Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mulled "Cider"

7 servings/serving size: 1 cup

I served a version of this "cider" tonight to my writing group, and everyone wanted the recipe. Here's a version I used in Snack Attack.

I’ve always loved the taste of hot mulled cider, but the amount of sugar in apple cider is off the charts. So I devised this hot winter drink that tastes a lot like mulled cider–but without that high sugar content. It’s easy to double this recipe if you want to serve a large pot of this flavorful hot punch.

6 cups hot decaffeinated or caffeinated tea
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup Splenda, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes to allow the spices to permeate the liquid. Ladle into mugs. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator 2 or 3 days. Rewarm in the microwave.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wintry Willow Oaks

We’re having our first snowfall in the Baltimore-DC area. Large wet flakes slanting down and making the world beautiful. Here are some pictures of the willow oaks in back of my house. Let’s hope the driving’s okay tomorrow when we have to go out.

Monday, October 12, 2009


What comes first? Plot or character? For me, they’ve got to develop together. My characters must serve my plot, and my plot must work with my characters. I could think of a great story about a guy who’s living alone in a mountain cabin and is visited by space aliens, but what’s he doing in that cabin? Why is he alone? How is he going to deal with lizard-like creatures knocking on his door? And the larger question–is the reader going to believe his reactions?

One lesson I learned about my stories. They’re not reality. It’s a world I create. But I’ve got to make it look, sound, feel, taste and smell real to the reader. The way to do that is by paying attention to every detail from characters and plot to setting and dialogue. Yet some details are more important than others. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of picking up a book and starting to read–then giving up after a few pages or a few chapters. Why? Probably because you didn’t like the plot or you couldn’t connect with the characters.

I absorbed a lot about writing techniques through my love of reading. In my teens, one of my favorite authors was Sinclair Lewis. He was brilliant at character sketches. In just a sentence or two, he could get inside the personality of a small town mayor or the head of a major corporation. But he was much less adept with plot. His stories moved slowly, and eventually I stopped reading him.

Contrast that with the action-packed movies being produced today. They serve up chases, explosions and world-crushing meteors, bombarding the screen one after the other. But mostly they don’t interest me unless they focus on compelling characters as well. And they justify the action with logic.

I’ve learned my craft from reading authors I admire, by studying movie techniques, and by figuring out what works or falls flat. Then I go back to my own stories. Every book I write begins with what I’d call a “cool idea.”

Take my October Berkley release, DRAGON MOON. What if a frightening dragon-shifter monster from my parallel universe planned to invade our world? What if he sent a spy here–and she had to figure out how to free herself from his hold on her?

I always plan to start with a gripping first scene that will plunge the reader into the action. In DRAGON MOON, Vandar, my dragon-shifter monster, flies over his domain, lands and gathers his slaves so he can execute one of them by drinking his blood. Then he thinks about his current project–invading our world and how he’s going to accomplish it.

He focuses on Kenna, a woman with telekinetic powers. She’s a slave–but I don’t want her to be too cowed. So I decided she’s only been in captivity for the past few months.

Since I’m writing romantic suspense, Kenna will develop a relationship with a man she comes to love. And because I’m writing a werewolf series, it’s going to be another one of my Marshall men. Talon Marshall. I want him in an isolated location, so I have him leading wilderness expeditions–and living at a former hunting lodge in the woods.

Kenna stumbles into our world and immediately gets into trouble when a fallen tree traps her during a thunderstorm. Talon rescues her, and they’re quickly attracted to each other. She wants to tell him why she’s in our world, but Vandar has made it impossible to speak of her mission. When she tries, terrible pains in her head incapacitate her. So I’ve trapped my characters in what looks like an impossible situation.

I always try to outline my story in advance, because I want to understand where it’s going. If you don’t know what goal you’re working toward, how can you know how each scene will advance the plot? But there are always details to discover along the way. How exactly are Talon and Kenna going to defeat Vandar? They can’t do it on their own.

They’re going to need the other Marshall werewolves and their mates. But even with the Marshalls working together, they’re not strong enough to go up against Vandar. They need someone with powers that equal the dragon- shifters–and he’s the surprise character I throw into the mix.

Because I write romantic suspense, the romance relationship develops as Talon and Kenna are struggling with the danger hanging over them. Talon’s afraid he’s bonding with a woman he can’t trust. He knows she’s hiding a secret, and he’s upset that she doesn’t trust him enough reveal it to him.

To give my stories extra punch, I often try to weave more than one threat through the plot. In this case, as the book starts, Talon has discovered a buried trunk full of stolen money and turned it in to the police. The bank robber, Mitch Sutton, who stole the money, knows Talon turned it in and wants to get even. And while Talon is off leading a wilderness expedition, Sutton almost kills Kenna.

The two threats come together when Sutton follows the Marshalls into my parallel universe as they get ready to battle Vandar and his forces.

As the book progresses, plot and character continue to work together. Kenna and Talon face an escalating series of high-stakes perils, but in every case their reactions to each other and to these threats are the most important factor in every scene.

I try to create the perfect people for my plot, but the characters don’t come fully alive for me until I start writing the book. It takes me about three chapters to get into their heads deeply enough to know how they will react in each situation they face. As I write, I may go back and fill in more about their character so the reader can understand them better. Still, I try never to overload any one part of the story with too much background. To my way of thinking, “character development” can never be the only reason for a scene. Each scene has to move the plot forward toward an ending that will satisfy me and the reader.

How do you feel about plot and character? Do they function together for you? Or is one more important than the other?

Friday, October 02, 2009


It’s a big cliché in the writing business: “Believe in yourself.” Yet it’s true. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

I was thinking about my werewolf series today because the ninth book, DRAGON MOON, is out October 6 from Berkley. Nine werewolf books. Unbelievable. How did I get here?

It all started years ago when I read DARKER THAN YOU THINK, by Jack Williamson. I was fifteen and an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy. That book, about a man being guided into his werewolf powers, really spoke to me. Maybe it was that universal teenage angst. There were aspects of my life that I hated, and I wanted to be somewhere else. Williamson made me want to be a werewolf. It sure beat my high school feelings of inferiority–in and out of the classroom.

Later, after I was married and my own kids were in middle school, I saw a review of THE WOLF’S HOUR, by Robert McCammon, in the Washington Post. I chomped at the bit to read that book, so I ran out to Waldenbooks and bought it. Another peak reading experience for me. I LOVED McCammon’s hero. He was so much like the heroes of the romances I was reading. Only he was a werewolf, and it was clear that he wasn’t going to bond permanently with any woman.

At the time, few publishers were buying paranormal, but I kept thinking about a werewolf hero, and I wanted to write one. Yet I kept thinking, “Who would buy that kind of book from me?” For four or five years, I talked about a werewolf story. Finally a friend said, “Either stop talking about that story or write it.” As I always do when I’m working on a book, I came up with an outline. I was selling steadily to Harlequin Intrigue on proposal, but I knew I could never sell a werewolf book on proposal, so I wrote KILLING MOON while I was writing my Intrigues. In the middle of the book, my agent retired, and I had to find a new agent. I decided it had to be someone who would love my werewolf story. Lucky for me, I found the right agent.

Berkley was just starting a “dark paranormal line.” My new agent sold KILLING MOON to Berkley, who promptly closed all their “lines.” But they made my story a launch book for their new Sensation imprint. They wanted more werewolf books, and I found myself writing a series that I hadn’t planned.

The first books were fairly conventional, except for the werewolf element. But lately they’ve acquired more “out there” elements, like my alternate universe that runs parallel to this one. The heroine of DRAGON MOON is a woman named Kenna, a slave from my alternate universe. She’s sent here to help her ruthless dragon-shifter master invade our world. She meets werewolf Talon Marshall and desperately wants to tell him her frightening secret. But every time she tries to reveal her plight, excruciating pains stab into her head. Even as Kenna and Talon fall in love, he can’t trust her. And she struggles to break through the barriers that control her mind. It’s classic romantic suspense, with the paranormal twists I love.

I had a wonderful time writing about Kenna and Talon, but another character, Ramsey Gallagher, plays a big role in the novel. I fell in love with him, and lucky for me, I’m writing his story right now. He’s a dragon-shifter who’s been on earth for more than a thousand years and is trying to discover his heritage.

I want to urge you to follow your bliss–whether you’re a writer or you’re in some other field. The Moon series has been an awesome adventure for me. And Berkley pays me to write these books!

Have you ever wanted to write a book but were afraid it wouldn’t sell? Or have you ever wished an author would write a certain kind of book?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Low-Carb Pumpkin Bars

I love spice cookies. Now that fall’s here, I’ve been indulging my yen for them by testing this recipe for yummy, low-carb Pumpkin Bars. I think I’ve finally gotten the right balance of ingredients. The bars are also relatively low fat. And the liquid egg substitute speeds up preparation. All you have to do is shake the carton and pour.

Low-Carb Pumpkin Bars

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
½ cup liquid egg substitute
1 cup Splenda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
2 cups almond flour
½ cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup raisins (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan, and set aside.

2. In a mixer bowl, combine butter, pumpkin and egg substitute. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add Splenda, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Beat on medium speed until incorporated.

3. With mixer running, add flours and baking powder. Mix until well combined. Turn off mixer and stir in raisins, if using.

4. With the back of a large spoon, spread mixture evenly in baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Cookies will keep at room temperature, in the pan covered with plastic wrap, for two or three days.

Makes 16 squares.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Museum of Crime and Punishment

If you’re planning a trip to DC, there’s a new museum you might want to check out. The National Museum of Crime and Punishment at 575 7th Street NW, right in the heart of the revitalized downtown area.

They lured me in with a summer special for Maryland, DC, and Virginia residents. If you arrive after 6 pm, when things are slow, you get in for $6. What a deal. Turns out, those hours were perfect because the best interactive exhibits weren’t crowded.

The museum starts with historic crime and punishment, and you might want to speed past the medieval torture devices to get to the more relevant modern exhibits. Although I did get a kick standing next to the bullet-riddled Ford where Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down. And also my up close and personal inspection of the French guillotine.

If I got a chance to redesign the museum, I’d put in more interactive exhibits. A lot of the early material consists of pictures and explanations–like the strict rules for Sabbath behavior in colonial Massachusetts.

You can also look at pictures and read about such notorious episodes as the Lindbergh kidnapping, Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, Ted Kaczynski, Robert Morris (the kid who launched the worm that almost brought down the Internet) and serial killers like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer. But some exhibits feature mock-ups or props–like the luxury jail cell where Capone was incarcerated. You can also inspect a real electric chair and gas chamber (with explanations of how they were used.). Then on to lethal injection.

The farther you get, the more “good stuff” there is, like the makeshift weapons confiscated from U.S. prisons and a chilling lecture from a warden to new inmates. (Life as you knew it is over. You will have no privacy. You will obey all rules. If you’re good, you’ll get assigned a job where you can earn twelve cents an hour.) Then you can step inside a jail cell–and escape through a hole in the wall.

Other fun exhibits include a morgue, complete with a “body” on the autopsy table, the crime lab, the lineup, where you can join a crew of skuzzy looking guys. You can also see mug shots of famous people, including Frank Sinatra and Mel Gibson and guess who they are. Of course, there’s also that notorious shot of Nick Nolte.

The most fun stuff was near the end. I watched several people drive a police patrol simulator, then tried it myself. Since most of them ended up crashing or hitting pedestrians, I drove very cautiously. I never would have caught up with the speeder if he hadn’t stopped and waited for me. Next was the best of all, the FBI shooting scenarios, where you’re given a “gun,” then watch a scene unfold on a big screen. When a bad guy tries to shoot you, you try and nail him first. I’m glad to report that I killed him.

In the basement is the studio where they shoot America’s Most Wanted. You can tour the sets and get a friend to point a video camera at you. The picture’s shown on a big screen in the exhibit. But it’s in back of you, so you can’t check yourself out while you’re on camera.

All in all, a fun three hours if you’re into crime and punishment. And a lot to absorb in one visit. I’ll have to go back for more.

You can see the hours and prices for the museum at .


Sunday, August 23, 2009

From Noah Fielding

There’s a scene in my August Harlequin Intrigue, MORE THAN A MAN, where Noah Fielding wakes up weak and confused. He’s survived a near-death experience, but he doesn’t know where he is–or what time period he’s in. I don’t have room in the book to go into his thoughts in depth. But I’ve written them here, from his POV in first person present tense.

Captivity. Again. But where and when?

Disjointed thoughts swirl through my head, and I can capture none of them. I hear a woman crying. Who is she? Does she weep for me? I try to grab a memory, but it slips away, and I want to scream in frustration. But I cannot speak. Cannot move. Cannot even open my eyes. And my body is on fire.

I fight the agonizing pain in every cell of my body, praying for death. But death eludes me–again.

Where am I? Do the Franciscans have me in the cellars below the abbey, confined because they think I’m in league with the devil? No, that can’t be true. I escaped from the monks long ago.

Has the Doge of Venice arrested me for shipping treasures out of his city-state? But didn’t I bribe my way out of his prison?

Am I in the clutches of the Nazis–because they think I’m spying for the Allied forces? No, I remember escaping from their transport van in a hail of bullets. They left me for dead by the side of the road.

I lie in the dark, trying to clear my head as jumbled images dance like scenes from a nightmare behind my closed lids. So many centuries. So many lives. And always I must hide my identity. I was born in a small village in England. Centuries ago. But I am always apart, separated by my long life and the need to hide my true identity. That was easier centuries ago. I could pretend to die and disappear into the mist. Today computers keep track of everything.

Computers. Ah. Finally I have a reference point. This must be late in the 20th century–or the 21st.

A woman’s cries bring another stab of pain. I have longed for love, yet over the lonely centuries each woman in my life has left me. Some have run from me in horror when they learned my secret. Some have tried to kill me in their anger when they learned my secret. But the worst is when they grow old and die, while I stay the same. Always the same. Year after year. I look like a man in my early thirties with a full head of hair, a vigorous body and a sharp mind. Yet I am centuries old.

Finally, I know where I am and that Olivia, the woman I love, is with me.

My throat constricts as I think of the anguish I have brought her. My eyes flutter open, and I try to speak. But my throat is still too raw.

Oh Lord, Olivia. I didn’t have the courage to tell you my secret for fear you would leave me. You think I’ve sacrificed myself for you. But now I’m coming back to life before your eyes. I see the joy on your face. The wonder. But also the shock and the knowledge of my betrayal. I couldn’t tell you the truth about myself, and now you’ve found out in the most horrible way imaginable.

Fear claws at me. A monster of a man named Jarred Bainbridge holds us both captive. Can I save you from him–or is it already too late?

Noah Fielding.

So would you like to live forever? What are the disadvantages, do you think?


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Would You Believe?

When I saw the cover of MORE THAN A MAN, my August Intrigue, I did a double take. The great-looking guy on the cover is the spitting image of my son. Did the art department find a picture of him? Or is it just an accident? The skin tone’s off. My son’s got more olive coloration. And his hair is shorter. But that’s HIM. And if he ever sees this post, he’ll probably come after me with an ax for telling you about my reaction to the cover. I know he doesn’t see himself as the hero of a romance novel. (He once did a sarcastic review of one of my books for a literature class he was taking at the University of Maryland, where he pointed out that the brand of car my heroine drove changed in the middle of the book.)

On the other hand, he’s obviously a danger junky. He’s a State Department Foreign Service Officer, and his assignments are mostly in places I don’t want to visit, like Albania and Kazakhstan. The exception was a posting to Moscow a few years ago. Right now he’s in Afghanistan, on a Provincial Reconstruction Team. And he’s volunteered to stay another year, this time at Kandahar Air Base. Where I can worry about him some more.

He’s due to come home for a brief vacation in–wait for it–July, right around RWA. But his home base is DC, so I hope to see him during the conference. Maybe I can even persuade him to stop in at the Marriott so everybody can compare him to the MORE THAN A MAN cover. If I break away from the conference for a few hours, you’ll know it was to have some time with him. I’d love to rent a beach house for a week while he’s here and get the family together. But I don’t know if it’s going to happen, since he hasn’t answered my questions about when exactly he’ll be in town. How’s that for a cliff-hanger?


Friday, June 05, 2009

Author Tour--RED KISS, by Deidre Knight

A Gods of Midnight Novel
by Deidre Knight

Signet Eclipse
June 2, 2009

Immortal warrior and Spartan slave River Kassandros has a special gift—the ability to transform into any weapon. But in a recent battle, he was trapped as a dagger, unable to become human again. His one hope of salvation is a mere mortal…

When Emma Lowery beaches her kayak on an uninhabited island off the coast of Savannah, an ancient dagger seems to call out to her. Compelled by dark forces, Emma draws blood with his blade, freeing River. Now he’s stronger, angrier—and exudes more sensuality than Emma can resist.

But a sinister power wants to claim River’s destiny, and his precarious freedom. The pair must join the Spartan warriors to fight Ares himself. But can they face sacrificing their love to protect humankind from the war god’s demonic plan?

Cover Image:


Deidre Knight is a literary agent, mom, wife, novelist and southern woman, and proud to answer to all of these titles. Before she founded The Knight Agency in 1996, Deidre worked behind the camera in movies and television. During the thirteen years since she launched her literary agency, she has grown The Knight Agency to national prominence, shepherding authors on to every major bestseller list.

After nearly a decade of working with Knight Agency clients, helping them discover their creative potential, Deidre’s dream of writing romance came true in the form of her debut series THE MIDNIGHT WARRIORS which launched with PARALLEL ATTRACTION in the spring of 2006. She has been nominated for a plethora of industry awards including the PEARL, the PRISM, the NOR, the JABIC and the STRCA.

Deidre's riveting new series, THE GODS OF MIDNIGHT, chronicles the journey of seven passionate and immortal Spartan warriors who battle demons in contemporary Savannah. The first book in the series, RED FIRE, was released on October 7, 2008, and the series’ next installment, RED KISS, premieres June 2, 2009.


“Knight’s expertise at combining sensuality and pulse-pounding action is on full display. Make room for another “Knight” on your keeper shelf.” – Jill M. Scott, Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“This is a sensual, action-packed, steaming hot romance! Filled with demons, Gods, immortal warriors, and unique world building, Red Kiss will leave you begging for more.” – Wendy Hines, Armchair Reviews

“Ms. Knight did a wonderful job blending the old world sensibilities with the modern age.” – Eye on Romance

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Name that Wolf Contest and BRIDE OF THE WOLF

A few weeks ago, I promised you some information about my “Name that Wolf” contest. Right now he’s called Wolfie. But I’d love some help with a new name for him. Something exotic and romantic and perhaps a bit dangerous. I know that makes him look a little bit toothless, but I use it to disguise his savage nature, since he sits in my living room, and I don’t want him to scare little children who visit. Here he is about to eat an Abyssinian cat.

