Thursday, January 31, 2013

TBR welcomes Mackenzie Crowne

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Mackenzie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Mac: Thanks so much for letting me visit with you and your visitors today. Let’s see, about me. Well, I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother. My husband and I were blessed with two rambunctious little boys who we managed to raise into wonderful men without any disfiguring mishaps. Dirt bikes and ESPN are the order around our house, and life at the ‘Testosterone Ranch’ more closely resembles one of today’s wacky reality shows, than yesterday’s Leave It To Beaver. I’m one of eight kids, raised just north of Boston. My childhood was a free-for-all full of hordes of family and friends. I moved to Phoenix as an adult because living in the southwest feeds my soul. My love of books, specifically the romance genre, has been a lifelong affair, both as a reader and a writer. A bout with breast cancer sharpened my resolve to see my stories shared with others. As of today, I am a five-year survivor, living my dream.

TBR: Tell us about THE BILLIONAIRE’S CON and where it's available.
Mac: My latest release, The Billionaire’s Con, is a lighthearted contemporary romance set in a small New England town, available at Still Moments Publishing and Amazon

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Meggy Calhoun has too much on her plate to explore the shocking revelations in her birth mother’s letter. The success of Boston’s hottest new restaurant rests squarely on her shoulders, and her fascination with her hunky new tenant promises to take up all of her free time.
Trevor Bryce Christos would do anything to protect the woman who raised him; including seducing a beautiful con artist disguised as a chef, and bent on cashing in on his family’s wealth.
Under the microscope of small town interest, Meggy’s and Trevor’s opposing agendas soon have the townsfolk choosing sides, and betting on who will be the first to surrender the field, and their heart.

“What are you doing in here, Meggy?” Jill moved to stand beside the stepladder. “And why are you painting?”
Meggy frowned at the intruders, ignoring Jill for the moment. Her gaze scanned the tall stranger. She noted his expensive suit and handsome face below a thick pelt of dark, auburn hair. Though very attractive, he had that stiff, life-is-serious-business look about him.
Meggy sighed at the waste and turned her frown to Jill.
“I needed something to keep my hands occupied until I can get back into the kitchen.”
Agitated as much with the delay as the mess, she flicked her hand holding the roller. A silken thread of paint danced through the air, leaving a drizzle of pale yellow across the faded denim of her favorite jeans.
Perfect. Just perfect.
“Get back into the kitchen?” Jill placed her hands on her hips. “I thought the kitchen was up and running.”
Meggy hoisted her butt off the top of the ladder and slapped a hand to the wall when she lost her balance. From the corner of her eye, she saw the lawyer take a startled step forward. With a disgusted growl, she glared at the fresh slash of paint coating her hand, and clambered down the ladder backwards before he could reach her.
“We had a leak.” She jumped the last two steps to land on the floor, jamming the roller into the pan at the foot of the ladder. “The plumber is there now, dealing with the aftermath.” Reminded of the calamity in her kitchen, she turned a glower on the silent man and quirked a brow. “And you are?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Jill rolled her eyes at Meggy and made the introductions. “Meggy Calhoun, this is Trevor Bryce. He’s a writer who’s interested in renting the Carriage House. Mr. Bryce, Meggy is one of the owners of Palmer House. She’s also the head chef.”
Meggy watched, fascinated, as the stiff lawyer vanished behind a wicked smile, a flash of white teeth, and dimples. There was nothing stiff about the penetrating gaze that met and held hers. The deep drawl of his voice, when he said hello, reminded her of the smooth slide of the aged whiskey found in Palmer House’s well-stocked bar.
She glanced at the hand he held out, and flipped up her own paint-smeared palm. “Sorry, I’m a mess.”
Laugh lines crinkled the tanned skin at the corner of his eyes, and the soft core of femininity within her sighed in appreciation. She’d always had a soft spot for the Greek god type. Looking at Trevor Bryce, she had a sudden craving for Feta cheese and Ouzo.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Mac: My inspiration for The Billionaire’s Con actually came from the heroine, Meggy. A sidekick character in a storyline I was working, her adoptive status came as a complete surprise. Once that cat was out of the bag, Meggy wouldn’t let it go. “My birth mother gave me up,” she whispered in my head. “Don’t you want to know why?” Yeah, I know. Voices in the head are troubling, but that’s how it works for me. Meggy pestered the heck out of me until I finally put aside the story I was working on to tell her tale.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Mac: LOL That last answer answers this one. I’m a pantser. I try to plot, jotting down a basic outline for a story, but once the writing starts, all bets are off. As with Meggy’s adoption, the true themes of my stories reveal themselves in their own good time.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Mac: I actually have a quote on the welcome page of my website that states my philosophy on life perfectly. As a breast cancer survivor, I know life is short, the moments precious. I refuse to waste any of them. “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming, Wow, what a ride!” – author unknown

