Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beauty and the Barbarian Print Giveaway

To celebrate the successful launch of Beauty and the Barbarian, I'm giving away three signed print copies in addition to the Goodreads giveaway (above), so there are more opportunities to win! Just follow the rafflecopter below, join the Return of the Highland Laird cover reveal event on Facebook (and invite your friends), or tweet about it!

Beauty and the Barbarian back cover copy:

Born with the mark of the devil, Merrin has been hidden on the islet of Eilean Fladda for near twenty years. When the body of a Highlander washes ashore, the innocent lass presumes him dead. Brushing the hair from the rugged warrior’s face, her fingers connect with warm flesh. Warm.

Ian MacLeod wakes to a woman so radiant, he believes her an angel. But when the lass recoils from him, he fears she knows of his evil deeds. While he heals, Ian is stunned when he exposes her witch’s mark, yet he’s spellbound by Merrin’s allure. He’d do anything to erase his haunting past and earn her love.

But there’s a henchman after Ian’s head, and when that man learns the Highlander is still alive, the couple is forced to flee Merrin’s sheltered world. Fighting for survival, destiny demands they each face their demons, but doing so may forever ruin them both.

Excerpt from Beauty and the Barbarian:

Chapter One

Sprinting onto a thin strip of beach, Ian raced for the shore. Rain pelted his face as he skidded to a stop. Gasping for air, he sucked in deep breaths and peered through the dark night—north, then south. Thank God. A lone skiff sat askew, poorly camouflaged at the tree-line edge.
His side cramping from his frantic escape, he darted to the tiny boat with a pained hitch to his step. The deerhounds’ barks grew closer. If he hesitated, they’d be upon him in a blink of an eye.
Ian’s heart hammered his chest as he bore down on the skiff and shoved it into the angry swells. He jumped over the bow and snatched an oar. With every muscle, every sinew, he paddled against the surf and ignored his fatigue. A single oar made the boat fishtail, but there was no time to set them in their locks. Ian gritted his teeth and slammed the oar into the white swells in a hurried rhythm, side to side.
 Over the roar of the surf and the driving rain, dogs yelped in an excited frenzy. Men shouted. Ian didn’t turn around—he needed more distance. As sure as he breathed, they were ramming lead balls down their muskets. With luck, the rain had soaked their slow matches, rendering the guns useless.
 Ian sped his determined paddling and squinted through the pelting rain—across to his home, the Isle of Raasay. He hadn’t set foot there since he was four and ten, but the sight of the island enlivened him. He could barely make out the black outline of Dùn Caan, the flat-topped peak that forever identified the isle as Clan MacLeod land.
 A sharp jab struck him from behind. Ian’s body propelled forward. His nose slammed into the wooden hull. An ear-shattering musket clap followed, piercing through the wind. Something stung, burned his back. Ian slid his hand over the screaming pain. Hot blood oozed through his fingers.
 More claps blasted from the beach, thudding into the tiny skiff. Ian rolled to his side. Icy water spurted over him. Frantically, he worked to hug both wooden oars against his chest. A thousand knives attacked his skin as salt water swallowed his lifeline to Raasay. The last thing he saw was the looming outline of Dùn Caan.
 Blackness engulfed him.

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Twitter: @amyjarecki

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Romance Weekly Blog Hop - Some Interesting Questions

If you hopped over here from Rhenna Morgan 's blog, WELCOMEThis weeks Romance Weekly Blog Hop questions come from Colette Cameron and her dynamic blog, Blue Rose Romance:

1. How do you respond to someone calling your writing smut or demeaning your work in some other way? 

That's one thing we authors must learn to take. So when someone publicly expresses that they don't like my writing, internally I get a little upset...then I read all the nice responses and get over it. 

2. When critiquing or beta reading, do you ever find the voice of the other author creeping into your writing? 

Fortunately, my critique partners don't write in my genre, so I've never encountered this problem. I do have an editor with one of publishers who tries to reword or rewrite things. That always hits a nerve, because to me its a loud trumpet blaring that it's not my voice. So any time she does a rewrite, I rewrite it again. Voice has become a powerful thing with me.

