Pen Names and Passion + Giveaway

Last week, I learned that there’s more to adopting a pen name than one might think.

In her fascinating new book, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms*, Carmela Ciuraru provides biographical information about sixteen famous writers who lived during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She makes it clear that these authors chose to write with pen names for several reasons:

1) To protect his or her identity.
An author renounces a piece of his or her anonymity as soon as he or she reveals his or her work to the public. Using a pseudonym is an easy way an author can hold on to some, if not all, of his or her privacy. It is also an easy way for an author to partition and manage all the aspects of his or her life. Charles Dodgson, for example, was a well-respected mathematician who published numerous scholarly essays in the middle of the nineteenth century. He chose to publish his quirky childrens’ books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, under the name Lewis Carroll in order to preserve his reputation as a serious academic.

Lewis Carroll

2) To become the person he or she wants to be and to express his or her innermost thoughts.
Writing and identity once again go hand in hand. Most, if not all, of the authors Ciuraru features in her book struggled to find their places in society and, more importantly, to accept themselves. Sylvia Plath, for example, was severely depressed throughout her short life. She published her semi-autobiographical work of fiction, The Bell Jar, under the name Victoria Lucas in 1963. Writing asVictoria allowed her to be open about her dysfunctional relationship with her mother (who always insisted she and her daughter didn’t have problems) and also gave others—her readers—a glimpse into her inner turmoil.

3) To defy societal norms.
Back in the nineteenth century, female writers simply were not taken seriously. It was, after all, a man’s world. So, when Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë published their novels, they assumed the names Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell, respectively. The public speculated that the works of these men were actually written by women, yet only their editor firmly knew the truth. Had these sisters not adopted male guises, the world might never have received Agnes Grey, Jane Eyre, or Wuthering Heights

4) To establish him- or herself as a brand.
Certain books and authors conjure very specific images in readers’ minds. The name J.K. Rowling, makes me think of magic and adventure. Branding is an essential tactic authors use to draw a distinct readership. For example, most science-fiction writers are male, as are most science-fiction consumers. This was especially true during the 1970s, when Alice Sheldon started writing. She published her stories as James Tiptree Jr., a name that was perceived as more credible as a sci-fi writer than Alice Sheldon would have been simply because it’s a male name. By branding herself as a man, Sheldon gave her work a better chance to do well in a commercial arena.

~

While I was reading Nom de Plume, I couldn’t help but wonder what the role of pen names is in today’s romance genre. I know that lots of romance writers still use pen names even though the trend has, for the most part, gone out of fashion for writers in other genres.

I decided to seek answers from a couple of our own pseudonymous authors, since they know first-hand what the experience of writing with a pen name is like.

For author Mia Marlowe, writing under not one, but three names allowed her to venture into multiple sub-genres of romance:

“I started under my real name with Maidensong, my debut title with Leisure Books in 2006. After three dark, angsty viking romances, I turned in a light-hearted Regency called Distracting the Duchess. My editor at the time, Leah Hultenschmidt, said I was likely to give my readers whiplash because the style was so different, so Emily Bryan was born. Later, when my agent sold one of my proposals to Kensington Publishing, my new editor asked that I take a new pen name since I added paranormal elements to my Mia Marlowe historicals.”

Like Lewis Carroll, Laura Navarre, author of The Devil’s Temptress (Aug 2011), adopted a pen name in order to keep her two vastly different professions separate:

“In my other life I consult for government clients, and I publish and speak and negotiate sometimes under that name. I wanted a hermetic separation between my two worlds. Initially, I was worried that my counterparts in my male-dominated field…wouldn’t take me seriously if they knew I wrote these steamy romances.”

Both authors assured me they did not use pen names as a means of distancing themselves from their potentially embarrassing content.

Laura said, “…I was a bit self-conscious to think about my male colleagues reading [my books]. But the veil has become pretty transparent at this point. My colleagues on both sides of the table have always been interested and supportive of my writing, and many of them end up buying my books! I’ve kind of gotten over the self-conscious thing.” 

Mia said, “I’m very proud of what I write. The themes of love, betrayal, revenge, and reward are universals that have been dealt with in literature since before stories were written down. Everyone who knows me knows this is how I make a living so the decision to use a pen name is not based on trying to distance myself from my work. Using a pen name has always been a matter of publishing expediency, nothing more.”

I began wondering what pseudonym I would use if I ever wrote a romance novel. Don’t get me wrong; I like my name. However, my last name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or stick in people’s minds (see, I would use a pseudonym solely for branding purposes).

I thought it would be easy to come up with a pen name…it turns out it isn’t! I actually sat down and tried. Mia browsed through the most popular names on the Social Security website and picked hers from that list. Laura kept her real first name, but “chose Navarrein honor of Rutger Hauer’s embittered hero Etienne of Navarre in the old fantasy film Ladyhawke.” (“I would LOVE to have written that story!  And who could resist the guy?,” she added.)