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Mac: One of my favorite elements in The Billionaire’s Con is the collective character of the townsfolk. The gossip grapevine is alive and well in the small town of Palmerton. I had a blast letting Trevor and Meggy use their nosy neighbors to further their own agendas, then made them squirm as the entire town showed up to witness the final showdown.

TBR: What's next for you?
Mac: I always have several stories floating around in my mind, but I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a football romance I hope to see published early next year. I’m kind of a football junkie, and I’ve been having a ball throwing a female, football blogger with an attitude at the NFL’s number one tight-end, and watching the sparks fly.

TBR: Any other published works?
Mac: 2012 was a rewarding but busy year for me. I released my first title, GIFT OF THE REALM, a fantasy romance set in Ireland, in April. My second book followed shortly in June. THAT DATING THING is lighthearted contemporary romp in the midst of Wall Street greed. In October, I reached the five year milestone as a survivor and celebrated by releasing WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR NIPPLE? My non-fiction, memoir-guide to navigating the breast cancer abyss with humor and hope. 

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Mac: I’m not sure how interesting it is, but I’ve heard a few comments that have  made me laugh. I have several friends who are fans of romance, but for those who aren’t, reading the genre for the first time has raised a few eyebrows. While my titles are by no means erotica, they are sensual. My favorite comment came from the daughter of a close friend who refers to my fantasy romance as fairy porn.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Mac: I love making new friends, so please feel free to stop by for a visit. You can find me @

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Mac: As an avid reader, I know what appeals to me in a story and I’m always thrilled when I find a new author to add to my list of favorites. As a newly published author, the challenge is getting your name out there so that those readers who will enjoy your writing style can find you. So, readers, how do you go about finding that next favorite author? Are you snagged by a catchy title? An interesting blurb? Or a gorgeous cover? And where do you go to find them?

TBR: Readers, Mac will give away an e-copy of THE BILLIONAIRE‘S CON to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner on February 1st and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.

Thanks for visiting TBR, Mac. Best of luck to you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TBR welcomes Melanie Robertson-King

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Melanie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Melanie: I’m Canadian born. My father was a Scottish national who was sent to Canada in 1930 through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. I love Scotland and all things Scottish and have traveled there many times. On one of my trips, I met Princess Anne.

TBR: Tell us about A Shadow In the Past and where it's available.
Melanie: My debut novel is entitled A Shadow in the Past. It launched at the Kansas Book Festival on September 15th. It can be purchased directly from my publisher 4RV Publishing, Barnes & Noble,, and at the following links:

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Melanie: I’ve got both for you beginning with the story blurb and a short excerpt from chapter 3.

When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret.
Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, confronts them head on and suffers the consequences.
When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Excerpt from Chapter 3:
When Sarah’s eyes flickered open, the young girl and her wrecked car were nowhere to be seen. Instead of the asphalt surface of Kendonald Road, Sarah lay sprawled out on a narrow gravel lane.
Sarah’s chest felt like the family’s herd of cows sat on it and she gasped for air. Stones gouged her elbows as she tried to prop herself up.
Using her last ounce of strength, Sarah hauled herself to her feet. Her head throbbed as if it were about to explode, and something wet and sticky ran down the back of her neck. Dirt and blood covered her rugby shirt and jeans, and her trainers were gone. Sharp gravel bit into her stocking feet as she staggered, trying not to fall. Sarah was surprised she was able to stand. She was certain the impact with the car had broken her legs and maybe even her back.
She wiped her hands on her shirt and cried out in pain. Dirt and blood covered her palms, and her knees felt like they’d been scraped with sandpaper. Her chest hurt with every breath, and she wondered if her ribs were broken. Where were the terrified driver and her wrecked car? They seemed to have vanished into the mist.
Sarah barely made out a faint light shining in the distance, and she stumbled toward it, thinking it was the yard light near her father’s barn. She clapped her hands over her ears in an attempt to block out the incessant ringing, but it didn’t work. Taking those pills had been a huge mistake. No matter how badly she wanted to hurt Blair and Niamh, she realized that she didn’t want to die. She couldn’t do that to her family.
Sarah blinked and stared at one of the ghostly trees lining the roadway. The trunk expanded and contracted before her eyes as if it were breathing. A gust of wind rasped through the branches and a sudden cry of a long-eared owl made her jump. Shivering, Sarah crossed her arms and rubbed, but pain shot all the way down to her fingertips, forcing her to stop.
At the narrow stone bridge, she stopped and rested. As she stood there trying to catch her breath, the bridge began to vibrate and black smoke filled the air. A shrill whistle pierced the silence, drowning out the ringing in her ears. Sarah wheeled around and gasped. Off in the distance she saw the tiny speck of a headlight. It grew larger and brighter as the train drew closer and thundered beneath the bridge. Sarah watched the disappearing train and tried to understand what she had seen. There was no railway line near her house, only a flat dirt trail leading to the village.
Soon the smell of freshly cut hay, manure, and farm animals replaced the lingering aroma of the train’s oily coal smoke. If the barn was this close, she was almost home. Drawing closer, she heard the sounds of hooves pawing at stall floors and horses snorting. Her parents did not own horses. Beef cattle, sheep, and a few barn cats were the only livestock on their farm.
Confused, Sarah stumbled away from the barn and turned to face a sprawling three-storey building. It looked like Weetshill but it couldn’t be. The Weetshill mansion Sarah knew had no roof, and trees grew within the confines of its crumbling walls. The slate roof of this building shone in the moonlight as if it had been installed yesterday, and glass sparkled in enormous windows that should have been gaping, dark holes.
Sarah touched the heavy oak door and jerked her hand back as though she’d burnt it. She reached for a thick cord hanging from a bell by the door, but her head began to spin and she lost consciousness.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Melanie: Years ago, I loved watching Doctor Who and watched many an episode of Star Trek, so the time travel seed was well and truly planted from a long time ago. More recently, I discovered the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon and the time-travel seed germinated and sprouted.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Melanie: I do a bit of both. I need to know how the story will end before I start and usually write the ending first. It’s an adventure getting there, especially when the characters decide they’re taking over and have to be reigned in… or not.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Melanie: I take the qualities, appearance from people I know and admire, put them into a blender to create a composite of a number of people for each character. The hero and heroine in my novel – their appearance – came from an old photograph.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Melanie: Of all my characters, the one I would least like to invite to dinner would be Horatio Christie. He’s an arrogant, blustering galoot and an interesting character but definitely not my idea of an ideal house guest.

TBR: What's next for you?
Melanie: My next project will be the sequel to A Shadow in the Past. Originally, it was part 2 of my novel but I decided it could stand on its own merits.

TBR: Any other published works?
Melanie: I’ve had a number of non-fiction articles published here in Canada but have also been published in the US and the UK. My short story “Cole’s Notes” is under contract to Carrick Publishing for their cross-genre anthology.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Melanie: My biggest challenge has been the distance between where I live and Scotland where I set my novel. Luckily I’ve traveled there and have loads of photographs of the specific area. The most rewarding has been holding my finished novel in my hands.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Melanie: I read a variety of genres, no one favorite though. I mentioned Diana Gabaldon earlier so her and her series, Stephen King, Stuart MacBride, and my friend (and 2009 Dundee Book Prize winner) Chris Longmuir, Janice Horton, Juliette Sobanet, and Harper Lee (I loved To Kill a Mockingbird).

I’m currently reading The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Melanie:  I have a website and blog and am active on social media as well. My readers can find me on any of these links:

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Melanie. All the best to you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Blitz: Phantom by Laura DeLuca

by Laura DeLuca

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.
Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.
Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.


The orchestra tuned for its virtuoso, and Justyn stood ready. But no one else was ready for the magical performance he began. Beside her, Carmen was rambling on about something mundane. Rebecca elbowed her to silence so she could listen to the perfectly thrilling tenor. As she listened to the song unfold, the world around her started to slip away. Gone was the high school auditorium. Gone were the rowdy teenagers. The Gothic stranger on the stage had become the embodiment of Erik, and Rebecca watched him in all his dark glory, belting out his tormented love through the words of his song. And she was as breathless with wonder as Christine herself must have been when the masked stranger serenaded her in the candlelit labyrinth of the opera house. In that moment, Justyn wasn’t just portraying the phantom. Justyn was the phantom.
                                               “Let the music touch your soul.
                                                 Let the darkness make you whole.
                                                 Do not fear what is unknown.
                                                 Your true path has now been shown.
                                                 Listen to the words I sing.
                                                 Embrace the peace that night will bring.”
As he continued to sing in his deep but somehow angelic voice, Rebecca found that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. With every line, her heart began to beat faster.  She truly felt the arms of night wrapping her in a warm embrace. She could almost feel the hands of the phantom glide along her body as the words poured forth. The music caressed her. It possessed her—mind, body and soul. Each word left her longing, yearning for more.
She was gawking so obviously, it was hardly surprising when Justyn felt her eyes on him and steadily met her gaze. She realized her mouth was hanging open in stunned awe, and she quickly snapped it shut. His lips moved into just a small hint of a smile. He never took his eyes off her while he sang the final verse, making her cheeks flush to the point that she felt almost feverish. But it wasn’t embarrassment but excitement, arousal even, which was sending her mind spinning in so many directions.
When the song was over, and Rebecca had recovered just a hint of her composure, she couldn’t help but burst into a healthy round of applause. A few scattered people joined in, including Debbie and Carmen after she nudged them in the ribs. But only Miss King seemed to truly appreciate the brilliance of his talent as much as Rebecca did.
 “That was amazing, Justyn!” the teacher gushed.
 “Lord Justyn,” he corrected as he stepped down from the stage.
A few others complimented him as well, but he took in all in stride. In fact, his serious expression never faltered as he stepped down from the stage. He seemed almost bored, like it was all he could do to hold back a yawn, despite the smiles and words of encouragement.
But not everyone in the crowd was pleased as Justyn glided down the aisle, so ethereal in his dark garments that he still resonated the spirit of the Opera Ghost. Miss King might have been excited about the newest male addition to her cast after being limited for many years, but Tom and his group of boisterous companions glared at him as he passed them by.  Jay sneered and tossed a balled up piece of paper in Justyn’s direction, but the Goth was quick, and caught it in his hand without missing a beat.
 “I think you dropped something,” he said.
His speaking voice was no less melodic than his singing voice, but something about his tone made Rebecca shiver. He tossed the paper back at Jay, who was nowhere near as coordinated as Justyn. He practically fell off his seat in his efforts to catch it.
 “Hey vampire,” Tom called when Justyn went to walk away. “Are you sure you can handle the competition?”
Justyn smiled, a cool, sarcastic half-smile, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you?”
Miss King didn’t notice the short confrontation, and Justyn vanished from the auditorium as quickly and mysteriously as he had appeared. Only Rebecca had noticed the very real tension between the two boys. She wondered if it was a bad omen for them to start off the production with hard feelings and envy. That could only lead to trouble. The kind of trouble that could end with someone getting hurt.  The kind of trouble that Rebecca would do whatever it took to avoid.

About the Author

Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart.  In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years.  Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan and Player.