Friday, December 19, 2014

Random Christmas Novellas Part 2



Angel in A Book Shop by RJ Scott
Summary:
What happens when a broken man has to trust in the impossible?

Chapter One is an antique book shop and is the last tangible thing Josh and his mom have left of his dad. Nestled in a quiet square a few steps from London's St Pauls Cathedral, it is boarded up with whitewashed windows and no new stock.

The place is a sad reminder of loss and it has to go, but destroying a business that has been in his family for generations is not a role Josh is looking forward to.

Michael is the owner of Arts Desire, the shop next door. With his rainbow pride mugs and his sunny positive outlook he is the complete opposite to what Joshua thinks he needs in his life.

But, when Josh and Michael become friends, Josh learns that finding true love starts with making big decisions, and that everyone deserves their own Christmas miracle sometimes.


I fell in love with Josh from the first moment I turned on my Kindle with this one.  Michael is ever so cute too.  Loved the set up of the story and it was so perfect for a Christmas tale.  My only mild disappointment with the story was not getting to hear Josh's mom give Uncle Phil a telling off but you know she did so that's okay too.

RATING: 


Lone Star by Josh Lanyon:
Summary:
Growing up in rural Texas, Mitchell Evans' ambition to be a dancer made him a target. Though he found success in New York City, Mitch is at a crossroads, and heads home for the first time in twelve years to figure things out. When what appears to be a reindeer jumps out in front of his car, he drives off the road and into the path of the one man he hoped to avoid.

The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love. He hasn't seen Mitch since they quarreled over coming out to their friends and family years ago. Though he's not in the closet now, Web has worked hard for the respect of his fellow officers, but he still regrets the loss of Mitch in his life. And his bed.

The attraction between them is as strong as ever, and it doesn't take long for the men to pick up where they left off. But is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?


I read this one before Thanksgiving and it made a perfect beginning to my holiday reading.  I always enjoy stories when one of the main characters comes back home and is faced with past friends/enemies, especially when they come face to face at a most embarrassing time.  And that's pretty close to what happens when Mitch runs off the road when he sees what he thinks is a reindeer in the road, that's right, I said a reindeer.  A brilliant tale of Christmas bringing old loves a new chance.

RATING: 


The Working Elf Blues by Piper Vaughn
Summary:
Garnet Evergreen has never heard of an elf abandoning the North Pole for a human, but he yearns to be the first. Ever since he saw Wes, the boy with sorrowful eyes, Garnet felt an undeniable kinship. Over the years, he’s watched that boy grow into a man, and now he’s determined to give Wes a Christmas he’ll never forget. If only Garnet had thought to test his father’s sleigh before leaving…

Orphaned as a child, Wes spends every Christmas alone at his cabin. When he’s woken by a suspicious boom and finds a wrecked sleigh and an unconscious elf, he doesn’t know how to react. Wes isn’t fanciful. He doesn’t give much credence to the stories about Santa Claus and flying reindeer. But a part of him wants desperately to believe when Garnet promises forever, even if life has taught him that no one ever stays…






Baby, It's Cold by Josh Lanyon
Summary:
Or maybe it's the flu. Breaking up is hard to do -- especially around the holidays. Talk about Kitchen Nightmares! TV Chef Rocky and Foodie Blogger Jesse have been pals forever, so it should have been the most natural thing in the world to kick their relationship up a notch. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster. But Christmas is the season of love, and someone’s cooking up a sweet surprise…

Also available in the Comfort and Joy Anthology.  Click here for previous post for anthology information.


Not much I can say about poor Rocky and Jesse that won't be a spoiler.  Second chances can always be an interesting read because there are so many possibilities and revelations.  And Josh Lanyon doesn't disappoint with said possibilities and revelations.  It's all wrapped up in a snowstorm, good food, and of course a third party.

RATING: 


Author Bios:
RJ Scott
RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.
As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.
With over sixty titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.
Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


Piper Vaughn
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two thousand book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.


Josh Lanyon
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.


RJ SCOTT
EMAIL: rj@rjscott.co.uk

PIPER VAUGHN
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ANGEL IN THE BOOK SHOP
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LONE STAR
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THE WORKING ELF BLUES
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BABY, IT'S COLD
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Friday's Film Adaption: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens



Summary:
One of the best-loved and most quoted stories of “the man who invented Christmas”—English writer Charles Dickens—A Christmas Carol debuted in 1843 and has touched millions of hearts since.

Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like...and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!


