Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Romance Weekly

Oh, my. Is it Tuesday already? How time flies when you pimping your book. Looks like it's time to respond to another set of probing questions on the art and craft of romance writing. Here are this week's slate:

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

Oh, dear. Blush. I hate to think what people would think if they ever saw the search history on my internet browser.  I've searched everything from torture methods to tips for giving the perfect blow job. I research everything. Myths, spells, history, clans, spells, tarot cards, ferry schedules, when the sun rises and sets in a particular place, you name it. I also spend hours driving around Scotland and England on Google maps and read reviews of places my characters visit to get a sense of how people react to the settings. You can find some of the images that inspired each of my books on Pinterest (link is at the top of the page under the masthead).

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

Can I name several? One's sitting beside my laptop right now: Highland Martial Culture: The Fighting Heritage of Scotland by Christopher Scott Thompson. Great little book that includes not only the weaponry, but also the cultural aspects of martial training in days of yore, including the spells and sians they used for protection. I also bought Highland Broadsword Fighting and Lords of War to further my study of the subject. For a half-finished book I'm hoping to pick up again, I bought several books: Sea Room by Adam Nicolson (about the Shiant Islands), The Pirate Queen by Barbara Sjoholm (Orkney folk tales) , Nature and The Human Soul by Bill Plotkin, and The Fish Prince and Other Stories (Mermen folk tales). My languishing WIP, as yet untitled, is about one of the legendary Blue Man of the Minch who gets involved with an oil company spokeswoman during a mysterious spill in the Hebrides. Lots of research went into the world-building, as you can see.

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


Scotland. No question. Time period? I'll have to think about that one. Not 1745 to 1780, I can tell you that much.  

Speaking of Scotland ... it's time to hop over to the blog of my good friend Kate Robbins, who writes fantastic Scottish historical romances. Take it away, Kate!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Romance Weekly


Welcome to my wee slice of the Romance Weekly pie.

Here are my responses to this week's jackpot questions:


What ages are your characters?

Well, it depends. My immortal characters can be hundreds of years old, but usually appear to be between 35 and 45. My heroine's tend to hover in the cusp around 30. For my paranormals, anyway. In my political thriller, The Tin Man (coming August 30 from CHBB), my hero is 45 and the heroine is 38.

What special things or places inspire you to write? 

History, mythology, and things paranormal and occult are my primary inspirations. All my stories are tied in a big way to Scotland and/or Celtic myth and culture. Even in my thriller, which is set in iconic locales within the United States, the hero is an ex-pat Scot from Edinburgh.

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

This one is tougher to answer. Messages? Depends on the book. All of mine have different underlying themes. In The Queen of Swords, it's to trust fate and the magic of love. In The Knight of Wands, my next paranormal, it's not to let other people make you doubt your worth; in The Tin Man, it's not to let the media fall into the hands of those who would use it to manipulate public opinion and to be a critical thinker and not buy into propaganda without questioning the source and their motive.

Time to pop over to hear what the lovely and talented Sarah Hegger has to say in reply to these same three questions. Take it away, Sarah!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Romance Weekly

Welcome to my wee slice of Romance Weekly.

Here are my responses to this week's jackpot questions:

Who is your favorite character and why?

I love them all, of course. Graham, the hero in The Queen of Swords, is both noble and funny. Callum, the hero in The Knight of Wands, is a good-hearted romantic. Leith, the hero of my WIP, is a bit on the dark side, but still well-intentioned. If pressed to pick just one, I’d have to go with Alex Buchanan, the journalist hero in The Tin Man. He’s very complex and has lots of demons to overcome, but also is a really good guy.

Do you prefer to write your hero or heroine?

My heroes, hands down. All my stories, though told from both points of view, are really about him more than her. Even when I was a kid, I used to play Ken to my sisters' Barbies. I'm sure there's some deep psychological reason for this, but I couldn't tell you why I just find men more interesting. Or maybe it's just because I'm a heterosexual woman.

What are three things you can't write without?

Google, the fifteen beats of Save the Cat plotting, and a notebook to scribble down ideas.

Now it's time to head on over to hear what Kim Handysides has to say on these subjects.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger

The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger
will be released by Soul Mate Publishing on May 14.

Here's the blurb:

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.

This is Sarah's very first cover and it marks on of those milestones for her as a writer. "I’m still struggling to get past my name on the cover," says the debut novelist, who welcomes feedback from the romance reading public.

