Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Paranormal and a PRIZE!


 The winner of the original version of The Trouble with Moonlight is CHRYS FEY!!!

Congratulations, Chrys! Please contact Donna via her website at

I hope you enjoy the book (I did!)

Today's letter in the monthlong A-Z Challenge is "P". Our guest is Donna MacMeans, talking about Paranomal romance. And one lucky commenter will win a prize! YAY!!

I love paranormal stories. As a child, my favorite fiction book was the Dragons of Blueland - does anyone remember that book?  Unlike the dragons in Game of Thrones (aren’t they cool?), the friendly Blueland dragons had yellow stripes and polkadots. Nothing threatening about that. My older brother read his way through Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series and as soon as he laid down a book, I’d pick it up. I devoured the stories of an earth man flying across the Martian landscape with a green woman/princess in his airship. I always thought the Nancy Drew books would be improved with a witch or a dragon, or maybe a mystery full of magic. So I come by my love of paranormal naturally.

My very first publishing credit was a paranormal story in the Dream Quest anthology. Smoke and Mirrors dealt with magic and mystery. If my historical story, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, hadn’t changed the direction of my publishing career, I’d be writing paranormals still.

Which is why I’m so thrilled to be able to announce that one of my paranormal stories will be released on Amazon next week. Bound By Moonlight is actually a reissue of an earlier release that won the critic’s choice award in Historical Love and Laughter from the reviewers at Romantic Times. Here’s the blurb:

A woman of extraordinary talents...

Lusinda Havershaw turns invisible in moonlight. Just her - not her clothes. She can’t help it, it just happens. A descendent of a rare race, her ancestors have been burned as witches, persecuted and tormented as the devil’s children. She must be careful to avoid detection. However as her family has no other means of support, she must reluctantly shed her petticoats and corset during a full moon to prowl the gas lit streets of London, stark naked, as a thief.

A man with a dangerous mission...

The only tools British spy and master safecracker James Locke needs are his hands and his brains. But when a hand tremor threatens his mission to secure a list of agents for the Crown, the accidental discovery of a lady thief with an extraordinary secret may just be his salvation. However, as James and Lusinda discover, there’s more than one kind of trouble to be found in the moonlight. The kind that begins with blackmail and ends with a kiss...

Be warned, this is a sexy book in a way that only a story with a naked invisible heroine can be. The hero discovers that just knowing the woman before him is stark naked is more intoxicating than if he could actually see her. I hope you give it a try and if you do, let me know what you think. The lovely thing about releasing this book on Amazon is that I’m free to write a sequel. You’ll have to stay tuned for details.

So tell me, what’s your favorite paranormal romance? I’ll choose someone leaving a comment to receive a copy of THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT, the original version of my Bound By Moonlight story.

Please check back on Sunday, April 20th, to see if you're the lucky winner of one of Donna's wonderful romances!

For the first four months of the year, Donna is a mild-mannered certified public accountant with a small tax practice. But come April 16th, she rips off the green eyeshade and transform into an impassioned writer of sexy historical romance novels, paranormals and romantic suspense. 
The "P" Book List:
Louise Penny: Canadian-set police procedural series featuring Chief Inspector Gamache
Steven Pressfield: The War of Art. Every writer or artist should have this guide to defeating resistance and creating a plan for success.
J.F. Penn: Crime thrillers with a supernatural edge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Noir and Neon-Lit Nights...

The letter in today’s A-Z Challenge is “N”. I’m talking about one my favorite genres, noir fiction. ~Kat Sheridan

Dead men are heavier than broken hearts. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

I like my fiction the way I like my coffee: dark, a little bitter, and best served on a cold, rainy night. Noir, French for “black,” is a literary genre that features a man (always a man), usually a detective, solving a mystery against a backdrop of violence and corruption.

The staple of early pulp fiction, the idea of the hard-boiled detective hero began in the 1920s, during prohibition, with Caroll John Daly’s creation, Race Williams. More followed in his footsteps, most notably Dashiell Hammett with his private detective, Sam Spade, and Raymond Chandler with Philip Marlowe.

The argument can be made that there’s a difference between hard-boiled detective fiction and true noir, but they overlap so much, that most folks, including me, tend to think of them as the same. If a distinction is to be made, it might be in the personality of the detective himself.

John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee or Micky Spillane’s Mike Hammer are hard-boiled seekers of justice, but they have relationships. They have sidekicks and trusted friends, and relationships with women, even if they’re only temporary or unfulfilled.

But men like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are loners. They’re paladins, cynical, tilting at windmills, strangely romantic, morally ambiguous, and with a more self-destructive personality. The women in their lives either end up dead or betraying them. Same with their friends.

My personal preference is for Raymond Chandler. Both Hammett and Chandler were American-born, but Chandler was raised in England, in “public” schools (what American’s call private schools), and his prose has an elegance and richness that is distinctly different from Hammett’s more terse style. But you couldn’t go wrong with either one.

