Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Bad Boy of Romance: Sascha Illyvich

Five years ago, I joined a review group and met a man. A few of his posts had me looking up the most interesting (and at times, a bit disgusting) things online. He took my black and white world and added so much color to it that I was afraid I'd never recover. He doesn't know this (until now), but he changed my world. So, let me introduce you to Sascha Illyvich: The Bad Boy of Romance.

Seeking to rescue her lover's child from the biggest criminal organization in San Francisco, Livía finds not only a solution, but redemption in a man known as Joséf Staganov.  Yet he holds a deadly secret and an intense death wish unless she can convince him a vampire's compelling love can heal his heart. 

Numbness. Ice cold numbness set in as he tried to move his body.  Joséf knew there was another being around, could sense the magick that was whatever animated the undead.  Where was he?  How’d he get here?  Oh, right.  The fight with his brother.  His fur was a mess, smelled of copper, body fluids and bile.
The scent of roses hung thickly around his muzzle. “My head hurts so much.”  I can’t feel my body. Where am I?  The wolf opened his eyes and saw his body cradled in Livía’s warm arms.  Her sweet smell alerted him of his life’s value to her.  Too bad he didn’t see the same thing in himself that she did. 
Her eyes closed, she hummed, breaking the silence around him with her sweet voice.  She glowed, but settled safety around his tired body.  Mentally worn out, he tried to find the strength to lift his head but couldn't. 
“My poor Farkas.  Come back to me.” A tear fell from her eye to his fur.
No one had ever shed a tear for him.  He’d just killed his only living family member.  The taste of bitterness was still fresh in his mouth.  He opened his eyes just a little, the lights in the office were dim.
“Come back to me, my sweet Farkas.  Please, don’t leave me alone.  Come back to me.”  Her hand covered his heart.
“Please help me rescue Miles, and come back to me.  I don’t want to remain this way without you.”  More tears fell on his fur.
If he wasn't careful, he'd lose too much blood.  I’m not dead, Livía.
She blinked. 
Joséf opened his eyes wider and lifted his tired head to see her face.  For a vampire, her face wasn’t nearly as pale as it usually was.  In fact, apparently knowing he was alive brought a kind of joy to her heart.
He transformed automatically.  He lay there on the ground, bullet wounds still fresh.  Her attempts at cleaning them had been just that, attempts.  At least the bleeding stopped.
“How can you call my power?  Why did you come after me?  I thought you only wanted the one thing.”
“Silly Farkas.  I wanted both.  Miles returned to his mother and you back with us, safe and in one piece.”
“But I am not yours.”  He turned his head away, thinking about the vile things he’d done recently to those people.  Thugs yes, but they were still human.  At least that was the lie he told himself. 
Livía carefully took his chin in her hands and forced him to face her.  “The necklace marks you as mine and lets me control your changes in times like this.  If we had time for paramedics to attend to you, I’d have to change you into a human in order to get you the best treatment.”
“But still, I am not yours.”
“You’ve been mine since you were born, farkas. That is how I called your human form back from the beast.”
Joséf looked away.  He must look like shit, his face was a mess, and he had dried blood on his clothes. Obviously, Livía didn’t care.  She hugged him closer to her and he snuggled against her warmth.
Odd that a vampire was warm.
“Why are you warm?”  He blinked. 
“Because my heart aches for you,  aches for the pain you refuse to let go of.  Blood pumps through my veins, warming my body to respond to yours when you let me heal you.  That will be soon.”  Her smile didn’t reach her eyes. 
He frowned.  “And how will you do that when I’ve done my job and left?”
A twinkle danced in her eyes. “I will call you to me, and we will mate as our line of vampires does.”
He let out an exasperated breath. “The same way I helped to heal you?”
She nodded.  “That is correct, Farkas.
Bruised and bloodied, and sure that he had a broken rib or two, plus the fact that his leg was pulled from the socket, the thought of being inside of her still stirred his arousal.  He burst out laughing, tossing his head back into her lap. 
“What’s so funny?”  She smirked. 
“You are.  This situation is.  I just…ouch!”  His ribcage hurt when he laughed harder.
Farkas, I do not understand.”  Her facial expression changed, one eyebrow lifting along with half her mouth. 
He groaned and put a hand to hers.  “Trust me, when it’s all over, you will.”
She interlaced their fingers. “We will lie like this in our bed soon.”
Our bed?  The thought held merit.  It certainly was more comforting than laying on the cold carpet of his father’s former office. 
“I mean it, I love you.”  She nuzzled his neck, warm breath spilling out over his skin. 
“I know.”  He shrugged, groaned from the pain, and let out a long breath. 
Silence occupied the room and spilled into the hallway.  Amalie was in the building, Her presence his skin itch. 
Yeah, she waited for him. 
Peace spread between them, tranquility and a quiet place where Joséf could exist, because he didn't have the energy to run. 
The calm before the storm, it had to be that,  it couldn’t be anything else.  Amalie’s energy had risen and Joséf’s levels dropped.  She wasn’t milking him, he was just tired and weak.  Rest would do him good, food would be better.
And all Livía could offer any normal man in that instant included great sex.  Healing through sex, a magic he’d heard about from his mother, and experienced firsthand through Livía, frightened him.  Sex was always a bond with women, and even worse, because his mother raised him to love others with his entire heart, a bond with him too.  So coitus equated to love until the Syndicate took his parents from him.  That was what had happened, no matter what Draiman said before his death.  Their father had to do what he did to provide for them, otherwise he was just an empty shell without his mate. 
His brother was still wrong.
His mother loved them both and Livía’s heart seemed to be on par with his mother.  What should I do?
“Love me, Joséf. It’s all I’m asking.”
Straining his neck to see her better, he smirked.  “You read my mind.”
She patted his chest lightly.  “I almost always do.  How do you think I know when you’re in trouble?”
She couldn't see the pain he clung to, didn't need to know of his inner demons.  The betrayal, the drugs, the people he'd killed in the name of self-defense.  Livía, vampire Queen, had the heart of a savior, even though her mask said sinner.  “Stay out of my head, Goddamnit—ouch!”  Sharp pain in his ribs jolted him in her arms. 
Livía’s fingers ran through his hair, relaxing him.  He could stay like this if he had to, if he didn’t have other things to attend to. 
A part of him wanted to give in to her ministrations, not the voices in his head. 
Hopefully, being a shifter meant that his body healed faster than normal humans.  Though he figured the mental anguish would double.
Her smile reached her eyes now.  “I’m not in your head,  I’m in your heart.”
Her words struck him, hard.  She wouldn’t stop expressing how much she cared for him no matter what, he knew that now.  His only choices were to either love her back and scar her, or to run away and wound her.
“You don’t need to bother with all this, Livía.  I…I don’t want it.”
“Everyone wants comfort and security, Farkas.  Most of all, those of us who have never had it.  And I want to give you what you have not had in a very long time.”
Joséf sighed.  He lifted his head, looking into her beautiful blue eyes.  Her tender smile showed her every emotion. 
She set a palm down over his chest and he knew what she was doing.  Her hand began to glow, producing a circle the same color as her aura.  She pressed her hand to his skin, it was warm against his chest.  His rapid heartbeat tried to keep pace with how much blood he was still losing from his open wounds, but within a few seconds, his pulse had slowed. 
Sweat dripped down his brow.  He would go through shock next if he didn’t get medical help immediately.  “Don’t I heal faster as a shifter?”
“Yes, but you haven’t experienced a full moon yet.  I brought your wolf out early by accident.”
Her lips hovered above his head.  He could smell her fear of losing him and it made him cuddle closer against her.  Pain shot through his hips.  He sniffled and gritted his teeth.  The two wounds in his hip began bleeding again.
Livía put her hand over the wound, he ached even more with the pressure she applied until he looked into her eyes. 
“Let yourself fall prey, Farkas.
His stomach clenched, causing him more pain as he chuckled.  “I can’t, it hurts too much.”
“Then let me heal you.”  Her soft voice barely registered in his ears. 

1.       How did you get the name: Bad Boy of Romance?
You can blame author Cynnara Tregarth for this.  We'd talked many years ago about outing me as a male romance writer.  I have a horrible tendency to uh…flirt a little more than your average author.  I tend to have a way with the ladies.  I enjoy and make public my fanaticism for whiskey and cigars.  A few years back someone called me that and I said "I'll take it!"  At least I didn't make it up like some other lame authors…

2.       Why did you choose to write the genre you write?
I like the emotional aspect of romance that you don't get from other genres.  I missed out connecting with folks when I was younger, feared a lot of things and realized when I could write, that I could give the world what it was missing through this genre.  Angst, passion, romance, and a satisfying ending when the world outside of a book or story doesn't go your way.  My books make your fantasies come true. 

3.       What does your family, friends, acquaintances think of your writing?
Close friends expected it, family I'm not concerned with, but the mother of my soul does condone my writing since I started out writing Female Dominant erotica. In general I have support though.

4.       What do you do when you’re not writing?
Edit, read, hang out.  Usually I'm found at either Occidental Cigar Club or Ohlone Cigar lounge. 

5.       Do you control the story as you write or do your characters run the show?
"I run the military!"

6.       How did you come to choose the setting for your story?
With Endangered, since we haven't touched on that yet, I had just moved to California and decided to set the story in a large enough city where a criminal organization could take serious root.  The mansion most of the action takes place in was based on the training facility from Resident Evil Zero. 

7.       Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definite plotter.  The more structured the story, the easier it is to write it with limited time.  Because I'm not allowed to work more than a few hours at a time, I have to use the time wisely.  Plotting out in pithy sentences makes all the difference so I can hit word count for the day and if I go over, great.  If I just hit the goal for the day, then next day I can pick up with no problems.

8.       Do you listen to music as you write? If so, can you tell us a few of your must-haves?
Seriously I'm a music addict.  Few of my must haves include the album One by TesseracT, Pray for Villains and the S/T albums by Devildriver, Vildjharta's first full length release Måstaden.  Lately I've been on a kick jamming the last two albums by the band Textures.  Usually I crank the songs so loud to immerse myself in the world and lyrics created by the musician since they're often similar to the level of emotional depth I'm trying to put in. 

9.       When you’re writing do you have to have certain items? A particular pen, a certain drink, snacks, etc.
It used to be that I needed to drink to start stories after not having written for a few months but health reasons forced me to write organically (and incidentally, allow myself to go back to ENJOYING alcohol) but now I have water or tea nearby. 

1   Is there a certain time of the day when you write more? Morning, afternoon, late night?
Like a boss, I write all day, every day, every which way. 
1   If you weren’t an author, what would you be?
Batman.  The Cristian Bale one. 
1   What books/authors do you read to entertain yourself?
JR Ward, Christina Dodd, Kresley Cole.  I just found a new thing for Gena Showalter.  Of course Laurel. K. Hamilton and Christine Feehan will always have special spots on my shelves. 
1  What are you working on now/next? Anything new we can expect from you?
New material includes my first romantic suspense for agent Saritza Hernandez, a contemporary romance for same said agent.  There's also a 1NS in the submission queue Decadent is going to accept once they read it.  That story has a special place because the inspiration for both the fantasy and the heroine are very dear to my heart. 
1   Any advice you would pass on to future authors?
Strunk and White 4 lyfe.

Now for some fun:
Which Goddess best defines you? –According to a quiz I took just for this interview (things we do for fans!) Athena. 
Favorite Dessert? – do I have to choose? 
Chocolate or Vanilla? –rocky road.
Favorite scent? –The scent of her, freshly showered, naked and in my bed first thing in the morning. 
Coffee, tea, soda, or water?  - Scotch, bourbon and whiskey. 
Do you have a favorite character? Your own or others and why? – of mine:  I'm sticking with Joséf from my upcoming Red Sage release ENDANGERED.  Of some other author:  Wrath.  Hands down, true. 

Links where people can find you on the Internet:
YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/SaschaIllyvich?feature=mhee

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Universe Is Speaking, So Shut Up and Listen

Yeah, I'm having one of those weeks. You know the week...where nothing seems to go right? Where nothing makes sense and you feel like you're drowning? Yep, that's the week I'm having.

After a conversation with my little "sister," I realized that I needed to shut up and listen to what the universe was saying. I knew changes were coming and I knew they would change my life for the better, but at some point, I simply stopped listening.

Our conversation revolved around a lot of things, but the biggest thing was re-creating ourselves. It's a hard process and not to be taken lightly. It's scary and well, I'm not the most brave woman in the world. I need to let the old ideas of who or what I'm supposed to be fall away so I can emerge from the cocoon I've been in.

I started by pulling out some old notebooks. When my grandmother died in 2000, my world was thrown off its axis. She and I had spent a lot of time together. I considered her more of my mother than the woman who gave birth to me. I started keeping notes of my dreams and thoughts that popped into my head on any given day.

At some point, I had put the notebooks away and stopped journaling. Last year, I lost my dad. After Grandma died, my father and his PTSD became a HUGE focus. There were days where keeping him going was all I could do. Without my father to worry about or focus on, the universe decided to say, "Okay, now you're ready to listen to me, right?" My re-creating has been happening all along, but now I've got to take the next leap and it scares me to death. I can do it! I know I can. I'm just a big old scaredy cat! LOL

I'm still writing and I'm still moving forward with my writing career. The edits for The Golden Dragon's Treasure are in my inbox as I write this. I have several projects I'm working on so you'll be hearing a lot from me in the future :) Hopefully, the changes will reflect in my writing as I grow, stretch my wings, and learn to fly. Hell, Dad used to tell me to shoot for the moon. The worst that could happen is I will land among the stars.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thank You For Allowing Me My Dream

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to read. She would dive between the pages of a book and indulge herself in the adventures of characters who would become her friends. As she aged, books were her escape. Characters got to rebel, have adventures, and fall in love. She watched one soap opera and the characters there showed her romance, mystery, and intrigue.

One day, she thought "Why can't I create worlds where people have adventures and fall in love? Why can't I be an author?"
And people like you have made that little girl's dream come true.

I want to thank each and every one of you who have read my blog, purchased my books, entered my contests/giveaways, signed up for my newsletter, liked my Facebook pages, and follow me in my pursuit of my dream. The little girl in me never gives up even when I want to throw in the towel. She pushes me back to my blog views, royalty statements, FB likes to show me people believe in me.

Because of you, I get to share my stories with the world. I still have a ton of stories to tell, just not enough hands to type with :) I was joking the other day that I could do so much more if I was an octopus. Four computers, 8 tentacles, and a ton of ideas? Where could that idea go wrong? LOL 

My world is a little crazy and chaotic at the moment, but the little girl in me tells me to focus on my goal (NYT Bestsellers List). So I am taking a deep breath, pausing to thank the gods who have blessed me, and pushing forward. I just need to get out of my own way:)

Thank you for allowing me to keep dreaming!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Inspirations

Inspiration for my stories come from a variety of things. It can be a song lyric, an image, a quote, or a dream. I do spend a lot of time looking through images I find on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Now, I will not claim that I'm actually looking for images to inspire me, but every now and again, one will leap off the screen and send my mind whirling with a storyline.

In fact, that is how the YA book I'm working on came to be. I spotted a picture and the story simply came to me. There is so much to the story that I've put it on the back burner while I work on a different project, but it is still bubbling away. I'll share the picture once I'm ready to reveal the story to you.

Last night, a FB friend posted a pic. I sat and stared at the picture for the longest time. Usually, the stories begin from the female's point of view, but I have a feeling this one is going to be different. The picture caught my eye and there are about 5 different story possibilities running through my head. One will become more pronounced and that will be the man's story. My process is weird, but it is mine, so I trust it.

Natural Born Enemies began with the Celtic Thunder version of "Hallelujah!"

In fact, the entire story was written to the men from Celtic Thunder. There is absolutely no Celtic elements in the story itself, but the music made the characters come to life.

I've got four different stories I'm working on now. One had a Southern Rock soundtrack. Another has a Sinatra, Michael Buble, Chris Botti, and Harry Connick, Jr. soundtrack. Another one is all 80s Love Songs (don't ask because I have no idea where this came from) and my YA story is heavy on Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, and other Celtic artists.

My inspirations are just as vast as the stories I write. My Cedar River series may be all shifters, but each one is a person (in my mind) and has a uniqueness that is all their own. Each story comes from a different direction and that is what makes it special.

Monday, July 1, 2013

This Writer's Process

In my previous post, I told you how my writing has been sporadic at best due to some circumstances. However, I was able to sit down and type my little heart out last night. What came out amazed me and made me smile.

My process may be similar to others, I'm not sure since I've never compared notes. I dream my stories. I mean full on vivid colors, walking on solid ground, movie-type story. And this dream stays with me for days on end until I sit down and write out the scene. I'm lucky that way.

When I am able to take the time, I sit down and pop in my earbuds. Each book has a playlist of sorts, if not, then I turn on my Pandora radio and find the appropriate station. Between Frank Sinatra, Nickelback, 80s Romance, Jason Aldean, and Cher, I have songs for every mood and book. I turn the volume up and let the music carry me away. Then, the magick happens. The story pours out all over the keyboard. My fingers are just the instruments that carries the story to my computer. When I feel exhausted, I save the document, read over what I've written, and walk away. I'm usually limp as a wet dishrag when I'm finished, but I feel good. I don't try for a particular word count or chapter count. I write until I can write no more. Whether it's 100 or 2500 words, as long as I've written something, I'm good.

Now, yesterday I posted a status on my FB page. I let my readers know that I had hit the 7,000 word mark on my current story (which is not part of the Cedar River series). I also shared a picture to give people a  hint of the story.

Art by Graphic Artist Cindy Grundsten

This is the picture that inspired the story I am working on. In my mind, this is Manannan Mac Lir, Irish sea diety. I've let the idea stew and bubble long enough. It had to come out and I am in love with it so far. The two stories I'm working on are about his children with a human woman. Calypso's story is the first one and Mac's will follow when he's ready :)

Anyway, I promised people a peek at what I'm working on so here's what I have for you. Remember: It's unedited and all rights belong to Gemma K. Murray (2013).

Tell me what you think so far. It's kind of sexy to write about a sea god!

NOTE FROM GEMMA: I had this blurb up for a week and have since removed it. I'll only leave the tease up for so long :)