Monday, December 12, 2011

If I knew Then What I Know Now...

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 6:41 PM
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Welcome folks. So glad you came by, and since you're here, you won't mind if I pick your brain, right? Please? I'll be your best friend! ;-) Excellent! I knew I could count on you. Thank you, thank you! 

Okay, here we go. Since reading the words, 'We think your manuscript will be a wonderful addition to our line', I have met some awesome authors and web lurkers who have been very gracious in sharing their knowledge. Yet I have so much more to learn. About publishing, and writing, and the dreaded promoting. And I know there are many others out there who are in the same position. I am a believer in expediency, so with that thought in mind, I am asking all you lovely folks to share what you've learned, and answer two pertinent questions for us lost and wandering newbies:
 
1. If I knew then what I know now, I would have...
2. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have...

 I'm pretty new at all of this so take my answers in context. 

1. I would have jumped into the world of social media a lot sooner. There is so much to learn and gaining an education on a supersonic schedule gives me a headache.
2. I wouldn't have been so timid in my first experience with the professional editing of my work. I know the characters inside and out. I need to learn to trust to my inner voice when it balks.

Okay, your turn! 
*Leaning forward in my chair, anxiously awaiting your answers*

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Behind the Book Mania ~ Author Spotlight on Jennifer Jakes

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 1:01 PM
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Hello Everyone.  

I'm so glad you could join me today to welcome the talented Jennifer Jakes, a fellow Wild Rose Press author. If you don't know Jennifer, I'm sure you'll find her and her stories as charming as I do.  Her writing style is a little bit spicy, and a lot of fun. 

For more about Jennifer, visit http://www.jenniferjakes.com/. And if you are a fan of eye candy, might I suggest you take a peek at Jennifer's blog. When you're finished drooling, pop on back to learn about her indie title, TWICE IN A LIFETIME. 

Welcome, Jennifer, and I have to say, wow! What a cover. If you've seen mine, you know I prefer bold rather than soft and misty. Yours certainly delivers. 

Thanks! I'm glad you like it. I think she did a great job. I almost cried when I saw it! LOL I think Kim Killion/HOT DAMN Designs
is the best designer out there. 

I can see why. Okay, here we go. Many authors begin writing because they love to read. Is this true with you, and if so, did you write your first book because you were inspired, or because you thought, Hell, I can do better than this?

Definitely inspired. I've always loved western historical (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, anyone?) and the idea for RAFE'S REDEMPTION, my first novel, had been floating around in my head for a really long time. LOL

Oh, yeah. I know all about those characters floating around in your head. But that's the beauty of being a writer ~ You are never alone! So, besides a critiquing partner, is there someone special you let read your manuscripts before submitting?
 
I actually had 2 critique partners when writing RAFE and now, writing TWICE IN A LIFETIME, I'm lucky to have 4 critique partners who read for me.

Wow. I bite my nails over one pair of eyes reading my drafts. Which of the characters you've written most resembles you, and why?
 
Definitely Isabella from TWICE. She's so stubborn - sometimes too much so - but she has a big heart and can admit when she was wrong.

A combination that makes for a strong woman, with attributes so necessary in the world of publishing. What author influenced your writing style the most?
 
None really. I think TV influenced me more because the pacing is faster and I like that.....so I write fast paced stories.

You certainly do. Izzy and Ian's adventure in Twice In A Lifetime is a wild ride. What was the germ of the idea for
Twice In A Lifetime?
 
I had the idea for a kick-butt stuntwoman who found herself aboard a pirate ship. From there, I developed the plot for TWICE IN A LIFETIME.

I like the way your mind works. Tell us about Twice In A Lifetime.

BLURB – TWICE IN A LIFETIME

Be Careful What You Wish For. . .

No-nonsense stuntwoman Isabella Douglas will do anything to stop an unwanted divorce and reclaim the happy life she had, even allow her old friend to concoct a magical spell to turn back time. But when the spell goes awry, Izzy finds herself trapped aboard a 1768 Caribbean pirate ship with a captain who’s a dead ringer for her sexy as sin husband, Ian. Convinced he’s playing a cruel joke, she’s furious – until she realizes he doesn’t know her or believe they’re married.

Captain Ian Douglas does not have time to deal with an insane woman who claims to be his wife; he has to save his kidnapped sister. But as Izzy haunts his dreams and fills him with erotic memories he can’t explain, he’s forced to admit he feels more than lust.

