Monday, August 29, 2011

Interview with Moira Rogers, Cipher Review and Giveaway: Crux, Crossroads AND Deadlock

Oh, my tiny blog has visitors! *throws confetti* and one of my FAVE auths too! Okay, readers. If you are not aware of the back story of Moira Rogers, here's a brief intro: Moira Rogers is the pen name for the talented Bree and Donna whose entire book/novella list is far greater than I knew, but I'm still learning. All right, if you're not too familiar with me and my blog...I'm a little quirky and not afraid to show it. That said, my interview questions do not reflect the norm...reader be 'ware.

1. Okay, let's dive right in. If there were a spy cam on your wall as you write (not that I’ve been illegally bugging your writing space), what would it pick up?

Donna:  Now that school's started and my youngest is in kindergarten...probably The Killers or Bruce Springsteen.  Visually?  My messy desk and failure to remember to feed myself.

Bree: You would discover my shameful passion for blasting the music of Enrique Iglesias.  And that I drink out of tupperware and/or mason jars. Mostly you'd see me glaring and/or laughing at my screen.  Or muttering to myself.  Really, I think it might get me committed.

2. Speaking in regards to the life of a writer, what have you found is a great motivator for you on an “off day”, assuming of course that you are human and, like the rest of us, aren’t perfect all the time. If you are…for goodness sakes lie to us! ;)

Donna:  Hmm. For me, the biggest motivator is obligation.  Bree and I do a lot of our work on proposal--we write a synopsis and the first three chapters of a book, then send that along to our editor.  She (hopefully) responds with an offer, and we sign a contract.  After that, slacking off means not meeting a legal obligation.  To me, that's scarier than an off day. LOL

Bree: Obligation is a big one, but sometimes I'm lucky enough to get a nice note or comment from a reader at just the right time.  Those notes can take a bad week and make it okay.

Just okay? Ack, readers – write better notes!

3. Now, let's talk books. Your characters are so well defined in personality, individuality. Where do you pull ideas from? Are there people in your lives that you pull from here and there, throw the traits in the blender with some alcohol and pour out a character?

Donna:  Thank you!  :D  I can't really say many of my characters are based in large part on any one person, or even any group of people.  Usually, my characters develop gradually out of a general concept--"brand-new wolf" or "psychic faith healer"--and then Bree and I talk about that concept and flesh it out and toss it around until it takes form.  Since we write romances, this is uber important.  It wouldn't do for me to create a heroine her hero couldn't stand the sight of, and all.

Bree: We put so much time into building characters. They're really where it starts.  We know our characters long before we know their story, and we spend hours talking about them and their goals, motivations, likes, backstories...everything.  Much to our husbands occasional dismay, as we've been known to dissect the finer points a character's childhood trauma over group dinners.

Oh, my...that's just awesome! Forget bugging the office wall, now I want to bug the dinner table!

4. I am a total nut for quoting things (It's my industrial strength hairdryer and I can't live without it!) so, with my reviews, I always try to include my favorite lines from the book. Are there any lines from your books or other books you’ve read that resonate with you that you would share with us?

Donna:  "Dying cost nothing and could be done alone; otherwise, Randall Stargill might have lived forever."  That's the first line of chapter one of The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb.  She writes amaaaaaazing suspense set in the Appalachian mountains.  I grew up with her characters--I see in them people who lived down the street or attended my church.  To me, that sentence is extremely evocative because it's so faithful to the reclusive mountain mindset.

Bree: I'm going to have to go with an entire passage, because this is one I swear I can almost recite from memory. It's from Skybowl by Melanie Rawn, and I'm probably going to tear up typing them in here, because they come after about 4500 pages of loving this character:

The light beckoned her, and she spun it on a broad loom.  Endless, blazing stars, such incredible light--and voices now, borne on the wind and the fire. They whispered to her: Daughter and Sister and Friend and Kindred and even Mother, shimmering bright tears in her eyes. Some voices she knew. Others were strangers to her ears, but not to her soul. Not to the Fire.

One voice whispered Beloved. She spread her colors on the starshine to embrace this land he had given her, and there were no shadows to darken the Fire soaring across the sand. Only light, only joy.

Woah, that's deep. In a good way. See, readers. This is why I love quotes. Quotes tend to pull me into a story (given the right quote) and I find myself adding to my TBR just from a line or two (or in Bree's case, a passage or two).  

5. Let’s step away from the written word for a moment (cue audience gasp). If you were barred from reading or writing for the day, what would you find yourself doing?

Donna:  Playing video games or trying out a new recipe, probably.

Bree: Knitting, video games, television, movies... right now, Donna & I are preoccupied with a fascination with making soap.  Well, I like making lotion & bath scrubs, too. LOL

Knitting? The video games, I can see, easily. But I don't know that I would've guess knitting. That takes some serious talent - talent I most certainly DO NOT have. Must you all be good at EVERYTHING? 

6. What do you find the most challenging about writing (aside from all the non-writing work that authors do)?

Donna:  Knowing when to start a story.  Usually it's obvious, but every once in a while it's really hard for me to find that magical point where everything before then can be worked in and everything after then is necessary.

Bree: Donna got it in one. We recently started a book in the wrong place. Twice. We had to completely throw away everything we'd written both times, meaning that we wrote 30,000 unusable words before we finally got underway on what would be a 45,000 word story.  Starting in the right place is SO important!

7. How do you feel social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have changed what it means to be a writer? Do fans expect too much of your time? Does it add to the enjoyment, being able to interact on that level?

Donna:  I don't think fans expect too much time, per se.  I think the real potential problem of social media is that it's harder to view an author dispassionately.  That's a real person, talking about the turkey burger she had for lunch.  It's a bit jarring, if nothing else.

Bree: I wasn't a writer before twitter & facebook, so I don't know much about the change.  It's just the way it's always been for me. I love getting to chat with readers on twitter, and I find that the readers who have unreasonable expectations and demands are a tiny minority for me. 

Though I think one thing that social media CAN complicate (for everyone, not just authors) is a blurring of the lines between "on duty" and "off duty."  I tweet on the weekends, but I don't answer work e-mail on the weekends, so sometimes I mistakenly give the impression that I'm ignoring someone. And I'm not! I'm just goofing any random person on a weekend. 

8. How do you and Donna decide on the length of a piece? (Hey, now…minds out of the gutter, readers!) Allow me to clarify, when writing, what determines if the project becomes a novella or a full length novel? Do you know in advance or do you ever get surprised?

Bree: We usually know in advance, and we'll take that into consideration when finalizing the plot.  We know we want the Southern Arcana books to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 85,000 words, and some are longer, some shorter.  Sometimes a story will prove to be too much for the length we had planned--we started Wilder's Mate to submit to a submission call where it would have to be between 25,000 & 30,000 words...and realized too late that that wasn't going to happen.  ;)

9. All right, now with the upcoming release of Cipher, I want to focus a little on the Southern Arcana series (all time favorite). Of the glorious male line up we’ve got going, do you have any favorites (ahem, Jackson) that really just resonate a little closer to your heart or do you give them all equal loving?

Donna:  I love Alec and Julio, but my favorite guy ever might just be one we introduce in I can't talk about him too much. LOL

Bree: I always like the heroes Donna comes up with more than my own, since they don't come from my brain and I get to enjoy them kinda like a reader would.  It'd be a cage match brawl between Jackson & Andrew.

Woot! Chalk one up to Bree! Well, okay Donna...I'm big on those too (and I know who you're referring to in Cipher - Halla') 

10. On that same note, who is your favorite heroine (of your own characters)?

Donna:  It's a toss-up between Nick and Carmen.

Bree: Carmen or Mackenzie, I think. Though I am currently enjoying the challenge of writing Sera, and the person I'm currently writing is usually my favorite!

11.  When you began Crux, did you two know it would be a series or did that come about later?

Donna:  I think we always knew we'd write more, as long as the first book was published.  We didn't tie everything up at the end of Crux, and we had more stories to tell.

Bree: We had so many ideas. We had ideas for seven books when we were writing the first book, now we have ideas for twelve.  And we threw in hints and clues and minor characters who we hoped to get a chance to write.  To give you an idea... Crux has a reference to the heroine of book six, a mention of the likely heroine of book nine and a cameo by the probable hero of book ten.  We had an evil plan, and to be honest--I'm still surprised we've come this far in executing it!

One thing I love about this series is the hints for what might happen! Which actually leads into my next question. 

12. How do you take the unbelievable and make it believable? What I mean is, you could write just about anything into these novels (like absurd Hell Bunnies attacking Nicole or Alec) and I wouldn’t question it.

Donna:  For me, what's important is to ground the fantastic in reality, to give it an edge of the mundane.  One of my favorite things is Henry, the wizard who runs the fake ghost tour in the French Quarter.  On the one hand, he's not showing them ghosts, so it's utterly fake.  On the other hand, he's not a total charlatan because he puts on a good show with his magical talents.  And that's just it--he's making a living, you know?  Even a wizard's got to eat.

Bree: We try to write mundane characters in an revved up paranormal world.  It's important to us to give the characters common problems in addition to their supernatural ones.  These are the people who'd be just as happy living relatively normal lives, and their fight is to not let magic or fur define who they get to be, and who they get to love.

13. Okay, and this is a personal question (sorry readers, gotta throw one in there for me!): Do your characters ever surprise you? Have you ever finished a scene and thought “Huh? Hadn’t planned on that happening.” If so, could you share that moment with me us?

Donna:  All the time.  In fact, I never expected Crossroads to go down the way it did.  I figured Nick would know she couldn't live without Derek and would dedicate herself to finding a way to make it work with him.  And she would have, if there had been one--there just wasn't.  She did what she had to do, and it shocked me because I actually didn't know she had it in her.  But I'm glad she did.

Bree: Crossroads was a total surprise. Our original synopsis we gave to our editor didn't have Derek challenging Noah Coleman!  Now I can't imagine the book without it... but how far both of them ended up going was a scary and awesome.

Yeah! That's awesome to hear. I find my characters take over sometimes. I need a disclaimer: Not responsible for content; characters took over. 

14. Oh…and are you two ever coming to Ohio? I mean, seriously, we like books here. Though you can’t tell with the lack of book stores. True Fact. I have to drive 15 minutes to find a bookstore, but there are 6 McDonald’s within a 5 minute drive. But, hey, we have Cedar Point AND Kings Island. Which also don’t have books. Hmm, I’m starting to see why authors don’t visit…

Donna:  The closest bookstore from me is an indie fifteen minutes down the road.  The nearest chain is half an hour from here.  But Samhain just moved their offices to Cincinnati, so who knows?  We do like to party with those ladies.

Bree: That's right! We're bound to stalk the Samhain offices sometime.

Whoop! Clearing my schedule...oh, wait, you didn't specify a time. Shucks.

15. Lastly, is there anything you would like to share with or say to our readers?

Bree: I love our readers. I do. I know it's sappy and maybe sounds like sucking up...but when we sold Crux to Samhain, a lot of people told us we were making a mistake. It wasn't super sexy, and common wisdom in 2008 held that only super sexy stories could sell in epublishing. But we have made more on this book than I ever dreamed--far more than we ever could have reasonably expected as an advance from a large publisher--and we have our readers to thank.  They promote us, share our books, gift our books, talk about our books...and they have made the Southern Arcana series possible.

Donna:  Definitely what she said.

Cipher, Moira Rogers
Southern Arcana, book 4
Ebook, received from author

**If you have not read Southern Arcana series books 1, 2 and 3…be warned, there may be spoilers!! And, seriously…whatcha waitin’ for? Get on that! Enter the giveaway below and get addicted.**

The Blurb from
Fourteen months ago, Kat Gabriel's life changed forever when she used her empathy as a weapon. Now she can't escape the weight of those deaths--or the loss of the easy friendship she and Andrew once shared. Obsessed with her mother's violent past, Kat is determined to learn the truth of her inner-darkness by understanding her legacy.

Since the attack that turned him into a wolf, Andrew Callaghan has done everything possible to make himself stronger. More capable of protecting Kat--both from the supernatural world that forced her to kill, and from their own volatile connection. Pushing her away hurt them both, but he's finally made himself into the protector she needs.

As Kat's quest leads her into the darkest underbelly of the psychic world, Andrew is determined to be at her side. But every step forward reopens old emotional wounds and shakes their control. For a dangerous alpha and a deadly psychic, distraction could be fatal--especially when the greatest threat they pose is to each other.

The Southern Arcana series, from Moira Rogers (in case you’ve been living in a cave):
The Southern Arcana books are novel-length paranormal romance set in a contemporary world where shapeshifters, psychics and spell casters of all sorts live secret lives beneath the radar. The paranormal world of Southern Arcana is not always a pretty place, so the books contain their share of violence and death, but if you make it through to the other side you'll always find a happy ending.
More information about the world is available at our Southern Arcana Guide!

My Review
If you have not yet read the Southern Arcana series…where in all that is paranormal romance have you been? I stumbled onto Crux shortly after daring to enter the world paranormal novels. I typically get books from the library; however, mine fails to carry any Moira Rogers eBooks (someone get on that, will ya’?). Alas, I was drawn in enough by the excerpt I read that I purchased the Kindle eBook.

And have NEVER regretted it.

Fast forward three books, and I stand in awe at the power in the pen that these ladies wield…well, keyboard is probably more appropriate (who writes with a pen these days, Geesh!). I make no secret of the fact that I love the Southern Arcana novels. Each time I find myself thinking, “This is it. This is the best one yet.” So, given my propensity to love all of them, I worked hard to analyze what about this novel in particular that gave me a drug-like addiction. Seriously, I actually told them they were like drug dealers. Note to self, filter.

Okay, first let’s talk characters. Our main characters are Kat and Andrew, who we meet way back in book 1 and 2. They were so well defined in this and subsequent books that I was dying for their story to be told. Kat stole my heart in Crux, when she first met Mackenzie:

Kat bolted upright. “Are you going to let her stay here? You can’t let her leave. Something’s wrong. Really, really wrong.”

I’m not sure how, exactly, these two pin her character down into just two simple lines. But there it is; there is Kat in all her empathic glory. So concerned about someone she’d never met before, so scared for her. I fell in love with Kat in this scene and her character has remained true.

Now, Andrew didn’t make as big of an impression on me – not his fault. He had some major male competition: Jackson, Derek, Alec…need I go on? We meet him in Crossroads, unless I somehow missed him in Crux, as Derek’s best friend and Kat’s…um, friend. However, readers. I may have dismissed him in favor of the others in previous books, but now I'd like to just say: Humana Humana...Yeah. that's about right.

In Cipher, we meet back up with the pair who’ve avoided each other since the fateful night when both their lives hit their respective lowest. Both hold baggage, which is not glossed over. We get to see, to feel the struggle with them. Nothing feels rushed between the two of them since we’ve known them for so long. They not only have history with each other, they have history with us.

Now, another reason I love a Moira Rogers novel is for the secondary characters. Although, it is difficult to pin down secondary characters in these novels because each one seems to get the spot light eventually. We meet the characters, get their back story and have a connection before they are shining in their own spotlight. I love, love, love that. Each character has a distinct voice, shown in what they say and how they react. We get to meet some newcomers in Cipher and I already feel a connection to them. Who knows…maybe they will get the spotlight soon.

Other than the characters, I would say the writing style is another major player in my ever-constant need to read and (ahem) reread these books. Some books are so distant or disjointed, either in dialogue or narration. I don’t like being jarred from the story because the flow is broken. Cipher doesn’t disappoint me in this either. The flow of dialogue holds true to how people would talk; it’s not forced or corny. In particular, I find myself cackling like crazy (which my 5-year-old truly enjoys watching) when they bring in words like “meh” and popular references from my own experiences: Princess Leia in the gold bikini, anyone?

One of my favorite examples of their writing style comes in the tense moments before a big scene when everyone is feeling stressed. “Kat couldn’t get her bangs to stay out of her eyes. In lieu of calling off the vital mission until she could get a grown-up haircut, Kat settled on unfashionable but practical pigtails.” I love the crazy ass details like this that make me smile in the heat of a moment. It doesn't remove me from the story, I'm still there and thinking of the absurdity of having hair issues when dealing with such bigger, life-threatening issues. And being annoyed at wearing my hair in childish pigtails while trying to be taken seriously.

Beyond that (as if we need more), I love the twisty plot. I had NO CLUE where this story was going at times. I found myself excited, mad, sad, happy…so many different emotions rolling around inside me. The power of words and experiences just never ceases to amaze me.

All right, I’ll stop praising now. Not that I have anything bad to say. I tried people, really. I wanted to show you I’m objective about this book…I may have failed you. However, know this: if I looked that hard to find something I could reveal with less excitement, then perhaps it’s worth zipping over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for a look see.You can also get excerpts from their website, 'cus they rock like that.

My Favorite Lines
This seems like a lot of favorite quotes…I narrowed it down. I did. But I highlighted SO MUCH on my Kindle app.

It was condescending. And it was hard to stay mad when protective custody meant spending time with Andrew—even if he had gone over to the dark side by joining the ranks of the overprotective assholes.

…a black hoodie with the word meh emblazoned across the front in all its apathetic glory. Meh pretty much covered it.

Andrew to Kat: “I’m just saying there’s a lot of scary going around, and if you’re going to condemn yourself for being dangerous, move over. There are a lot of us who belong on that bench with you.”

Kat: “He and Nicole have crazy epic love. I think epic love is an epidemic. Seems like everyone’s coming down with a case of it.”

Her studious disregard had passed casual a few months ago, but Julio remained oblivious to the way Sera avoided him. He was less oblivious to her ass...
Like living the porno version of their lives, where every situation dissolved into impractical sex.

Not convinced? Tough audience. Well, for another take on Cipher visit Reading the Paranormal

And now, because they rock so hard, we have Crux, Crossroads and Deadlock up for grabs! See below for details.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feature & Follow

Q. In some books like the Sookie Stackhouse series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish this would happen with in real life?

Witches. Without a doubt. There are so many variations of witches and so many powers to choose from. Good witches, bad witches. Witches with psi powers. Witches with the power to freeze, astralproject, blow stuff up…I could go on and on. Charmed, anyone?

What about you? What’s your answer?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  1. Grab your current read.
  2. Open to a random page.
  3. Share (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS. (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  5. Share the title & author too, so that other #TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week’s teaser is from That Voodoo You Do, Book 1 in That Old Black Magic series by Jodi Redford.

Peeking into the degenerate state of Logan Scott’s mind would be akin to being locked in a room with a floor-to-ceiling stack of Penthouse and Hustlers. Sure, it’d be entertaining at first, until the insanity and blindness set in.

If this peeked your interest, I’ll be posting a review of it soon…as well as books 2 & 3. As soon as I finish them! Can’t wait to read your #TT too. Leave a link so I can follow it to yours.


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