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Archive for February, 2008

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I usually try to keep my contests open for everybody, but I’m trying to help spread the word about my summer release, Through the Veil. Since blogs are a wonderful way of spreading the word, I’m going to do a contest just for bloggers.

This contest involves an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) and a promise. The ARC comes from me, the promise comes from you. The winners simply need to agree to post a review on your blog (Yes, MySpace blogs are fine) of Through the Veil sometime the last two weeks of May.

I don’t get too many ARCs so I do kind of want your promise to do the review. I know life sometimes happens, and hey, that’s cool. But if you think you’re likely to just add the book to your TBR pile, I’d ask that you not enter. If you don’t like writing reviews on books you didn’t care for, I’d ask that you not enter.

I do want an honest review, whether you love it or not. However there’s a chance you might not like the book and I want a review whether you like it or not… *G* the power of word of mouth. Some people only review books they like, that’s absolutely fine…but again, I want an honest review, love it or hate it.

Since I only get a limited number of these things, I want to make sure they are being put to the best use possible. If this contest goes well, I may continue to do it in the future, with both ebooks and print books.

So did I make that complicated enough? 😉

Basically, the contest rules are this:

  • You must have an established blog. Established as in being used prior to this post, and on a fairly regular basis.
  • You agree to post an honest review of the book on your blog. Honest=as in your thoughts, whether you like it or not.

The blurb…

Found wandering in a field as a child, Lee Ross was given a name by the state and placed in a foster home–without anyone realizing she wasn’t entirely human. All her life, she’s tried to dismiss the odd dreams that have plagued her, dreams of monsters creeping through the night and a man, fighting demons by her side. But the bruises she wakes up with are all too real to ignore

Then the man from dreams appears in the flesh. His name is Kalen and he insists that her destiny lies in his world, the world of her dreams. To save their people, he must convince Lee to give everything she knows, follow her heart and cross into the Under Realm, even though once she does, she’ll never be able to return.

An excerpt can be found here.

Just a side note, I’ve seen a few references that this is part of my Hunters books and it is not. Veil is not related to the Hunters world at all. If you’re interested, send an email to shiloh_ @ shilohwalker.com NO SPACES, put “BLOG CONTEST” in the subject line, and make sure to include your blog url in the subject line.

I plan on drawing a couple of winners, how many, I don’t know yet. Outside the States? That’s fine. Enter away.

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Well, gee – I’d love to say those two were connected, but I’m just being goofy today!  Big excitement at our house Sunday morning when my husband finally succeeded in trapping the raccoon that has been frequenting our basement since some time in November.  The live trap we bought didn’t work, so we finally borrowed one from a camp outside of town.  At first that was a bust as well… raccoon just kept eating the food and not tripping the trap.  But for whatever reason, the little critter finally gave up his freedom.  You’ll be glad to know he was humanely transported to a rural location and set free!

 And now for the sports talk.  I must confess to being only a marginal sports nut.  It all comes down to who is playing and what sport.  This weekend, the number one and two teams in the nation in men’s basketball went head to head… and they were both Tennessee teams (UT and Memphis).  That is kind of rare… it has happened with Ohio and North Carolina that I know of, but still not a frequent occurrence.

But I digress.  To understand some of the nuances, I have to give you a bit of history.  The University of Tennessee men’s #2 ranking is the highest they have EVER made it in the history of the sport at UT.  The Lady Vols (and Coach Pat Summitt) have been the newsmakers with repeated championships in the SEC as well as national titles.  So it is a big deal that the men are doing so well.

Leading up to Saturday night’s game, Memphis had a perfect 26 and 0 season, not to mention a 47-0 streak of never being beaten on their home court.

The game was fast and furious from the get go.   Tennessee jumped out to a 4-0 lead immediately.  After that, it was a battle until halftime – including unbelievable numbers of three point shots from both teams.  At half time the score was 39-39.

UT trailed almost the entire first half, but never by more than 7… and lots of the time by only 2.  Second half was a reverse.  Now UT has it by 7 over Memphis.  These boys are playing their hearts out.  The score see-saws… sometimes only a difference of one  point.  With barely three minutes left in the game, Memphis finally pulls ahead… and it looks like UT will lose morale and be beaten.  But they struggle back… the last three minutes are intense and exciting, and finally at the buzzer, the University of Tennessee men win it by 2 points (I think). It was so wild at the end, I didn’t actually see the last score…just knew we won.

 Watching the intensity of these two men’s teams made me ponder the reality of testosterone.  I myself can get very competitive in a card game or board game, but as a rule – we women tend to be cooperative and supportive rather than “in your face” competitive (which I consider a feminine strength). 

