I’m blogging at Paranormal Unbound today, singing the praises of complicated, difficult, flawed heroines:
I’m blogging at Paranormal Unbound today, singing the praises of complicated, difficult, flawed heroines:
I’m organizing a street team for the July 27th release of Blood Entangled.
What’s a street team, you ask?
It’s a group of people who love a book and want to help spread the word about it online–Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, blogging, even email. You can pick your poison!
I know many of my friends and fans are already my de facto street team and I am so grateful for all the likes and shares and pins! If you sign up for Team Kaštel, I can thank you more tangibly, like with goodies, and I also want to cast the net wider to include new fans!
(Can I admit it kind of freaks me out that I have fans? I’m way more comfortable thinking Andre has fans , which is why I named the street team after his winery. )
I’ll have swag to share with the team–and perhaps most exciting–if you sign up now you can read the exclusive prologue for the book–a favorite scene of mine, when Kos first meets Lena. Check out the street team page for more info.
It’s coming! Book Two in the Blood Vine series will release at the end of July.
This week I saw mock-ups of the awesome cover Blood Entangled is getting from the fabulous folks at Omnific.
Hooray! It’s just as beautiful the cover for Blood Vine!
Here is the blurb:
KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away.
From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another.
Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for?
Ready to add it to your To-Be-Read shelf now? Of course you are!
The beautiful cover for Blood Vine is in a cover contest this month, which means if you like it, you can leave a comment on this blog. Comments = votes, and mean more people will get to see this amazing design.
I thought it might be fun to share with you a little about what it’s like to write a novel, and then have to fill out an art sheet for the cover artist. (In two words–terrifying and thrilling!) My book was going to have a cover, but what if I got it wrong, and led the designer astray?
My publisher, Omnific, releases some of the most beautiful and original book covers I’ve ever seen and the art was one of the many things that drew me to the talented group of women working there. Here’s the catalog if you want to see them all. So I had great faith they would design something wonderful for my baby–*clears throat*–I mean my debut novel.
It was really hard to convey in a one-page form all the images, themes, colors and overall style that capture a 300 page novel within a complex and completely new vampire world. It wasn’t easy!
I know for a fact some of the ideas I put down were terrible, but I hoped they would at least give the designera a feel for the book. After that, I saw three really cool mock-ups, but all were completely different, and also different from what I had in my head–a masculine image to indicate the series revolved around Andre Maras and his two sons. I tried to explain the vague picture I had in mind, and Omnific’s design team of Micha Stone and Amy Brokaw made a valiant effort at it. I’m lucky they listened to me, because many authors get zero input on their covers. At the same time Micha and Amy were working with this beautiful image of the woman in ecstasy wrapped in vines and they kept tweaking it, making it more and more perfect. Finally I couldn’t ignore the truth–this image conveyed just the appealing, sophisticated and sexy feel I wanted the cover to have.
The sequel Blood Entangled releases in July and you can now add it to your To Be Read shelf on Goodreads. I have every confidence in Micha and Amy, and I am getting very excited to see what they design for the second book.
To vote for Blood Vine in The Book Boosts’s June Cover Contest, just leave a comment here.
The Omnific Authors are excited for our Twitter party on 5/31. Follow along with #Omnilicous to ask questions of this fun and wacky and diverse group of authors who will satisfy any appetite with their contemporary, erotic, and paranormal romance. There is a chance to win the prize packs below during the Twitter party, and by participating in this fun scavenger hunt.
