Christine Cody

Christine Cody brilliantly reinvents the Badlands.
Get lost in this story. We dare you.

The New Badlands—a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country, where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather...and from a society gone deadly dangerous.

Then the vampire arrived—and they started calling it the Bloodlands.

Not because Gabriel, the so-called monster running from his true self, was searching for his lover’s murderer. Nor because Mariah, the woman who reluctantly took him in, was willing to do anything to survive in the changed world.

No, the Badlands officially became the Bloodlands the moment a gun-for-hire who’d decided to slay every monster left in the country came after Gabriel . . .

Hi, all! I conceived this series while on a Western movie binge. I thought, “What if the typical gunslinger who had lost his humanity was actually a guy who slings fangs, not bullets? And what if he had literally lost that humanity because he’s a vampire?” Hence, you have what starts out in book one as a paranormal Shane meets Mad Max—an action-adventure futuristic Western with a strong romance at its core. I hope you enjoy it!

Welcome Bloodlands author Christine Cody.

Jillian: Where do you read and how often?
Christine: I read everywhere! I have a New Yorker magazine in my purse so I can read while I stand in line. I read on couches, on planes, but mostly in my bed. I love a good, stormy day when the rain is tapping on the windows—perfect reading time! And I read both print books and from my new e-reader, which speaks to my “impulsive buyer” side.
I don’t get to read as often as I like. I get to indulge myself when I’m off deadline. However, I usually have about three books going at once from different genres. Variety is the spice of life!

Jillian: What sound or noise do you love?
Christine: I absolutely love the sound of a lawnmower, mostly because it means I’ll get to smell freshly cut grass, LOL. There’s something so homey about those sounds and smells—very “neighborhoody.”

Jillian: What was the first story you remember writing?
Christine: In grade school, I wrote what turned out to be a horror story about a village that has a strange spring rites festival. It was influenced by movies I would see on Sunday afternoons in which you’d have those strange, horrific villages that practice dark activities. My dad really had a strong reaction to it—not a good one!—because I think he couldn’t believe that I would write something so dark. Needless to say, some of my stuff I write now isn’t his cup of tea. But he’s still proud of me.

Jillian: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Christine: This is a really tough one, because I have an ever-evolving top-ten list. The original STAR WARS movies are always in it, though. (Yes, I count them as one movie that can be broken into three parts!) STAR WARS influenced me greatly as a fan, a storyteller, and a lover of cinema. Then again, I think it did that for an entire generation.

Jillian: Who’s your favorite villain?
Christine: I have a lot of favorites, but I can say my *most recent* favorite villain is Mags from the second season of JUSTIFIED. What a fabulous character—a core of steel and a heart of gold (at least when it comes to those she loves). I loved watching her because she made every scene she was in better. Plus, you could understand this woman’s motivations and even sympathize with them while being appalled by her. *That’s* a complex villain.

Jillian: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Christine: This really depends on my mood, but I can tell you what I *majorly* got lost in this summer—the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin. I watched GAME OF THRONES on HBO, and I was so taken by the series’ mythology and characters that I couldn’t wait for season 2 to see what happened next. I was obsessed by all five (so far) books this summer, and it was a real struggle to get to work on my own stories, LOL. I haven’t been so lost in a story for a while, and it’s killing me that I’ll have to wait years for the next books!

Christine Cody is the author of the postapocalyptic supernatural Western Bloodlands series.

The first book, Bloodlands, launched July 26, followed by Blood Rules (August 30) and In Blood We Trust (September 27).

Jillian: If you could interview one person (and it doesn’t have to be a writer) who would it be?
Christine: Jack the Ripper. I’ve always had an intense need to know who he really was. Sure, there are lots of books out there with educated guesses about his identity, but it seems the theories are always changing. By interviewing him, I would get to his secrets, and I would be fascinated by his thought process and motivations.
I think just about every horror lover has tried their hand at a Jack the Ripper story and, indeed, I have one of my own. I wrote it in college. This reminds me that I’ll have to dig it up again!

Jillian: What do you do to unwind and relax?
Christine: I walk and walk and walk, LOL. But I’m also an avid TV watcher at the end of the day. I used to go to movies quite a bit, but the sheen has worn off for me, and I think the best visual storytelling out there is on the tube. It’s very encouraging to see very smart, quality storytelling in series like BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN and, of course, GAME OF THRONES, etc. These are series that aren’t necessarily fast paced all the time, and they require a lot of attention to details and an audience’s investment of time. I love that there’s a place for that, because I think we sometimes believe that everything in our books has to happen so quickly.

Jillian: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Christine: I would love to have a chat with the villain of my Bloodlands books, Johnson Stamp. He’s not a super bad guy unless he’s crossed or his morals and ethics are challenged. He’s the “Javert” of these books. I’m drawn to understand darkness in the world as well as in people, so this would be an interesting meeting for me.

Jillian: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Christine: I always hoped I would get to travel, and writing has allowed me to do that. I wrote a series called Vampire Babylon as Chris Marie Green, and for the second trilogy of that series, I went to London, just so I could get some vibes for the books’ location. I went to Highgate Cemetery and blocked scenes out there, and did the same on the streets. I normally use my trips as inspiration for all of my books. What other job lets you do that?

Jillian: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
Christine: Tea with cream and sugar. I love high tea, too. I mean *love.* My favorite tea is “Lover Girl” from Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. It has a hint of violet in it.

Jillian: Since it’s Halloween, which of one your characters would you like to dress up as tonight?
Christine: If I wanted to scare people silly, I would dress up as Subject 562 from books 2 and 3. Sometimes, it reminded me of what Samara in THE RING looked like with her hair over her face!

Christine's Halloween Giveaway Special!

Christine would like to ask you a question: What will *you* be wearing on Halloween and why? Three lucky commenters will receive a copy of volume #1 of the Bloodlands series!

***Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


Jordan Dane's TEEN Thrillers

ISBN: 0373210299

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend--the first boy she ever loved--of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac "White Bird" Henry isn't in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she's pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn't understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she's up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she's as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won't turn her back on him. She's the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret--a "gift" she's kept hidden her whole life.

I sleep with the dead.

I don’t remember the first time I did it and I try not to think about why. It’s just something I do. My fascination with the dead has become part of me, like the way my middle toes jut out. They make my feet look like they’re shooting the finger 24/7. My “screw you” toes are my best feature, but that doesn’t mean I brag about them. Those babies are kept under wraps—just for my entertainment—the same way I keep my habit of sleeping in cemeteries a secret from anyone. Not even my mother knows I sneak out at night to curl up with the headstones…and the stillness. Some things are best left unsaid.

In the arms of stone angels, I’m not afraid.

I wish I had remembered the part about not telling secrets when I came across my friend White Bird under the bridge at Cry Baby Creek. A woman’s spirit cries for her dead baby and haunts that old rusted steel and wood plank footbridge. I’d seen her plenty of times, I swear to God. She never talked to me. The dead never do. She only cried and clutched the limp body of her baby to her chest.

Back then I didn’t fully understand how fragile the barrier was between my world and another existence where the dead grieved over their babies forever. And I had no idea that a change was coming. Someone would alter how I saw the thin veil between my reality and the vast world beyond it.

And that someone was my friend, White Bird.

When I saw him crying in the shadows of that dry creek bed, just like the ghost of that woman, the sight of him sent chills over my skin. I should have paid attention to what my body was telling me back then—to stay away and leave him alone—but I didn’t.

He was rocking in the shadows and muttering words I didn’t understand. When I got closer, I saw he wasn’t alone, but I couldn’t see the girl’s face. And tears were running down his cheeks. They glistened in the gray of morning, at the razor’s edge of dawn. I wish I had stayed where I was that day—hiding in the dark—but my curiosity grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Like an omen, the buzz of flies should have warned me. And thinking back, I wish that I had paid more attention to the sound. Even now, a single housefly can trigger that dark memory. And on nights when the dead can’t comfort me to sleep, I still hear the unending noise of those flies and I think of him. Our paths had crossed that day for a reason, as if it was always meant to be, and both of us were powerless to stop it.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday and I can’t get him out of my head.
White Bird was the first boy I ever loved. He was a half-breed, part Euchee Indian and part whatever. He was an outcast like me, only I couldn’t claim anything cool like being Indian. Because he was half-breed and without parents, the Euchee didn’t officially claim him, but that didn’t matter to White Bird. In his heart he belonged to the Dala, the Bear clan of the tribe, because the bear represented the power of Mother Earth. And the strong animal was a totem sign of the healer. The way I saw it, he had picked his clan well.

In school, the teachers called him by his white name, Isaac Henry. But when it was just the two of us, he preferred I call him by his Indian name and that made me feel real special. He was different from the other boys. I was convinced he had an ancient soul. He was quiet and didn’t speak much, even to me. But when he did open his mouth, the other kids listened and so did I.

Some people were scared of him because he was taller and bigger than most of the boys and he kept to himself. Sometimes he would get into fights. But after he got his tribal band tattoos, the fights stopped and everyone left him alone, including his teachers. His tattoos made him look like a man. And that was fine by me.

He wore his dark hair long to his shoulders and his eye color had flecks of gold and green that reminded me of a field of wheat blowing easy in the Oklahoma wind. And his skin made me think of a golden swirl of sweet caramel. That’s how I thought of him before the nightmare happened. He dominated my mind like a tune I couldn’t get out of my head, something memorable and special.

White Bird was my first crush.

And in a perfect world, my first crush should have been unforgettable and magic. But when mine turned out to be the worst nightmare of my pathetic excuse for a life, I knew I’d never deserve to be happy and that magic was overrated. And as for White Bird being unforgettable, the day I saw him under that bridge covered in blood and ranting like a crazed meth head over a girl’s corpse with a knife in his hand, I knew that image would be burned into my brain forever.

It was highly unlikely that I’d forget him and I made sure he’d never forget me. I was the one who turned him in to the sheriff.

HarperCollins launched Jordan’s suspense novels back to back in 2008 after the 3-book series sold in auction. Ripped from the headlines, Jordan's gritty plots weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense thrillers to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag. This national best-selling, critically acclaimed author’s debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. Dane’s first Young Adult book is IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Apr 2011, Harlequin Teen) with ON A DARK WING set for January 2012. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their San Antonio residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two very lucky rescue dogs.

How often to you get lost in a story?
JORDAN: If a story can make me forget that I’m an author, that’s when I really get lost…and fast. Right now I’m reading Ilsa J Bick’s ASHES, a dark YA that has sucked me in. She writes beautifully. Love her word choices, but her characters are very strong and her settings are atmospheric and eerie. Love her.

ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
JORDAN: Being a Texas girl, I grew up with a love for horses. The first books I remember craving were any novels with horses in them. Westerns with lone wolf cowboys & fantasies with flying horses suckered me in. I hung out at my elementary school library and read every single book that had a horse in it. With my first summer job, I bought a horse and had a few horses for years until the upkeep got too much with school too. Great memories though.

ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
JORDAN: I’m featuring a hero that I know in my upcoming book ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). David Clampitt is a cousin of mine and he consulted on this book to help me uncover the heart of my fictional character, Tanner Lange, who is confined to a wheelchair after a tragic four-wheeler accident. In real life, Dave lost the use of his legs when he was a teen and is wheelchair bound. Now Dave is a physical therapist and helps others get back on their feet. He’s happily married and a great guy. An inspiration to me. I had always been impressed with his physical strength, watching him move with such independence and his humor is out of bounds. Dave shared his personal stories of how people treat him—right after the accident to now—and some of those stories broke my heart. I had to include them and infuse Tanner Lange with Dave’s real experiences. Dave Clampitt is who I think of when I see the word “hero.”

ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
JORDAN: I love Pepé Le Pew. He has obvious drawbacks that he ignores. He’s a lover not a hater. And his rose-colored glasses make him very happy.

ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
JORDAN: Chaotic crowds, intense traffic, and slow computers. I need to get better at accepting things beyond my control (like Pepé Le Pew) and enjoy the moment, but I can turn into a crazy person in a heartbeat. Must be my Latin blood. It can be the best of me and the worst. 

ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
JORDAN: I usually have a playlist for my YAs, only because it keeps me plugged into the music scene and I love how song lyrics can set the tone for a character or even inspire twists in the plot. I had Buck Cherry & other songs mentioned in this book but one song in the story really makes me smile. It reminds me of my niece who recommended it to me. My character, Brenna Nash, liked this song and so do I.

“I Like Giants” by Kimya Dawson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwhxSV8dLdA

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
JORDAN: I read every day and it’s become a bedtime ritual. I even go to bed early if I have a particularly good book on my nightstand or on my kindle. I do my edits for the material I wrote that day, but then I indulge in reading other people’s books. Reading transports me to a place where my mind can relax, even if the book is dark, I love how a good story can mellow me out.

ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
JORDAN: People ask this question of me all the time and look at me strangely when I say that I don’t have one favorite. I love so many movies for the various things they do for me and at the time of my life they came along. Even if I started a list, I don’t think it would ever be complete. I recently saw THE TREE OF LIFE and I’m still scratching my head, saying, “huh?” Definitely beyond awful. Sorry, Brad.

ANGI: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
JORDAN: Story telling is always easy because it’s part of who I am and I do it for me. Writing is harder because I do it for others. I have to filter my word choices through my life’s experiences and struggle with the best way to convey what I need in a scene. I don’t even need a glass of wine to story tell. Just sayin’ 

ANGI: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans?
JORDAN: I’m so excited to be launching a virtual tour for ON A DARK WING (HarlequinTeen, Jan 2012) in Nov-Dec and YA Bound is hosting it. This will be my first YA tour so I’m very excited. There will be really cool prizes. With each signed book, my character Abbey is sending a surprise care package to every winner. (Abbey hasn’t told me yet what those will be. She’s such a drama queen.) Stay tuned for grand prize news. Amazing! (Advance review copies are available on Netgalley.) I love this book and hope you will too.

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: Hey, Jordan…Out of all the books you’ve written, who is your favorite hero and why?
JORDAN’S GOTTA ANSWER: This is the same as asking a mother who her favorite kid is. Come on. Every character is a part of me and my life’s experiences. How could I say one has it over another? With each character, I find vulnerability that endears them to me. Many break my heart, but most stick with me even to this day. I feel badly for treating them the way I do too. I’m a bad momma, I guess.


ISBN: 978-0373210411

“The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for and Death would be my willing teacher.”

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again. Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

STAY IN TOUCH WITH JORDAN through her Website Twitter @JordanDane Blog

JORDAN WILL BE DRAWING for 3 signed copies of IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS from those leaving comments through Sunday, Oct 30th.

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

JORDAN WOULD LIKE TO KNOW: Which of my characters do readers like best and why.

READERS DON’T FORGET to follow us on Facebook or Twitter >GetLostInAStory or #GetLostStories< for a daily update on who’s visiting GLIAS and what they might be giving away! Join us on Monday when Jill hosts Christine Cody. ~Angi


Two Denver PIs

Get Lost in a Story readers. Today we have a special treat. A husband and wife team. Colleen Collins writes romance, mystery and nonfiction. Shaun Kaufman is kicking off his law practice http://www.shaunkaufmanlaw.com/ and he also writes nonfiction. If that’s not enough, they’re both practicing Colorado private investigators. So we’ve tapered our fun questions more for their lifestyle than for our typical fiction writers.

Please welcome Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman to Get Lost in a Story.

DONNELL: Put your heads together and tell us your favorite room(s) in your house?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: Our bedroom. It’s where Colleen writes, where Shaun watches football, where we often eat our meals in the evenings, and it’s the room closest to the kitchen. For Shaun, the living room couch has great significance because it’s where he spent hundreds of hours studying for two bar exams over the past few years.

DONNELL: Something personal goes missing -- which of you puts on the detective hat to find it?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: Colleen. She practices a visualization technique that goes like this… “When do you last recall holding or seeing that item? Okay, visualize the area, what you were wearing, what you were in the middle of doing…now, where did you take that item?” It’s cognitive-psychologist-detective approach.

DONNELL: Do you read reviews of your books?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: Yes. Enough to learn from feedback. Although it’s sometimes also important to follow-up on reviews to ensure they’re legit. We once discovered someone had posted several “anonymous” reviews (one on a major bookseller’s site as well as on several blogs), which weren’t reviews at all, but character attacks. We knew who it was (we are, after all, detectives), and we also knew it wasn’t worth our energy or time to confront him. Instead, we contacted the bookselling site (who removed the un-review) and the blog owners (who graciously removed the posts, if they hadn’t already – one even publicly chewed out the anonymous poster!).

Btw, we’ve had authors contact us requesting help to stop cyberstalkers – we refer those to a local PI we know who specializes in tracking cyberstalkers.

DONNELL: What’s the strangest case you’ve ever been asked to take or have taken?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: We once had a guy call, asking us to locate a vampire. The guy was dead serious (no pun intended) – said it was a person who really thought he was a vampire and was biting people’s necks. We declined the case. Another guy once asked us to “put some muscle” on a person who’d stolen a Ferrari. We told him we don’t do Tony Soprano cases. We once found a young man who’d fallen in with a cult…we discovered the cult, identified the cult leader’s real name & background, then over a year later Dr. Phil did a show on the same cult, claiming “his” PI just discovered the cult leader’s real identity. It was odd watching that show, realizing some of our best work was adapted for the Dr. Phil show.

DONNELL: What’s in your refrigerator right now?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: You asked at a great time! We had a “Whole Foods” date this past weekend, so we have food in our fridge that we can’t even pronounce, cheeses whose fat content should make us ashamed, kosher yogurt with milk derived from cows treated humanely, and enough Diet Coke to stun a moose (not from Whole Foods). Oh, and homemade pickles from last summer.

DONNELL: How many “gumshoes” do you have in your closet? ;) (sorry interviewer couldn’t resist).

SHAUN & COLLEEN: We don’t. They’re under our bed.

DONNELL: What was your proudest moment as a private investigator?

COLLEEN: Finding an abducted 5-year-old girl within 12 hours of her being taken.

SHAUN: Doggedly pursuing neighborhood leads in a gang-stabbing case. Nobody wanted to come forward out of fear of gang retaliation, but I persuaded two people to finally meet me anonymously (they’d only give their first names) in a public park. Their statements helped release an innocent man from a 20-year prison sentence.

DONNELL: (How cool is that!) What do you do to unwind and relax?

SHAUN & COLLEEN:We walk and train the Rottweilers. We garden. We plan fantasy trips where we win a lot of money in Las Vegas. Writing together.

DONNELL: What would you say is the most fun? What presents the most conflict?

Most fun: Uncovering and learning about the other…we’ve been together 9 years, and we’re still learning how the other thinks!

Most conflict: Colleen’s a detailed person, Shaun’s a big-picture person. Enough said.

DONNELL: In a police investigation we hear that with every hour a person goes missing, the less likely police will find them alive. Do you investigate missing persons? And what was the longest time that person was listed missing?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: We never try to supplant law enforcement investigations. However, we are happy to step in when law enforcement has yet to act on (or declined to act on) a missing person complaint. (The reason law enforcement sometimes declines to act on missing person complaints is that they do not find foul play in the disappearance.)

The longest time a person was listed missing (who we found) was approximately 2 months.

DONNELL: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?

SHAUN & COLLEEN: Not for researching a book, but for a case. We discovered a woman was committing crimes as her “twin sister” – she’d fooled attorneys and law enforcement over a span of a few years. She was quite intelligent (had a doctorate) and had created some compelling documentation that indicated there was a twin sister. Before we took the case, nobody had taken the time to dig deeper into that documentation and her family history.

DONNELL: What do you think is the most misunderstood concept about private investigators?

COLLEEN: That PIs’ work is mostly about chasing cheaters.

SHAUN: That all PIs carry guns, drink on the job, and call women “dames.”

Fascinating, Colleen and Shaun, now it’s your turn to ask Readers a Question.

COLLEEN: Who’s your favorite fictional sleuth and why?

SHAUN: If you were going to be on “Dancing with the Stars,” who would you want from the professional dancers to be your partner and why?

DONNELL: There you have it, Readers. Shaun & Colleen will be doing a book give away.

SHAUN & COLLEEN: Yes, we’d like to give away two copies: one of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths and How Do Private Eyes Do That? Both are ebooks (for both Kindle and Nook), but you don’t need an e-reader device (there are free, downloadable apps so you can read the books on our PC, Mac, and other devices). Please leave your email address in your comments (winners will receive links to the books via email).

Colleen and Shaun, thank you.

Thank you, Donnell! Btw, we’re excited about your new book release The Past Came Hunting!

Thank you, my Denver buddies! I'm so glad you stopped by and granted us this interview, even though it was a bit out of the ordinary. It sure was fun and informative! ~ Donnell

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join us on tomorrow October 28th, when Angi hosts Jordan Dane. Remember to check back daily to GET LOST in your favorite stories! ~ Donnell

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address. Those leaving comments through Sunday at noon CST following this post will be eligible for the drawing.

Judy Duarte

Judy Duarte returns with a story full of good cheer, Christmas Spirit, and romance!

This Christmas, come home to Fairbrook.

The charming setting for Judy Duarte's uplifting, heartwarming novels, where friendship, faith, and some extra-special providence will make it a holiday to remember.

Christmas on Nutcracker Court
Judy Duarte
Dafina Kensington

Fairbrook is a town tailor-made for Christmas where beautiful old houses line quaintly named streets like Sugar Plum Lane and Nutcracker Court. But not everyone is eager for the holidays to arrive. Cash-strapped single mom Carly Westbrook worries about providing a merry Christmas for her boys. It doesn't help that they've been having run-ins with neighbor Max Tolliver, an aspiring novelist stricken with writer's block. Then there's Grant Barrows, a formerly wealthy businessman whose heart seems to have shrunk along with his bank balance.

Some folks are still determined to make the season sparkle--like the Diamond Lils, a ladies' group that meets weekly to play poker and socialize. This year, they're looking to do some good deeds--and wealthy widow Lynette thinks that a little matchmaking between Grant and Carly would be a perfect place to start.

Get Lost in a Story welcomes back Judy Duarte

Judy always knew there was a book inside her, but since English was her least favorite subject in school, she never considered herself a writer. An avid reader who enjoys a happy ending, Judy couldn’t shake the dream of creating a book of her own.

That dream became a reality in 2002, when Silhouette released her first Special Edition. Since then, more than thirty of her books have hit the shelves, including three women’s fiction novels and two novellas.

Judy, a two-time RITA® finalist with Mulberry Park (2009) and Entertaining Angels (2010), was awarded two Maggies and a National Reader’s Choice Award for her heartwarming stories.

When she’s not cooped up in her writing cave, Judy spends time with her family near the beach in Southern California.

Judy has some great thoughts to share, check out her interview.
Jillian: Where do you read and how often?
Judy: I read at night, while I’m lying in bed. I also love to read when I’m on vacation, especially on planes. A good book makes the flight time pass quickly. I don’t get to read nearly as often as I used to—or as often as I’d like. My family and my writing schedule take up a lot of my free time. However, I recently started reading historical romances with an inspirational thread—something I’d enjoyed years ago and have recently come back to. So my nightlight has been getting a little more use lately.

Jillian: Describe your favorite kind of hero to read/write?
Judy: I generally like darker, tortured heroes—men who are loners because of something that happened to them in the past. I enjoy creating a plot and conflicts that help those men find redemption and healing through the love of a good woman.

Jillian: What was the first story you remember writing?
Judy: A girlfriend and I wrote a romantic short story when we were juniors in high school. In fact, at our high school reunion last August, we talked about it. She still has the story!It was a western, but it wasn’t a romance. We killed off both the hero and heroine at the end. But we received an A+ on that story.

Jillian: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Judy: You know, that changes with time. When I was in high school, I loved GONE WITH THE WIND with Clark Gable and Vivian Lee. Yesterday, while talking to two writing friends, we talked about an old classic—THE QUIET MAN with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I also like SIXTEEN CANDLES, with Molly Ringwald. And all the Star Wars movies. But that’s just off the top of my head. I know I’m missing some—like WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING and SLEEPING IN SEATTLE…

Jillian: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Judy: I can usually get lost in a historical romance. Recently I read REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers and HEART OF STONE BY Jill Marie Landis and really enjoyed them. But I also loved THE HELP by Katheryn Stockett and HER SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult.

Jillian: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
Judy: I would enjoy traveling back to the 1880s. I’m a big fan of westerns, although I think the life was tougher back then than the movies make them look. So maybe I’d choose a smaller town in the Midwest. Hmm. Maybe someplace like Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

Jillian: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Judy: I’d probably be a social worker. I’m good at encouraging people and helping them find options. A wise woman once told me that the essence of mental health is knowing that you have options. It made a lot of sense, and I’ve made it a point to always have a Plan B—and even a C or D. Doors are often closed, but look for the open window.

Jillian: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Judy: Yes, I do read the reviews. I try hard to tell myself that it’s all subjective, so I don’t pay a lot of attention to them. Okay, so I do favor the glowing reviews and put more stock in them than I should. One review mentioned that my Mulberry Park stories tied up a little too nicely. And I let that influence me when I wrapped up CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT.

Jill's Gotta Ask. Judy's Gotta Answer:

Jillian: When you first get an inkling for a story, which character comes first? The hero or heroine? Do you jot down the idea right away or do you let the story percolate for a while?
Judy: This is really an interesting question, and you might find my answer even more so. All of my characters have some kind of flaw or something to overcome. And for that reason, I usually create the more damaged character first. After that character comes to life in my mind, a plot begins to form. When writing a romance, I then create the perfect romantic nemesis for the first character—a man or a woman who is the worst person for them to be attracted to when the story begins, but who will be perfect by the end of the book. Even in my women’s fiction novels, each character will grow and change and become stronger during the course of the story.

Question for Judy's commenters: Judy loves to read at night. In bed. With a nightlight. She also likes to read on vacation and on plane flights. Where and when do you read? GIVEAWAY! Judy would love to offer a copy of CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT to one of today's commenters.

For more about Judy's novels, here's a link: http://JudyDuarte.com

***Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


Danielle Younge-Ulman

Today I'm extra super excited to introduce Danielle Younge-Ullman.

Danielle's first novel, FALLING UNDER, was originally published by Penguin/Plume in 2008 and now is finally available as an e-book!

I could rave about this book, which I first read in manuscript form--yes, I'm that lucky--but better to share some reviews from people who aren't her critique partner. ;)


"Falling Under is one of the most compelling debut novels I have read in a long time. It is gutsy, emotional, sexually charged and, because of its second-person narrative style, unremittingly intense. Younge-Ullman writes her guts out, hurtling forward, pedal to the floor. The result is a gripping story, crackling with energy."
Canada's National Post

"...Here's a debut novel that delivers. Extreme, and extremely well done!"
Kim Alexander for XM Radio's Fiction Nation

"Fierce, erotic and absolutely fearless...Shocking and moving, Falling Under is edgy as a razor blade and unlike anything you've read before."
-- Dame Magazine

"...an astonishing debut novel reminiscent of Janet Fitch's White Oleander...passages so beautiful they hurt. Younge-Ullman has a talent for turning the shadows of life into a thing of beauty, almost poetry..."
--Curled Up With a Good Book

"Younge-Ullman has a unique and mesmerizing writing style. It is at once raw and gritty, eloquent and beautiful. Most outstanding is her ability to take the reader inside her character's head and heart, creating a unique and unforgettable reading experience"
-- Literarily

"...a story told with great feeling and compassionate attention to how a sensitive person can find herself alienated from everything she needs to feel whole"
Feast Magazine

"...hard hitting and explosive, with a raw energy that left me breathless."
--Good Housekeeping.com


After growing up as the only child of bitterly divorced parents, Mara Foster has finally gained independence and is embarking on a promising career as an artist. But despite her success, she is fragile. Burdened by a host of fears and anxieties, Mara finds it difficult even to leave her house on most days. When Mara meets Hugo, the walls she has built around herself begin to crumble, and as she struggles to find a breakthrough both in her art and in life, she must come to terms with her own dark secrets in order to get a second chance at happiness.

Written in spare, crisp prose and marked by wry humor, Falling Under is a gripping contemporary urban tale of human weakness, friendship and hard-earned redemption. This emotionally resonant story of unexpected love marks the debut of a striking new voice in fiction.


Danielle Younge-Ullman is a novelist, playwright and freelance writer. She took her BA in English, with a major in Theatre, at McGill University in Montreal. She then returned to her hometown of Toronto to work as an actor for ten years, before turning her attention to writing. Her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto's SummerWorks Festival in 2005. Danielle lives in Toronto with her husband, two daughters, and their dog, Finny. Falling Under is her first novel.


MAUREEN: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
DANIELLE: Like Water for Chocolate

MAUREEN: Oh, I love that too. What’s the first book you remember reading?
DANIELLE: The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe

MAUREEN: Clearly we have similar taste in books/movies. :) Where in the world would you most like to visit?
DANIELLE: I’m dying to go to Prague.

MAUREEN: Hiking boots or high heels?
DANIELLE: Oh dear. Neither. Ideally something in between that is attractive but not excruciating to wear!

MAUREEN: What are you reading right now?
DANIELLE: Keith Cronin’s Me Again.

MAUREEN: What hidden talents do you have?
DANIELLE: If I could only get a hold of one of the hoola hoops they had when I was a kid—they were heavier, or weighted differently than the ones you find now, and I could hoola hoop forever. My fellow 3rd graders were in awe. So, this a very, very hidden talent, since I can never demonstrate it.

MAUREEN: There's a gym near me that has hoola-hoop classes. Just saying. :) What was your favorite book when you were twelve?
DANIELLE: Something inappropriate for a twelve-year-old, I’m sure. I’d say Go Ask Alice and there was another one I loved called I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.

MAUREEN: Once again... similar tastes even at twelve. Would you rather sky dive or scuba dive?
DANIELLE: Scuba. I have NO DESIRE EVER to sky dive. In fact I have a powerful desire to make sure I never have to.

MAUREEN: There we're different. I've done both... Who’s your favorite villain?
DANIELLE: Only one?! Lady M from The Scottish Play (sorry, I’m a theater person, so I can’t actually say the names.) Marquise de Merteuil from Dangerous Liaisons, Iago, Dracula, The Wicked Witch of the West, Javert from Les Miserables

MAUREEN: What’s the most romantic thing anyone ever did for you?
DANIELLE: As kind of a joke, I’d sat with my boyfriend one summer night and given him a “quest”—a list of 27 things to learn/find before he proposed to me. We were really just joking (I thought) and he kept asking me to make the tasks more difficult, and all the while he was writing everything on a cocktail napkin. Over the next few months there were some mysterious deliveries to our condo, and a couple of days where he was out and I couldn’t quite figure out what he was doing. And then, just before the holidays, he presented me with a pull-along grocery cart full of stuff—items from the list—and proposed. Obviously I married the guy!

MAUREEN: Love that story :) What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
DANIELLE: Well, I can be funny. I think it comes across in my writing, but you have to know me really, really well, I think, before you see it from me in person. I don’t purposely hide it, but I guess my sense of humor is shy—it only comes out in the right mix of circumstances.

MAUREEN: Which of your characters would you most/least to invite to dinner, and why?
DANIELLE: I would probably like to have Erik to dinner. But I would be suspicious of my motives if I did so. Mara’s mom would probably be the one I’d least want to have dinner with, though her dad is a close second, because they are just atrocious parents.

MAUREEN: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
DANIELLE:Yes, I read them and I do pay attention, particularly if someone has taken the time to write a well-balanced, thoughtful review. But if someone just didn’t “get” my work and didn’t like anything about it and is trashing it across the board, I have to just shrug that off because there’s nothing helpful or positive to glean from it. Fortunately I’ve very rarely come across that kind of review.


MAUREEN: Mara, your main character is a visual artist. Did you ever study art?
DANIELLE:  Nope. Not only have I never studied art, I am pathetically lacking in talent. Already my five-year-old draws better than me. But I LOVE art and part of why I made Mara an artist is so I could experience being an artist. (Look for books with singers and mathematicians coming up in the future, since I’m lacking in talent in those areas too.)


Without putting in any spoilers for people who have not read the book, I am always curious, when people have read Falling Under, about what they think is going to happen to Mara in the future. I’m also interested in how people perceive the tone of Falling Under. Some readers comment on the intensity of it, some on the “dark” aspects, but I also have the occasional person commenting on how funny it is. It really feels like it’s different for every reader.


Danielle will give a free e-book copy of Falling Under to a random commenter on this post. Comment must be made by November 1, 2011 and will be drawn using random.org. Prize will be awarded via a Smashwords gift certificate.


Website: http://www.danielleyoungeullman.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DanielleYUllman


Joanna Karaplis

Welcome to YA author Joanna Karaplis whose fabulous collection of short stories, Fractured: Happily Never After? is available now.

About Joanna

Joanna Karaplis is from Vancouver but now makes her home in Toronto with her husband and two cats. Fractured: Happily Never After? is her first published book. Besides writing, she also enjoys reading (both printed books and e-books), swing dancing, and stand-up comedy. She blogs sporadically at www.joannakaraplis.com.

About the Book

Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.

But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?

Joanna Karaplis has put an unexpected spin on Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid; she’s quietly fractured the stories and then reassembled them for the 21st Century. So, while there may not be a whole lot of horse-drawn carriages and magic potions, you can be sure that there will be at least one evil witch and maybe even a handsome prince (or two)…

Published in November 2010 by McKellar & Martin Publishing Group Ltd. You can order online at Amazon.ca (support the publisher by using the link on their website!), Chapters Indigo, or McNally Robinson.
Read what bloggers and other reviewers have said about Fractured at http://www.joannakaraplis.com/reviews/

Get to Know Joanna Karaplis

MAUREEN: What's your favourite holiday?
JOANNA: I love Halloween, because I like dressing up and seeing everyone else's creative costumes, but my favourite holiday is Christmas. Lots of people complain about Christmas decorations going up as soon as Halloween is over, but I don't mind. It's one of the only things I enjoy about winter. I love seeing houses and trees decorated in lights, and hearing Christmas carols. I also enjoy that it's a nice long holiday and you can justify lounging around the house in your pjs for a few days. I'm less concerned with buying or receiving presents or hosting a big meal--perhaps that's why I find it relaxing rather than stressful!

MAUREEN: Cats or dogs?
JOANNA: My husband smugly insists that he turned me into a cat person, but I insist that I'm just a currently-dogless dog person who happens to have two cats. (Still following?) Luckily for me, my cats exhibit many fine dog-like qualities: they run to greet me when I come home, they like tummy rubs, and sometimes they play fetch. Once we have a dog lifestyle, I'll probably get a dog--nothing beats their devotion and enthusiasm!--but for now, I don't have the time to give a dog all the walks it deserves. The cats are far lazier, and thus lower maintenance.

MAUREEN: Did you belong to a clique in high school? Which one of the standard high school stereotypes did you best fit into?
JOANNA: I was a total nerd. Editor of the school paper, Star Trek fan, avid reader of science fiction, and completely uninterested in fashion. Initially, I tried to hide my nerd tendencies, but I don't think I ever fooled anyone, and by the time I was fifteen, I was proudly flying my geek flag by wearing Black Adder t-shirts and mismatched quirky socks, quoting Monty Python, and not being ashamed if anyone else thought the things I liked were weird or uncool. I'm still a huge nerd, but I think I dress better now. A little.

MAUREEN: Salsa or guacamole?
JOANNA: Tomatoes give me heartburn and I don't like avocados, so my original answer was "neither." However, when I started dating my husband, he made me guacamole and I tried it to be polite (ok, and because he was cute). Good thing I did, because it was delicious! I still don't like avocados, but now I love guacamole.

MAUREEN: What turns you off like nothing else?
JOANNA: Cruelty and hate. I'm not religious, but I think "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a great principle to live by.

MAUREEN: Where do you most like to read and how often?
JOANNA: My preferred spot is by the window at home. I read daily, at home and on my subway commute, and I generally finish a minimum of a book a week. In fact, I should probably read a little less so that I have more time to write instead! I especially love young adult fiction, both realistic stories and dystopian ones.

Gotta Ask, Gotta Answer

MAUREEN: What was your favorite book when you were twelve?
JOANNA:   When I was twelve, I read The Call of the Wild by Jack London, and then I went looking for other tales of dogs and wolves in the wilderness. I began reading lots of books by Jim Kjelgaard--Big Red, Irish Red, Snow Dog. They were always about a young boy and his dog surviving in the wilderness together. A bit of a change from the Baby-Sitters Club books I'd read when I was a bit younger!

Joanna Asks Readers:

What do you like to know about your favourite authors, and does knowing more about them affect how you read their books?

Keep in Touch with Joanna Here:

Website: www.joannakaraplis.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanna-Karaplis/167972656568843
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JoKaraplis

Thanks so much for  a great interview, Joanna! Readers, come back tomorrow for an interview with author Danielle Younge-Ullman.


Jo Robertson

A clandestine government organization called Invictus "recruits" outstanding athletes for secret projects. But their top agent Jackson Holt has extraordinary, almost preternatural, qualities not even the Organization can explain.
Olivia Gant, professor of Ancient Studies at a private college in California, was once Jack's childhood sweetheart. But when he deserted her, he left her alone to combat her stepfather's drunken attentions and her mother's careless neglect.
Nearly twenty years later, their paths cross in a mission to fight a bizarre religious serial killer whose methods include crucifixion and burial alive. Olivia and Jack battle for happiness against years of secrecy and distance as they use Olivia's expertise in Latin and Jack's special gifts to track a brutal killer.
Can Olivia forgive Jack for his long-ago betrayal? Can Jack allow Olivia to witness the terrible Change that makes him such an effective killing machine?
Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working with a single-minded tenacity, she sets out to prove it.
Deputy Sheriff Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival in his county knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with the kind of pathology she proposes is too bizarre.
Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler County, but whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, he fixates on Kate and wants nothing more than to kill the "purple-eyed girl again."
DONNELL: Big city or small town girl?
JO: I'm a small-town girl at heart who has to be near a big city! I want theatre, libraries, a university or two or three, and lots of shopping venues. I hate crowds and traffic, but want at my fingertips all the amenities that go with a big city.
DONNELL: Morning or nighttime person?
JO: Ironically, I'm both if I set my internal clock. The year I finished my California teaching credential, I stayed up until two in the morning and got up at six pretty much every day. Of course, I have a marvelous husband who took over all those pesky chores like grocery shopping and kid tending. I usually wake up pretty cheerful in the morning so I don't mind rising early, but if I stay up past 10:00 at night, I'm pretty much up all night. I get a second wind or something.
DONNELL: Which of your characters would you like to invite to dinner? Which of your characters would you least likely invite to dinner?
JO: Oh, this has to be Slater, the hero of "The Watcher" who also plays a secondary character in the second book in the trilogy "The Avenger." The word I apply to Slater is "steady." My friends claim that I've modeled him after my husband, but Slater has a painful past that makes him wary of people and an excellent sheriff.
I'd never invite one of my villains to dinner. They're too chilling even for me LOL.
DONNELL: Panster or Plotter?
JO: Total panster, which I'm afraid is often synonymous with "clueless" or "disorganized," but for me it's about initially having the scaffolding of the story in my head (hero, heroine, villain, conflict) and discovering the details as I write. Sometimes I don't know what's going to happen until my fingers touch the keyboard. Sometimes I'm surprised and a bit shocked by what I find out!
DONNELL: Do you read reviews of your books?
JO: I do. I think reviews are a good indicator of whether you're reaching your target audience or not. You can learn as much from a bad review as from a good one. What didn't work for that reader, for example, and is that a valid criticism. It's delightful when a reviewer homes in on what you consider are the strengths and weaknesses of your book. It's kind of a "I knew that" epiphany.
DONNELL: Introvert or Extravert?
JO: I'm a total extrovert. Sometimes my family wishes I were more demure. As an extrovert, I get energized by sharing ideas with other people. When I taught English and was department chair, I realized the importance of the synergy generated by bouncing thoughts off people you respect.
DONNELL: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
JO: Not much as I don't cook. All right, maybe once or twice a week. Honestly, I love cooking, and especially baking, but who has the time?! But there's always milk, cheese and eggs in my refrigerator. And ALWAYS Pepsis in my mini-fridge!
DONNELL: You’re on a raft in the middle of the ocean. You’re out of water and sharks are circling your craft. Who do you want with you?
JO: I have to say my husband on this one because he's so clever and innovative. I'm sure he'd figure out a way to get us out of the situation!
DONNELL: What turns you on? Then reverse this question, what turns you off?
JO: A man in a suit. Can anyone say Matt Bomer?
Nasty odors. I have a strong sense of smell and a whiff of something bad is gaggy!
DONNELL: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
JO: I've finally been able to achieve the last big dream I had for myself. LOL, I tell my husband I'm ready to go now. I was graduated from college, married and reared a family (although several have come home to roost), and taught high school (a life-long dream). The only thing left was sharing my writing with an audience. My journey through indie publishing has been far more successful than I could've hoped, and I'm grateful to all those readers who's expressed interest in my books.
And now a question for your readers, Donnell:
If you could undo a single act or decision you've made, what is/was it and why? Or, conversely, what opportunity presented itself to you that you passed over and now wish you hadn't?
Donnell, thanks so much for having me! Today for two random commenters, I'm giving away an electronic download of one of my books, either "The Watcher" or "The Avenger."
Jo Robertson, a former high school English teacher, lives in northern California, near the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills. She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and discussing the latest in books, movies, and television shows. Any "spare" time she has is spent enjoying her seven children and sixteen grandchildren, who bring a great deal of joy to her life.

When her Advanced Placement English students challenged her to quit talking about writing and "just do it," she wrote her first completed manuscript, "The Watcher," which won the 2006 Golden Heart Award for romantic suspense.
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Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address. Those leaving comments through Sunday at noon CST following this post will be eligible for the drawing.