So, I still haven’t found my perfect nom de plume.  But I want to know: what would yours be? Would you use a pen name at all if you were to write a romance novel?

For a chance to win a Dorchester tote filled with an assortment of our books—worth over $40—answer this question in the comment section below. Don’t forget to tell us why you chose what you did!

– Jennifer
(This is my real name. Honestly.)

 

 A big thank you to Mia and Laura for taking the time to answer my questions!

 *”Nom de plume” means “name of the feather” in French. The term was coined back in the days when writers used quills.

Thriller Thursdays: A KILLER LIKE ME + Giveaway (part 1 of 3)

Last month Thriller Thursdays were all about Chuck Hustmyre’s House of the Rising Sun. That was such a success that I thought hey, why not give our fans more of what they’re looking for? So over the next three Thursdays I’ll keep Hustmyre in the spotlight, this time previewing his latest book, A Killer Like Me, due out in trade and e-book next month!

A Killer Like Me takes us back to the gritty streets of New Orleans. A serial killer calling himself the Lamb of God is on the loose and city officials are trying to keep the gruesome murders quiet. Agent Sean Murphy is assigned the job of catching the bad guy. Now, any Law & Order: Criminal Intent fan knows the best way to catch a killer is to think like a killer, right? But thinking like a madman brings with it some huge risks…as Murphy’s about to find out. And the risks will only get deadlier when the killer learns Murphy’s secret. Now the Lamb of God recognizes in Murphy a worthy opponent. Or perhaps a kindred spirit?

What more can I say? This one is going to be, well, killer.

Thrill on,

Hannah

GIVEAWAY: Tell us what you think of the first chapter in a comment thread and be entered to win a trade paperback copy, hot off the press! I’ll choose one lucky winner after the third chapter preview on August 11th, so be sure to check back in each Thursday until then to better your chances!

***Please be advised that this preview gets graphic.

CHAPTER ONE

Tuesday, July 24, 2:30 pm

The woman’s naked corpse lay sprawled on the floor. Her arms were outstretched, her legs spread. The insides of her thighs were crusted with dried blood. More blood had congealed into a sticky puddle on the floor beneath her.

New Orleans homicide detectives Sean Murphy and Juan Gaudet stood near the dead woman’s feet.

“He hurt her before he killed her,” Murphy said.

Gaudet nodded. “You think it was our guy?”

“Look at the ligature marks on her neck.”

“But there’s no plastic cable tie this time,” Gaudet said.

Murphy took a step toward the woman’s head and leaned forward to examine her neck. The discoloration from the ligature contained tiny ridge impressions, like those found on a cable tie. “He must have cut it off.”

“He left them on the other victims.”

Murphy stood up. “It’s him.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“I’ve got a feeling.”

“You got a feeling?” Gaudet asked, his voice sarcastic.

Murphy nodded. “It feels like our guy. The way he put her on display in the middle of the floor, like she was sacrificed on an altar.”

“The other ones weren’t posed.”

“They just weren’t this obvious,” Murphy said as he stepped over the dead woman’s left arm and squatted beside her head. “He’s getting more into the act itself. He’s gaining confidence and developing into a more sophisticated killer.”

The crime scene was inside an old club on North Rampart Street called the Destiny Lounge. The club had been closed since Katrina. After the storm, it had become a toilet for bums and a shooting gallery for junkies. Several months back the city boarded up the doors and windows.

Murphy stood and shone his flashlight at the ceiling, amazed that the mirrored disco ball still hung over the grime-covered dance floor.

“Who called it in?” Murphy asked an overweight uniformed cop standing inside the propped-open front door.

“Anonymous nine-one-one call,” the fat cop said.

“Some dope fiend would be my guess,” Gaudet offered.

“A dope fiend with a conscience?” Murphy asked.

“I bet he fucked her first.”

“The killer?”

“No,” Gaudet said. “The nine-one-one caller.”

“She’s kind of ripe.”

“Still, I bet there’s more than one sperm sample inside her. One from the killer, one from the caller.”

“She’s a twenty-dollar crackwhore,” Murphy said. “We’re going to find a whole sperm bank inside her.”

Outside, the summer sun beat down on the city through a cloudless sky. Sweat ran down Murphy’s face and plastered his shirt and suit coat to his back.

Hardly any of that blinding sunlight, though, penetrated the tomblike interior of the bar. The plywood covering on the doors and windows hadn’t kept out the victim, the killer, or the transient who found the body, but it kept out the light. The only ambient illumination came through the open door.

“How did the first officers get inside?” Murphy asked the fat cop.

The patrolman pointed to a dark hallway at the rear of the building. “Past the restrooms; the back door is off its hinges.”

“Is that how you got in?”

The cop nodded.

“What about the front door?” Gaudet asked.

“It was chained shut from the inside. We used a tire iron to bust open the padlock so we could get some light and some fresh air in here.”

Gaudet turned to Murphy. “How long do you think she’s been here?”

Murphy painted the body with his flashlight. Then he took a deep whiff of the air. “I’d say at least two days.”

A uniformed sergeant stepped through the door. “Hey, Murph…” He looked around the club like someone who had just walked into a dark movie theater. “Where the hell are you?”

Murphy waved his flashlight. “Right here.”

“The coroner’s man says it’ll be at least an hour before he can get here. They’re pulling a female floater out of the river by the French Market.”

“A local girl?”

The sergeant shook his head. “Tourist. Her boyfriend reported her missing yesterday. He said they were having sex on that old pier up by the zoo. Somehow she fell in. I guess she couldn’t swim.”

Murphy nodded, then remembered the sergeant couldn’t see him. “Thanks,” he said. Another hour inside a sauna with a rotting corpse. By law, even Homicide couldn’t move a body until the coroner’s investigator got to the scene.

He and Gaudet went back to examining the victim. She was black, twenty to twenty-five years old, and badly swollen. Her tongue was the color of chocolate syrup. Her eyes were open and bulging out of her face. The whites had turned dark from the burst blood vessels.

Textbook strangulation.

The ligature mark, the bruising left by whatever had been used to choke her, looked like it encircled her neck. When the coroner’s investigator got here, the three of them would roll the body and check, but Murphy was betting she had been strangled with a cable tie. Scabs and needle marks pockmarked the woman’s arms and legs. Three of the fingernails on her right hand were broken. She had put up a fight.

She fit the pattern of the others. Six previous murders in twelve months, all young, all prostitutes, all victims the department brass referred to as “women with high-risk lifestyles.” All but the first victim had been strangled with a heavy-duty cable tie, a thick plastic band with a one-way ratcheted lock that tightens but won’t loosen. The only way to remove a cable tie is to cut it off.

“What are you thinking?” Gaudet said.

Murphy shook his head to clear it. He had been staring down into the dead girl’s blood-soaked eyes, but there wasn’t anything behind them. Everything she had ever been, every dream she ever had, every memory—good, bad, or ugly—was gone.

“Hey, partner,” Gaudet said, “don’t get too wrapped up in this shit. It’s just another case.”

Murphy looked up. “You think the rank will finally admit it?”

“Your serial-killer theory?”

“I think we’re past the theory part.”

“Brother, you had me convinced after the third one,” Gaudet said. “But I’m not in charge. I just work here.”

“I’m going to talk to the captain again. We need a task force. We need resources. If we don’t catch this guy, he’s going to keep doing it. He’s going to keep killing women.”

***

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Western Wednesdays—THE LASSITER LUCK + Giveaway

Before strapping on his famous guns and making his mark in Riders of the Purple Sage, Lassiter had done plenty of hard living. Today, we preview the first chapter of The Lassiter Luck and get a taste of the hero’s earlier adventures. Loren Zane Grey continues in the grand tradition of his father, Zane Grey, with the further adventures of Lassiter—the rough-riding loner who became America’s favorite hero.  

Giveaway: Let us know who your favorite recurring character is, either in literature or on film, and be entered to win a mass market paperback of Lassiter by Loren Zane Grey.

Happy Reading,
Allison Carroll
Editorial and Web Coordinator

Chapter 1

A sudden spring rainstorm hammering the flatlands only added to the hell of the evening as a lone rider, his slicker a shiny yellow, moved slowly across a rise of ground. He rode with his right foot deeper in the stirrup than the left to ease the burning of his wound. It felt as if a wire had been plucked from hot coals and laid across the skin. All because of the kid who had been trying to kill him—no doubt about that. He was full grown but with the mentality of a ten year- old trying to act like a man.

His name was Rodney Rucklor II. The man he had shot was known throughout the West simply as Lassiter. Lassiter kicked his horse into a trot, heading through the rain-swept darkness toward a distant haze of lights where he had a strong hunch he’d find his attacker.

The pain was beginning to subside, but not Lassiter’s anger, which was aimed mainly at himself for getting talked into such a trap. It had been Len Crenshaw taking his last breath in a doctor’s back room up atOverlandthat had tightened the spring on the trap. Lassiter had been summoned by telegraph.

“I knowed the kid’s gran’daddy, I worked for his pa,” the gray-bearded old man said hoarsely. “Ham left everything to his kid.”

“Leave the ranch to his son? Sure, Ham would do that.” Lassiter studied the gaunt face of the dying man. “How old is the boy?”

 “More’n twenty, I reckon,” Crenshaw gasped.

“You calling him kid, I thought he was younger.”

“Ham never called him nothin’ else. Rodney was raised by his ma’s sister, back inPhiladelphia.”

Crenshaw extended five skeletal fingers and gripped Lassiter’s thick wrist. Lassiter smelled the man’s sweetish breath and saw the grayish cast to the face. Both were indications of the dreaded scourge of the West— cholera. He had ridden practically night and day after receiving the old man’s plea. Crenshaw was saying, “I had my doc write the kid up atDenver. I can’t hold a pen so good no more. I said I was sure I could get you to give him a hand with the Fork Creek outfit. Till he gets things squared away.”