To enter the contest, you must go through my Web site. All the rules are at .

If I pick the name you selected, I have a fun prize. You get to have YOUR name used in the next shape-shifter book I write.

I’ve got another contest running as well–with some book giveaways. You’ll see it in the same place.

And here’s another blog tour--

Bride of the Wolf by Jennifer St. Giles (Shadowed Series Book 4)

Release Date 4/28/09

When the heroic werewolf Navarro is trapped in the twilight realm, his Shadowed comrades are unable to rescue him. Only a passionate woman with a spirit as wild as his own can set him free….

Oil heiress Marissa Vasquez fled the jungles of Belize to avoid becoming a pawn in her vicious uncle’s wicked schemes. Though she has found temporary sanctuary in little Twilight, Tennessee, only in her dreams does she taste freedom. At night, her spirit intertwines with a magnificent black wolf, and they run together under the glow of a forest moon. When a wounded stranger is brought to the camp where she is hiding, she glimpses in his eyes the mysterious being who has been the partner of her visions. But before she can explore her strange reaction to this man, they are kidnaped and imprisoned once again.

Navarro is a shape-shifting Shadowman, captured by the evil Vladarian vampire who hopes to control Marissa. Injured and blind, he struggles to regain his warrior’s strength as they fight for their freedom — and their lives. Together, their spirits form a powerful link matched only by the passion they discover in each other’s arms. But can a mortal woman attain true love with a man who is half wolf? And will their enemies give them time to find an answer?


“With a spin that will shake fans with delight, Jennifer St. Giles continues to make The Shadowed saga one of the best urban romantic fantasy series on the market today.”—Klausner

“Magically believable and overflowing with affecting emotions, BRIDE OF THE WOLF holds your attention during every gripping scene.”

“Jennifer St. Giles packs an emotional punch that will take your breath away.” Bitten by Books, Brianna.

“BRIDE OF THE WOLF is yet another intense and powerful story from the very talented Jennifer St. Giles.” CK’s Kwips and Kritiques, Debbie





USA Today Bestselling Author, Jennifer is a former nurse and homeschooling mother of three. She has won a number of awards for writing excellence including, two National Reader’s Choice Awards, two time Maggie Award Winner, Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Romance Writers’ of America’s Golden Heart Award, along with RT Book Club’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Gothic/Mystery. Website: Blog
Books: The Mistress of Trevelyan 8/04, His Dark Desires 11/05, Midnight Secrets 5/06, Touch A Dark Wolf 9/06, Darkest Dreams 12/06, The Lure of the Wolf 7/07, Silken Shadows 12/07, Kiss of Darkness 4/09, Bride of the Wolf 5/09. Point of No Return: Mammoth Book of Vampire Romances Book 2 9/09. Romance’s first graphic e-book through Jennifer St. Giles writing as Jennifer Saints in Wild Irish 5/09 and Smooth Irish 5/09.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blog Tour: EVE OF DARKNESS by Sylvia Day

A Marked Novel

by Sylvia Day

Tor Books
April 28, 2009
ISBN: 9780765360410

Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel... All in a day's work.

For Evangeline Hollis, a long-ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain.

Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted to kill demons, Eve knows her learning curve must be short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She's also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history...

But she'll worry about all that later. Right now she's more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she'd never quite believed she had.

Look for EVE OF DESTRUCTION and EVE OF CHAOS, both coming in June!



S.J. Day’s resume includes a variety of odd jobs ranging from amusement park employee to Russian linguist/interrogator for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence. She’s presently a full-time writer. A native Southern Californian, S.J. thinks there’s no place like home, but she loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. She’s now hard at work on her next book.


“Exhilarating adventure in an edgy world of angels and demons highlights the opener of Day’s Marked trilogy. Dynamic and vibrant, Eve is an impressive protagonist, and her fierce spirit and determination to make the best of her circumstances will keep readers enthralled.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Great characters and terrific storytelling in a hot-blooded adrenaline ride. A keep-you-up-all-night read.”
— Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

EVE OF DARKNESS is a sizzling, heart-pounding urban fantasy that thrilled and fascinated me from beginning to end. Eve is a smart, spirited heroine I won’t soon forget!”
— Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone

“Day, aka multitalented author Sylvia Day, explodes onto the urban fantasy scene with a new twist on the Cain and Abel story. It’s dark, gritty and sexy to the max, so readers can be thankful the next chapter in this pulse-pounding series is only a month away!”
— Jill M. Smith, RT BOOKreviews



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Here I Am with My Wolf and Blog Tour of KISS OF DARKNESS by Jennifer St. Giles

If you’ve seen me at RT, you’ve seen me walking around with my wolf hand puppet. Here’s where he lives when he’s at home, dressed in a hand-woven jacket that I got at a street market in Guatemala and a leather and fur hat that my son sent from Afghanistan. Right now my wolf’s called Wolfie. Later this year, I’m going to have a contest to name him something snappier.

And here's the latest Author Tour.

In Kiss of Darkness, a vampire bite has Sheriff Sam Sheridan on the fast track to hell and demons are taking over Twilight Tennessee. He's battling not only to save both his soul and his town, but also his love for one woman, Emerald Linton. Emerald has a secret that could destroy both her and Sam. She is an angel, and if she can't save Sam from turning evil, then she'll have to kill him, no matter how much of her heart belongs to him. Sam is determined to take as many demons and vampires down with him as he can and to protect Emerald, but as the seductive dark power in him grows will he condemn Emerald to share his doomed fate, or will they both find a way out of hell?






“In the first of back-to-back Shadow- men releases, St. Giles unleashes hell. With each successive chapter in this pulse-pounding series, the stakes increase. The lead protagonists have been snapping at each other since they met, and the author skillfully builds on that tension to up the sexual ante. St. Giles is on a roll!” 4 stars Hot RT Bookclub.

“In my opinion this series is one of the best. It is definite a keeper. The struggle between good and evil is told in a way that holds your attention. I, for one, cannot wait for the next installment of this entertaining series. You must read this series. It is great.” Top Pick Night Owl Romance

“Believable realism makes the paranormal stories by Jennifer St. Giles come across as grippingly spellbinding. The situations arising all through KISS OF DARKNESS frequently take place because of extraordinary facts, yet Ms. Giles constructs these incidents to make them seem c0ompletely plausible. Supernatural beings, psychic abilities and wondrous events are portrayed in such a credible manner, the reader will not be questioning the validity of any scene. Starting with a creative premise for The Shadowmen series, this talented author has continuously added imaginative details to make each story inventively noteworthy. There are countless conflicts in this story, some concerning the physical takeover by merciless beings and other clashes which are only emotional. However, regardless of what is taking place during a certain moment, there is never a time when the reader does not feel connected to the featured characters as their sincere feelings are always clearly described through clever dialogue and genuine thoughts. The inner emotions of Sam and Emerald are especially detectable through the skilled writing of Ms. Giles, as their anguish or joy is always exceedingly palpable and definitely heartfelt. Any time these two are together, the scene is blazingly heated from the overwhelming steamy sensuality flowing between them, and their expression of these passions is intensely potent. The cast of characters is exceptionally outstanding, whether good or evil, and each one plays their part in the story to the fullest.. The ending perfectly sets up the next book, one I am eager to read. KISS OF DARKNESS is masterful paranormal storytelling which never disappoints with its striking images and stirring emotions.”

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Here's a book I'm sure you'll love, from a good friend of mine.

The Vampire’s Quest
A Valorian Chronicles Novel
Vivi Anna

Silhouette Nocturne
April 1

In a race against life and death, one woman holds the key to sanity and salvation

After escaping from the Otherworld Crime Unit, Kellen Falcon came to Nouveau Monde to crack a rare blood disease. But the European hotbed of temptation yielded sport no vampire could resist—criminologist Sophie St. Clair. And with only days to live, Kellen sought sweet release from her to escape a savage past.

The lycan beauty wasn't one to stray from her pact. But an investigation into a downtown bombing now tied the two together. And it wasn't long before Kellen's smoldering eyes and Sophie's fierce desire for this vampire put her loyalties to the test….


“THE VAMPIRE'S QUEST (4.5) by Vivi Anna: This is a fantastic supernatural thriller from start to finish. Anna takes two supernatural beings and makes us believe the romance and attraction between them are real.”

“A perfect blending of passion, danger, humor and profound emotions make THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST absolutely enthralling on every page. “ – 5

“Vivi Anna demonstrates her spectacular writing skills yet again with THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST. Kellen’s story is one that is even more satisfying than usual as I’ve anticipated and hoped for this story for quite awhile. THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST is highly recommended!”- 5 STARS – CK2KWIPSANDKRITIQUES

About the author

Frequently on Recommended Reading lists, award-winning Canadian author, Vivi Anna likes to burn up the pages with her unique brand of fantasy fiction. Whether it's in the Amazon jungle, an apocalyptic future, or the otherworld city of Necropolis, Vivi always writes fast paced action-adventure with strong independent women that can kick some butt, and dark delicious heroes to kill for.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

ANGELS' BLOOD, by Nalini Singh

Another book I'm sure you're going to want to read!

