Guest Post: Author Theresa Meyers

Well, slap me twice and call me Betty. I'm so freaking pleased to have Theresa Meyers visit MNtR today to talk about her favorite holiday (Halloween) and share a recipe for her favorite tea-time treat (Pumpkin bread!). Meyers's book, The Hunter, will be out on November 1--and believe me when I say you simply must read it, with all of it's steampunky, paranormal goodness.

     Halloween has long been my favorite holiday. Yeah the holidays are great, but they really kick off with Halloween. Of course I have not one, but two people in my family with a birthday on that day. Wonder if that was meant to be? I’ve got a wardrobe full of costumes and probably as many Halloween boxes filled with black cats, ghosts, witches and scarecrows, as I do boxes filled with Christmas goodies.
     This time of year is just rife with potential ideas for a paranormal writer. Just the cold snap in the air and the fog hovering over the ground as the early morning light slants through it makes me giddy.
     I was driving over the Tacoma Narrows bridge (which is suspended 290 feet over a narrow strip of the Puget Sound in Washington state just outside Tacoma) with a friend, the fog looked like it was literally boiling up around the edges of the cliff and filtering around the suspension cables of the bridge. “Hey, doesn’t it look kind of like a fire-breathing dragon might be just down there?” I told my friend, who incidentally is not a writer.
     She looked at me strangely for a moment, then grinned. “Uh, yeah, I guess it could. You writers are really twisted, you know that?”
     I had to grin back. Writing paranormal stories makes anything possible, which just makes life more magical all the way around. Some of my best ideas for paranormal stories start with “What if?” The Jackson brothers in my Legend Chronicles series are a perfect example. They started off with a “what if there were three brothers named after their father’s favorite guns?” At that moment Winchester, Remington and Colt Jackson started taking shape and eventually evolved into my steampunk hunters that kick off with The Hunter out on Nov. 1. (And incidentally, what could be a cooler release dated than 11-1-11!) The stories are what might happen if you mashed together the television series Supernatural, with the movie Wild Wild West and then added a dash of Indiana Jones. There’s adventure, scary paranormal creatures, wild adventure, passion and of course a mad inventor!
     I suppose the other reason I love fall is that it gives us all a reason to look more closely at the supernatural and paranormal. It’s the only time of year you’ll see specials on ghost whisperers or paranormal trackers on regular television. People are more open to witches and goblins, gremlins and spectors, not to mention a few hot vampires, werewolves and sexy shape-shifters.
     And since it’s nearly Halloween, it’s also time to break out my favorite tea-time treat – Pumpkin Bread! Here’s the recipe given to me by the same friend forced to think about dragons as we crossed the bridge:

Amazing Pumpkin Bread
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, pumpkin and water; mix well. Blend together dry ingredients then mix into wet ingredients. Pour batter into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 65-75 minutes for two big loaves or for 30-40 minutes for mini loaves.

So celebrate October for Oktoberfest if you must, but I’ll be celebrating the paranormal with Halloween.
What’s your favorite part about fall and the paranormal?


Many thanks to Theresa Meyers for an awesome post! To answer her question, my favorite part of fall and the paranormal.  But of course, one can never forget the tasty spices that are used most during this time of year (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, etc.).

Now, here's a bit of info on Meyers' book, the first in the Legend Chronicles series.

They’re the Chosen—Winchester, Remington and Colt—brothers trained to hunt down supernatural beings using the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a hard legacy to shoulder, and it’s about to get a lot more dangerous…

     Colt Jackson has gotten his name on many a wanted poster with success in the family business: hunting supernaturals across the frontier. Lately, though, there’s a sulfur stink in the wind and the Darkin population is exploding. A rift in the worlds is appearing. To close it, Colt will have to do the unthinkable and work with a demon to pass arcane boundaries no human alone can cross.
     Except when he summons his demon, he doesn’t get some horned monstrosity: he gets a curvy redheaded succubus named Lilly, who’s willing to make a bargain to become human again. He also gets Lilly’s secret expertise on the machinations on the dark side of the rift. And her charm and cleverness help to get them out of what his silver-loaded pistol and mechanical horse can’t. Of course, when all hell breaks loose, he might have to sacrifice his soul. But what’s adventure without a little risk?

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This has been a tour stop for Bewitching Book Tours. There's so much great stuff going on for this this, book, so I highly recommend you check out the BBT page here.

...or hit up the image above.

Review: Collide by Megan Hart

LOVING the cover!!!
Title: Collide
Series: n/a
Genres/Themes: contemporary romance, time travel, "age ain't nothin' but a number"
Author: Megan Hart
Excerpt: (at author website)

Quick Take:
Absolutely loved this story; it has a speculative element to it but really focuses on the emotion of the characters. Aside from taking some exception to certain plot points, I feel that this book is a unique, touching, intense, and sexy contemporary romance.

Book Description (via Goodreads):
A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last only minutes, but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable…until she meets Johnny Dellasandro.
The reclusive painter gained notoriety in the '70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body has achieved cult status, especially in Emm's mind—she's obsessed with the man, who's grown even sexier with age. Today Johnny shuns the spotlight and Emm in particular…until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep.
     In that moment she's transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny's place in his wild-man heyday— the night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers on her skin long after she's woken to the present.
     It happens again and again, each time-slip another mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can't stop, though every episode leaves her weaker and weaker. She's frightened by what's happening to her, but she's even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her, too, and takes her—every chance he gets.

I'll start with the punchline: this book is one awesome piece of romantic fiction. It is intensely sweet, but  it somehow avoids being sacharine. It's so very sexy, yet it is not one random smex fest. It's got speculative elements, but they do not overpower the fantastic emotional development of the characters. Really, none of the aforementioned aspects overpowers the book; it's got a balanced blend of the three, one that kept my nose glued to the pages (or screen, whatever ^_^).

I don't know how to classify this book. One might call it a time-travel romance, but it's not quite, even though there is an element of time travel. The more understandable stuggles of illness, recklessness, fame, and inner demons are key in this story. The time travel, really, is just a vehicle to move the two main characters closer; and I love that. This is the type of book that would appeal to moviemakers because of the very attractive themes. But then, it would probably never be as good on a screen due to the original material's wonderful use of language and its (delightfully) complicated web of plot.

Hot diggity, main character Johnny Dellasandro was smexy as hell in both iterations: his 70s self and his present-day self. The self-confidence and overt sexuality in his younger days is highly magnetic, and the more profound, quietly artistic nature found in his later years is subtly intriguing. One of the most biggest questions that persisted while reading this story was, "what in the world caused such a profound shift in character?" It made for a very compelling reading experience, watching protagonist Emmaline attempt to figure that out.

Now, I can't ignore that there were some small bits that rankled or at least confused me. It didn't really have to do with continuity, but rather one minor-ish character. This person--whose death completely changes Johnny, shaping him into the man he is in present day--seemed to have a plot thread of sorts, which looked to be progressing at certain points in the overall story, before kind of dropping off unceremoniously at the end. Looking back at the element, I feel as though some of these scenes with this character might as well have been dropped altogether in favor of a superficial cameo or two. Heck, there was even a bit that sort of insinuated the heroine might have exacerbated the character's broken mental state that led to his suicide. Why introduce that and then sort of lead it nowhere? Ah, well. That would pretty much be the extent of my issues with the book.

I will so be rereading this at some point in the future. It's such a beautiful, romantic, complex story, and I would easily recommend it to both spec fic lovers and romance lovers interested in something a bit different.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
"I really liked it!"

Interview with author Stephanie Nelson

I love UF series that feature strong, capable female characters, those who can get stuff done but might still be vulnerable and flawed. So I was really excited to be able to check out the work of Stephanie Nelson, who's created the brand new Gwen Sparks series of books, beginning with the first installment, Craved. The titular character of the series spends her days (and nights!) trying to create some sense of order in a cut-throat world of witches, vampires, and weres...even as she herself has skin in the preternatural game. I'm pleased to say that author Stephanie Nelson agreed to let me ply her with some readerly questions about Gwen and her world. So without further ado, here's the word from Ms. Nelson herself!