“I dunno, Len. . . .”

“Do it for me if not for Ham Rucklor’s memory. You an’ him was mighty close. Do it for one of us, anyhow.”

Lassiter was a solidly built man at a hundred and seventy-five pounds, five foot eleven, now hunched in a chair beside the brass bed. His blue eyes could be friendly or as cold as a January midnight, depending on the occasion. His mouth was wide and most times friendly, under a strong nose. Heavy shoulders tapered to a narrow belted waist that supported a holstered .44. The ends of black hair curled from under a flat-crowned sombrero tipped back on his head.

“Len, about this kid, this Rodney the Second . . .”

“Lawyer is Rex Manly,” Crenshaw interrupted. “He’ll see you get some money out of it, Lassiter…”

Lassiter’s blue eyes were saddened at the sight of the man he had looked up to when he was younger, had ridden beside on long trails into danger. A man cut down by the dreaded cholera while on the way home after a visit to his sister. The fat and nervous doctor said he hoped Lassiter hadn’t picked up any germs from the old man.

As with most things, Lassiter had no fear; he had to be that way or he would never have survived so long on the rough frontier. He was a fatalist. Each morning when he awakened and drew a deep breath, he would give thanks and say to himself, “Well, I made it through another day.”

 But he was realist enough to know that at any time a faster gun or swifter knife blade could finish him. He would never have thought in a hundred years that the end might come at the hands of a petulant greenhorn in a lonely campsite.

Len Crenshaw had worked up to the last for the Fork Creek Cattle Company, which Rodney Rucklor had inherited. The VillaRosacountry was no place for a timid soul, which Lassiter had a hunch would describe Ham Rucklor’s offspring.

But he learned differently when they finally met down at Villa Rosa. Rodney was a slim, handsome and well-dressed dude, but he was also brash. They were in Rucklor’s shabby hotel room.

 “Oh, yes, you’re Lassiter. Mr. Crenshaw wrote that you would no doubt work for me.”

“Len died.”

“Oh, a pity.” The curly ends of brown hair showed at the edge of a bowler hat. His eyes were steady enough. His suit of dark brown wool was slightly wrinkled from long hours in a stagecoach. He pointed to a portmanteau and a large carpetbag where they had been dumped after being brought from the stagecoach two days earlier. “You may bring my baggage along to the next stagecoach that we’ll be taking to the ranch. By the way, when does it leave?”

“For your information, there’s no stage line to Fork Creek. It’s either the saddle or a wagon.”

“Oh. I wasn’t told. I’ve hardly been out of this horrible little room. I expected you to be here when I arrived.”

“Seems I wasn’t,” Lassiter said dryly.

“I understand you knew my father.”

“We were good friends.”

“Did he ever talk to you about me?”

“He mentioned only once that he had a son.”

Rucklor’s mouth twitched. “I see,” he said without emotion.

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Pardon the Interruption—THE 13TH book trailer

The 13th by John Everson available in e-book and massmarket paperback.

All About Audio(books)—LORD OF THE FADING LANDS + Giveaway

There’s not much that can be said about C. L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series that hasn’t been said before. So just sit back and enjoy this beautiful excerpt from the audiobook of Lord of the Fading Lands. Share your thoughts in the comment thread and be entered to win the the MP3 audiobook!

Once he had scorched the world…

Once he had driven back overwhelming darkness…

Once he had loved with such passion, his name was legend…Tarien Soul.

Now a thousand years later, a new threat calls him from the Fading Lands, back into the world that had cost him so dearly. Now an ancient, familiar evil is regaining its strength, and a new voice beckons him-more compelling, more seductive, more maddening than any before.

As the power of his most bitter enemy grows and ancient alliances crumble, the wildness in his blood will not be denied. The tairen must claim his truemate and embrace the destiny woven for him in the mists of time.

Author Anne Marsh on Fallen Angels + Giveaway

I’m pleased to welcome Anne Marsh to the Dorchester Community Blog to talk about her steamy paranormal romance, Bond with Me.

I don’t know about you guys, but I love the growing hot trend of fallen angels. Ever since I read Bond with Me I’ve been quite taken with these sexy, slightly tormented, immortal, strong, fallen alpha heroes, and boy does Anne know how to write them!

This is a steamy, steam, STEAMY romance, but at the same time it’s tender, heartwarming, humorous, and entirely memorable. It also has a gorgeous cover that I could happily ogle all day (don’t forget to answer our giveaway question below to get entered to win your very own ogle-able copy).

Well without further ado, I’ll introduce Anne Marsh, who’s bravely answering all my questions about her book, her male inspirations, her beliefs in soul mates, and oh so much more.

Welcome, Anne!

In one sentence, how would you summarize Bond with Me?