As I watched these young guys going at it whole hog, you could see the testosterone oozing all over the court.  It made me wonder what each of us could accomplish if we were that passionate about something in our lives.  All of these young men were determined to win.  One team had to lose, but no one gave up until the buzzer sounded.  And I’d be willing to bet with all that that leftover testosterone, it was hours until any of them slept, winners or losers.

I guess testosterone is one thing that makes guys so fascinating!  And now that I think about it, maybe there is a raccoon connection!  After all, I wasn’t the one doing battle with a “wild” animal for three months.  That would be my dear testosterone-laden hubby.  🙂

The men in our lives… Gotta love ’em!

So do tell ladies… any of you have some great “testosterone” stories??  Please share with the group!

Janice Maynard

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Winner!

Okay guys. Sorry I’m running late!

The winner for Joey’s contest is…  Allison.

Allison commented

 Great post, thanks! Loved the glimpses into Jacob and Lyssa’s interactions. The romance in their relationship is so evident. And the book covers are beautiful.

Allison, I need you to email me @  shilohwalker@gmail.com.  I’ll get you in touch with Joey.

Thanks everybody

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markvamp.jpgHer romances aren’t for the faint of heart. Just a word of warning. 😉 But man oh man, can she tell a romance. Joey Hill is guestblogging today and one of the commenters will get a signed copy of either The Vampire Queen’s Servant or The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

Entering is easy…just comment or ask a question. From those who participate, their name will go into the drawing one time and I’ll draw one winner’s name…reader gets their choice of the two offered prizes.

Below is the blurb for Joey’s latest, The Mark of the Vampire Queen

When he becomes Lady Lyssa’s full servant, Jacob crosses the threshold into a darker relationship with her than he’s known before. His time as a vampire hunter certainly hadn’t prepared him to embrace a world where humans are sexual commodities, but he adapted. Now he finds the integrity of his soul challenged as he serves his Mistress’s needs as fully as he services her desires.
 
The vampire world believes human servants are inferior, a vital source for their varying appetites. Jacob knows a human servant is far more than that. His Mistress needs a warrior, a friend and a lover. A man who will serve her in all ways, even if he has to betray the priceless treasure of her love.

And now, onto to Joey’s guest blog…

A ROMANCE PLOT ISN’T A STRAIGHT LINE 

At the moment, “Let it Whip” is bouncing around in the empty space between my ears, with the result that my body is bouncing with it. Fortunately, that image of erratically jumping notes gave me the idea for a blog topic. Plot and romance. Or rather, plot and love stories. Romance is a catchier marketing term, but if we do our job right, we’re writing love stories. A love story is a relationship. And the relationship has a beginning, or development phase, which evolves into a spiraling seesaw of learning about one another and ever-deepening feelings. At some point, two beings make that final step toward true commitment, willing to spend a life on that spiraling seesaw together.  

When you write most genres, there’s a straight line between plot point A to plot point Z. Some deviation, certainly, but not a lot of latitude for it. However, a relationship isn’t a straight line, and that’s why I love writing love stories. I’m going to credit Nora Roberts for this. As I lost patience with the “misunderstanding” romance–where the characters never really get to know or enjoy one another until the very end–I discovered Mrs. Roberts. In her books, while the characters usually did have some significant emotional roadblock, there were a plethora of scenes devoted primarily to them falling in love, in the myriad ways we all fall in love – with romantic and fun memories, some painful ones, as well as turning points and revelations about ourselves and the other person. Until finally, their separate lives slowly align, and they walk hand-in-hand right past The End, toward the next book of their lives, committed to one another.  

Reaching that alignment is the plot, but an author can follow it like a toddler let loose with a crayon. You can even leave the paper entirely and come back to it, so your characters can explore the waterfall they’ve found along a deer trail, attend the carnival that’s come to town or decide to take a spontaneous overnight drive through the desert and wake up to a brilliant sunset over the ocean, while lying on the hood of the car and sharing the last lukewarm soda.  

My latest book, Mark of the Vampire Queen, is the sequel to Vampire Queen’s Servant. Initially it was one book, but since it was paranormal and did have a fairly complicated plot related to vampire society, it grew to encompass two books. That’s because it doesn’t matter if there are a greater number of outside factors impacting the relationship, the romance can’t be sacrificed. There has to be sufficient room for it to remain the main story. So Jacob deals with a complex world of vampire politics that force him into the role of a sexual submissive, challenging his ability to protect his lady in the way he knows he must. And Lyssa walks a dangerous tightrope to safeguard the territory and vampires under her protection. But while all that is going on, their relationship evolves. They are given time to find their love, not just through the trials, but through leisure time. For example, here’s a little snippet, where Jacob, tuning up Lyssa’s Mercedes, has been trying to extract a kitten hiding in the undercarriage… 

      “What are you doing under there?”

