EGG ON MY FACE

When Bewitched Book Tours scheduled me for a stop at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer  (blog), I wondered what Roxanne was doing. After discovering the blogger is a man, I concluded that he could not possibly understand what I’m doing or appreciate it in any way. Following is his review of My Familiar Stranger. Following that is the comment I posted on his website.

After watching her family die, 23-year-old Elora Laikem barely escapes death herself with the help from her mentor, Thelonius Monq, who opens the portal in which she escapes through. The portal takes her to a parallel universe, where she meets a group of military soldiers known as The Order of the Black Swan, whose main objective is to hunt and kill vampires. The group consists of mortal elves and other mystical creatures/beings.

The group takes her in and before long she befriends Catalonius C. Monq (a double for her mentor), Kay (a berserker), Rammel Hawking (an elf), and a human named Engel Storm. She joins their team and several of the men have eyes on romancing her, especially Rammel who thinks she is his one and only. Here in this strange new world she learns that she has superhuman strength and speed.

Just as she is adjusting to her new surrounds, a 600-year-old vampire named Istvan Baka takes a unique interest in her.

I have read many vampire novels over the years, some good and some just plain awful. My Familiar Stranger is a breath of fresh air to the vampire genre that has been done to death thanks to the overrated Twilight series. My Familiar Stranger has an original plot. I thought it was pure genius that the author would set the book in a parallel universe. The characters are all likeable and the dialogue is snappy. Overall, I enjoyed reading book one in the series and I recommend it to other readers.

Thank you for helping me slay a prejudice. When I saw this blog on the book tour, I anticipated a lukewarm review for no other reason than the blogger’s sex. Feeling very silly that I assumed only women would appreciate the art of a tightly woven romance. LESSON LEARNED!! – In all humility, Victoria

Week 13: THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

Week 13: The Next Big Thing   – September 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing . . . we all like to think we will be.  I suppose there can only be so many Twilight’s in a lifetime, but you never know . . . right?
We are blog hopping our way through some new reads.  For those who aren’t familiar with a blog hop . . . to me it’s kind of like a treasure hunt – once you find something on one blog you hop on over to the next blog link for more treasure.  In this case, the treasure is a wealth of new and exciting books.  Some are still being written, some are just being released.  Either way, for fiction lovers . . . it’s a treasure and I’d like to thank Bridgette O’Hare for tagging me to participate. (Click the link to read Bridgette’s Big Thing Entry.)
In this particular hop I answer 10 questions . . . you get to learn about my current WIP (work in progress), some of the characters I’ve come to think of as real, and how I got to the point of being nuts enough to write down over 70 thousand words worth of what the voices in my head have been whispering to me.  When it’s all said & done . . . comments and questions are always welcome.

What is the working title of your book?

The Summoner’s Tale, The Order of the Black Swan, Book Three

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Although the series is not a trilogy, the first three books have formed their own story arc so in many ways this book is like the third act in a three act play. There are two simultaneously running plots. One is the story of one of the major characters: a six-hundred-year-old former vampire, named Istvan Baka, who has amassed a fan base among Black Swan readers. The other will be a surprise.

What genre does your book fall under?

Adult Paranormal ROMANCE, Adult Paranormal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Chick Lit, Vampire Romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

It sort of surprises me that I have an answer for this one, but, I would definitely tap Hayden Christensen to play Baka. Directors don’t always manage to get performances out of him, but I saw him in “Life As A House” when he was still a teen and know he has enough heart to give me Baka’s angst.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I could not despise this question more. Ex-vampire tortured by six hundred years of misdeeds seeks happily ever after. See why I hate that question? Synopsizing always makes my work sound juvenile and stupid or both. AND IT’S NOT! I SWEAR!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

At this point I’m comfortable an indie, in the sense that I own the publishing company that publishes my books. I love the complete freedom that goes with deciding what I write, when, how, where, and what length the finished product will be. Editing would be a nightmare for me and I don’t want to have to go six rounds with somebody over a paragraph. I’m old enough to know better than to say never, but it seems less likely with every day that passes. Now, if we can just overcome the built-in industry prejudice toward Indies…

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two months, but that is after the first two steps of my outline process are finished and those take a year if you count the simmering in the depths of my subconscious mind.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I couldn’t be more pleased to say that is an impossible question by design. Before I started writing, I spent a full two years reading every PNR that had enjoyed any success at all so that I had a thorough understanding of what had already been done. That way I could be assured I wasn’t copying or being formulaic. People are always trying to find similarites. “Well, it’s a little like Black Dagger, but, then, as soon as you get into it you realize it’s not.” One of my favorite reviews says, “She explodes stereotypes.”

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Kresley Cole. About three years ago I read A Hunger Like No Other and fell in love with PNR.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Book One, My Familiar Stranger, and Book Two, The Witch’s Dream. Like Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, these must be read in order. I logged over 100 reviews on Amazon (74 five star and most of the four stars read like five) as an unknown author, first book, and an Indie at that within four months of release. That’s pretty much unheard of. Whether they liked it or didn’t, lots of readers were moved to talk about it.

Tagged for next week – you’re it!

Lindsey Parsons http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/
William MacMillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/
Joss Landry http://josslandry.com/category/wednesday-book-reviews-other-news/
Trish Marie Dawson http://writertrishmdawson.wordpress.com/
Allison M. Cosgrove http://www.stanbrookshire.comstanbrookshire.com

Excerpt from The Witch's Dream

If you read a copy of My Familiar Stranger in the past three weeks, you may have this excerpt at the end of your book.

She could see from records that Storm had been in trouble at school from the first day of first grade. Like a lot of the knights, he was too smart to be suited for the public school curriculum and the system isn’t set up to cater to individuals. Also, most adults have a really hard time liking children who are smarter than they are.

He seemed to have been born knowing things, like math for instance. His mind would grab on to a concept on first presentation and then, while his classmates struggled, he would be looking around for something to do. That something usually ended up being disruption.

Storm was loved by his parents, but school faculty was another story. He had a reputation with the teachers for instigating pandemonium in the classroom. He was the triple threat: smart, bored, and a natural leader. It wasn’t that he was a class clown, nothing so obvious or exaggerated. He just quietly went about doing whatever the hell he pleased and ignoring objections. In short, no one in his life to that point had given him adequate reason to believe that anarchy was not the best policy.

Peers wanted to be like him. If that wasn’t possible, they would settle for doing whatever he was doing. So Storm’s experience of the public school system was time spent in the hallway, the principal’s office, or in trouble at home with his parents agonizing over what to do.

At one point they thought sports might be the answer. He had an extra helping of athletic talent and one of those bodies that would have said yes to any physical demand. Unfortunately he never saw the point. To him sports represented an endless, mindless, repetition with some arbitrarily established goal that made no sense when he broke it down and it turned out to be… well, boring. Put it all together and he was a public school educator’s nightmare. He was also a textbook ideal candidate for Black Swan.

One day he was sent to the Vice Principal’s office under protest claiming that, for once, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He sat down in his usual chair to wait for the usual carpet ride, but, instead, the door opened to reveal too many people crowded into a smallish room. That included the V.P., Storm’s parents and a tall, serious-looking guy with a piercing gaze and an unmistakable air of authority. Storm sat up straight and had only one thought. Uh oh.

The stranger wore slacks, highly polished loafers, and a sports coat.  He guessed the man was old, thirty-five maybe, but he looked hard all over like one of those athletes who can’t repeat enough Iron Man triathlons to please themselves.

Engel Storm’s father worked for the Randolph Moldavni vineyards as head winemaker. The work was personally fulfilling and he wasn’t chained to a desk in a cubicle, but it didn’t cut a path to either greatness or riches. His mother worked part time as library receptionist at the local branch of the University of California. Between the two they made enough to take care of three kids in solid middle class fashion. They could eat steak, but not every day. They had good health insurance with the vineyard. They could take a summer vacation if they drove and stayed in motels. It was an upbringing no child should complain about, but most do anyhow.

Storm’s background hadn’t afforded an education on the finer points of better men’s’ clothing, but even to an untrained eye there was a vague sense that the stranger’s style was expensive.

“Have a seat, son.” Vice Principal Rodgers motioned to an ugly metal chair with green leatherette seat and back. Storm noticed that there was a small tear in the seat that showed a little white stuffing. His mind was racing, partially occupied with the fact that Rodgers had called him “son”. He decided that meant he was in even bigger trouble than he thought, but, on the other hand, his parents looked serious, but not mad. The tall guy leaned against an old book case and looked really, really out of place against the backdrop of venetian blinds that were partly bent and a room that needed repainting.

Mr. Rodgers, better known to the student body as “Tums” as it was said his tummy entered a room five minutes before the rest of him, sat down with a plop that forced air out of the vinyl cushion seat. Another boy his age might have had to suppress a snicker, but Storm sometimes seemed more like an adult than a kid.

When the wheezing subsided, Tums said, “Engel, this is Mr. Nemamiah.” Storm looked up into flinty blue eyes that didn’t blink or apologize for staring. After a couple of seconds he wanted to look away, but pride wouldn’t let him. So he raised his chin just a hair and determined he wouldn’t give in first. Mr. Nemamiah’s expression didn’t change at all, but Storm thought he saw a little light flicker in those steely eyes. Nemamiah let him off the hook and looked away first.

 Tums continued. “It seems he’s taken an interest in you and your education.”

Storm was starting to panic. Not military school. Please. Please. Please don’t let it be military school. It was then he started calculating how long it would take him to be up, out the door, and hitchhiking on I80.

“It’s been noticed that your test scores are extraordinary. To say the least.”

Wow. That wasn’t what Storm had expected to hear next.

“Mr. Nemamiah is in a position to arrange a scholarship to a private school that develops talent such as yours for possible future work with a quasigovernmental agency. He asked that I make this introduction so that you would know that he and his organization are legitimate.”

“Develops talent? What does that mean?” Storm demanded. He directed the question to Tums, but Nememiah interjected answering in a gravelly voice.

“It means specialized training. Highly specialized.”

Storm stared at Nememiah for a couple of breaths and then barked out a laugh intended to imply rebellion, irreverence, and a healthy dose of cynicism. “Spy school? You want me for spy school?” He laughed with his whole body as only boys can – for a few seconds. Then, in the time it took to draw another breath, Storm raked a gaze up and down the older man sizing him up, reasoned through the bizarre nature of the offer and decided that first, it would not be boring and, second, it might be cool. “Okay. Sign me up.”

Mr. Nemamiah almost gave in to the temptation to smile. While such behavior might be seen as rash, impulsive, or even schizophrenic in the mundane world, the ability to quickly sort through an equation and make hard decisions on the fly was one of the traits his organization prized. Neither parent was particularly surprised. With Storm they knew the one thing they could count on was unpredictability.  

Nemamiah talked directly to Storm as if to say from now on this is between you and me. “Clean out your locker and say your goodbyes to your friends. Let them think you are going to military school. I’ll be by your house tomorrow morning at 10:00 o’clock. You and your parents will have an opportunity to ask questions. You may consider it an interview if you wish. If, at that time, you are satisfied with my answers, we will leave together. You may pack some personal things into two duffel bags, but that is optional. Everything you need will be provided for you from now on. You’re going to receive a first-class education, the kind money cannot buy, from people who will be honored to teach you.”

Storm blinked and his brows came together to form perfectionist lines that would be permanently etched into his face by the time he was twenty five. People who would be honored to teach him?

Mr. Rodgers cleared his throat. “Well,” he stood and held out his hand to Storm’s father to shake. “Thank you for coming.” He nodded to Mrs. Storm. “Give us a call tomorrow and let us know what you decide.”

Everyone in the room knew Tums would feel like he’d won the lottery if the troublemaker kid was on the way to being somebody else’s problem.

Storm’s parents waited in the car while he cleaned out his locker. In the few minutes that took, he had already made a list of questions. He couldn’t keep himself from peeking into the classroom where he would normally be looking for something to occupy his restless mind and body. When the other kids looked up and saw him at the door, he gave them a goofy smile and a wave, just so they’d know he hadn’t been led away crying or something disgraceful like that. He wanted to leave with his reputation intact.

Prune Face Blackmon followed the eyes of her students to the classroom door which stood open to the hallway. “Mr. Storm. Do you have someplace you need to be?”

He didn’t want to give her the finger. He really, really, really didn’t want to give her the finger. But he gave her the finger and trotted away grinning at the uproar of laughter from the poor douches who were going to be stuck in that hell hole the rest of the hour. “Not a bad exit,” he thought to himself. “Points shaved for lack of planning, but…”

He didn’t know where he was going or what he was going to do. But he would have felt really good about the whole thing if he had known that Sol Nemamiah would have laughed, on the inside, had he witnessed the teacher receiving a prime example of bird as a parting shot. What you want at your back if you’re heading into a nest of unknown fuck all is not a man who was afraid of a little authority as a kid. That guy will just as likely freeze and shit his pants or vice versa.

Sol’s philosophy, had he ever been asked, would have been something like, “Give me a kid with a proud third finger and I’ll give you back a vampire slayer.”

The Storm family stopped at McDonalds drive-through on the way home, then settled down at the Formica top kitchen table with a yellow, legal pad and the goal of making a comprehensive list of ask-now-or-hold-your-peace questions.

What was the scope of this “first class education that money cannot buy”?

Did it include geometry, foreign language, literature, biology?

Would he be receiving a diploma?

Would it be accepted by desirable institutions of higher learning?

Where would he be going?

Could he leave if he didn’t like it?

Would he be able to call home whenever he wanted?

Could he visit them?

Could they visit him?

Would he have a room of his own?

Would he get spending money?

Would he have an opportunity to spend spending money?

Would he be signing up to get an education or pledging himself to pay off the investment in service to a job that wasn’t his choice?

Would he have an opportunity to interact socially with others his own age?

And, did they know it wasn’t all mind-blowing test scores and high I.Q.; that he had been in trouble at school pretty much nonstop since first grade?

By the time his two siblings got home from school, Storm and his parents were agreed on which questions were deal breakers.

He and his dad pulled down two duffels they kept in the attic for camping. After packing everything he wanted to take, he hadn’t even completely filled one. That realization gave him pause, but not as much as the fact that he didn’t have any friends worth lying to about where he was going.

He didn’t sleep that night. At all. He didn’t know whether he should be excited or apprehensive. So far the information he had was cryptic at best. What he did know is that it was an adventure come knocking at his door and that this kind of thing didn’t happen every day. In fact, he’d never heard of it happening to anybody. Ever. The idea of a school that wanted him was so outrageous it made him smile to himself in the dark.

The next morning Storm said goodbye to his older brother and younger sister when they left for school, then sat down at the kitchen table with his parents to wait. His duffel was by the front door just in case. At precisely ten o’clock the doorbell rang. 

Nemamiah was invited in. He graciously accepted coffee and the four of them sat down in the modest living room for a question and answer discussion about the future of a very special boy. After all their questions had been answered, to everyone’s satisfaction, Mr. Nemamiah clicked open an old-fashioned, battered, brown, leather briefcase and withdrew a contract. 

Storm’s dad put on his reading glasses. Every one of the questions they had asked was covered in the contract already. It spelled out what they would do for Engel Storm. It spelled out that the initial choice of facility would be theirs, but that he might be transferred at any time at the discretion of Saint Black’s which was the parents’ code name for the organization. Storm and his parents agreed not to say anything other than that he was awarded a scholarship to a private school. When Mr. Storm was finished reading, he handed the contract to his wife and asked Mr. Nemamiah to excuse him and his son. He took Storm into the back room, closed the door, and gestured for him to sit on the bed.

“Your mother and I want to do the right thing, the best thing, for you. If you decide to accept this offer, we want to be sure that you’re doing it for you and not for… any other reason. We love you enough to let you go if you’re inclined to think this is the best thing, but we want you to stay if it’s not. Do you understand?” Storm nodded and tried to swallow back the lump in his throat. That was the longest speech his father had ever made, that he knew of, and he heard the love in it loud and clear. “Alright. You know what you want to do?” Storm nodded again.

So Storm and his parents signed the contract. He gave his mother a big hug and tried not to notice how hard she was working to keep the moisture in her eyes from spilling over. He was already two inches taller and could look down on her when she wasn’t wearing heels. He was more trouble than the other two put together… more trouble to the third power. Even so, although she would never admit it even to herself, he was her favorite.

He stowed the half filled duffel in the trunk of Nemamiah’s understated black sedan and waved to his parents who were standing in the front yard watching him drive away. He had just turned fourteen.

They drove south toward San Francisco. Nemamiah wasn’t big on small talk, but he told Storm he was welcome to listen to whatever radio station he liked. He then rolled the driver’s side window part way down and lit a little, thin, black cigar.

They kept driving until they reached the naval base at Treasure Island. They were headed for the compound in the middle surrounded by a twenty foot wall. They passed three checkpoints where guards recognized Nemamiah and waved him through. As they passed a gorgeous old, graceful mansion with lawns and tennis courts, Nemamiah said it had once been an Admiral’s home, but that it was being used for the school now, that Storm would eat and enjoy leisure time there.

They parked next to a brick building, opened the door with a key card, and entered a long dormitory-style hallway. Each door had a name plate. When they stopped mid way to the end, Storm looked at the door. The name plate said Engel Storm.

He reached up to run his fingers over the lettering. “Wow. You must have been pretty sure I’d come.”

Nemamiah didn’t smile, but his eyes did soften just a touch. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, Mr. Storm. We know what we’re looking for.” He turned the knob and swung the door open. “And you’re it.”

M.F.S. Reviewed by Between the Bind Blog

Between the Bind

Review from Jenna Lynne at Between the Bind Blog POSTED 6/26/12

She gave me 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, but, I’m still proud enough of this review to post it because she took SO much time on the analysis and went so deep into her personal reactions. As an author, you can’t help but be moved when someone is emotional engaged by the characters of an otherworld that originated in the strangeness of imaginescape. Thanks Jenna. Not just for this review, but for promoting the genre of Paranormal Romance. – Victoria

5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Captivating – 4.5 Stars,June 26, 2012

This book was a RIDE! I simply cannot say enough great things about Victoria Danann and the genius that is My Familiar Stranger. Danann’s writing style is uniquely honest and captivates her audience with both plot and characters in a well-developed and thoughtful world (or “worlds” as it seems).
The Love Nest:
Elora Liaken is the perfect meshing of kick-butt-ness and vulnerability. Literally dropping into an alternative dimension after watching her family be assassinated, Elora is saved by Storm, the de facto leader of the elite B-Team in the paranormal military unit, “Black Swan.” All Elora remembers of Storm is his delicious smell and comforting words while drifting in and out of consciousness. Well, that and another voice saying, “We should kill it.”
After healing, Elora distinguishes the latter from B-Team’s resident womanizer, Ram, who immediately recognizes Elora as his elven mate. Showing more brains than brawn, he doesn’t try to force his culture on Elora, knowing that humans rarely mate for life. Ram is crude at best while competing for Elora’s affection – but he is unaware that the competition is with not just one other man, but instead, two! The last in this triad being the ancient, overtly sexy, and repentant vampire, Istvan Baka.
These relationships seem to be straight forward at first, but progress interestingly enough and actually? One of my initial complaints is now my most favorite piece of Danann’s puzzle. I really did want Elora to choose each one of the men depending on the page I was on, to the point of being extremely frustrated that said gentleman was taking time away from my current fav, but, in what I’ve come to know as classic Danann style, this was exactly the point. As a reader, you are physically but moreover, emotionally pulled in several directions – just like Elora.
There is not one clear stand out mate until a choice is made and you’re like WHAT?! HIM?! Wait…but what about…?! These relationships develop organically, taking ample time before jumping into any sexual relationship. I enjoyed the flirting so much! Most writers do not give enough attention to the simple act of flirting. *sigh*
**SPOILER** The major qualm I had with this trio of suitors was that Baka wasn’t really ever in the running for me. Even though he was sexy as all get out, he was never a true contender for Elora’s heart. So this “trio” is really just a “duo” with a super sexy friend involved. **END SPOILER**
Our Heroine: The premise of a woman not needing protection from her man also brightened the read. I loved how competent Elora was in all aspects without being an unobtainable heroine or perceived as perfect – well from anyone but her men!
The Awesome: Danann’s world building is quite astounding. She has a knack for detail and can write such vivid imagery that I could recount to you with reasonable accuracy what rooms and buildings looked and felt like. I could not however tell you just what all three of our male characters looked like…well except some inappropriate details. 😉
This book had a slow first few chapters but once I understood Danann’s style and relaxed into her flow I enjoyed every page turn. I will be waiting ever-so-patiently (HA!) for the next installment, The Witch’s Dream to be released in Fall 2012.

Exclusive with Amazon.com

Update to my announcement a couple of weeks ago that we are going with Amazon.com exclusively. For those of you who want to read My Familiar Stranger on devices other than Kindle… here’s the solution.

NO Kindle? NO Problem.

You can download a FREE reading app for smart phones, computers, or tablets at Amazon. com.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK.

highlight book title to see on Amazon

PARANORMAL WOMEN’S FANTASY

Not Too Late 1. Midlife Magic

Not Too Late 2. Midlife Blues

Not Too Late. 3. Midlife Mojo

Not Too Late 4. Midlife at Midnight

Not Too Late 5. Midlife at Midsummer

Not Too Late 6. Trials of Tregeagle

KNIGHTS OF BLACK SWAN PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Knights of Black Swan 1. My Familiar Stranger

Knights of Black Swan 2. The Witch’s Dream

Knights of Black Swan 3. A Summoner’s Tale

Knights of Black Swan 4. Moonlight

Knights of Black Swan 5. Gathering Storm

Knights of Black Swan 6. A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Knights of Black Swan 7. Solomon’s Sieve

Knights of Black Swan 8. Vampire Hunter

***Be sure to pause the series and read  Exiled 1. CARNAL before going on to Journey Man.

Knights of Black Swan 9. Journey Man

Knights of Black Swan 10. Falcon

Knights of Black Swan 11. Jax

Knights of Black Swan 12. Trespass

Knights of Black Swan 13. Irish War Cry

Knights of Black Swan 14.  Deliverance

Knights of Black Swan 15. Black Dog

Knights of Black Swan 16. The Music Demon

Order of the Black Swan Novels

Black Swan Novel Prince of Demons

WITCHES & WARLOCKS

Witches of Wimberley 1-3

Warlock Coven 1.QUEST

THE HYBRIDS

Exiled 1. CARNAL

Exiled 2. CRAVE

Exiled 3. CHARMING

THE WEREWOLVES

New Scotia Pack 1, Shield Wolf

New Scotia Pack 2. Wolf Lover

New Scotia Pack 3. Fire Wolf

Hotblooded 1. Stalk

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

SSMC Austin, TX, Book 1. Two Princes

SSMC Austin, TX, Book 2. The Biker’s Brother

SSMC Austin, TX, Book 3. Nomad

SSMC Austin, TX, Book 4. Devil’s Marker

SSMC Austin, TX, Book 5. Roadhouse

CDMC Lafayette, LA Book 1. Batiste