Bond with Me is a sensual paranormal romance in which Mischka Baran temporarily sells her soul to fallen angel Brends Duranov in exchange for a favor… but gets more than she bargained for because Brends wants her for eternity—as his bondmate.

You recently posted a piece about “what makes a compelling title” at the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic Paranormal chapter blog.  How did you come up with the title Bond with Me, and how/why do you feel this request appeals to women?

Everything I know about titles I learned from my editor, Alicia Condon, and my agent, Roberta Brown! Those two women really know how to name a book! I’m fairly title-challenged (as I mentioned in the FF&P blog post, I generally give my books really generic working titles…. Bond with Me will always be “the goblin” book to me. Alicia, however, pointed out very nicely, when we were discussing titles for my first Dorchester release, The Hunt, that a good title makes you want to pick up the book and it does so by giving you a taste of the book’s contents. For Bond with Me, I picked a central image from the book—the bond—as that image had both sensual and emotional implications for the heroine. The strong, declarative verb is also perfect for my commanding, take-charge hero. And it makes it easy for me to imagine myself in my heroine’s shoes (because that’s the fun part).

Why would Brends’ erotic plea to bond with me appeal to women? I know why the title appeals to me: these are my hero’s words. He’s strong. Commanding and forceful. And yet, at the end of the day, what he really wants is that emotional connection with my heroine. It’s not just about the sex—although that’s fun, too. He wants her and he wants her forever.

Although fallen angels are becoming a prominent mythology in paranormal romance, your story is one of a kind. What is unique about your take on fallen angels?

Bond with Me was born out of a medieval Slavic description of the Fall. Those medieval writers don’t pull any punches—they’re graphic, blunt and pretty damn bloody. So, I was reading about a battle in Heaven between the archangel Mikhail (Michael) and a cohort of angels. The rebel angels lost (of course) and were literally thrown out of Heaven—after Mikhail ripped their wings from their backs. There then follows a fabulous description of what happened to the Fallen—who became the bogeymen of Slavic mythology. Some of the Fallen became the Goblins, cursed to live with dark faces and forms as an eternal reminder of their sin. Since I’ve always been a fan of the underdog—I always root for the Grendals and Calibans—I started wondering. What if the rebel angels had a good reason for that rebellion?

Another difference between my book and some of the other fallen angel stories on the market right now is the heat level. My books tend to be much sexier and more sensual than many of the current mass market paperback offerings.

Are your alpha heroes based purely in the realm of your imagination, or are they inspired by male characters rooted in reality?

Until recently, I’d absolutely have said that my alpha heroes were based purely in the realm of my imagination. With the coverage in the last two years or so of the fighting in Afghanistan and the conflicts in the Middle East, reality has definitely crept in, however, to a small degree. I’ve read some absolutely compelling descriptions of various military commanders and units.  Time Magazine, for example, described the general in charge of operations in Afghanistan as a disciplined, austere, kick-a** warrior who could have been ripped straight from the pages of a contemporary romance.  Plus, I think many of us have seen that smoking hot picture of the team member from the unit that took out Bin Laden. Joking aside, we’re truly fortunate to have so many real-life heroes and heroines in our military and our first responders. I’m branching out to contemporary  romance with a book about a former Marine turned smoke jumper (Burning Up, April 2012) and these real life heroes have definitely influenced that character.

 If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then would you say “fallen angels” are more male and “angels” more female?

You don’t want me to go here ;) This is one of those books that makes me pull my hair out— I’m a big believer that there’s a Mars and a Venus in us all. I love a kick-ass heroine who also has a feminine side. One of the things that bothers me most about the Mars/Venus series is the way men and women get put in these nice, tidy little boxes. I prefer to think of “fallen angels” versus “angels” as being more of a “bad boy” vs. “choir boy” thing… fallen angels are rebels. They’re wounded heroes. And they’ve screwed up. Big time. So now they need to fix things. They just need a feminine assist to figure out how to do that.

I think everyone wants to believe in soul mates. This plays a big part in Bond with Me, but do you think “soul mates” exist in real life?

Honestly? Not in a pre-destined, there’s-only-one-match-for-me kind of a way. Does that mean I have to give back my official romance writer club card? I absolutely believe we can all find our soul mates—but it may take work (okay, lots of work). And that there may very well be more than one person out there I could love. After all, if there was only one match for each person, I suspect the world would be severely under-populated. I met my husband at college—but what if he’d got in to his first choice school, two thousand miles across the country? Or what if I hadn’t gone to that college kegger? Plus, meeting one’s spouse at a college kegger ought to be proof enough, right there… that’s hardly the “soul mate” material of a book, but we resonated with each other on that night and then we also grew and changed and lived together…. And I believe it’s that ability that really makes soul mates soul mates.

If a fallen angel/Goblin and a vampire (the tame, sparkly kind) were both vying for a woman’s heart, which do you think would win and why?