      Speak of the devil. Or perhaps—at least for the moment—an angel. Tilting his head, Jacob saw a pair of pretty bare feet planted on either side of his left leg. At the same moment, his fingers brushed his goal. An unhappy mewl greeted his triumph.

      “Come here, little mite. Sshh…it’s okay.” He managed to hold onto the squirming thing, only because it was too young to be strong, and the mouth too tiny to do any damage. “Can you tell Bran to go sit a few feet away, my lady?”

      She bade the dog move back and he heard the dog chuff, pad away as Jacob wriggled out from beneath, holding the tiny kitten to his chest to keep it from streaking away.

      “How on earth did that get here?”

      “Without the dogs eating her, on top of that. She’s not more than about eight weeks old. Mother probably got hit by a car and the kittens scattered.”

      As he came out, his lady changed her stance so she was straddling his waist, standing above him, her brow raised. She was holding her strappy high-heeled sandals in one hand and wore a tailored suit with a short skirt, suggesting she was heading out on one of her business errands.

      Now she stepped to his side so she could squat beside him.

      *Now see, you little rat, if not for you I could have run my hands up those beautiful legs and…*

      “Think again.” His vampire mistress picked up his thoughts easily enough. “Not with that grease all over you.” Reaching out, she touched the kitten with a finger. The animal was cowering under the cup of his hands, quivering so she appeared to be a faceless ball of matted, oily fur. “Oh, goodness, what are we going to do with you? The dogs won’t tolerate you, that’s for certain.”

      “I thought I could take her over to Elijah’s. He’s had to take his grandson in. Even if his son or the kid’s mother comes back to get him, he could likely use some company.”

      Lyssa raised a brow. “You’ve been male bonding.”

      Jacob gave a mock shudder. “You make it sound so sordid.”

      Smiling, she came down to him, catching his lips in a kiss, stroking her fingers through his hair. “How do you know it’s a she?”

      Too late, he couldn’t cover the thought that came into his mind. With a smothered laugh, she gave him a sharp nip.

      “Men tend to be pains in the ass, too, Jacob. Quite frequently. In fact, they’re probably the main reason women don’t always have a sweet disposition.”

      “I bow to your great wisdom, my lady.”

      “Only because you know I could stomp on your groin with my heel.”

      “There’s that sweet disposition showing itself now.”

       He grunted as she drew blood this time, but the tip of her tongue flicked at it, took it off his lip, her green eyes meeting his, glowing with sensual intent. His body stirred. If he hadn’t spent so much time retrieving the feline, he would have let her toddle back under the car and see if he couldn’t coax his lady into getting dirty. 

I love these types of segues – In Vampire Queen’s Servant, there’s a great scene where Lyssa disguises herself and they spend an evening at a mall, window shopping together. I have characters who have enjoyed a tennis match, attended a Renaissance Faire, planned a tea party for a little girl’s birthday party, gone shopping at a classy erotica shop, watched a film festival, etc… One more snippet, from the aforementioned Renaissance Faire, where Jacob and Lyssa are looking at a booth where rings are being sold. 

      As she looked at the designs, he reached out to touch one he liked. A simple and delicate thing with a sapphire center stone. The stone rested in a fairy’s lap, her tiny metal-etched hand resting atop it. She lay reclined in the clasp of her lover who appeared to be human. The sinuous intertwining of their bodies made up the top half of the band and the setting for the stone.

      Lyssa pressed closer to his shoulder, examining it. “It’s quite deft, isn’t it?”

      He nodded, glanced at the jeweler. “How much?”

      To him, it was expensive. He knew to Lyssa it was a paltry sum. The night he’d met her she’d been wearing a necklace the equal of which he’d only seen on movie stars and fashion models. So he wasn’t sure what made him nod and dig the money out of his pocket. It constituted about a week of the salary he accepted from Lyssa.

      “For an admirer of yours?” she asked in a neutral tone. Jacob lifted his shoulder in an uncomfortable shrug. “A token, my lady. You may keep it or gift it, if it’s not to your liking. I just…” He’d never given her a gift, and today he wanted to do so. “I thought it would please you.”