You can find Sarah on the Internet at the following locations:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Romance Weekly

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn't you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all... About our writing of course! Every week we'll answer questions and after you've enjoyed the blog on this site we'll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask questions in the comment box."

. . . 
 Welcome to my wee slice of Romance Weekly. Here are my responses to this week's jackpot questions:

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

Of course I can. The 25-word version:

A bookish white witch returns every hundred years to reunite with her earthbound soul mate--a Scottish earl turned vampire by a dark wizard's curse.

The slightly more verbose version:

The Queen of Swords brings together romance, history, fantasy, mythology, and the occult to spin a spellbinding tale of a love that has survived for centuries. Cat Fingal, a bookish white witch, returns every 100 years with a hole in her heart she doesn't know how to fill--until she meets Graham, her soul mate who's been earthbound by a dark wizard's curse. Will she find a way to free him the third time around ... or are they destined to repeat the cycle for eternity as star-crossed lovers?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

This collage shows my casting choices for Cat and Graham, the heroine and hero of The Queen of Swords. Cat would be played by someone like Emily Blunt. British, dark haired, and beautiful in an unconventional way. Graham would be played by Rupert Friend, who I used as the physical model for his character while writing the book. For some of my blog interviews, I also have created Pinterest boards of the characters and settings for The Queen of Swords (out now) and my next book, The Knight of Wands (coming soon). Here's the link if you want to check them out: http://www.pinterest.com/ninamason165/

Does the storyline of your novel compare with any films out there?

If it does, I'm not aware of them. There are similarities between my plot and Frances Ford Coppola's Dracula in that my heroine is the reincarnation of the vampire's former love, but that's about all they have in common.

Thanks for stopping by. Time to swing over to Amy Jarecki's blog to see how she will answer these same three questions.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Launch Blog Tour Stops at Platypire

Buy it now at Amazon.com
What's a platypire? I didn't know either until reviewer Sara Kaiser told me this morning. It's a cross between a platypus and a vampire. Well, Platypire Reviews is today's stop on the Book Launch Blog Tour for The Queen of Swords, a paranormal tale of undying love. It's also the location of our latest five-star review. That makes 18 reviews (16 of them five stars!) in under two weeks! Check out the post, enter the giveaway, and buy the book! People are loving it.

Platypire Reviews

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Romance Weekly

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn't you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all... About our writing of course! Every week we'll answer questions and after you've enjoyed the blog on this site we'll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask questions in the comment box."
. . . 
 Welcome to my wee slice of Romance Weekly. Here are my responses to this week's jackpot questions:

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

Most of my paranormals are set in Scotland, so I suppose you could say the setting finds me. I'm a nut for all things Scottish and Celtic myth, so I tend to look for different Scottish locales in which to set the books. Other settings also come into play. The Queen of Swords, for example, is set in a fictitious village in County Essex, England, called Wickenham. The hero's castle is on the Black Isle and there are flashbacks to Ireland, London, Paris, and Singapore. In The Knight of Wands, the story starts out in Caithness, the northernmost part of Scotland, then shifts to New Orleans. In book two, which I'm writing now, the story starts out in Nairn and moves to the fantasy world. I've got another work-in-progress set in the Hebrides. The only book so far not set in Scotland is The Tin Man, my political thriller, which is scheduled for release by CHBB on August 30. The hero is an ex-pat Scot, so he has memories of growing up in Edinburgh, but the book is about American liberties, so I set it in landmark places here: New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. To me, the setting is almost a character in the story and I therefore try to immerse the reader in the location. I've read several books set in Scotland that could have been set anywhere except for the clans and the castle keeps. I really try to give readers a feel for where they are in my books.

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

My family is supportive of my writing, but doesn't want to hear the minutia of my day to day struggles with putting words on the page, so I'd have to say other writers. For a while, I used a writing coach to help me hone my craft, but now I've got a wonderful critique partner who reads my stuff and tells where when it's going off the rails. I also have beta readers who react to stuff and a street team to cheer me up when I feel discouraged on the promoting end of things.

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

I had to give this one some thought. I got a load of bad advice from one well-meaning editor: dumb down my writing to appeal to a wider audience, stop writing the book I was working on because nobody would want to read it, write to trends, consider self-publishing. In hopes of getting a contract with that particular publisher, I did simplify my next book and shelve my WIP, but it still wasn't right for them. Sigh. I'm planning to resurrect that abandoned WIP as soon as I finish the book I'm writing now.

Time to move on to the next writer in the circle to see what she has to say in response to this week's questions. So, I give you another lover of Scotland, Amy Jarecki.

Cover Reveal: Monster Unleashed by Shakuita Johnson

Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if the one fate chose for you vanished into thin air? What would you give up? Who would you become to stay with that person? 

Krista Bell finally knows what it's like to be free. The torture she endured at the hands of her psychotic father have unleashed the monster her mother tried so hard to help her suppress. The only thing she wants to do is be the shadow in the night that everyone is afraid of. 

Taser is barely holding it together. He lost Kris once to her father and now he's losing her to the monster she is becoming. He's also barely containing his own monster since Krista decided she didn't need her mates anymore. Nathan is still near but he may not be enough. 

Nathan is on the verge of losing not one but both of his mates. One vanished without a trace. The other is avoiding him. He has run out of patience with them both. 

But when the monster that Krista has become comes to them with a proposal will they take her up on it and possibly lose themselves or will they try to talk her down and get the beast to put back on her chain?

Here’s an excerpt:

Krista made her way down the hall and into the office she knew her mates would be. They were not going to like what she had to say but right now it was about her. She was tired of putting others before herself. Tired of pretending to be someone that she wasn’t. She paused for a moment in the doorway to look at her mates one last time. They were rung tight from her self-imposed seclusion and she knew this was only going to be the beginning of their heartache.
She took a moment to really look at her mates. They were total contrasts to each other. Where Taser was standing at only five-foot-five-inches and weighing one hundred and seventy five pounds. He had dirty blonde hair that stuck out all over the place and hazel eyes. On the other hand, Nathan stood at just less than seven feet and weighted over three hundred pounds of pure muscle. He had black hair with the most mesmerizing green eyes flecked with gold, belaying his paranormal status. They were both handsome. Any girl would be lucky to have just one of them as a mate.
Yet her she was ready to give them both up. It couldn’t be helped so no use in delaying the inevitable. Without preamble Krista spoke the words all men dread.
“We need to talk. Now.”
“Now you’re ready to talk,” Nathan said with an arched eyebrow.
“It’s about damn time,” was Taser’s reply.
Krista saw where this conversation was going to go before it started. Both her mates were upset and yet she still couldn’t bring herself to care, much. She knew what she had to do and she didn’t plan on changing her mind.
“Are you both going to be assholes or listen to what I have to say?” Krista asked.
“Fine. Speak,” Taser barked.
Speak! What was she a damn dog? Krista was fuming and she could feel the air around her zinging with her anger.
“Careful how you speak to me,” she threatened in a low voice. “I am not some common animal that you can issue commands and receive obedience in return. You will do well to remember who and what I am.”
“Let’s all calm down and take a seat. We have just been worried. Taser didn’t mean anything by it. Let’s not fight but instead have a civilized conversation,” Nathan said. He didn’t need anyone losing their cool right now. Emotions were already running high as it was.
“Before the rudeness was introduced, what I was trying to say is I will be leaving here today and never returning. I’ve given this a lot of thought and there is just no way I can continue this existence how I was. I am no longer that person. I have changed. There is no point in a discussion because nothing you say will change my mind. The both of you will also not be joining me,” Krista stated.
Was she serious with this shit? She walks in here like she owns the world and decrees that she is leaving not only the pack lands but also her mates behind. Did she think we were supposed to be okay with it? Nathan was utterly speechless. Never in all his years would he have expected this shit when he found his Nyhiya. He could feel the rage building and getting ready to burst free.
“Come again?” Taser asked. “I think I may have misheard what you just said. I could have sworn it sounded like you were abandoning your mates.”
“No need to be dramatic. It’s not like you only have one mate. Nathan will keep you company but unfortunately I have things to do. Mates would only hold me back from my destiny. I don’t need any weaknesses my enemies could exploit. Now if you both will excuse me, I have preparations to make.”
With those parting words, Krista got up and walked out of the office. She didn’t have time to waste. She had to gather the few things she had here and leave to begin her hunt. She wasn’t sure where she was starting but she was sure she was leaving here tonight and by any means necessary.

About the Author

Shakuita Johnson is a 29-year-old Psychology major. When she isn’t going to school or working, she is doing what she loves most. Writing. She started writing in middle school. Starting with poetry. Then short stories in a creative writing course her senior year. Her love for paranormal and supernatural started with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and TV show, Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, and Christopher Pike books. She is an avid reader with over 100 books on her bookshelf and 1000 plus on her iPad. This is her second novel. Visit her online and read her poems and one attempt at songwriting on her blog.

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