Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Interview with Sir Bran, Hero and Highland Henchman

Interview of Sir Bran MacLeod from The Highland Henchman:

Amy Jarecki, time traveling character interviewer here. I nearly lost my life bringing you this story from the perilous times of 1568, sailing in a birlinn through the Sound of Raasay in a nasty squall, the boat ran aground capsized in the icy northern waters. But who came to my rescue but the henchman himself, Sir Bran MacLeod. Better yet, the enormous man with his long chestnut hair braided away from his face and intense hazel eyes agreed to an exclusive interview…

Amy: Thank you for pulling me from the sea and saving my life.

Bran reclines in his chair comfortably and spreads his arms to his sides: Yer thanks is not needed, m’lady.

Amy: Tell me what you felt the first time you saw Miss Enya Ross.

Bran: That would be when I spied her hiding behind a copse of yellow gorse up on the hill. She had the look of a hunter—albeit a beautiful one. But I was there to protect me laird, and I eyed the bow slung over her shoulder with a wee bit of alarm.

Amy: Did you think she’d attempt to fire one of her arrows?

Bran chuckles: Nay, but as henchman, me duty is no’ to act upon what I think, but to consider all possibilities for something to go awry.

Amy: But then you saw her again that night at the gathering. How did you feel then?

Bran: Aye…I’ll never forget her green frock and the way her auburn tresses flowed down her back. I coudna keep me eyes off the lassie, and there I was defending Laird Calum. Anyone could have knocked me flat with a tap between the eyes.

Amy: I doubt that. You’re as enormous as the story touts you to be.

Bran leans forward and waggles his eyebrows: ’Tis why Calum made me henchman.

Amy: True, and yours is the most powerful sword.

Bran shrugs: Aye, that too.

Amy: What was it like to be knighted by Queen Mary?

Bran: Och, ’twas a moment in time I’ll nay forget. Honestly, I thought she might try to lop me head off with the sword—I did no’ have me shirt on and I was certain to be reprimanded. When she touched the blade to me shoulder and uttered the words, “I knight you into the Order of the Thistle,” it was as if the world was floating in a dream. I could scarcely draw a breath—afraid to look at her I was.

Amy: But then you did look up.

Bran: Aye. She had a regal air about her—the tallest woman I’d ever seen, truth be told.

Amy: How did you feel when you thought Laird Calum had betrayed you?

Bran: I’d lost me temper before, but that was like falling into a fire pit of unbridled rage. I couldna believe he’d crossed me. I questioned me entire lifetime of loyalty.

Amy: What would you have done if you were not tied to the mast?

Bran shudders: I hate to think on it. I would have struck out like a raging bull for certain. Calum did the right thing by tying me up before he handed Enya over to Lord Ross, but it still makes me gut roil to think of it. If I could go back in time, I’d fight rather than see Enya “cleansed” in the nunnery. We outgunned Ross and his men. We could have taken them.

Amy: How did you feel when you finally had Enya in your arms again?

Bran: So many emotions coursed through me. But cradling me bonny lassie in me arms, I never wanted to let go. If anyone dare threaten her again, God save them because they’d have me wrath and me blade to contend with first.

Amy: What are your plans for the future?

Bran: Did ye hear the news? Enya is with child again. We plan to have a large brood, she and I. I’ve even got plans to build onto me cottage.

Amy: That is excellent news. Congratulations, Sir Bran!

The Highland Henchman is on sale for $0.99 through May 3rd, 2014 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's The Most Unusual Thing You've Done To Research Your Book?

This week's Romance Weekly Blog Hop questions are brought to us by the wonderful author, Dani Jace! I love to laugh, so I particularly liked answering these :-)

1. What is the most unusual thing you've ever done in the name of research for a book?

My research is pretty run-of-the mill, though I do a lot of travelling (thank goodness it's deductible). Anyway, when I was in Belize researching Virtue, I ate termites when I was on a night hike in the jungle. Going on a night hike is dangerous enough considering some of the deadly snakes down there, but eating termites really grossed my husband out. Know what? They were minty.

2. Name a nonfiction book you've read for research that you wouldn't have read otherwise. Not including writing craft books:

In the name of writing, I actually read more non-fiction books than fiction. One of my favorites that I haven't already blogged about is THE HISTORY OF UNDERCLOTHES by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington. An excellent guide for the historical author, it's full of interesting detail. Besides, who doesn't like to read about underwear *giggles*?

3. If you could travel anywhere to do research for a book, including back in time, where would you go?

Of course I've talked a lot about my trips to Scotland, but if I could actually go back in time, I'd go back to the Sixteenth Century . I'd visit all the castles I've written about like Brochel, Dunstaffnage, Edinburgh, Stirling Palace, Palace of Holyrood, Linlithgow, Dunfirmline, Craigivar, Urqhardt, Lochleven, and Dunvegan to name a few. 

I'd also go visit my clan, the Trotters who were dispersed by King James I & VI in 1603 for being an unruly border clan. Boy, I'd like to show them how unruly we Trotters can be! The Trotters are descendants of the Picts--lived in a fortress atop Traprain Law during the age of the Picts. We were so fierce, even the Romans couldn't conquer us!!

Traprain Law, Site of a Mighty Pict Fortress in East Lothian, Scotland

I'd love to hear some of the crazy things you've done in the name of research!!

My Photo
Nina Mason
Next up on the Romance Weekly Love, Write Chat blog hop is the lovely Nina Mason I wonder how she'll answer this week's fun questions!

Also, on sale for $0.99 this week only, The Highland Henchman:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Time for another round of questions from the Romance weekly blog hop. This week's questions are from the lovely Julie Abdinoor:

1. What ages are your characters?

That depends on the book. However, most of my heroines are late teens to early twenties and my heroes are a bit older, but still in their twenties. In writing historically set novels, I try to stay true to the period. The characters of the time would have been of similar age. The only book I wrote with an older hero hero and heroine was Chihuahua Momma, where the main characters were in their forties. 

2. What special things or places inspire you to write?

My past eight manuscripts have taken place in Scotland. Aside from being of Scottish descent, I have studied in Edinburgh and visited Scotland a few times. I guess I'm one of those crazies who's a Scotland lover. Funny...I spent the month of May researching my novels, and found I was more knowledgeable about Scottish history than some of the guides. 

In all of my novels, I have done extensive research. For Virtue, I went to Belize for research and took a cruise and though I had been a professional dancer, I interviewed dancers from the ship. It was a lot of fun :-) 

3. What is the one message you hope women will receive when they read your stories?

The main thin is that I hope that they are entertained with a story they enjoy...that they feel like they've gone back in time and are experiencing a world of old.
Actun Tunical Munknal Cave, Belize

Next up, hop over to Katie O'Connor's Blog to see how she answers these interesting questions!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award~5 Winners from 10,000

On Monday I was astonished to discover that Beauty and the Barbarian made it into the quarter finals of the ABNA awards. This is a huge contest that I only learned about when the winners were announced last year. ABNA the biggest contest I've ever entered. They cap the entries at 10,000. Their five novel-length fiction categories are:

  1. General Fiction
  2. Mystery & Thriller
  3. Romance
  4. Science fiction/fantasy/horror
  5. Young Adult
I entered Beauty and the Barbarian into the Romance genre. In March they made the first elimination based on the book's pitch, and selected four-hundred entries from each category. Monday, they announced the quarter finalists, naming the top 100 in each genre. Amazon's Vine Reviewers judged 3-5000 word excerpts, and those reviews will be posted on Amazon's site soon.

The people moving to the semi-finals will each receive a review of their full manuscript from Publisher's Weekly....but here's the rub...only five people from each of the categories will move to the semi-finals, and only their manuscripts will be reviewed by the Amazon Publishing judging panel.

In the final round, the number one candidate in each genre will receive a $15,000 advance and a publishing contract from Amazon Publishing, except for the grand prize winner who will receive a $50,000 advance and publishing contract.

Holy smokes! Honestly, I'm happy to be in the quarter finals. As I mentioned, the excerpts will be posted on Amazon for customers to read and review (soon). Regardless if I advance, I'll get a PW review that I can use for marketing purposes, and the little bit of advertising by being in the top 100 can't hurt.

I'm always nervous about entering contests. They are subjective, and sometimes the feedback can be deflating. But this has been fun and fairly painless--definitely an adventure I can recommend!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Romance Weekly Hop--Who is your favorite character?

Time for another round of questions with the romance writers weekly blog hop! This weeks questions came from the lovely Rebekah Ganiere:

  • Who is your favorite character you've written and why?
Ooo, that's a hard one because I like all my characters. I think I might say Calum MacLeod from Captured by the Pirate Laird. He embodies my definition of the ideal Highland hero:

There are so many redeeming qualities in my sixteenth century men: 

1.      Total alpha male. These rugged warriors cannot afford to be passive. They have a duty to protect their clans and their women and nothing will stop them from doing so.
2.      Honor. The Scottish Highlander’s honor is his most treasured attribute, guiding his every decision. No one could ever strip away his honor.
3.      Respect and Chivalry. Both his honor and the code of chivalry ensure the Highlander will treat the heroine reverently, respect her virtue, and when in a crowd, he will make her feel as if she’s the only and most beautiful woman in the room.
4.      Ruggedly good looking. These Highland heroes are generally tall and sturdy, and definitely not pretty. With firm jaws, broad foreheads and intense eyes, there is no question who is in command when you enter their lair.
5.      Did I mention powerful? Their sturdy build and constant training tones their solid frames. A Highlander would be a good contender for Mr. Universe, though he’s not conceited about it. His muscular build is necessary for the protection of his clan.
6.      Well trained warrior. These men must be trained in the use of all weapons, and expertly wield a claymore, shoot arrows, and know how to handle a deadly dirk.
7.      A sense of humor. They don’t take themselves too seriously and know when to laugh at their own mistakes…but not always.
8.      Practiced lover. Any woman will swoon in their arms and consider herself completely ravished in the morning.
9.      Finally, my Highland heroes have a fervent passion for the heroine that drives them to the ragged edge of madness.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with rugged warrior, who only has eyes for you, would protect you with his life, and speaks with a deep, lilting Scottish burr? *swoons*

  • Do you prefer to write your Hero or Heroine?
  • What are the three things you can't write without? 
1. My computer.
2. My outline/scene notes.
3. Uninterrupted spans of time

Next, hop over to LaNora Mangano's blog to see how she answers these fun questions!

And I'd love to hear...Who do you prefer to write, the hero or the heroine?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

RW Blog Hop - What If Your Book Hit Hollywood?

Time for the Romance Weekly Tuesday blog hop again with another three wild questions. This week centers on the question -- what if your book hit Hollywood?

1. Scenario: A Hollywood producer is interested in your book. Can you come up with an enticing log line (plot summary of 25 words or less)?

Sure! I used this in an advertisement for Captured by the Pirate Laird:

This sinfully sexy romance features a rugged Highlander, an English gentlewoman and passion so powerful, it threatens to ruin them all.

2. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Kiera Knightly for Lady Anne, and Henry Cavill for his awesome performance in The Tudors.

3. Does the story line of your novel compare with any films out there?

Not really. Though a reviewer said that Captured by the Pirate Laird is Pirates of the Caribbean meets Romance. I would probably add to that and say Pirates of the Caribbean meets Scottish historical romance. LOL.

Next up, hop over to LaNora Mangano's awesome blog to see how she's responded to these "wishful" questions:

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Have you visited the Night Owl Reviews Scavenger Hunt? 

There are TONS of giveaway baskets from a host of romance authors! 

Click the picture to check it out!

Win Books and Prizes in the Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Web Hunt

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Night Owl Reviews Scavenger Hunt is On!

I'm joining with a host of outstanding authors to promote the Night Owl Reviews Scavenger Hunt. There are literally TONS of giveaway baskets! Mine is a claymore letter opener, signed copies of Captured by the Pirate Laird and The Highland Henchman and lots of SWAG. Check out NOR and join in the fun!

