Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ava Riley Brings the Spooky and the Heat

Ava Riley is the Amazon bestselling author of erotic romance. She writes the dirty stuff that keeps you up at night, longing for that kind of romance. Her latest releases are Triple Shot, the the third book in her hot doctors series and Leesea’s Books and Babbles, the first in her paranormal Camric Series. I’m lucky enough to be a personal friend of Ava’s, so nabbing her for an interview was easy as pie. *smiles*

To celebrate her success, I'm giving away a copy of Leesea's Books and Babbles. Read to the end to find out how to enter. 

JJ:    Hi Ava!  Thanks so much for making margaritas and taking some time to chat with me. I know you bring the heat in your stories. Tell us where your inspiration comes from. Real life? Imagination?

Ava: Thank you for having me, Jan. I appreciate you letting me stop by.  Where does my inspiration come from?  Hmmm, I’d have to say a little of both worlds.  The imagination inspires the real life stuff then in turn flows onto the pages.
JJ:    I’ve read your books. You like the sexy men in medicine. However, you recently branched out into the paranormal realm. What prompted that and what can we expect from this new venture?

Ava: I read a lot of paranormal and really enjoy that genre.  I was always a little afraid of writing it for fear of my writing sounding copycatted.  I actually found that I am more comfortable writing paranormal (with a touch of erotic) than I am straight erotic romance.  My readers can expect the same heat in the bedroom (or the bookstore as they will see in Leesea’s Books and Babbles), as they have in my other series.  Romance is just as strong an element as the paranormal.

JJ:    You’re a mom, a wife, a full time student and a writer. I know coffee keeps you moving. What’s “A Day in the Life of Ava Riley” like?

Ava: Oy vey!  I literally go non-stop from six am to usually eleven or twelve at night.  Between dropping kids at school, my own school schedule of being on campus 5 days a week for 5 ½ hours, then soccer, cooking, cleaning, homework daily, it is a pretty crazy life.  Plus, I still have to find that time with the husband (who by the way is amazingly supportive).  I usually don’t get to write until late at night.  I love wearing all the hats I am at the time though and can’t imagine my life any other way. 

JJ:    When you have precious down time, what entertains you?

Ava: Downtime?  What’s that? LOL  Actually, usually when I have downtime (or at least make time to relax) I read or spend time with the family.  I set a goal this year to read 50 books and I have almost reached it.  I think in order to be a good writer, you have to read.

JJ:    You write super hot sex and deep, realistic characters. Tell us about your writing process? Any rituals or habits?

Ava: Well, thank you!  Coffee is the beginning of my writing process.  Some writers consume alcohol to get in the mood to write, but I need a good cup of coffee.  I have also found (and this is odd, I know) that in order for me to get the literary juices flowing I need to have my hair in a ponytail.  Other than that, I just sit down late at night and write.  I need it to be quiet and that doesn’t happen in my house until after 9 pm.

JJ:    Who are your favorite writers? Any particular authors influence your writing?

Ava:  Lara Adrian is the only writer I go/have gone fan girl over.  I love her writing, but I also enjoy my good friend Melissa Ecker’s books as well.   As far as influencing my writing, I’d have to say that Lara and Jeaniene Frost have had the biggest impact on my writing.  They always write very strong heroine characters and very hot hero characters.

JJ:    When can your fans expect a new book from you? Anything in the works you can share with us?

Ava: My next book, which is a paranormal romance novella – Leesea’s Books and Babbles – is now available.  This is the first in the Camric Series and I am working on the following books in the series (as my school schedule permits).

JJ:    Any last words of wisdom?

Ava: I would just like to say to those aspiring writers out there that if I could bestow on you one bit of wisdom from my journeys as a writer, it is to first and foremost stay true to yourself and write what you write.  Sometimes people will come along and try to dissuade you from following your heart, don’t let them.  And secondly, a lesson I have had to learn (and am still learning) is that in this business you have to have thick skin.  People aren’t always nice about your writing and sometimes it hurts like hell, but you have to take the constructive criticism and leave the rest of the junk behind.

