July 13, 2012

Waves Break My Fall: Kendall McKenna @kendallmckenna #RLFblog #LGBT


Book title: Waves Break My Fall
Genre: M/M Erotic Romance
Cover artist: Reese Dante
Length (words): 20,573
Heat rating: NC-17
Blurb: Kage is a Marine, newly returned from Afghanistan and having difficulty adjusting to being home. He tries to decompress with a quiet trip to Puerto Vallarta. Zach is a new college graduate and facing the realities of adulthood. Will their hot summer fling grow into something more?
What are your main characters' names?
Kage and Zach
Ages?
Kage is in his early 30’s.
Zach is in his early to mid-20’s. He’s old enough to be graduating college.
Occupations?
Kage is a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps.
Zach has just graduated college and his new occupation is a spoiler.

Interview

How did you get your start in the industry?
I started writing. I just started and kept writing. I found people to give me critical feedback so I got better at it. About two years ago, I was laid off from my day job, so decided to take advantage of it. I got a short story and a novella ready and began to submit to e-presses with good reputations. At the same time, I started writing articles for an online newsletter for a popular television show. Then, I received an offer from Silver Publishing three days after I received the offer for my current day job. I accepted both!
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
Today it’s all about social media, marketing and ME, instead of being about improving the writing. While getting better at the writing is always important, now the focus is on putting myself out there as an author. I have to market myself and the books through social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
That is a particularly tricky question for me! My first book, Brothers in Arms, has received two consistent pieces of good natured criticism. First, is that it’s too short. Second, there’s not enough sex. Part of me would love to go back and fix both of those things. On the other hand, fixing either one would make it a completely different story and could potentially ruin it. Ultimately, it’s a great story just like it is, so I wouldn’t change a thing, even though I do think about it from time to time!
If you could choose anyone to be your mentor who would it be?
Sherry Lansing. She was a movie studio executive when women were still being told their worth was based on their skills as wives and mothers. Women were told to stop work when they married so they didn’t take jobs from men who had families. She was a trail blazer and is still producing movies today.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
You don’t have to play it safe. Those things you want to do but think you shouldn’t because they aren’t practical and won’t earn you money? Do them. At least try. You’ll be surprised just what you’ll accomplish when you stop playing it safe.
Do you have a muse? Describe this person, please.
I have many muses. They take the form of my MCs. Sometimes I only have one at a time, sometimes both the boys talk to me. They tell me the story, and they tell me about their fears and their dreams. They point me in the direction the story needs to go. My muses are right there in the stories for everyone to get to know.
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
I worked in one of the first Public Health HIV testing clinics in the country. That tells you how old I am! I spent almost a decade as a Police Dispatcher. That was an adventure!
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
Brothers In Arms. Because it’s heavy on plot and light on the sex, I think it would be a great way to give a reader a taste of the genre. Once they realize they enjoy it, they can seek out all the other wonderful stories with the heat level they find suits their tastes.
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
The same kind I write! I love M/M erotic romance. However, I also like fantasy and sci-fi, contemporary mysteries with strong female lead characters, and true history.
What do you think is the future of epublishing?
I think the future is here! Print books may never go completely away, but e-books are so versatile and well-priced (by e-presses), they’re here to stay. The technology and the industry are in their infancy, but once it shakes out, the NY publishers with either get with the program, or go under. The indie presses will continue to rise. Much like we saw Napster and iTunes revolutionize the music industry by allowing artists to distribute their work without being beholden to a label, we’ll continue to see the influence of agents and legacy presses shrink.
What was the proudest moment of your life so far?
It’s a very small moment that happened recently. My hubby was leading his father through the house and I was on the couch doing some marketing of a book. As he passed by, hubby told his father, “We have to be quiet, she’s working. She’s a writer.”
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
I would pack jeans, t-shirts and comfortable shoes. My Kindle, my iPod and my passport. I’d be on my way to New Zealand to take the Lord of the Rings filming tour! Yes, I’m a geek.
What good book have you read recently?
I just finished Mercy Celeste’s “Beyond Complicated” and I highly recommend it.
Where were you at midnight, on December 31st when the new century started?
At a party, hanging off of a balcony with my then girlfriend, banging pots, pans and lids together while cheering drunkenly.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
Read and write. You could have guessed that answer, I’m sure.
Which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed."
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."
I am laid back and relaxed. I love lying on a warm beach with a drink, listening to my iPod and reading my Kindle. 

Fill in the Blanks

My favorite type of car is a Mustang.
A perfect date would be coffee in a Barnes & Noble.
My characters would love it if I just let them have sex without having to examine their feelings.
I think Coldplay is overrated. I prefer Matchbox 20.
If all the hot men in the world were mine, I'd like it.
Paying someone else to do it is the best way to clean my house.
There is more to writing than typing words.

Find Me Here

July 12, 2012

Character Interview: Dante from Dante's Flame


Dante's Flame.
Janine, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
DANTE’S FLAME is a medieval set in Naples, Italy, during the political struggle between the French and Spanish kings for control over Naples. Dante Santangelo sides with the French and is watching the Valente family for signs of Spanish loyalties. Alessandra Podesta is sent to Naples by her parents to get her out of the “tempting” Venetian environment, hoping it will stop the illicit tales she writes. She lives with her cousins, the Valentes. Dante thinks she was sent there to aid the Spanish king. She gets caught up in the politically tense situation while looking for adventure to write about. Her curious nature befuddles Dante and nearly gets Alessandra killed. She’s a firecracker, and he’s very intelligent, serious. Needless to say, they don’t see eye-to-eye.
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
Research. Because I write historicals, it’s imperative to know about the location and time of the story. During the research process, I usually discover reasons for conflict between the hero and heroine. Without becoming aware of 15th century Naples, I wouldn’t have known about the political war. Or about the people and their superstitions. All of which factor into the story.
What do you enjoy most about life?
1) Spending time with my husband of 40 years; 2) Being a grandma, or Nonna, as my 6 grandkids call me. I enjoy all of them, even the one who is more stubborn than his mother was, lol. 3) Besides my grandchildren, I enjoy my dogs and wish I could have more than just three. Dogs are refreshing, loyal, loving. 4) During the summer, I love getting outside and tending to my gardens, both floral and vegetable. The string beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, fingerling potatoes, and everything else I grow tastes a whole lot better than what I buy in stores. 5) I love watching soccer, particularly the Serie A, which is Italy’s top-flight league. And, of course, I love the Italian national team. My youngest daughter began playing soccer nearly 32 years ago when she was four. She never looked back, and my husband and I were so proud of her accomplishments on and off the field. LOL, I had a difficult time watching her play. She’s a goalkeeper (she still plays), and that always made, and still makes, me nervous!
What did you learn from writing your first book? 
The first book I wrote was in 1980, or there about. I was so new to writing and broke every rule in the book. It was such a learning experience. At the time, I didn’t belong to RWA, which I joined in 1996. That first book, though, made me realize how difficult writing a novel really is. I probably would have ended my career there if I hadn’t received good rejections from editors and agents. Encouraging rejections. And the wonderful support of RWA.
Would you consider self publishing?
Yes, I’d love to self-publish. I might one day, but I’m so inept with the tech. side of the computer. I can’t even figure out Facebook or a blog I started that has only a name to it. It’s mind-boggling to me. I’ve taken classes, yet I still cannot figure them out! Twitter, too. But self-publishing will give me a chance to have control over every aspect of my book. There’s the potential to make a good living selling on my own. Right now, I don’t have a manuscript ready to self-publish.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
It would be the same as I give all writers, whether starting out or advanced: Don’t give up! That was one of the hardest lessons I learned. Had I given up, I would have never published and likely would have always wondered if I might have achieved that goal.
Also, read, read, read! Which I did. The only regret I have is not finding RWA 10 or so years sooner. The organization opened an entire world of insight to the craft, the one thing a writer should never stop learning.
Lily and the Falcon
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
REBEL HEART. There is something about this book and the hero, Beau Hamilton, that has been my favorite ever since I wrote it in the 80s. He’s irascible, gruff, but underneath it all, there is a man with a soft heart for the heroine and others who are important to him. But she drags him kicking and screaming all the way to the end before he finally admits he loves her. You’ll see his transformation in small degrees, and you’ll understand why when you learn his backstory.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I hope they see that love does conquer all, that it can be quick or slow-building, and with an unlikely person. I think you have to believe in the power of love, and I hope my stories convey that.
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
I posed this question to my family, and they agreed on: Proud, Passionate…and Italian
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Italy, of course! I’m not sure what city, but more than likely Rome or Milan. My favorite soccer team is A.C. Milan. Roma is my second favorite. Plus I’d love to live among the history and the medieval feel of thecities. The one time I visited Italy, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the way of life as well as the ancient and medieval architecture.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
Books, music, Italian and soccer related things, anything for and about dogs. I’d also have a café in my store that served Italian drinks and pastries. It would be very eclectic but it would be warm and inviting.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
I looked forward to writing papers. I think writing novels stemmed from that early desire.
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
“Open carefully. Contents under pressure.” Admittedly, I have a temper, and it doesn’t take much to set me off, especially if I see an injustice being done.
Please Fill in the Blanks
I love pizza with cheese and pepperoni.
I'm always ready for watching Italian soccer.
When I'm alone, I listen to music and dance around the house.
You'd never be able to tell, but I’m Italian. (blonde hair and blue eyes fool everyone).
If I had a halo it would be an angel’s halo with the devil’s horns attached.
Surrender to Honor
If I could become a billionaire I'd help all the homeless animals in the world.
I can never travel far from home because I’m afraid to fly.

Character Interview

Tell us about the main character in your current book. What is he like?
Dante Santangelo is a highly educated, intelligent man with a secret he hides until the very end. He was born in Naples but left at an early age and grew up in Provence. His eyes are a captivating blue/violet. He teaches Latin and French at the University of Naples and speaks four languages. Dante is fairly easy-going but can get intense over injustices to human or animal. On the surface he seems to be quiet, agreeable. But beneath the surface, his seldom lost ire lurks.
If your main character was here today, what would he say is his strongest point?
His patience.
Does he think he has a weakness? (If so, what does he think it is? What does his lover think it is? What does his enemy think it is?)
Alessandra is his weakness. She constantly tries his patience. A man can only take so much!
What drives your hero to do the things he does? What makes him want to be the "good guy?"
Dante lived a privileged life, but his mother and father wouldn’t let him forget that their wealth and lifestyle could be taken away in a heartbeat. He was taught to help others, treat women with respect, and to be open-minded. His parents had a strong influence in his life. They’re responsible for the man he became. But don’t let that fool you. He is by no means a Beta male.
What's your main character's favorite guilty pleasure?
Besides the heroine, lol? Sugared almonds from Rome.

Answered as Dante Santangelo:

If you didn't know how old you were how old would you be?
Judging by my maturity, knowledge and wisdom, I would probably be in my mid- to late 30s.
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
The French-Italian Connection.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Most likely Naples or Northern Italy.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
The pranks I pulled. My teachers did not have a sense of humor.
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Do not provoke. Volatile beneath the surface and may cause physical pain.

Please Fill in the Blanks (as the character)

I love sweet cakes with thick cream filling.
I'm always ready for making love to my wife.
When I'm alone, I’m pensive.
You'd never be able to tell, but I do know how to have fun. I’m not always so serious.
If I had a halo it would be fairly straight because of my kind-hearted nature.
If I could have the power I'd end the conflict between countries.
I can never figure out my wife because she lacks fear and has a strong sense of adventure.

About the Author

Jannine Corti Petska was born in New York but raised in Southern California. Her parents' first language was Italian, and Jannine was raised in an Old World environment. She began writing romance novels when her three daughters were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. In-between writing and caring for her family, she tutored Italian, Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language at a local college. Although she loves placing her stories in medieval Italy, she has also written romantic tales of the cowboy in the American West. Jannine lives in Southern California with her husband of 40 years and three high-energy Rat Terriers. To find out more about Jannine, please visit her website. www.jcortipetska.com

Booklist

Blurb, DANTE’S FLAME
Alessandra Podesta writes illicit tales unsuitable for a young lady. Exasperated, her father sends her to visit relatives in Naples to curb her wild imagination. But in her undying need for adventure, she toys with the affections of her tutor and is forced to marry him. When she unknowingly falls into a dangerous game of supremacy between two countries, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life.
French tutor Dante Santangelo is secretly aiding the French in maintaining their rule over Naples. When he is manipulated into marrying the visiting cousin of the Valente Family, he seizes upon the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the family, who are under suspicion of helping the Spanish. When Alessandra's life is in jeopardy Dante must choose between love and duty. Will he offer up his life to save Alessandra? Or remain duty-bound to the French?

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press
Amazon
REBEL HEART, American western
CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN, book 1 of my medieval psychic sisters trilogy
CHARLOTTE AND THE GYPSY, book 2 of my medieval psychic sisters trilogy
LOVE’S SWEET WAGER, love along the California Trail
THE LILY AND THE FALCON, book 1 of my Italian Medieval series
SURRENDER TO HONOR, book 2 of my Italian Medieval series
DANTE’S FLAME, book 3 of my Italian Medieval series
Short stories, both Medievals set in Italy
KNIGHT’S DESIRE
MINE TO KEEP
Books Coming Soon
MINE TO KEEP, release date Aug. 15, 2012
Janine Corti Petska

Contests

I will give away an e-copy of DANTE’S FLAME to one lucky commenter.

Find Me Here

Blog: No time for one.

July 11, 2012

Can't Fake This with Casey Crow


Can't Fake This.
Christmas in July! Thought we’d heat the summer even more with Can’t Fake This!

Tell us about Can’t Fake This.
Casey: Can’t Fake This started out on a whim. At the last minute, I decided to enter this 10,000 word contest. I’d written spicy mainstream, but this was my first dive into erotic waters. I didn’t win the contest, but after having what I thought was a good start, I added some more words and low and behold, this erotic became the first manuscript I sold. It also won the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, a JERR Gold Star, the 2011 Best Contemporary at Love Romances Café, and finaled in the 2011 Golden Claddaugh book contest. This book definitely has my trademark “Sexy, Sassy & Southern” flair.
The story is about a divorcee ready to reenter the dating world. Anna Ryan is determined to be the best “product on the market,” which requires a lot more experience so she propositions sexy police officer Chase Harris to teach her how to make hot, passionate love as opposed to just having sex. He takes it a step further, instructing each lesson based on The Twelve Days of Christmas.

You’ve long been a fan of romance novels. What prompted you to cross over to the writing side of things?
Casey: In high school and college, I only read text books so I didn’t even get started on romance until I was twenty-five. Oddly enough, my mom, an avid reader of all romance genres first encouraged me to write. About the time I started thinking, “I could do this,” she said, “You can.” Thank goodness too, because I love it and turned the hobby turned into a serious career almost two years ago.

What are your three major addictions in life?
Casey: Awe, I have to pick just three? Okay, dancing (I used to own a dance studio) and working out are major passions and they compensate my Barq’s root beer addiction. I also love pageants. Seriously. I’m not kidding, but not the Toddlers & Tiara glitz kind. I’ve been an emcee and pageant coach for over twenty years, and I still get such an adrenaline rush teaching modeling and interview to girls of all ages. My latest girl just won her Jr. Miss competition (aka Distinguished Young Woman). It’s incredibly rewarding to see one’s self-confidence grow with each lesson. Finally, I’m not a huge TV watcher, but I’m addicted to Castle, although Revenge is giving my mystery writer a run for his money.

You spent some time in pageant life. What was that like?
Casey: As a dancer and gymnast, I was on stage my whole life, but I began competing in pageants at fifteen to prepare for Jr. Miss (now Distinguished Young Woman). I’ve done everything from glitz to natural. I prefer youth development programs where talent is the primary focus. I’ve competed in the Miss America and Miss Universe systems. I have to say it was pretty cool being Miss University of Alabama, but my most memorable reign was Miss Motorsports, where I got to be a NASCAR spokesmodel and hang out with all the famous drivers.
Pageants typically have a negative connotation, but the friendships, public speaking skills, and confidence I gained make me a firm believer in the many positive aspects they provide, so much so that my eight-year-old daughter has been competing since she was a baby. She has performed in Branson, MO, opened a concert for CMA recording artist Ashton Shepherd, and is currently preparing for America’s Got Talent. None of that would have been possible without her pageant experience.
I’ve worked with probably hundreds of girls throughout twenty years of pageant coaching. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing one’s self-confident grow.

What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done?
Casey: Learn to play the violin, or as we say down South, the fiddle. I’ve about convinced myself it should be my Christmas gift this year.

If you cook, do crafty stuff, or have a hobby, please share the details with readers.
Casey: I do cook and love crafts, but considering I’m about four years behind on scrapbooking, I don’t think it counts if it stays in a box under the bed. I really enjoy playing pool and golf, but since I’m fairly pitiful at both, I stick mainly to taking dance classes. I’m in a class with a bunch of other teachers and former dance competitors so it’s not easy by any means. The best part is that we rock the house during recital time. Old ladies, apparently, still have it.

What’s next for you?
Casey: I recently signed with a literary agent and we are busy getting HUSTLER’S DREAM ready. It’s about a southern socialite pool shark who hustles the wrong guy, or is he? FEELS SO RIGHT is about a country music agent and her ex-boyfriend songwriter. I’m also half way finished with FAST DREAM, the sequel to HUSTLER’S DREAM, about a female NASCAR tire changer in love with the driver.
My other release currently out is DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE, which features a ballerina. In it, the stage heats up when Southern belle and ballerina Campbell Layne learns more from Rod Carrington than she ever expected. I especially the Italy scenes in this book.
I swear these are not autobiographical! But, I’m passionate about the things I enjoy, and they invariably make their way into my writing. My tagline is “Sexy, Sass & Southern” and all my heroines are just that.

Casey Crow
Casey Crow is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Alabama with degrees in Business Management and Dance. She received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Mobile. A resident of the Deep South, Casey stays busy running her two children to way too many activities. She also works as a pageant coach of twenty years, professional emcee and model, dance choreographer, and certified Miss America preliminary judge. In fact, she is a former Miss University of Alabama and NASCAR spokesmodel. She is addicted to Castle & Revenge and works out constantly to compensate for her addiction to sweets. She enjoys playing pool, tennis & golf but never has the time and is, therefore, pitiful at all three. A member of Romance Writers of America, Casey is an award-winning author of “Sexy, Sassy & Southern” erotic and spicy mainstream contemporary romances. Her debut, CAN’T FAKE THIS, was named 2011 Best Contemporary at Love Romances Café, winner of the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and received a Gold Star from Just Erotic Romance Reviews. Casey is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency. Visit her at www.caseycrow.com. Follow her on Twitter – caseyecrow and Facebook – Casey Crow.

Visit Casey at http://www.caseycrow.com
Follow on Twitter: caseyecrow and Facebook
DWAM BUY NOW
DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE EXCERPTS
2011 LRC Best Contemporary & 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Winner CAN’T FAKE THIS buy Kindle version on Amazon and all versions at Loose, Id.
CAN’T FAKE THIS Excerpt
See the CAN’T FAKE THIS book trailer