Not all of Charles Dickens' work is among my reading list but A Christmas Carol is my favorite of all.  It's the best Christmas tale, in my opinion.  At the heart of the story is what so many of us tend to forget, although perhaps not to the extent as Ebenezer Scooge has, and that is that heart and kindness is more important than wealth.
“And therefore, Uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that [Christmas] has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” 
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”  
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”  
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”  
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
And I think the final quote from the book says more about why I love the book so much than any words I could come up with.
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” 
RATING: 

Films
A Christmas Carol 1938
Release dates: December 16, 1938
Running time: 69 minutes
Cast
Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge
Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit
Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Cratchit
Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim Cratchit
Barry MacKay as Fred (Scrooge's nephew)
Lynne Carver as Bess (Fred's fiancΓ©e)
Bunny Beatty as Martha Cratchit (uncredited)
June Lockhart as Belinda Cratchit (uncredited)
John O'Day as Peter Cratchit (uncredited)
Leo G. Carroll as Marley's Ghost
Ann Rutherford as Spirit of Christmas Past
Lionel Braham as Spirit of Christmas Present
D'Arcy Corrigan as Spirit of Christmas Future
Ronald Sinclair as Young Scrooge
Elvira Stevens as Fan Scrooge (uncredited)
Forrester Harvey as Old Fezzwig (uncredited)
Olaf Hytten as Schoolmaster (uncredited)
I. Stanford Jolley as Man walking on Sidewalk (extra) (uncredited)
Charles Coleman as Solicitor
Matthew Boulton as Solicitor
Clifford Severn as Boy Buying Turkey




Trailer:

RATING: 


A Christmas Carol 1951
Release dates: October 31, 1951
Running time: 86 minutes
Cast
Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge
Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber
Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit
Hermione Baddeley as Mrs. Cratchit
Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley/Marley's Ghost
George Cole as Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Glyn Dearman as Tiny Tim
John Charlesworth as Peter Cratchit
Michael Dolan as The Ghost of Christmas Past
Francis de Wolff as The Ghost of Christmas Present
C. Konarski as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Rona Anderson as Alice (in the book: Belle)
Carol Marsh as Fan Scrooge
Jack Warner as Mr. Jorkin
Brian Worth as Fred
Olga Edwardes as Fred's wife
Miles Malleson as Old Joe
Ernest Thesiger as the Undertaker
Louise Hampton as Laundress
Roddy Hughes as Fezziwig
Hattie Jacques as Mrs. Fezziwig
Peter Bull as First Businessman, Narrator
Eliot Makeham as Mr. Snedrig
Hugh Dempster as Mr. Groper
Richard Pearson as Mr. Tupper
Patrick Macnee as the young Jacob Marley
Douglas Muir as Businessman
Clifford Mollison as Samuel Wilkins
Theresa Derrington as Fred's Maid
David Hannaford as Boy Buying Goose

Trailer:

RATING: 


Scrooged 1988
A contemporary comedy based on Charles Dickens' novel "A Christmas Carol," focusing on a television executive who decides to exploit the holidays in order to boost ratings.
Release dates: November 23, 1988
Running time: 101 minutes
Cast
Bill Murray as Francis Xavier "Frank" Cross
Karen Allen as Claire Phillips
John Forsythe as Lew Hayward
John Glover as Brice Cummings
Bobcat Goldthwait as Eliot Loudermilk
David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present
Robert Mitchum as Preston Rhinelander
Nicholas Phillips as Calvin Cooley
Michael J. Pollard as Herman
Alfre Woodard as Grace Cooley
Mabel King as Gramma
John Murray as James Cross
Wendie Malick as Wendie Cross
Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Cross, Frank and James's father
Joel Murray as Guest
Cameos
Jamie Farr as Himself / Jacob Marley
Buddy Hackett as Himself / Ebenezer Scrooge
Robert Goulet as Himself
John Houseman as Himself
Lee Majors as Himself
Mary Lou Retton as Herself / Tiny Tim
Maria Riva as Mrs. Rhinelander
Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, and Paul Shaffer as street musicians

Trailer:

RATING: 


A Christmas Carol 1999
Release date: December 5, 1999
Running time: 95 minutes
Cast
Patrick Stewart - Ebenezer Scrooge
Richard E. Grant - Bob Cratchit
Joel Grey - Ghost of Christmas Past
Ian McNeice - Albert Fezziwig
Saskia Reeves - Mrs. Cratchit
Desmond Barrit - Ghost of Christmas Present
Bernard Lloyd - Jacob Marley
Dominic West - Fred
Trevor Peacock - Old Joe
Liz Smith - Mrs. Dilber
Elizabeth Spriggs - Mrs. Riggs
Kenny Doughty - Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Laura Fraser - Belle
Celia Imrie - Mrs. Bennett
Claire Slater - Martha Cratchit
Tim Potter - Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Rosie Wiggins - Fran (Scrooge's sister)
Crispin Letts - Topper Haines






