Posts tagged with: paranormal romance

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Fenley Grant!!

One of our favorite traditions here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood is getting to host the newest class of Golden Heart Finalists each spring for a series of interviews and guest blog posts. We’ve made friends with so many amazing and wonderful writers, and have been thrilled to watch them as they’ve launched their careers and brought amazing books out into the world.

This year, of course, is special—in a deeply bittersweet way. RWA will be suspending the Golden Heart Contest after 2019…with no clear news on what will be replacing it.

The Golden Heart has meant so much to so many of us in the Romance-writing world, and we know how special it is for the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists to be bonding together in a unique sisterhood.

Fittingly, this final group have chosen a name for themselves that reflects their status as the last finalists in Golden Heart:

The Omegas.

An awesome name.  Oh, sigh.

Someone please pass me some Kleenex.

But the good news is, the Omegas are here and FABULOUS and READY TO ROCK!!

So let’s get to meeting them!!

Today we’re welcoming the first of the Omegas to join us here on the blog: the wonderful Fenley Grant, whose manuscript WARRIOR OF EDEN is a finalist in the Golden Heart Paranormal Romance category.

Fenley Grant has always loved the written word. In her youth, books traveled with her on family adventures to various Army bases. North Texas is home these days, where she lives with her husband, two human children, and two furry dog kids. A perfect day includes writing, reading, family, friends, and sunshine. No snow. After a long stint in the northern climes, she’s shoveled her last driveway. Her favorite books involve magical worlds, action, adventure, intrigue, and, of course, love. Fenley writes urban fantasy, time travel, and paranormal romances.

Here’s a blurb for WARRIOR OF EDEN:

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alicia Anthony!

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alicia Anthony, whose manuscript INHERENT LIES is nominated for Best Paranormal Romance.

Alicia Anthony is a wanna-be full-time writer who splits her time between writing and teaching. She is ecstatic to have recently handed the baton back to her students’ parents for the summer. Now, it’s time to write! She lives in Jeffersonville, Ohio with her ever-tolerant husband and amazing teenage daughter. When not writing and teaching, she loves to travel, and has plans to visit England and Scotland later this summer. She’s a PRO member of RWA, and a member of Kiss of Death, TGN, and COFW chapters. She satisfies her hankering for all things deadly as a member of Sisters in Crime, Columbus, Ohio chapter.

Here’s a blurb for INHERENT LIES:

Empath Liv Sullivan discovers a personal link to the forgotten spirits who seek her help. Unfortunately, the only way to bring peace to these ghosts is to return to her hometown, and undercover Agent Ridge McCaffrey, the man who broke her heart.

As their relationship rekindles, an unknown enemy begins threatening the people they hold most dear. Liv must choose between love and life, placing herself in the crosshairs between a covert psychic intelligence operation and a madman with a twisted sense of revenge.

“Choose between love and life”—awesome!! I love the idea of having a mission to bring peace to the forgotten spirits of her hometown. Man, I don’t envy the final judges for the Paranormal category!! What a creative group you all are!

Okay, folks! Come join Alicia and I as we sit down for a little chat about love, life, small towns, and the ways our private experiences become part of the stories we tell.

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Jeanne Oates Estridge!

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, Jeanne Oates Estridge, who is a finalist for Best Paranormal Romance with her manuscript THE DEMON’S IN THE DETAILS.

Jeanne lives in Riverside, Ohio with her husband of 21 years and a geriatric Australian shepherd. Her house resounds with the sounds with the sounds of keys clicking, the occasional bark, and the pitter-patter of not-so-little grandkid feet. Her favorite thing to do, other than writing, is anything she’s never done before.

Here’s a blurb for THE DEMON’S IN THE DETAILS (gotta love that title!!!):

Dyslexic artist Georgia O’Keeffe “Keeffe” Blackmon hates technology and loves art. In particular, she cherishes an alabaster statue of an eagle, an allegory for the apostle John, left her by her mother, an inspirational sculptor. When Seth McCall, a gorgeous but morally repulsive internet entrepreneur, offers her a quarter million dollars for John, Keeffe turns the billionaire down.

Abaddon, aka Bad, the demon of sloth and Satan’s geekiest minion, is currently on janitor duty in Ring Nine as punishment for a mission that went north. Before Satan will put Bad back in charge of DemSec, Hell’s technology hub, he insists Bad acquire some field experience, so Bad proposes possessing McCall’s body and seducing Keeffe into giving up the statue.

 Aboveworld for the first time, Bad revels in blue skies, great food—and the most amazing mortal he’s ever met. As Keeffe paints a mural in McCall’s McMansion, she can’t get over the feeling that there are two different men inside McCall—one sweet and nerdy, the other a total jerk. Despite her concerns, she falls in love with the bipolar billionaire, and he with her.

 Bad may be the smartest demon in Hell—but is he smart enough to outwit Satan?

Oh, my goodness!! The ultimate bad-boy nerd!! I’m in love with this concept already!!

All right, fellow mortals…since we’re in a billionaire’s mansion, let’s gather on the velvet settees in the sculpture gallery and let the butler bring us some caviar and Dom Perignon while Jeanne and I get the conversation started!


Welcome, Jeanne. The Demon’s in the Details is your second manuscript to make the finalist round in Paranormal Romance. The Rubies actually had a little foretaste of this book when the opening 250 words made you one of our winners in our Make It Golden Contest a couple years ago while it was still a work in progress. (I loved the opening line, as the heroine drove up to McCall’s hilariously tacky McMansion, with its fountain full of animatronic dolphins: “Not just no, but hell, no.”) So fabulous to see the finished product finaling in the Golden Heart!!


In 2015, another book of yours, Demons Don’t, went on to win the Golden Heart for Best Paranormal Romance! Tell us about the books. Are they related?

Yes—they’re the first two books in my Touched by a Demon series. Each book features a demon from Hell that is sent Aboveworld to seduce and corrupt a human target. The books are about trial and temptation. That first book has been retitled The Demon Always Wins.

Ooh! Ooh!! Fabulous new title! And I see that it’s about to be published!!

It comes out September 1st and I’m thrilled!

Fantastic! And what a gorgeous cover! Lookee here, everybody! As it says on Jeanne’s website, “When the most seductive demon in Hell targets an ordinary human woman, corrupting her is a piece of devil’s food cake.”  Please, Jeanne, give us the blurb!

After beating his boss at the card table, ambitious demon Belial must appease Satan, so he takes on a new bet: If he can corrupt God’s chosen champion into cursing God, aloud and in public, within seven weeks, Hell gains another soul and Belial wins promotion to chief executive demon, second only to Satan himself. The demon always wins, but this time, the deck may be stacked against him.

Widowed nurse Dara Strong is the ace up God’s sleeve. The granddaughter of famous demon-fighters, Dara recognizes Belial when he appears at her clinic, disguised as Dr. Ben Lyle, and kicks him out the door. If she can hold out against the alluring demon until the wager expires, she will be safe—but she already has plenty of reason to curse God, and Belial, the most successful soul-stealer in the history of Hell, is not about to give up his coveted promotion so easily.

Belial may look heavenly, but his soul belongs to Satan. As the battle between the cosmically well-matched opponents escalates, conflict breeds passion and passion transforms into love. Caught between a victory-hungry Satan and an unforgiving God, Dara and Belial discover there may be only one way to ransom the soul of a fallen angel: sometimes you have to go through Hell to claim your Heaven.

These are such fantastic story ideas!! I can’t wait to see how you make it all play out! Your tagline is so fun, too: “Dark, Snarky, and Happy Ever After.” Very unique! You mentioned a series—what else do you have planned?

I plan to center one book around each of the seven deadly sins—Sloth, Lust, Gluttony, Pride, Anger, Greed, and Envy—plus a couple of bonus books.

Brilliant! How far along are you?

I’ve just started work on the third in the series, which has three parallel “second chance at love” stories.

Seriously? Three? I LOVE second chance at love stories!! Okay, you’ve got to give me the blurb for this one, too!!

Seven years ago, novelist Megan Swenson sold her soul to Satan to make the New York Times best-seller list. Now payment is due and she needs the help of her ex-boyfriend, lawyer James Magnusson, to avoid being dragged down to Hell for the rest of eternity.

Megan’s literary agent/Hellish customer service rep, Lilith, was once married to her true love, the demon Samael. It was truly a match made in Hell, but they were such a power couple that Satan ordered them to separate. That was five thousand years ago, but Lilith is still furious that Sam gave her up so easily. Their history could make things a little awkward on their joint mission to collect Megan and James’s souls.

The third couple in this cosmic dating game are Gibeon and Karriel, guardian angels who have been joined at the hip since they were created. Karrie would like to see their relationship include a physical element, but straight-arrow Gib thinks that’s against the rules. Anyway, they’ve got a job to do.

Megan wants to get out of her contract, Lilith wants to get over Samael, and Karrie wants to get under Gibeon.

Who will earn her happy ever after?

LOL, I love it!! Fabulous GMC all around! It all sounds very intense, and very funny, too. So, uh, does it bother you that you enjoy spending so much time in Hell?

A little! But what was it that William Wordsworth said? “The prison unto which we doom ourselves no prison is.” Perhaps it’s the same thing with the Hell we create….

Awesome! I’m hearing a little Milton in there too…but sexier. Thanks so much for stopping by to spend some time with the Rubies today, Jeanne! I can see some hands going up around the room, so I think it’s time to open up the conversation to our readers today. Do you have a question you’d like to throw out to them? I bet you’ve got a good one! Take it away!

What things in life try and/or tempt you?



Learn more about Jeanne Oates Estridge on her website:


Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Alyson McLayne!

Today we’ve got a special treat! We’ve got a visit with another Mermaid, 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Alyson McLayne, whose manuscript WØLFF: RISE OF THE VALDYR is nominated for Best Paranormal Romance. And here’s the special part: the interview today is conducted by her CP, who happens to be one of the 2009 Golden Heart Finalists (and therefore a Ruby Sister), Tina Beckett, author of Harlequin Medical Romances including DOCTOR’S GUIDE TO DATING IN THE JUNGLE and PLAYBOY DOC’S MISTLETOE KISS! Tina’s twentieth book for Harlequin, WINNING BACK HIS DOCTOR BRIDE, comes out in July 2016.

Alyson McLayne is a stay-at-home mom of twin four-year-olds, a writer of romance novels and screenplays, a dog lover, a cat servant, and a certified chocoholic on a diet. After getting her degree in theatre from the University of Alberta (Canada), she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband. Her family also includes her geriatric cat and a grumpy old guy downstairs—AKA her dad.

Alyson recently self-published two short contemporary romances, THE FABRIZIO BRIDE and THE D’AMICI MISTAKE, and has high hopes for her historical romance series set in the Highlands of Scotland, called THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD. Which is NOT her Golden Heart nominated manuscript. No, that one’s a paranormal romance—proving she knows nothing about branding.

Alyson and Tina met on-line eight years ago a few months before RWA’s National conference in San Francisco. Both had recently joined RWA and signed up for their first National conference—and were looking for a roommate! After connecting on RWA’s roommate forum, sending a few emails back and forth, and discovering they were both writing short contemporary romances (at the time), they swapped chapter critiques. After that, Tina introduced Alyson to her on-line critique group, Write Romance (or as we prefer, The Goddesses), and the rest is history!! There have been lots of ups and downs along the way—including Golden Heart nominations for both of them and upheavals in their personal lives—but, even though Tina spends much of he time living far off in Brazil, both women know a cyber hug or much-needed kick in the virtual bootie is only an email away.

Here’s a blurb for WØLFF: RISE OF THE VALDYR:

Ages past, the Norse god Odin created shape-shifting wolves called Valdyr to imprison his enemy Fenrir and prevent Ragnarok—an apocalyptic war between the Norse gods and the Jotun.

ERIK KRON is the current Valdyr Alpha, sworn to fight Fenrir’s sons who for eons have attempted to free their father—which Erik swears won’t happen on his watch. But his pack is besieged by a curse that has slowly ravaged it. After trapping the curse within himself, Erik vows to find its source before it kills him and everyone else—all while trying to unravel a cryptic prophecy from Odin.

KRISTIN ANDERSEN is one of the lost Valdyr with little insight into Valdyr history, so when she stumbles onto Erik’s pack she knows nothing of their fight against the Sons of Fenrir or what they stand for, all she knows is they may have information about the monsters who killed her family, and she intends to find it. Using her magic to hide her wolf scent, she poses as human and infiltrates Erik’s pack in Montana. After getting to know him, however, and fighting the sizzling attraction between them, she realizes she’s found more than she bargained for—she’s found her fated-mate.

Then Erik discovers she’s Valdyr, and desperate to protect her from the curse, he rejects her. Not only that, he forbids her to kill the Sons of Fenrir for reasons she can’t possibly understand. His command that she can maim but not kill them because it may bring on the apocalypse does little to ease her need for vengeance.

But Odin has brought Kristin and Erik together for a reason. Not only must they work together to destroy the curse and save the nine worlds, they must find a way to trust and love one another—or their triumph in Asgard over the Sons of Fenrir will be for naught. 

Wow! What a great mash-up of shifters and Norse myth!!! (*tries very hard not to imagine Tom Hiddleston in Loki gear locked up in a mythic dungeon somewhere*….*okay, maybe doesn’t really try all that hard, because Tom Hiddleston in Loki gear ANYWHERE is still totally hot.*)

Meet 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Maria Powers!

Today we’re welcoming our second-to-last Dragonfly, 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Maria Powers, who’s nominated in the Paranormal Romance category for COYOTE WALKS.

Maria grew up in Southern California. She graduated with a degree in English and promptly entered the Business world. By day she works in Affordable Housing wrangling contracts and agreements with several government agencies, and by night she writes kickass heroines and tough heroes with sensitive hearts ready to be tamed by the girl next door or beaten into submission by the witch on the corner, whatever works. Maria’s current work in progress is a Paranormal Romance series set in the San Gabriel Valley. COYOTE WALKS is the first book in the series. Maria’s a member of the Romance Writers of America® and a member of three of the four local chapters, Los Angeles Romance Authors, Orange County Chapter – RWA, and East Valley Authors.

