A Little Bit About You
Cia: Are you a person that makes your bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
I’m a neglectful housekeeper—I could use a maid—but I always make my bed. I do it first thing, even before I shower and even when I’m sick. For one thing, I like having a nice flat surface on which to lay out my clothes. For another, if the dog hops on the bed, she won’t be on the sheets. But the big reason I make the bed is because if I don’t do it then, I won’t do it at all, and then when I climb in bed at night the bed feels, well, kind of stale and melancholy. I like a made bed when I go to bed.
Cia: Single people write more, are you single?
Nope. I’m the most happily married woman on the planet. My husband is the most supportive, amazing man, and one of the great things about our marriage is he is happy to have me stay at home and write. Of course, we both hope that eventually I will earn enough from my writing to buy groceries once in a while. But I know I’m in a different place in my life than many writers: my children are grown. Writing is a heck of a lot harder to find time for if you have young children at home! Trust me, young mothers and fathers, it gets better.
Cia: What are you wearing?
Gray jeans, a navy blue leather belt, and a faded red t-shirt that says “Bermuda.” Oh, and blue giraffe print textured crew socks (I love cute socks) with my gray and red sports shoes.
Cia: Do you eat your fruits and vegetables?
Some more than others. I’m really a cheese and crackers kind of girl. Right now, with fresh summer tomatoes, I’m enjoying lots of those, and strawberries, but not together.
Cia: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate. But give me a scoop of vanilla and I won’t complain.
About Your Writing
Cia: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing?
I never quite know where to begin a story. I tend to start things way before the reader needs the story to begin, building a foundation. Readers don’t need that foundation upfront, even if I do. I almost always have to go back to my beginning scenes and either delete or reinvent them. If anything, I overwrite my stories. My computer has folders filled with scenes and conversations deleted from my books.
Cia: Do you have any writing rituals? Crazy hat you have to wear, spin around three times before you sit down, turn your shirt inside out?
Does that help? I’ll do it! J My ritual consists of getting my husband out the door and brewing a cup of coffee. I kind of need the coffee. And then I fall into my routine: I go to my email and hope to see good news—or mail, for that matter; I check if anyone has visited the old blog; I pay a visit to Facebook (play a little Hidden Chronicles for fun); poke my head in on Twitter, where I occasionally tweet about something or retweet if I think people might find interesting; and then I dig in and figure out what I’m going to write that day. I write in complete silence and take a break for lunch when the poodle gives me a poke with her nose.
Cia: Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create convoluted plots for you, or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
My characters delight in creating plots for me. They burrow into the story and all I have to do is follow along and record their adventures, often spawning more ideas than I can put in the book. A few of them get out of hand and I have to rein them in or promise them their own stories to keep them from acting out. That’s how Captive Heart got written. I wrote a short story, Victory Portrait, in which Gaspar was a minor character, although an emperor, and he wanted his own story. He also informed me he was straight and that he wanted a girl. I never had to coax a story out of him. He completely provided entire scenarios once I gave him Julissa. And so did she! Very enthusiastic, those two, in and out of bed. And you can bet they will breed lots of plots… er, children. Children who will hatch plots.
Cia: Who do you feel has supported you most in your writing? Picking a fictional character is cheating, so make sure it’s someone actually breathing!
A lot of people have supported me. My family is amazing. But the person who has supported me most would be my husband. He’s been my rock every step of the way. He’s my beta reader prime, the first person to read any book I write. Not only is he a wonderfully creative writer himself, he’s a top-notch editor. He’s fearless about pointing out sloppy exposition or unconvincing characterization, for example. And he’s a wizard with commas. I was self-conscious about showing him my erotic work at first, and my poor comma-deprived editors will be happy to know I’ve since gotten him back onboard.
Now that I am publishing romance books—and not the science fiction and fantasy novels I originally was producing—he’s quite smug, because he told me a few years ago that I should be writing erotica and romance, and he was right. This is the man who when I said I wanted to write full time, told me, “Go for it. You’re a good writer and I think you should get your work out in front of readers.” That he is willing to be the breadwinner while I contribute the occasional jar of jelly is critical to any success I might achieve. I try to remember to cook dinner for him at least twice a week.
Cia: What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? (One that didn’t require an extinguisher due to flames) What has been the best compliment?
You mean aside from the literary agent who laughed me off her blog and caused me to enter the author relocation program? I wanted to use a fire extinguisher on her… but I digress. The toughest real criticism my work ever received came from George H. Scithers, who at that time was editor of Weird Tales, and who ripped apart one of my early science fiction stories. He pointed out my dreadful writing habits, shot photon torpedoes through my plot holes, and told me to stop trying so hard to write like all the other writers out there and write like myself. He was the first man to praise my world-building and to tell me I had dreadful dialog. He never bought a story from me, but he sent back comments on all three stories I submitted to him and he taught me to be a better writer. I wish I had met him in person. And the best compliment… came from a reader who told me the world of Uttor was so real she wished she could move into it and meet the people, because the characters spoke to her. I could have died right there as a fulfilled and happy writer.
About Your Book
Cia: Did you have a character you loved to write?
Captive Heart was overrun by characters I loved to write. I’ve already mentioned Gaspar and Julissa, and they’re the main characters, so I spent a lot of time with them and we had the best fun. But I would have to say I had the most fun of all writing one of the minor characters, the Duquessa Hersilia. She’s very old and confident in her opinions. I wrote a conversation between her and Gaspar about the one quality he must have in a bride, and the words just poured onto the page. I barely changed a thing during editing. I love when characters just pop up, fully realized, and drop scenes like that in my lap. Hersilia stopped by again in one of the next books in the series.
Cia: What sort of coffee would your characters order? Plain coffee or a complicated half-fat, shaken and not stirred extra shot dark roast espresso?
Gaspar would want his coffee plain. Julissa would want hers with lots of cream and sugar. But Darius Arrento, Gaspar’s best friend and general, would just chew the beans.
Cia: If your book was made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character’s part?
Oh gosh. I really don’t envision my main characters in terms of any performers I’ve ever seen. I barely know any actors’ names! That said, I would have Maggie Smith play Hersilia. And I would get Chris Hemsworth to play Vallmer. Or Lorant. But Lorant is a villain and I would rather see Hemsworth play Vallmer because I totally had Hemsworth in mind when I was writing Vallmer. Totally.
Cia: What is your favorite scene in your book?
I’m especially fond of the scene where Gaspar learns that Julissa is the sister of his enemy, Lorant—the man who kidnapped Gaspar’s sister and started the war he just wrapped up, a victory he just celebrated by seducing her. It’s this moment of realization on his part and mortification on hers. The first part of the novel all leads up to that moment, and the rest of the novel unfurls from it.
The Requisite Sneak Peek Ahead
Cia: So, what are you writing now? Anything else in the works for publishing?
I have a few stories in the pipeline. Dangerous Beauty, a M/M romance set in Uttor and featuring one of Julissa’s brothers, is with Resplendence now. I’m halfway through, and will soon finish writing, another M/F book in the Uttor series. I don’t have a title for it yet, but it’s the story of Adora, Gaspar’s sister, and her rocky road to romance with Vallmer. She’s absolutely convinced the big blond man is perfect for her, but he doesn’t realize yet that she’s also perfect for him. Her being pregnant might have something to do with that. But I don’t think pregnancy needs to stand in the way of a determined woman getting what she wants. And I’m of course finishing up Thick as Thieves, the M/M sword and sorcery romp I’ve been running on my blog. Vorgell is a giant of a barbarian who took a unicorn horn up the ass and is now a sex-crazed adventurer, and Madd is a witch and thief who has every reason not to cure Vorgell of his affliction. Their story is the most fun I’ve ever written and I hope one of my publishers will give the boys a book.