MNtR: So, I hear that as a child, you in fact did not enjoy reading. What took up much of your time and interest instead?
SN: I played volleyball from fifth grade all the way up until sophomore year, so that kept me busy. 

MNtR: Craved takes place in the supernatural town of Flora, Missouri. Is the locale based on any real areas or cities that you like?
SN: No, I just wanted somewhere where there’d be enough room/country that could house a supernatural community that was away from the public eye. I’m from Illinois so I’m fairy familiar with Missouri. I picked it on a whim but also wanted it to be close to my state. I did have a woman contact me from Alabama from a town called Florala, who happened to have the same name as me. After a little research, I found out that Florala only has a population of around 1,900 which is about the same as Flora. Kinda a fun bit of information, maybe I should visit Florala to see if Gwen and the gang are there.

MNtR: You've mentioned that you first came up with Gwen and her world several years ago, but that at the time you felt you couldn't properly tell the story. What had changed in the intervening years to bring you back to Gwen successfully?
SN: When I came up with the idea of Gwen’s story, I was just starting out in the writing world, therefore I had no clue how to write a book. I began a book about a witch who tracked down vampires because they were killing witches for their blood but abandoned it because I didn’t like the way I wrote. They say practice makes perfect and believe me it does in the writing world. I started on multiple books and learned something from each one of them. I was almost all the way done with one book but the idea of the witches being poached by vampires was always in the back of my mind. I ended up putting the almost finished book on hold because I couldn’t stop thinking about the other idea. After a few years of trying to write, Gwen’s story came to me a lot easier than it had before. I like to look at it as if Gwen was patiently waiting for me to tell her story while I learned how to do that.

MNtR: Book two in the Gwen Sparks series, Hunted, comes out in December. Do you have a sense of how far you'd like take the series arcs, or will that develop with each new book? In a few words, can we look forward to a lot more Gwen? ^_^
SN: I don’t actually. I already have the plot for book 3 planned out but after that I’m not sure. I’m thinking there will be at least 4 books in the series but there could be more than that also.

MNtR: Do you have other worlds, other stories, that are brewing in the back of your mind? Are there any other genres that you'd be interested in writing about?
SN: Constantly. Although, the only genre I ever plan to write is paranormal romance. I’m addicted to the genre myself so I find that’s where my interest lie. I’m currently working on two other books as I also write Hunted but my head is full of ideas for other books that will have to wait until I have more time, or until I can figure out a way to pack more hours in the day.

MNtR: Just for fun: would you prefer to be a witch, a vampire, or a were in the Craved world (and why)?
SN: Although witches are being targeted by vampires in my books, I’d still want to be a witch. Imagine being able to use magic pick out your clothes, or form objects out of thin air. Very cool.

Major thanks to Stephanie Nelson for her stop by MNtR today. I, for one, am looking forward to many installments of Gwen Sparks's adventure. Here's a taste of what the first book in Nelson's new Gwen Sparks series is all about:

Gwen Sparks just wants to live a peaceful life in the supernatural town of Flora, but from the moment she read about the first murdered witch, all hope of peace was abandoned. Possessing the rare ability to read the memories of dead, she volunteers to help catch the culprit behind the string of drained witches. Gwen has to team up with the one man who broke her heart, deal with a ghost who pulls her into the deathly realm at will, and a fight off the advances of sexy but frustrating vampire who not only craves what runs through her veins—he wants her heart.

Rock on with that blurb, right? To get more info about Stephanie Nelson, visit the following:!/StephNel1
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This has been a Bewitching Book Tours blog visit. To check out the other events happening for Nelson's Craved, click here!
...or hit the image above.