Trailer:

RATING: 


There have been several versions of this Christmas classic over the years, both on the big and small screen.  I chose four of my favorites.  In my opinion, the 1951 version is the greatest of all I've seen.  The acting, the writing, and the settings are a perfect blend.  The 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart is a close second, in that I think it resembles the original piece of fiction the closest.  I have found the 1938 version to be a bit rushed but still enjoyable during the holiday season.  As for the 1988 Bill Murray version, well it's done in only the best way that Bill Murray could do, a perfect mix of hilarity and heart.  No Christmas season should pass by without at seeing at least one rendition of Dickens' classic.  No matter how much the meaning of the holiday resides in your heart, it never hurts to be reminded what Christmas is truly about.


Author Bio:
One of the grand masters of Victorian literature, Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and "slave" factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.





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FILMS
A CHRISTMAS CAROL 1938
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A CHRISTMAS CAROL 1951
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SCROOGED 1988
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A CHRISTMAS CAROL 1999
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Cover Reveal: Breaking Series by Juliana Haygert

Titles: Breaking Free, Breaking Away, & BreakingThrough
Author:  Juliana Haygert
Series:  Breaking
Word Count: 110,000(#1), 95,000(#2), TBD(#3)
Release Dates: August 2013(#1), June 2014(#2), June 2015(#3)
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Cover Designs: Najla Qamber Designs 


Breaking Free #1
Summary:
Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

***Warning: strong language, domestic violence, sex scene***



Breaking Away #2
Summary:
All Beatriz “Bia” Fernandes wants is to prove herself—to her family and friends—though it’s hard to prove anything with an overbearing father and three famous polo-playing older brothers. After her acceptance into college results in a heated family argument, the Brazilian girl leaves everything behind to find her own American dream.

College life away from home is perfect until the people she believes to be her friends turn on her. With lies and rumors threatening to suffocate her, Bia turns to her only freedom. Riding. But one thing gets in the way of her escape. Garrett Blackwell and his bad cowboy attitude. Working at the ranch is his obligation, bugging Bia is his newfound hobby. His thick skin and easy grin don't hide what Bia already knows—this misunderstood and lonely cowboy fights his own demons. Brushing horses’ coats and mucking out stalls shouldn't be this sexy, and it isn’t long before he becomes a part of her distraction.

However, escaping won’t solve her problems, and it’s up to Bia to break down the fences around her and prove her strength—not to her family and friends, but to herself … and for Garrett. Because standing on her own doesn't have to mean standing alone.
** Companion novel of Breaking Free. Can be read out of order.**

***Warning: strong language, bullying, sex scenes***


Breaking Through #3
Summary:
From the outside, Hilary Taylor has it all—beauty, money, a caring family, good friends—but inside she’s struggling, full of fears. Events from the past forever changed her, and though years of therapy have helped, she still has a long way to go…. No matter how much progress she’s made, Hil isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to trust men again. Especially one who sees her as nothing more than a pretty face. But Hil knows it's time to face her fears, and the best way to do that is to start small.

To Guilherme Fernandes life is about three things: polo, parties and pretty girls—only one of which he takes seriously. Gui is too focused on his polo career to waste time on relationships, however he can’t help but be intrigued by the beautiful yet troubled Hil. So when she decides she'd like to learn more about horses, Gui is happy to find himself in the right place at the right time. But what was supposed to be a one time thing, soon turns into a weekly date.

As Gui helps her discover a new found love for horses, Hil’s guard begins to crumble. The more support Gui offers, the more she wants to accept...and the more the lines of friendship blur. Despite knowing better, Hil can’t help it as Gui slowly breaks through the walls she’s built. Now she has to decide if she’ll stop him there, or if she’ll finally let her fear go and allow Gui to reach for her heart.

** Companion novel of Breaking Free and Breaking Away. Can be read out of order.**

***Warning: strong language, sex scene, mentions of rape and domestic violence***




Author Bio:
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting--but equally gratifying--life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Co-founder and contributor at NA Alley 


FACEBOOK  /  TWITTER  /  WEBSITE



Breaking Free
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Breaking Away
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Breaking Through



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Spark Rising by Kate Corcino

Title: Spark Rising
Author: Kate Corcino 
Series: The Progenitor Saga
Publication date: December 15th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

Summary:
All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.

Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.

Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.

Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.

The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

***CONTENT WARNING: This book contains occasional violence and profanity, and includes depictions of a determined double agent doing his job and an empowered young woman making coming-of-age decisions. These include sexual interactions. Spark Rising is not intended for readers under the age of 16***


In Spark Rising, Lena Gracey trusts the wrong man to keep her family safe, and it costs her freedom. In custody, she tries to stay one step ahead of the Agents determined to learn what they can about her rare power. When her mother is brought in as a means to control her, Lena will do whatever it takes to keep her safe, and only one man in the room is smart enough to be worried.

     “What do you want me to tell you?”
     Lucas cocked his head, and his mouth twisted at the corner. “Tell me?” His voice still had the purring, pleased burr beneath it.
     Lena gritted her teeth. “What do you want to know?”
     “Oh.” He frowned as if puzzled. “I thought it was obvious.” He leaned in, careful not to touch her. “I want to know your limits.” His nostrils flared again. He pulled back, sinuous as a cobra. Then he struck.
     His right hand shot down across her, ripping off the electrodes at her temples. His left hand gripped her mother’s hair. He pulled her head back and stuck the electrodes to the skin of her temples.
     Her mother didn’t even try to fight him. She stood almost serenely beside Lena.
     “Mama, please. Do something. Fight back.” The buzz in her head quieted with the electrodes gone from her temples, but the current still burned into her from the others.
Lucas grinned. “Fight back? Against the three men in the room? How should she do that?” He flexed his hand in her mother’s hair, moving her head with the tightening of his fingers. “She’s not like you. She’s not strong, is she?”
     “Strong enough to keep me hidden from you assholes.” She swallowed. She looked back up at the ceiling above her. Perhaps if he couldn’t see her into her eyes, he couldn’t see her fear. He couldn’t enjoy it.
     He laughed softly. “It’s up to you, Lena. If you want to help her, you’re going to have to show us what you can do.”
     A soft curse came from the corner. “You’re a fool, Lucas,” Reyes said. “What do you think is going to happen if you piss her off enough to break free? What if your little set-up there can’t hold her?”
     Lucas rolled his eyes at the interference. He didn’t bother to turn to Reyes.  “It’ll hold. It always holds. And we always get what we need out of them.”

In this scene from Spark Rising, written from Alex’s point of view, Lena and Alex are finally building an uneasy friendship to go with their alliance. She still thinks he is pushy and unethical, willing to do anything for his cause. He still finds her maddening and unpredictable, and wishes she’d devote herself and her abilities to their cause. They’re both distracted by the chemistry neither will admit. Still, she’s giving him the lessons he needs to turn his own Spark ability into a weapon. If only he could master them…

     She rose and stood with her arms crossed, waiting.
     He focused, grateful for the shift in mood. Instead of trying to affect the Dust inside the body, as she did in her attacks, he’d try for the Dust attracted to the outside of her. Perhaps the Dust living inside was simply too protective of their very strong host? He breathed out and reached with his mind. 
     Nothing happened, exactly like all the times before.
     “Um.” She wrinkled her brow. “Did you start yet?”
     Alex groaned in frustration. He dropped his gaze to the ground at her feet, not wanting to see her expression after the latest failure. Push, dammit!
     A flash of light and heat arced out in jagged white light from the ground. It threw Lena off her feet, over the bench and to the ground.
     He stared, slack-jawed for a bare second. In two long steps he crossed the clearing and hopped onto the bench looking down at her. 
     She wheezed in an attempt to reclaim her breath. 
     He jumped down to her side, hands moving over her head and neck, and then down her sides, to be sure she was otherwise okay. She projected such a huge persona he was shocked at how fragile she felt under his hands. 
     She batted at him weakly. 
     Once he’d reassured himself she wasn’t broken, he wrapped his hands around each of her thighs and pulled up her legs to inspect her feet.
     The indignity of it helped her find her voice. “Get off of me!”
     “Lay still! I could have hurt you!” He barked the words, guilt and dismay making his voice harsh.
     “I’m fine.” 
     She wasn’t. Her voice came as a weak thread of air. She sounded breathless, small. She pushed his hands away, and then pushed at him as she sat up. He crouched at her side, refusing to give way. His heart still pounded. 
     With a faint grunt of disgust, she scooted herself back from him. She brushed the worst of the gravel and dirt from her hair with her fingertips. When she finally looked up at him, she seemed to freeze for a moment at whatever she saw in his face. “Reyes. Alex. I’m fine.”
     He propped one elbow on his knee in front of him and rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand.      His eyes closed then opened on a gust of air. “Dust, Lena. I could have hurt you.”
     “Yeah.” She agreed. “You could have.” Her voice changed, and he could hear the sly grin under her words. “You really could have.”
     The mischief on her face was contagious. 
     “I did it.”
     “You did something.” She wiggled a bit and then made a move to rise. 
     He jumped to his feet to help. His pull and her slight weight made her sail up into his side. He wrapped his arm around her to steady her. 
     She grinned up at him, mouth opened to make another wise-ass remark, no doubt. 
     He focused on her mouth just a beat too long. 
     She closed it, biting her lower lip. That wasn’t a great help. 
     She stared back up at him, her eyes wide and her body very still. Before Alex had a chance to process the movement or talk himself down, his body shifted, turning to fully face her. He slid his other hand up to cup the back of her head, lifting her face as he lowered his. 
     Just a taste. One taste. I have to know.



Tell us about Spark Rising.
Spark Rising is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the southwestern United States of the future. It’s the story of Magdalena Gracey, a young woman with the power to create and manipulate the only form of electricity left in the world, and Agent Alejandro Reyes, a man trained from childhood to be an elite soldier for the ruling government. He’s sent to investigate a report of an illegal Spark living in the desert. But Alex has his own agenda. And if the two of them can learn to work together instead of killing each other, they might have a chance at sparking a revolution…and love.

What gave you the idea for your main character in Spark Rising? 
I’m not sure I ever really have ideas of characters. I sort of get lost in a daydream that just comes to me, and they are there, fully formed. Some are more vocal than others. Some daydreams I jot down. Some I let go. Lena and Alex grabbed hold of me when I was supposed to be writing something else and wouldn’t let me let go—which isn’t surprising, considering the characters of Lena and Alex are two very driven, stubborn, obsessive characters. They wouldn’t let me forget them even if I tried.

Would you say you know your characters well? 
I’d like to think I do, although they do surprise me sometimes. They’ve also been known to fight back. If I’m not true to a character, they stop cooperating and the story flow stops until I get back on track. Alex, my male MC, is a huge pain in the ass and is very, very good at doing this to me (which should surprise no one who reads Spark Rising!).

Where did you get the idea for Spark Rising? 
It just came. I actually sat down with an old, unfinished classic fantasy manuscript. I was determined to finish it. But when it came time to write, I found I was jotting notes about a completely different story—it wasn’t even the same genre. Lena and Alex wanted their story told.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you? 
Editing. Absolutely. I had done beta rounds. I had revised it five times—heavy revisions where I cut thirty thousand words. I felt pretty confident. Ha HA! My editor, who is amazing, sent me a ten-page email shredding it. Having never been through the process, I was devastated. I printed it out and read it and cried and swore up a storm. And then I put it away for a week. Once I’d calmed down, I was ready to look at it objectively and make my revision list and go through it very methodically. But that first look—oh, that was brutal! It’s also the most important part. You’ve got to have an editor you trust, and one who is willing to make you cry if it means your manuscript is better at the end. Someone who tells you what you want to hear or is afraid to tell you what you need to hear is doing you ZERO favors.

What inspired Spark Rising? 
In the days before the story came, I’d seen two sets of photos online. The first was an abandoned town in the desert that was being buried by sand. The second was a series of various city skylines from around the world showing what the night sky would look like if there were no lights, no electricity. I was blown away. Because yes, they’re both gorgeous. But the devastation of that loss of civilization…wow. Even in devastation, there would be beauty so long as we are the kind of people who have the capacity to see it. That’s the big "what if?” What kind of people are able to see the beauty? 

Do you see yourself in any of the characters of Spark Rising? 
Hmm. Not much, no. I think Lena has some of my negative qualities—the bossiness, the tendency to jump to conclusions. As her story moves on through the greater arc of the series, I think she’ll reflect a little more of me, as she discovers and fights with her maternal instinct. Alex has my extreme pragmatism and love of profanity, also not necessarily good qualities. Jackson? He has too much light in him to be a reflection of me!

What made you decide to end Spark Rising the way you did? 
*laugh* It originally had a very different ending. By the time I'd made other changes that really were very necessary, the ending I wrote originally didn’t work. The ending it has now is actually the third ending written, I think. Those last two chapters changed A LOT.

What inspired the character of Lena? 
Lena came to me fully formed, just a damaged, tough, ballsy, tiny little redhead. I think she’s rooted in my desire to explore life’s complications from that New Adult period of transition and upheaval. Who we love. Why we love. How we choose to express and live with that, even through the dark times. How do we carve out something that is entirely our own, or even believe we’re worthy of it, through all of the demands of society and family? And what is family, anyway?

I also really love exploring issues of perspective—what is the right choice for one person isn’t the same for another, and that’s okay—in womanhood, in relationships, in faith. I like the big, complicated, meaty issues that often cause darkness and angst. They’re the root of so many misunderstandings, but I like mistakes. I believe in second chances. Lena’s damaged heart provides a wonderful way of exploring those themes.
Do you have any thoughts on Alex's behavior throughout Spark Rising? 
Ohh, Alex. *laugh* He’s a badass, broken man. He’s just as damaged as Lena, but he’s dedicated himself to one idea, to one cause, and is willing to do absolutely anything to further it. His love for Lena takes him by surprise. It’ll be really interesting to see how the battle between his sense of responsibility to the revolution that he founded and his feelings for Lena will play out. I think the battle will be as fascinating as his motives.

Who's your favorite character? 
That's subject to change without notice! I love them all, even my villains. But I do have a soft spot for both Jackson and Marissa. They are both genuinely good characters, and in a post-apocalyptic world that's a hard thing to be.

Were you aware of how Spark Rising would end when you started it? 
Not when I started writing, no. The first chapter came to me and I wrote that in a mad flurry, then I stopped and created a skeleton outline to guide me. So I didn’t know the end when I started, but I had it very soon afterward. I plotted the end of the book and of the series, too.

How many books long will the Progenitor Saga be?
Originally, I’d planned five main novel-length books. It may stretch slightly longer, but no more than seven. But they’re long, and it takes a while to write them, so I also plan to release collections of related short stories and novellas in between the novels. The shorts are about secondary characters, or side events, or past events and will all stand alone. The first collection, Ignition Point, is already out. In fact, readers responded so well to one of the characters in Ignition Point that I’ve written him into the second book. So, if you read it…yes, Ghost does return!
Are your settings based on real places?
Some of them are, yes. Lena’s home at the beginning of Spark Rising is a real gas station between Albuquerque and Santa Fe that I used to visit regularly when I lived in New Mexico. 

Some of them are based on places that exist only in conspiracy theories, so whether you believe they’re real or not depends on if you believe in the theories about the existence of high-speed underground trains and DUMBs (Deep Underground Military Bases). *grin* After I read some of them online, I had a “what if” moment, and much of the novel is grounded in that jumping off point.
Do you have any writing rituals? 
I always start a writing session by re-reading the last three paragraphs that I wrote. And I always end a session in the middle of a scene, with bulleted notes telling me what I was thinking as I finished.

And I try like crazy to stay off of Facebook!

Do you listen to music as you write, and if so what music? 
I don’t. I have to have general background buzz—the TV going or coffeeshop business—but I can’t deal with songs and lyrics. They distract me. There are too many story ideas embedded in them.

If I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll listen to music when I’m driving and the ideas will flow. I go for a drive and blast the music. The choice of music is really eclectic and depends on character and scene that I’m trying to get into—Lena is all hard rock and R&B, women artists with attitude. Alex is sexy jams. If you think of a song that brings to mind a dark, sexy, confident man smirking and growling at you, I may have used it, or I need it. E-mail me!

Can you tell us about your writing process? 
When I start a new project, I write the first chapter. That gives me a sense of who the people are and what’s at stake. Then I stop and write a bare-bones bulleted outline, including the ending. Then I feed that skeleton outline into my own story diagram that I hand-draw onto a huge sheet of construction paper—all of this has to be by hand. The diagram is where details start to appear, and they're separated by character point of view. Then I can use the diagram to go to Scrivener and create my chapter folders and parse out the details into something resembling a novel outline. They're short, because I need the story arc, but I fill in the details by the seat of my pants.

And then I can write. *grin*

Did you always want to write books when you were a child? 
Yes. I've always been telling stories. Family legend has it that I was kicked out of a denominational preschool because of a story that was particularly upsetting. So, not only was I telling stories, but they were always controversial! I've been writing the stories down since I was able to write.
What inspires you to write genre fiction? 
The people who read it! Science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance—there may be differences among their readers, but the one thing they have in common is a willingness to lose themselves in a story, a joy in the fact that they have a story to lose themselves in, that I just don’t see in other areas. We’re wholly, unselfconsciously committed to our genres, and I find that beautiful.

When I was in my master’s program for Creative Writing, I had a conversation with another student that really sealed the deal for me. He was sneering at my desire to write genre fiction and telling me that I was limiting myself. “You know you’ll never write the Great American Novel writing that stuff.” And perhaps he's right. But the thing is, I’m not interested in literary elitism. If I can write a book that takes a reader—one reader—out of all of the everyday stress and noise of life and give them another world to lose themselves in, a world rich enough that they want to get lost in it? Well, as far as I'm concerned, I have written a pretty damn great novel, even if critics hate it.

Is there a message in Spark Rising that you want readers to grasp? 
There are messages in the greater story arc of the series that I'd love to discuss, but they'd be spoilery. For Spark Rising, I think the message I hope readers take away is that we’re all worthy of being loved for who we are, for all that we are, even the dark, ugly parts of us. And that the only way to find that love is to be honest about who we are, especially with ourselves.

What book are you reading now? 
I’m reading two books—I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does that! I’m reading When Dark Falls by Pippa Jay, which is an awesome superhero deco-punk story, and I’ve just started Maven, a New Adult scifi novel by S.A. Huchton that seems amazing. 

What are your current projects? 
I’m working on the follow-up to Spark Rising, and I’m about at the 20% point. I’m also noting possible secondary characters and ideas for the between-novels short story collection that I’ll be starting as soon as it’s finished so it can come out before the novel, while I’m still working on revisions and edits.

And I’m participating in a group scifi/PNR series, The Complex. My contribution doesn’t come out until 2016, but I’ll be fitting in writing that after this novel, as well.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I was always interested in storytelling, and I was always read to. My Dad read aloud to my older brother and me, but he read the books he wanted to read instead of children’s books. So by the time I was five or six, I’d been exposed to The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova. 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  
Sure. The following scene is from the sequel to Spark Rising, when Lena is trying to root out a conspiracy to hurt her. In true Lena fashion, she acts first and thinks later, taking an opportunity to grab and force a conspirator to tell her the truth—and when she’s confronted, she’s too angry and frustrated to be nice.
     Footsteps in the hall outside made her tense. She stood, readying herself, but when the door swung in, it was to admit two familiar men.
     Two angry, familiar men.
     “What are you doing?” Thomas’s pale blue gaze had swept down to Marc on the floor and back to Lena’s face in a mere second. Behind him, Jackson closed the door and slipped around them both to stand behind Marc.
     “Rooting out the conspiracy you and Alex were so content to wait out. It’s not just a few rogue Guardians, Thomas. It’s Guardians and Agents and Senior Wards. It’s not ‘an infection,’ like you said. It’s a cancer. And it’s spreading.” She hated that her voice sounded so petulant, but dammit, she’d been through enough. She’d earned the right to be a full partner in the revolution. She’d trusted them. She’d given them what they needed. She’d never expected to find herself in the position of being so thoroughly fucked.
     In every sense of the word. Alex had no reservations about using their physical connection to soften her to an idea.
     Thomas stepped closer, his voice soft and even. “There’s a reason we wanted to wait—”
     “I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter.” Lena spoke over him, her voice harsh. He started to continue, raising his own voice slightly, but she talked over him. “They’ve moved it up. The attack on me. Moved it up to take advantage of Alex’s absence.” She tilted her head at him, willing to take a dig to pay him back for all of the disappointment she’d experienced over the last three months. “I suppose that tells you all you need to know
about what they think of your leadership, doesn’t it?”
     Don’t do that, Lena. It’s not his fault.
     Thomas’s eyes narrowed. He stepped past her.
     She spun on her heel to track him, watching as he stood over Marc. His toes were close enough to tap Marc’s ear.
     “Tell me.” The two words were all he said, but they seemed to chill the room by several degrees.
     Hmmm. I think she made Thomas mad, huh? That Lena, always a diplomat. *laugh*
Did you have to travel much to research your book(s)?
I traveled some. I drove up to the Albuquerque area first, to take pictures of the area to supplement my memory. I recently had a girlfriends roadtrip to the Taos and Rio Grande gorge area for more pictures as I write the second book. 

I’d love to take a driving tour of the Idaho and Washington areas, as quite a bit of action will take place there, as well. I need to make that happen!

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Keep writing. You can fix just about anything, but you can’t fix something that doesn’t exist.

Treat the people you meet with respect, whether they are editors, bloggers, readers or other writers. Writing is a calling, yes, but it’s also a profession. Be professional. 

And for Indies…edit! Seriously, save your pennies and pay for professional editing by someone who has worked in your chosen genre as an editor. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. “My friend the English teacher” is not a professional editor. I’m not criticizing English teachers—I was one! It’s just a different skill set altogether, and you can’t appreciate the differences until you’ve experienced them. Hire a professional, and then listen to the advice you are paying for no matter how much it stings!

How about advice for readers?
Oh, gosh…I don’t know. Readers are awesome. They’re the reason I do this, and I have such huge anxiety about their experiences with the book. I know I’m not alone in that. So maybe that would be my advice: remember that authors are people, too, and try to remember to be patient and kind. That’s not to say you can’t have an honest, visceral reaction to something, even if it’s bad. I’ve thrown books across the room, too, and I’ve given honest reviews that were less than ideal. Just perhaps keep in mind that we’re doing this for you, even when we get it wrong. 

What were the challenges in bringing Spark Rising to life? 
There was definitely a research challenge—I love science and I’ve always read science fiction. But I knew nothing about the inner workings of electricity and electrical components, and I certainly had no working knowledge of new theories in nanite technology. Even though I was creating something fantastic, I needed to have a bed of knowledge from which to stretch.

The other huge challenge is the scope of themes, especially with women’s roles and faith. Lena, and other characters, make assumptions about other groups of people, as we all do, that are wrong. Those assumptions are slowly sifted through and revealed through the greater series arc. I’m afraid people will—ha ha!—make assumptions about what I mean in the meantime, that I’m criticizing deeply held beliefs. It’s not so, and that’s rough for me to think about.

Do you think you’ll ever kill off some characters? Which characters would you find hardest to part with?
Ohhh, boy. So, it’s a complicated, post-apocalyptic world. And it’s in a state of revolution. I have to assume that not everyone will make it. And it’s going to be extremely hard to part with anyone. I love my characters—all of them. Even the characters that others hate, I try to offer excuses: “Well, you see, he has all of these issues that fuel his decisions…” *laugh* 

What genre do you consider your book(s)? 
They are clearly post-apocalyptic/dystopian. I prefer to call them futuristic fantasy. Yes, they’re rooted in scifi, but there is an element of the fantastic that works into them. As far as categories, Ignition Point, the collection of related short stories, straddles the line between YA and NA. I consider Spark Rising to be NA. The series itself will sit on the border of NA and Adult fiction. Lena has a lot to work her way through, but the series will see her grow through her struggles with her identity, fear of failure, and first love. 

Obviously, your story is genre fiction. What do you think of New Adult stories being told in genre fiction?
I love that New Adult is starting to push the accepted definition of what constitutes “New Adult”. It amuses me that a genre that started by defining itself is now so rigidly defined by powers-that-be. New Adult has to be X,Y, and Z in the first person! Those stories are great. I love them, too. But, in my opinion, New Adult is defined more by a sense of voice and of self-discovery and of someone facing huge choices than by college, or contemporary time period, or first-person POV, or even sex. There are so many fabulous paranormal and now scifi New Adult stories being told by both traditionally-pubbed and indie authors! It is growing organically into other genres and it’s amazing to watch and, hopefully, to be a part of that growth.

What do you think is the draw of the “strong female character”?
Well, I think we all like to root for someone who can handle herself, who isn’t afraid to face the bad guys, and who reminds us of the internal strength we have or we’d like to have. Personally, I really prefer the flawed female character. *laugh* Don’t get me wrong—Lena can kick some ass. She has to be able to, in her world. But I love that she is flawed. She leaps before looking, she’s mouthy, she makes shitty decisions and then has to live with the consequences. She obsesses…oh, how she obsesses! She’s not always likeable. She’s a twenty-four year old young woman figuring out where she belongs, who she loves, and what she wants, special powers or not. It’s important to me that she isn’t a caricature of strength on that journey. 

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
Yep. I call it writer’s block when I have drained the creative well. I believe that we all have a finite amount of creative energy to work with, like a reservoir, and we have to take time off to let it replenish. I do that by reading, by listening to music, by watching certain TV shows or movies. I think those activities aren’t taking away from writing time, they’re an important part of making writing possible. When I write obsessively and exclude them—BLOCK.
Do you write an outline before every book you write? 
Yes. I’m a hybrid writer. I plot the arc of the story, and then I pants the details. 
Have you ever hated something you wrote? 
All the time. I think it’s an important part of my process. Or my anxiety!
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about? 
Anything with a fantastic element. Scifi, futuristic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, classic—I love it all!

Author Bio:
Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.


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