Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Writing about Dragons and dreaming of castles in France

Writing about Dragons and dreaming of castles in France

Goal: To go to Saint-Sylvestre-sur-Lot, France from October 25th to November 23rd

Reason: I’m in the midst of writing three back to back dragon shifter romances that take place in England, Russia and America and I’m dying to explore the creative backgrounds that a beautiful and inspiring setting like a castle in France could give me.  I’m entering an AWESOME contest hosted by Derek Murphy who is giving a few lucky authors the chance to win a coveted spot in his castle for the month of November to go crazy for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). If you want a chance to enter you can find Derek’s Contest Page here .
So what would be my exciting story be? The second story in my dragon shifter romance series. Here’s the book set up (since I haven’t written it yet).

A good dragon never leaves his hoard of jewels unwatched…
Mikhail Barinov had one duty to his family: As the second eldest in an ancient line of Russian dragon shifters, he is honor bound to secure and protect the hoard of gold and jewels his family has amassed over the centuries. But there’s one little problem…the hoard of jewels was lost almost five centuries ago in Elizabethan England when Mikhail was distracted while seducing a virgin queen. Exiled by his family until he can return the jewels, Mikhail is determined to find them and bring them home by any means necessary. When a shocking discovery of buried jewels in a construction site in London exposes the missing hoard, Mikhail races to England to steal back his family’s precious gems.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
Piper Linwood has a thing for diamonds, well not just diamonds - all that glitters is gold is her motto. As a professional gemologist, she travels the world to attend famous auctions as jewelry specialist. When London announces the discovery of a hoard of jewels, she is called into to assess the gems and their value. But her job is put into jeopardy when a mysterious, brooding man kidnaps her and forces her to help him steal the jewels from the auction house. Piper travels with her captor, Mikhail, all the way to Russia where she learns that the dragon tattoo on his back is more than just a symbol. It’s a living, breathing part of the sexy, irresistible bad boy she’s starting to fall for. But she has to find a way to escape him and return to the jewels to England no matter the cost, even if it means betraying the man she’s come to love.

I can’t wait to immerse myself in European history considering how much of it will be based in Elizabethan England. I also get to research gems and I get to explore the history of the Real Cheapside Hoard that was discovered in the 1920s which I am basing the present day discovery in my book on (to read more about this amazing find go here.

Want a sneak peak of my rough draft of book one? Keep reading! And please pardon typos!

**Exclusive First Look at the FIRST Barinov Dragon Book**
The Russian State Library was a beautiful architectural cross between Soviet era design and classical design, which called back the days of the Czars. Housing over 17.5 million books, was one of the world’s largest libraries. The smell of musty books and recently cleaned marble steps inside the library were a welcome mix of aromas that always calmed Madelyn. Having world of infinite stories at her fingertips was exciting and reassuring. But she wasn’t here to see their vast array of novels. She was here for one book. A heavily guarded book that required supervision whenever it was handled.
Madelyn walked up the white stairs into the upper decks of the library, her eyes dancing from the blue marble columns to be in the stacks of books. She kept walking and left the modern rooms behind so she reached a wing of the library that housed antiquarian book collections. One of the collection areas was a beautiful room that was two stories tall with gleaming walnut bookcases illuminated by hanging golden globes of light. A slightly domed ceiling was painted with scenes of Greek mythology, the gods on Olympus displaying their power and might.
The security guard stood at the back of the room by a small sign in desk and he waved her over.
“Good morning, Miss,” he replied in English with a heavy accent.
Madelyn smiled. She’d been relieved to discover that many of the guards were fluent in English to a degree. Despite her scholarly background, she had no head for languages.
“I’d like to check out this book please.” She retrieved a small piece of paper with the name of the book in English and Russian in its location on the shelves. The guard read the card and then his brown eyes looked from it to her face, studying her.
“This book? You are sure?” he asked, his voice oddly hushed and his face drained of color. He pushed a security badge on his chest with one finger as though he’d done it a thousand times when nervous.
“Yes. That one.” Madelyn assured him.
But now she was feeling anxious. She’d checked out several books yesterday but hadn’t discovered this particular book until she was pouring over the ancient collection of card catalogues that looked as though they’d been written half a century before. There on the yellowed paper of the cards, in ink that was turning brown, she’d read the name of the book My Year With Dragons. The library had been about to close and she only had time to scribble down the book’s information before a guard politely escorted her out of antiquarian collection area. The guard stared at the card again and then nodded. “Dah, okay, we get you the book.” He pointed to a small research table near one of the vast glass windows.
“Sit, please.” Then he took a card and walked over to the shelves on the opposite side of the room.
While he retrieved the book, Madelyn set out her notebook and pens, her hands shaking. Why was the guard so hesitant to give her the book? From the book’s description in the card catalogue that she’d be able to translate, it was a memoir from an English man who spent time in Russia, there was no political or social discourse in it that could prompt a Russian security officer to be concerned… But he had been. The man looked ill at the thought of fetching that book…
She peeped at the guard from the corner of her eye. He unlocked a glass case on one of the shelves, his head cocked to the side as he squinted at the titles on the spine. Then he used his index finger to gently tug a shorter leather bound book free of the case. Once he had the book in his hands, he didn’t immediately come over to her. For several seconds he stood there, holding the book and staring at her, before he finally walked over.
“Please be careful. This is special book.” He held out the leather bound tome and Madelyn accepted it. Her skin tingled as she felt the smooth leather in her palms but she hid the reaction. The guard nodded at her again and then walked back to his station.
Madelyn’s skin continued to tingle as she lifted up the book to get a closer look. The cover was thick leather and not made marked with any titles or identifying marks except two initials in the right bottom corner J.B. Madelyn smoothed her fingertips over the initials and then opened the front cover. There on the front page was the title written in pen and ink. Not in typeface.
My Year With Dragons – A personal collection of observations about my time spent with the Barinov family by James Barrow. Dated 1821.”
Madelyn whispered the words. It was written in English, and James Barrow, that name could be English or American. She held the book in one hand and made a note in her notebook before she turned to the next page. Her heart stuttered to a stop in her chest.
Three pencil sketches depicted the faces of three different men. Names were scrawled beneath each intimate portrait.
Grigori, Mikhail and Rurik. The Barinov Brothers.
She studied the sketch of Grigori, fascinated by the handsome face, the pale hair and light eyes. There was a melancholy beauty to his lips, and almost rueful smile barely hinted in the drawing as though he had sat still long enough to assist the artist but as soon as he was able, he’d move again. The second man Mikhail seemed more brooding, his hair dark and his eyes almost black. He seemed worried, but he too was beautiful. In the last Rurik, had dark hair and mischievous eyes, with a playful, charming grin on his lips that outshone the white scar the dropping from above his right eyebrow down to his cheek as though he’d been slashed.
It was Grigori that Madelyn’s eyes came back to over and over. Something about his face…like a half-remembered dream. Deep inside her, there was a stirring, as though a part of herself she never knew existed had come awake.
“Grigori,” she test his name upon her lips, finding she liked the way it sounded, the syllables strong and yet soft.
She needed to have this sketch. The compulsion to possess his likeness was too strong. She glanced about the room and saw the guard was on his phone, texting and not looking her way. Sneaking her cell phone out, she flicked the camera application on and snapped a hasty picture of each of the brothers before she put it back in her purse. Hands trembling she turned the page again, forcing herself to look totally calm and not like she’d been taking photographs of a protected manuscript.
The next page it was a diary entry dated March 16, 1821.
“Dragons are real…” The first words of the entry made her body shiver and the sudden chill shot down her spine. She forced herself to keep reading and couldn’t help but wonder what James Barrow meant. Dragons weren’t real, at least not in the fire and brimstone sense.
“I met the Barinov brothers in Moscow and learned they were not mortal men... they were possessed of strange abilities. The touch of fire, the breath of smoke, the eyes that glowed...”
If you like what you read, please comment on and share my post and visit Derek Murphy’s page to enter if you’re a fellow author!

Thank you for stopping by my blog!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Living Past: Writing Mysteries in the 80s- Guest Author Noah Chinn

Hello Readers!! I'm delighted to have author Noah Chinn on my blog today talking about writing mystery novels. He's also got a new release out!

The Living Past: Writing Mysteries in the '80s
Being an editor means the time you spend as a writer tends to suffer, but it's all the sweeter when you finally have a new release out.  In my case, it's the second James & Lettice Cote mystery, The Plutus Paradox.
Set in Vancouver in 1985, it revolves around the sudden kidnapping of Lettice’s father, Harold–a man she thought had been dead for fifteen years. If that wasn’t strange enough, the couple is left to care for the missing man’s six-year-old daughter, Lettice’s sister, also named Lettice.
I have a fondness for 80’s era mystery shows, but why is it a good setting for a mystery novel series? It’s not like the books are chalk full of self-aware jokes from the era. There wasn’t a single Miami Vice joke in Getting Rid of Gary, despite the first couple chapters taking place in Florida (to be fair, though, that show didn’t start until 1987).
That’s because the books aren’t about making fun of the era. Before starting I thought about one of the most influential mystery writers – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
You may know that Sherlock Holmes was so popular that some people believed him to be real, or at least as real as a fiction person could be. Maybe they just thought him real in a Santa Claus kind of way, but we all know 221B Baker Street still gets letters for the great detective to this day.
But what was odd about this reaction was that Doyle’s mysteries were never written in the present day, it was always in past, years or even decades earlier. It struck me as odd that people would think about Holmes in a present tense even though the events being recounted were firmly in the past. As time leapt forward for Doyle, it crawled along for Holmes as he became more and more popular.
And I think the reason for that is because of the age Doyle lived in. Gaslight London was giving way to Electric London. Victorian England was rapidly changing, perhaps more rapidly than some would like.  The horse-drawn carriage was slowly to be supplanted by the automobile.
In this time of flux, there must have been something nostalgic and reliable about Holmes, a touchstone to a past that was increasingly romanticized even within the reader’s own lifetimes.
I think we live a similar age now. Only now the obsolescence of tech is sometimes measured in months rather than years, much less decades. I’m sure it’s hard for some people to imagine using a phone that isn't also a portable computer with touch screen.
And then there are things that have changed our lives so much just imagining a time before can be difficult. Think about how ubiquitous YouTube or Facebook is and remember that they only came about 11 and 12 years ago, respectively. Trying to imagine that you could be in the 21st century and NOT see these things around is mind-boggling.
And yet many of us grew up in a time before all this was (waves at the Internet) all this. And we got along just fine.
I think, much like Gaslight London of the 1880s and 1890s was for Doyle’s readers, the 1980s and 1990s are a similarly nostalgic touchstone, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s a different time. It’s history. But one we can still touch before it slips away forever.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lauren Reads- Ashes by Sophie H. Morgan

 I had the pleasure of reading Sophie H. Morgan's book Ashes and just had to share my thoughts!! For all you paranormal romance and fantasy romance fans, definitely check this book out!!

Book Description:

Secrets can burn.
The Divided Kingdom, Book 1
Reared from birth to rule the Phoenix territory, Ana fled her future and her past when her parents were murdered. Now she secretly leads a rebellion to stop the human ruler, Edward, from experimenting on supernaturals.
When she finds herself cornered by an assassin, she knows just what to do: Roast him and toast him. Then recognition sends blue-tipped flames licking through her veins. It’s Cade, the royal bodyguard who once rejected her youthful confession of love.
When Cade regains consciousness from the force of Ana’s punch, he’s still reeling from shock—and fury. He’d loved the princess, and for ten years he thought her dead. Though his inner jackal growls with desire for her, she is the key to completing his mission for Edward—hunt down the rebel known as Liberty.
Ana can’t believe Cade doesn’t know the truth about Edward. If she can convince him of it, his blade could turn the tide of the rebellion. But first they must get beyond their past, or the whole kingdom could go up in smoke.
Warning: Contains incendiary sex between a phoenix princess with a secret identity, and a jackal shifter who can take a lot of heat. Boys from the “hood”, a king jacked up on enhanced DNA, and killer heels. Anybody got a match?

My Review: 5 Stars!

This was my first book to read of Sophie Morgan and I was delighted by the reading experience!
First off, while it's a paranormal romance, it's also got a lot of wonderfully developed fantasy aspects to it. The world building is intense and well done and it fully immersed me as I read along. I don't always like a super complicated world developing because most authors can't pull it off and they lose me because they lose focus on the characters which is why I read books to begin with. That being said, Morgan doesn't fall prey to this loss of interest. Rather, she uses the world building to enhance her already stunning and amazing characters. Even the secondary characters like Trick the vampire had me desperate for the stories of the upcoming books.
But i digress. I loved reading about Ana, the phoenix. I LOVED that the heroine was a feisty, fiery phoenix. :) And her sexy hero is Cade a shifter. I loved the chemistry between them and how it sizzled and then burst into flames just like a phoenix! This is a must read for all paranormal and fantasy romance fans!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cover Reveal For Jenna Jaxon!

I'm happy to be sharing Jenna Jaxon's cover reveal for her latest book Time Enough To Love!!

Blurb for Time Enough to Love

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend. 
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

“Lady Alyse de Courcy!” King Edward called out again, bringing Alyse’s head up like a startled deer. “Present yourself before the court.”
Alyse shot off her seat. Oh, Lord! She had kept King Edward waiting.
“I beg pardon, sire.” She hurried from behind the table, too aware of all the eyes now on her. As she moved to stand before the king, the low drone of many voices rose around the room.
“Impudent girl.”
“I’d not want to be in her place.”
“Do you think the king will…”
Each snatch of conversation made her heart beat faster.
What will he do to me?
Her normal embarrassment at being the center of attention tripled at the thought of this blatant lapse of protocol. She stopped several feet from the dais and the room hushed as though everyone held their breath.
“What do you require of me, Majesty?” Her mouth so dry she could taste sand, Alyse fought to speak in a normal tone. With a sigh of relief, she dropped into a deep curtsy, hiding her face in the folds of her skirt. If only she could remain bowed thus before His Majesty for the remainder of the evening.
King Edward laughed. “Obedience, Lady Alyse, as I require of all my subjects. As your father requires of his daughter.”
Her heart thumped wildly in her breast. That could mean but one thing.
“Rise, my lady.”
She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.”
Holy Mary, let it be Lord Braeton.
King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer, my lady. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”
Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father.”
King Edward nodded and leaned over to whisper something to Queen Phillipa, who sat beside him, heavy with their twelfth child.
Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.
In her mind, she heard the word.
The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.
“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”
Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.
Not Lord Braeton.
Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.
God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not


Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Find Jenna Jaxon online: