Monday, January 26, 2015

Thoughts About Love and Romance by @starla_kaye

 I write romance in many sub-genres because I’m a softy. I’m a romantic at heart and want to give my characters Happily Ever Afters or at least Happily For Nows. I’ve been married what seems like forever and have experienced many of the phases of love and romance. Everything from the falling in love stage, to the lusty stage of first married, to the sharing lives and raising a child. I’m in the empty nest, just husband-and-me-again stage. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of it.

How exactly do my characters from For Ruby’s Love think about “love and romance”?

Calhoun: I’ve never been what women would see as overly “romantic.” I’m more of a show the person I’m with how I feel in a straight-out manner. I don’t like games. I want honesty in every aspect of my life, and I give it as well. It has been a struggle for me to completely admit that I’m in love with another man: Daniel. But now that I’ve done it, I can’t imagine my life without him in it. Now Ruby… well, she has shaken up my life yet again.

Daniel: I’ve never been a give candy and flowers kind of man, but then I’ve been gay for most of my life. Could you see me giving Cal flowers? Or candy? Could you see him accepting them? (Chuckles) We have our romantic moments, though. He just doesn’t recognize them. And I love him, with all of his many faults. It’s a good thing I’m perfect. (Chuckles again) But Ruby… I could see myself giving her chocolate or flowers, and she would treasure them.

Ruby: I’m completely new to the whole dating thing. I’ve devoured romance novels and have fantasized about love and romance. I’ve dreamed of the kind of man who would sweep me off my feet and show me his undying love. Not once did I see that man as a big, stubborn cowboy. Or as a fancy, wealthy businessman far away from any man I’ve ever known. But, dang it, that’s who has won my cowgirl heart…both of them.

For Ruby’s Love
Published by: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, erotic romance, LGBT/gay, western, ménage
Heat Level: 5
Word Count: 33,000

Calhoun’s a simple cowboy with more problems in his life than he can handle at the moment. After nearly two years, he struggles to hang onto a relationship with Daniel, his first male lover. Daniel is worried about him because of the fire, his concern for his prized breeding mare, and because he is determined to buy the neighboring ranch to expand. But Daniel isn’t a businessman without goals of his own for expansion, a fact that frustrates Calhoun as well. He doesn’t want to lose Daniel, but will their differences finally be too much?

Daniel considers himself a lucky man to have met the rancher, someone almost his opposite and someone who he doesn’t want to live without. Standing beside the moody Calhoun has been difficult since the fire that burned down a horse barn, took the lives of two valuable horses, and traumatized a favored mare. Along with all of that, his harried friend is determined to expand his ranch holdings. Daniel is against the purchase and would prefer to find a way to slow the man down. Lately, he’s also begun worrying if maybe he isn’t enough to satisfy his lover’s needs.

Complicating everything even more, Ruby shows up later than expected at Calhoun’s ranch to honor a job as a horse therapist that her father had agreed to before his sudden death. She knows what happened to the mare and is certain she can help her, if given the chance. But the stubborn rancher can’t get past the idea of her being a woman, someone not strong enough to work with such a damaged horse. They butt heads over the matter until she finds an ally in Daniel. He is concerned and yet believes in her abilities. Another problem arises, though. She and Calhoun have been skirting around an unwanted attraction, and then she discovers another surprising interest between her and Daniel.

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Starla Kaye wears many hats professionally and as a writer. She is the community coordinator for a Midwestern accounting firm, a gerontologist who volunteers with an active group of senior adults, a mentor/teacher of writing, and a multi-published author. She dabbles in writing romances of many sub-genres: contemporary, historical Western, medieval, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, and Regency. To date she has published 20 novels, 38 novellas, 8 anthologies, and 18 short stories.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's All About the Book with Marcus Damanda

It’s All About the Book…

 Please tell us about your current or upcoming release.

My current book is THE DEVIL AT PLAY, which is the final book in THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS trilogy. Here’s the blurb:
“Everyone loves the devil until they know him. Until they see him for what he really is.”
Nobody ever did, even as the bodies started to pile up.
But now, too late for it to matter, Audrey understands at last. The devil of Fairview has been courting her for days, and watching her for much longer than that. The murderer is her boyfriend, and he’s been killing on her behalf.
His name is Jack Maddox, but everyone calls him Mad Jack. He’s planning a party, where everyone is invited, especially Audrey’s tormentors. Especially the Facebook 15.
Audrey will have her revenge, whether she wants it or not.
Because, in Miss Drake’s class, the devil will have his due.

What is this book’s genre?  Is this the genre you usually write in?  Are there any genre’s you haven’t written that you’d like to try?

It’s a horror book, with a splash of teen drama and romance. Horror is definitely my comfort zone. Creatively, my mind defaults to the dark, although I’m a pretty nice and normal guy in real life. I’ve been developing a dystopian future idea for an upcoming series, though, and I hope it flies.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been writing anti-bullying fables for ten years or so, going back to my vampire book Teeth: The Forever Show Book 2. I really enjoy telling stories about young people finding their hidden power, whatever that may be. In this case, however, our hero does not find her power in the dark, but in herself. The question is, will it be enough?

 How did you pick its title?  Did it come first or did you have to write the story first?
I had the title for the series before I’d written a single word. Originally, it was a very large single book, which my publisher Evernight Teen asked me to cut into three smaller books. Thankfully, the one book was originally divided into three “parts,” each of which had a title. The acquisitions editor at Evernight Teen, Christine Klocek-Lim, suggested using those as the book titles, and I went with that.

 How did you create your characters?  Did you use any real life people in their making?
None of the characters are exactly “real,” nor are any of them exactly made up. They had to serve the story, and yet they were all taken (at least to some degree) from my experiences as a high school student and as a teacher. The best teacher I ever had, Mrs. Drake, is the namesake for this book—although she became a much younger “Miss” for this book, and the dark secrets I applied to her definitely don’t apply to the real person.

 Who is your favorite character of this book and why?
Audrey Bales, the protagonist, no question. I gave myself a very daunting task with her: create a hero out of a girl who tries to kill herself in Chapter 1. She had to be both vulnerable and strong, and eventually triumphant. She needed to be both flawed and likeable. I’m really proud of that character. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also really happy with her nemesis, Maggie Lassiter. People will so, so hate her. As I intend to demonstrate …

 What was the hardest part of this book to write? Can you share an excerpt from that part?

 The hardest part was an entire chapter, late in the book, entitled “Torment.” Here’s a sample:
You look like you’re already gone, Maggie thought. Poor thing.
The first thing she showed Audrey was the pair of black spandex pants. She held them up, grinning.
I will get a reaction from you, emo princess. Just wait.
Audrey blinked, expressionless.
Reaching back into the box, Maggie came out with a pair ofblack leather boots with pentagram buckles. She shook the boots to make them jingle.
Still, nothing.
Maggie sighed. Reaching into her back pocket, she pulled out a small pad and a pen. She flipped past the pages with the prescripted messages, scribbled on the first blank page, then held it in front of Audrey’s face. Benny shone his flashlight on it.
When Audrey’s eyes remained on the floor, unfocused, Maggie reached over and smacked her, lightly but repeatedly, until she looked.
How about these? They were expensive. You should be grateful.
“Nice,” Audrey whispered, as though from far, far away.
Maggie nodded and almost said the words “good girl” aloud, but caught herself.
Going back into the box, she produced a leather belt, three skull rings, and two ear studs in the likeness of bloody staples before revealing the final item.
Obediently, Audrey looked at them all, repeating “nice” with each fresh display.
The final item was a T-shirt for the gothic rock band Matchbook Romance. The title of one of their biggest songs graced its front: “You Can Run, But We’ll Find You.”
“Nice,” Audrey said.
It was all laid out in front of her.
Inspired by the moment, Maggie scribbled on her pad again: I was going to buy you some lingerie, but then I thought, no, there will be boys present. Sooo indiscreet. 

Don’t want to give everything away. Have to leave something to the imagination. She got up, backed away, and stood next to Celine, who looked on, expectantly.
Audrey’s eyes returned to the floor.
Maggie snapped her fingers, and the boys stepped forward.

Ally had to stay on her toes to make sure she got only Audrey in the video. Getting the others when their backs were turned, or when they weren’t in the light, was safe—but the less she caught of them, even with masks and makeup, the better. Less editing for later.
She couldn’t believe how unbelievably calm Audrey was. She didn’t do anything, didn’t make a sound, as the boys converged on her.
Benny yanked off her cute little felt boots, leaving her socks on. They forced her back on her feet to do the rest. And she just stood there.
If that were me, Ally thought, I’d be screaming bloody murder. I’d fight.
Her hat and coat were tossed on the floor. She’d get those back, later.
Everything else, Maggie and Celine cut apart with heavy duty scissors—even the boots, to the extent that was possible. The boots were a real shame. If she were allowed to talk, Ally might have said she wanted those.
Why doesn’t she fight?
They left her standing in her underwear and socks while they destroyed her things. They were especially thorough with her Battlefield volleyball shirt, reducing it to red-and-gold cotton confetti by the time they were done.
No tears. Nothing. Maggie must be furious.
God, Ally thought. What a total slut.


The Devil at Play
Marcus Damanda
The Devil in Miss Drake's Class, 3

“Everyone loves the devil until they know him. Until they see him for what he really is.” 

Nobody ever did, even as the bodies started to pile up. 

But now, too late for it to matter, Audrey understands at last. The devil of Fairview has been courting her for days, and watching her for much longer than that. The murderer is her boyfriend—and he’s been killing on her behalf. 

His name is Jack Maddox, but everyone calls him Mad Jack. He’s planning a party, where everyone is invited, especially Audrey’s tormentors—especially the Facebook Fifteen. 

Audrey will have her revenge, whether she wants it or not. 

Because, in Miss Drake’s class, the devil will have his due.

14+ due to violence and adult situations

Buy Links:    Evernight Teen    Amazon


About the Author:
 Marcus Damanda lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his cat, Shazam. At various times throughout his life, he played bass guitar for the garage heavy metal band

Mother’s Day, wrote for The Dale City Messenger, and published editorials in The Potomac News and The Freelance Star. Currently, while not plotting his next foray into fictitious suburban mayhem, he spoils his nieces and nephews and teaches middle school English.

Find Marcus Damanda here:

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