Guest Post: Author Jennifer Harlow

Happy Saturday, people. Today at MNtR, the awesome (and in my opinion, hilarious and witty) Jennifer Harlow is stopping by to share some of the adventures that her story had gone through before eventually becoming the book that it is today: Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation, #1). Enjoy!

Saying Good-Bye to My Baby
by Jennifer Harlow

     Writing an entire book is like running a marathon (not that I ever have or will run one) or finding out you're about to have a baby, where you start off fast and happy, hit a wall of fear, curse the gods for ever giving you the thought of pursuing this madness, but keep going until the end with renewed vigor, or as I like to think of it, "I made it this bloody far, I will not let anything stop me. I'll show them! Ha ha ha!" So you continue on toiling through the backaches, the sleepless nights trying to figure out what happens next, even through the bloating (though that could just be me) until you get to write those two wonderful words, "The End," and make yourself a large, stiff drink. You’ve earned it. And you’re gonna need it because your baby is finally here...and now comes the hard part. 
     After the first draft comes the first and second edits, each where you stare at every word trying to figure out if it’s the best choice, second guessing yourself a million times along the way, before you give it to your beta testers, who take their sweet time reading and editing. Then you take their suggestions, edit again, send it to your wonderful agent for her to edit, make the corrections she suggests, edit again, and finally it's ready to shop around. And if the publishing gods deign her worthy, the publisher will have you edit it at least twice more. So "The End" is simply the beginning of a grueling process, almost like raising a child, where you will curse your characters for ever entering your imagination or life in the first place at least once or twice. But you love her regardless, and you solider on to do your best to help her grow. 
     My baby has gone through so many changes I barely recognize her. She has gone through so many changes since I conceived her seven(!) years ago, I barely recognize her. The beginning chapter I started with is completely gone, characters names have changed, and I don't know how many paragraphs have been shortened or expanded. She (like all cars manuscripts are female) has grown from a seed in my mind to an infant as I did the first draft. All her parts were there, her personality, but she needed shaping to become a productive member of book society. 
     So through the years I did my best to trim her fat, improve her vocabulary, scream at her when she wouldn't listen to me, and make her the best she could be. (Those teenage years...shudder. I almost gave up on her when I was trying to sell her, but we soldiered through). Now it's as if she is about to graduate college. She's standing on her own two feet, but still needs her Mommy for a few last bits of advice. That's what I'm doing now with the final edit. Never again will I be able to change words, add to characters, plug in narrative holes, etc. She will forever be out in the world as is for other people to judge, enjoy, or just plain hate. She is her own entity now. I just hope my baby will become President instead of a bum. Regardless, I have to let go. I've done all I can to get her to stand on her two feet, and I am proud of her...though I never want to see her again. 
     Now…onto her siblings. 

Rock on. I love these types of personal tales in which a story has survived as an idea through long periods of time and endured many transformations to finally be fully realized as a finished written piece. Some ideas are like fine wines...they get better with age. ^_^ Many thanks to Jennifer Harlow for visiting today. Like her book Mind Over Monsters, she's so much fun to follow. Check out her blog--particularly the "Bio/FAQ/TMI" section--to see what I mean.

Wanna meet Harlow's baby?'s a taste of what the book's about. Perfect for a Halloween read, methinks.

     Very few people know the truth about Beatrice Alexander. She's no ordinary schoolteacher with a fondness for classic movies. Beatrice can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing and dangerous skill that she's never learned to master—or embrace. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins F.R.E.A.K.S. The Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals is a top-secret offshoot of the FBI that "neutralizes" ghouls, trolls, and other monsters threatening humanity. 
     Beatrice has no desire to become Buffy the vampire slayer. But F.R.E.A.K.S. offers training to control her power. Also, she doesn't feel like such a freak next to the other supernatural members, including a cute former detective who's a werewolf and an unbearable vampire determined to seduce Beatrice. Despite a natural instinct to flee from hideous, bloodthirsty zombies, Beatrice must prove herself on her first mission to find a cunning necromancer.

