Saturday, October 31, 2015

Savvy Saturday with Olga Godim and Guest

Today for Savvy Saturday we welcome Ogla Godim and a character from her book Almost Adept. Olga writes fantasy novels, and has another award-winning book, Eagle En Garde, published with Champagne Books. When Olga isn't writing novels, she writes for a local newspaper in Vancouver and collects toy monkeys. For more on Olga and her work, why not check out her website at In the meantime, lets get this interview started!

Olga, you are a wonderful fantasy author and we know that your fans are jumping to see whom you have brought with you today.

Thank you, Kylee, for inviting me. I’m not sure anyone is really jumping but maybe someone is fidgeting a bit, impatient to learn more about Eriale.

Can you tell us a little about Eriale?

Eriale is the heroine from my novel Almost Adept. She seventeen, but she is a very powerful mage. Magic defines her. Unfortunately, she is awkward in social situations, has no real world experience, and no close friends. All her life, she was sheltered and loved by her family. She dedicated all her time to studying magic and reading books. She was a progeny, nurtured by her mentor and spoiled by her parents. Now, she is thrust into the real world, among real people. It is a challenge for her.

Her appearance: short, slim, with long dark hair and light gray eyes. I tried to find an image of Eriale in classical paintings. When that failed, I wanted to find a modern actress who would fit Eriale’s portrait in my mind. That didn’t work either, but eventually I found her on

This picture is by Esmira, a talented Russian artist, and it comes the closest to how I see Eriale, even though the artist’s probably never heard of me or my story. Eriale is pictured with a pony, which is another coincidence. I have a short story about Eriale and a pony, a sort of a prequel to the novel. I wrote it before the novel. The story is currently available for free at:

Eriale, what is it like in the world you come from?

I live in the kingdom of Varelia. It’s beautiful, all green, although our kingdom is smaller than many others, and we don’t have access to the sea. We’re in the middle of the continent.

My brother-in-law, King Axelor, is a popular king. The commoners love him; I heard it myself when I sneaked to the marketplace last year. People said that our laws are reasonable and our roads are safe. Of course, they complained about taxes, but who doesn’t?

I’m not a princess, although many courtiers call me ‘Your Highness.’ Axelor’s wife, Queen Tamara, is my half-sister; we have the same father but different mothers, and Tamara is only the queen because she married Axelor. She is much older than I and rather stuffy, always criticizing me. I like Axelor much better.

Another important thing about our world—we have magic. I’m a mage, and so is my father. People in our world use magic for everything: weather adjustment, harvest enrichment, communication, honesty control in gaming houses and in court, building inspections. Father does lots of that for the crown—he is Tamara and Axelor’’s personal mage. He wants to retire and concentrate on his magical school, so he wants me to apply for the Adept license as soon as possible. When I get it, I’ll replace him as the crown’s magician. Tamara wants it too. She thinks she would be able to control me better that way, but I don’t think so. Anyway, I’ll apply for the Adept license when I return home from my current trip.

So, today we will ask some random get-to-know-you questions, and you, Eriale, just have to answer. Sound good?

Yes, sounds interesting. I haven’t been interviewed before. Ask your questions, Kylee.

Good, let’s begin. What motivates you to work hard?

Magic doesn’t tolerate laziness. If I didn’t work hard I wouldn’t be able to control my magic. At my level—the Adept level—that could be a disaster. Besides, I want to earn my father’s trust and respect. His regard is very important to me.

Recently he asked me to do some investigation for the magical guild—he is the guild leader. It’s all hush-hush, I can’t tell you the details, but I had to travel to Grumesh, where things got complicated. You can read this entire story in the book. I became embroidered in Grumesh freedom fighting and I met the most wonderful man, Kealan. Then I discovered a blood mage in Grumesh and had to challenge him to duel. As an Adept, I was the only one who had a chance to defeat him. Blood magic is a rotten business and it can’t be allowed to twist people’s lives. I hope my father will approve of my actions.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

Experiment with magic without danger or distractions. Free-flowing magic, so to speak. I want to create a new spell. Like legendary mages of the past, I want to be the first one to describe a spell. I guess, I’m ambitious that way, but magic brings me so much joy. I want to give the joy back to the world.

What are your hobbies?

I don’t have hobbies—I’ve been too busy all my life. I started learning magic when I was four or five. It takes a lot of time to master the craft of magic, especially as strong as mine. And then I had to have a general education, like any other young lady from a noble family.

When I don’t study and don’t work magic, I read. I like mystery novels. I always think: how could this mystery be solved with magic? More often than not, I do find a solution. I should make a suggestion to the militia to employ mages as crime investigators.

I also like myths and legends. Some of them could be true, while others are a complete fabrication, and I like to separate one from the other. For example, some elven legends talk about another race—Letuns, the winged elves. Nobody has seen a Letun for at least a millennium, but every elf I’ve ever talked to says they exist. Maybe. Somewhere.

On the other end of this scale is a famous saga about a dragon-shifter. He could turn into a human and back at will and he loved a human girl. It’s a beautiful story but it’s definitely fantasy. No mage could repeatedly turn a man into a dragon and back, not even himself. The transformation spell is brutal and requires tons of magical power. Trust me, I know. I practiced this spell on spiders and mice. All the stories of shape-shifters—dragons or wolves or whatever—are just that: stories. No scientific descriptions and no chronicles ever mention one real case of a shape-shifter. The same with vampires—dozens of tales but not one proof that they exist.

Dragons are real though, even if I’ve never seen one. We don’t have dragons here. They live on another continent and they can’t cross the ocean, but sailors sometimes bring their scales or claws as souvenirs. Once they brought a mummified head of a dragon, and it traveled with a freak show. I saw it. It was disgusting. I’d like to see a living dragon. Maybe I should sail to their land. I know dragons have magic, at least some breeds of them do, and I wonder what I could do with their magic. Maybe I could talk to them.

What are your favorite childhood memories?

My magic manifested when I was three. At first, my dad had to be with me always, to control my magic; I was too young to do it myself. I loved traveling with him. Together, we would visit some clients of his. It was before Tamara became Queen. He would discuss a job with a client, and I would play with magical toys on the floor, at his feet. I loved such trips.

Later, when I learned to control my magic, I experimented a lot, tested my limits. Once, when I was about nine, I made my mom’s ball gowns dance by themselves, and I danced with them. We had a ball in my mother’s closet: the gowns and I. We danced a polka. It was tremendous fun, but my mom panicked when she saw it. Of course, dad grounded me. Eventually, I learned the most important lesson: I should never use my magic for pranks or practical jokes. My magic is too strong for that.

And finally, a little bit of a funny question: if you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be? And why?

Probably a ferret. Like a ferret, I’m small and skinny, with long hair. Like a ferret, I need to eat a lot. Magic burns energy. As I work magic all the time I constantly need to replenish my energy; I’m always hungry. And like a ferret, I’m smart and fast, at least with my magic.

Thank you for coming out today Eriale, and you as well Olga.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Publisher's Choice: The Piano Room

The Piano Room
Harry Hindes
$5.99 eBook
$14.95 Print

Available on:
Champagne Store
Barnes & Noble

A lovely co-ed is dragged into a police investigation of the ‘Vlad the Impaler’ serial killings. But even after a public arrest, Vlad is still out there and he has her in his sights.

The last thing that Lucy Aybrams, a carefree Californian undergraduate at Oxford University sees, before quicklime sears her corneas, is a human anklebone swinging from the fallen roof of a road-protest tunnel in the English countryside.

Infatuated with Dastra, the shy detective assigned to her, she skilfully seduces him, but when he is arrested with an impaled victim in his car and his DNA everywhere, Lucy’s world collapses. To Brian Shackerstone, the senior detective, it is an open and shut case. To Lucy, Dastra is the wrongly convicted father of her unborn child.

Convicted of the “Vlad the Impaler” murders, Dastra is freed on a legal technicality and the people of Britain fear the murderer is free to kill again. When police misconstrue a copycat Manson murder as gangland revenge, there are no obstacles to Vlad filming the ultimate snuff movie in the piano room of Dastra’s remote country mansion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saavy Saturday with Holly Hunt and a Special Guest

Image courtesy of nenetus at
Holly Hunt is the marvelous author of three Champagne Books: The Tyrant of Tarsit, The Devil's Wife, and Scale and Feather. She also writes more fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and horror when she has a moment. Today, Holly has joined us with a guest she says is from the land of Tarsit, and who may put a spell on you!

Hello Holly! We are happy to see you here.

HH: Heya! It's marvelous to be here on… your blog! These are some mighty-comfy seats, and I adore the art on the wall behind you. Is that meant to be a fish or a boat! Ooh, cookies!

And who is that handsome gentleman you have with you?

MA: Good afternoon, my dear. My name is Malcolm.

Welcome Malcolm, the ladies are happy to eat—whoops—meet you.

It is wonderful to meet them too. I can see a couple of beauties out there in the audience that I would love to… How did you put it? 'Eat'. But I feel my wife would have something to say about thatif she ever found out.

So why don’t we satisfy their curiosity and have you answer a few questions?

Questions? Very well. Seven inches.

That's not what you were going to ask? You mean, you didn't want to know how large my biggest flask is? Oh dear.

Well, in that case, you'd better ask away. Wouldn't want to keep the ladies waiting. *Winks at the audience

Perfect! Lets go before they melt. Question number one: What's the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

Seek out an immortality potion to ensure I'm alive long enough to discover my wife and perform a little magic to make sure she finds me. When she's ready of course.

What is one thing you will never do again?

Seek out an immortality potion to ensure I'm alive long enough to discover my wife and perform a little magic… *Laughs

Don't print that. She'll kill me.

I have many regrets in my life, generally found in the course of discovering the easiest ways to blow myself up, over and over again.

But the one thing, the very one thing, I will never do again? Put my wife in danger in the hopes of saving my own skin. I was a coward, I'll admit that, and I learned my lesson when I thought I'd killed her. I will never do it again.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

"Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear." I've always liked that saying, and believe it is a very apt description of myself.

But then, it's really up to you to decide if you should listen to me about this.

Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?

Hearing. Good luck sneaking up on me, I have ears sharper than a cat.

Holly places a hand on his shoulder. Malcolm jumps as Holly laughs.

Oh shut up, Holly. Fine, my best sense is my sense of smell. I don't like to brag about itwho wants to be in a room full of unwashed men and brag that they can smell every sweaty pore on their peers' bodies? It's a terrible imagelet alone the actual smell!

One more question, although we will be sad to see you go. How would your friends describe you?

Wait, me? Friends? Lady, I think you have your Malcolm's crossed. I have only one friend, and he tried to kill my wife. I'm sure he'd describe me as a good-for-nothing turncoat, with an enchantment over me, brought on by the Sorcerer of Arnhid. *Shakes head.* Fool, he is.

Malcolm, it has been fantastic chatting with you.

I'm sure. Don't be a stranger at Tarsit Castle, my dear. We have a few rooms you might find… exciting. And I may have a few spells you'd enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Publisher's Choice: Tainted Glass

Tainted Glass
Brian Carufe
$3.95 eBook
$13.95 Print
Science Fiction/Fantasy

Available on:
Champagne Book Store
Barnes & Noble

Before Prince Charming, before the seven dwarves, there was William.

When Prince William’s father is murdered before his eyes, he thinks his miseries could never be worse. He’s wrong. Helped by Anna, his queen and love of his life, he struggles with a dark side he always knew existed, made worse with the tragic consequences of his daughter’s birth, the princess Snow White. Through the malice of a spurned love, and the scheming of rivals that covet his throne, William finds himself the victim of a curse that condemns him to live out his remaining days as the magic mirror of lore. With his daughter’s life hanging in the balance, William must save her the only way he can: engaging in a game of wits with the cunning and manipulative woman who imprisoned him behind the glass.

But is Snow White worth saving at all?

Publisher's Choice: Wake Up Call

Wake Up Call
Linda Rettstatt
eBook $4.99
Print $14.95

Available on:
Champagne Book Store
Barnes & Noble

Social worker Candace Hudson wants a baby; cattle rancher Griff Calhoun needs a consultant. Neither one suspects that their collaboration will give them both the wake-up call they need.


Candace Hudson slapped at the alarm clock, but the annoying noise continued. Remembering the wake-up call she had requested, she groaned and fumbled for the phone. “Thank you.”

A deep chuckle hummed in her ear. “Well, darlin’, you’re welcome.”

She jerked upright. The room swayed and her head pounded. “Who is this?”

“You knew my name last night, as I recall.”

She shivered and clutched the sheet around her naked body. I’m naked? I don’t sleep in the nude. Last night was fuzzy. She had attended the service awards dinner for the Kids World Summit where she had shared a table with five other people. Three women and the computer geek from California. No, he didn’t have a drawl. The only other man at the table was from Texas. What the hell was his name? He wore boots and a cowboy hat—a walking cliché. No one could have been more out of place. Name, name, name. She squeezed her eyes shut and tapped a finger to her forehead. Her breathing quickened.

She exhaled slowly. “I don’t know who you are, or what you’re trying to do, but….”

“Candy? You don’t remember. You downed a few glasses of wine, but not that much. I think that Randall fella got to you. I don’t know what he did to piss you off, but remind me to never do that. Maybe I should come back up there and refresh your memory.”

“No! Don’t come up here. And don’t call me Candy.”

An image flashed: Someone removing her clothing and placing her on the bed. She shuddered. What happened to me last night?

The Texas drawl pulled her back. “Okay then, how about lunch? Maybe seein’ me will jumpstart your memory.”

“I…I’m hanging up now.” She slammed down the phone as her stomach convulsed. She tossed back the covers and pulled on the robe draped over a chair. In the bathroom, she looked in the mirror. Her smudged eye makeup gave her a raccoon-on-the-morning-after look. Honey-blonde hair spiked out wildly from her head, and her lips were swollen. An oval bruise glared from her neck. What the hell have I done? And who did I do it with?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Savvy Saturday with Veronica Helen Hart and Taylor Female 8635

For Savvy Saturday we are going to shake things up with Veronica Helen Hart and a character from her book Silent Autumn. Hart is the much loved author of the Blenders series, and now this science fiction romance. Her books are sure to please any reader, and we are very excited to have her character with us today.

Hello Veronica! And who is this lovely woman sitting with you?

I’m honored to introduce Taylor Female 8635 who comes to us from the year 2179. (I’ve told her story in Silent Autumn, from Champagne Books.)You’ll have to forgive her if she seems a little disoriented; she’s just been blown out of a helicopter in a vicious attempt to take her life and that of her mate, Max, and their baby, Acorn.

It’s a pleasure to meet you! Please, Taylor, tell us a little about yourself and how you got here.

It’s exciting to be here. These past several months have been such a change for me, I hardly know where to begin. In my life in The North, I was a chemist, specializing in cosmetics for women. You see, my country’s leaders believed we were getting back on track with our population and could now begin reproducing in the old fashioned way instead of using AI. Women would have to start attracting men on their own. But, in that life, I had no idea of the true history of our country. It was only when Max found me in that little charging station in the countryside and we fled The North together did I realize the whole world didn’t live as we did. I didn’t realize our food was automatically medicated to reduce our libidos to nearly zero! After a few weeks in the wilderness, let me tell you, being around Max was the most exciting and stimulating thing I’d ever experienced.

I’m sure your adoring fans would like to get to know you a little more, so are you up to answering some questions?
Questions are good.

Good! First up, what makes you laugh the most?

Seeing Acorn laugh and giggle. I’ve never experienced the life of a child before. When we first got her, I feared she would starve to death. But on our journey with our message to The West, there were so many kind people who helped us. Though her life was in danger much of the time, once she began receiving real food, she perked up. At three or four months she began to smile at me. By then my medications had worn off and I was able to experience the tingle of joy in my heart and laugh for the first time.

Of course, Max is funny, too, but those moments are too personal. I find myself blushing when I recall our first sexual encounters.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Definitely fresh foods from a garden. I got to experience those in The South for the first time and only then was I able to savor the difference in the fragrance and flavors of a variety of vegetables. I’d say a medley of vegetables finished off with a blackberry liqueur.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?

From what little history I’ve learned from Max, it sounds like the post WWII years were fascinating. I think I’d like to try the 1950’s, but not for long. From what Max tells me every century, every decade had its troubles. Right now, we have to find a place in the world for ourselves.

List two pet peeves.

There were two societies we encountered on our journey that taught me the meaning of prejudice. The Cave People who live in the old coal mining regions were the worst when it came to treatment of women. That’s where we got Acorn. Her mother had mated with an outsider and she feared for her life. She wanted Acorn to have a life of freedom and education. I certainly didn’t want her at first, but it didn’t take long for me to learn to love her.

The other was when we were in the south and came across Archie and Jason living in a cabin in the woods all by themselves. They were partners, like mates, except they couldn’t reproduce, so they had to flee The North. The good people of The South were happy to have them. And that’s another thing, apparently following The Devastation in 2077, the leaders decided to separate the few survivors into colors. If you recall the population of the old United States was just under four hundred million. After the accident, it was about 40 million. Brown skinned people got The South, fair skinned ones, The North and everybody else, The West. Except when we arrived in The West, nothing was as we were told.

And finally, what's the most daring thing you've ever done?

Perhaps trusting Max and leaving that little country store with him. Prior to that, I was like an automaton, doing my job day in and day out. It was a huge risk, one I wasn’t convinced I wanted to take.

It was great to have you with us today, and thanks Veronica for making this all possible.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Interview with the Characters of KM Tolan

The author KM Tolan writes many amazing fantasy and sci-fi stories with memorable characters. Fans of his books may wonder, what would happen if these characters met? Well their curiosity is
soon to be satisfied because today we welcome the many characters of Tolan for a rousing interview.

Hello KM, how are you today? 

“Fine, uh (gets bumped aside by a dark muscular six-foot-three redhead with claws) doing ok if I can just (nearly steps on a diminutive fellow with skin the color of green olives) find a seat here…ah, thanks Vincent” (lanky dark haired young man in long brown leather coat shows KM to his seat).

Tell us, which characters are joining the interview, and what books are they from?

KM nods. “Well, sitting to my right here is Mikial Haran, a Dathia Qurl from my Dancer series. (She waves). She’s seventeen at this point, a young soldier as you can see by her black-and-red uniform, and earning a reputation as a really good fighter. First in her class, actually.”

“I’d rather be out dancing.” Mikial huffs, folding her arms.

“You’d rather be out with the first male you could run down,” quips the white-haired sprite sitting next to her in a blue dress.

KM nods toward the newest speaker. “This is Paleen Chimmer. She’s Ipper Qurl, as evidenced by the slight build and long ear fans. She’s Mikial’s best friend, and is also from the same series. Her biological specialty has to do with communications and swimming, though one might argue that mischief is another aspect of her sect.”

KM gestures to the two on his left. “Here we have two characters from Waiting Weapon, Richard Pinn and Jamie Brinnwall. You can see they’re also not human, thought they were raised by our race. Both are Me’Aukin, which explains their greenish complexions and large eyes. Trust me, they might look like two innocents, but they’re not by a long shot. Dr. Pinn, the one in the business suit, is a noted archeologist.  He’s heading back to Me’Auk to investigate why he and Jamie were left behind by his vanished race as cryogenically preserved embryos.”

“Good luck with the ghosts,” Jamie chimes in with a snide look at Rick.

(KM clears throat) "Jamie is the daughter of Me’Auk’s would-be governor when the planet is opened for colonization. As you can see, she’s more into jeans and t-shirts. And attitude.”

Rick stares at Jamie. “What ghosts?”

“I don’t think they like each other very much,” Paleen pipes up despite Mikial trying to shush her.

KM glances at Paleen and continues. “Finally, next to our two Me’Aukins we have Vincent Maloney, raised in Illinois and currently…Vincent, can you explain where you are?”

Vincent shakes his head and taps at a bubbling blue tea pot before him on the table. “Try her.”

A whoosh of steam from the pot coalesces into the upper body of an elfin-faced young lady with a top hat and Victorian lace collar. “He’s in Hobohemia right now,” the apparition supplies in a whispery hiss.

“Thanks, Freedom,” KM replies.  “For those wondering, she is one of Hobohemia’s steam children, or ‘riders’ as the Hobos call them. Vincent is on his way to becoming a gandy dancer who can call the living rails. Both of these folks herald from Tracks."

“Which nobody will explain to me, either,” Vincent grumbles.

“In time,” Freedom breezes. “Got to get you over to Red Socks to get trained up, remember?”

Guys, we are going to ask you some questions and hopefully you will have an answer. What do you think?

Mikial folds her arms and glances at the host as if wishing to be elsewhere. Paleen rubs her hands in anticipation while Rick nods. Vincent simply shrugs. Jamie rolls her eyes and gets into a staring contest with Freedom.

Alright, here we go! What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

“Cuteness,” Mikial volunteers with a snicker, eyeing Paleen.

“Hey!” Paleen sniffs. “How about discipline, you over-conditioned Dathia.” Bats at Mikial’s shoulder.

“Ambition,” Jamie speaks up, her expression clouding. “Just gets people in trouble…if not outright killed.”

Rick sighs. “Can I have another seat?”

“Wasn’t talking about you,” Jamie mutters.

“Friendship can get you in trouble, too,” Freedom adds with a bubbly rumble.

“Or family,” Vincent joins in sourly.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“No man wants me,” Paleen snickers, grinning Mikial’s way.
“I will kill you,” Mikial replies in a syrupy voice, waving extended claws.
“She says that a lot, too.”
Mikial bares her canines. “How about…they’ll never catch us. Or…I’ll love him forever. Rings up any memories, Ipper girl?”
Paleen sticks her tongue out.

Freedom blows out a few puffs with a sheepish look. “I probably say you’re silly too much, don’t I, Vincent?”
Vincent raises his eyes. “You? Little Miss I-Know-Everything? Just don’t forget who’s the one holding your Hobo nickel.”
“Didn’t say you could keep it,” Freedom huffs.

“How bout’…Can’t wait until I see you again?” Rick offers dryly, eyeing Jamie.
She returns a long middle index finger.

Where would you most like to live?

“With the clans,” Jamie replies with a wistful sigh.
“Tried that when you stole the freighter,” Rick chuckles. “How’d that work for you?”
“Which is about all I’m going to take.” Jamie leaves her seat and stands on the other side of Vincent. “At least I don’t pretend to be human…Richard.”
“Thought we had problems,” Freedom remarks.
“Mind your own business, steam puff,” Jamie warns. “We’re a hell of a lot more real than you’ll ever be.”
“Jamie, she’s Fantasy,” Rick interrupts. “Just let it go, will you?” He regards the host. “I’m fine studying on Me’Auk.”
Jamie responds with a serrated grin. “You won’t be for long.”

“I like where I am,” Freedom breaks in, with a diplomatic smile. “There is no place I’d rather be than riding the rails.” She floats in front of Vincent. “Got that?.”
“Got what?” he responds. “Look, steamy, I’m just visiting. Getting my sister out from under some crazy Rail Baron and taking her back to Illinois.”
“You’re in Illinois,” Freedom says with a smirk. “Just not your Illinois.”
Vincent looks hopelessly at their host. “See what I mean about knowing it all?”

What is your motto?

“Rest in the arms of the Datha,” Mikial replies confidently.
Itsa, are you conditioned,” Paleen moans.

“Just leave me alone,” both Rick and Jamie say in perfect unison before exchanging surprised looks.
“Stop that!” Jamie snaps.

“Sounds like a good enough motto to me,” Vincent adds with a nod to his left and right.
“You’re all hopeless,” Freedom retorts. “My name is motto enough.”
“So says the steam child with not a care in her life,” Vincent throws in.
“Wouldn’t say that, either,” Freedom responds, her gray swirls darkening.

What do you most value in your friends?

“They’re there when I need them,” Mikial says, cutting off what looked to be a clever riposte from the Ipper beside her.
“We’re like that,” Paleen says, giving Mikial’s cheek a quick peck. “Of course I’ll be there.”
KM looks away from the two with a grimace.

Vincent taps at the table. “Friends? I’ll let you know when I find some.” 
“I’ll let you know, too,” Freedom assures.

Both Rick and Jamie simply glare at each other.

Last question, if all of you were stranded on a desert island with no escape in sight, what would you do and who would be the last man/woman standing?

Everyone looks uneasily over at Mikial.
“What?” she blurts out. “Look, I didn’t ask to be Dathia, ok? Not like I had a choice.”

Thank you all for coming out to join us!

Don’t forget to check out these characters and more in KM Tolan’s books.

A Wicked Truth by Joyce Proell review by LASR

A Wicked Truth by Joyce Proell

A Wicked Truth by Joyce Proell
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (305 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy
The wedding date is set, and life is magical for Doyle Flanagan and Cady Delafield. Then, honor bound to repay an old debt, Doyle agrees to help an old friend find her sister. As he searches for the girl, painful memories surface, stunning Cady when she discovers facts about Doyle’s hidden past.
Now mired in tragedy, can they overcome the turmoil with a fateful decision that changes their future forever?
Looking for an interesting historical mystery with a side of sweet romance? This is definitely the book for you.
I’ve not read the other books in this series, but didn’t have trouble following the story. I do think I would have had a much richer experience if had already been acquainted with these characters, but I still very much enjoyed what I read.
Cady and Doyle are a deeply devoted couple, engaged when we meet them and obviously utterly smitten with one another. However, secrets surface and problems arise that affect their relationship so all is not roses and sweetness.
There is a very light inspirational tone to this story, but nothing terribly overt or preachy, meaning I think this would appeal to all who enjoy the historical romance/mystery genre. And, honestly, it was quite refreshing to read a book that was all about the story and less about how many ways can we get the couple into bed.
The mystery is about white slavery of a sort, and a prostitution ring. The villains are horrible and my heart broke for the first victim we meet, right at the start. The author’s voice and ability is clear and descriptive, and I felt as if I was right in the room with her. My hands ached to help her and it definitely set up the story in a strong manner.
There were a few places where the story is a bit draggy. After that incredibly intense prologue, we meet Cady and Doyle and while it was wonderful to see them and, of course, we readers need the introduction, it rather put the brakes on the forward movement. The first chapter or two were a bit slow, but once the investigation really started, things got moving again and it was all about turning pages to see what happens.
The author has a rich appreciation for the time and her voice is clear and interesting. She is very good at putting the reader right into the story as opposed to “telling” it, and while this was the first of her books I’ve read, it likely won’t be the last.
Again, fans of historical mysteries with a taste of romance should enjoy this book immensely. Definitely recommended!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Publisher's Choice: A Yankee's Embrace

A Yankee's Embrace
eBook $4.95
Historical/Erotica Romance

For sale at:
Barnes & Noble
Champagne Bookstore

Marrying the enemy can be the sweetest torture…

Hannah Dawson never expected to be attacked by Yankee deserter’s where she lives in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains…but she never imagined she’d be forced to marry the Yankee officer that saves her either.

When Lieutenant Lane Peterson, of the Union Army rescues a Tennessee belle and is injured in the process he is surprised when Hannah takes him in and nurses him back to health. Unable to keep his hands from exploring her tempting body, Lane finds himself in a compromising position and before he knows it he is standing as a reluctant groom for a shot-gun wedding. As soon as his wounds heal, Lane plans to head north, find the first Union Army camp he comes to and get his marriage to the Southerner annulled. But mother-nature and fate have plans of their own. Snowed in for the winter, Lane and Hannah find a passion that will not be denied North and South of the Mason Dixon Line.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Release Day!

Happy release day! We have three romantic, sexy, and amazing books for sale today, and I know you will love them. From authors Ute Carbone, Brantwijn Serrah, and JS Marlo, you will have no problem finding book for those crisp autumn days.

Sweet Auralie
A Sweet Lenora Novel
By Ute Carbone
Historical Romance
Champagne Books:

Anton and Lenora adventures carry them to Shanghai as they search for a long lost child, to New England where they confront Lenora's scheming relatives to gain a fair share of Brewer Brothers, and finally aboard the Sweet Auralie on an adventure filled voyage where they hope to break the speed record and make the ship they've build the fastest ever to sail from New England around the horn of South America to San Francisco.

As Anton and Lenora strengthen and thrive as individuals, the love they share becomes the cornerstone of a great family and a legacy that will be long remembered.

Duty Bound, 2
By JS Marlo
Romantic Suspense
Champagne Books:

Obligated to give up the man she loves, Rowan O'Reilly takes over Buccaneer Bed & Breakfast. Though her heart is in shambles, she is drawn to Avery Stone, a mysterious guest who reminds her of Bjorn…and everything she lost.

Haunted by a fatal decision, Avery escapes his past in Buccaneer's attic, but he can't ignore the previous owner's peculiar death, the strange bones exhumed by the spirited Rowan…or the annoying doctor vying for her attention.

As visitors wreak havoc on Buccaneer, Rowan stumbles onto deadly family secrets and unknowingly unearths a murderer. Yet nothing, not even the threat of her predecessor's fate, can stop her from digging for the truth.

Satin and Steel
Blood and Fire, 2
By Brantwijn Serrah
Paranormal Romance-F/F
Champagne Books:

They say love ruined her. It's time to prove them wrong.

Half a century ago, Rhiannon lost the woman she loved. Since then, unlife has held little meaning for her, and she's fallen from grace among the vampire nation. She once swore to throw herself into the sun the day Aijyn died...but it turns out she's no good at keeping promises.

Sometimes the best cure for heartache is surrender. There's a demon in London with new promises: darkness to run in, pleasures to hunt, rules to break. Sent to track down a dangerous traitor, Rhiannon is caught up in a game of murder and treachery between three warring races...and the sinful, seductive shadow-walker who could be her redemption, or her ultimate undoing.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Savvy Saturday- Interview with Liana LeFey

Joining us today for Savvy Saturday is the lovely and inspiring Liana LeFey. Liana writes historical romances and has her book To Ruin a Rake published through CBG. Her book is available through the Champagne Bookstore, Amazon, and Kobo. Liana loves to weave incendiary tales that capture the heart and the imagination, taking the reader out of the now and into another world. The glory and splendor of the early 18th Century and Regency eras provide lush, glittering backdrops for her historical romances. Sensuous lovers, passionate music, lavish royal courts and deadly intrigues are her delight!

Liana lives in Texas with her own dashing hero of nearly twenty years, their delightful progeny, one spoiled-rotten feline overlord, and several tanks of tropical fish. She’s been devouring historical romance novels since her early teens and is now delighted to be writing them for fellow enthusiasts.

Check out this interview about how Liana got started in her writing, and a little behind the scenes of her working life.

CBG: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

LeFey: When I first started writing, I was one hundred percent a pantser—meaning I wrote by the seat of my pants. I never pre-plotted anything before I started typing in earnest. My first four books were written this way before I came to the realization that although it resulted in a completed manuscript, my process was arduous and involved a lot of rework.

It makes me cringe now every time I think about how I used to shake my head when I saw other writers making storyboards, using Post-Its and index cards to carefully plot out their entire story scene by scene. I did try making a storyboard…once. The endeavor ended with a large pile of crumpled-up Post-Its, an empty bag of Godiva chocolates, and my head buried beneath a pillow. I couldn’t make it work. For me, that kind of detailed pre-planning felt awkward and unnatural. My entire being rebelled against it, yet I needed to find a way to write more efficiently.

Early this summer, I finally found the solution. If necessity is the mother of invention, then imagine what comes of desperation. A while back, my agent and I casually chatted about a book I was working on. After reading the first few chapters—all I had at the time—he talked to an editor about the project. The result was their request for a proposal and synopsis.

Yes, I said it—the “S” word. At the time, synopses were of the devil as far as I was concerned. Long had I loathed writing what I considered a glorified book report, and now I had to write one without having a complete story to summarize. I’d come up against the nightmare every pantser confronts at some point in their writing career. Imagine my quiet terror as I told my agent on Friday that I’d have it to him on Monday.

Don’t worry, I had a plan. Sort of.

Several months prior, I’d heard a group at my local RWA chapter meeting talking about a book on screenwriting called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and how it helped them improve story development and pacing. Having purchased a copy, I’d read every golden word. Twice. In its pages I’d discovered something called the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

This magical document listed all the required components of a good story in the order in which they must occur to provide the most satisfying experience for an audience—or in my case, a reader. Having tested it against all of my favorite movies according to the exercises in the book, I knew it to be accurate. Armed with this knowledge, I got the bright idea to use it as a sort of template for a synopsis. Writing three or four sentences per element, I felt it would ensure all the right pieces were included.

I tried it. Using the beat sheet, I laid out my nebulous thoughts, narrowed them down to leanness, and put them in order until it resembled a complete story. Technically, I was plotting—but it didn’t feel like it. I was answering questions. Totally different! So began my crossing over to what I then thought of as “the dark side.”

It took me half a day to write that synopsis. The ones I’d written after-the-fact for my previous releases had taken about a week each, during which I’d been reduced to incoherent sobbing at one or more points—and they were nowhere near as good. What I had in my hands when I finished this one was concise yet comprehensive.

And it worked. My agent loved it. So did the editor. I was asked to finish writing the book ASAP and submit it. Moreover, that synopsis was not the fun-sucking, restrictive cage I thought it would be. It left me plenty of room to “play” as I later fleshed it out in my manuscript. But wait, it gets better. When I sat down to write the rest of that story, it came out so much easier than anything I’d written before.

Somewhere high above, I’m pretty sure my muse was dancing from cloud to cloud singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” because I’d finally gotten it.

I finished writing and polishing what ended up being a 105,000 word manuscript in seven weeks—during the summer with my eight-year-old at home and over the course of two family trips. The week before submitting it, I was also asked to write a proposal for a new series. Again I tried the new method, and again it worked. A few weeks after that, another proposal was requested for the historical romance I’m currently working on. Same result. I was beginning to see a pattern, and I liked it. A lot. In learning how to craft a solid synopsis before writing the full manuscript, this skeptical pantser was transformed into a believing plotter.

A friend put it to me this way when I recently confessed my conversion; she said I’d really been a plotter all along—I’d just never bothered to take the story points floating around in my head and write them down in order before haring off. This wise friend also pointed out that the problem with storing it all in the little grey cells is we sometimes get tired and forget things or become distracted. Without first laying down an underlying structure to which we can refer when needed, our writing can easily wander off into the weeds, causing decreased productivity, giant plot-holes, and a great deal of frustration and rework. I know—I’ve been there.

This summer, I learned plotting doesn’t have to be a scary, complicated nightmare involving corkboards and pins, Post-Its, yarn, or color coding. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Regardless of how you do it, knowing ahead of time the next turning point to work toward in your manuscript makes a huge difference. Now at the end of a day of writing, I feel happy and relaxed. The anxiety I once suffered wondering whether I had everything covered is gone. Having conquered plotting via the no-longer-dreaded synopsis, my process has become more efficient—and writing has become even more fun!

CBG: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

LeFey: My mother read aloud to me every day when I was young. Grimm’s fairy tales, Frank Baum’s Oz books, Uncle Remus, Tolkien—anything that would hold my interest. What’s more, she “did” all the voices, which made me feel like I was in the stories. Using The Hobbit, she taught me how to read when I was about four. Every night we would settle around her, my father and I, and she would take us to Middle Earth. I followed her finger down each page line by line and learned not only how to read, but felt the power of the written word to transport the mind and touch the heart.

Shortly after we started The Fellowship of the Ring I remember thinking to myself, “This is what I want to do. I want to write books and be a storyteller.” It stuck. In school, English and creative writing were my favorite subjects, and I became a voracious reader. When books like The Catcher in the Rye and Lolita were labeled “verboten” by either my school or my parents (though the latter was a rare occurrence), I did my best to find them and secretly gobbled them up. The lesson in that? Never tell a kid he or she can’t read something!

I fell in love with the romance genre thanks to my dear friend Kim Frasier. Having run out of reading material (again), I asked her if I could borrow something from her library. Now Kim was (is still) that friend who constantly has a book in hand and about a thousand more in her shelves. At the time I was not a romance reader, so when she handed me Bertrice Small’s The Kadin, I rolled my eyes (I was fourteen). She told me to try it and then tell her what I thought. By the time I finished it, I was an addict.

I’ve written stories since kindergarten, but didn’t start thinking of publishing anything until around 1997, a year or so after marrying my own personal hero. I embarked on the writer’s journey enthusiastically thinking I would be the next Tolkien or Herbert. That particular manuscript took me three years to write and (rightly) lies entombed in eternal darkness. It was a study in frustration and insomnia. I admit I gave up.

The next several years I spent launching a career in healthcare administration, but my muse wouldn’t leave me alone. I wanted to write. In 2008 I expressed to my husband a deep desire to try again. Despite knowing what we’d both endured the first time, he was supportive. Even more surprising, when I told him I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to rewrite that piece of rubbish lurking under our bed, he said I should try something different: romance.

As you can imagine, I immediately began looking for pods and other evidence of his being a doppelganger. His reasoning behind the suggestion, however, was right there in my “keeper” shelves: row upon row of historical romances by the greats. He said I ought to be able to write one and be good at it seeing as I’d read so many and loved them so much. Sometimes, I think he knows me better than I know myself, because he was right. Since November 2012, I’ve released four historical romance novels. My latest, To Ruin a Rake, became available through Champagne Books in May of this year. I plan to write many more!

CBG: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

LeFey: I’ve finally come to the realization that I’m a research junkie. Many a time I’ve stopped writing to fact-check, only to get sucked down into history’s bottomless rabbit hole for several hours. Writing To Ruin a Rake provided a vehicle into a fascinating research topic: the development of healthcare protocols in the eighteenth century. For years now I’ve known how bullet wounds and blade-related injuries were treated in the 1700s, but digging into medicine in general during the early Georgian period was enthralling. It consumed me.

Eighteenth century ideas concerning medicine are shocking to those of us who live in this modern age of miracles. Miasma theory, bloodletting, the lack of proper handwashing—these are just to name a few. Then you have all the crackpot cures promulgated by shameless frauds, home remedies based on old wives’ tales, and every kind of medical treatment you can imagine from the ridiculous to the outright dangerous.

To Ruin a Rake is largely set in a very real facility, London’s Foundling Hospital—which was not, as you might think, an actual hospital like we have today but rather a home for the city’s unwanted children. Most were brought to its doorstep as a last resort, either by parents too poor to feed them or as orphans. But it was more than just an orphanage. Children brought to this facility were often sick and/or malnourished, requiring medical treatment—such as it was.

In Roland and Harriett’s time, disease ran rampant through London—smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis, influenza, scarlet fever, measles and a host of others. Before mankind came up with ways to treat and even vaccinate against many of these, a significant number of those who contracted these illnesses died, making sickness a thing above all to be feared. In To Ruin a Rake, we see the nascent development of what are now considered some of healthcare’s most basic protocols—protocols that in and of themselves saved countless lives.

In addition to research in medicine, I also based my characters on real historical figures of the time. The modified family history of one of the Hospital’s founders became Roland’s background, and Harriett’s family history was similarly borrowed from truth and altered to fit fiction. Anyone who thinks history is stuffy or boring should read what I did when I found inspiration for their stories. Put it this way: if Jerry Springer had a time machine, he’d have invited them to be on his show!

CBG: Do you have any advice for other writers?

LeFey: Self-discipline, perseverance, and the resolve to never stop learning are everything. You can be a creative genius but without these three things it’s unlikely your writing will ever see the light of day. I know for a certainty mine wouldn’t have!

My first romance novel was written in a complete vacuum. I wrote early mornings before my husband and child awakened, during lunch breaks at work, and late at night after everyone else was asleep. When I finally wrote “the end” I was elated—for about an hour, at which point I realized I had no idea what to do with the thing. I had zero knowledge concerning the publishing industry.

Not knowing what else to do, I looked online for information and came across the Romance Writers of America (RWA) website. Angels must have guided my search, because RWA offered exactly what I needed—writing-related resources and a network of writers, agents, and editors. I joined the national association in early 2010 and then found a local chapter in my town and joined it as well.

The phrase “if I’d known then what I know now” describes my perspective shortly after attending my first few meetings. My RWA chapter is made up of kind, generous people who freely and cheerfully offer their knowledge and expertise to those willing to learn. Had I not been mentored by some of them, I might never have become a published author. At the least, I’d have been delayed by a good decade or so. I was given invaluable information, insights, and tools to hone my writing skills. Most importantly, my chapter mates encouraged me. Never have I met a more supportive group of people.

In July 2010 I attended my first RWA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL. It was an eye-opener. I spent several days in the company of a couple thousand other writers from every walk of life and in every stage of career development. There were newbies like myself as well as veterans, and everyone was so nice that at first I wondered if I’d stumbled into an alternate reality.

To give you an idea what I’m talking about, I’ll share a personal experience from the event. My first day at nationals started out with a fifteen minute chat with a lovely woman beside me in line. No one was talking to her, so I decided to be my usual extroverted self. I introduced myself and told her I’d just finished my first manuscript and how excited I was to be at my first RWA conference. A lovely conversation followed. It wasn’t until after we parted ways that a lady on the other side of me informed me who I’d been talking to: Nora Roberts.

I nearly passed out on the spot. Talk about a facepalm moment! I had asked her what subgenres she wrote in. I had asked her how long she’d been writing. In my excitement, I had asked her everything but her name (she wasn’t wearing a badge). And yet, she’d smiled the entire time and was graciousness incarnate.

What I took away from that experience (besides a whopping dose of mortification) was the fact that Nora Roberts, queen of romance, told an unpublished nobody never to give up, that I was in the right place if I wanted to learn, improve, and achieve success—and then sincerely wished me the best of luck. So did many of the other attendees I met throughout that fabulous week, some of them authors I’ve read and loved since I was a teenager.

It was exactly the motivation I needed. If they had done it, so could I. The following July after rewriting my manuscript no less than three times based on what I learned from the sessions at nationals and my chapter mates, I attended the RWA Annual Conference in New York, NY. My intent? Find an agent and a publisher. I succeeded on both counts, and January 2012 saw me sign a three-book publishing contract. My first historical romance was released November of that year.

My story is not unique. Countless other writers have made this journey. It can be done. There are challenges, but the key is not to let any of them stop you. If being a published author is your dream, then fight for it! My first three books were written and published while I held down a full-time job, dealt with family drama worthy of daytime television, and raised a toddler even as my husband and I struggled through launching a small business. There were times I felt the only things holding me together were chocolate, determination, and the support of my RWA chapter mates.

Be self-disciplined. Set concrete goals and work toward them until they’re met. Persevere despite opposition, rejection, and a host of other frustrations and challenges. Remain willing to learn from others, keeping in mind that no matter how many of your books end up published, there will always be someone wiser and more experienced than you. Find them. Learn all you can. Above all, if possible join a professional writers association. In addition to knowledge and expertise, you’ll find support and forge friendships with others who will understand you as no one but a fellow writer can.