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Hey guys!  We’ve got a guest with us today…Michelle Lauren.  Michelle has a book coming out from Liquid Silver in the near future and she’s also a finalist in the AMERICAN TITLE V.

Hope you enjoy her visit with us!

V&S: Okay…standard questions all us writers get asked.  😉  Which came first…oh, wait.  Wrong question.  When did you first start writing?

Michelle Lauren: I first started writing professionally six years ago as a freelancer. At that point, I wasn’t sure what facet of the publishing world I wanted to go into, but I knew it needed to be challenging yet allow me to flex my creative muscle.

My big break came in an amusing way. I’d been trying (unsuccessfully) to get one of my articles published. On a fluke, I interviewed an literary agent who was also a member of my RWA Yahoo group. When the editor of Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine for Romance Writers of America, passed on my article, I offered to provide my literary agent interview on spec. She accepted and that’s how I got my recurring gig as the Agent Spotlight columnist.

At the time, I thought “on spec” meant pro bono; so getting the first check in the mail was a BIG surprise! But it was a welcome one. After that, I worked as an editor at Cobblestone Press, which was so fun and educational. Working as an editor helped me hone my writing skills and I’ll be forever grateful to the wonderful staff for taking a chance on me.

V&S: Is there any story that you wish you hadn’t written? Is there any story that someone else wrote that you wish you’d thought of first?

Michelle Lauren:

To the first question: Absolutely not. Every story – even the duds – taught me something. Not to say that I’ll publish everything I write (some of my early novels make me cringe in hindsight). It’s like that adage: you have to go through the hard times (in this case, the dud manuscripts) to appreciate the good times.

To the second question:

This is a tie for me. It’s between A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and L.A. Banks’ The Vampire Huntress stories. Both books are so unique and creative; they pushed boundaries on what was expected from stories in those respective genres – children’s/intermediate fiction and paranormal fiction. That’s what made them memorable and so enjoyable.

V&S: What kind of stories do you write?

Michelle Lauren: I write multicultural urban fantasies. I adore this genre because it allows me to blend my favorite things: the fantastical elements and action of comic books with the happily ever after of romances.

Two of the books I’m most proud of are Starstruck and How to Tame a Harpy. Starstruck (coming in 2009 from Liquid Silver Books) is about a love shy celestial star that crash lands on earth, where her kind are hunted for their life-prolonging energy. Rescue comes in the form of a jaded hero whose touch melts her resistance, but whose past threatens to destroy them both.

How to Tame a Harpy (a story about a love shy harpy with a temper that has a mind of its own, and a genetically-enhanced bad boy with the ability to shapeshift into stone) is a finalist in Romantic Times magazine’s American Title V competition, a contest based on the popular show American Idol. Except instead of winning a record deal, the winner receives a book contract with Dorchester Publishing.

It’s a really cool contest because it gets readers involved in voting for their favorite book. Each round of voting is themed. Round 3 (Best Story Summary) starts January 19th – February 1st, 2009. To learn more, visit my site: www.michellelaurenbooks.com.

V&S: What is one thing about you that surprises people?

Michelle Lauren: I think I’m most surprised when people behave cruelly or do vindictive things.
V&S: Name five books you think every romance reader should read.

Michelle Lauren:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This is an unconventional love story that delivers in every aspect: passion (the exchanges between Teacake and Janie are both steamy and cathartic); humor; voice; and making a social statement. This is a December-May romance, with Teacake being the younger man and Janie being a woman twice married but never divorced (ponder that for a moment; yeah, she was ahead of her time).

Shakespeare. So many modern stories and movies rehash his tales that it pays to know them well.

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland: No matter how many times I read this book (and it’s been many), I never get tired of this. It’s a time travel romance where a contemporary woman travels back in time to Scotland and falls in love with the cranky but gorgeous Highland laird. This is a PG romance, and one of my favorite stories.

This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland: Ms. Kurland has a knack for sweet romances that keep you coming back for more. This book features an unconventional romance between the Dragon of Blackmour and his unlikely bride. I’m a sucker for jaded men and heroines with inner strength. I also loved that the hero of this book is blind. And he still kicks butt in an utterly believable way

The Taming of Jessi Rose by Beverly Jenkins: What can I say about Ms. Jenkins except that she knows her craft and never disappoints? This book is a Western and isn’t exactly a May-December pairing; the indomitable Jessi Rose is 32 to Griffin’s 25, but I liked that aspect of their relationship. Both are fighters and their chemistry is undeniable.

Michelle, thanks for coming by! For the readers, you can read more about Michelle at her site

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EDITED TO ADD… A winner’s name has been chosen…contest is now closed!

Hey folks…we’ve got a guest with us today! Author Linda Wisdom, and she’s going to be giving away a prize…we’ll draw a winning name and get it posted here early next week. Now I’m going to let Linda have the floor…Shiloh

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First off, thank you so much Vamps and Scamps for having me here to talk about Hex Appeal!

Take one snarky witch, add a cup of sexy vampire, a tablespoon of disgruntled ghost and add a dash of troublesome bunny slippers and you have a recipe for magick disaster. Or maybe not. After all, we are talking Jazz Tremaine, curse eliminator, 700 year young witch and attitude with a capital A.

Jazz is used to multi-tasking. She has a successful curse eliminating business – especially since LA is filled with a variety of curses — and working as a driver for Dweezil, a creature who can make Scrooge look like a philanthropist.

But her world is shaken up – again. It was bad enough when a past evil intruded into her life again and she had to work hard on getting rid of all it meant. No, this time, it’s struck even closer to home. Namely, Jazz isn’t getting any quality sleep and a sleep-deprived witch is a cranky witch.

It’s not so much that Jazz is missing sleep, she’s have terrorizing nightmares to boot. But then, who wouldn’t be freaked out if the nightmare involved your vampire lover tearing your throat out? Add to that Fluff and Puff accused of eating a Wereweasel carnie and now incarcerated in bunny slipper jail, Irma wanting Jazz to find a way to give her an updated look and Dweezil demanding his share of her time.

The only good thing is Jazz’s latest order of bath products and a pair of sexy crocodile stilettos named Croc and Delilah from fellow witch Thea. It’s just a shame they like to get into her make up.

Jazz is in a stew of magick problems that could easily overflow her cauldron. Especially when a dash of a sexy female vampire who was Nick’s ex is tossed in for some bitter flavoring and Jazz ends up with the worst 48 hours of her life that no witch should endure.

The problem is figuring out what ingredients will work for this witchy stew and which ones are outdated and need to be tossed out.

Who’s behind her nightmares? Who wants to unsettle Nick so badly with nightmares of his own that he might abandon her? Who’s setting up booby traps if she tries to track down the source and did Fluff and Puff really eat a Wereweasel even if there’s no way the bunny slippers would eat something that disgusting?

It’s all answered in Hex Appeal, which is out now and book two of my Hex series.

I hope you’ll pick the book up and enjoy Jazz’s new adventures.

I’ll also be giving a book away to a lucky commenter!

Linda
There’s also a fan fiction contest going on!

Give us your best HEX!

A Fan Fiction Contest with Linda Wisdom

Ever wondered why Jazz and Nick argue so much? Have you imagined a hilarious scenario with Irma? And I’m sure you’ve thought up a ton of escapades with Fluff and Puff! Why not write your very own Hex Fan Fiction piece?

Linda Wisdom and Sourcebooks Casablanca are pleased to present an exciting contest—Tell us your own short story starring the characters from 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and October 1 release, Hex Appeal!

Rules (follow them or we might kick you out of the Witches Academy!)

  1. Choose any character you like and give them an original story!
  2. 1500 words maximum, sent in a Word Document or in the body of the email
    Erotica is ok, but nothing too scary (no bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia; no slander of public people; no black magic; no Wiccan or black magic spells, cursing in the regular sense is okay—we just want to have as much fun as possible!)
  1. Send your story to Linda’s publicist, Danielle Jackson at danielle.jackson@sourcebooks.com, no later than 5:00pm CST on October 25, 2008.
  2. The Winner, chosen by Linda, will be announced on her Myspace page the morning of Halloween!

So what do you get if you win? 2 runners up with received autographed copies of the first two books in the series, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and Hex Appeal.

The Grand prize winner will also receive the autographed copies, AND their name will be used as a character in the fourth book in Linda’s Hexy series, out in October 2009!

We look forward to your stories! Good Luck!

Linda

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