Win Books and Prizes in the Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Web Hunt

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ebook Soda Feature & Love Write Chat Blog Hop

Captured by the Pirate Laird is on sale for $0.99 this week to celebrate the release of The Highland Henchman. And today Captured is featured on eBookSoda, a new readers' site where they'll send you eBook deals and recommendations tailored to your taste: Pop over and check them out!

The Blurb for Captured by Pirate Laird:

Wed by proxy to a baron old enough to be her grandfather, Lady Anne trudges up the gangway of a galleon that will deliver her into the arms of a tyrant. Crestfallen, she believes her disastrous life cannot get worse—until she awakes to the blasts of cannon fire.

Facing certain death, Anne trembles in her stateroom while swords clash and the chilling screams of battle rage on the deck above. When a rugged Highlander kicks in her door, she prays for a swift end.

But Laird Calum MacLeod has a reason for plundering the ship—and it’s not a stunning English lass. With no other choice, he takes Anne to his crumbling keep on the isle of Raasay and sends a letter of ransom to her husband. In time, Anne grows to understand MacLeod’s plight and finds it increasingly difficult to resist Calum’s unsettling charm—until the baron sends a reply agreeing to terms.

Ripped from passion that will be forever seared into their souls, will Anne and Calum risk everything for love?

The Blurb for The Highland Henchman:

Intent on winning a Lowlander’s tournament, Bran MacLeod travels south with his laird. All goes as planned, except spirited Miss Enya Ross continually distracts him, and in the oddest situations. With no business lusting after a baron’s daughter, Bran decides to return to Raasay—until his laird pledges Bran’s services in the fight to reinstate Mary, Queen of Scots to the throne.

Enya has no deference for the lines of nobility, or for the Great Divide that separates Lowlanders from Highlanders. The way Sir Bran’s eyes hunger for her ignites an internal fire Enya cannot quell. All her life she’s wanted adventure and excitement, but now her every thought is consumed with the rugged Highlander.

With all odds stacked against them, can their forbidden love withstand the tumult of war and the menace of betrayal?

This weeks Romance Weekly blog hop continues with some insightful questions:

1.     How do you find the appropriate setting for the story, or does it find you?

Well, that depends on what I’m writing. With my past contemporary stories, I have some experience with the setting. For example, I own and show Chihuahuas which really helped wen writing Chihuahua Momma. With Virtue, I’ve visited Belize twice and before I went to college, I was a showgirl which helped with all the dancing and theater scenes. With my Scottish historical romances, it’s a little different, but I did get my Master’s degree in Scotland and I study the periods in which I write extensively.

2.     What is your support system for your writing?  Family, friends, other writers?

My DH, the nicest man in the world!
My family supports my writing, especially my husband. He has made the biggest sacrifice, enabling me to quit my full time job and write. I would not be able to do this without him, and I am truly grateful. I also have an awesome critique group that I meet with every Monday. There are three of us and we write in different genres, but we enjoy and support each other’s prose. Finally, I have a dear friend who is also a critique partner. We mutually share our successes and our setbacks. She is the one person who completely understands me, and I think I do her as well. She lives in northern Utah and I in southern, but we communicate through e-mail and Skype.

3.     What is the worst writing advice you ever received and how did you deal with it?

Good grief! I have received some TERRIBLE advice. I’ve had quite a number of bad experiences trying out critique partners—and a couple of contest judging sheets that made no sense at all. What I try to do when I receive feedback where the reader just didn’t “get” it, is I try to read through the comments and pull out the ones that I can actually use. Often, I find I might need to add more sensory detail to make my motive clearer. If I totally do not agree with something, I toss it (unless I’ve heard it repeatedly, then it’s time to step back and examine where I’ve gone wrong).

Bottom line? Authors need to be confident in their work and recognize when they've received good as well as bad advice...and that's not always easy!

Next up, hop over to lovely Katie O'Connor's blog to see how she handles these interesting questions!

One last thing...Everyone's invited to the Online Highland Henchman Facebook Party Saturday, April 5th! Click on the link and JOIN the fun!!!!!