      She was giving him that arch look she did so well, and he wouldn’t be baited. She’d never struck him as the type who wanted slavish devotion, preferring Bran’s dignified and unquestionable loyalty to slobbering affection. But she knew full well how much Jacob felt when it came to her, so it would do no good to hide it. He couldn’t bear her laughing at him, though. So he shrugged and began to pocket the ring. “I’ll give it to someone else, and not trouble you.”

      Clasping his wrist, she stopped him. Extended her left hand. “Let’s see if it fits.”

      Nodding, he tried her middle finger first. The ring was too tight. “If you’d prefer the right hand, my lady, we can put it—”

      “I prefer the left hand, Jacob.”

      He thought her dark green eyes could rearrange all the shadows of his soul into the shape of herself. “After all” —her voice was soft as their gazes held— “you did promise me forever, didn’t you?”

      She put his heart in his throat so easily he wondered she didn’t just pull it out completely. If she didn’t, he was sure he’d choke on it one day. When he slid the ring over her ring finger it fit perfectly, snugly at the base as it should. 

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope you’ll have time and opportunity to enjoy your own spiraling seesaw of learning and deepening love for another. Thanks for letting me visit.

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pirate.jpg>blues.jpgfloat.jpg>flood-house.jpgrainbow.jpgI I promised a Mardi Gras blog, so here goes.  I had an absolutely awesome time, and even though it was a last minute decision, I am very glad I went.  My cousin, Gary, is a native of New Orleans.  I have visited the city a number of time over the years, but I had never (until now) been able to go for Mardi Gras.  As some of you know, I taught school for a long time, and principals frown on teachers “taking off” in the weeks leading up to standardized testing.

Anyway – I digress…

Mardi Gras (the season) cranks up about 2 weeks before Ash Wednesday.  The actual “day” of Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday.  The two weeks include lots of activities and parades in various parts of the city proper, but the big bash begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday.  I flew down on Sunday, so I was able to see the last three days of the big celebration.

My cousin and his wife picked me up at the airport at about 2:45 Sunday afternoon, and we went straight downtown to catch my first parade.  I was wearing “nice” plane clothes, so we ducked into a Subway sandwich shop bathroom for me to change.  This year was almost the earliest Mardi Gras has even happened “calendar wise”… it was also almost the warmest Mardi Gras on record… you would think those two distinctions wouldn’t go hand in hand, but I’m here to tell you that it got warm in the daytime… sleeveless warm.

My first parade was the Thoth parade… don’t ask me to explain the origin of the name.  Some of this stuff goes way back.  In fact, the earliest parade in Mardi Gras dates back to the 1850’s.  But Thoth was filled with marching bands and plenty of very cool floats.  Catching beads is, of course, the name of the game.  I found out pretty quickly that you have to pay attention – sort of like at a hockey game.  The long necklaces with the fat beads are very heavy and can really hurt if they whack you in the head.  Despite my vigilance, I did get hit in the head one time on Sunday and again at another parade on Monday.

It’s hard to avoid.  Most of the floats are two-story affairs, and even though you might be waving to one person on the float and holding your hand out, someone to the left or right of you may toss something that you don’t see.  Many of the beads are “plain”, but there are also some really cool ones mixed in.  Occasionally other things get thrown – stuffed animals, footballs, doubloons, and even painted coconuts in one parade called Zulu.  Actually, float riders are forbidden fron tossing the coconuts because they are dangerous, but enterprising parade-goers actually show up with long-handled fish nets so the guys on the float can “drop” a coconut gently in the net.

Later in the evening, I weighed the sack of beads from that first parade – 24 pounds!!  After that I had to be more discriminating.  I ended up bringing home about 30 pounds of beads and leaving behind about 25 more pounds with Gary and Linda.

The parades are family affairs, even the ones at night.  Folks bring lawn chairs, coolers, whatever they need to be comfortable for the long haul.  Families sometimes bring six foot step ladders with small wooden seats on top for the little kids… pretty wild.  Everywhere we went people were courteous and friendly.  No outrageous parade behavior… nothing that would be alarming for kids.  There were two young teenage boys standing near me at one point who would catch beads and then hand them to me or put them around my neck.  Everyone wants to catch the beads – not everyone wants to take them home.

Mardi Gras takes some stamina.  Monday we were in town and on foot for 8 hours straight.  Fortunately, my cousin’s son works at a hotel near the Quarter, so we were able to use clean restrooms – a definite perk.  The streets in the French Quarter are too narrow for parades, so most of the big parades go down Canal Street which borders the Quarter.  The best band we saw was the LSU marching band.  One float was a train six cars long!  They had quite a time making the turn at the corner where we were standing.

