Wednesday, July 25, 2012

INTO THE RED Romance Author Kelly Whitley

Today I'm pleased to host a fellow MuseItUp author and feature her paranormal romance INTO THE RED. Welcome, Kelly!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I did technical writing for years, and had read primarily mainstream fiction. I got pointed in the direction of romance a few years ago, and found out what I’d been missing all this time.
Switching gears to go from technical writing to romance has challenged me in multiple ways, but I’ve enjoyed the journey.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Hard to pick just one. I’d have to go way back and say Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire started my love affair with vampires. Bonnie Vanak’s wolf series got me hooked on paranormal romance. Between the two, I decided I’d like to give it a try.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have a medical background, and over the years a more personal perception of what vampires were like brewed in my mind. Incorporating a lot of medical science into them was a natural step, and I wanted to put this unique twist into a manuscript. The market had a plethora of vampire books, but none like mine. Encouraged by my beta readers, I thought it’d be worth a shot at interesting a publisher.

How would you describe your writing process?

I’m pretty much a character-driven plotter, first and foremost. I know the basics of the plot, but I can’t get started until I know my main characters (the protag, the love interest, and the villain). I start with characters and character “interviews,” starting at birth and going all the way up to present day. I find it helps me discover plot points and potential conflicts. Then a skeleton outline of the major plot points, filled out with some detail about rising conflicts/obstacles. The rest I “pants” in as I go.

How have you marketed your book?

Before I was published, I set up a website with an associated blog, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ve started a self-scheduled blog tours, and posted on the readers’ groups I belong to. I did hire a publicist to assist with placing excerpts on book sites, and my publisher Muse It Up has a very pro-author attitude with a lot of attention to marketing. I have an author page on Amazon.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Don’t give up! The best thing anyone can do IMHO is to learn the craft: read about writing, take as many workshops as you can afford, and dedicate yourself to doing the homework and asking questions. Find a good critique group, and participate. Feedback is invaluable. Don’t stick with one thing—I write a fair amount of flash fiction and short stories, which has broadened my market base and taught me about tight prose. Nothing like a word limit to keep it clean.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

He shifted, tracked her while she climbed the two steps to the kitchen. A lot of bare skin tonight compared to yesterday. The sway of her hips had pressure building in his groin. Better focus on business before his body decided to advertise his attraction.
She returned carrying a tray containing a plate of cookies and their drinks, a blue folder was tucked under her arm. She set the tray on the coffee table and handed him the folder.
“Here’s the schedule. The auction’s at the end.”
He skimmed the list of bachelors before flipping to the schedule. She settled next to him and tucked her feet up, her knee grazing his. The skin of her thigh beckoned him to drag a finger over it. He held back a groan and shifted the folder toward her. “Maybe you can explain the auction.”
“The silent auction will run from cocktails until the end. So will the bone marrow donor registration. The volunteers take care of those. The speeches come first”—she traced the paper with one finger—“and then dinner.”
She met his gaze. “Then the bachelor auction. You’re number twelve, the last one. You’ll wait in the back, and come out on stage when the auctioneer announces your number.”
“Got it. When the auctioneer opens the bid, you can start right in bidding on me.” He grinned and leaned forward to steal a cookie. Chocolate chip—his favorite.
She moved the folder to the coffee table and took a cookie. “What’s my limit?”
“For the auction? There is no limit.”
Her eyes widened as she bit into her cookie.
He grabbed another. Homemade. Did she bake on top of everything else?
She leaned in, eyes intense as she licked crumbs from her lovely mouth, and his pulse jumped. Hard to resist cleaning off those crumbs. With his tongue. The air subtly vibrated between them.
“You realize this could go above a thousand dollars, right?” Her eyes dropped to his mouth for a second, then back to catch his gaze. “Right?”
“Yep. That’s fine. Bid as high as you need to go, just win.” He brushed her shoulder with his fingertips. The feel of her skin—soft as a sable paintbrush. “Just win.”
Her eyes closed half way, the dilated pupils darkening the hazel. The bedroom expression from his drawing. She shifted toward him. “Win?”
He moved close enough to whisper in her ear. “Win.”
He bent his head to the hollow of her neck and inhaled, pulling her scent inside him. God, she smelled good. Clean, floral, and female. He had to know what her lips felt like. One kiss. Just one, and he’d go.
The atmosphere charged—equal parts anticipation and need.
Not a good idea, no matter how much he wanted it.
He should leave now.
Evan drew back and caught a glimpse of her tongue moistening her lips. Control slipped away, and he buried his hand in her hair and pulled her in for a kiss.
The first brush of his lips on hers, an electrifying sweep, shrank his world down to the two of them.
Her mouth had the perfect balance of heat and tenderness, fitting perfectly with his. Jesus, he hadn’t experienced this for so long, and it felt so good. He pressed his lips more firmly against hers. Slender fingers wove into his hair, and pleasure cascaded down his back and set off pressure in his groin. God, he should stop.
He pulled her into his embrace.
Damn good to hold a woman, warm and vital, after all these years of a cold and solitary existence. Tara had awakened a hunger, and he hadn’t realized the degree of his starvation until now. He had to get a taste of her.
He teased her lips with his tongue, and groaned in delight when she sighed and allowed him access. A flavor explosion—orange juice and chocolate chip cookies and steamy human woman, hot and vital. He stroked her tongue, penetrating, probing, shifting his mouth over hers to deepen the dance.
Tara gripped his shoulders, each one of her fingernails triggering tiny sparks of pleasure that flashed down to the small of his back.
Her enthusiasm was unmistakable. She wanted him too.
What would she feel like under him, his body buried in hers? Blood pulsed through him headed for destinations south, and his erection throbbed in readiness, shoving against his zipper.
Too fast, needed to slow down before his libido went off the rails.
As if sensing his thoughts, Tara broke the kiss but didn’t pull back. The heat of her breath warmed his jaw. At least one of them had sense.
Nope. He hadn’t gotten enough.
He captured her lips and mated his tongue with hers, and electric anticipation spread out across his skin. The fragrance of arousal poured off him, smelling of smoky bergamot, the unique signature of claiming and possession.
A mating scent. A whiff of answering desire hit his nostrils.
Had to get her closer, get his essence on her skin. He wrapped an arm around her waist. Soft breasts pressed against his chest, moving in concert with his breathing, and pushed desire to need.
So. Damn. Good.

Where can readers find you and your book?

That's one tantalizing scene! Be sure to check out the book on either the MuseItUp Publishing bookstore or on Amazon! Thanks so much for being a guest today Kelly!

--KSR Writer

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fun, Children's Chapter Book FREE on Kindle!

I'm super excited to announce my children's chapter book TALL TALES WITH MR. K is FREE on Kindle for the next three days--July 23-25th!

I wrote this book because I wanted to recreate the style of the MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE books by Betty MacDonald. These were some of my favorite stories as a child. I loved the mysterious, magical Mrs. Piggle Wiggle character and the creative, humorous ways she helped the children in her town.

Mr. K is my modern-day version of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. He is Coyote Run Elementary's new third grade teacher, and he has some rather unconventional ways of running his classroom, including the "chatter box" noise deflector, the "sticky seat," and the giant ball of ABC (already been chewed) gum. The students aren't sure what to make of their new teacher. But as problems arise for each of them, they discover Mr. K's magical side as he whisks them away on amazing adventures in a very unlikely place--the teacher's lounge!

This book is perfect for kids ages 6-10. It will make them laugh and get their imaginations going. On a recent school visit, I asked students to come up with their own "adventure" they'd like to have in the teacher's lounge, and the answers ranged from being transported to the time of dinosaurs to ending up in Disney World!

Don't wait--get your FREE Kindle copy today! I'd love to hear what you think of the book!

--KSR Writer

Monday, July 16, 2012

Everyone's a Winner in this Blog Giveaway Hop!

