Friday, July 31, 2009

Sia McKye's Book Reviews: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks, Inc

On Sale: August 11, 2009


I’ve read Pride and Prejudice more than once as well as many of Jane Austen’s stories. I’ve also enjoyed the screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. I will confess, however, I’m not a big fan of Austen fan fiction.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, aroused my curiosity. It was certainly a different take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Beloved Darcy as a Vampire? I wondered how Amanda Grange would handle the whole thing. Would she be true to the characters and the flavor of the era? Would she totally modernize the vocabulary and the actions of the characters and settings or maintain the expressions and culture of Regency England?

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, starts out like a sunny day with a storm brewing on the horizon, which gradually hides the sun and changes the atmosphere. The storm blows in and is frightening but as with all storms the clouds dissipate. The sun does return and the world is made new and peace is restored.

The story opens with Elizabeth and Jane preparing for their wedding. They are close friends as well as sisters and the essence of who they are was reassuringly present as was the dry commentary of Mr. Bennet and the flighty nerve wracked Mrs. Bennet. Proud Mr. Darcy is true to the original but slightly softened in his apparent affections for Lizzy.

The story is told from Lizzy’s point of view as was the original Pride and Prejudice. Through her eyes we see her thrill of marrying Darcy and her surprise that her honeymoon tour is not to be in Lake District, as she had thought, but will be a European tour. Lizzy is innocent in many ways, which is true to the women of the era, but she’s intelligent and perceptive. Through her eyes we see the sights and fun they’re having among the ton in Paris and the affection between them. Their travels take them beyond Paris to the Swiss Alps, Venice, and Italy. The author’s research is evident as she shows us the rich history and social culture in each location.

Amid the wonders and excitement of their travels, the tale slowly changes. Lizzy’s troubled because her expectations of her honeymoon isn’t met. Much of this is revealed in Lizzy’s letters to her sister, Jane. We also begin to see difference with Darcy and Lizzy’s growing unease as they meet many of Darcy’s ‘old’ friends. There are things said and done which puzzle her. The reader also sees some of Darcy’s previous actions in a different context as well as Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s oppositions to Darcy’s attachment to Lizzy.

Ms. Grange skillfully builds the tension and expands the darker thread into danger. She highlights Darcy’s growing fear for Lizzy and of himself. There is a powerful and dangerous foe operating behind the scenes. The visit to Darcy’s uncle has a true gothic feel to it and is well done.

I’d actually classify this story as a gothic in many ways. It’s not a light and frothy Regency as we’ve come to know of late. While it’s a love story it’s darker.

I admire the skill of the author. Amanda Grange tells the story true to Austen’s characters and time; yet she is able to weave in a believable world of events within that time. This takes a talented storyteller because we have a precedent set in the original. For example, Darcy was present during the day, attended church, and there were no unexplained deaths in the area. She is also able to capture and blend the attitudes, perceptions, and the superstitions of the era. She also has the ability to touch our emotions with her characters; we fear for Lizzy and Darcy as danger surrounds them. She paces the story well and is very good with building conflict, tension, and peril.

I won’t spoil the ending, suffice to say, I loved it and the way she plays up the adventurous spirit of Englishmen of that time. It was a well-written story and one I enjoyed reading.

Amanda’s Website:,

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I will be interviewing Amanda Grange on August 21, 2009.
Be sure to join us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finding The Joy

My guest is award winning Stephanie Rowe. She sold her first book in 2002 and since, has published eleven books, including Immortally Sexy series, which is where I first came to love her writing. I loved her sense of humor, her intriguing storylines, and her characters—not a wimpy woman among them. And then there were the sexy men, oh-la-la. I liked the way she could put me in the story so I felt the thrill of falling in love.

Many of us who write want a career as an author. It’s our dream. We work long and hard to develop that dream. We learn to juggle being a wife, mother, sometimes a job outside the home, and time for writing. We want the joy of saying, “I’m a writer.”

Like any dream or career, it’s an upward climb and it’s hard. We rarely think about what happens after those books are sold, the deadlines, the pressure and
still juggling life. We tend to look at authors with several books published as having it made.

Stephanie’s article struck a chord with me. I remember feeling this way. Oh, not as an author, but as a successful career woman. The day I looked at my life and thought I have what I wanted so what happened to my joy and satisfaction?

It's not a nice place to find yourself as Stephanie explains.

Writing is hard.
The business of writing can be hard.
Life can be hard.