This has been a tour stop for Bewitching Book Tours...which means that there's plenty more in the way of festivities for Jennifer Harlow and Mind Over Monsters. Click here to see what else is going on!

Guest Post: Author Tonya Macalino (plus Giveaway!)

I'm very pleased to welcome today Tonya Malacino, author of the paranormal romance Spectre of Intention. She gives a bit of insight on the romantic entanglements at the heart of the book...along with the motivations at the heart of the main character. Intense? Yes'm. 

The Other Triangle

In SPECTRE OF INTENTION the primary love triangle has the main character, security consultant Kaitlin Osgood, torn between two men: Stephan Chen, the bad boy of her past with whom she shares a deeply intimate mental connection. Will he draw her back into the hell that was once her life of crime? And on the other side, Cam Glaswell, the charismatic white knight who represents all her hopes for the future. But will he discover the secrets of her past and destroy the life she has worked so hard to build? 

Each tasty.
Each a dangerous choice in his own way.
Tough call.

But there is a second trio of loves beneath the first. Slightly less carnal. No less intense. Kaitlin is also caught between her mentor and savior, Jessie Broadbent, and his lieutenant, Gerard O’Connell. Kaitlin worships Jessie and he is utterly devoted to her in the manner of pure courtly romance, neither lips shall touch, nor hands shall meet. 

But at the same time, she will forever stand outside the brotherhood of comrades-in-arms that Jessie shares with Gerard. And Gerard with his bawdy wall of crude insinuations intends to keep it that way. Except it is a little hard for him not to care about the focus of all his own hero’s concerns…the little-girl-lost he keeps glimpsing behind Kaitlin’s boardroom exec exterior. 

So careful not to cross those lines.
Together every day. 
No one standing in the way.

How might things have turned out differently if they’d never won that fateful contract? 

Rock on. I'm all about the intricate relationships between two (or three) strong characters.  If that doesn't make you want to read Spectre of Intention, I dunno what will. ^_^ A big thanks to Tonya Macalino for visiting MNtR today.

And now, it's time for the giveaway... for the Spectre of Intention tour, two amazing prize packs are up for grabs. The more stops on the tour that you visit (see 'em all here), the more chances to win. Yippee!!

In Anticipation: Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

I promise not to make a comment
 about the sword placement. Oh, wait...
You know, I am absolutely a series reader; I general like to be able to hang on to characters and written worlds for a period spanning one book. But even so, there isn't a gaggle of books/series over which I lose my mind with anticipation. There were really only two such books for me thus far in 2011 (Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield and The Renfield Syndrome by J. A. Saare), and in November there will be a third. In 2010, author Meljean Brook published what is perhaps my favorite steampunk book, The Iron Duke. The world that was created was original and riveting. Here's the word on the followup
As the mercenary captain of the Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.
     Treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in the Lady Corsair — he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she’s no easy conquest.

      When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco — and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart… o' man. Both Yasmeen and Archimedes appeared in The Iron Duke, and even then it was clear that sparks will fly when the two are put within close range of each other. Both are really intense as individuals, too--particularly the memorable, fiery, and independent Yasmeen. They ended the last book on the most antagonistic of terms, so it will be a lot of fun getting to see how they make nice and play together. And beyond the couple, it looks like this book will involve an adventure in Horde territory. The Horde up until now have been a largely unseen--though considerable--threat. It's high time to see the opposition up close and personal.

The cover of this book is sufficiently delightful. :o) I think I still prefer the first book's to this one's, but it's definitely worthy of the story that contains it. The In fact, is that the same cover model on both covers?

Meljean Brook's book, Heart of Steel, (The Iron Seas, #2) will be released on November 1 by Berkley Sensation. An excerpt from chapter two can be found here.

Books in the Series (from author website; not including short stories)
Book 1: The Iron Duke, published October 5, 2010
Book 2: Heart of Steel, expected publication November 1, 2011 by Berkley
Book 3: Riveted, expected publication late 2012

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