July 23rd: This blog giveaway hop is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated! Even if you did not have a chance to enter the giveaway, you can STILL WIN! My children's chapter book TALL TALES WITH MR. K is FREE on Kindle for the next three days! That's right, July 23-25th, you can download it from Amazon! Enjoy!!

Additionally, the winner of the $5 Gift Card to the MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore is LaTanya T. Congratulations!

FINALLY--a blog giveaway hop that doesn't require you to follow a blog, tweet about the giveaway, or "like" a facebook page! The No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer is just that--a giveaway hop with no strings attached!

My giveaway this week is for a FREE Kindle copy of my young middle grade chapter book, "Tall Tales with Mr. K" (book description below). EVERYONE will receive a copy, all you have to do is leave your email address in the form below (and I promise I will only use it to notify at the end of the blog hop when you can download your free copy).

Additionally, one lucky person will be chosen at random to receive a $5 gift card to the MuseItUp Bookstore. You will find books in all genres, both print and ebooks. In fact, my new middle grade novel "Animal Andy" is being released August 24th by MuseItUp. (Perhaps you'll want to use your $5 gift card toward purchasing it? If you preorder now, the ebook is only $2.80 and you'll have money leftover to purchase another book! Hint hint.)

Finally, don't forget to check out the other blogs participating in this great hop. Simply follow the linky list below. Thanks for being such great supporters!!

--KSR Writer

Tall Tales with Mr. K description:

The third-graders at Coyote Run Elementary thought the teacher's lounge is where teachers eat candy out of vending machines, watch TV and get to play video games. They didn't expect it to be a tropical island where they are kidnapped by pirates, a circus where they learn the flying trapeze, or a crime scene where they solve a jewelry heist.

Each chapter of this young middle-grade fantasy tells the story of a different student's adventure in the teacher's lounge accompanied by their mysterious new teacher, Mr. K. Only one student, Sam, decides to boldly go into the teacher's lounge by himself where he discovers something completely different yet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WITCH SONG: A Worthy Witch Novel

I recently saw a tweet about Amber Argyle's debut novel, WITCH SONG, and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did! I really enjoyed this young adult novel and am pleased to host its author today. Welcome, Amber!

Who or what inspired you to write?

I grew up saying I wanted to be an author. But success was so significant to me that I didn’t—simply because the thought of failure was just too devastating. Then came my second son. He suffered from colic, often crying and fussing for 18 hours a day. By the time he was three months old, I was in a VERY dark place. Writing is what got me out of it.

What is Witch Song about?

Witch song is a fun quest by land and sea, and also a journey of the heart. A girl who grew up as an outcast discovers she is a powerful witch and a leader--and takes on the task of freeing her fellow witches to bring peace to a ravaged world. Senna's power comes from her voice---but she learns it also comes from within.~JoLynne Lyon (used by permission)
Who’s your favorite character, and why?

My main character’s love interest, Joshen. He’s easy going and like most teenage boys, loves to eat just about anything that holds still long enough. He’s also loyal and compassionate to a fault. The kind of guy anybody would want to be friends with. He's the kind of guy that gets hotter every time you see him.

Who’s the most challenging character to write?

My MC, Brusenna. It’s really hard to write a shy heroine. Because the heroine has to MOVE the story, not hang out in the background. And because I’m kinda the opposite of shy. More like that really annoying person who wants to chat with you at the checkout line. Talk about drawing from hidden reserves.
What inspired you to write about witches?

The whole concept of the book came to me with one line: I am a witch. I got all tingly and the plotting gears started spinning. I sat down to write and write and write. I finished the whole first draft in a month. Of course, as anyone who writes a book knows, the first draft is less than an 1/8th of the work involved in creating a book.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book:

The Witches in WITCH SONG aren't your average Witches. Their songs control nature—storms, season changes, plants. Here’s an excerpt that shows Brusenna (Senna) controlling nature:

As she’d seen her mother do so long ago, Senna spread her arms and sang, “Wind, lift me high, that my words reach to’rds the sky.” The violent wind slowed, like a herd of raging colts pricking their ears to listen to her song. She sang again. Slowly, it bent and began circling her. As she continued the song, it became a lazy whirlwind that twisted her hair up and made the trees at the edge of the circle sway as if entranced. The air thickened, tentatively testing her weight.