Monday was a busy day… saw two parades, a concert by Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters (on the riverfront) and also took in some fireworks when the King of Mardi Gras arrived (wearing a mask) by riverboat.  His identity is a closely guarded secret until you see him in the Rex parade on Tuesday.

Tuesday is the culmination of all the hoopla.  We were downtown on Bourbon Street by 9:15AM.  This is the day that folks dress up and walk around the Quarter.  We did see a few tasteless displays, but mostly the costumes are clever or funny… the Blues Brothers, Merlin, super heroes of every ilk, etc.  My favorite moment was seeing famous jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain.  He is old and sick, but he was riding in a little cart with all his “walking club” in front of him.  My very favorite strand of beads is from that group.  A sweet older man held up his cheek for a kiss and then handed me a strand with a large Pete Fountain medallion.

Of course, I had beignets at the Cafe du Monde.  On Wednesday we went to a seafood restaurant on the edge of the bayou that had food so fresh it had been caught just down the road.

My trip home was another adventure.  We were late leaving New Orleans, so when we got to Atlanta, many people had missed connecting flights.  I was rebooked on a later flight to Knoxville, but that was oversold, so I had the chance to get “voluntarily” bumped and put up in a hotel with compensation for future flights.  I then was to fly out at 10:30 the next morning, and again an oversold flight.  In all, I let myself be bumped three times and ended up with $1000 in Delta dollars.  My husband coudn’t believe it.  Now I have enough to get my ticket to RT in Pittsburgh and probably a trip for hubby and I as well.

Before I left New Orleans, we drove out in the area known as the Ninth Ward.  Like the rest of New Orleans, some places are coming back, some are not.  I saw huge stretches that were nothing but concrete slabs where houses once stood.  Many of the houses have not been torn down and still bear the spray-painted X’s and info that the police and others used to show which houses had been checked.  Some houses stand drunkenly as they did when the water receded.

But there is hope.  My cousin’s neighboorhood is about 90% back to normal even though he lived in a FEMA trailer for months.  They tore out sheet rock, insulation, and all sorts of other stuff in order to make the place habitable again.  And the damage was extensive, even though they had only 8 – 12 inches of water as opposed to feet.

In the Ninth Ward I saw the exciting area called “Musician’s Village” where Harry Connick, Jr. is helping rebuild houses.  The Easter egg colors are lovely and at least two dozen of them are finished.  But the contrast is bleak, because two streets away, destruction still remains.

The city was proud of Mardi Gras this year.  The people are proud of what they have survived.

This was my first Mardi Gras, but it won’t be my last. 

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

 Janice Maynard  🙂

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Sorry I didn’t get this posted yesterday, but I spent most of the day in the Atlanta airport and did not actually get home until today.  I had the opportunity to get “voluntarily” bumped several times, so I took it – and racked up a nice number of Delta dollars!!

 Anyway, here’s what you’ve been waiting for…

I must say that this was VERY interesting.  A lot of you commented on how tough it was to choose only ONE answer.  Kind of like the old desert island question about what books you would bring.  We want them all – we don’t want to have to choose.  🙂

But when push came to shove, you all made decisions… some surprised me, some didn’t.  Some were close, some weren’t.

1) Historical or Contemporary: The overwhelming favorite was “contemporary” with 89% of the vote.

2) Reality or Fantasy: This was split almost dead even with Reality having a slight edge.

3) Serious or Funny: Definitely fans of both, but Funny won with 62%.

4) Kids or No Kids: No contest here – 89% No Kids.

5) First Person or Third Person: A landslide win for 3rd person (81%), though many of you indicated liking to sometimes read First Person if the book was good.

6) Explicit or Tame: You like ’em hot! (81%)

7) Series or Stand Alone: This one surprised me… I assumed almost every reader wanted to read books in a series… but the vote was closer than that: Series (58 %) Stand Alone – (42%).

8) 350 or 500 pages: again, this surprised me.  I was guessing the longer the better, but 81% of you prefer the shorter one.

9) City Setting or Rural: split down the middle, half and half.

10) Tortured Hero or Heroine: No contest here – you ladies want your men to be tormented.  🙂

 Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to list your preferences and comments.  I asked my daughter to draw a name, and the lucky winner is… Wendy!!  I’ll pop your prize in the mail on Monday if you’ll e-mail your address to me at JESM13@aol.com.

And for all of you – be sure to check back Monday for a Mardi Gras blog.   🙂

 Janice Maynard

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Sunny’s Winner….

Is Culleen!

Culleen, if you can email me @ shilohwalker@gmail.com, I get you hooked up with Sunny.

Thanks to all who came by and thanks to Sunny.

Shi

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