Sometimes it feels like everything is coming at you so hard and so fast that you can't breathe, you can't think, and you can't remember what it was like to laugh. Your heart feels heavy, the book you have to write feels like a one-eyed banana slug stalking you day and night, chanting "Write me. Write me. Write me." You lie in bed at night, your mind is racing with all you have to do and how you need to do it. The edits, the new proposal, your daughter's lunch, the cocktail party you're hosting, the receipts you owe the accountant, the disaster-zone in the living room. One morning, you're halfway through your precious small window to work while your daughter is in preschool, and your keyboard finally goes belly up. You rush to Staples, frustrated by the traffic and the minutes ticking away with you away from the computer. You're standing in line, tapping your foot, and you see an old friend. One you used to hang out with before you started this writing thing, back when you had free time. She smiles and hugs you and says, "I have been thinking about you all week! I've had the worst week ever at work, and all I can think of is you, following your dream. You are so lucky. I wish I was you."

You stare at her blankly, then the list of complaints rises to the tip of your tongue, and then her words register. You are so lucky. I wish I was you.

And then you realize a truth. A glaring, ugly truth. A truth that doesn't have any glitter on it. Not anymore. The truth is that somewhere along the line of living your dream, you lost the joy.

Not the joy that is your practiced line of, "I'm a writer. Yes, I love it. It's my dream job." You can still pull that off with aplomb, and you might even believe it.

I'm talking about the joy that's deep in your heart. The joy that makes you skip down the stairs. That joy that makes you burst out laughing when your three year old spills orange juice in your bed, instead of getting angry and thinking about how you don't have time to put clean sheets on the bed. The joy that makes a huge, genuine smile break out on your face when you sit down at your computer to work, instead of the dread in your chest wondering how you're going to make that page quota. The joy that makes you see only the beautiful flowers beside the road, instead of the traffic you're sitting in.

There's a difference between the superficial joy that we can put on so well, and the true joy that resonates through every core of your body, the one that makes your soul so light that it feels like its floating.

And I know, because I lost that joy. Honestly, I'm not sure I ever had it, not really and truly. When I started writing, I did it because I had to do it. I wanted to be a writer, to have a career, to write, to improve. It was a mission for me. I took every failure so hard, and barely noticed each success. Each revision letter or rejection was a sock to the gut, a statement that I wasn't good enough and had to work harder. I did it, I lived it, and I told everyone I loved it, including myself. But it got hard. Really, really hard. I won't go into the details, but my writing career and my personal life took a couple brutal, earth-shattering hits right at the exact same time. Things hit hard, and in my struggle to survive, I plunged myself into a hole I didn't even notice.

Then, one morning as I was lying in bed, dreading getting up and heading to the computer, the truth dawned. I realized I'd somehow, I'd taken my joy, my dream, and I'd let the down and dirty details of life derail me from the pure, simple, joy. And so I began a year-long process of finding that joy in my writing. Of LOVING what I do. Of finding a peace and a happiness within myself that was so deep that it resonated throughout my life, not just with my writing. I had to overhaul my whole mindset, and I was a whole lot further away from the joy that I thought I was. Not that joy that makes you smile. I'm talking about the joy and the love that you can literally feel in your chest, that makes a laugh gurgle up at the back of your throat just because. The true joy. I wanted it back, and I knew I would never become the writer (or mother, or person) I wanted to be until I learned how to feel that joy in my writing.

It's been a long road, but I'm proud to say that I'm finally there. Just last month, I thought to myself, "I'm a writer," and that one phrase made this intense feeling of satisfaction and truth ripple through me so intensely I could literally feel it. And that moment, that feeling that I hold in my heart every day, is so worth everything I've gone through to get here. But you know what? Nothing in my life that was so bad has actually changed...yet. But I've changed. I'm happy. I love my life. And that is all the difference in the world. The rest will come, and while I'm waiting for it, I'm dancing. And it's the greatest feeling in the world!

We all deserve to feel that kind of joy, but how many of us actually have it? How many of us are racing through life, putting our fires, not taking time to sit down and allow the greatness of the things in our lives to touch our hearts? It might be your writing, or your partner, or your daughter... whatever it is. Whatever you say you love, or you want to love, have you really taken the time to let it into your heart? I thought I had, and now I know the difference.


Nationally bestselling author Stephanie Rowe is a four time RITA finalist. Known for her high octane paranormal romances, her new romantic suspense, ICE, is her first foray into romantic suspense. Her chilling and sexy Alaska series hits the shelves this month, and has received high accolades from such publications as Publishers Weekly. For more info, see

  • Ice blurb: The last thing Kaylie Fletcher wants is a return to Alaska, the place of too many traumatic memories. But when her family goes missing in a climbing accident, she has no choice but to head back to the land where the nights are long, the men are untamed, and passions run hot. Soon after arriving, Kaylie finds herself in a cat and mouse game for her life, and the only thing standing in the way of certain death is a sexy, rugged bush pilot who holds her life in his hands. If she's going to stay alive and find her family, Kaylie has no choice but to rely on Cort McClaine, a dangerous and sensual male who is everything Kaylie doesn't want... and everything she craves... But will Cort destroy her even as he is trying to keep her alive?

Stephanie is giving away a copy of Ice to a lucky commenter today

Monday, July 27, 2009


My guest today is award winning author, Candace Havens. Her latest book is entitled, Dragons Prefer Blondes.

Candy is a nationally syndicated entertainment columnist for FYI Television, has a weekly show on 96.3 KSCS in the Dallas Fort Worth Area. She’s interviewed Hollywood Stars George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. And she’s a successful novelist. She leads quite a glamorous life, or does she? We’ll let Candy tell us about her glam life.

A few weeks ago on Twitter I was talking about things I had to do around the house. One of my fans chimed in and said, “I thought you would live such a glamorous life being a successful author!” It made me chuckle.

First of all, I’m not quite Nora Roberts or James Patterson – at least not yet. (I’m working on it I promise.) I don’t have minions and if I want the laundry done, well… That said, I have had to learn to prioritize and even organize my time so that I can meet my deadlines for the day job at a columnist and radio personality, and my novels.

A typical day for me has the dogs waking me up just before 7 a.m. (sometimes earlier) and I head downstairs. Usually, I have the idea that I will let them out and go back to bed, but it never happens that way. Once I’m downstairs I’m awake, and then I decide I might as well check my email. About an hour and half later, I realize I’ve been sitting there for a bit. I grab some breakfast, a Diet Coke (Because I can’t live without it), and then it’s usually a quick shower and back down to the office.

If I’m working on a book I divide my day into sections. I usually work on my columns about TV, Film and Celebs first thing in the morning. Then I do lunch, and the next part of the day is dedicated to writing. That way if I want to write until two or three in the morning I don’t have to stop.

Well, I say that, but life is a crazy thing and often gets in the way of the writing. I’m also a wife, and the mother of two mostly grown boys. Also, since I write about film for the day job, I have to be gone a few days a week to preview the movies. It’s a perk to see them before they are released, but a time consuming one. Especially in the summer when there are big films every week. Or right after Thanksgiving when it’s time to view all the Oscar worthy films, my schedule gets crazy.

Still, like most women, I make it happen. I have to admit there are days when I dream of being in a secluded cabin I in the mountains, or at a beach house, where all I have to think about is writing. It just doesn’t work that way. And I know I’m not alone. There are lots of very famous authors, who have to wash their own clothes, go to PTA meetings, and take care of sick children.

But I honestly wouldn’t trade my life with anyone, well, except, maybe on laundry day.

Candace "Candy" Havens is a best selling and award-winning author. Her novels include "Charmed & Dangerous", "Charmed & Ready", "Charmed & Deadly", "Like A Charm" and "The Demon King and I". She is known for writing strong female characters, who save the world, but aren't exactly perfect. She is a two-time RITA, Write Touch Reader and Holt Medallion finalist. She is also the winner of the Barbara Wilson award.

Candy is a nationally syndicated entertainment columnist for FYI Television. A veteran journalist she has interviewed just about everyone in Hollywood from George Clooney and Orlando Bloom to Nicole Kidman and Kate Beckinsale. You can hear Candy weekly on 96.3 KSCS in the Dallas Fort Worth Area.

Her popular online Writer's Workshop has more than 1000 students and provides free classes to professional and aspiring writers.

You can find Candy at: Candy has several contests running during her Great Summer Blog Tour and you can find these:

Dragons Prefer Blondes blurb:
  • Alex Caruthers is a sassy socialite who knows when it’s time to turn in her dancing shoes and kick some serious dragon booty. But when Ginjin—the dragon warrior who’s tried to kill her numerous times—chooses her as his mate, Alex finds herself in a situation that’s too hot to handle.For help she turns to Jake, head of Caruthers security—and a total hottie in a suit—and asks him to pose as her boyfriend. Their relationship might be fake, but Alex can’t deny that one touch from Jake makes her burn hotter than any dragon could.