Trapped in a vicious cycle of past mirroring present, Izzy knows they only have days to find Ian’s sister and prevent disaster from striking a second time. If she doesn’t, their marriage will be destroyed again – along with the man she loves.

EXCERPT: TWICE IN A LIFETIME

Her fingers threaded in his thick hair as she traced his mouth with the tip of her tongue. “Kiss me.” 
He hesitated, then groaned and covered her lips in a breath stealing kiss. Hot, wet, silky. Her nipples hardened, ached for his touch, the tug of his fingers, the pull of his mouth.
“Touch me.” She pressed a kiss to his throat, then licked his collarbone. “I need your hands on me.”
He grunted and slid his hands down her back. Rough palms gripped her cheeks, grinding her against his erection. His gaze burned through her as he moved his thigh between her legs.
“Yes. Please.” She tilted her hips, rubbing, needing release more than air. “Oh, God, yes.” Desire roared through her, the ache building. Building. The orgasm so . . .damned. . .close.
A sharp knock sounded at the door. “Captain? The men are ready to go ashore.”
Ian pulled back and swallowed hard, his expression hungry, his heart thumping against her breast.
“Captain?”
“Yes. Yes, I’ll be right there.” His heavy lidded gaze skimmed her body. Possessive. Aroused. Regretful as he set her aside.
Her mind crawled to process what was happening while her body was doused with disappointment. “You’re still going?”
He raked through his hair, then nodded. “We need provisions before sailing for Jamaica. I’ll only be a few hours.” He stepped to the door, but turned and pinned her with a hard stare. “But when I return...”
“Yes?” Her heart thumped in anticipation of some explicit description of what he would do to her. Oh, but his tongue was naughty in all the right ways.
“. . . I expect an explanation.”
Izzy drooped against the door, her thoughts racing even though her legs collapsed. This was going to be the shortest second chance in history.  

TWICE IN A LIFETIME is available for .99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords, and ARe and Bookstrand. Here are the buylinks:
Amazon 
Smashwords

All Romance ebooks 

Find Jennifer at her website http://www.jenniferjakes.com/
and Blog
 
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Behind the Book Mania ~ Author Spotlight on Laura Browning

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 11:46 AM
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Hello folks. Please help me welcome the bright and talented Laura Browning. The author of multiple published titles, she has graciously consented to answer a few questions and share a bit about her Brotherhood of the Guardians series.

Thanks for taking time out of this crazy holiday season to stop by and share with us today, Laura.

Good Morning, Mac.  Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog. November and December have been very busy months for me, but it’s a wonderful kind of busy. In addition to a holiday novella and a contemporary romance that just released from two different publishers last week, I’ve also been busy in my own little paranormal world with a vampires series I’m bringing out independently. So, bring on the questions.

You got it. Here we go…
Many authors begin writing because they love to read. Is this true of you, and if so, did you write your first book because you were inspired, or because you thought, hell, I can do better than this?

I adore reading, and I always have. As my careers—first as a TV news producer and now as a high school English teacher—also demand a lot of reading of either factual or literary work, my personal reading has focused more and more on entertainment. So I read romance with the occasional deviation into authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Dan Brown. My love of telling stories has always been there. As a kid, I can remember “reworking” fairytales in my head, changing the events to somehow include me. I completed my first manuscript in longhand when I was sixteen and gave it to my mom for Christmas. It was a really bad gothic romance. Really bad. Mom loved it, but then, that’s her job.

Wow! You’ve been busy and accomplished much! TV news producer and an English teacher, huh? *checking to make sure grammar check is on* Ahem...I’ll bet mom treasured your gift, no matter how rough the draft. And speaking of rough drafts, besides a critiquing partner, is there someone you let read your manuscript before submitting?

Well, I’m not sure I dare admit this since it seems to be so much the norm…I don’t have a critique partner. I once forced my husband to read a manuscript, but sigh, all he came back with was a couple of grammatical corrections. I took that to mean that my male characters must act like real guys. I’m hard enough on myself, honestly, I’m not sure I could take much more. So—no—I don’t really let other people read what I’m writing until I have it about as complete as I believe I can make it. That’s not to say that if the right partner came along I wouldn’t be adverse to it. I’ve made a career of reworking and rewriting my own and other people’s stories. Maybe a critique partner would save me some time. I’ve been known to get about 30k into a manuscript, decide something’s not right and completely rewrite it. Two of my current releases, The Silkie’s Call and Winning Heart, went through that before I ever submitted.

Oh, yeah. We are our own worst critics, aren’t we? Which of the Characters you’ve written most resembles you, and why?

Wow, that is a tough one, but I guess Wynter, from Winning Heart. In addition to her love of horses, there are aspects to her character that might be more like me. She likes a good practical joke, even if it’s one that gets her in trouble. She’s tough and does what she has to do, but also still has an inner core of mushiness and awkwardness that keeps her from being too hard.

Sounds well rounded and fun to me. My favorite type of heroine. Okay, best advice you were given concerning your writing?

Write for yourself, not for the market. I think that does two things. It helps you develop your voice as a writer, and it keeps the joy in it. No matter how much we love something, there are always going to be days when it feels like a job.  I wish I had listened to a version of that before I left college. I probably would not have turned my back on writing fiction for Journalism for as long as I did. But then, I also believe our experiences help us become who we are, so who’s to say I didn’t need all that time as a journalist to make me a better fiction writer.

Amen to that. Life experience can't be purchased and adds color to our pallets, as people and writers. What author influenced your writing the most?

There are so many. I like Nora Roberts because of her spunky heroines. LaVyrle Spencer was probably the first author to really show me you didn’t need exotic locations or danger to create a great story. Wonderful, heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories are out there in everyday life. Dean Koontz and Stephen King help me remember that in the world of a writer’s imagination anything can happen.  Finally, J.R.R. Tolkien for incredible world building and excellent storytelling. The last three have influenced my steps into paranormal with my Silkie books and the Brotherhood of the Guardians.

Quite an impressive and understandable list. We share some favorites. My first foray into the wonderful world of reading came when my dad gave me his copy of The Hobbit when I was nine. From that moment on, I was hooked. So, you’ve already been published with The Wild Rose Press and Lyrical Press. Why did you choose to Indie publish your vampires?

That was a tough decision, but it really came down to some story details that I felt I couldn’t compromise on. However, they were situations that I knew from experience would make a publishing house nervous.  The other factor that weighed in for me, was I simply wanted to see if I could do it all. The process has been a rewarding one that has only increased my respect for the job that editors, publishers and graphic artists do.

I can’t even imagine all the work involved, but you’ve pulled it off with style. Love the sharp look of your covers, by the way. What was the germ of the idea behind your Brotherhood of the Guardians story?

Ha, ha… What if the vampires were really the good guys—like guardian angels? And what if the heroine first encountered the good guys as a kid? That was the beginning of the idea for the first book in the series, The Guardian Michel (like Michelle). These good guys, though, really have no idea of where they came from. The vampire lore is something that’s gradually coming out through the series. Book three, which just came out at the end of November is where the door to their heritage really opens up.

Still reworking those fairytales in your head, I see, and sharing them with the rest of us now, thank you very much. Where can we find the books in your Brotherhood of the Guardians series?

Barnes and Noble and Amazon You should read them in order – yeah, it’s a series. But guess what? They’re all priced $2.99 and below. Do I think my writing’s cheap? Nah…I want people to read it, and since I’m the writer and the publisher, I can afford to sell them at a lower price. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on publishing houses. Indie publishing is hard work. Sometimes it’s nice to leave it to someone else. Lol.

I hear that! My hat is off to you. Just the thought of going it on my own gives me hives. So, give us a peek, if you would.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Guardian Michel, book one in the series. It’s when Michel first sees our heroine, a woman he loved and lost more than a century earlier.
He watched her for as long as he dared. He had just walked out the coffee shop door when he caught her scent and searched frantically until he found her.  His instincts would never let him forget, but he still feared to believe them, to trust them. Not after all this time. He had dreamed of her, but hardly dared to believe that this time it was true. Many women possessed her coloring, her beautiful honey hair and creamy skin, but never in all these years had he inhaled her unique scent. Now his body thrummed with the need to go to her, take her. His. She had been and would be again.
As soon as he saw her leave the rental office his gaze lasered in on her. Liliane. His Liliane. By some miracle of God, she had come back after all these years.
But not to him… 

Nice. That snagged my attention! Thanks so much for coming by today, but before you go, where can we find you, Laura?

