Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Firsts with YA author Shannon Kennedy

The first five sentences of... THROW AWAY TEEN

Who cares if it’s a beautiful April day? The glare of the sunshine on the windshield is killing my eyes. I wish Carol would hurry up and get her butt out of the youth center already. She sent me out here to wait in her Ford Escort that’s older than I am. Whenever I bitch about the decrepit rust-bucket, Carol just shrugs and says the would-be wreck is paid for.

Available September 2012 from Black Opal Books

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What was the first romance you ever read?

The first romance I ever read was a sweet category story, Roses in December by Essie Summers –at least I think that was the title. It was about a young woman who crossed a riverbed in New Zealandonly to find herself trapped by a winter storm on a remote sheep station. Along the way she fell in love with the owner – it was a great story and I learned not to read the end of the book first!

Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it?

At eighteen, I was fascinated with romance. I had read tons of them growing up and they were my favorite fantasy. I always wanted a hero on a white horse to rescue me although I knew it would never happen. Life in a single-parent household taught reality. Men came with baggage and they always expected women to buy the suitcases. One of my first jobs was on a reserve Army base and my boss allowed me to use the office typewriter to type my first book.

While I happily typed away on my masterpiece, Ed occasionally looked over my shoulder. If he felt my hero was turning into a jerk, or worse acting like a coward, Ed told me so. My orders ran out about the time I finished the novel, so I bundled up my baby and shipped it off to Harlequin Books in Canada. I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, so I mailed the only copy I had. In addition to this no-no, I also didn’t have a clue about setting up a manuscript. I finished each chapter and began the next one on the same page, a fatal flaw. I also used up every scrap of paper and didn’t worry about such things as margins, or double spacing the lines of text.

Worst of all, while the man my heroine thought she loved was dashing, romantic and charming – he was also unfaithful, dishonest and nasty, a little too much like the real life I knew about. She ended up with her nice, quiet, dull best friend, Toby – the kind of guy a woman could spend a lifetime loving, but he wasn’t a traditional romance hero. Still, as a Vietnam veteran, he didn’t have a problem handling the garbage my heroine threw at him – he could duck.

Long story short, Harlequin didn’t buy the book and I spent years learning to perfect my craft. I still have that book tucked away in a box and one day I’ll probably rewrite it and make it work.

If you could live your life over again, what’s the first thing you’d do differently or change?

I would follow all my dreams instead of letting anyone talk me out of them. I stopped and waited too many times – I didn’t quit on those dreams, I just didn’t pursue them wholeheartedly because I had such tremendous gaps in my knowledge. For example, I knew in high school that I wanted to be an English teacher, but it took me far too long to obtain my teaching certificate– I was almost 50. I didn’t know the questions to ask my college advisor and so now I tell teens how to find the answers. As the saying goes, “You’re never given a dream without being given the power to make it come true.”

More about Shannon: As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. It was my favorite place to read books. Now, I write mainstream western romance and young adult realistic fiction. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell is a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest. Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 36 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.

With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

Friday, April 20, 2012

FRIDAY FIRSTS with Sarah Raplee

The first five sentences of BLINDSIGHT

FBI Psychic Agent Rick Garcia balled his twitching fingers into aching fists beneath the linen-covered table. When he’d gone undercover as one of the drug lord’s bodyguards, he hadn’t considered the possibility his assignment would involve celebrating the monster’s wedding—or that he’d still be undercover after three long, maddening years.

Patience had never been his strong suit. He’d like nothing better than to seize the gleaming cake knife from the bride’s manicured fingers and plunge the dull blade into her groom’s withered heart. But killing Marcus Mendoza now would prevent him from fulfilling the vow he’d made to bring every last one of the men who murdered his family to justice.

Blurb: A grieving undercover psychic government agent and a lonely blind wedding singer with a wild psychic talent must escape from a drug lord's compound, elude the drug lords Psychic Hound through the wilderness and free his psychic slaves.

Genre: Para-Ops Romantic Suspense
Publisher: being shopped around right now (good luck!!!!)

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1. Tell me about your very first kiss.

Ah, young love!  Too young, as it turned out. I went to a carnival with a seventeen-year-old sailor I met on a Senior Girl Scout camping trip on Navy property. At fifteen, I’d yet to be kissed, let alone French kissed. He, on the other hand…Let’s just say that his tongue in my mouth kinda grossed me out!

2. What was your first date with your significant other?
We’d done volunteer work together for almost a year. I had a huge crush on him, but he was dating someone else. Then he became a forest fire fighter for the State and was stationed ninety miles away. After two months with no phone call, I gave up on him. Then our mutual gay friend Neil figured out that I had a crush on him. Neil insisted that he ask me out the next time he visited home. Neil even double-dated with him for moral support (he brought his sister!) We went to a movie.

That one act of kindness resulted in a lifelong marriage, kids, etc. Neil was one of our groomsmen eighteen months later. He went on to serve on the city council and work for GLBT rights for years. Sadly, he died of AIDS fifteen years ago.

3. What was the first R-rated movie you ever saw?
Romeo and Juliet. Cried my eyes out and loved it, loved it, loved it! I have to admit, though, that as an adult, I much prefer Shakespeare’s comedies. I enjoy entertainment that makes me smile. Give me those happy endings!

More about Sarah: I spent half my childhood in California and half on a tropical island (sounds rough, doesn't it?). Growing up, I wanted to be a mommy, writer, poet and artist, in that order, but an unfortunate lack of eye-hand coordination eliminated "artist" from the list. After high school I followed my heart and married my firefighter-cum-Coast Guardsman boyfriend, who is the inspiration for my heroes. I write scary, funny romantic suspense novels with paranormal elements. Dogs have infiltrated every manuscript for reasons that are deeply buried in my subconscious. I write because I can't help it, and it's more fun than most of the alternatives.