Lightning Round Favorites:

Drink:  Coffee
Color:  Purple
Season: Fall (used to be summer, but now I’m old & get hot easily)
Flavor: Coffee
Book: Just one?  Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
Movie:  A Christmas Story
Band:  Chris Young (although he’s just one person)

Thanks again, Ava. You always warm my heart with your genuineness.  I’m giving away a copy of Leesea’s Books and Babbles. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom!

To keep up with the latest happenings of Ava Riley, follow her on Twitter @AvaRileyRomance and check out her website.
Her books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as other outlets. Go get ‘em! Good stuff, y’all! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inkarna Will Steal Your Soul and Your Heart

Click here to purchase
Ashton Kennedy wasn't a nice guy. He cheated on his girlfriend, knocked up a powerful drug lord's sister, and abused vast quantities of illegal narcotic substances. Whoever ran him over with a big shiny SUV was doing the world a favour. His very male, tattooed body is the last place Elizabeth Rae Perry--a member of an ancient Egyptian cult--expected to reincarnate in, instead of the three-year-old girl she'd been promised. Not only must she now come to terms with her new existence in the body of a disagreeable man, and clean up the mess he made of his life, she also has to unravel the mystery of why House Adamastor's chapter house is standing empty and find a way to protect a dangerous secret she had no idea she was supposed to keep. As if fate couldn't deal her another blow, she has also attracted the attention of a malicious and potentially dangerous ghost. And to top it all off, she must deal with the consequences of finding love in a most unexpected place.

Inkarna is, by far, the best book I’ve read this year. Ashton Kennedy is hot and bad and one of those characters you love to hate or hate to love, either way. Nerine Dorman transfixes the reader with a believable story steeped in Egyptian mysticism and what it means to be Inkarna. When Lizzie’s plan to inhabit the body of a three year old girl goes awry and she wakes up in the body of Ashton, we are taken on a gender bending journey where she acclimates to being Ash and battles her/his feelings toward Ash’s timid girlfriend. Through Lizzie, Ash is able to redeem his past misdeeds and through Ash, Lizzie is able to set things right with Inkarna. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat with magic and mystery. The ending is breathtaking and will leave you yearning for more.

After reading Inkarna, I was totally start struck and had to chase Nerine down for an interview. Not only is she a fantastically talented writer but she’s funny and gorgeous. See for yourself and read to the bottom for details on how to win a free copy of Inkarna!

JJ:    Hi Nerine!  Thanks so much for agreeing to sit down with me for a few questions. As you can see from my review above, I loved Inkarna and was fascinated by the Egyptian mysticism. Tell us where this story came from.

Nerine:    Hey, January, thanks for having me over. Inkarna sort of seeped up from my subconscious, for lack of better description. The year 2010 wasn’t a particularly good one for me. I was battling with severe depression, and two people who meant a lot to me passed away. The death of the first was accompanied by vivid dreams which sparked off the “what if” scenario that eventually drove me to outlining the day I attended the funeral of the second. Death and questions of what happens after fuelled this, as well as playing on gender identity and my love of Egyptian cosmology. Who are we really?
JJ:    I’ve read a few of your books and you seem to have a fondness for the tall, dark and looming men. Are these yummy characters inspired by someone in particular?

Nerine:    I get my inspiration from a bunch of tall, dark and looming, but anyone who takes a look at my Pinterest board, “Beautiful People” will probably get a good idea of the main culprits. Peter Steele, Carl McCoy, Trent Reznor – all beautiful men.

JJ:    Ah, Pete and Trent *sighs* As a musician, editor and writer, you are a master multitasker. What’s “A Day in the Life of Nerine” like?

Nerine:    Six thirty AM is the absolute latest I can lie in unless I want to miss my train in the morning. During that hour-long commute I crochet and read before I plunge headlong into my day job as a newspaper sub-editor (doing layouts and subbing for the commercial features). If I’m lucky, I have time during my lunch hour to write. I try to get out to meet a friend for coffee at least once a week. I also try to wrap any editorial I’ll be submitting during that stolen time. Five PM sees me back on the train for another hour back to the far south. People often ask how the hell I cope with travelling the distance each day, but to be honest, I love the train when it’s running smoothly. It’s “me” time to read, and by the time the train reaches Muizenberg, I get to ride on the sea shore, sometimes spotting whales and dolphins, or gawking at surfers.

Night time I have to obviously do my wifely duties of washing dishes and cooking dinner, but then, before I even open my netbook, I practice my classical guitar for about an hour. After my bath, I’m in bed with my computer, and catch up on the day’s quota of editing and writing. The last thing I do before lights out is to write a thousand words. Less than six hours later the whole merry-go-round starts again.

Structure is very important when juggling a hectic schedule. I’ve recently cut back on my editing commitments (I only take on very limited amounts of freelance work) so that I can concentrate on my own writing.

Weekends or on days that I take leave, when we’re not off on film or photo shoots (my husband is an indie filmmaker), we’re usually at home, and I get more reading done. The dogs, of course, insist on their late-afternoon walk on days that I’m home. I just have to *look* at my shoes and they won’t stop barking until they’ve had their 30-minute trot around the block. I love being at home – for me that’s like being on vacation. Sometimes I get to travel, usually through my day job, and have been to Zambia and Ireland, among other destinations.
JJ:    When you’re not writing and editing, what’s your idea of fun?

Nerine: I might potter in the garden a bit. Occasionally we go out to see music, or have a braai (barbecue) with friends. I recently started crocheting, mainly as a way to release tension and do something completely out of character. My husband and I sometimes treat ourselves by visiting the very bohemian seaside town of Kalk Bay and go for coffee. This is a dangerous occupation as we usually end up buying secondhand books.

JJ:    Music seems to be a common thread in your stories.  What’s your writing process like? Does it include music?

Nerine: I listen to music while I write, and find myself gravitating to particular artists. Of late this includes a lot of post-rock and world music, as well as gothic and doom metal. My tastes are quite eclectic, however, and the husband has recently introduced me to the rather enigmatic late-195os to early-1960s exotica. I’m equally happy attending a jazz gig as I am seeing my friends in the South African industrial metal band, Terminatryx, perform live. Experiencing Rammstein live last year was one of my musical highlights, and I’m very excited for mates of mine who’ve started a psychobilly band called Th’Damned Crows. At some point I might start collaborating with other musicians again, but probably mainly in an “unplugged” format. There is talk.

All this seeps through into the mood of my writing. I need the filter music provides, to help block environmental noises (the husband plays a lot of PS3 games and I need to drown out the screaming and gunshots). I also suffer from severe tinnitus, and some days are worse than others, so the music helps distract me from the ever-present screeching in my ears (no doubt a result of years of playing bass in grunge, goth and black metal bands).

Readers will encounter plenty of musical references in my writing. Sometimes I pay tribute to the artists who have meant a lot to me. I’ve even indulged in a little satire when it comes to some of those who’ve annoyed me.

JJ:    I’m a huge fan of the horror genre. Share with us your involvement in the much-anticipated Bloody Parchment anthology.

Nerine: Bloody Parchment is now in its third year as an event. We gather at an indie bookstore, Book Lounge, in Roeland Street, Cape Town, and celebrate dark fiction, usually with a group of genre fiction authors. Last year we had a few readings and a panel. This year we’re doing drabbles.

The anthology and short story competition grew out of the event, during a time when there was no local market for horror fiction. The anthology and competition is open to international entries, and the current issue has a selection of authors from all over, including the UK, US, Botswana, South Africa and Australia. Once the judges have made their final selection, I step in as editor and put the contributors through their paces—so they gain from considerable editing. The winner of the competition not only has his or her story appear as part of the title of the anthology, but receives a comprehensive round of edits on a novel or novella-length work.

Entries for this year’s competition close on October 31, and you’re welcome to mail questions to or check out the blog at

JJ:   There’s been some talk about a sequel to Inkarna.  When can your fans expect more of Ash?

Nerine: Yes, I’m writing the sequel. I’m not going to say a helluva lot on the matter except that in book two I tie up a few of the loose ends left at the end of the first, and poor, dear Ash is out of the frying pan and into the fire. Some pretty nasty things happen, and Ash is kept on the run. And his life become a bit *too* exciting. I almost feel sorry for him but then again, if he had things easy, then there wouldn’t be much of a story now, would there?

JJ:   It's no secret that I'm an avid fan of your work. What else is out there that readers should know about?

Nerine:    Many folks have gotten to know of me via Inkarna. While I’m in the process of rebooting my Khepera series (rights reverted to me) and will re-launch those titles soon, I do have novellas that are worth dipping into if you like tales of the fanged kind.

The Namaqualand Book of the Dead is the tale of a young woman who hitchhikes up the South African West Coast to find out the truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s apparent death:

What Sweet Music They Make tells of the meeting between two musicians who dwell in very separate worlds, and the complications that arise from their mutual fascination. Lots of vampiric intrigue here:

Both these two are my little unsung heroes, and I’d love for them to grace a few more kindles out there. Even better, if you’ve read them, do leave me a review. I love reviews. Most authors do. [smiles]

Lightning Round Favorites:

Drink:  Earl Grey tea, 100% pure pomegranate juice or good coffee. Then again, there’s a cafĂ© in Cape Town – Roxy’s on Dunkley Square – that makes the most nommilicious chocolate milkshakes in the whole world.
Color:  Black (well, of course) but trimmed with green or purple.
Season: Autumn or spring.
 Flavor: chocolate or lemon (you’ll see I can’t make up my bloody mind)
Book: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu novels.
Movie:  Star Wars, Highlander and Ladyhawke
Band: Type O Negative, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, film soundtracks by Hans Zimmer.

Thanks again, Nerine. I really enjoyed chatting with you and I can't wait to get my hands on the next installment of Ash.  

Inkarna is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

To keep up with the latest happenings of Nerine Dorman, follow her on Twitter @NerineDorman and check out her blog

** Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a digital copy of Inkarna**

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Music is Darkest Just Before Dawn

I really tried to keep my fan girl excitement under control when I booked this interview. Y’all know how excitable I can get. Okay, I won’t tease you anymore. Please welcome the very talented and charming Hagen Schneevoigt to the blog. Hagen is the vocalist and bass player for Tunes of Dawn, one of today’s most versatile rock bands. If they’re not already on your playlist, you’re missing out.

JJ:    Hey, Hagen. Thanks so much for indulging my journalistic and musical curiosities. Tell us a little about the inception of Tunes of Dawn and your unique sound.

Hagen:   Thank you for discovering us! It all started out back in 1993 with lots of dreams of becoming rock stars and rich and famous, but with less know-how :o)

Death Metal was very popular at that time, so we gave it a try. But we got bored over the years with the guitar-shredding all the time. When we were on a trip to Paris in 1998, we decided to make a new start with the band; new name and new music. At least we had improved our ability to play music. And it’s cool to say, “Hey, we founded the band in Paris!” Over the years, we tried lots of sounds to develop our style, becoming more rock-based than metal. It was a long road but I think we’re all pleased with it today.

JJ:    Who are the biggest influences on your musical style and why?

Hagen:   Every one of us has so many different influences that sometimes it’s hard to combine everything into a song. The range reaches from metal, of course, to rock, blues, classic and even jazz music.

There are also personal influences like Black Sabbath, Type O Negative, AC/DC, The Ramones and all that classic stuff, but also Beethoven and pop music as well. Not only music influences us, but also daily things in life, like love, death, happiness, despair and life itself.
JJ:    There is so much feeling in your music. One of my all time favorite Tunes of Dawn songs is A Warm Sigh at 6°C. What is your writing process like?

 Hagen:   Thanks. That’s also the song we like the most. It all starts with a melody growing in my head. After thinking, “Hey, it’s good!” we all work together forming it into a song. The lyrics are written afterwards, mostly to fit the words into the song. Sometimes, we also dig out some old stuff and re-, de-, or mis-compose it again. It can take as little as hours or as long as months to create a good song (in our opinion) and we’re not done with it until everyone says, “Yeah, that’s good.”
JJ:    When you’re not doing the band thing, what do you do for entertainment? Any hobbies?

Hagen:   Well, we all love to go to concerts or to the cinema or just hanging around and having a beer. Some of us have a family so there’s not that much time left to spend together. There are also other musical projects going, like playing in a cover band to earn some money. Besides that, we all have regular jobs to pay the rent.

JJ:    What’s “A Day in the Life of Tunes of Dawn” like?

Hagen:   Nothing special, I think. Like most bands, when on tour or something, we’re checking our equipment, writing new stuff, drinking beer, talking rubbish and looking forward to the next show. When rehearsing, we concentrate on exercising the songs or making plans for the future, if there is one…. Ha ha…..

JJ:    I recently picked up the EP Basement Goodies. Your cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt is amazing but I have mad love for the hauntingly beautiful track Upon My Grave. What’s next for Tunes of Dawn?  

Hagen:   Thanks for purchasing our product ;o) Hurt was recorded during our latest album production. It’s just an adaption of Johnny Cash’s version. The piano version of Upon My Grave felt totally different from the original one, so we decided to record it as well and put everything on that EP.

At the moment, we’re in the writing process for our next album, which will hopefully be done in the middle of next year. But first we have to find a new record label to work with. So, things are not that easy right now. But nevertheless, we’re looking forward.

JJ:  Any upcoming tours or appearances where fans can catch a live show? Any chance you’ll be in the U.S?

Hagen:   It’s getting harder and harder to get gigs. We’re not that well known in Germany, so it’s almost impossible for us to play at festivals or bigger events. That’s the very sad thing about the music business. No money = less shows. Often you have to rent the whole club to do a show or you pay to tour with a bigger band.

Unfortunately, we haven’t got that much money. So it’s even harder for us. Once we had an invitation to play some gigs in New York, but it was cancelled by the organizers because they didn’t want to pay for the flights anymore. So I think we’ll never play in the U.S. unless we win the lottery or some other wonder occurs. We’re sad about that.

JJ:    I’m so glad I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with you. Not only do I appreciate your taste in music but I really admire your graciousness. I had a great time.

Hagen:   We would like to thank you for your interest and for interviewing us. Spread the word and the music, maybe we will meet one day if we ever make it over the ocean. Thanks to everyone who listens to our music. 

JJ:    Thanks again, Hagen. If our paths cross, I’ll buy you a beer and you can sing to me. *smiles*
Hagen's Lightning Round Favorites:

Drink:  Beer
Color:  Mostly dark ones
Season: Summer and Winter
Flavor: Bittersweet
Book: Lemmy: White Line Fever
Movie:  Harold and Maude
Band: All-time favourites – Elvis Presley, Type O Negative, Muse

To keep up with the latest happenings of Tunes of Dawn, follow them on Twitter @TunesOfDawn and like them on Facebook.

Their fabulous EP Basement Goodies is available on Amazon. Go get it! Check out their website  for more purchasing options.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Carrie Clevenger Bares All...Literally and Figuratively

 Whoa! Okay, pull your eyes away from that sexy pic for a just a minute. Imagine if Anne Rice and Stephen King had a love child. Now you have an idea of the caliber of talent that urban fantasy author Carrie Clevenger embodies. Carrie is the author of the recently released novel Crooked Fang and I was lucky enough to grab her for a few questions.

JJ:    Hi Carrie!  I’m so thrilled to have you on the blog. Crooked Fang is one of my favorite books. Tell me where the inspiration for Xan came from.

Carrie:  Xan has been around since about 2001. I’d already received inspiration, a seed if you will, from a few sources, primarily musical. Type O Negative’s Christian Woman video was one of them, but Xan is no Peter Steele. I thought of a bass playing vampire, tall, because many bass players tend to be larger men (at least from what I’ve seen). He needed a place and location to live, so I went hunting online. I picked Colorado at random, plus it just felt right. While checking out real estate listings, I came upon Winks Lodge which was at that time posted for sale. The place was absolutely perfect. A vampire that played bass and lived in a tavern-lodge. Over the past eleven years, he’s evolved into a smart-mouthed asshole with a streak of white knight running through him even though I’m sure he’d never admit that freely.
JJ:    What’s your writing process like?  Do you have any rituals or certain things that help your process along?

Carrie:  Usually I need music. There are times I’ll have a song stuck in my head and I have to either play the song or buy it. Which ends up in me buying an album. I write either on my desktop or my laptop (currently a sexy paperweight thanks to technical issues) and just let the words flow. If there aren’t any to be had, I don’t force it. I’m an inspiration-based writer only.

JJ:    In addition to being a fairly prolific writer, I know you’re a wife, a mom and hold down a full time job. What’s “A Day in the Life of Carrie” like?

Carrie:  Chaos. Careful time-management. I have to split my life into several boxes, including mother, full time employee, and writer. IN addition, there’s promotion that has to be done. Guest blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, communication with quite a bit of incoming emails and queries for different things. I can’t always accomplish everything as quickly as I like but I have to remember to take a deep breath and tell myself I’m only human.     

JJ:    When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?

Carrie:  Fun? What is this “fun” you speak of? Haha. Mostly it’s music-related fun, whether it be seeing live shows, hunting down new albums, listening to music or thinking about it. We can honestly say Xan has an effect on me.

JJ:   The pictures of you and Sasha are smoking hot. How was the modeling experience?

Carrie:  OMG. Incredibly awkward and painful! We see pictures of svelte femme bombshells and rarely take the time to consider how impossible a pose might be until we try it. Looks good, but take the goddamn picture please before I scream or fall over. Ha.

JJ:   Xan Marcelles is a fantastic character. I understand the next Crooked Fang book is currently in the works. When do you expect to give your readers another dose of Xan? Any chance of you sharing an excerpt?

Carrie:  The next Crooked Fang book is in the works. I haven’t settled on a definite plot structure quite yet, but if you follow Crooked Fang on Facebook, I post excerpts at times.

JJ:    I enjoy your Friday Flashes, particularly the 27 stories. Will Ren and Stein have their own book at some point? 

Carrie:  YES. The stories, which combine to form this bigger separate universe have tickled the base of my brain for about two years now. I’ve done a little bit of Ren’s story but it was put aside when Crooked Fang again rose to the forefront.

Lightning Round Favorites:

Drink:  COFFEE
Color:  Blue. I wonder why.
Season:  Autumn
Flavor:  Vanilla
Book: The Good Earth, by Pearl S Buck
Movie:  Goodfellas
Band: TOOL, Type O Negative and about five hundred others

Thanks again, Carrie. It’s always a pleasure talking with you.   

For buy links to Crooked Fang and Carrie’s other books, click here. Check out the awesome merchandise available too!

To keep up with the latest happenings of Carrie Clevenger, follow her on Twitter @CarrieClevenger, check out her website and subscribe to her blog

To get to know Xan Marcelles follow him on Twitter @CrookedFang and like him on Facebook