A Guild Hunter Novel

by Nalini Singh

Berkley Sensation
March 3, 2009

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires…

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she's the best—but she doesn't know if she's good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, only one thing is clear—failure is not an option...even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other…and pull her to the razor's edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn't destroy her, succumbing to Raphael's seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break…



Nalini Singh has traveled as far afield as the deserts of China and the temples of Japan, but it is the journey of the imagination that fascinates her the most. She’s beyond delighted to be able to follow her dream as a writer.

Check out her website for excerpts, travel photos, and behind-the-scenes info on the Psy/changeling and Guild Hunter series.


"With the launch of a second paranormal series, Singh provides incontrovertible evidence that she's an unrivaled storyteller...This book should be at the top of your must-buy list! Tremendous!"
~ Romantic Times (Top Pick)

"Angels' Blood...will have you captivated from the first page!...Raphael, the Archangel hero, is one of the most deliciously dark protagonist[s] I've come across in a long time and Elena is a hunter worthy of a strong mate...It's strong storytelling at it's very best!"
~ Lucy for Ever After, The Romance Book Specialists

"I loved every word, could picture every scene, and cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is amazing in every way!!!"
~ New York Times Bestselling author Gena Showalter

"Angels' Blood is phenomenal."
~ Literary Escapism


Monday, March 02, 2009

Privacy in the Digital Age

Over the years, I’ve always tried to use modern technology in my suspense novels. I remember long ago transmitting data with a cutting-edge communications device–the fax machine. And as my career has progressed, I’ve gotten into DNA evidence, nuclear radiation, clones, and werewolves. The werewolves are easy because I can make up any “rules” I want for them. But even my werewolves have to deal with modern technology.

As an author, I’ve got to keep up with several fields that have changed life as we know it. Which is why I sat in recently on a lecture by Harvard Computer Science Professor Harry Lewis. He is the co-author of BLOWN TO BITS: YOUR LIFE, LIBERTY, AND HAPPINESS AFTER THE DIGITAL EXPLOSION.

Dr. Lewis started off with a Power Point demonstration of how easy it is to get information on an ordinary citizen–in this case the Baltimore woman who picked him up at his hotel and drove him to the Hopkins Club, where the lecture was held. Among other things, he showed us her address and her house using Google Earth (aerial view and front elevation), her property tax records, and the profile of political contributions in her neighborhood.

As he pointed out, the Swiss Police also used Google Earth to discover a major marijuana farm. And the terrorists who turned Mumbai, India, into a killing field used Google Earth to plot their routes through the city to the hotels and other locations they attacked.

Or consider something that seems pretty innocent–Picasa–a software download from Google that lets you organize photos and share them with friends and family. According to Dr. Lewis, you can use this program to search the web for photos of people–which might allow you to see where they’ve been, and with whom.

Information available on the Internet has enormous implications for all of us. As Professor Lewis said, we’d be up in arms if this information were available only to the police. But we’re less worried when it’s “available to everyone.”

He also noted that once something goes electronic, it’s basically forever. You can take it down, but it may still exist in a “cache” of information. Like the less then sparkling Twitter comments of some congressmen during the president’s recent address.

We now take the free flow of information for granted. But that might not be as available in a country with an “oppressive regime.” One way these regimes control their citizens is by restricting what they can access on the Internet or by directing them to Web sites controlled by the government. Because of Mumbai, the Indian government decided to ban Google Earth. Of course, that doesn’t do them any good if Google Earth is available in a neighboring country!

Another technological innovation that has enormous implications is the cell phone, which Dr. Lewis points out is a small computer. (He jokes that it can break down, “just like a computer.”). If you’ve got your phone, the authorities can track you. It doesn’t even have to be turned on. This is why some people remove the battery in addition to turning the phone “off.”

If you’re going to use cell phone tracking in a story, however, you’d better understand state laws. Dr. Lewis cited a case where a woman’s car went off the road, and she spent a week in a drainage ditch, injured and trapped in her vehicle. Her husband reported her missing, but Washington state law assumed that she “wanted to disappear.” It wasn’t until they finally declared him a suspect in her disappearance that the police could check the location of her cell phone. When they found her, she was dehydrated and in kidney failure. Another day or two, and she would have been dead.

In my current suspense novels, I’m constantly thinking about cell phones. You’ve now got to explain why your characters can’t get in touch with the world. (No signal is one of my standard explanations.) I’m also worried that since my phone is a couple years old, I’m not having my characters use it in enough of a “high tech” way. For example, Professor Lewis told us about new shopping software you can have on your phone. After checking the price of an item in the store where you’re located, your phone will tell you the price of that same item at stores that are near your current location.

And, for purposes of designing plots, I’d better remember that you can take a picture of ANYTHING with your phone. My husband had brought his camera to the lecture. But when I asked him to take a picture of me and Dr. Lewis, the battery went out. So the picture that accompanies this post was taken with his cell phone.

One astonishing piece of information came from a survey Dr. Lewis cited. A researcher asked young teens where they felt most “private.” All the adults in the audience were shocked to hear that teens felt most private on Facebook. And least private “at home.” Naturally, that attitude has enormous implications for suspense plots. You probably remember the case of Megan Meier who committed suicide after she’d made friends with a boy on MySpace–and he ended up telling her, in effect, that she was a worthless loser. It turned out that the “teen boy” was actually the mother of a girl in the neighborhood–who wanted to humiliate Megan, so she created the profile of “Josh Evans.”

At the end of the lecture, someone in the audience asked, “Will stronger cryptography make for a better balance between privacy and information dissemination?” Dr. Lewis said that there are some good things about it. Like your being able to give your credit card number to Amazon safely. But it would be a bad thing to let encrypted e-mil go from one bank to another. Nice idea for a plot involving financial fraud, right?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A DROP OF RED, by Chris Marie Green

Here's a book that caught my interest.

A DROP OF RED, Vampire Babylon, Book Four, by Chris Marie Green

A bloody good time…

Hollywood stuntwoman-turned-vampire hunter Dawn Madison is tired to the bone and beyond. Along with her comrades-in-arms, she managed to wipe out the Los Angeles Vampire Underground. And in doing so, she uncovered not only her own dark family heritage but also a terrible truth about the man she loves. Now all she wants to do is get to the next bloodsucking community, taking care of business with them, too.

Luckily, when it comes to battling the undead, there’s no shortage of Undergrounds.

When a new one is found in England, Dawn and the team are dispatched to carry the fight from the flash of Los Angeles to the seemingly staid and stolid streets of London. Dawn knows by now how deceiving appearances can be—and she is about to find out that it’s not only the beautiful people of Hollywood who are willing to bargain with evil…

(ISBN: 978-0441016815)



About Chris Marie Green

A long time ago, in a land far, far away (Milwaukee, WI, St. Luke's Hospital), Chris Marie Green (also writing as Crystal Green) joined the world. While moving to Southern California, then Kentucky, then back to California and now Nevada, she amused herself by writing poetry and short stories featuring the ultimate Alpha males--Superman and Indiana Jones. Later, after graduating with a B.A. in English from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Chris decided to become a professional writer.

While she pursued this goal, Chris worked as an eighth-grade teacher, but resigned in 2002 to pursue writing full time. She creates urban fantasies for her Vampire Babylon series, action-adventure stories, and romances. She also loves to read, overanalyze movies, practice yoga , and travel, and details her obsessions on her Web pages, and

About Vampire Babylon

The first book, NIGHT RISING, was released as a trade paperback by Ace in February, 2007, and reissued in mass market format on January 27, 2009. The second trade book, MIDNIGHT REIGN, hit shelves in February, 2008, and will also be reissued in mass market format in July, 2009. The third book that closes out this initial trilogy, BREAK OF DAWN, came out in trade format September, 2008 (mass market reissue date pending). Ace is reissuing each book in the first trilogy to introduce the second trilogy (books four through six, which will be released in trade format).

The Vampire Babylon series uses trilogy arcs to tell one basic story, much like the way JK Rowling used seven books that didn’t solve every plot thread book-by-book to tell Harry Potter’s story. While each individual novel focuses on a central mystery that’s solved by the end, the three books together build character and mythology arcs/mysteries until everything culminates in the third book. Each trilogy repeats this pattern.

Release dates for the second trilogy, which continues the adventures of Dawn and team, are as follows:
A DROP OF RED, Book Four, March, 2009
THE PATH OF RAZORS, Book Five, August 2009
DEEP IN THE WOODS, Book Six, date pending


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Here are the two halves of my personality: writing suspense and cooking. I'm baking cookies wearing the KGB tee shirt I got in Moscow a couple of years ago.

My son, who’s a Foreign Service Officer on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, asked for some sugar cookies. I haven’t baked cookies in a couple of years, but I wanted to send him some. As it turned out, I got a lot of great help from my grandkids and from their other grandmother, who is up visiting from Bristol, Tennessee. I got up early and made the dough. After lunch, we all cut out some cookies. Then I left the rest of the team with the cookie cutters and made a batch of dough for "rocks," which are spice cookies.

On the right, grandson Jesse is in the foreground, and Leo is in the background. We all ate a lot of cookies Saturday. Then my daughter (who had to work at her library most of the day) and I packed up the ones for my son. To avoid temptation, I sent the rest home with her and the kids. Now I’m wishing I had a few here. Of course, it’s better that they’re out of the house.

One more shot from the day–the best one of me. It shows Ozzie’s usual reaction to my paying attention to her daughter, Harriet.