Interview - Ashe Barker

I hope you'll help me welcome Ashe Barker. We've both agreed to write a book in the interconnecting series the Order of the Black Knights for Dreamspinner Press. Her book Gideon is the flagship and came out yesterday. She graciously agreed to answer my questions.

Amberly:  Hi Ashe, thank you for agreeing to this interview. The Order of the Black Knights launched yesterday, starting with your book Gideon. Can you tell me about the series and why you decided to be a part of it?

Ashe:  Hi Amberley, and thank you for inviting me over for a chat.

Gideon is something of a departure from my usual writing, but when I was asked to contribute a story I was delighted to join the series. I found the premise intriguing – hot and dominant men, the Black Knights - who have lived again and again down the ages, always unaware of their previous incarnations but doomed by an ancient curse to repeat the same mistakes with each lifetime. It was my first paranormal story but won’t be my last. 

Here’s the series blurb…
Order of the Black Knights
Every century has its knights, but they are not always seen. Some of them do what must be done – getting their hands dirty when no one else is willing. Assassins and antiheroes who work from the shadows, they are called the Black Knights. From the time of the society’s creation in the 1100s, these men are cursed to repeat their lives of bloodshed. But for each knight there is one who can bring out the man that waits inside and break the cycle. The question is whether or not the knight will kill his true love before he figures it out.

Amberly:  I haven't even started Benedict's story but am super excited to see how everyone else spins their tale. What do you think draws readers to stories of anti-heroes? And can you tell us a bit more about Gideon?

Ashe:  Well I’m dying to read Benedict, so get on and write his story FAST. I have read Thianna Durstan’s Vespar though (due out in January next year) and he is one seriously sexy dude, a real badass but with a soft(ish) centre.

Next up after Gideon is Matthias (Alexis Duran) who we get to meet in the flesh, so to speak, in November, and Evalise Archer’s Jaegar will be here in February or March next year. Some real treats in store there and I’m honoured to be in such fabulous company. This is a fantastic series.

Right, what is it about an antihero? If I could come up with a decent answer and bottle it I expect I’d be famous, but all I can really tell you is that bad lads have a uniquely wicked appeal. I grew up on stories of pirates, outlaws, tattooed bikers and they all have some mysterious magnetism that I find irresistible. Perhaps it’s the challenge they offer. Perhaps they awaken my deep-seated desire to peel away the layers to find the decent, caring man beneath, the belief that love will overcome even the hardest heart. I am an erotic romance writer, after all.

Gideon is a complex man, one of the most difficult characters I have created I think. He’s not especially likeable, certainly not at first, and that’s exactly how he wants it. But still he fascinates. He is wealthy and powerful and he uses those advantages to the full whilst he is also skilled and fiercely intelligent, the best at what he does. He’s ruthless, a quality he had hones to a sharp point, and can set his conscience aside at will. Gideon disguises his feelings, shows no emotion and certainly no remorse, though that is not to say he feels none of it. He has a tough outer shell and it will take a lot to make a dent.

Enter Michael, his nemesis. Then the sparks really fly.

Amberly:  We both have teenage daughters, mine are 13 and 15. How does your daughter feel about you being a writer? Has writing romance made it easier to talk about love and sex with her?

Ashe:  Ah, now that’s a tough one. My daughter is 18, and I’ve been writing since she was about 14 so she’s always known the sort of stuff I write, though she doesn’t tend to read it. I don’t prevent her from seeing my work, she just prefers other genres. Her friends though, now that’s a different matter. I think she’s quite proud of my success, modest though it is, and I know several of her friends have followed me on social media. In the past I used to watch out for that, my blog etc. are strictly for adults, but I’m more relaxed now.

I like to think we’ve always been able to talk about most things pretty openly. I try to be tolerant, though there are times I am quite baffled by the issues which concern her. Relationships are a minefield, though not usually because of sexuality. Peer pressure is massive to young people and seems quite relentless because of ever-present social media. I try to convince her to be kind to others, to trust herself and her judgement, and to be accountable for her mistakes. I don’t think there’s much more we can do as parents, and it is vital to lead by example.