You can find Sarah at her group blog, Romancing the Genres. She also writes short Steampunk Romance for Free Reads at the Genre-istas.

Friday, April 13, 2012

FRIDAY FIRSTS with Christy Hayes

The first five sentences of... THE SWEETHEART HOAX(okay, so this is seven sentences. Oops. My bad.)

Margot Manning had to quit the job she loved in order to achieve the career she wanted. As she settled into her chair at the reception desk at Flannery & Williams, she wondered what could have made the last few years worse. She could have been waiting tables at a diner as her mother had done before her heart made such physical work too taxing. She could have hawked gifts at one of the coastal area’s gift stores, unable to study without her bosses or customers taking note. She could have accepted one of the nannying positions she’d interviewed for before realizing she’d never be able to read and memorize chapters of organic chemistry with toddlers underfoot all day. As she neared the end of her part-time nursing program, she knew she’d made the right choice for her day job. If only she hadn’t fallen stupidly, ignorantly in love with her boss…well, one of them.

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Available now!

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1. Who was your first love?
Honestly, the first man I ever truly loved was my husband. Never before or ever since has there been anyone I’ve wanted to spend the rest of my life with than him. After twenty-two years together and eighteen years of marriage, that’s a pretty good thing!

2. Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it?

The first novel I ever wrote is still on my computer. I sometimes think of going back and reworking the story, but I have a feeling it would be too daunting when I think of how far I’ve come in the last decade as a writer. I still like the story, so I guess I could just use the basic premise and rewrite it, but I think I should concentrate on looking forward instead of backward.

3. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

I’d hire a chef to cook nutritious meals for our family. I don’t hate to cook, but I hate constantly thinking about what I should make for dinner. Usually, I’m trying so hard to get into my chair to work on my books that I don’t think about dinner until it is too late and I end up scrounging around for ingredients and things to prepare. A live in chef would be amazing!

MORE ABOUT CHRISTY: Christy Hayes writes romance and women’s fiction from her basement office outside Atlanta, Georgia. She lives happily with her husband, two active tweens, and two rescue mutts. When not writing, Christy spends her time exercising, watching cable news, and reading.

Twitter: - !/SeaHayes


Friday, April 6, 2012


The first five sentences of... PICTURE PERFECT LEGACY

Don't take my baby. Please don't take my baby. The woman's plea whispered in the steady swish, swish of the wipers. Her image wavered among the falling flakes of snow, horror streaking in anguished tears down her face. Marly O'Shea shivered and forced her attention back to the narrow, twisting road grudgingly carved out of the side of the mountain.

Available now!

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1. Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it?

It was published fourteen years after I started writing it. :) And the rest of the story… Like most teenaged girls, I was infatuated with a few rock stars. So when I was supposedly grown up and started writing, I thought a rock star would make a good hero of a romance book. Well, if you overlooked the rock star's mantra of "drugs, sex, and rock'n'roll." So my hero became a reformed rock star. And did someone say celebrity-type heroes don't sell well unless it's an exposé to a tabloid? Um, I must have missed that e-mail. I blithely started writing. And writing. And writing. Six-hundred pages later, I realized the story was far too long for any contemporary romance markets.

I had also been attending Romance Writers of America meetings and conferences and was learning the craft of writing. Point of view? Character arcs? Conflict? Building tension? Oops! I totally rewrote that book over half a dozen times, but I loved the two main characters and wanted to tell their story. I "came close" to selling it to New York publishers--meaning I got personal rejection letters from editors.

Fourteen years after I started writing THE ROCK STAR, I sold it to an e-book publisher. I later got my rights back and another e-publisher re-issued it last fall with its current title and a new cover. I still love that story and continue to promote it along with my more recent books.

2. If you had a free afternoon, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Find some work to do? LOL! I'm happiest when I'm busy. I'm also at a point in my life where I can pretty much do what I want. So I write. I'm also a graphic designer and I love to design book covers. I have a herd of doggies--mostly rescues--who have taught me more than I ever learned in a classroom. I am a Reiki master and experience miracles every day. The door to my office opens onto the deck to my back yard and I can meander out and dig in the dirt if I want to. If I scheduled a free afternoon, I'd sit on the bench under my magnolia tree and read books, or go play with my kids and grandkids.

3. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

Funny this is one of your questions! I bought a ticket for the $640 million lottery drawing just for fun. What would you do with that much money? Pay off the mortgages of everyone you know? However, what I would buy first is property for my herd of doggies so the animal sanctuary I've planned for years would have room to spread out!

More about Genie
For years I've been fascinated by the puzzle of why some people collapse under life's traumas and others emerge triumphantly stronger. These triumphs of the human spirit over the ugliest of adversities became the basis for my stories. Yet my dramatic stories have always contained touches of humor, and sometimes I have great fun writing romantic comedy novellas. However, in all my stories, my passion for writing romance is an outlet for the powerful messages that people can overcome great difficulties, and true love can turn life’s heartaches into happily ever after.

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THANK YOU, Rebecca, for having me as a guest on your blog today! Maybe just for fun, anyone who comments would tell me what they would buy first if they won the lottery. I love to hear people's dreams!

And…it's not the lottery, but anyone who comments here will be entered in the contest drawing I'm having on my LEGACY blog for a $15 gift card. The drawing will be April 27. If you want to check out that blog, the url is You can also check out my Web site for more information about me and about my books.

Thanks to everyone who stops by!