My sweetheart, Maya
Occasionally I'll be reading a really good book in my genre...then I have to work to keep the story and the voice out of my head. Same with a good movie. *sighs* Rob Roy comes to mind.

3. What’s one quirky thing you do or must have around you while writing?

Me? Quirky? Um... My Chihuahua sleeps under my desk while I'm writing. I always jot down notes before I write a scene. I listen to Celtic harp music especially when I need to connect with my muse. My desk is always a mess because I have research books and papers scattered everywhere. Nothing too weird. 

Next up, hop on over to S. C. Mitchell's blog. I'm sure he'll knock your socks off!

Everyone's invited to my Facebook Event unveiling the cover of RETURN OF THE HIGHLAND LAIRD on July 25th. Just click on the picture and then click join. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

So I Have a Street Team...

After receiving some not-so-nice critiques about having a street team, I thought I'd share a bit about what my team does. For those not involved, street teams seem to be in a category of the SCARY UNKNOWN. Before I formed my team, I went to a couple of Facebook workshops and followed a few authors who had them. Then I started my team with a vague idea of what I wanted.

Basically, a street team is a newfangled term for fan club and the bottom line is that street teams are pretty varied. My team is small with about ten active members (there are also a couple of authors and family members who are not active). My team is a work in process, but these are our activities:
  • They help me decide what to do when I have a Facebook book release party. By the way, my sales always take a small upturn as a result of these crazy parties:
    • We talk about dates to have the party and the times. I like to have a big 3-hour bang in which to stir up fun and excitement for my new book.
    • I usually invite a guest or two, and they make suggestions on who they'd like to see.
    • We talk about giveaways and what's new.
    • We talk about games/activities for the party.
    • They help me spread the word.
    • Usually they are active during the party and can win giveaways just like everyone else.
  • Occasionally I'll ask a member to beta read a new manuscript to help me determine where it needs polish.
  • I'll ask questions about new covers, and they always give their honest opinion...sometimes too honest LOL!
  • A couple of months ago they helped me choose a title for the novella that's coming out in August.
  • Sometimes we chat on the street team page and have our own mini Facebook party.
  • On occasion I send them promo items/SWAG or ARC's of a new release. However, I never ask them to leave a review. Of course, some of them do leave reviews, but most don't. In fact, most of my reviews come from NetGalley or people who have purchased my books. Interestingly, I was accused by a reader on Goodreads for soliciting reviews from my street team and providing them with the verbiage to do so. That is not only unethical it is simply false.
I found my members by making an announcement in the Captured by the Pirate Laird party that I was forming a team and asked who might be interested. Several people commented they were, and I added a few, but most of my members came to me and expressed interest in being on the team. However members ended up joining, they are a awesome and caring group, and we're all becoming friends.

Eventually I'd like to grow my team a bit, but for the time being, I think it works as is. I heard of one author with 800 members (I don't know how she does it). I know other authors who have rigorous screening processes/questionnaires for new members. I hope I never have to go to that extreme. My Facebook street team is fun, and a place where people can be themselves and support each other. My team is here to stay!


Have you entered to win a copy of Beauty and the Barbarian on Goodreads? The contest is open through June 29th...

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Beauty and the Barbarian by Amy Jarecki

Beauty and the Barbarian

by Amy Jarecki

Giveaway ends June 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Romance Writers Weekly - Do You Know How Your Story Ends Before You Write?

Sorry I missed last week, but with the book signing in Las Vegas, something had to give! The good news is I started a new manuscript last week (#14), so I'm in writers heaven! This weeks questions come from the wonderfully outlandish Jami Denise:

    1. When writing your novel, do you know how it’s going to end before you write, or do you write from start to finish?

    I'm one of those plotting types who spends weeks planning, researching and plotting before I can write the first scene. So, the answer to this question is yes. I'm not so rigid that I can't allow my character's voices to make changes, but the beginning, middle and end are always as I planned. 
    2. How do the people you know impact your writing? Are you influenced by friends and family for your characters?

    I am more influenced by character type than actual people, but on occasion, one of my characters is similar to someone I know. I'll ask myself, how would that person respond? Often, after I've asked that question, I come up with something entirely different than my first thought.
      3. Describe the hero in your current WIP in three words.

