I was privileged again this year to attend the annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy. The event benefits the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. Part of the fun is driving up with my friends Sophie Jordan and Lily Dalton. Here we are right before Sophie slammed her thumb in the car door.
We always have an adventure. Last year Sophie got a speeding ticket. It’s no wonder then that after we arrived, we needed naps and sustenance.
Saturday many of the authors signed new releases at Barnes & Noble. Diane Kelly gave me one of her Brigits, the dog that features in some of her books.
We partook of more sustenance, which may have included yummy cake balls, and the next day it was work, work, work and lunch with some of my favorite readers.
Finally, it was time for tea. We all dressed up.
And listened to Tessa Dare’s wonderful speech.
And waited with bated breath to see the bear. Each year a new bear is sold. This one is a Scottish lass.
There’s an auction, including a quilt with all of our names on it, and another booksigning.
All in all, it’s a wonderful event, and I feel so fortunate to be asked to be part of it.
is Gretchen! I’ll email you today, Gretchen.
I know it’s a bit early to talk about Christmas–or, rather, it probably seems early to you. I’ve been thinking about Christmas all summer. I’ve been imagining snowflakes and cozy fires, mistletoe and evergreens, holiday balls and hot cider. And then I’d step outside and the sweltering heat of summer would bring me back to reality. The fact is that if one is to publish a Christmas book, one must write that book in the off-season. This fall I have two Christmas novellas being released.
One is a re-release of my novella from last year’s anthology Christmas in the Duke’s Arms. It’s called The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe, and it’s about two secondary characters from Love and Let Spy, which is my James Bond-themed historical romance. In this novella Q and Moneypence get their happy ever after.
The second release is an anthology set in a London bookshop during the holiday season. This one is titled Christmas in Duke Street. In this novella Lucien, a former prince whose family was overthrown by a revolution, is in London searching the volumes of a little bookshop in Duke Street for documents proving his identity when he comes across Cassandra, a lovely widow looking for adventure.
It wasn’t all Christmas, all the time this summer. I was also able to write a bit about summer for an anthology that will be out in November titled A Gentleman For All Seasons. You’ll notice two resident JQs are part of the group of authors. My story, “The Summer of Wine and Scandal,” is about a London dandy and a country miss with a secret.
Do you have a favorite season to read about? I actually love fall and love writing books set in autumn. One person who comments will win a copy of my new release, The Rogue You Know.
The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on the blog Sunday.
It’s release day for The Rogue You Know, and time to play name your favorite line! I’ll give a quote from each of the first five chapters. At the end, tell me your favorite, and your comment enters you to win a $10 gift card to Amazon.
Susanna ducked into the cool darkness of the town house and flattened herself against the wall. She closed her eyes, swiping at the stinging tears. Breathe, breathe. Free from the whispers-that-were-not-whispers and the stares and, best of all, her mother, she slouched in smug rebellion.
Gideon shot away, running on fear as much as thrill. He exited the alley and tumbled into the street, when he heard the dog’s growls behind him.
“Not much of a meal, is he?” Gideon called over his shoulder.
The dog barked, and Gideon pushed his body to the limit.
“If you want to eat me, first you have to catch me!”
She dashed to the vase, dug the bag out, and stuck it into her bodice.
“If you wanted me to rip your clothes off, you only had to ask.” He took a step forward.
“Listen, Strawberry.” He bent close to her pretty face and those large brown eyes. “I don’t give a damn about your rules. I’m in this for the goddamn necklace, not your lessons on…deportment.”
“Wiggle through!” he yelled at her.
She was trying. Her hips seemed to be stuck in the opening. She might have wiggled more vigorously, but the wood dug into her skin through the thin gown. She didn’t want to tear the material.
“I can’t. My gown will rip. Help me down.”
She wasn’t certain what his answer was, but it sounded like, “The hell I will.”
She felt his hands on her bottom and screamed in outrage.
Far from causing him to remove his hands, he pushed harder.
What’s your favorite selection? Comment to be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon. Want a double entry? Stop by the Casablanca Authors blog (my publisher) on Thursday and comment on my blog there to enter to win another $10 gift card to Amazon.
Winners on both blogs will be announced Sunday!
The Rogue You Know
She’s beyond his reach…
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London’s dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society’s most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.
…and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London’s glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it’s too late. But as she descends into London’s underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she’s willing to pay…for the love of a reformed thief.
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1UlC0m7
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome Sarah Lyons Fleming, author of the Until the End of the World series, which I’ve heard called “zombie chick lit.” Margo Maguire, a former Jaunty and the author who recommended these books to me, calls them “Friends Meets the Zombie Apocalypse and Kristan Higgins in Zombieland” (hi, Kristan!).
I’ve totally been stalking Sarah since I started the series. I read all three books and the novella in rapid succession, and I CANNOT RECOMMEND THEM HIGHLY ENOUGH. I was completely engrossed in the story, the characters, and the world Lyons created. Even if this isn’t your typical read, give it a try. There’s romance, suspense, laughter, tears. Keep reading to find out how to win a DIGITAL copy of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD series (3 books!).
Shana: Welcome, Sarah! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m so thrilled to be able to ask you all my questions. First of all, tell our readers a bit about your books.
Sarah Lyons Fleming: Thanks, it’s my pleasure! I think you nailed the books in your great description above, but here goes: The series is about Cassie Forrest and her friends surviving in a world brought to its knees by a zombie virus. They must escape NYC for the safety of the cabin that belonged to Cassie’s parents, who were preppers (people who store food and supplies for emergencies). Add in a little lost love, sarcasm, clashing personalities and undead altercations, and there you have book one. The other books are a continuation of their journey to survive.
I know, I know. Some of you are thinking, “Eww, zombies? And romance? Why is she even on this site?!”
But I don’t really write about zombies. I write about the people facing the zombies—their fears, their strengths, their weaknesses. It allows me to explore how a devastated world and the fight for survival can change a person for the better or worse. No character is perfect. They argue and laugh—they laugh a lot—and they can be petty and generous and loyal and weak and brave at any given moment, just like us. They’re human.
The main theme of my books is love—romantic, platonic, familial, and everything in between. They’re about finding hope even when it seems impossible.
Shana: I agree 100%. The series is really so much more about hope than zombies. Can you tell us about your inspiration for the series? Did you know you were writing a “zombie chick lit” when you started the trilogy?
Sarah: My dad handed me Malevil—a novel about survivors of a nuclear holocaust—when I was ten, and I’ve been hooked on post-apocalyptic stories ever since. But, aside from YA novels, there weren’t a lot of books that featured females as the main protagonist. Most were men, and often they were military men.
I wanted so badly to read a book with an older character like me (or me ten years ago, when I was thirty *sigh*), that I decided to write it myself. And, because I’ve always loved chick lit, it was a no-brainer to include the friendships and humor often found in that genre. Also, I’m the kind of person who’ll crack a joke at any moment (or at least think of one and have to bite my tongue), so there had to be humor even at the darkest times. You can blame my Irish half for that.
Shana: I love Cassie’s humor in the series.
During the zombie apocalypse, your characters have to learn to survive without modern conveniences. How do you know so many survival skills? For example, in So Long, Lollipops, Peter is trapped in a house and dying of thirst, so he taps the hot water heater. How do you know that kind of stuff?
Sarah: Short answer—I’m a little crazy.
Long answer—I was the girl who grew up in Brooklyn, NY and read survival books on the subway ride home from high school. Even growing up in the city, I spent a lot of time in the woods during the summer, and it’s always been something I’ve felt a burning desire to know. Plus, I really like having a lot of food in my pantry, and water filters and Swiss army knives make me happy.
I guess the long answer is quite similar to the short one, eh?
Of course, I do need to research at times, but I admit I know a lot of random survival tips. I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse! Okay, maybe not ready…but I might not die until the second week.
Shana: I would so die on the first day! Wait…maybe after reading this series I could make it two days.
I loved how you used stargazing to draw Cassie close to Dan in And After, and then how you used it again in All the Stars in the Sky to bring Cassie and her “family” full circle. Are you an amateur astronomer or did you research constellations?
Sarah: That required research. I can pick out the Big Dipper, and then I’m lost. Even with all my research (of course I can now find Cassiopeia) I still get turned around up there. But I love the stars, as well as their stories, and I’ve made it my mission to find and memorize them all one of these days.
Shana: You definitely know how to figure out the worst thing that can happen to your characters and then make that happen. Avoiding spoilers, did you know from the beginning who was going to survive and who wasn’t?
Sarah: I started Until the End of the World as a standalone, so I didn’t have the whole trilogy mapped out by any means. Without giving anything away, there was a character who was slated to die when I first started Until the End of the World. And then s/he didn’t. S/he surprised me by becoming a more important character than I’d ever dreamed, so that 100 pages into writing book one, the course of the entire book changed and became a series (with a novella thrown in).
As for the other characters, they were goners from that moment on.
Shana: I read that you have kids (see, I said I was a stalker). I know the challenges of writing with a busy family. What’s your writing schedule like?
Sarah: I love stalkers! Wait…you know what I mean.
Yes, I have two kids, ages five and eight. It can be challenging, but now that they’re both in school I have more time. Because I work at home and am self-employed, I guard those six hours as much as I can. That means I ignore errands and cleaning and many times I don’t answer the phone—my boss is very strict about personal calls during work hours. And I hate cleaning, so it’s not as if that’s a hardship.
I work school days, a few hours on some weekend afternoons while my husband, Will, entertains them, and I set aside a couple/few nights a week to write when they’re in bed. The other nights I hang with the husband—can’t neglect him either!
Also, headphones are very, very wonderful inventions.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Sarah: I’m at work on a zombie series that takes place in NYC, in the same world as the Until the End of the World books. Many people have written me to ask what became of some of the characters, and this will be their chance to find out!
Shana: I can’t wait! Seriously, I am tapping my fingers impatiently.
Readers, now it’s your turn. Do you have any skills to survive a zombie apocalypse? How long would you make it?
One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win the entire series of ebooks (Three books, plus the novella). You must be able to read on Kindle, Nook, or iBooks. The winner will be announced Sunday.
Until the End of the World (Book 1)
Cassie Forrest isn’t surprised to learn that the day she’s decided to get her life together is also the day the world ends. After all, she’s been on a self-imposed losing streak since her survivalist parents died: she’s stopped painting, broken off her engagement to Adrian and dated a real jerk. Rectifying her mistakes has to wait, however, because Cassie and her friends have just enough time to escape Brooklyn for her parents’ cabin before Bornavirus LX turns them into zombies, too.
This is difficult enough, but Cassie’s tag along ex-boyfriend and her friend’s bratty sister have a knack for making everything, even the apocalypse, more unpleasant. When the two attract a threat as deadly as the undead to their safe haven, Cassie’s forced to see how far she’ll go to protect those she loves. And it’s a lot farther than she’d anticipated. This, coupled with Adrian’s distant voice on Safe Zone Radio and, of course, the living dead, threaten to put Cassie right back into the funk she just dragged herself out of.
Survival’s great and all, especially when you have leather armor, good friends and home-brewed beer, but there’s something Cassie must do besides survive: tell Adrian she still loves him. And to do that, Cassie has to find faith that she’s stronger than she thinks, she’s still a crack shot and true love never dies.
Sarah Lyons Fleming is a Laura Ingalls devotee, wannabe prepper and lover of anything pre-apocalyptic, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic—or anything in between. Add in some romance and humor, and she’s in heaven.
Besides an unhealthy obsession with home-canned food and Bug Out Bag equipment, she loves books, making artsy stuff and laughing her arse off. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she now lives in Oregon with her family and, in her opinion, not nearly enough supplies for the zombie apocalypse. But she’s working on it.