Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Guest, Holley Trent

First of all, I read and LOVED Her Resident Jester. Shane is such a fun heroine! I loved her voice and she had me laughing out loud so much.  

Here's Holley Trent!

There’s this bit in my new release Her Resident Jester where my protagonist, Shane, waxes poetic about her identity:
I’d almost forgotten about that ultrasound. I didn’t generally volunteer for medical studies, but one of my coworkers’ kids was on the investigative team and I got strong-armed into it because I’m from an underrepresented ethnic group. That is to say no particular ethnic group. I’m more mixed up than Vin Diesel, but far less coy about it. I leave that to Marcia. She’s really uptight about that sh*t.
Shane and Marcia are sisters (you’ll meet Marcia formally in April in Love by Premonition), and constituents of the Great American Melting Pot. They can’t simply itemize what they are, because at some point in the family tree the colors blur. They’re sort of a lot of things and nothing in particular. Shane’s fine with that. She’s okay with her ambiguity and having people ask her about it. Culturally, she’s North Carolinian, Southern, and American.

Marcia is far more sensitive about her perceived identity. She’s not self-hating, exactly, but as a lapsed physicist, she sort of likes being able to put things into neat little boxes. So, when people question her on what she is (and isn’t), she dances around the subject and deflects. It’s not easy for her to answer, and she doesn’t like other people guessing about it, either. She could hedge and say “I’m black,” but she isn’t. Bi-racial wouldn’t be accurate, either. Tri-racial would work, but it’d be imprecise. Shane doesn’t mind imprecision so much, but it makes Marcia twitchy.

I made this a “thing” with Marcia because I think people should sometimes come in shades of gray (even if they don’t have cool names for themselves like Cablinasian)…and I think sometimes they should be sensitive about not having a tidy label. Although I identify very well with characters like Shane and Marcia (good luck trying to itemize all my components), they make requesting cover art extremely tedious. I could spend an hour scanning through stock art depositories looking for models who are suitably ambiguous and only come up with one or two.
For Her Resident Jester, we stepped around that casting issue and put the hot doctor Derek on the cover instead of Shane or a couple. (Isn’t he pretty?) We’ll see what happens with Marcia’s story. Here’s the gist of Her Resident Jester: Marketing executive Shane Andrews’s reluctant participation in a research study leads to the stunning discovery she needs immediate surgery.

Out of sorts, and in a moment of spectacular tactlessness, she insults a man wearing a red rubber nose and big floppy shoes. He turns out to be Derek Palmer: Edenton’s hottest young surgeon…and the resident observing her operation. With her body and pride both on the mend, Shane hides out to prevent further humiliation. She can’t avoid the gorgeous clown too long, however. Edenton is a small town, and Derek isn’t content with letting her wallow. What kind of clown would he be if he did?

Her Resident Jester is available for purchase in most major eBook formats at the Musa store and also at third-party retailers like Amazon and All Romance eBooks. To learn more about Holley Trent, visit her website or watch her navel gaze on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Clarissa Johal, Super Cool Person

Clarissa Johal is the one of the coolest people I know. Don't believe me? See how she spends her free time!
My Top Ten Hobbies

by Clarissa Johal

Hobbies, those things you do before you have children. Most of my hobbies took a back seat after my kiddos were born. They were replaced by (in chronological order) washing cloth diapers and making baby food, cleaning up after Polly Pockets and My Little Ponies, scheduling play-dates, and acting as a taxi service to-and-from martial arts classes and swim lessons. Now that my daughters have hit that ‘tween age however, my hobbies have been creeping back, one by one. Here are some that I’ve managed to start up again.

1. Ballet
I’ve taken over 20 years of dance and I can safely say; I think, live and breathe ballet. If I’m listening to music—I’m choreographing in my head. If I have a writer’s block—I work on my pliĆ©s. I manage one class a week when I’m not in the throes of writing.

2. Photography
My husband is the real “photographer” in the house. He can tell you about apertures, shutter speeds and all that technical stuff. A couple of years ago, he jokingly challenged me to join Project 365 (an online community wherein you post a photo a day), which I did. A year later, I had over 1000 followers and found that I LOVED taking pictures. I still can’t tell you what an aperture is, but oh well, I take pretty pictures.

3. Taking in Strays
Do you want one? We have plenty. Haha. As a kid, I was never allowed pets because we moved around so much. In fact, I remember bringing home a half-dead cockroach. I named it Sticky. My mom was thrilled. Good thing I had a pet rock as a back-up plan.

4. Fencing
Swords—how can you go wrong? In college, I joined the fencing team. I was the only girl at the time, which was good and bad, but loved it. I still fence but don’t have anyone to practice with these days. My neighbors probably snicker at me when I’m practicing in our back yard, but hey, it’s a great stress-buster.

5. Herb gardening
I wish I had a green thumb, I really do. I over-water everything which means I’m continually replacing my basil plant with a “bigger and better” plant that Can’t Possibly Die. My dream is to have a fully-stocked herb garden growing in my kitchen. As of now, I have a very soggy-looking peppermint plant and working on the death of basil plant #4.

6. Running with my dog
Three years ago, we adopted a very hyper Rottweiler/shepherd at the local shelter. I love him to pieces but he needs exercise…constantly. We’ll come back from an hour-long run and a minute later, he’s forgotten and wants another.

7. Coffee drinking
Hey, it’s a hobby. Peet’s Sumatra: creamer, no sugar. I have to keep up with my dog somehow.

8. Vegetarian cooking
I used to do more of this before kids. Now, I’m at the mercy of their taste buds. Green vegetables receive little love in my house, even when they’re hidden in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And yes, that’s worked for me…once. My kiddos make their own sandwiches now and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

9. Trampoline
I love my trampoline. Nothing beats that feeling of flying up in the air.

10. Reading
The hobby of hobbies. What did you expect? Mythology is my favorite genre but I read everything from classics by Gustave Flaubert and Theodore Dreiser, to fantasy/horror from Neil Gaimen and Brom.

If you like reading (and I assume you do!) here’s a paranormal read to check out.

by Clarissa Johal

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.

Growling. Darwin was growling.
“Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.

The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.
A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.

Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.
“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”

As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.
Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.

“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.
Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.

For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.

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Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles.

Clarissa shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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