Hi Kristine, you are my third (might be fourth!) guest from Astraea Press. Every single author I have spoken to absolutely loves writing for them and after a sneak preview at your interview, I see you feel the same way. It is so great when a new publisher comes onto the market and writers know they are worth submitting to. Great stuff. Let's start, shall we?
1) Did you set any goals for 2011?
My main goal was to find a publisher for my manuscript. I had already edited my ms at least eight times. I felt I was ready. But I didn’t want to find just any publisher. I wanted one who shared similar ideals as I do. For myself, I had a personal struggle with writing erotic love scenes in my book. I didn’t want them to be overly descriptive. I had submitted to a few publishers and felt the pressure to include erotica in my work. This was an area I didn’t want to compromise on. It wasn’t what my heart wanted me to do. And then I found Astraea Press. I had found a perfect match. I no longer have to worry about being pressured to write in a way that I don’t feel comfortable with, but I could still express my love scenes in a way that was real, and focused on the emotional aspects rather than the physical aspects. I am really stoked about that.
2) What is the best part of the writing process for you?
Having a publisher, I no longer have to worry about trying to beg an agent or a publisher to acknowledge my writing ability. All I have to worry about now is just cranking out a great story. It really is different, to be able to allow myself to relax and enjoy the writing experience. It is the best feeling.
3) The worst part?
When I began writing, I had no idea there were rules. I had this naïve idea that whatever I wrote could come straight from the heart, and from this fresh new well of thought, idea, and expression. Wrong! My style could come forth, all right, but it had to be within certain boundaries. My writing had to respect the rules of engagement. The unfortunate part is that there was no thorough list of guidelines I could find (and believe me I looked) that could tell me what those rules were. I learned them the hard way, as my writing evolved. I had to earn my stripes, so to speak. I would get the knowledge in bits and pieces, so I must have given my manuscript a full edit at least eight times, always having to apply my newest coveted lesson. Things would have been so much easier for me in the beginning of my writing process if I had only known, such as: show-don’t tell, writing in an active voice, never use dismembered body parts, keep your POV’s straight (no head-hopping), no misplaced modifiers, get rid of most words that end in “ly”, and there are a few others.
4) What is the book you wish you’d written?
Without a doubt, The Notebook. That story is crisp, beautiful, and it strikes a chord in my soul that shakes my entire being. I would love to claim that amazing piece of art.
5) Favorite author/s & book/s?
I read my first romance novel when I was twelve. The book was “The Flame and the Flower” by Kathleen Woodiwiss. It was an instant addiction. Over the years I have enjoyed Johanna Lindsey, Maggie Shayne, Susan Johnson, Pamela Browning’s “Lover’s Leap” was a wonderful story. I love romance that revolves around family and the birth of children. There is just something about it that pulls at my heartstrings.
6) Tell us about your latest release?
Spartan Heart is a romance that blends a little bit of history and time travel with paranormal elements. Paranormal is a great genre because it allowed me to play with my characters and give them super Alpha traits, such as increased speed, crisp vibrant vision, exceptional hearing and strength, and the ability to read the minds of others.
SH revolves around my heroine Evangeline Montgomery, who lives in modern day England. Her heart is set on following the family tradition of studying archaeology at Cambridge University, but she is unexpectedly sent away by her parents, and forced to attend Princeton University in America. Nine years later she is still angry, but she is forced to return home after the tragic murder of her parents. Ridden with guilt and loss, Evan is the only member of her family left alive. She must pick up the pieces of her shattered heart and assume ownership of the family’s beloved Greco-Roman museum in London. Evan gets a little tipsy after a night out with her best friend. She recalls the secret underground passage in her basement that leads to the bowels of the museum. Feeling the need to walk down memory lane, she makes the trek and stumbles upon the forgotten statue of Spartan warrior Prince Dorieus. With a kiss, Evan releases Dorien from a bitter oracle’s curse. Unfortunately, she passes out in his arms before she ever gets a chance to meet him.
Forever immortal, an enamored Prince Dorien carries Evan to the safety of her bedroom. He is well aware someone had marked this beautiful woman for death. Wanting to protect her, he never expects to share a night of passion with her. Night after night he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Tall and deliciously sculpted, this emerald eyed warrior stakes his claim.
The oracle Demona is well aware of Dorien’s resurrection from the curse she placed him in. With meddle and mayhem she tries to stake her own claim on the man she tried to preserve for herself. It matters little that Dorien has rejected her, or that Evangeline carries Dorien’s half-breed immortal twins. Somehow she is determined to force him into loving her, even if it done with a little bit of magic.
Demona’s lies are slowly unraveled. Evangeline and Dorien travel to Italy in search of his loyal men. Danger and mystery cloud everything. But Dorien gets caught up in Demona’s treachery. In an effort to save Evangeline and his unborn children, he makes a wager that could cost him his soul. If Evangeline fails to produce him a son, Demona wins him forever. Time and fate breached centuries to give Dorien and Evangeline their love, but can it be enough to save them from the will of evil?
This book encompasses the magic of love, friendship, family, and adventure. I am so proud of this book.
7) Tease us with a blurb/short except
The heavy mahogany door opened without a sound. Dorien stood in awe, surprised at the sight of such elegant décor. Even as a prince of Sparta, his people were modest and simple. They didn’t allow for such luxuries. Every room in this house was more decadent than any palace court.
Carnal thoughts were forced aside. He admired the massive, old world four-poster bed. Its violet and gold jewel-colored covering was regal. Large over-stuffed pillows were inviting. Majestic nightstands stood on both sides of the bed. A velvet, gold, chaise lounge beckoned at the foot. Colorful tapestries and paintings graced every wall. He appreciated the triple dresser and boisterous armoire. Spotting the huge stone fireplace, its presence enhanced the room. The warmth of a fire would fill this chamber with a tranquil, seductive ambience.
Dorien froze and gasped out loud. Sight of his reflection was caught in the mirror. Gazing upon the cast of a stranger, how many years had it been since he last looked upon his own face? He shook his head. The only thing pressing him this moment was Evangeline’s comfort. Laying her on the mattress, Dorien flinched. His chest felt the impact of a physical blow.
Her lips were blue!
Wet from head to toe, Evangeline’s tender flesh was covered in goose bumps. Honey-wheat strands of saturated hair stuck to her face and shoulders. Her teeth chattered hard, almost enough to break. Her body shook in a responsive effort to warm itself. Dorien had been a fool! How had he not noticed? He should have paid close attention to her mortal needs!
In a flash, he reached the fireplace. Thick logs of timber were tossed, thudding against the back of the hearth. He needed to hurry; a fire would help ward off her chill.
Evangeline stirred. Dorien’s attention flew back towards the bed. Her head rolled back and forth. He sensed confusion and fear in her thoughts. Her fingers reached for him blind. The helpless sound of Evangeline’s cries penetrated his soul. She was well aware she wasn’t alone.
“D-d-don’t leave me, p-p-please! H-h-help me!”
Dorien rushed to her side and fell to his knees. He rubbed his hands up and down the length of her velvety arms. “Quiet, Evan. I am here and will not leave you. Let me start a fire, love. I promise not to leave you. I shall come right back.”
Evangeline’s eyes were large and vacant; she was bewildered. She stared into his face. Reading her thoughts, she was fighting to place him.
“W-w-who are you?” The fear in her voice was evident. Its tremble wasn’t from chill.
“My name is Dorien. I am here to help you and will not harm you. Will you trust me?”
She nodded profusely, pulling tight fists over her chest. It was a weak attempt to find warmth. Dorien rose to his feet. He was slammed by the impact of her panic the moment he tried to leave her side. Evangeline clawed at him in desperation. Her gasps came in forced ragged breaths.
“No! P-p-lease help me. I’m s-so c-c-cold.”
Lost in her shivers, she struggled to remain conscious. He winced at the sight of saturated clothes. They clung against every curve of her beautiful body. He hadn’t broken a sweat through the passage, but the cold, damp air soaked her clothes, chilling her to her bones. Life as a soldier had taught him well. If he didn’t light a fire or remove the garments, she could fall sick or worse. Disappointment in his negligence ran deep.
How had he been so careless?
He decided again to get up, but Evangeline refused to let him leave her side. There was only one other thing he could do. Gritting his teeth, he untied the flimsy shoulder straps of her drenched white sundress. It was torture freeing fragile pearl buttons snuggled between her breasts.
Fire was igniting all right, but it was in all the wrong places. His fingers brushed her pale tender skin with every shivered breath. He leaned her body against his chest. Pulling the dress over her head, he threw it across the room like a venomous creature. Dorien laid her back against the mattress. He didn’t deny himself the opportunity to gaze upon her. His stomach tightened. The curves of her body beckoned for his touch. He couldn’t tear his gaze from the delicious sight of violet lace panties.
Women of Sparta never wore anything like that!
8) What is your favorite attribute of the hero and heroine?
Evangeline has a heart like no other. Despite the pain of her loss, she is resilient and sensitive to the feelings of everyone around her. She is strong, even though she thinks she is so weak. Her will is resourceful and amazing; she always rises up to the challenge. Her humor is forked; a girl after my own heart. Loyalty and family is everything to her…and so is the love of her beloved Spartan.
Dorien is an Alpha with a heart. He is strong, he is fearless, and his royal blood makes him used to being regarded as leader. He is used to winning. I love his convictions; his desire for justice. The man has a passion and intention that drives me wild. He sees something and is not afraid to go after it. He claims what it is his, something most men of today could learn a few lessons from. He isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes, and he stands to the challenge of paying the price for them. This man knows how to love.
9) What’s next?
I am currently working on Spartan Heart, Part 2, which is the continuation of Spartan Heart, Part 1, and is expected to be released next week on April 12th. SH1 and SH2 is really one book, but I split them into two books intentionally to get my readers used to the idea that this is going to be a Saga series. My next task will be to complete the next book in the Spartan Heart Saga called Spartan Surrender. This book encompasses the love of Taryn and Thessalus, who were both featured in Spartan Heart, Part 2. I hope to have this one available by Summer 2011. After Spartan Surrender, I will then be working on Spartan Proposal, which is already written, but needs editing. I hope to have this book out by Fall 2011. The last two books in the series are Spartan Rapture and Spartan Fire, and should be ready for release sometime in 2012.
10) Tell me where you write?
I have decorated a “writing room” which is now my favorite room in the house. It is filled with my candle holders and the décor is feminine and inspiring. I don’t listen to music when I write because I find it distracting, but if I hear a song in the car, it can inspire lots of fabulous ideas. My true muse is water. Rain. The sounds of a storm. The waves of the ocean. A babbling brook or stream…and yes, even the shower, lol! *blushes* Being an Arizona native, we have to take water whenever we can get it. Needless to say, a lot of my ideas have been inspired while in the shower! Also, I absolutely love candles! I like to light a bunch of candles around my writing area before I sit to write. They are relaxing, ambient, romantic, and they set the mood and tone for me. The aroma fills all of my senses. (Partylite candles are my favorite because they smell so darn good and burn clean!) Coffee is always a decadent treat. I love it with sugar and a healthy splash of Coffeemate Crème Brule liquid creamer. This concoction is Heaven in a cup, let me tell you!
10) Where would you like your career to be in 5 years?
It is my hope to be a successful and accomplished writer with enough income from my stories to be able to write full-time at home. It is hard to do anything else when my heart is longing and craving to be writing. I pray one day I will be blessed enough to make writing my full-time day job.
11) Where can we find you?
My website: www.spartanheart.com
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4DH3ipxVbQ
Fabulous interview, Kristine - i cannot thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions so fully! It's so inspirational for aspiring writers to hear what we go through to get published. I was lucky enough to have my first book accepted by The Wild Rose Press but like you I edited that manuscript countless times before I submitted and then a wonderful editors worked back and forth with me to make it shine. It does not happen overnight, that's for sure!