Some years ago I was given a piece of advice that I’ve found invaluable. Try it. All you need to do is cast your mind forward to a point in the future, maybe sixty years from now. By then all of us will be long gone, and our kids will be elderly themselves. Imagine our children talking to their grandchildren about us. What will they be saying? Will they describe us as good parents, people who made time for them, who listened, who left a lasting good impression and who showed their children that they were the most precious and important people in the world? If you want those glowing obituaries then what you do here, now, today will dictate what you get then. Don’t leave it too late.

Amberly:  Sound advice indeed. Thank you so much for chatting with me! To wrap things up, tell us what you are working on now and what you have coming out next.

Ashe:  Right now I'm working in a historical set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1400s which features a blind heroine. My next book to come out will be a self-published novella. The title is Rough Diamonds and it's a sort of erotic romance mystery. Next to write? Could be another historical (Vikings - yum) or I have an idea for a sci-fi which I've been thinking about for a while now. Whatever, there's plenty more in the pipeline.

Make sure to connect with Ashe on her website, Twitter, or on Facebook. And get your own copy of Gideon here.


Waking Jamal - Back Cover

Artist Maria Fanning
Their physical and mental survival depends on them bonding.

Jamal Zumati joins the military, determined to repay the country that fed and housed him. But during his Hamask activation, his senses go offline and he enters a berserker rage. The United States Hamrammr Program, or USHP, has only one option: put him into hibernation.

Despite his extraordinary ability to read and manipulate situations, Vargr Lt. Rum Walker has stepped on one too many brass toes, and the USHP demoted him back to teaching new candidates. Rum is one paranoid thought away from self-destruction when he is recruited for a covert mission: pull Jamal from hibernation.

The problem is, no one has ever survived a berserker fury—at least not officially. If Rum is to challenge the military stereotypes, he’ll not only need to wake Jamal—he’ll need to get him to agree to bond as a Hamra Pair, the ultimate supersoldier team.

When Jamal and Rum team up with an FBI Hamra Pair to stop the terrorist group Dios Provee, Rum thinks he’ll show Jamal their true potential lies in an equal partnership, but Jamal is convinced Rum should take the lead. Will Rum stop Jamal from going berserk again and destroying both of their futures?

Coming March 25, 2016


Cover Reveal - Waking Jamal

Coming April of 2016!
A huge thank you to DSP and my cover artist Maria. This rocks!

I've got a bunch of stuff I'm working on. Here's an overview, in case you are interested. Valhalla Initiative Book One - Waking Jamal will be out this spring. Book Two - Saving Wick is almost ready to go to my critique partner and beta reader. I've agreed to write a short for an Idaho Author Anthology. Then I'll be finishing Built to Spec which is the third book in the Rise of the Amazon series. Then the top secret project....shh, Order of The Black Knights.

On a fun note:
My latest blog post on Everybody Needs a Little Romance


Holiday Traditions

I live with a Grinch. He growls at the sounds of Christmas music which are band from the house until the week before. My kids 'practice' their holiday songs before he gets home. He waits until the last minute to buy presents, usually online with overnight shipping so he doesn't have to go into stores. And he would happily not decorate at all except for the afore mentioned kids, and some times not even for them.

So what is my favorite Holiday tradition? Finding new ways to torture my Grinch. No just kidding.

He is amazingly good at Christmas giving. He buys me paper and tells me he believes in my writing. He remembers my favorite type and color of pen and picks them up like flowers for his love. He kisses our kid's foreheads when he comes home late after spending ten hours at the office and six at school. And he always makes sure there is milk in the fridge, something he often went without growing up.

So he can growl and grumble and we'll always know, he might dislike Christmas but he will always love us.


Deception of a Highlander - An Interview with Madeline Martin

Recently I had the chance to interview author Madeline Martin about her book Deception of a Highlander.