If it’s a tame vampire, I’d go with the fallen angel any day (plus, Edward’s just too young for me). I love alphas—beta males have never appealed to me. I blame that on Dorchester, by the way—Dorchester introduced me to Christine Feehan and the joys of a really, really alpha paranormal hero. I’ve been hooked ever since. For me, fallen angels are the ultimate alpha bad boys and I’ve always had a serious soft spot for bad boys. Good looks helped, but it’s the attitude, the you-can-kick-me-but-I’ll-come-back-stronger mindset. I love a man who is strong inside and out, who has the courage of his convictions—but who is still open to meeting a life-changing woman and redemption at her hands. The hero of Bond with Me, Brends Duranov, is a fallen angel who believes he rebelled against the Heavens for the right reasons. Whether he’s right or wrong in that belief, he accepts that there’s a price to pay for his rebellion and he’s not whining about his exile to Earth or his lost wings. He’s paying and he’s shouldering ahead.

 Are there any ways in which being a romance  author differs from being an author ?

Only when you’re at the neighborhood barbecue and someone asks what you write. When I’m feeling playful, I throw out “I write for a living” and wait for the “Oh—what do you write?” question. Reel them in. Sometimes, the person asking reads romance—and sometimes, they don’t. Generally, however, I’ve found that most people are impressed with the ability to string together 80,000 words and then sucker someone else into paying for said words.

Bottom line is that writing is a business (or, at least, it is if you’d like to get paid to do it). I’ve also written software manuals, marketing communications pieces, web content, advertising copy, academic articles… and all of these different genres require a solid understanding of craft and structure, along with being able to play well with others (actually, now that I think about it, the most brutal edits I’ve ever got have been in the academic field—it makes book reviews seem all fluffy love), take feedback, and meet deadlines.

His Dark Bond, the sequel to Bond with Me, is set for a January 2012 trade paperback release with Kensington Brava. Is there anything you can share with your fans at this point?

I’m absolutely delighted that the next book in my Fallen series, His Dark Bond, will be published by Kensington Brava on February 1, 2012. His Dark Bond is Zer’s story and he merits a very sexy, very stubborn soul mate of his own. He certainly looks absolutely fabulous on his new cover!

For more on Anne Marsh, visit her blog or email her at annemarsh@ymail.com.

Bond with Me is now available in trade and e-book.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: In the world of Bond with Me, a fallen angel will grant you any one wish if you “bond” with him and sate all his desires. What would your one wish be?

Thriller Thursdays: HUNT AMONG THE KILLERS OF MEN

Some of you may have heard of Gabriel Hunt. A world-renowned traveler, explorer, and finder of lost artifacts, Gabriel Hunt is co-chairman (with his brother, Michael) of the New York-based Hunt Foundation, an organization that  backs numerous scientific and research expeditions across the globe. He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books and has been nominated twice for the Peaburg Prize for photography.

That’s in fiction. In reality, Gabriel Hunt is a pen name for various authors who write for the Gabriel Hunt series.

Hunt Among the Killers of Men is the 4th book in the series, but don’t worry, it’s not the kind of series where you have to start with book 1. In Killers, Gabriel Hunt is on the trail of some warlord’s men who came to New York to preserve a deadly secret. His path will take him to the treacherous alleyways and rooftops of Shanghai and to a showdown with a madman out to resurrect a deadly figure from China’s past…

Full of all the adventure and danger characteristic of the Gabriel Hunt series, any thriller fan who doesn’t yet know about Gabriel Hunt will soon be hooked. So put on your Indiana Jones’ hat and read on!

Like what you read? Hunt Among the Killers of Men is now available in trade paperback and e-book, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the Gabriel Hunt series here.

Thrill on,

Hannah

Chapter 1

     “I give up.”

Gabriel Hunt was widely known for solving mysteries and rising to challenges. This time, however, frustration had bested him.

“I give up. You do it.”

He relinquished the Rubik’s Cube, placing it onto the table (itself a Chinese antique gifted by a beneficiary of a Hunt Foundation grant) next to a more obscure and even more difficult puzzle called the Alexander Star.

“It’s a toy, Gabriel. Children do it.”

“So give it to a child then,” Gabriel said.

Michael picked the cube up, began idly turning its sides. Instead of colors, each square was labeled with a piece of the Hunt Foundation logo against a different metallic background—silver, copper, bronze, gold—and the toy itself was made of stainless steel rather than plastic. “You give up on things too quickly,” he said. In his hands, the facets slowly reorganized themselves.

“Name one thing I’ve given up on,” Gabriel said. “Just one. Other than this toy.”

“The Dufresne report.”

“I brought back the mask. Dufresne should be happy.”

“He wants a report.”

“Here’s your report: I brought back the mask, close quotes, signed, Gabriel Hunt. What else does he want to know?”

Michael shook his head. “He has a board of trustees he has to answer to. It’s not enough to hand him a carton and say, here, here’s your mask. That’s not the way things are done in the foundation world. You should know that.”

Why was it that every time Michael opened his mouth, he sounded like he was the older brother rather than the younger? Gabriel was his senior by six years and change.