And of course, there are the noir films, with Humphrey Bogart playing both Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, or Sunset Boulevard, so brilliantly spoofed by Carol Burnett.

I leave you today with a link to my favorite album of classic movie noir music, White Heat: Film Noir. Perfect for a rainy night, a glass of scotch, and lonely detective under the wet neon lights of the mean streets… 

Let’s chat: Are you a fan of crime fiction?  Who’s your favorite detective?

The “N” book list:
Naked Came the Manatee: Thirteen of Florida’s best writers come together (along with their famous characters) to create a hilarious send-up of the noir/crime novel. Like a game of literary telephone, each chapter is written by a different author. Dave Barry kicks it off with a manatee named Booger, and is joined by the likes of John D. MacDonald, Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, and Edna Buchanan.
San Diego Noir: Fifteen of the area’s best writers (including blog friend Lisa Brackmann) come together in this darkly delicious short-story anthology.
Katherine Neville: Complex post-modern thrillers
Image of Humphrey Bogart: By Warner Bros Art (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons


Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for L'Amour: In Praise of French Romance Novels

Today's letter in the A-Z Challenge is "L". Our guest today is Libby McCord, discussing her passion for French-set historical romances. Ooo, la la, l'amour!

I cut my romance reading teeth on a series you may never have heard of:  the Angélique stories by husband and wife writing team Sergeanne Golon, set mostly in France during the mid-17th century. The first, Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, published in 1956, introduced a beautiful young girl who, over the course of 13 volumes (10 translated into English), experiences more passion and adventures than any other romance heroine I can think of. So I chose “L” to stand for l’amour, the French word for love, and to encourage you to seek out historical love stories set in France. “France?” you say. “No one wants to read historical romance set in France.”

To which I say au contraire my friend. France provides the quintessential setting for stirring passion and intrigue, even if your historical understanding doesn’t go much beyond vague ideas of Versailles and the guillotine. Diana Gabaldon understood this draw—in Dragonfly in Amber, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser end up at Versailles mid-18th century, and no one quarrels with that setting or its reliance on challenging political history.

Given Gabaldon’s success, why aren’t the Angélique novels better known today?  Well, even though Anne Golon (now a widow) continues to write without husband Serge, many readers simply don’t know about the books. The English translations are out of print, and the stories can be rambling affairs, at times, overwritten by today’s conventions.

So where does one turn?  Fortunately, we have a bestselling romance author who loves complicated historical France and believes it an ideal setting for love stories that transcend impossible odds:  Joanna Bourne. In her Spymaster series, three of the four books are set partly in France (The Spymaster’s Lady, The Forbidden Rose, and The Black Hawk). Reading them, you are plucked from your safe, comfortable couch or coffee shop and dropped squarely into a volatile France where politically star-crossed lovers spy in the shadows as the old societies crumble around them.

When I first discovered Bourne’s books, I devoured each one, just as I had the old Angélique novels. Her first heroine’s name is Annique. I wondered, had Jo Bourne loved those stories, too?  So I asked her.

I loved Angélique,” she told me. “Back in the day, I read them all. A couple are still on my (very small) keeper shelf. I admired the 'historical heft' to these books. The Angélique world is constructed of fierce authenticity—large realities like the intrigues at the palace of Versailles and the wars wrangling across the French countryside. Small realities like the act of lifting a kettle of hot water from the hook over the hearth to set it on the floor with a single, practiced twist of the hand. The solidity is crafted in the detail. It's as if the reader could reach into the book and lay hold of a wine bottle or an apple.”

Constructed of fierce authenticity. Historical heft. I love that. What about you?

By the way, Bourne will have a new book out in November, Rogue Spy. It’s set in London, like her second My Lord and Spymaster, but with plenty of French connections, and, I’m sure, the requisite stirring passion and historical heft.

Let's chat: Do you need more than a soupçon of setting or modicum of manners for your love stories? Do you appreciate a heroine and hero who must navigate perilous political waters where failure means certain death? Do you relish a romance with historical heft?

Libby McCord lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has had a long-standing love affair with all things French, barbershop singing, and Labradors Retrievers. Her story The Spy on the Orléans Road (in progress), pits a Huguenot heroine against the King’s spy in mid-17th century France. Whenever she's not writing or singing, Libby practices law.

The "L" book list: 

Aimee Leduc: quirky, intense private investigator featured in a crime series set in Paris, by author Cara Black. So descriptive, you can almost smell the baguettes and taste the vin rouge.

Elizabeth Loupas: historical fiction. She weaves fictional characters so skillfully with real people, it's hard to tell which is which. From Mary, Queen of Scots to the Medicis, I love her prose.

Paul Levine: His character of lawyer Jake Lassiter is a worthy successor to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, but a whole lot funnier.

Versaille Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /