. It struck me like lightening. There was a wealth of stories in the city! I ran it past the editor and he liked it. It was great experience! One of those things were long after it’s over you look back and realize how fun it was (even though when you’re doing it, you’re freaking out cause you’re not sure if you can accomplish it—I can tell you, signing that contract was a little nerve wracking since I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish it). It was great to learn about the city that I’ve lived so close to all my life. It’s an amazing city and had a real impact on the nation and at times the world early on in its existence. Still is an amazing city. I was also able to do a lot of talks on the book at senior centers and libraries and it was fun cause inevitably at one of these places some older person would come up to me and say that they’re family lived right down the block from Al Capone, or their uncle used to work at Lincoln Park Zoo or something like that. It was like I was still learning. And the Most Wanted series, which is Potomac signature series, is great for something like that. Little digestible nuggets of information about the main topic.

4. What made you choose vampires as the subject of this book?

Full disclosure, it was purely mercenary. I have, at this point, written four novels in a vampire series that I’ve been calling the Khan Family Saga (though I might change that) and have written scenes for a spin off of characters found in the third novel. And even that series was from a bit of mercenary thinking. I wanted to get the attention of a particular agent and noted that they handled vampire books. So I figured that I’d try my hand at that. I had had this idea for the main character in the novel a few months back, so I worked on a story for it. Well, I ultimately fell in love with the novels and the characters. I wrote two in a year, which is amazing with my schedule (I also work as a circulation assistant at my local library and as an editorial assistant for Pioneer Press). I couldn’t stop telling these stories. A few years ago I was approached by Potomac to do a Most Wanted book on the environment, but the project fell through. The editor told me, however, that if I had any ideas she’d love to hear them. She was very impressed by Chicago’s. So I figured, well, why not a book on vampires. There’s a ton of stories out there. A ton of different takes on them. I’ve always been interested in them. Loved the Anne Rice stuff. It would be perfect for the style of a Most Wanted. Also, it was my hope that it might help me get my foot in the door with an agent with my novels. I’ve been so preoccupied with the release of Vampires’ Most Wanted that I haven’t had a chance to get back to sending out proposals on the novels. But I hope to soon. Vampires’ Most Wanted was a lot of work researching but a lot of fun. It covers books, tv, movies, music, legends, and a number of other things. And that was just the tip of the iceberg of what is out there. It’s an astonishingly versatile subject. Well, it’s been around forever and in all cultures, so I guess it would.

5. Do you have any new titles coming soon? Will you be venturing into the area of fiction anytime soon?

As I say, I hope to start getting some proposals out on my vampire novels soon. I’ve had some out a year ago that were rejected, but then I started working on Vampires’ Most Wanted and had to put the novel fishing aside. I really hope to find a home for this series of vampire novels set in Chicago. I’ve tried to put a unique spin on the concept and I think the touches of humour and family history really make a difference. There’s also romance and suspense. I’ve shown the first novel to a number of people (including patrons at the library) who weren’t even into the genre yet who ended up really liking it. One read all four novels extremely quickly. Even my sister really liked the novel and she read it simply as a favour to me (fantasy and the paranormal are far outside of her realm of interest). So, hopefully soon I’ll be able to say that my vampires will see the printed page.

6. What is your favourite genre and why?

I think my favourite genre would probably have to be fantasy or supernatural. I’ve always loved science fiction but I’m not that well versed in the science part to really utilize it well. With fantasy you can make up your own rules more. One thing I’ve never really been able to get into reading wise is mystery. Though I’d like to try a few more cause it’s possible I’ve never really read enough of them. After all, so many books no matter the genre have a level of mystery in them. I’m fairly open to anything as long as the story is good.

7. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?

I think when the ideas are flowing freely and you suddenly realize…hey, that’s what I can do! With my vampire novels I’ve found it easier to write in sort of patches. Part of that could be that very frequently I’m working at one place or another and do not have a lot of time to sit down and write a chapter or two. But as I’m driving in the car, or working at a rote task at the library, I’m envisioning these ideas that I’d like to see in the novel. So when I get the chance, I write down the idea. In fact, a few of the novels, I had a good portion of the middle done before the beginning. Then I’m then left trying to stitch these scenes together. Create logical reasons why this instance happened after the instance before. It’s neat when I’m trying to figure out the stitch that will hold the two parts together and it suddenly comes to me. Of course! That makes perfect sense. That’s why Aziz is so angry at Narain! Something like that. I think writing it that way also helps the suspense for a reader too. Little crumbs of information that encourage questions that are eventually answered down the line. I like playing like that. And there are times when you yourself aren’t sure where it’s going, but as you’re writing it starts taking form and you end up surprising yourself. Maybe you even had something else in mind, but as you were writing, this other direction made more sense so you went with that flow and your startled where it went. It’s fun also to write a scene that makes you laugh out loud. Which I guess may sound a bit arrogant, but if you think it’s good, you think it’s good. The family portion of my vampire series has allowed me to write a lot of scenes, especially between the brothers, that I think are really fun to read. I also have a scene in the fourth one that actually made me misty. Which is also fun. Cause you’re creating something that’s touching a chord (even if it’s only in you).

8. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?

Why…Denyse Bridger, of course. :) (I didn't even have to pay her to say that, you know!) But since she’s so busy with her own stuff…I have to be honest, I’m not really sure. I have an idea for a book that’s set in ancient Egypt that I think I’d have to co-author with someone who knows anything about ancient Egypt. :) I’m currently reading Fall of Giants by Ken Follett who I think is amazing. I’ve been mesmerized by his Pillars of the Earth and At World’s End. Stunning. I should actually say that I’m listening to the books on CD cause that’s a bit more convenient to do and the reader is so amazing. It’s like listening to a radio play. I bet it would be incredible to co-author a book with Follett.

9. Where can readers find you on the web?

At this point, the best they can do is look me up on Facebook. I’m wrestling with WordPress to get a blog started. I’m finding WP a bit hard to work with and time is a bit tight of late, so it’s been a project to get it going. But hopefully soon and I’ll post something on Facebook if I ever get the blog going. Information on the book can also be found on Amazon and at Potomac’s site.

Potomac Publishing

AMAZON

Below is a portion of the introduction:

What is a vampire? It’s a more complex question than one might think. Now considered sexy, the vampire was at one time often regarded as vermin or a metaphor for the plague. Ghouls with nothing more on their minds than obtaining sustenance, they rose, sucked blood, then returned to the grave until hunger sent them forth again. They were a necrophiliac’s dream perhaps but little more than that.

My goal was to illustrate that the vampire is not just a count from Transylvania, a mindless ghoul, or a teen’s fantasy man. The notion of the vampire encompasses so many types and has infiltrated pop culture in a variety of ways that it can be hard to pin down. Even the real life vampire community incorporates a variety of styles and beliefs on a condition real vampires truly believe they possess.

Journeying back through time, however, it’s obvious that the answer to the question is subjective. The nature of the beast depended upon its time and place. The vampire’s role in society, for it always had a role to play, was inherent upon the culture in which it appeared. Depending on the culture, vampires were seen as mischievous spirits, relatives returning from the grave and searching for comfort, mindless creatures hungry for blood or other bodily secretions, sensual beings whose only drive was to sexually torture the living, or powerful deities that demanded blood to prove the believer’s faith.

All this and more can be found in the notion of the vampire, a legendary creature that has remained vibrant when the legends of other creatures have sputtered out.

To be fair, the vampire has had its “champions” throughout the centuries who have helped keep it alive. Superstitious peasants, the church, and Bram Stoker have fed society’s own need for fantasy and romance. These patrons have consistently given the notion of the vampire new life at just the right time to spur it on.

Yet, it is the vampire’s malleability that has best helped it survive. The vampire has the ability to become what we need when we need it. Throughout time, the vampire has been the sum of all our fears and the perfect scapegoat, yet it has retained an allure that has carried it across centuries and evolved, as we have, to fit our fantasies today. An ancient bogeyman, by turns, has become a romantic figure, super hero, or teen dream.

Thanks so much for the opportunity, Denyse.
You're very welcome, Laura, and thank YOU for being my guest today, and telling everyone about this book - which sounds mega-cool, and I need to get a copy!!


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Great News and a FABULOUS contest!

First, the very COOL contest. This month a contest at Coffeetime Romance offers you a chance to win a wonderful gift basket of prizes from me. All you have to do is CLICK HERE to enter, and you'll have a chance to win: a copy of MAVERICKS - an erotic romance anthology of four sizzling stories, in paperback. The collection is now out of print, and sells for almost $1000 on Amazon, insane as that is to me! Also, a set of beautiful Jon Paul laminated bookmarks, a satin scarf, and an eBook of your choice from my catalogue. I'm also tossing in a few promo items like a pen and cards! So, drop by and enter.

Currently the #1 Best-Seller at New Dawning Bookfair is my Cinderella tale GLASS SLIPPERS AND JEWELED MASQUES. Sitting at the #5 spot on the top ten is STRANDED! If you drop by the New Dawning site between now and Monday, you can get either title for about $1 in their Mega-Sale!!

Save 40% and more. New Dawning Bookfair's spectacular sale is winding down but you still have until Monday. Buy any available book on the site and with the coupon code 'Bookfair Buddy' receive a 40% discount. If you happen to have selected one of our top ten bestsellers, you will save another 20% as all Top Ten books are 20% off for this sale. Folks, that means you can buy our Top Ten books for less than 50%. Heck, buy them all and Save, Save, Save! Hurry! Time is almost up, so don't miss out.

If you're looking for a fun Yahoo group with benefits to hang your hat give Bookfair Buddies a try!


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

MEGA eBOOK SALE!


Good news for everyone. Today and for the rest of this week savings of 40% and more. New Dawning Bookfair is having a spectacular sale. Buy any available book on the site and with the coupon code Bookfair Buddy receive a 40% discount. It you happen to have selected one of our top ten bestsellers, you will save another 20% as all Top Ten books are 20% off for this sale. Folks, that means you can buy our Top Ten books for less than 50%. Heck, buy them all and Save, Save, Save!

New Dawning International Bookfair
Bookstore to the World

THESE ARE MY TWO BEST-SELLERS - WHICH WILL BE ABOUT $1 EACH DURING THIS WEEK-LONG SALE:

WONDERFUL reviews for Glass Slippers and Jeweled Masques!! I'm so thrilled!!



GLASS SLIPPERS AND JEWELED MASQUES
Available NOW from New Dawning International Book Fair

About the book:

Cindi Lancourte is the illegitimate daughter of a powerful businessman and a lovely woman who worked for him. Acknowledged when his wife died, she was quickly relegated to the role of servant by his new wife and step-daughters, but an invitation to a Masquerade gives this Cinderella a new shot at happiness with a handsome Prince Charming.

AND THE SECOND TITLE:

The ARe Romance tags for this book are:
double penetration, erotica, explicit sex, marooned, ménage a trois, sex, shipwrecked, threesome

STRANDED!

Erotic ménage/voyeurism

BUY IT HERE


What begins as an idyllic cruise for four friends quickly becomes a nightmare… the pleasant afternoon has had its tense moments as personalities clash. Iris is the newest member of the quartet, married to Dale Montgomery for a short time, she is reserved and elegant–a direct contrast to the earthy sexuality and eroticism of Giselle Jordan–the woman who has been Dale's closest friend for many years. When their boat is caught in the crush of a tidal wave near sunset, the four are swept into the ocean. Hours after the capsize, Giselle awakens on a stretch of beach, a short distance away is Iris, bleeding and terrified. When Iris dies, Giselle is left stranded on an island with the two men she loves. How long will it be before passion take them into the dangerous realm that is the uncharted territory of the heart?