Michael set down the Rubik’s Cube, its sides neatly arranged, entropy defeated once again.

“Never mind,” he said, heaving a familiar sigh. “I’ll write it.”

“Make it good,” Gabriel said. “Tell them I had to sneak past a tribe of cannibals to get it.”

“In the south of France?”

“Gourmet cannibals.”

“I’d appreciate it, Gabriel, if you could show a modicum of seriousness about these things.”

“I know you would, Michael. It’s what I love about you. You use words like ‘modicum’ with a straight face.”

They were a study in contrast, Gabriel and his brother.

Both were still in tuxedos—how often had that fate befallen them?—the evening’s entertainment having consisted of the Hunt Foundation’s annual Martin J. Beresford Memorial Awards dinner two floors below. But where Michael wore his bespoke tailored suit with quiet dignity, Gabriel had untied the bowtie and cummerbund of his rented number and undone the shirt studs halfway down his chest. Michael was scholarly, almost tweedy, bespectacled; the pallor of his skin reflected a life spent largely indoors, these days behind a computer screen much of the time, or else talking on the telephone to similarly pale men halfway around the globe. Gabriel was darker—hair as black as shoe crème, skin browned by the sun of many lands. He was chiseled, the muscles of his long arms ropy. The last time he’d found himself behind a computer he’d been using the thing as a shield. You can’t beat a nice solid IBM laptop for stopping a bullet. Read more of this post

Western Wednesdays: SHOWER OF GOLD + Giveaway

This powerful novel was written in 1913, but for over ninety years it has existed only in a weaker, censored form, published as Desert Gold. That edited version trimmed violence, changed dialogue…and removed the climactic fight scene altogether. The result was a novel quite different from the one Zane Grey had intended. Now, nearly a century later, Shower of Gold has been completely restored, using the author’s original manuscript.

This preview is on the longer side, but it’s so good. SO GOOD. I’M USING THE CAPSLOCK HERE, PEOPLE. That’s how good it is.

Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win a trade copy of Shower of Gold, so be sure to let us know what you think of the preview!

As always, happy reading,
Allison Carroll
Editorial and Web Coordinator

PROLOGUE

A face haunted Cardashan—a woman’s face. It was there in the white heart of the dying campfire; it hung in the shadows that hovered over the flickering light; it drifted in the darkness beyond.

This hour, w hen the day had closed and the lonely desert night set in with its dead silence, was one in which Cardashan’s mind thronged with memories of a time long past—of a home back in Peoria, of a woman he had wronged and lost, and loved too late. He was a prospector for gold, a hunter of solitude, a lover of the drear rock-ribbed infinitude because he wanted to be alone to remember.

A sound disturbed Cardashan’s reflections. He bent his head, listening. A soft wind fanned the paling embers, blew sparks and white ashes and thin smoke away into the enshrouding circle of blackness. His burro did not appear to be moving about. The quiet split to the cry of a coyote. It rose strange, wild, mournful—not the howl of a prowling upland beast baying the campfire, or barking at a lonely prospector, but the mourn of a wolf, full-voiced, crying out the meaning of the desert and the night. Hunger throbbed in it—hunger for a mate, for offspring, for life. When it ceased, the terrible desert silence smote Cardashan, and the cry echoed in his soul. He and that wandering wolf were brothers.

Then a sharp clink of metal on stone and soft pads of hoofs in sand prompted Cardashan to reach for his gun and to move out of the light of waning campfire. He was somewhere along the wild borderline betweenSonora andArizona, and the prospector who dared the heat and barrenness of that region risked other dangers sometimes as menacing.

Figures, darker than the gloom, approached and took shape, and in the light turned out to be those of a white man and a heavily packed burro.

“Hello there!” the man called as he came to a halt and gazed about him. “I saw your fire. May I make camp here?”

Cardashan came forth out of the shadow and greeted his visitor, who he took for a prospector like himself. Cardashan resented the breaking of his lonely campfire vigil, but respected the law of the desert.

The stranger thanked him, and then slipped the pack from his burro.

It was always necessary for a prospector to be careful of his beast of burden, and this man was, also, gentle and kind. He brushed the tired burro, strained the water he gave him, and then led him away into the darkness, evidently to find a little patch of grass. When he returned, he carried a bundle of mesquite and greasewood sticks. These he broke into short pieces, some of which he laid carefully upon the fire. Then he rolled out his pack and began preparation for a meal. His movements were slow and methodical.

Cardashan watched him, still with resentment, yet with a curious and growing interest. The campfire burst into a bright blaze, and by its light Cardashan saw a man whose gray hair, somehow, did not seem to make him old, and whose stoop-shoulders did not detract from an impression of rugged strength.

“Find any mineral?” asked Cardashan presently.

