Monday, November 25, 2013

The KICK START Blog Tour

To celebrate the release of Kick Start, the fifth book in the Dangerous Ground series, the Fanyons have put together a jaw-droppingly fabulous blog tour to take place one week from now: December 2nd through December 8th.

Take a look at this! I'm honestly flabbergasted.

Giveaway: 9 prizes in total


•GRAND PRIZE : Paperwhite Kindle with all DG books sent separately (including Kick Start) for winner to install.


•Kick Start T-shirt


•Kick Start Coffee Mug

•Set of Magnets

•2 ebooks (1 prize) from Josh's back catalogue

•3 audiobooks (3 separate prizes)  from Josh's back catalogue from Audible


•Top Secret Special Edition Mug





Monday Dec 2nd  - BOYS IN OUR BOOKS


Tuesday Dec 3rd - CHICKS ANDDICKS

Tuesday Dec 3rd -  DANI ALEXANDER


Wednesday Dec 4th -  MRS CONDIT READS

Wednesday Dec 4th -  BOY MEETS BOY



Thursday Dec 5th - RHYS FORD


Friday Dec 6th  - SID LOVE

Friday Dec 6th  -  NOVEL APPROACH


Saturday Dec 7th - JOYFULLY JAY



We're going to do our best to come up with some fun and amusing posts, including an interview with everyone's favorite third wheel Naval Lt. Commander David Bradley. Stay tuned!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Author! Author! LB GREGG

It's hard to interview someone I've known as long and as well as Lisabea. I respect her and I luff her. She's not
afraid to call a spade a spade -- usually Kate Spade. And generally two hours before she has to show up perfectly

Five things I love about L.B Gregg
1 - She owns a percolator
2 - Her laugh
3 - She's game. For anything.
4 - Her smart, funny, no bullshit prose
5 - Her New England backbone. Also her New England funny bone.

Therefore, without further adieu, le interview...

Have you ever been a suspect in an arson case? Coz if not, I'm wondering how the local sheriff could have overlooked such a strange series of coincidences...

 The cops only give me a second glance when I’m standing next to you, Lanyon.


What's the last piece of music you listened to? Did you sing along?


 I’m listening to my WIP playlist now. Change by Churchill. I can’t carry a tune, so slurring and humming is involved. And I’m not even drinking! I’m answering interview questions.  


 You took two years off to build your mansion on the hill. The house is beautiful, but it's tough coming back from sabbatical. Thoughts?

Not as tough as Everest, and I’m no Tom Cruise, but it’s been an uphill climb. When I decided to renew myself, focus on my family, and build that dream house I did worry my readers wouldn’t remember me, or care to. Momentum is a crazy thing—it’s hard to build, and it sucks to lose it, but I’m still glad I took the time off. I wondered if you enjoyed your time off, though—and if the sabbatical came at a price?

See what I did there?


 (I see that. Coz I'm watching you.)


Martha Stewart versus Cat Woman. Who takes home the tiara?


Martha crafts a tiara out of organic hemp baker’s twine and Connecticut pine cones, which sounds like a crown of thorns but is in reality an unachievable DIY masterpiece and after stealing it from Martha’s lofty brow, Cat Woman stuffs it right up Martha’s you-know-where. **cough**


 What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?


 When the story you’re working on is utterly lost and you somehow manage to find that magical thread again. It’s incredible—-partly because you can write again, and partly because creativity is the ultimate high.

 I’m also a freak of nature because I think editing is fun. I love working with my editors to make a better book.

Least? I want to say the first draft, but really? Doubt. Doubt undermines everything.


 What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?


I write romance novels. I keep that at the forefront of my mind. A good character in a romance novel is complex. Real romance is more than an unrelenting stream of orgasms or the pursuit thereof. Not that orgasms are a bad thing—or that I’m above writing sex –but a fully realized main character isn’t focused on his wiener. Characters with depth have purpose. Purpose drives them. Characters have dreams. They have jobs. They have hobbies. They have fears. They’re connected to their communities, or families, or friends. They laugh. And a lot like you and I, they make mistakes. Of course, in my books, the mistakes are usually ridiculous instead of angst-filled—like Mark braining Jaimie with a bible in the packed church on Ash Wednesday.


 Have you ever broken a bone?


I have stubbed and broken the same toe more than twice. It’s not longer than the other ones; it’s just unlucky.


You're best known for your smart, snappy, sexy romantic comedies. Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?


Hah! NOT giving away any of my secrets, Lanyon. But I’ll tell you what I won’t write out of pure terror: historical romance. Unless it’s a parody. I would do that.


 Are those wild stories about prep schools true?


 The prep school world is all about intense pressure, competition, and rampant hormones. That’s an explosive combination, so probably the wild stories are more than a little true.


 What are you working on now?


Men of Smithfield 5: Sam and Aaron. Or, as I like to call it, The Inn Keeper and the Hamburgler.  The title says it all, right? This book features mysterious newcomer Aaron M. Saunders and Sam Meyers, manager of the only B&B in Smithfield. There are cooking classes, and break-ins, and snogging in the pews of St. Joes.  Lots of familiar faces and Smithfield places. You’ll love it.


 All time favorite dessert. Do you have the recipe?


Sticky Toffee Pudding. And I don’t have the recipe because once I learn how to make it, I’ll never stop eating it. I also love to try weird flavored ice creams, like rosemary, basil, or maple bacon.


  You are quite the world traveler. Top three favorite foreign countries?


 Scotland because the land is untamed and raw; and the whiskey is the whiskey.

Italy for the food, the wine, the shopping, the history, the food, the wine, the food, the food.

Guana Island (BVI) as most of the island is a nature preserve and it’s unspoiled.


 Are you a full-time writer?


When I’m writing full-time, I am a full-time writer.


What's out next? Are we going to see more of the Ce and Dan?


After Smithfield the Fifth is complete, I buckle down on Romano and Albright Three. I have a title and three chapters, which I count as serious progress. I have made numerous trips to the city and the book is simmering on the back burner. I can’t rush this book. Of course, I can’t avoid it, either. But it’s up next. I love Ce and Dan, however, those two can be hard to pin down.


 Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!


 I’ve eaten an entire jar of Spanish olives in one sitting on more than one occasion. Salt is my weakness.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in narrating/producing audio books? How many audio books have you narrated?

Sure, pull up a seat. By day I was working in corporate middle management and watching my creative soul atrophy. By night I was playing guitar and singing in the now defunct rock band “Divided Sky” for almost ten years. After some gigs I would be approached by folks who complimented my voice and would occasionally offer me voice over jobs on the side. That sparked an idea in my lil’ brain that wouldn’t really ignite until years later, when the band dissolved and I couldn’t take another minute of going into an office everyday.

I was fortunate to have appeared in a few commercials and films by that point and was interested in cultivating myself as an actor. However, the part of me that likes to sleep and stay in my jammies was at odds with the travel, early calls and time spent primping and preening to be camera ready. It occurred to me that I could use the perfect storm of my skills with audio engineering, my voice and wearing pajamas as much as possible and make a go of it as a voice talent. I paused all other creative pursuits and dug in like an overzealous backhoe and within a month I had landed some decent gigs as well as my first audiobook (M/M erotic as it turned out). I quickly discovered that I absolutely adored narrating audiobooks and apparently folks agreed as I haven’t stopped since. Audiobooks are my bread and butter as a full time voice talent today.

So far I’ve narrated 108 audiobooks since November 2010 and my session queue is packed into the future so hopefully I don’t think I’ll be giving my tongue a rest for some time.

How much acting is involved in narrating a story?

A good deal. Storytelling itself is an art and acting is certainly involved, although not always in the ways that we initially think. Bringing characters to life is half the job and being able to tell a story is the other. I often imagine myself as some sage, wizened grandfather figure sitting in a well worn comfy recliner in front of a fireplace while swirling a drink in a tumbler. No better way to spin a yarn unless you work in textiles.

I've worked with a number of narrators and you are probably one of, if not *the* single best prepared and professional. What kind of prep do you do before you start a project?

Well gawrsh, you do know how to flatter a guy. Dedication and strong work ethic all begin with wearing Spongebob pajamas to work. 

Truthfully (not that my previous statement is fallacy) being organized and professional in any business venture is a firm part of the equation for success. Sometimes it’s not easy to remember that this is in a fact a business of which I am the owner, proprietor, representative and CEO. Perhaps from my years in the corporate world or just from what dear ol’ Mom instilled in me when I was young, I always strive to present the best representation of myself and my efforts. That means following best practices and going the extra mile to make sure that things not only go smoothly and efficiently but also bring a smile to face of all involved whenever possible.

On the actual process of prep, I always begin by reading the story and feeling the intent and direction of the author and the characters. I make notes where appropriate and list any trouble spots such as pronunciation queries or general questions. After I’ve digested the story and it’s nuances I begin narration, which for me is where the real fun begins. PJs optional.

James Winter makes a series of moral compromises in The Dickens With Love. Did you make any conscious vocal decisions on how to keep his character sympathetic and engaging to the reader?

I simply put myself into the shoes of James Winter and let my vocal reactions reflect how I feel I would react within the context of the given situation. James is a really likable guy in a position that many of us have been or will be in in our lives; a dilemma that pits our livelihood against our moral compass. He’s vulnerable and very fallibly human, which most of us can relate to.


What character was the most fun to narrate? Why?

In this case, I would have to say Crisparkle. I love accent work ;-)

Which character was the most difficult to narrate? Why?

Good question.  While I wouldn’t classify any of them as difficult per se, I did want to take care with Professor Crisparkle as he evolves from a stuffed shirt to a much more relaxed and caring character. Of course, for those of you who haven’t read or listened to the book yet maaaaybe that happens and maaaybe it doesn’t.

Was there a particular scene you think you read especially well? Or that you particularly enjoyed reading?

One word for you: “ocelot”.

You are probably the foremost narrator of M/M Romance, which means you've read a LOT of sex scenes. How awkward is it to read erotic scenes aloud?

Well, I haven’t seen the data on that claim yet but thank you it is rather flattering. I was skeptical myself initially about narrating such steamy material. My first erotic narration was loads of fun (pun intended?) and I realized that it is in fact wonderfully thrilling and an art all of its own. I think the only time I feel any sense of awkwardness is when I’m in the booth and someone comes into the studio and observes during the narration for whatever reason. I’m a very...physical...narrator.

What’s the most satisfying or rewarding part of narrating/producing an audio book?

My ongoing joke is that my favorite part of the process is when I get to read “thank you for listening to…”. In fact, I have a distinct feeling of tingly goodness that usually starts around the 3rd page of narration for each title and lasts through the remainder of it. This is the point when suddenly my brain shifts gears and I can feel the storyteller come out. I’m used to many short scripts and narrations in my corner of the VO biz, so it seems to be around the third page that my brain smiles and says (thinks) “hey, we may get to do this for a while.”

Does it make the process easier if you enjoy the stories you narrate or is the process fairly detached?

Absolutely. There is a higher reward from giving life to a finely written story penned by a masterful writer. Obviously not all writers are the same and aside from uninspired work there are also some recurring writer quirks that really get my goat: punishingly tired cliches, brain-dead repetition and have pretending to have never heard of a thesaurus.  Good golly if you think its irksome as a reader try reading it and then narrating it! All in all however, no matter the content, prose style or caliber of the author it’s always a pleasure to narrate. Just lemme’ at Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey!

Where can readers/listeners find out more about you and your work?

My website is and I do try to keep it updated. Well, updated-ish. I’m usually a few months behind with titles and projects simply because I’m too busy working on said titles and projects. A search on for me is always good too. Likewise you can find me on Twitter under seancrisden. As a bonus I occasionally have something worthwhile to say! I do always encourage folks to contact me and let me know their thoughts, good or ill. After all, I narrate for listeners to enjoy it. Drop me a line. It’s lonely sitting in a box all day talking to myself ;-)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Author! Author! ASTRID AMARA

This month's interview subject is the wildly talented and always amusing Astrid Amara. You may know Astrid through her classic rom com Hanukkah novellas and/or her brilliantly original epic fantasy novels. I would usually try to burble on a bit but I have succumbed to the flu, so I can only say that I love Astrid's work and I'm delighted to have her here on the blog.

In her words, here's Miz Amara.

Okay, Pony Girl. Come on. Explain about the horses. Is it true you are the Imelda Marcos of the Equestrian World? How many equines do you actually own? Is that horse on your website yours? Or are you just stalking him?

Oh I *wish* the horse on my website was mine! Actually, strike that – I only want that horse if I’m a millionaire and can afford barn slaves, because it takes a hell of a lot of work to keep a grey horse clean. That’s why my dream horse is a black Arabian gelding….

I actually only own ONE equine, but he’s enough for me. He’s a 20 year old asshole of a smarty pants, all gentleman until he sees a pretty mare. He’s a Polish Arabian, and in a former life before I owned him he won dozens of amateur dressage competitions. Now he and I fart around and pretend to do dressage when we’re feeling ambitious, and go for lazy strolls around the countryside by his pasture when we’re not.

He is scared of the color white, butterflies, and that sunspot that appears on the arena floor. He is NOT scared of me, little dogs, or the horse-sized soccer ball he rolls across the arena for treats.
I love him to death; and I owe all my readers for being able to have him, because my Porn for Ponies is more than just a clever name. It’s what allowed me to buy him, feed him, and tend to his medical issues.

 What's the last piece of music you listened to? Did you sing along?

My favorite album to write to at the moment is Woodkid’s The Golden Age, because not only are his videos amazing, but Iron is the best song to write a cavalry story to. Watch the video for “Run Boy Run” on Youtube now if you haven’t seen it. Seriously. Do it. Now.

I cannot wait for The Devil Lancer, your upcoming AU Crimean War epic. What's the best part of the Crimean War?

“The best” is a hard thing to define in this circumstance – I think the thing that most impresses me about the Crimean War was the absolute, insane levels of bravery and honor the soldiers had, on both sides. This was an atrocious war, fought for a stupid reason, in terrible conditions, under idiotic leadership, and these men accomplished incredible feats.

It was hard to write because I wanted to throw in every little detail about the war that I came across. Choosing what was relevant to the story and what was just being included for the gore factor was difficult for me.

Who is your all time favorite villain?

Ooh, good one. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the first one who comes to mind. As a Trekkie and Benedict Cumberbatch fan, the new  Khan is pretty hot. Er… I mean “scary.”

What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?

I love the finished product, two months later, when I have a chance to re-read my work and go, ok, that’s what I wanted to read. Before that I hate the whole thing. I hate sitting down and writing. I hate difficult plotting problems. I hate middles. Deadlines stress me and without them I do nothing. And when I’m working on a project every page I read is the worst drivel I’ve ever come across. I can’t stand my own story as soon as I finished it – I always need several weeks before I can bare to re-read it, and there are a few stories out there I still can’t re-read because I don’t like them.

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?

Motivation is important – I hate bad guys that are just bad for no reason (I call it the Orc Problem). There has to be a reason they suck. And our good guys have to have bad traits too. So I think it’s crucial to conceive of your character as a fully-rounded human being. Base them on a real person if that helps. Do character worksheets and plan out their whole life if you have to – but remember they need to be like the rest of us, with good days and bad days, things that make them angry, things they aren’t good at, things they’re GREAT at, etc.

Have you ever broken a bone?

Oh, the bitter irony! When I started responding to your interview questions I could say no. But since I started this interview, my horse stepped on my pinky toe and broke it! I was walking him past a field where there are cute mini horses and he gets all insecure because they’re tougher than him. And when he’s busy ogling  something like a horse or a plastic bag he doesn’t pay attention to where he’s walking.

But that won’t stop me! As Steven Wright put it, “I intend to live forever. So far, so good.”

You're an astonishingly versatile writer, penning everything from adorable romantic comedies to these intense epic AU historical fantasies. Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?

Hard-core science fiction, with lots of that “science” stuff, scares me, mostly because I’m not very informed when it comes to physics and chemistry, and even many aspects of biology stump me. But I really respect stories that stay true to the real laws of physics and are scientifically feasible.
And I do want to tackle what I fondly call my “Anti-Twilight” series – a 2-3 book young adult scifi/fantasy series for young girls. I’m scared because it’s not what I read, but I think the challenge of writing something like that, out of my comfort zone, might be kind of fun.

Is it true about Jewish Guilt?

I just closed my bedroom window so my brother can have more air. Does that count?

What are you working on now?

I’m going to take a second crack at a story I started a few years ago and never finished. It’s an amalgam inspired by books I was reading at the time – one on homesteaders, one on the cholera epidemic of London, one on diamond mining. It’s the story of a doctor who has to work in a remote homesteader outpost when an epidemic breaks out, killing large numbers of the population. He has to team up with the local reverend to investigate what is killing the townsfolk and why only certain members of the population are falling ill. And of course there’s some secrets that draw the two men closer…

All time favorite dessert. Do you have the recipe?

If you love chocolate and love mint flavor, these brownies will KILL you with happy. Be warned: Don’t eat the thick dark chocolate layer on top by itself, it tastes bitter on its own because its bitter chocolate. But when you bite into it with the rest of the brownie?.... Hells Yeah.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars

Layer #1 Ingredients:
2 oz. unsweetened bitter chocolate
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup sifted flour
½ cup chopped almonds (optional)
Layer #2 Ingredients:
1½ cup powdered sugar
3 T butter
1-3 T milk
1 t peppermint extract
Green food coloring
Layer #3 Ingredients:
3 oz. bitter chocolate
3T butter

1. Melt chocolate and butter in a pan.
2. Cream eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
3. Add flour and chocolate mixture to bowl and mix well.
4. Grease an 8X8 pan and pour in the batter.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn of heat and bake another half a minute. Let cool completely before next steps.
6. Cream together sugar and butter in a bowl.
7. Blend in peppermint extract and milk – enough milk to make the icing, not too liquidy but spreadable.
8. Add green food coloring to tint the icing.
9. Spread icing onto cooled first layer and chill.
10. For third layer melt chocolate and butter in a pan.
11. Pour evenly on top of cooled icing.
12. Chill for at least 1 hour, enough time to harden the top chocolate layer. Cut into squares.

You are one of the funniest people I haven't yet actually met. Say something funny.

Wow that’s no pressure. The funny part of my brain is actually small, since most of my brain is consumed with sleeping and ponies. Here, I drew you a picture of why I can’t be funny on the spot.

 Are you a full-time writer?

I wish. I really do. But alas I am also materialistic, which means I like having a nice house and heat and a boot collection, not to mention my expensive equestrian habits, four dogs, two goats, and a husband who likes to cook with organic ingredients. So yeah, I work for The Man during the day. At night I go, “fuck you, Man!” and rebelliously don’t pay my parking ticket.

 What's out next? Are we going to see more of the Bellskis?

I’m not sure! It’s always exciting planning out what I’ll write next. Once I finish a Hanukkah story I tend to make promises to myself like “I’ll never ever ever do that again waaaaaah” because writing up-beat, romantic comedies aren’t really my natural mode, they are hard for me. I usually have to counter every happy story I write with something replete with explosions, bloody wounds, heartbreak, and excessive violence to fuel me through the next happy ending.

The Bellskis are my favorite couple of all the ones I’ve written in contemporary romance, so I would like to try something else with them – but it’s also hard because you reach a point where you’ve put your characters through a lot. After a while you’re like – “leave him alone!”

Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!

I once fell in a manhole.

Like, a perfect, Astrid-sized manhole. I was walking along the road with friends in Central Asia, where all the manholes have been stolen and melted down. Anyway, one second I’m just chatting “blah blah ermergerd blah” and then I’m in a hole.

I fell straight in, which sort of defies physics, in that I didn’t  hit the sides or anything. I had a large friend with me and he reached down and immediately lifted me out of the hole. He tried to ask “are you all right” before bursting into laughter, but he failed.

Also surprising: I can’t burp. Tight throat sphincter, I’m told. Ew.