DeceptionOfAHighlander_CoverMadeline, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I recently read Deception of a Highlander. I want you to know first off that I lost sleep over your book. It was a willing sacrifice on my part because I just couldn't put it away to go to bed. High praise? Perhaps, but deserved. Mariel Brandon is a spy for a shady man named Aaron who sends her to Scotland with the hero Kieran MacDonald. For once the heroine is the more damaged of the two characters. What inspired this book? Why Scotland and why a female spy?

Madeline Martin: That is high praise! Thank you so much, Amberly - I'm so glad you enjoyed Deception of a Highlander! When this book idea first came to me, it was Mariel who burned the thought into my mind. I wanted to know what would go through the mind of a female spy/assassin - a woman who could externally demonstrate considerable strength and skill, but whose subconscious was mired in constricting desperation at her own situation. 

Why Scotland? When I was on maternity leave with my first minion, I let myself fall into Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and I was in love! I had Scotland not only on the brain, but on the heart - and it's never faded.

Me: Oh that sounds lovely. The reader finds out early on about Mariel's mission from Aaron. Plenty of pages to speculate yet I was just as surprised as Mariel to find out the truth. (trying to avoid too many spoilers) The book deals with physical and emotional abuse. What do you think makes those topics so easy to relate to for readers?

While you work out that tough question, let me ask you an easier one. I love books with kick ass women. One of my favorites is by Jackie Ivie called Lady of the Knight. In Deception, Mariel is skilled in hand to hand and with knifes. If you could be superskilled, what would be your area of expertise be and why?

Madeline: If I could have any area of expertise, I'd love to be super badass skilled at hand-to-hand combat. I'd never need to worry about having a weapon on hand, and I'd probably be in such great shape, I wouldn't feel so guilty about having a handful (or two!) of M&M's.

The other question is a tough one!! With physical and emotional abuse, both leave one feeling beaten down, worthless, and helpless. While all of us may not have been subjected to abuse, we all know what it's like to feel those emotions and can relate to how debilitating they can be. Great questions, BTW!

Me Plain or peanut? I'm a firm believer that the protein level in peanut M&Ms make them a healthy snack. I agree that it's not whether or not we had the same experience but if we have felt the same emotions. You have other books based in Scotland; are they in the same series? Do any of the books contain characters from this first book?

Madeline: Peanut butter M&M's, actually. Those things are addicting!!

The other two books are part of the first in that they are the other men's stories. Possession of a Highlander is Colin's story and Enchantment of a Highlander (coming out January 19th) is Alec's story. They can all be read independently. 

Me:  I really like Alec as a character and can't wait to read more about his past. Enchantment is going on my Christmas list. You mentioned earlier that you have minions. My daughters are 14 and 12. What do your kids think about you being a published author? If they grow up to write, what do you want them to learn from you?

Madeline: Thank you. Aw, I bet your girls are so sweet! I have two daughters too! Mine are 6 and 9. They are my biggest fans. Every time we meet someone new, YoungestMinion digs a bookmark out of my purse and asks the person to please buy my book (I swear I didn't put her up to that!!!). LOL

Every time I get a new book out, they ask for bookmarks to pass out to the staff at school - it's so sweet. Once I was apologizing for my release day being busy and YoungestMinion said, "Don't feel bad, feel proud! We're proud of you!" Melt my heart.

If they grow up to be writers (OldestMinion is already treading the path!) and it makes them happy, I'd fully support them. My biggest piece of advice would be for them to always appreciate what others do for them. Writing is almost a community effort these days - not just with an editor and an agent, but also fellow authors and, of course, readers.

Me:  That is amazing! Best minions ever. As one of your readers, I'm glad to be part of your community. In fact you acknowledge quite a few people at the end of the book for their help in making all this possible. One name that jumped out at me was Margie Lawson. She came to Boise in 2008 (I think) for a Master Class. Brilliant. With community increasing and interaction with your readers a greater possibility, do you think that brings more pressure to the writing life?

Madeline: Thank you - I definitely think my minions are pretty special and I totally agree with your assessment of Margie - brilliant! I did one of her immersions last year and it was amazing. I already want to do another one! I recommend her to every new author who asks me for advice.