His visitor looked up quickly as if startled by the sound of a human voice. He replied, and then the two men talked a little. But the stranger evidently preferred silence. Cardashan understood that. He laughed grimly and bent a keener gaze upon the furrowed, shadowy face. Another of those strange desert prospectors in whom there was some relentless driving power besides the lust for gold. Cardashan felt that between this man and himself there was a subtle affinity, vague and undefined, perhaps born of the divination that here was a desert wanderer like himself, perhaps born of a deeper, an unintelligible relation having its roots back in the past. A long forgotten sensation stirred in Cardashan’s breast, one so long forgotten that he could not recognize it. But it was akin to pain.

When he awakened, he found, to his surprise, that his companion had departed. A trail in the sand led off to the north. There was no water in that direction. Cardashan shrugged his shoulders; it was not his affair; he had his own problems. And straightway he forgot his strange visitor.

Cardashan began his day, grateful for the solitude that was now unbroken, for the cañon-furrowed and cactusspired scene that now showed no sign of life. He traveled southwest, never straying far from the dry streambed, and in a desultory way, without eagerness, he hunted for signs of gold.

The work was toilsome, yet the periods of rest in which he indulged were not taken because of fatigue. He rested to look, to listen, to feel. What the vast silent world meant to him had always been a mystical thing, sensed in all its incalculable power, but never understood.

That day, while it was yet light and he was digging in a moist white-bordered wash for water, he was brought up sharply by hearing the crack of hard hoofs on stone. There down the cañon came a man and a burro. Cardashan recognized them.

“Hello, friend!” called the man, halting. “Our trails crossed again. That’s good.”

“Hello,” replied Cardashan slowly. “Any mineral sign today?”

“No.” 

They made camp together, ate their frugal meal, smoked a pipe, and rolled in their blankets without exchanging many words. In the morning the same reticence, the same aloofness characterized the manner of both. But Cardashan’s companion, when he had packed his burro and was ready to start, faced about and said: “We might stay together, if it’s all right with you.”

“I never take a partner,” replied Cardashan.

“You’re alone . . . I’m alone,” said the other mildly. “It’s a big place. If we find gold, there’ll be enough for two.”

“I don’t go down into the desert for gold alone,” rejoined Cardashan with a chill note in his swift reply.

His companion’s deep-set luminous eyes emitted a singular flash. It moved Cardashan to say that in the years of his wandering he had met no man who could endure equally with him the blasting heat, the blinding dust storms, the wilderness of sand and rock and lava and cactus, the terrible silence and desolation of the desert. Cardashan waved a hand toward the wide, shimmering, shadowy descent of plain and range. “I may strike through theSonoraDesert. I may head for Pinacate or north for theColoradoBasin. You are an old man.”

“I don’t know the country, but to me one place is the same as another,” replied his companion. For moments he seemed to forget himself, and swept his far-reaching gaze out over the colored gulf of stone and sand. Then with gentle slaps he drove his burro in behind Cardashan’s. “Yes, I’m old. I’m lonely, too. It’s come to me just lately. But, friend, I can still travel and for a few days my company won’t hurt you.”

“Have it your way,” said Cardashan.

They began a slow march down into the desert. At sunset they camped under the lea of a low mesa. Cardashan was glad his comrade had the Indian habit of silence. Another day’s travel found the prospectors deep in the wilderness. Then there came a breaking of reserve, noticeable in the elder man, almost imperceptibly gradual in Cardashan. Beside the meager mesquite campfire this gray-faced thoughtful old prospector would remove his black pipe from his mouth to talk a little, and Cardashan would listen and sometimes unlock his lips to speak a word. And so, as Cardashan began to respond to the influence of a desert less lonely than habitual, he began to take keener note of his comrade, and found him different from any other he had ever encountered in the wilderness. This man never grumbled at the heat, the glare, the driving sand, the sour water, the scant fare. During the daylight hours he was seldom idle. At night he sat dreaming before the fire or paced to and fro in the gloom. He slept but little and that long after Cardashan had gone to his own rest. He was tireless, patient, brooding.

Cardashan’s awakened interest brought home to him the realization that for years he had shunned companionship. In those years only three men had wandered into the desert with him, and these had left their bones to bleach in the shifting sands. Cardashan had not cared to know their secrets. But the more he studied this latest comrade the more he began to suspect that he might have missed something in the others. In his own driving passion to take his secret into the limitless abode of silence and desolation where he could be alone with it, he had forgotten that life dealt shocks to other men. Somehow this silent comrade reminded him.

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Pardon the Interruption—actually, we take that back

 

Haven’t we all felt this way at some point?

All About Audio(books)—BREEDING GROUND

Today’s sample audio chapter is not for the faint of heart. Sarah Pinborough’s Breeding Ground delivers creepy-crawlers in a most terrifying spin. Infestations don’t get more disturbing, or personal, than this. 

“With BREEDING GROUND I think Sarah Pinborough has finally cemented herself among the big boys of horror, gender issues be damned. As it was with all her other books, I can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for us next!” —Dread Central

Listen to the first chapter of Breeding Ground for free!

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