And I have two more books coming out in the next few weeks. Sorcerer’s Knot, which will be released on August 22nd, is a M/M dark fantasy about an ambitious young wizard, the mysterious sorcerer whose magic he wants to steal at any cost, and… tentacles! The Prince of Winds, a long novella that some readers may have seen for a while on Literotica, is an Arabian Nights flavored story of a young warrior who is captured by—and falls in love with—one of three cursed brothers. It’s being released in September. Both will be available through Dreamspinner Press and I will be having giveaways on my blog and also through a few other venues.
I’m giving away a free copy of Captive Heart this week on my blog, also!
One Last VERY Important Question (This could make or break the interview, so choose wisely!)
Cia: Who do you like best … Tom or Jerry?
Jerry, because he got to dance with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh! How cool is that?
So you can see she gave some great answers to my sometimes bizarre questions, lol! Now, on to the next part ... Captive Heart! Check out this gorgeous cover and the excerpt below, then follow the links and purchase a copy!
A vengeful emperor conquered her country…now he’s after her heart.
Julissa has only known life as a sheltered princess in Sebboy's opulent but restrictive society, ruled over by strict parents and the righteous Prophets of her god. She is all but destined to a marriage of alliance until her brother kidnaps a foreign princess as his bride, and Julissa's country becomes the target of the girl’s vengeful brother. Gaspar Leonnte may have a big nose and be the subject of ridicule at Julissa's family table, but he doesn't have any trouble conquering Sebboy.
While fleeing the city, Julissa falls into Gaspar's hands and everything she ever knew changes. When a misunderstanding brings Julissa to his bed, the victorious emperor sees no reason not to enjoy his pretty captive for the night. Julissa should refuse him and honor her duty to her family and Prophet, but how can she fight the passion Gaspar awakens… even if doing so might mean her life?
Julissa pulled back, but Gaspar was stronger. The drapery dividing the tent bumped her arm as it fell into place again behind her. What was she doing here? This man was doing terrible things to her country, and she was trading her compliance piece by piece to secure slivers of his protection for people other than herself. All at once, her actions seemed dreadfully misguided. She was the one whose peril was most certain, not Aurelia in her poppy-strewn sleep or Petraeus whose fate surely rested with their god, at least until such time as Niarchus’ men could reach him.
Helpless, unable to flee a tent guarded by soldiers, far less a camp filled with them, she closed her eyes and prayed for Garmael to illuminate her path.
“Don’t,” Gaspar said. He continued to hold her, his voice a rich vibration upon air that was suddenly too warm, too close. “I must see your eyes.”
She looked up at him, then, and was glad he did not look cruel. His right hand moved to her face, his fingers brushing her cheek. That touch and the provocative hazel of his eyes awakened a heat that poured into her lips and filled the secret wells of her body.
“Chasca, defend me,” she whispered, invoking for a second time the Uttoran protector of virgins.
“Too late for that,” Gaspar said.
He was so near she could no longer see his eyes or the angles of his face. His lips pressed against her hair, traveled to her cheek, his nose caressing her ear to create a cascade of shivers.
“Besides,” his warm voice murmured, “my ancestor suckled at Chasca’s teat and became divine. She’s quite partial to my family. She has us to thank for all her temples.”
In this tent, in this hidden chamber and in the company of this man, all the Prophets were useless, armed only with empty words. When Gaspar’s mouth moved over hers, Julissa gasped at his heat, the way his lips explored hers by lightly tracing the upper, tugging at the ripe fullness of the lower. He felt…experienced. She’d kissed a few men before, but those kisses had been respectful pecks purchased by a gift or a pleasant dance. This kiss respected only her response to him. When she tried to pull away, Gaspar’s hand moved to hold her head so she could not escape his plunder. It wasn’t so bad, really. His lips were firm, but gentle, and tasted faintly of wine. Even the light stubble on his cheek that prickled her skin was more exciting than awful. Tentatively, she answered his kiss, not knowing how. He taught her with lips that gently sucked and teased until he had persuaded hers to open. The touch of his tongue against hers, probing and practiced, tasted like an imperial summons. To her surprise, she answered.
A soft moan escaped her throat.
“Oh.” She caught herself. “Please, I…I don’t want to be used this way.”
“What way? Like this?” He nibbled the junction of her neck and shoulder in a manner that caused her nerves to leap.
Why did he have to smell so good? And the way his cheek rasped her skin awakened a tingling, needy ache in her nipples. Those points of flesh strained toward him with an urgency that alarmed her.
“I—I know what you’re trying to do, and you can’t just—”
“Can’t I?” he disputed, though he smiled. “I promise to use you nicely.”
Gaspar’s lips brushed hers again and his hand seized upon the sheet that, somehow, had survived this far to conceal her body from him. No more. The sheet fell in white folds to the floor. Julissa reached to grab it.
“No,” he said softly.
She was lost, transfixed by the gentle yet commanding timbre of his voice as he stepped back to see what had been hidden. For a moment, his gaze traveled over her with clear admiration, then he breathed just one word.
Something in Gaspar’s tone, something worshipful, convinced her to stand for his perusal. He reached out his right hand, the fingertips just brushing the curve of her left breast, then the dip of her waist, his hand turning to skim the line of her hip. His touch caused her breasts to lift, her nipples to tighten to erect buds. Like some mysterious fruit, her sex blossomed, swollen with hot need, between her legs. To her surprise, she did not tremble. She felt like neither a prisoner nor a slave. She felt…chosen.
“I need no more proof than you that the gods exist,” he said.
With a swiftness and strength that surprised her, Gaspar scooped her off her feet into his arms. The world spun for a moment before she found herself on the bed with Gaspar beside her, clad still in his shirt, trousers and boots. His right thigh nudged between her knees before she could think to close her legs against him. While she squirmed in dismay, he cupped his right hand on the full pale orb of her breast and languidly teased the peak of her nipple, surprising her with the jolt of pleasure his touch awakened. His palm owned her flesh, defined it, before finding equal pleasure in its twin. Something hard and thick pushed urgently against her thigh and she realized with a start it must be his male member.
When she opened her lips to protest, his mouth was again upon hers, his kisses more demanding than before. Hotter, sweeter…so intoxicating her lips sought his. His hand left her breast to fumble with his trousers. What pushed hard against her thigh when he resumed his caresses was fleshy, rigid and hot with demands of its own.
His organ’s hardness terrified her, but thrilled her, too, the way it thrilled her to go off on her own into town, not knowing what she’d find. Like his body, so muscular and unexpected, this man was new to her, unexplored and utterly forbidden. He was also quite skillful at navigating her uncharted swells and hidden places, appraising and handling her like something rare and fine. She quivered at the gentleness with which his hand skimmed her body.
“You have the figure of a goddess, my lovely Magda.”
Her heart lurched at not hearing her own name. “There’s something you should know—”
Wrapping an arm around her waist, he pulled her hard against him, a gesture so possessive it left her stunned. There was no point in not touching him, given the embrace. Julissa placed her hands upon his arms and her fingers encountered the soft linen of his shirt and, beneath it, the hard thick muscles of a robust male. Though she tried to push him away, Gaspar’s right hand continued to explore her contours, her curves, her thighs, leaving delicious trails of sensation wherever he touched. What he awakened in her flesh was like music swelling her blood and it threatened to vibrate her every nerve.
“Sweet Magda,” he growled, and his mouth traced the column of her throat, found the valley of her breasts.
Her nipples felt swollen, almost painfully so, and his lips, when they found one, released the sweetest pulses she had ever known. How wonderful she thought, gasping at such bliss from something her mother had warned her never to allow. She arched her back as his hand abandoned her thighs to caress the full, firm pillows of her breasts. His tongue flicked like flame, each measured moist touch awakening new heat that rippled from her breasts into the core of her belly. When Gaspar’s hand again reached to her thighs to stroke the soft insides leading to her sex, she remembered his intent.
“Hush,” he said, and his kiss upon her lips was the command of an emperor.
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Sorceror's Knot @ Dreamspinner Press Debuts Aug. 22nd!! : http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3183