News, Romance

A Visit from McKenna Dean!

To celebrate releasing a new book I thought it would be fun to celebrate OTHER authors and their new releases. Today we have a guest post from McKenna Dean! Her new book Bishop Takes Knight is an AMAZING paranormal romance. You can grab it at Goodreads & Amazon ​.

Why Heroes Need Flaws

My husband and I frequently discuss our favorite superheroes and the pros and cons of the Marvel vs the DC Comics universes. We have a lot of material right now—both Marvel and DC Comics have brought out a multitude of shows and movies. I admit to leaning a bit more on the side of Marvel vs DC Comics, but then I am a huge fan of Captain America and Agent Carter. We’ve watched The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow, as well as Agents of Shield and all the Avengers movies. The Batman franchise leaves me cold (though I have watched the movies in the past) and I had some real issues with the Man of Steel movie, but I adored the Wonder Woman movie. I’ve watched it several times and bought a copy as soon as it became available on DVD.

I’ll be honest, though I wanted to love the Aquaman movie—I’m a Stargate fan and have enjoyed Jason Momoa as Ronon Dex—it fell a bit short of the mark for me. All the things I love about superhero movies: the origin story, the character arc where he/she comes into their own, the defeat of the bad guy, the action laced with humor—all these elements were there in Aquaman, and yet the dialog was a little flat, the humor didn’t quite zing, the battle scenes were a bit too obviously CGI. So while I give DC high marks for Wonder Woman, overall, I’m a Marvel Girl.

Though we’ve watched Supergirl, my husband has a real problem with the invulnerability of both Supergirl and Superman. From what I’ve seen in various movies and shows, the kids from Krypton are bulletproof (and impervious to pain and illness), can fly (and leave the atmosphere without their lungs exploding), and in general seem pretty undefeatable. Which, as far as my husband is concerned, makes them less interesting as characters, Krypton notwithstanding.

I see his point.

When they released the trailer for the movie Batman vs Superman, my initial reaction was, really? Is there any question of the outcome? And while I’m here, what is it with movie trailers giving away 90% of the film? I feel as though I’ve seen the whole thing already, just from the trailer alone… but I digress. Right. Regardless of how much of a Bruce Wayne fan we might be, the fact is, Superman as portrayed on film and in the comics is nigh-on invincible. Unless Bruce has a shaft of Kryptonite in his pocket (and is not just happy to see Superman), then it is unlikely he’s going to win this one.

Which brings me to the point of this post: your hero has to have vulnerability for the reader to identify with him or her.

I read a story recently in which the heroine was utterly fearless, competent, and seemingly without self-doubt. I hated her. There are some people who’d suggest my dislike of this character reflected some sort of internal misogyny because I’m incapable of liking a strong female character. That’s not the case at all. There’s nothing better than a strong female character. Most of my favorite books feature enviable female leads. I disliked this character because she was too perfect. Even in her tiniest moments of self-doubt, she didn’t feel real to me. In the end, I didn’t care what happened to her, either. Blame it on the lack of tension, or the lack of connection with the character, but I just didn’t care. She had too much: too many resources, too much money, too many connections, too much respect. In fact, there was no reason to suspect she wouldn’t solve the case from the get-go, and I yawned my way through the story. When the killer was revealed, I didn’t believe that either, I’m afraid.
So my advice to you is this: remember your reader wants to identify with your characters. The joy of reading for many people lies in self-insertion into the story, and this is difficult when the main character bears little resemblance to a human being. Be cautious of loving your character so much you elevate them to godhood. Give them relatable characteristics. Make us doubt just a little if they can get themselves out of the situation they are in. Show the soft underbelly. Make them vulnerable. Maybe they aren’t cool under pressure, or maybe they get a little too carried away when they’re in charge. Give them a boss that doesn’t like them, or something to prove. Make the stakes high for them. Make sure they grow during the course of your story. Don’t set them on a pedestal at the beginning. Show us the progression towards heroism. Your readers will love you for it.

Bishop Takes Knight

New York, 1955. Former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop, destitute after her father gambles away the family fortune, takes a job at Redclaw Security. But Redclaw is no ordinary operation. Part detective firm and part enforcement agency, Redclaw regulates matters involving the growing population of shifters who have emerged since the onset of the nuclear age.

Peter Knight is a nuclear scientist shattered by the death of his wife. Blacklisted by the government and scientific organizations, he drowns his sorrows while searching for the people behind his wife’s murder.

When Rhett is assigned to recruit Knight, their meeting is more than either bargained for—a rival organization will do anything to secure Knight for themselves. Following a lead to locate a missing cache of alien technology stolen from Redclaw, Rhett is thrown back into her previous glittering life with Knight as her pretend boyfriend. But when someone from the past turns up to start a bidding war on the artifacts, Bishop and Knight wind up in a fight for their very lives.

About the Author

McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.

She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock.

She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.

Website * Newsletter * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Pinterest * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads ​

Check out the Bishop Takes Knight book tour at https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/bishop-takes-knight-book-tour-and-giveaway

News, Romance, Shop

Kenny Rogers, Ice Water, and Why I Need to Sell 10,000 Books in 30 Days

Pre-order links are live on KINDLE and NOOK.

Ok, so I’m a little hazy on the details. But back in the day, close to thirty years ago now, hubs and I got into one of our Knowledge Arguments. It was something about Kenny Rogers. When two Ravenclaws get together this happens. A lot. Suffice to say this took place a wee bit before answers could be immediately googled up on a mobile device. Bets were made. I don’t even remember what my potential boon could be because I was the loser. And my payment was to get hubs ice water anytime he wanted it. Thirty years, people, and I have been on it. He even joked to a friend once “I don’t worry about getting lost in the desert because I know I’ll just need to ask Sue for ice water and she’ll find a way to fulfill the request.”

Fast forward to present day. I’ve been slow to get book six of my series out on the street. So slow that my sales have slowed down to an absolute dribble. Hubs asks what I think sales will be for the new release. I say “good.” He makes a skeptical noise and I give him an eyebrow, and then he says, “Fine. If you sell 10,000 copies in the first month I will never doubt you again.” Y’all. Y’ALL. It is ON. I don’t need to be ‘right’ this time, I just need to win. And I know I can because of YOU. Retweet, reblog, call your mom, whatever you can do to HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN. I believe in you. Do you believe in me?

Pre-order links are live on KINDLE and NOOK.

Pre-order links are live on KINDLE and NOOK.

News, Romance, Teasers

Taming Chiron Cover Reveal

SueLondon_TamingChiron_800px

The debut will be a little later than hoped, but this cover is ab fab.

“They shared friendship and tragedy, but could there be love?”

An unlikely couple is paired at a summer house party. Their budding friendship is cut short by a horrid accident. Will they be able to find love through tragedy?

Charlie Bittlesworth was invited to a summer idle, and hopes to use the time to sell some of his premium livestock. He thinks it a small matter to pay some kind attention to the cousin of his hostess.

Charlotte Ayres has been cloistered in her father’s academic circles at Cambridge all of her life. She feels out of her element at her cousin’s estate, but has never met a man quite like the one she is paired her with for her stay.

Early access will be given to Patron members, with Kindle, et al publication to follow.

Giveaways & Promotions, Romance

#Free Friday! A Book from Julie Johnstone

Have you read any books by the delightful Julie Johnstone? Good news! She has a free book for you today!

The book that started the Whisper of Scandal series is now FREE!!! If you have never tried my books now is the time to do so! I’m not sure how long I’ll leave it for free, but for now, I invite you to give my books a try on me! You can get Bargaining With a Rake for free at:

News, Romance

Saving Persephone

BookReleaseInviteDid you hear the news? SAVING PERSEPHONE WILL HIT THE STREETS MAY 31, 2015! Thanks to everyone for your patience as I’ve worked on this book. It has been a hard one to write and life, alas, kept getting in the way.

I will be available for some blog touring and will kick it off on Friday, May 29th at Buried Under Romance. There will be a giveaway and everything! If you would like for me to visit your blog – which can be an interview, excerpt, giveaway, whatever – just drop a comment here or an email to suetours@graythorn.com. Somewhere in all that I will be giving away 25 limited edition book announcements (pic at left).

Thanks again everybody!! Now I just have to hope that you love Robert and Imogen as much as I do. Check out the excerpt below.

When Imogen finally did receive correspondence from a Bittlesworth, it wasn’t from the one she wanted. This one now went by Telford.

“What is it?” Violetta asked, on pins and needles. As far as her cousin was concerned, Imogen was being ignored by the duchess that only weeks ago had been treating her with favor. Little did Vi know, but the first and only time Imogen had spoken to the girl they had been ghastly rude to one another.

Imogen pasted a false smile on her face to report what the short note said. “She wants to take a carriage ride and reminisce over our time together at Belle Fleur.”

“Splendid!” Violetta enthused.

But was this note actually from the duchess, or did Robert hope to steal her away for an afternoon? Neither idea filled her with delight, but both made her curious. Regardless, she would be gone in another week. She penned her acceptance.

Giveaways & Promotions, Romance

Valentine’s Interview with Mr. London

Inspired by the RT “Reader, I Married Him” interviews, this Valentine’s you can hear from MISTER London. Valentine’s Day is actually his favorite holiday. He wants to dress up in his Knightly armor to hand out roses.

  1.  How did you guys meet? Was it love at first sight?
    • We met while working together at a Mexican Restaurant. Sue was a new hostess. It was all hot salsa from there! Ok, I would be remiss to say that it love at first site, despite being the husband of a romance author. Sue triple-seated my station and I rushed to the hostess desk to take issue. I found a lovely, engaging, and strong young woman behind the desk. I could not grumble at someone new, so I told her that it ‘threw me in the weeds’. It was days later when I spied her in the bar reading Beowulf, that my Grendel of a heart was slain. THEN I was in love! Beauty, brains, and the ability to be a bit of a beast when times called for it. Sue is no damsel in distress, but a warrior queen to be slay dragons with.
  2. How long were you together before she became a romance author? Or was she already publishing when you met?
    • Sue and I had been together for 24 years before she turned her quill to romance. Sue was always a closet author, though sadly unpublished. She delighted in writing; each of her tales were so entrancing that it became more and more difficult to read her work. She would often write a snippet of a story (paragraphs, chapters, etc.) whose characters were fun and engaging. And inevitably, the story would end as her attention wandered, often mid-sentence. This would leave me in a maddening and frustrated limbo of ‘what happens next’?
      I was a little surprised at the genre she decided to publish, but knew that even if it had been a research paper about glue drying rates, it would be still be a fun romp. As a romantic at heart, I have enjoyed reading her stories and reveled in sometimes knowing what will happen before it hits the keyboard.
  3. So tell us the truth – are you the hero of all of her books?
    • Sue’s characters are so multidimensional that it would be hard to say that I am Gideon, Quince, etc. Each has a distinct personality and suite of strengths and vices that none would be adequate doppelgangers. However, as I read each of her works, I find aspects of myself in several of the male protagonists. I would love to say that all their virtues are mine, but I have often seen them wrestle with personal foibles that I recognize. Granted, I have never been a Lord Lucifer (or his costumed imitator), but there are moments of spontaneity and righteous outbursts that seem to hit close to home.
  4. Are you a fan of your wife’s novels?
    • If we exclude all the books that to date remain incomplete, then yes. I am a huge fan. I have truly appreciated Sue’s ability to craft characters with depth and ‘souls’ that invite you to know them. I am struck by her instinct and desire to add a reasonably accurate historical backdrop rather than placing her characters in a fantasy vision of what once might have been. I find that my appreciation for the Regency period, which I knew more by date rage than content, has been piqued as she weaves her tales through real events. I also enjoy reading about women (the Haberdashers) who have a palpable and plausible strength, as opposed to the common shrinking violets in many period texts. Sue delights in researching and regaling me with the stories of the many incredible women such as Joanna Żubr, Lady Stanhope, and Jane Townsend who are often forgotten in history texts. I have to be honest in saying that I enjoy her sweetheart novellas (Haberdasher Tales) the most.
  5. Are you a writer? What kind of books would you publish if you could?
    • I have written, but have not published anything more than scientific articles and academic papers. I have the mind of a storyteller, but currently lack the desire to become an author. Sue often suggests that I should scribe some of my many ideas, perhaps so I can stop bothering her with, “I have an idea for a story (books, series, etc.)”. They range from popular fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror genres. That being said, I would find it hard not to incorporate romance in any story I write, as I have always been a romantic by nature. I have been lucky enough to enjoy friendship, partnership, and love with Sue for many years. I cannot imagine a true hero that should not enjoy the same reward.
  6. If you wrote a romance book, what would it be called?
    • A friend of ours teased that that no one ever really writes stories about accountant heroes. Even though I am a biologist by training, I love a challenge, so I thought it would be fun to write an accounting romance/murder mystery series. My first book would have to be called, “No Accounting for Taste.”
  7. What’s the best part of having a romance author for a wife?
    • Honestly, the best part has been experiencing Sue’s joy in attaining a life-time dream of becoming a published author. I love the twinkle in her eyes, the quickening of her conversation when she shares her latest ideas, and her appreciation for her readers. It is also great fun to talk through emerging plots as they are being dreamt when we travel to and from work or just sharing quiet moments. Jack, Sabre, and George have become my sister-in-laws, and I have to confess that I can’t wait to find out about Robert Bittlesworth and his romance with Imogen. I keep getting snippets of conversation and glimpses of developing romance. It is like peeking in the window of the Home Office, and knowing Robert, I keep waiting for the touch of a black powder pistol between my shoulder-blades for spying. Despite the danger, I want to know more!
  8. What is the biggest challenge in having a romance author as a partner?
    • The hardest part is watching Sue struggle to balance a full-time position and a new career in writing. She has such a thirst to write and a desire to engage her readers. She spends a lot of her time trying to balance these demands. Sue has done an amazing job in self-publishing, an avenue that I was originally averse to. I argued that her work would be very palatable to publishing companies, but Sue likes to do things on her own (how Haberdasher). Sue is ingenious, creative, and thoughtful about her work and loves her readers. When she receives critiques, as all artists do, she is amazingly balanced and thoughtful. Rarely has she tiraded about someone’s opinions on her work. It is hard as a husband not to want to get online at times and allow the incensed Gideon inside me to take someone to task.

Thanks for being on the blog today, Mr. London!

Readers, want to win a free copy of Fortune Said, Sue’s Valentine novella, for yourself or a friend? Comment to tell us about your Mister/Miss (or Dream Mister/Miss) and Sue will randomly select up to three entries for a free copy of the ebook.