She sang one last time. And this time, the wind lifted her. Her feet dangled above the ground. “Higher,” she sang. The wind obeyed, twirling her skyward as easily as a handful of dandelion fluff. She didn’t stop until she could see the churning sea beyond the island walls.
When she’d reached the apex, the wind carried her voice over the world, “Though Espen’s curse that nature break, I beg of thee hold thy stake. Seasons stay in thy place, winds blow in pace. Weather hold thy climes, plants keep thy times. Not to break but bend. Until at end, I bring thee mend.” She repeated the song over and over again, until her words came through her throat raw and her voice broke.

When she could sing no more, the wind hesitated, as if loath to part with her. She hung suspended, watching the boiling seas and raging storm settle. She looked for any sign of a struggling ship, some proof she wasn’t completely alone, but there was nothing but the empty sea.

She wished she could stop the storm completely. But though the strength of her songs had grown, Espen was stronger. Much stronger. But as long as the other witches resisted, Espen couldn’t have total control.

The wind set Senna gently down. “Thank thee wind, for heading my call. For holding strong, so I did not fall.” She waited as it slowly faded, caressing her face one last time before retreating all together and leaving only the ever constant thunder and rain.

And another that shows Senna using her song to use the plants as weapons:

The dogs streaked through the trees, their baying increasing to a fevered pitch as their quarry came into view. Reaching inside her pouch, Senna drew a Barrier Seed. She forced a hole in the soil and pressed the seed down. “Back up,” she said, gripping Joshen’s arm and pulled. As she moved, she sang, “Take in light, take in air; spread thy roots, thy leaves grow fair.”

She kept repeating the song over and over. A green shoot burst from the earth. Within moments, it was taller than Joshen. “Just a few more songs,” she thought. But the first dog sprang past the tree. Joshen swung the tree branch, catching the dog in the ribs. With a yelp, it backed out of his reach and barked like mad.

Too late to grow it to full maturity! Senna’s song changed into something deeper and darker. This wasn’t a song, so much as a chant. She cringed at the animosity and menace in her voice, “Let nothing pass.” The other dogs slowed, sensing the danger, but not understanding it.

They didn’t have time to do more than flinch as the tree’s branches wrenched them from the ground. Barks of excitement changed to howls of terror as they writhed to free themselves. But the tree didn’t even pause as it flung them back in the direction they’d come. Tail between their legs, the others fled—terror plain in their wild eyes.

Where can readers find you and your book?

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Shelfari.

I recommend WITCH SONG and am looking forward to the next book, WITCH BORN. Thank you, Amber!

--KSR Writer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Holiday Book Specials

In celebration of the holiday this week, I wanted to highlight some special book deals available!

First, MuseItUp Publishing is offering 50% off ANY ebook, good July 3rd and 4th! Simply use discount code MUSEJULY4 at checkout.

Second, my young middle grade book, TALL TALES WITH MR. K is now available as part of Amazon's library lending program! If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can download the kindle version for FREE! (See book description below).

So spend some time relaxing this holiday with a good book! Happy 4th of July!

--KSR Writer

TALL TALES WITH MR. K book description:

The third-graders at Coyote Run Elementary thought the teacher's lounge is where teachers eat candy out of vending machines, watch TV and get to play video games. They didn't expect it to be a tropical island where they are kidnapped by pirates, a circus where they learn the flying trapeze, or a crime scene where they solve a jewelry heist.

Each chapter of this young middle-grade fantasy tells the story of a different student's adventure in the teacher's lounge accompanied by their mysterious new teacher, Mr. K. Only one student, Sam, decides to boldly go into the teacher's lounge by himself where he discovers something completely different yet.