Twitter Party Scavenger Hunt Instructions:
Follow the links to the Authors blogs and collect the numbered letters for the secret word. As soon as you’ve worked out the word, enter the word and your twitter handle into the form. Entries are open from the day before the party and close at the end of the party when winners will be announced.
e-Book Packs on offer
Young Adult Pack
Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista
Ember by Carol Oates
Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates
Embrace by Cherie Colyer
New Adult Pack
Streamline by Jennifer Lane
Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
Three Daves by Nicki Elson
Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez
Contemporary Adult Pack
All-American Girl by Justine Dell
Recaptured Dreams by Justine Dell
Cocktails & Dreams by Autumn Markus
Pieces of Us by Hannah Downing
Cat O’ Nine Tails by Patricia Leever
With Good Behavior by Jennifer Lane
Paranormal Adult Pack
Divine Temptation by Nicki Elson
Blood Vine by Amber Belldene
Crushed Seraphim by Debra Anastasia
Seers of Light by Jennifer DeLucy
Divinity by Patricia Leever
Grave Refrain: A Ghost/Love Story by Sarah M. Glover
I’ve been having trouble sticking with a book right now and so I am over at Paranormal Unbound today sharing the four paranormal books I’m in the middle of. Drop on by if you’re curious about my recs, or if you have your own to read!
Time Travel: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Suspense: The City & The City by China Mieville
Light Paranormal/UF: The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
Literary Paranormal: The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
That’s what I’m reading. If you have a book to recommend, drop on by Paranormal Unbound and let me know!
@AmberBelldene recommends four paranormal reads on @ParaUnbound <—Click to Tweet
I began writing fiction at the most inopportune time—it was literally the week I went back to work after my maternity leave, and my twins were five months old. Of course, I had no idea at that moment how much of my time, heart, and soul I would pour into my laptop over the next months and years. I was just following my muse on a lark. I know now that it’s not uncommon for new moms to start novels—there is something about all the generative energy we have, once we are no longer gestating. At the time, it seemed kind of crazy, but I just couldn’t resist the story and the words that began to flow from my fingertips.
In two short months I had written my first novel in every spare second I could eke out of my life. Writing was all I could talk about, and I’m sure I was very annoying. (It’s still 70% of what I talk about, so now I am only slightly less annoying.) I began taking classes, going to RWA meetings, joining online critique groups. Writing, learning to write, and my friendships with other writers took up all my spare time. That’s when things started to get hard. Both my husband and I realized what it meant for me to pursue writing seriously—it would cost us.
Then my mother came to visit. Very casually, without even realizing I had forgotten, she reminded me that I had always wanted to be a writer. Once, when we’d visited her parents’ house in my childhood, my grandfather showed me books—real mystery novels published in the 1960s—that his cousin had written. Real people wrote books! maybe I could too? I became inspired, I penned several short stories, and I told my grandmother I would use her name, Belle Dean, as my penname. When my mother reminded me of this visit, my old dream began to burn brighter. Twenty-five years later, and a series of Twilight novels later, I look Belldene, instead of Belle or Bella, as my name. Yes, my mother really did name me Amber after the great 1940s romance novel Forever Amber.
My mom reminded me of a childhood dream I had long abandoned. Maybe she even destined me to this path. I did read her tattered copy of Forever Amber at a rather young age
And more subtly, she encouraged me that moms need to follow their dreams, and that kids need to see their moms be passionate about things other than motherhood.
For all these reasons, I dedicated Blood Vine to my mom. On January 7, the day it went live on Amazon, I was driving home from work and talking to my mom on my phone/headset. She downloaded Blood Vine onto her Kindle and began to flip through, all the way across the country where she lives in Florida. And when she saw the dedication, she gasped with surprise and began to cry. I think she knew about all the blood and sweat and tears that went into my book, but until then I hadn’t told her how much she had made it possible.
I’m pretty sure that anything I am good at, I owe to my mother, and when I hold my own children in my arms, I pray that I come close to loving them as well as she has always loved me.
This is a Blog Hop! Check out what other Omnific Authors have to say about their moms in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Recently I heard through the grapevine that a family friend objected to my use of the word fuck in my novel Blood Vine. I certainly don’t mind, and she’s entitled to her opinions. She’s always been delightfully supportive of me, and I think its sweet she hasn’t wanted to hurt my feelings by sharing her complaint. But hearing it got me thinking.
Her objection, as it was reported to me indirectly, is that the word fuck connotes the violent side of sex. She is a victim’s advocate—a woman who works with women who have suffered violence, and so I understand where her concern is coming from.
I too am a feminist, deeply concerned about violence against women.
As a writer, I think hard about the relationship between sex, consent and violence. I also think about the way experiences of trauma effect people’s desires. Good sex writers are mindful of issues of consent—they may explore the issue, but they do so with intention. Readers tell me they are very sensitive to anything that feels even slightly like a rape. It’s no wonder, given the astounding statistic that 1 in 4 or 5 American women will be the victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
But to me, the word fuck does not equate to rape. It has many connotations. As the fabulous Pam Rosenthal/Molly Weatherfield said to me on Twitter about the word: “I love it for its clarity. Love optional; shaken not necessarily stirred.” Love optional is precisely the way my characters use the word fuck in Blood Vine, and it’s meant ironically from the start, as I hope the reader knows Andre and Zoey’s attempt to resist love will be laughable.
And yes, I thank God we are finally at a point in our culture where we accept that women and men are allowed to enjoy sex for the pure animal pleasure of it, that shakes our body without stirring our hearts. Even people that love each other might occasionally (or frequently) just fuck.
A clergy friend of mine said, “I love the word fuck because it contains so much power and so many nuances. You can say it to express rage just as accurately as to express awe, but you can never really use it to express mediocrity.” He makes a great point. It is precisely this power that makes it so appealing. Our awe about the base power of sex is called up, and in a way violated, when we use it as a curse, for the same reason people like to say Goddamn–we cross a sacred line when we say it.
That power is the reason, as Kristin said on my Facebook page, it makes us “feel better just by screaming it out a few times.” Kristin goes on to rhapsodize about the many meanings of fuck: “rage, pure and utter confusion (in a WTF sense), desolation.” Ah yes. WTF. Have there ever been three more delightful letters strung together in a text or tweet?
I remember as an adolescent, first delighting in the naughtiness of profanity, and trying to grasp the logic of the many facets of the word fuck. Perhaps you’ve heard the joke that fuck can be used as almost every part of speech, noun, verb, adjective, etc. But it’s more than that—it’s that it can mean good and bad, reverent and irreverent, angry (fuck off) and ecstatic (fuck yeah). The lowly four letter word shit falls flat in the face of fuck.
There is a tension in all religions between reverence and irreverence—both are tactics for approaching spirituality and relating to the divine. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I fall on the irreverent end of the spectrum. I’m a fan of the mystics like Rumi and Hafiz who show their affection for God in profane (as in every-day, stuff-of-life, including sexual) language in order to make God more relatable. And as a devotee of sex, I take the same approach.
I realize others fall on a different place on this spectrum. I’m pretty sure I never heard my mother say the F word until I was an adult. Now she frequently says it in my hearing. But she raised me to be able to code switch between banter with my friends, the work place and “polite society”. For sure, the F word doesn’t belong in every conversation. And so I plan to raise my own children without saying fuck in front of them.
And for people like my family friend, no amount of argument will change an instinctive response to a word (I know, because for much less valid reasons, I loathe the word impactful). She may just never like my writing, because of the way I use the word fuck, and that’s okay. We’ll still be friends.
To me, the word fuck is beautiful and essential because it brings with it our incredibly powerful and complicated feelings about sex, and allows us to express a vast range of emotions about the world. And, as my writing friend Jennifer Davis says, even the way it sounds is wonderful. There’s just “something about the clacking of the ck.”
I’m at Paranormal Unbound today talking about life’s great mysteries and why hot men help me contemplate them:
“These days, I’d rather not read a heavy, nonfiction book. But take off Alexander Skarsgard’s shirt and smear him in blood, and I’m willing to contemplate the horrors of genocide…” Read More.
Come by and comment and/or tweet to enter a giveaway.
I am very happy to welcome Aubrie Dionne to my blog today. She’s a concert flutist, teacher and writer, and I was intrigued by her idea of setting her latest release Playing the Maestro in the contemporary world of music where she really works (so intrigued that it got me thinking playfully about what a romance novel at church would look like!).
Aubrie is giving away a copy of Playing the Maestro to one commenter so leave her a line for a chance to win!
I love that you have made both your dreams—of becoming a concert flutist and a writer—come true. How do you see music and writing go together? In what ways are they totally different?
They are both creative art forms that require hard work, determination, and love. I’ve used what I’ve learned as a flutist to become a better writer. Composing music is like writing in so many ways. The big difference for me is that in the art of performance, you have to recreate your product each time. But with writing, once a book has been written, it’s there for all posterity. When I go to a book signing, all I have to do is sit there with my finished product. But when I play a concert, I have to recreate my product on the spot.
I’m not surprised by that similarity, but what an interesting difference! Can you tell us a funny story from the secret world of orchestra musicians? (You all always look so classy and serious in your black clothes—is their scandal or silliness behind the scenes?)
Sure! We are very silly Sometimes we write funny things in the music or joke around when the conductor is talking to another part of the orchestra. The best thing I’ve seen is when you play a solo, the person next to you may shuffle their foot or tap their finger on their knee to show applause and support-during the music right after you put your instrument down. That has always warmed my heart.
It makes me smile just to think of that! Do you have a favorite fictional book about music?
Not really. But I do love Mr. Holland’s Opus- a great movie.
What is your favorite romance novel and why?
Winter Rose by Patricia Mckillip- the language is gorgeous and the story has just enough turmoil and romance for my taste. Also, it’s set in a fantasy world- a plus for me!
That sounds great–I’m adding it to my TBR. Now, tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I like to listen to Radio Gaia- it’s an internet radio station. I sit at my messy desk with all of my little totems: A miniature Jack Sparrow, a miniature Legolas, my Hobbit calender, my Darth Vader doll, and a whole bunch of sticky notes. I write in the morning before work, and at night after work. I try for 1k a day 365 days a year. Last year I made it to 316. Pretty close, but this year I really want to get to 365!
That’s really impressive. What do you find hardest about writing?
The bad reviews. I don’t even read them anymore. They just halt my creativity. Why da people have to say bad things about anything in the world?
I know what you mean. I don’t mind a thoughtfully critical review, but rudely negative ones are annoying! I think your approach is right-on–don’t pay them any attention. Can you tell us about what are you working on now?
I just finished the sequel to Playing the Maestro! This time the orchestra tours Italy and the oboist falls for an Italian tour guide. I thought Maestro was going to be my favorite, but I love this story even more for different reasons. In a way, it goes deeper than Maestro did, taking the characters out of their element and making them question what music really is.
Playing the Maestro and the sequel both sound wonderful! What was it like to write about a world you know so much about? How much did you draw on your personal experience?
It was so easy for me to write about a world I knew about. The words flowed very fast, and I had to watch myself and create characters that no one would be insulted by! I have too many music friends, and I didn’t want them thinking I’d written any of them into my book! I remember the day I had to break the news to my violinist friend that the violinst was going to be the “bad guy.” Thankfully she laughed and said I got that right!
LOL. I can imagine that would be tough. I know you like Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Was it is big switch to write a contemporary novel?
Oh yes! I felt like I was going naked. No pretty worlds, space aliens, or unicorns to hide behind. And unicorns are pretty big, too. Easy to hide behind if you want.
Do the musicians you play with know about your writing?
They think it’s a hoot. They look at me like, “I didn’t know you were a writer?” It’s good, because it balances my music well.
Okay. Here are some fun questions
Red wine or white? Red wine. White wine tastes like toilet cleaner.
Coffee or tea? Both. Anything with caffeine.
Vampires or werewolves? Vampires. Werewolves are smelly and don’t live forever.
History or Future? Future. If I’d lived back in Mozart’s day, I’d be dead by now of appendicitis. They probably wouldn’t have even known why I died. Sad for me.
LOL. You are a woman after my own heart! I think about things like that all the time. I’m so glad to have you as a guest on my blog today and to have gotten to know about you and your writing. I’m really looking forward to reading Playing the Maestro.
Aubrie is giving away a copy of Playing the Maestro to one commenter so leave her a line for a chance to win! This give away will end on Saturday 4/13 at midnight PST.
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