Thanks so much for hosting me today. I love hearing from readers, so you can contact me through my website www.laurabrowningbooks.com on Facebook at Facebook @ Laura Browning Author and on Twitter @ LauraBrowning4

Psst... For those of you who leave a comment, including an email address so Laura can contact you, she will hook you up with book 1 of this vampire series. Woot woot!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That Dating Thing ~ WIP

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 11:23 AM
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That Dating Thing 
by 
Mackenzie Crowne

The daughter of Wall Street’s most notorious stock swindler, dog trainer, Rylee Pierce, has perfected the art of flying beneath society’s radar.  Prosecutor, Cooper Reed is a threat to her carefully hidden truths, but how is a woman supposed to resist a man capable of handling a psychotic Great Dane, while charming her out of her panties before she has the chance to blink?



The concept of love is a farce as far as Coop is concerned.  Romance is something else.  One look at the sexy dog-whisperer, and he knows he has to have her.  With her sultry looks, and sarcastic wit, it isn’t long before Rylee demolishes his long-held beliefs, but would the secrets in her dark eyes mean the end of his political ambitions?



Is love strong enough to conquer all, or will the legacy of deceit and greed destroy them both?


For your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt.

“So, this is The Canine Academy?” He eyed the cages. “Where are your other students?”
“Gone for the day.”
He heard her soft release of pent up breath, and smiled. Yes, off balance was just how he wanted her.
“Why is Pippin still here?”
“Pippin required a more intense program. He’s our only boarder at the moment.”
“Have dinner with me,” he said without looking around. She didn’t answer, and he waited several beats before glancing over his shoulder. The wariness was back, and as expected, sarcasm was her response.
“We just finished dinner. What do you have, a tapeworm?”
He turned to face her. “I’d like to take you to dinner, Rylee.”
Her hand went to Belle’s head beside her, and her chin jutted up a notch. “That wouldn’t be a good idea, Coop.”
“Why? I’m attracted to you, and a man can tell when the attraction is mutual.” She said nothing, returning his gaze while her fingers scratched at the fur between Belle’s ears. “It’s just a meal.” He crossed his arms. “I’m not suggesting we jet off to Vegas.”
She snorted softly. “That’s a relief. Casinos give me a headache.”
The dry sarcasm in her tone made him smile. She hadn’t said no.
“Look, you’re a great looking guy.”
He flashed a grin, and was pleased when her lips twitched in response.
“And I admit you have a certain amount of charm,” she added reluctantly.
“But?”
“But, your father is married to my aunt.”
“Cousin,” he corrected. He dropped his arms to his sides and took a step toward her. “And Dad and Silvia can get their own dinner.”
Her lips formed a genuine smile this time, but she shook her head. “People rarely come out of this kind of thing on friendly terms.”
“This kind of thing?” He continued to advance.
“We’re connected through Sil and Elliott. I don’t want to see them caught in the middle when this…dating thing, or whatever it is you’re after, ends.”
“This dating thing?”
“Or whatever it is you’re after,” she repeated. As he closed the distance, she took a step back, and bumped up against the shark cage. She stuck out her arm, and her spread fingers slapped against his chest to prevent him from coming any closer. “I’m not in the market for a relationship right now.”
“Then we don’t have a problem, because, neither am I.” He brushed a finger over the perfect skin of her cheekbone. “So, here’s what I suggest.”
Her eyelashes fluttered, pupils dilating, and reluctant temptation replaced the wariness in the dark orbs. Still, she kept a defensive hand on his chest.
“If you insist on negotiating when I’ve already explained my concerns,” she said, holding his gaze, “I’d rather you didn’t touch me.”
He nearly gave in to the urge to kiss her at the artless admission of finding his touch disturbing. Instead, he moved his hand to the cage beside her head. His fingers wrapped around the metal bars and he dipped his head, bringing his face closer to hers. She blinked but held her ground, meeting his gaze boldly.
“I propose we get to know one another,” he pressed. “A few dinners. Maybe a show, or a ball game or two if you’d like. We find out what makes the other tick.”
“Hmm.” Her mouth moved into a smirk. “Five seconds ago you were talking a meal. Now it’s a few dinners, and a ball game or two. At this rate we’ll be jetting off to Vegas by the end of the week.”
Her hand didn’t try to stop him when he took the final step that brought their bodies within inches. “Has anyone ever accused you of being a wise ass?”
Head cocked as though seriously considering the question, her mouth quivered on a smile. “Nope.”
“How about liar?”
She lost the battle with the smile, and her low laugh sent a lash of desire whipping across his midsection. He did what he’d wanted to do since arriving at his father’s condo days ago. Leaning in, he took.

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