Here’s a blurb for COYOTE WALKS:

Prudence Porter, born a witch, is blood bonded to be the next family keeper of the Gabriel Hell Gate. But when her mother’s death is foretold, Prudence will do anything to save her mother’s life, even if it puts the entire human realm in jeopardy. Of course, the sexy coyote messenger who walks through her door may just have the power to change everything.

Alex Driscoll, a shape shifting coyote from the Messenger clans, is determined to finish one last assignment in Gehenna and then he’s leaving to find his brother. Trouble is this assignment bonds him to Prudence and now he must face the Prince of Hell or risk losing Prudence forever. Only how can he ever be sure that she loves him when it was magic that brought them together.

A shape shifting coyote and a born witch brought together by magic and betrayal must find the courage to trust each other and their love, or risk plunging the world into a new dark age ruled by demons and fallen angels.

That sounds like a fun ride, Maria!! I’ve always loved coyotes as trickster figures, but it sounds like your witch will give him a run for his money!

Okay, everyone—let’s pass around some witch’s brew (a.k.a. coffee…but put a little something special in it if you like) and settle in for a chat with Maria.

She’ll be giving a $15 Starbucks gift card to one lucky commenter!


maria powers Welcome, Maria! Okay, so my favorite question first: What was it like when you got the phone call telling you that you were a finalist?

It was the best. It was everything you dream it will be and more. I woke up early that morning because I had to get ready to go down to the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference that I’d been working on for the last two years with nine other fabulous authors. I remembered that it was the day the Golden Heart® finalists would be notified. I checked my email and realized that it was still a little early even though I was on Pacific Time rather than Central Time. I lay in bed and did my speech to myself, the one all writers do, “If I don’t get the call, it’s okay. I am still a writer. I don’t write to get awards.” I got up and started to get ready for the rest of my very busy weekend.

I’d pushed the call to the back of my head and was cleaning out the kitty litter boxes, when my home phone rang. I normally don’t answer my home number especially for numbers that I don’t know, but there was something about the area code and the fact that a name appeared instead of, “toll free marketing number.” I picked it up and the woman told me her name – I forgot it within a minute; I still cannot remember who it was – and said, “Hi this is (blank)! I’m from RWA and I bet you know what this call is about.”

Writing Linked Books – Ruby Release Taming the Lion

I love perspectives. We all see through the world through our own filter and when I began writing the Lone Pine Pride series, I knew I wanted each book to not only advance the series arc, but also to show the reader a new perspective on something they’d seen previously from a different angle. It was one of the things that got me excited about writing shifters again—the idea of launching Lone Pine with a pair of linked books, not just two books in a series, but two books whose plots were inextricably intertwined.

Taming the Lion and Jaguar’s Kiss could have been combined into one book, with Lila and Santiago’s romance as a subplot, but I wanted each of these heroines to get their own day in the sun, so two books interweaving along the same timeline were born. It was a fabulous challenge and I loved every second of it (and hopefully readers enjoy the pairing as well), but it was also a huge learning experience.

I am certainly not the first author to attempt this. Look at Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow. The Lost Duke of Wyndham and Mr. Cavendish, I Presume. Or half the books in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, several of which circle around the same events from different angles.  Some of the pairings are more successful than others, but they are all fascinating exercises in perspective.

And in studying those books, here are some of my takeaways about writing linked books:

Ruby Release: Finder’s Keeper by Vivi Andrews

Have you ever gotten so involved in a world of characters that you feel like you could sit down for dinner with them? Well, I had the privilege of reading fellow Ruby Sister Vivi Andrew’s new addition to the KARMIC CONSULTANTS series, FINDER’S KEEPER (Book 6). And I could swear that this Sunday I’m having dinner with the Corregiani family so I can watch even more of their antics! But instead I’ll just have a lovely little visit with Vivi – and y’all get to join us!


Dani: I’ve yet to see 2 characters so diametrically opposed to each other as Mia and Chase—the workaholic versus the slacker—who appear on the surface to be opposites in every way. Yet their happily ever after feels very right! Did the nature of their differences make finding their common ground harder?


Vivi:  I love opposites attract stories.  Who better to open our eyes to a new way of seeing the world than someone who looks at it from such a completely different viewpoint?  Chase and Mia do have a lot of ground to cover to find a way to meet in the middle, but the fact that they’re able to fill in the gaps in one another’s lives makes them the perfect team. Some readers have compared Mia to Brennan from Bones or Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Chase is able to be her bridge to a less intellectually focused world, while Mia is able to ground him.

 Dani: For a book written in your trademark humorous style, this story tackles a pretty heavy subject: the opposition between scientific and magical belief systems. The woman who wishes she could make her family forget their dependence on a “charmed” watch, and the man who will use his psychic powers to find the watch after she loses it. Where did the ideas for Mia’s way of thinking and Chase’s rebuttals originate? Any real life experience thrown in there?

Vivi:  You know, I wasn’t consciously pulling anything from real life, but my sister (to whom I dedicated the book) is a fiercely serious scientist and my brother was the kind of smooth-talker who could make the most skeptical among us believe in magic (not unlike Chase).  I suppose hearing my siblings bickering all those years growing up has finally paid off in Chase & Mia’s banter.  🙂

 Dani: The characters in FINDER’S KEEPER are delightfully unique – a true scientist who views the world on a detailed, analytical level and an extremely laid back hero. Yet the more we get to know Chase and all he’s been through, the more his choices make us fall in love with him. Then we have Mia’s crazy Italian family and the traditions that keep them close. Characterization is an incredible strength in your stories! Any suggestions for the writers out there on how to make those characters come alive?

Vivi:  Thank you!  My characters always feel like real people to me, alive inside my head, so I’m delighted to hear that some of that translated to the page.  Unfortunately I’m not sure I have any fabulous tips on characterization.  I guess the trick is to never make your characters do something in service of the plot.  To always let them be themselves and build the story around that truth.

 Dani: Our readers might be familiar with your wandering lifestyle (we Rubies get to live vicariously through your frequent travels). Will you share a little about your most recent trip? What was your favorite part?

 Vivi: I am a certifiable travel junkie. 🙂  My latest trip was actually pretty close to home (compared to Egypt, China, New Zealand, and some of my other adventures).  I recently spent a good chunk of time in rural New England and Quebec – hiking and enjoying the fall foliage people had been telling me so much about – but my absolute favorite part of the trip was my very first ever flying trapeze lesson!  There’s a trapeze school in Bostonand I treated myself to a lesson as a reward when I finished my latest manuscript.  I flew!  (And afterward I ached in muscles I didn’t remember I had.)  The experience was amazing.  Highly recommended.  You can bet I’ll be back dangling from that bar soon, jumping off the platform when they yell “Hup!”

 Dani: You are an incredibly prolific writer! With 3 novels, 12 novellas, and 1 short story on store shelves, I know you have even more in the works. What’s on the horizon for you? Any chance we might get to see Karma’s story (head of Karmic Consultants in the Karmic Consultants series)?

 Vivi:  Funny you should ask, since I just heard (breaking news!) that Karma’s book, Naughty Karma, will have a Fall 2013 release to close out the KC series. (Woot!)  Now that I’ve delivered the last Karmic book, I’m exploring some new series ideas and considering heading in a shiny new direction.  On to the next adventure!

Today let’s talk our favorite “opposites attract” stories! What are the two characters whose banter and push/pull interactions you’ve most enjoyed? What did the author do to make their relationship funny or sexy without simply being antagonistic?


Love isn’t a science. It’s pure chemistry.

Karmic Consultants, Book 6

True love? For neuroscientist Dr. Mia Corregianni, it’s just an unproven hypothesis. But when she loses the heirloom watch her family believes is enchanted with a potent love spell, she fights superstition with superstition by hiring a psychic finder to track it down.

Chase Hunter is a human compass, homing in on whatever the seeker wants most—that is, when he isn’t surfing or actively avoiding anything resembling a real human attachment. Such has been his life since an accident took his family.

Unfortunately, Mia’s case isn’t a simple insta-Find. The catch? To disguise his real mission from her romance-crazy family, he has to pretend to be her boyfriend. He could deal with that if her complicated emotions weren’t blocking his abilities—or if her innermost desires weren’t walloping him upside the head every time he opens himself to his gift.

As the case wears on, their fake romance begins to feel all too real. Scary stuff for a man who’s reluctant to let himself live again. And a woman who doesn’t believe in magic…or love.

Warning: This book contains meddling grandmothers, magic watches, and a surfer with a body so hot it can teach any scientist the true meaning of chemistry.

FINDER’S KEEPER can be found at Amazon, B&N, and Samhain.

Keep up with Vivi’s upcoming releases and exciting adventures through her website!

Ruby Release: Flirting with the Fireman!

I consider myself a fantasy romance author, which means that I get to make stuff up. And it usually means I expect to make stuff up.

That’s why I was so surprised to write a tale that includes a blunder (ahem) an incident from my own life.

At first I didn’t think of turning that event into a story. I simply posted it on Facebook as part of my continuing adventures in the Colorado mountains. A friend had to nudge me before the idea even entered my fabrication-focused brain.

I’m so glad she did!

Naturally, I had to bring magic into things. (I’m still a fantasy romance author. 🙂 ) Flirting with the Fireman: A Romantic Short Story is a “first meet” tale and my second contemporary story published this year.

When Jessica Walker escapes the city life in Atlanta to pursue her dream of being a successful sculptor in Colorado, she departs with a gift: her best friend Lily’s magical recipe for a “Get a Husband” Brunswick stew, guaranteed to work even though Jess recently drop-kicked her two-timing dirtbag boyfriend.

Skeptical Jess is sure the Rocky Mountains hold all the “magic” she needs, until a wildfire threatens to drive her from her new home—and a sweet and studly fireman comes to her rescue.

Amazon • Barnes & Noble •
Kobo • Smashwords •
All Romance eBooks • Apple’s iTunes

So here are my questions for you: Have you used any of your own real-life experiences in your stories? Were they good incidents—or ones you’re embarrassed about? 🙂

To celebrate this release, I’m giving away a digital copy of Flirting with the Fireman: A Romantic Short Story to EVERYONE, visitors and Rubies alike, who requests it by 10p Mountain / midnight Eastern today (October 12). To nab your goodie, head to my contact page and click the “Email me” link. Please mention your preferred e-format—Kindle/mobi, nook/ePub, PDF, etc.—so I can get you the right version. (I respect your email privacy and will only use your address to send you the story.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Marni Folsom

Today we’re welcoming Marni Folsom, 2012 Golden Heart Finalist in Paranormal Romance.

Marni writes in a tiny corner of the Pacific Northwest, strategically located at the base of her laundry pile and in the fine company of a baby boy, a toddler girl, three black dogs and a burly, artistic husband. Her Golden Heart manuscript, FLANNIGAN’S GRACE, is the first in a series about the magic-wielding descendants of pre-Celtic demigods. She blogs joyfully yet irregularly at

Take it away, Marni!


 Go-To girls, both fictional and real

Hello, Rubies, and thank you for developing this blog! I confess that I’ve silently garnered writerly tips and Golden Heart inspiration from you all for the last couple years. It’s a thrill to be invited to post.

The ruby-slippered theme hits home today; I’ve been thinking about resourceful literary heroines, and Baum’s Dorothy Gale definitely falls into that category. Maya Angelou said we must honor our heroes and our “she-roes”. She likely meant historical figures that helped shape our culture, but I’ve always found comfort and inspiration in literature, so my favorite she-roes are of the fictional persuasion.

My first literary she-roe was Encyclopedia Brown’s friend, Sally, because she stood up to the class bully on Encyclopedia’s behalf (Save the Cat, anyone?). Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne Shirley proved another popular heroine in my early reading life. Anne defined “resilient” for me at a time when my hormone-laden blush preceded me into every room, and other than her idiotic tendency to overlook the wonderfulness of Gilbert Blythe, I thought Anne-with-an-E hung the moon.

My literary she-roe list goes on:  Jo March; Lizzie Bennett; Nancy Drew; Adah Price in Barbara Kinsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible; Bridget Jones; young Arya Stark in George RR Martin’s Ice and Fire series; Hermione Granger; Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees; Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God; and many, many more….

In the romance genre, Joanna Bourne blew me away with Annique Villiers’ cunning in The Spymaster’s Lady, and she did it again with young Jess Whitbey’s determination and loyalty in My Lord and Spymaster. I loved Meljean Brooks’ Yasmeen in Heart of Steel (nothing like a fierce airship captain who dumps the hero into a zombie-teeming swamp because he challenges her command!) and Kitala Bell in Marjorie M. Liu’s Soul Song.

Then there’s Deanna Raybourn’s stalwart Lady Julia Grey and Julia Quinn’s Miranda Cheever. Right now, I’m enjoying tough-girl Rowan Tripp in Nora Roberts’ Chasing Fire and whip-smart Nora Towe in Meredith Duran’s At Your Pleasure. So many captivating heroines populate our genre!

Some of these she-roes overcome incredible odds in order to kick bad-guy ass, or to solve a big mystery, or to save the world. That’s all fine and good, but sometimes the most compelling heroines simply aim to bridge the gap between who they are and who they want to be. Me, too, girls. Me, too….

Each of these heroines is very different from the next, but they all inspire me with their ability to bounce back from adversity and internalize difficult lessons for future growth. Such is the way of women, and a message I’ve needed to hear lately.

A few weeks ago, I felt a bit defeated by some hardship in my world, and I rattled off a Yahoo post to my fellow GH finalists about the general rotten-ness of life as I knew it. Immediately afterward, I was embarrassed. I, a card-carrying Do It Yourselfer to Ridiculous Degree, had aired the dirty laundry in a public forum. I had, in essence, asked for help. *gasp*

But you know what? I’m now very glad I did! The responses to my post were filled with empathy, encouragement, and poignant personal stories from others who’ve traversed the murky waters I’m currently swimming. And those stories, like our GH-finalist manuscripts, brimmed with love and loss and the quiet-yet-indomitable strength of women.

These fabulous people who make up the list of 2012 GH finalists shared their collective experience and spurred me to open myself to greater possibility. Their stories reminded me of the power inherent in building something strong and good, even if it occurs via inch-high accomplishments. Ultimately, they reminded me that we are all she-roes in our own right.

I’d love to hear who your literary she-roes are. Do you have a favorite author who motivates you or character that inspires your writing? What traits denoting strength do you like to build into your romantic heroines?


Ruby Release: CHASE ME by Tamara Hogan

Today I am thrilled to host our very own Tamara Hogan as she celebrates the release of Chase Me, the second installment of her fabulous paranormal series, the Underbelly Chronicles, which launched last year with the delectable Taste Me (Check out Book #1 HERE).

I was a fan of the first book and when I found out I would get to read this one early, there was much squeeing and jumping up and down at Casa Andrews – and boy, did Chase Me ever live up to my excitement! I loved Taste Me (A rockstar and an incubus? Sign me up!), but I enjoyed Chase Me even more. Gabe and Lorin were positively incendiary together. Fabulous world, vivid characters, lush writing bundled with a modern wit… what’s not to love? But I’ll stop gushing and get to the good stuff.


Centuries ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, paranormals of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, all is threatened when Valkyrie archaeologist Lorin Schlessinger and her werewolf geologist partner Gabe Lupinsky inadvertently draw evil attention to Earth and its treasured natural resources.

As the threat intensifies, Lorin and Gabe struggle to contain the chaos they’ve unleashed, and to resist their explosive mutual attraction…

Yum, am I right? Don’t miss this one, boys and girls. It’s a keeper. And now, let’s grill Tammy!

Vivi: Your hero, Gabe, is an example of truly excellent characterization, the strong blend of responsibility and the drive to overcome his disability (as someone with poor vision and a family history of macular degeneration, I could definitely relate). Did you feel it was a risk, stepping away from the traditional paranormal alpha I’m-perfect-I-can-do-it-all-shirtless hero? (Though it should be noted Gabe is plenty alpha when he needs to be.)

Tammy: Your take on Gabe—responsible, serious, a city boy who enjoys fine dining and thinks business casual Fridays are an abomination—is spot-on. Gabe is SO not the guy who would stand, bare-chested and all “abs ahoy!” in his workplace parking lot, wearing a black leather jacket and framing his package with his hands, as he does on the book cover. That said, the cover is getting a lot of… very appreciative comments. Thanks again to my cover artist, Aleta Rafton. 😉

Interesting question you ask about deviating from the traditional alpha male paranormal trope. I didn’t feel that gender-swapping the trope was much of a risk at all, because I know exactly why Lorin and Gabe are the way they are. As a species, Valkyrie are pretty badass—Lorin fights for fun—and though Gabe is a shifter, a werewolf, his family is riddled with illness, which has resulted in his personality evolving in a specific way over time. With this book, I like to think that I’m continuing where I left off with TASTE ME, which I wrote pretty much to please myself. I feel the bigger risk is… not taking one.

Vivi: Something I truly enjoyed in your first book, Taste Me, was the blend of paranormal coolness and the real world. These supernatural creatures have meetings, bureaucracy, people using chat windows on the side during meetings, and they actually take precautions at excavations! How do you balance the fact and the fantastic to ground your reader? Is it something you consciously layer in or just a natural part of your writing style? Is a certain degree of real-world accuracy important to you as a reader as well?

Tammy: Real-world accuracy is important to me, and continues to be one of my ongoing challenges—especially given that, in this book, I’m asking people to accept that a spaceship, the intergalactic equivalent of the Playboy Mansion, is hovering just outside our solar system. One thing that was really important to me in this book is that the scenes taking place on board the TonTon weren’t all shiny and Star Trek-sterile. I wanted to create a workplace—an unusual workplace, to be sure, but a real workplace where budgets matter, where the customer is king or queen, and where the employee-only areas aren’t nearly as attractive as what the public sees.

And let’s just say I have plenty of first-hand experience dialing into conference calls, quietly instant messaging with my co-workers. (Sometimes we play a rousing game of Buzzword Bingo.) I’ll have to do some fast talking the day one of my co-workers recognizes exactly who the character of Kristin Wolfe is based upon.
3) Speaking of layering in the real world, can I just say how much I adore your nods to the nerds out there – the references to Neil DeGrasse Tyson were some of my favorite little Easter eggs. Please tell me you’ll have more “winks” to the reader in upcoming books!

This is one of those areas where, as a writer, I have taken extreme liberties with the old adage, “Write what you know” – or rather, write about what interests you. I spend so much time watching National Geographic and The Science Channel, or reading theoretical physics and science fiction books, that my subconscious, quite naturally, finds ways to incorporate pieces of the real world I enjoy so much into the fictional world that I’m creating. Over the next few books, the search for someone to fill the Underworld Council’s humanity seat, empty since Carl Sagan’s death, will result in many more such nods. As I mentioned in a comment on the Ruby blog last month, I have shamelessly transplanted theoretical physicist Michio Kaku’s glorious grey hair onto Underworld Council president Elliot Sebastiani’s head.

Vivi: Chase Me really ramps up the sexiness quotient. There are some quite steamy bits when these two come together! Do you have any tips for writing a sex scene to steam up the pages?

Tammy: I think one thing that’s true about my love scenes is that they ‘read’ more sexually, more explicitly, than the actual words on the page might suggest. One of the reasons this might be true is because I write in deep third-person point of view, which gives the reader very intimate exposure to the point of view characters’ physical and emotional reactions. As I write a love scene—any scene—I think in terms of external cause and internal effect, of action and reaction, with the non-POV character driving the externals, and the POV character the internals. This technique builds tension. By the time we get to the end of that love scene, the simplest, lightest touch is enough to make the page spontaneously combust.

Vivi: Chase Me is only your second book and I know you’ve talked some on the Ruby blog about how your process is still evolving. What is the biggest lesson you took away from writing Chase Me? Has it changed the way you approach your writing in any way?

Tammy: Oh dear. Being a technology process analyst for my day job, I could go on and on about this subject. It’s an occupational hazard! I’ll try to keep it short.
The biggest surprise to me about writing three books—I’m driving to deadline on my third manuscript, with a working title of TEMPT ME—is that the process for writing each book has been radically different. This is NOT the approach we use in technology, where, for the most part, process improvements are evolutionary rather than revolutionary in nature. Writing TASTE ME was a long, relaxing, zero-pressure process, with the book being written on my schedule, completely under the radar…until the book was named a Golden Heart finalist, that is. 😉 CHASE ME laid itself out in a very linear fashion, draft by draft, chapter by chapter, one right after the other. I figured, “Yay! My process is stabilizing!” But TEMPT ME laughed in my face. Flipped me the bird. TEMPT ME was the book that did not want to be born, and I couldn’t figure out why—until I used some of the analytical techniques I use every day in my day job to help figure out why I was grinding gears so badly. Guess what the issue was? Tooling! Or rather, trying to use a word processor to write first drafts. Something about looking at a blank screen, and staring at that blinking cursor just…locked me up. Once I went back to pen and ink for writing first drafts, TEMPT ME shot out of the gate.

Vivi: With Chase Me, we are taken even deeper into the Underbelly world you created in Taste Me, and it feels like the kind of world we will be visiting for many, many books to come. I know there is a third book coming out next year (woohoo!), but do you have plans to extend the series beyond that? Can I look forward to as many Underbelly books are there are Immortals After Dark or Psi-Changeling books?

When I started writing TASTE ME, I had this vague notion that it was going to be the first book in a series, but it wasn’t until my editor, Deb Werksman, asked for a series arc to take into acquisition discussions that I realized how generous my subconscious had been. Between members of the Underworld Council, the Sebastiani siblings, and characters we’ve already met and some we haven’t, I hammered out a nine-book proposal, with some additional between-release novella possibilities. I’ve fallen in love with these characters and this world, and I plan to write within it for some time to come. Being that the characters have extra-planetary origins, you might say that the sky—or space—is the limit!

Sweet! I look forward to many Underbelly Chronicles to come. Thank you, Tammy!

And now, for the goodies! Sourcebooks is pleased to give away a paperback copy of CHASE ME to two – count ‘em, TWO – commenters today! US and Canadian street addresses only.

Here’s a question from Tammy to sound off on in the comments: World-building is really important to me as both a reader and as a writer. Think about some of your favorite books, and the settings or worlds they’re set within. Which ones are your favorites, and why?

Can’t wait to start reading? Then check out our handy-dandy CHASE ME Buy Links: (Amz| BN | Sourcebooks | Sony) Or dig into an excerpt HERE. Or at the Ruby Blog’s Books Page:

Opposites don’t just attract, they explode in Chase Me. Don’t miss it!

Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she’s not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Her debut, Taste Me, was a 2009 Daphne Paranormal Winner and 2009 Golden Heart Finalist. For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter, @TamaraHogan1.

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The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.
  • Darynda Jones: What a great interview! Thanks for taking the time, guys. This is so informative and timely. I love...
  • Kate Parker: Thank you so much for this timely interview. I’m indie and getting ready to recover the first in...