      Adventurous, Powerful, Deadly

      Fun questions this week! Next up, hop on over to Kim Handysides blog and see how she anseres these interesting questions!

      Monday, June 9, 2014

      My Writing Process

      Today I'm participating in the My Writing Process Blog Tour and would like to thank NYT and USA Today Bestselling author, David Farland for inviting me on this tour. I met Dave in 2011 at his Professional Writer's Workshop. He used to be a writing teacher at BYU and is the mastermind of The Rune Lords as well as a host of other fantasy and science-fiction novels. If you haven't visited his site, you can find his writing process post HERE

      Follow Dave's twitter handle: @DavidFarland.

      We writers share these things, but informally during workshops and at conferences (and, for a handful of established writers, in printed interviews), but not so much through our open-forum blogs. With the hashtag #MyWritingProcess, you can learn how writers all over the world answer the same four questions. How long it takes one to write a novel, why romance is a fitting genre for another, how one's playlist grows as the draft grows, why one's poems are often sparked by distress over news headlines or oddball facts learned on Facebook... 

      So, participating authors have been asked to answer the following four questions:

        1) What am I working on?

      Presently I have a number of projects on the front burner, which I try not to do, but it just happened that way this month! I am editing a novella that comes out in August. I am plotting and starting to write book three in my 2015 series, Highland Dynasty. I am working on final edits for Rescued by the Celtic Warrior which will be released in October...and I just finished "fixing" Celtic Maid, which is scheduled for a December release.

      *swipes head with back of hand* It's hard to keep all these heroes and heroines straight!

        2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

      I've read a ton of books in my genre, and I think mine have a bit more action and adventure. Also, I don't sugarcoat the brutality of the eras in which I write. The Renaissance produced some of the most brutal and savage torture devices known to man. I would be doing history a disservice if I ignored that part of society.

        3) Why do I write what I do?

      Firstly, I LOVE Scotland. It's in my blood, and I LOVE history. I have always enjoyed reading romance and historical novels. It only makes sense that I would put it all together and write Scottish historical romance.

        4) How does my writing process work?

      Holy moly, this is a loaded question and one I can't answer in one sentence...
      • I build a notebook for every book. It starts with research. I usually find an event in history, or someone who sparks my interest. I learn everything I can about them and use that as a framework for my outline. If I'm building a new world, I might research for a month or more.
      • Once I'm ready to write.
      • Start with a premise statement.
      • Write a 2-3 page general outline of the book/sequence of events.
      • Develop my characters--I use a psychology book to identify their personality type, then I use a character profile sheet to make them into a real person and write their back stories.
      • I then use an Excel spreadsheet to plot each scene. I use a numbering system that allows me to insert scenes, because once I start writing, the gloves come off and my characters start taking over. Inevitably, the outline changes as the story comes alive.
      • Of course I then edit the hell out of it...that has become my favorite part.
      Some of my writing tools

      Next up are three talented authors:

      Jen Greyson writes award-winning and bestselling NA romances, including fantastical time travel and steamy contemporaries. When she's not writing her own stories, she ghostwrites them for a USA Today Bestselling NA author and a local celebrity. She is a voracious reader and longs for books that entrap her for hours and transport her to other worlds (mostly so she doesn't have to vacuum) and is always eager for a recommendation.

      A recovering horse addict, she grew up with hay in her hair and manure on her shoes. Now a suburban housewife and mom, she's taken her competitive sportsmanship to the water and is learning how to wakeboard without any more trips to the ER.

      Visit her site to see how she answers the #MyWritingProcess questions:


      Katherine Givens is a museum employee with a secret. Few know the truth of her greatest passion, but those closest to her know she loves to write historical romances… Alright, maybe more than a few people know she is a writer. Anyone who will listen to her can glean this from a conversation.

      So, Katherine Givens is a museum employee who wishes she had a devilish secret or a jaw-dropping double life, but the characters in her manuscripts often do. From the withdrawn duke mesmerized by his quiet maid or the savage viking eager to ravish a Christian girl, her heroes are always bound to have a secret or two. It is often up to the headstrong heroine to unravel the mysteries surrounding the man that has captured her heart.

      Katherine's Twitter handle: KatherineGiven3

      Katherine's blog:

      Victoria Barbour lives on the island of Newfoundland, and is fiercely proud of her home. She can imagine no better setting for her Heart’s Ease contemporary romance series, and hopes that her readers will one day come to witness Newfoundland and Labrador's rustic beauty for themselves. 
      She was born in St. John's, and raised above her family's fish and chips restaurant. She has traveled and lived in other parts of Canada, but chose to make her home where her heart has long resided. Victoria has a degree in History from Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a minor in Newfoundland Studies. The only thing that stands between her and a Master's degree in History from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is her thesis. She has a background in broadcast journalism, advertising, and marketing. She is a proud member of both the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and their affiliate chapter, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada (RWAC). 


      And I can't sign off without doing a plug for my new release, Beauty and the Barbarian. Have you got your copy yet? :-) Or you can enter the Goodreads contest at the top of the blog for a chance to win one of five signed copies!

      Born with the mark of the devil, Merrin has been hidden on the islet of Eilean Fladda for near twenty years. When the body of a Highlander washes ashore, the innocent lass presumes him dead. Brushing the hair from the rugged warrior’s face, her fingers connect with warm flesh. Warm.

      Ian MacLeod wakes to a woman so radiant, he believes her an angel. But when the lass recoils from him, he fears she knows of his evil deeds. While he heals, Ian is stunned when he exposes her witch’s mark, yet he’s spellbound by Merrin’s allure. He’d do anything to erase his haunting past and earn her love.

      But there’s a henchman after Ian’s head, and when that man learns the Highlander is still alive, the couple is forced to flee Merrin’s sheltered world. Fighting for survival, destiny demands they each face their demons, but doing so may forever ruin them both.

      Thursday, June 5, 2014

      Welcome Author Sarah Hegger and Her Debut Novel!

      Please Join me in welcoming Sarah Hegger and her Debut historical Romance, The Bride Gift! I love the medieval setting:

      Hi Amy! Thank you for having me over to share the release of my debut novel, The Bride Gift.
      One of the perks of writing historical romance is that you end up with an entire series of Fun Facts about the period you research. Odd bits of information that really don’t belong in a book and you are probably the only person who finds interesting.
      My family has already banned me from trotting them out, so I have to find a new outlet. Lucky you, you’re it!
      The Bride Gift is set in 1153, towards the end of the reign of King Stephen. Stephen took the throne after the death of Henry I, when the White Ship carrying Henry’s heir, William, sunk suddenly in the English channel killing just about everybody on board (only 2 survivors, yikes!).

      Seeing his gap, Stephen got himself to England faster than Henry’s daughter, Mathilda (Maud) and with the help of his brother Henry of Blois declared himself king. It didn’t work out so well for him, in the end, because Mathilda never gave up her fight for the throne. One of those feisty ladies of the Middle Ages. And it was her son, Henry FitzEmpress (later Henry II) who took the throne after Stephen. Under constant pressure from the war and having exhausted the patience of his supporting barons, Stephen was forced to name Henry his heir at the Treaty of Winchester. His own son, Eustace died just before this. I use this little piece of history, with a twist of my own in The Bride Gift, but that's all I’m prepared to give away at this point.

      Win, Lose of Draw for King Stephen? You decide.

      So, let me tell you a little something about The Bride Gift

      It’s 1153 in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.
       Determined to control her own destiny, wilful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But, when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior Guy of Helston is everything Helena swore she would never marry; a man who lives by the sword, like the man who murdered her sister.
       This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.
        Against a backdrop of vengeance, war and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything.

      Available now on Amazon.

      Can we have an excerpt, please?
      I couldn’t leave without giving you a small taste:

      The men had practiced in the yards since early morning. Now, they streamed into the hall, filthy, sweat stained, and bellowing for food. Helena stiffened her spine. They would not treat her hall as if it were a rough camp.
      “Sir Guy,” her voice rang across the expanse.
      His face was streaked with perspiration, his tunic hanging haphazardly from one meaty shoulder. His bare chest gleamed from his exertions.
      The butterflies were back inside her and flinging themselves about. Helena tightened her resolve. This wouldn’t do.
      She swept from the dais toward them. Around Guy, his men went silent and fell away.
      They would not come to her table filthy and stinking of sweat. This was her keep.
      “The meal will wait until you have had time to prepare yourselves.” She spoke to their leader, but let her glance drift over the rowdy lot.
      Their eyes slid shamefaced to the floor. They looked like a collection of overgrown, rebuked boys.
      A small smile tugged at her mouth. She suppressed it harshly.
      “Hah?” Sir Guy grunted at her.
      Helena gritted her teeth. The man was able to speak. She’d seen as much around his men, but for her he could do nothing more than, ‘hah?’
      “Tell me, Sir Guy,” she lisped sweetly, “was that ‘Aye, my lady’ or ‘Nay, my lady’ or, mayhap, it was aught else entirely?”
      Guy went absolutely still before her. One corner of his mouth turned up slightly. Helena’s pulse fluttered against the side of her neck in reaction.
      She couldn’t read the expression turning his eyes near silver, but her pulse kicked rapidly in response.
      He lunged toward her, deadly swift. She squealed as his hands closed on her hips and lifted her into the air, as if she weighed no more than thistledown. Good Lord, he is strong. A small thrill chased through her innards. Her hands clung to his forearms convulsively. The feel of his skin beneath her hands was hot as the sensation of touching him swept up her arms.
      “As you will, my lady,” he rumbled.
      Around them, the hall broke into raucous yells and whistles. Helena’s face flamed with heat.
      He lowered her closer, his mouth hard and swift on hers before he placed her back to the floor. His men cheered and stamped their feet.
      Helena’s lips tingled where he’d touched them. She raised her fingertips to her mouth. Then jerked her hand away, irked by her own reaction and unable to still her pounding heart.
      “Will you attend me as I bathe?” he drawled, smooth as silk.
      She tried to regain her composure, but her blood rushed through her ears and her knees knocked together beneath her bliaut. She raised her chin.
      “Geoffrey will attend you.” She wouldn’t let him see how he had completely overset her.
      Guy merely grinned at her, a great, unabashed beam of nonsense that prodded at her to respond.
      She turned her shoulder on him instead. “The rest of you may wash in the barracks,” she groused at the grinning bunch of louts. “Merry will bring cloths.”
      They turned as one and stormed for the screens.
      Helena wished she could follow them. Guy’s kiss, his touch still lingered. But the hall was looking to her. She put a bright smile on her face. She would act as if naught had happened.

      Excellent excerpt, Sarah! And here's Sarah's bio:

      Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.
      Sarah Hegger
      Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

      She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
      I love to hear from readers and you can find me at any of the places below.

      Congratulations on your debut, Sarah! I wish you years of success! 

      Tuesday, June 3, 2014

      Romance Weekly Blog Hop - How Do You Deal With Critiques?

      Awesome Ms. Victoria Barbour provided this week's blog hop questions:
      1. Have you always written Romance?
      No. The first two manuscripts I wrote were suspense novels, followed by a Native American historical, which was my debut novel. Boy Man Chief won the LUW award for best manuscript and the Spark Book award, but didn't sell many copies. After that I started delving into the world of romance and found my voice with Scottish historicals.

      I went back and looked at my first manuscript and almost died. My goodness, it's so bad nothing can fix it. LOL

      By the way, Boy Man Chief is only $0.99 on Amazon.

      2.  How do you deal with critiques about the romance genre?

      A assume this question is about critiques dissing the romance genre. Well, some of them are spot on. I don't like every romance novel I read either. But there are a number of people out there who think romance authors are not talented. I definitely disagree with that. Some of the most talented writers in the business write romance. My favorites included Tessa Dare and Monica McCarty. They blow me away with every book! 

      However, critiques are one person's opinion. I don't always agree with them, but everyone has the right of free expression. Of course if they are dissing me, it hurts. I just might go for a 10 mile bike ride to clear my head, and then get back to business!
      1. What’s the one thing about our genre you’d like people to know?
      I write historical romance. I do a ton of research for every book. I try to make the setting as realistic as possible. Yes there is a romantic story line, but all my novels are action-adventures as well. Most good romance novels are simply great stories, just as you would see in every other genre!

      Next up, hop on over to LaNora Mangano's blog to see how she answers these questions: