Laurel Richards. In Her Element.

Hi, Rosanna. Thank you for having me here today!

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I originally drafted In Her Element years ago. At the time, I hadn’t seen much paranormal romance featuring Elementals, and I was eager to explore a new group of supernaturals. As so often happens, other projects and the rest of life kept pulling me in different directions, so I was only able to work on the book here and there. Recently, I’ve noticed that Elementals have become more popular in PNR. I stopped and said to myself, “Well, when are you going to publish your Elemental books?” That was the impetus I needed to finally finish editing and polishing In Her Element, along with its sequels, Dragon Tears and Passion Fire. These three books work as a trilogy (though you can read them separately) and follow the Drake family. Darya Drake is a Water Elemental with a touch of something else (I won’t spoil the surprise), and she raises her younger brother, Matthew. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had with characters who can control water, fire, earth, and air, and I think these supernaturals promise lots of great storylines in the years ahead.

 

Blurb: Darya Drake is a Water Elemental who has lived a difficult life. She’s raising her younger brother, Matthew, who is mentally ill, and she has had to fight off Phages—Elementals who kill and cannibalize other Elementals to steal their powers. It isn’t until she meets Ethan Zale, a Water Elemental with stormy blue eyes and a body to die for, that she dares to hope for a better future. Ethan is everything she has ever wanted, but trouble looms when a Phage begins stalking her. Can Ethan find out who is after her and keep her safe? Will her brother accept another man in her life? Darya discovers true love in the midst of strife, but for a girl who has lost almost everyone she has ever cared about, it’s hard to believe in happy endings.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

“It’s all right,” he said. “I’m not a Phage. There’s no need to be scared. My name is Ethan Zale, and I’m one of the Water Elementals.” When she didn’t return the introduction, he added, “You must be new to the city. I’ve never seen you before.”

 

She shot a quick glance behind her and took another step back. “Look, I don’t know who you are or what you want, but you need to get away from me right now. I don’t like being chased, and I really don’t like being cornered by strange men.” In this case, a very attractive man, but a stranger nonetheless.

 

He seemed unperturbed. “I already told you who I am. I’m Ethan Zale. And I’m like you.

 

His last remark came to her telepathically, and the sudden intimacy caught her off guard. Only her family had ever talked to her mind to mind before, and it was oddly thrilling to have an outsider do so.

 

Sister, are you all right?” Her brother must have picked up on the disturbance. “Do you need me?

 

Matthew was protective of her even though he was younger and still a teenager. Despite his mental and emotional problems, her brother’s thoughts were lucid—further proof, if she needed any, that Matthew was unstable but not truly insane. Sane or not, though, her brother would try to kill Ethan if he thought the guy was a threat. Ethan was an unknown.

 

It’s all right,” she told Matthew. “Just stay linked with me. There’s another Elemental here.

 

“Do you have somebody with you?” Ethan asked.

 

She figured this would be a good time to lie and tell him she had a big, burly husband waiting around the corner. Unfortunately, she was a terrible liar.

 

“My brother,” she answered instead, sticking with the truth as much as possible. He didn’t need to know how physically far away her sibling was. “What about you? Are there more of you? More Elementals?” Although he didn’t look like he was going to pounce, she needed to know if he was the only one she needed to worry about.

 

His brow furrowed. “There are Elementals all over the world, in this city and many others. Our people may not be very populous anymore, but we’re certainly not the only ones here.”

 

He was looking at her as if she were crazy. Now she knew how her brother must feel.

 

“That’s not what I meant,” she snapped as her temper got the better of her. “Did you bring others with you tonight? Are you the only one near the plaza?”

 

He returned a smile that seemed to push back the darkness. “I’m supposed to be meeting my friend, but I spotted you first and couldn’t resist. I know I shouldn’t have chased after you like this, but it’s rare to find an Elemental by herself. You really shouldn’t wander around alone. It’s not safe.”

 

“Believe me,” she said. “I can see that.”

 

“I told you I’m not a Phage. There’s no need to be scared.”

 

Phage? Darya frowned at the strange term he had now used twice. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m certainly not going to take your word for it that I’m safe with you.” No matter how much her instincts—or was that her hormones?—made her want to believe him.

 

Her words didn’t seem to affect him in the least. “Did you just move to the city? Is that why you’re not part of the community?”

 

“What?”

 

“Why don’t we go someplace to talk?” Ethan suggested. “You seem a little confused, or else you don’t know much about our people. We could get something to eat, play some Q&A, and maybe figure this out.”

 

“I thought you were meeting your friend,” she said, certain his “friend” was another woman.

 

His lips twitched. “I can catch up with him later. At the moment, I’m more interested in you. What do you say, Miss…”

 

Darya met his gaze squarely and shook her head.

 

Impatience flashed across his face, but he nodded. “Okay. I know you don’t know me, so you have to be cautious. I’m sure we can work something out. How can I put you at ease and prove that I’m not a threat?”

 

“You could start by walking away. That would help.” She hated to see him go, but a man like him presented more than one threat to a woman.

 

A trace of a smile caught at his lips, though he hid it as he reached into his pocket to pull out a business card. “Very well. Do you have a pen?”

 

Was he kidding? She almost laughed, but then she dug into her purse to find one. Anything to get rid of him sooner, right? Or was she desperate for his number?

 

“Here.” She tossed him a cheap ballpoint.

 

He scribbled something on the back of the card and then tossed her pen back to her. The heat of his hand had warmed the plastic.

 

“My work cell is on the front, and my home phone is on the back,” he explained, holding the card out between two fingers. “You can call and talk to me anytime. Hopefully we can set up a meeting place where you’ll feel comfortable, and then we can get to know each other better.”

 

He said it so calmly, so reasonably, that she found herself agreeing. Then again, maybe he was mesmerizing her with those pretty eyes of his.

 

“All right.” She deliberated whether or not to walk forward and take the card from him directly.

 

He was holding it out like bait for a wild animal, and she got the feeling he was daring her to get close to him. She decided to play it safe. When she was sure no one else was looking, she focused her telekinetic energy on the little slip of paper and brought it sailing toward her through the air. She snatched it as soon as it was close enough and flipped it over between her fingers. Sure enough, the name Ethan Zale was embossed on the front, and his phone number was printed on the back.

 

“Please call,” he said as he started to retreat. “I think you’ll find it’s worth the risk. Some opportunities shouldn’t be ignored.”

 

He fixed her with his deep, storm-tossed gaze until she nodded. Her breath left her in a rush as he walked away, but then he hesitated as he was about to disappear around the corner.

 

“By the way, your vanishing act in the plaza was impressive. Not too many Elementals can do that. I look forward to learning more about you, Mystery Woman.” He flashed her a grin and stepped out of sight.

 

 

 

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Her-Element-Elementals-Book-ebook/dp/B01L0B28CU/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Element-Elementals-Book-ebook/dp/B01L0B28CU/

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Her-Element-Elementals-Book-ebook/dp/B01L0B28CU/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-inherelement-2091573-149.html

OmniLit: https://www.omnilit.com/product-inherelement-2091573-149.html

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-her-element-laurel-richards/1124466173?ean=2940153405544

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/in-her-element

Inktera: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/9810de17-3c67-49b9-a5cf-b701d43a5b3c

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1147811202

 

 

 

Author Links:

Website: http://www.author-laurelrichards.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laurel_R_books

Google+: https://plus.google.com/118269442385691046045/posts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/laurelrichards

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LaurelRichards

GR Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6035139.Laurel_Richards/blog

Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/laurelrichards/

 

My Roy Orbison moment.

Remember that song “Crying” by Roy Orbison? (Personally I adore the later version with Roy and the incomparable k.d. lang.)

Well, I feel as if that song has been my mantra lately. I can’t stop crying over my new manuscript for Predator’s Salvation, Gemini Island Shifters 8.

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Those who have kept up with the series know there is an element of grief involved. I won’t get into specifics and don’t wish to post spoilers for those who haven’t read the later books in the series.

My heroine Elaine ( and my hero Connor) are dealing with grief in its harshest form. As shape shifters, they feel each emotion even more keenly than their human counterparts might. I’m feeling it right along with them.

However, I think part of my author’s grief is saying goodbye to the series. I knew this day was coming. I readied myself. Quite frankly, I didn’t really think I needed to prepare myself. Onward and upward, right? Every good thing must come to an end, right?

And yet Roy and k.d. keep singing in my head. Remember when he thought he was “over” k.d. but realized he wasn’t?

I’m not over my friends on Gemini Island, not by a long shot. I suspect it’ll be some time before I’m anywhere near being over the good folks at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort.

Every time I write a new scene, I dissolve. I have been constantly removing my eyeglasses to wipe them clean of smudges and tears. I blow my nose a lot and my waste baskets are filled with tissues.

I have actually reached out to a friend to beta read the last book for me soon because I worry my sadness will carry over into the book. However, it’s a sad time for these characters. If I don’t explore that grief, I don’t think I am honoring their sacrifices. I want to show their pain. All the better to see them triumph as I know they will at the end.

What will I do when it is time to write “The End?”

I have no idea. I suspect Roy will intrude once more and that I will shed more tears. My readers may cry along with me but I hope, more than anything, that I ensure their time on Gemini Island was memorable, exciting and full of love.

 

 

Rosanna’s Recommended Reads- September Edition.

I’ve read some wonderful romances lately. They were so enjoyable I just had to share them. I hope you’ll add some of these to your “to be read” list…or better yet, pick them up from your favorite vendor.

The Dead of Haggard Hall by Marie Treanor

I loved, loved, loved this gothic romance. If you’re in the mood for something a little spooky, a little sexy and downright enjoyable, this is the book.

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Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how wonderful Molly’s writing is. Many of you have discovered it. However, if you haven’t, pick this one up today.

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Wolf at the Door by N.J. Walters

Sexy werewolves, a sassy heroine and plenty of pack intrigue. If paranormal romance is your thing, you must give N.J. Walters a try.

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Forbidden by Lauren Smith

Forbidden is book 1 in Lauren’s Her British Stepbrother series and I’ve read both this and book 2 so far. Loved them both. The conflict is straightforward and so well written. This one is a novella and definitely leads into book 2, so keep reading!

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I hope you enjoy these recommendations. I certainly did.

The evil epilogue.

I’ve read a few books lately featuring epilogues. Each time, I’ve made a cringey face. I’ve seen a few prologues, too, but they don’t bother me as much. In my opinion, sometimes a prologue can be put to good use…as long as it is warranted. If you can add the action to chapter one, even better.

But epilogues are tricky characters. They leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Why?

There is a school of thought in writing that declares epilogues unnecessary. I am in total agreement. It’s a rare occasion when I discover an epilogue that enhances the story. In fact, I tend to skim them.

Now I realize a lot of writers use them. What I would ask those writers is whether or not the reader actually needs to read them.

This is my reasoning. In romance at least, epilogues tend to be used to show the reader the couple is happy at the end of the story. I don’t need to see they are happy. I already know it. When they conquered the bad guy and their own feelings and emerged victorious, pledging their love to one another, they looked pretty happy. If a romance ends with a commitment of love, that is good enough for me.

And I’ll tell you why. I’m going to supply my own epilogue anyway!! That’s the best part of reading romance, in my opinion. When the book is over, I’m going to dream about the happy couple and their further adventures, the ones that don’t make it into print. I don’t need the author to tell me they went off and had six babies, decorated the nursery pale yellow and adopted a dog from the local animal shelter. I don’t care about all those things.

Personally, I don’t even like long, drawn-out endings to stories. I just want to know justice prevailed and to see the lovers reunited after their struggles. I don’t care about the cherry on top. I want to eat the sundae and experience the delight of the sinful ice cream and whipped cream. I don’t care about maraschino cherries. I usually give them to my husband. I hate those suckers.

But what if, as an author, you really feel a need to tell the reader what happened five years down the road? I would say if it was that important, it should have been included in the final chapter.

Some authors use epilogues to create further tension for the next book in the series. I suppose this can be effective but there is an art to doing it well. Sometimes it works and sometimes, it doesn’t. If one is writing a series, it tends to work better. However, if the story ends with book one, is an epilogue really necessary?

As for me, I guess I just like nice, tidy endings with my romances. That’s why I read romance.

What are your thoughts on the epilogue?

 

Lisa M. Owens. Damaged.

I’m pleased to introduce you to author Lisa M. Owens today, as she shares her release Damaged with us. Welcome, Lisa!

Damaged Print Cover

Damaged Blurb 

Freedom isn’t free. 

Staff Sergeant Austin Chandler learned this lesson well. Dealing with the devastating truth that his military career is over, he is discharged from the Marines and returns home from fighting the war in Afghanistan with battle scars he fears will never heal. But the truth is a bitter pill to swallow when he arrives at the airport and realizes his wife has abandoned him when he needed her the most. Broken in body as well as in spirit, Austin suffers not only from the slow-healing scars on his back, but also the wounds that her desertion has left on his troubled heart. 

Until a chance encounter with a beautiful artist leaves him wondering if perhaps some things are meant to be. Trisha Morgan has secrets she is desperately wants to hide. With a troubled past and abandonment issues of her own, she fears love only leads to rejection and pain. 

But can two wounded souls break through the battered barriers of each other’s hearts?

 

Damaged Excerpt

Trisha had thought that she would never see him again. Even though he wasn’t hers, he had never been hers; she had always thought of him as her marine.

That airplane flight to Texas had changed her life for the better. It had opened her eyes, in more ways than one. Because of him, she had realized that she had never truly loved Ty and she never would have been good enough for him. Or for his family.

Trisha Morgan had often fantasized about what would happen if she ran across the tall, broad-shouldered, good-looking Marine again. They had had an instant connection, they had both felt it. But since both of them had been attached, nothing more than a new friendship could evolve between the two of them.

Austin Chandler walking in on her while she was as naked as the day she was born was not one of the many scenarios that she had envisioned.

Wet skin. Long legs that seemed to go on forever. Waxed bikini line. Delicately-painted red toenails. Pink-tinged, erect nipples. Large, full breasts still wet from a recent shower. Small droplets of water that he could lick off drop by delicious drop.

She shrieked with surprise, her hands drawing her towel even tighter around her shaking body.

A sudden thought occurred to her.

He wasn’t wearing a ring.

She screamed the sound sharp enough to shatter glass. Wrapping a fluffy, blue towel around her slender body, she paused, apparently not knowing what to say.

When Austin was finally able to raise his eyes from admiring her ass…ets, his dark brown gaze slowly travelled up her perfectly proportioned body before focusing on her flushed, embarrassed face. It was her. The girl from the plane over three years ago.

Their eyes met and time seemed to stand still. This was fate, destiny, kismet.

Trisha stood there trembling. She had imagined this moment for so long, yet when it finally came, it was nothing like she had expected. She had never been one of those girls who hopped into the nearest bed with a complete and total stranger.

But Austin wasn’t a stranger, she struggled to remind herself. She had met him before. He was her hero, her knight in camouflage. He was her marine. She smiled. She wondered how he would feel if she were to confess that little secret to him. Would he be upset or would he be flattered?

A small hint of a smile played on her lips and he dropped his duffel bag onto the ugly, stained orange carpet of the hotel room floor. He had dreamed of this moment, he had longed for it. He had longed for her. On the bed, against the wall, on the tile of the bathroom shower stall, any way he could have her.

AUTHOR BIO

The writing bug bit Lisa M. Owens at an early age;

she was writing short stories and poetry by the age of

seven. At the age of eight, she entered a writing contest

at her elementary school. About fifty books were written,

but Lisa was one of the thirteen writers chosen who

received a certificate and the chance to meet Oklahoma

writer Sandy Miller.

A former victim of domestic violence herself, Lisa

worked at the courthouse for over seven years. Almost

three of those years she worked on the Marriage License/

Protective Order desk. She helped women file protective

orders and worked closely with the staff and counselors

at DVIS.

Frustrated with books that merely gloss over the

subject of domestic violence, Lisa wanted to write a

book that told the entire story. Her dream is for her words

to help give someone the courage to leave an abusive

relationship.

She resides in Oklahoma and has two children. This

is her third published novel, and she is currently working

on the second novel of this series. She is currently

working on her fourth novel.

Lisa enjoys hearing from her readers and can be

reached at P.O. Box 9643, Tulsa, OK 74157-0643, or

by e-mail, lisamowens@ymail.com. She can also be

contacted on her website, www.lmowens.co

 

Enough with comments about “bodice rippers,” please.

The other day, an author pal of mine shared a comment that she’d received on a review about her romance book being a “bodice ripper.”

Seriously, folks. It’s 2016.

I’m done with these comments. Honestly, can’t people think of another way to describe romance novels?

First of all, I have read this friend’s work and although she writes historical romance, in no way, shape or form could her books be considered the same as the traditional interpretation of a bodice ripper.

What exactly is a bodice ripper? It’s an old-fashioned, pejorative term for romance. Early plots often featured heroines who were “gently coerced” into sex. In other words, the sex becomes consensual after a time, the heroine falls for her swashbuckling hero who looks like Fabio, and they go off and make lots of babies.

Honestly, very few people write this stuff any more and most of us modern romance authors see the term as an insult. If anyone tells me I write bodice rippers, I will immediately inform them that any sex between the hero/heroine in my novels is completely consensual and that my heroines are more than capable of picking their own husbands, thank you very much.

Romance has come a long way, folks. I’m not panning early romance. It paved the way for the rest of us and God knows society has changed. Although I grew up reading books that might have been described as bodice rippers, I certainly don’t write the same way and neither do my author friends, not even the historical authors. Romance is not about oppression. Romance is not about rape. Romance is not about misogyny. Romance is not about wilting heroines who can’t think for themselves and who need big, strong men to help them cut their meat.

I am willing to wager that most “critics” who use this term have never actually read a romance novel in its entirety. It must be very easy to judge a genre based on some racy covers but a world of research and hard work resides inside those covers. Romance authors do not write these stories for a cheap thrill. We write them to celebrate love and the communion of loving souls. We write because we want hope and we want to share it with everyone we know. We write romance because its makes us happy and in case those critics have never asked, it makes a whole lot of readers happy too. Romance is one of the most popular genres of fiction. There’s a reason for that. It makes us feel good.

Do romance novels feature lots of sex? It depends. Some do, some don’t. But if they do, you can bet your bodice any self-respecting romance author will only use sex as a way of cementing the relationship between the main characters. It is not the be all and end all. Sex is not the story. It is simply a part of the journey, no matter how many times it occurs.

And you know what? Sex is healthy, my friends. I hope everyone is having lots of it. It’s a part of life so why on earth would it not be part of our fictional narrative? I’m pretty sure more sex occurs in the Bible than in any of my romances.

The next time someone accuses you of reading bodice rippers, tell them you read romance and that you are proud to do so.

 

Slow it down. An author changes her pace.

Yesterday, an author friend and I were discussing how stressful it can be when we can’t write or edit as much as we’d hoped. No matter how you measure your progress, whether by words or pages or chapters, I’m sure a lot of us feel the strain when we don’t accomplish as much as we would have liked in a certain time period. Once the day or week or month has elapsed, and we’re still staring at the same paragraph, tension mounts.

Why is that? Why do we feel we need to rush ourselves?

I’m sure a lot of it comes from seeing the progress of those around us. When Author X publishes fifty-seven books in a year, and they all seem to be doing well, we begin to wonder why we can’t do the same. However, I think it’s important to remember a variety of factors could be contributing to Author X’s success. Maybe she has four hands. Maybe she has loads of unpublished manuscripts ready to go. Maybe she’s a freak of nature (or just extremely talented- let’s go with that one.)

I know a lot of my author friends also have other jobs. For many, writing is something we can only do on the weekends or during our evenings. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly an easy schedule to maintain, especially if you’re tired. Eventually other commitments and responsibilities will collide with our writing schedules and we need to make decisions on how to allot our time. Writing won’t always win out. There will be weeks when the most we can hope for is a paragraph.

With the advent of ebooks and differing publishing schedules, to say nothing of self-published works, authors can establish deadlines that might not have worked with traditional print publishing. Remember when your favorite author only released one book every few years or so? Let’s not even talk about Harper Lee. I’m not advocating any writer duplicate that pace, of course.

To some extent, some of us can set our own schedules now but this comes with its own challenges. We may not have big publishers setting deadlines but what about the ones we set for ourselves? Are they realistic? Are we putting undue pressure on ourselves and each other? And are we releasing our very best work?

Is it such a crime to release one book per year or every couple of years? Whatever happened to building anticipation? And has Rosanna fallen in love with question marks?

I do like them, by the way. They’re curvy, like my heroines.

I have made a personal pledge to stop torturing myself with fabricated deadlines. Yes, if my publishers set them for me, I respect them. However, if it’s a case of me writing against some imaginary clock, sometimes I let the clock win. When I started writing, it was meant as an exercise in joy. I need to ensure the joy remains. If I’m stressing myself out, where is the fulfillment in that?

If you can only publish one book per year, do it and make it your best book. Polish it. Edit it. Check the spelling several times. Have someone else read it. Make it a story that speaks to you and don’t try to write for Author X’s audience. You’ll find your own audience and they will appreciate the time you took to craft it. If I hired someone to cut my hair and she only took five minutes, I wouldn’t be impressed. I’d want to know she respected me as a consumer and did her best job.

I read a book by a bestselling romance author recently and had to put it down one-third of the way through. I was very disappointed with the story and how cobbled together it felt. Everything about it seemed flimsy. This author has released numerous books. When I read the reviews on Goodreads for this one, her readers were complaining, saying, “What went wrong? It felt rushed.” Perhaps it was. Maybe that author felt the pressure too and phoned it in. Readers are smart. They will know.

As for me, I’m going to slow things down and enjoy the process as much as the end result.