The reader interaction brings more pressure, but it's not a social pressure as much as it is a time-limiting one. I love my readers and interacting with them daily makes me smile. They are a wealth of knowledge and humor and suggestions. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know so many wonderful people because of it. But it does take time and that starts to cramp sometimes when things get busy. Fortunately, everyone is also very understanding and I've never had anyone seem offended when I am running late on replying to a post or I say I need some time off for a while.

Me: Before I ask my last question, I just want you to know it's been a pleasure to interview you. I think if we met in person we would totally get along. You have an epilogue of sorts and the book has a happy ending, all good romances do. What was the hardest part of the book to write and why?

Madeline: I totally agree! If you go to San Diego this year, we need to meet up for a cocktail.  
The hardest part to write was the travel from England to Scotland. Probably not what you expected. Long travel scenes are so hard to write. They can be tedious if not done right or too "what the heck just happened?!" if too quick. But in a historical, it's a constant necessity since everything was by horseback. I wrote and rewrote that trek to Scotland and deleted TONS of unnecessary words to keep it trimmed up. It was a total pain to deal with. LOL

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. I enjoyed your questions and have had fun chatting with you. Hopefully you'll be in San Diego and we can meet in person. Have a wonderful holiday season and a fabulous new year. 

You can get your own copy of Deception of a Highlander here. Also, follow Madeline on Facebook or visit her website.

If you'd like to be interviewed, it's tots fun, drop me and email with a link to your kickass book.

Sailing for Trouble - An Interview with Brenda Hammond

Recently I had the chance to interview author Brenda Hammond about her book Sailing for Trouble.

Brenda, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I recently read Sailing for Trouble. Alexa Lloyd has just arrived in South Africa for the first time and has plans to find her father's treasure and care for her loved ones back home in Canada. The whole book has wonderful, rich descriptions of the country and it's people. Yet the opening scene especially draws a vivid view of the docks, boats, and streets of Cape Town. Have you been? Or do you've got an affinity for google maps?

Brenda Hammond:  Hi Amberly, So happy that you asked me, and thanks for the kind words about Sailing for Trouble... and for reading the novel! Yes, I lived in Cape Town for fourteen years, and spent many Christmas holidays (summer in the Southern hemisphere!) in a cottage on Leisure Isle. So I became familiar with the lagoon, its tides and treasures. I got to visit again last February and it's still one of my favorite places. As to google maps, I have a story to tell. On our way back to Canada from the States one summer, we stopped at a small town for gas. Waiting to pay inside, we stood behind the Google guy -- his special car was parked outside -- who asked 'Can you please tell me where I am?' His cell phone battery was dead, so he had no means of knowing!!

Me: What a great story! You spotted the mythical creature, a man that will ask for directions. It sounds like you've traveled extensively and have been exposed to many different cultures and racial issues. As a firm advocate of diversity and accurately representing people in fiction, I was pleased to see your story handle these issues intelligently without getting too preachy. So, Alexa is a strong independent woman, who will chase after muggers and save herself from boating accidents. Without giving too much away, she has to be plucky to stop the 'bad guys' and help her long lost brother. What do you think makes Alexa so driven and so likable as a character?

Brenda:  I'd say it's her adventurous and indomitable spirit, but also that, underneath it all, she has a kind heart. Also, her curiosity and longing to deepen her understanding of her late dad, his roots and background, so foreign to her, is like an insatiable need. This plays into her eagerness to experience as much as she possibly can during her short time in the Cape, South Africa. Plus, of course, who wouldn't want to find a long-lost and never-met half-brother??

Me:  Yes, her love for her father drives her forward. I noticed you've written for Harlequin. What was that like? Why did you switch to Indie Publishing?

Brenda:  I enjoyed writing for Harlequin because I love writing humor... different from my South African set stories. At Your Service, Jack did well for me. A second romcom was in the works when the Temptation line ended. She's the Boss is now published under my pseudonym, Alice Bramley (amongst a couple others), which already kind of explains my decision to go indie. It was my editor at Harlequin who suggested I try a submission to the new Bombshell line, although that too was nixed fairly soon. However, this was what brought Alexa into my life! She was my Bombshell heroine and she hung around persistently until I eventually gave her my full attention.

Me:  Pesky characters, always wanting their stories told. I'm glad your blazing the Indie path. It gives us so much choice and responsibility. Which intentionally leads me to my next question. What is up with this cover? It isn't bad but I almost didn't read it because of the cover. Thank goodness I did or I would have missed a terrific story. And yes, sorry if you or your second cousin's niece made the cover, but it reminds me of teen romance novels in the early 90s. There is so much going on here than romance.

Brenda: Well, I'm chuckling here re your remarks about the cover. No need to apologize, though. One of the great benefits of being a writer is that you have to learn to take criticism. Anyhow, it was supposed to appeal to the new adult market, so in a way you're right. My budget at the time was minimal. And even now I'm struggling to find a suitable cover for my novel Cape Town, published here in Canada, but I retain rest-of-the-world rights. I hope to put it up soon as Dance to Freedom. Also, talking of covers, I have to confide that, as pretty much a feminist, I freaked when I saw mine for At Your Service, Jack. So there we have the dilemma. For me as a mid-list author, trad publishing has its advantages and disadvantages and so does Indie. Simply writing, on the other hand, brings me great pleasure and keeps me interested in people, the world, and life in general.

Me:  Yes, seeing the world through our writerly eyes...I love that thought. Now that you mention it, Sailing for Trouble would appeal to the New Adult market. Early twenty somethings on grand adventures, still figuring out a few hard truths about life. For my last question, what are you working on now? What's next book wise for you?

Brenda:  I'm actually working on two manuscripts. This week has been final revisions on a women's fiction all about what happens to three different couples when they attend a wedding in Vermont. Next week it's back to South Africa for my companion novel to Cape Town. Many readers asked for a sequel. My response? 'Sequel? There's no sequel.' But then an idea took hold (you'll know what that's all about, I'm sure) and I began to explore what was happening in the life of one of the other dance students. The first draft is about two thirds done, and I'm loving the way the story is revealing itself to me. But the process will take another few months before I reach the end and achieve a draft that's as good as I can make it.... So that's it from me. Many thanks again, Amberly, and especially for the thought-provoking questions and insightful responses.❤

Me:  It's truly been a pleasure! Thank you for answering my questions.

You can get your own copy of Sailing for Trouble here. Also, follow Brenda on Facebook or Twitter.


FREE BOOK - Counting Down - Some Assembly Required

My book Some Assembly Required will be out this Friday on Amazon in both print and ebook. To celebrate, the first book in the Rise of the Amazons series Bravery Not Included will be FREE for a limited time.

Rise of the Amazons book 1
Rise of the Amazons book 2

Bravery Not Included

Amazons are real. Not bullets-and-bracelets Wonder-Woman real, but really real.

Once facing extinction and scattered across the world, women with the rare genetic makeup for super-strength and lightning reflexes have re-emerged through HOAX—Home Of the Amazon eXchange—a website Liesel Grant developed to connect with other freaks like herself.

Then Amazon children start disappearing, the website and their super-strength the only thing they have in common. Desperate families hire Private Investigator Jim Griffon to find the missing kids. Jaded, manipulated and used by powerful women in the past, Griffon refuses to work with Liesel to uncover the kidnappers.

The danger escalates when Liesel's search uncovers evidence that the Amazons aren't the only "secret human race." Instead of scattering and trying to blend in, the Mightys became a secret society of power. When their next patriarch, Jordan Matthews, goes missing, they'll leave only dead bodies in their wake to find him.

Can Griffon put his trust in a woman? Has Liesel's hunt for truth exposed her people to even more danger? Can they find and stop the kidnappers in time? And when Griffon discovers Liesel is an Amazon—stronger than he could possibly imagine—can they find love?

Go get Bravery Not Included for FREE before times up.