Tag Archives: Plotmonkey

Guest Author & A Giveaway: Leslie Kelly

Hey y’all! You’ll notice I am NOT ON TOP of things lately. My apologies. No reason to get into it here/now – nor is it the place. Especially since you don’t want to hear what I’ve got to say, because the fabulous Leslie Kelly is here! She’s super awesome, and agreed to be a guest here even though I missed meeting her in NYC last year because someone *coughsJoycoughs* decided to get a second margarita. ;D No, actually, this was probably scheduled at least six months before that happened. Yeah I’m totally sleep deprived.

Anyway, it’s still part of the birthday month festivities! And today is extra special and fun because Leslie wrote a guest post and decided to answer some of those zany “author interview” questions! You’ll notice everyone in June is getting some from the same set. I did it on purpose. (Honest!) Thought it’d be fun to compare them. 😀



Leslie Kelly

 After having written dozens of books during my fourteen-year career, I am always on the lookouts for projects that excite me creatively. My Harlequin editor has told me many times that she knows as long as she can keep me interested, she’ll get great books. If I get bored—if I feel like I’m doing the same old book again and again—writing is an utter chore.

Fortunately, a few years ago I was invited to participate in a new Blaze miniseries, called Blazing Bedtime Stories. Since that time, I’ve found something I really love to do—adapting fairy tales, standard tales or classics, and giving them a modern, sexy, fun Blaze twist.

I’ve now written several bedtime novellas, spicing up stories loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, The Prince and the Pauper, and Sleeping Beauty. I just finished the next story in the series, which is a mash-up of The Nutcracker and Coming To America which will be coming out in December.

Having realized that I wanted to do more than fairy tales, I thought about it last year and decided to try something different. I am a big William Shakespeare fan, and decided to write an updated, modernized, super-steamy version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Believe it or not, I’d never actually read that play, or seen any version of it, so my first job was to read it. I then took bits and pieces that I thought would translate well into a contemporary story, and layered them into my version, Blazing Midsummer Nights. I had a great time dropping in little Easter eggs throughout the book—from the setting in Athens, Georgia, to the “magical” woods surrounding the southern estate where the hero and heroine both live, to the names of their eccentric landlords (Tatiana and Obi-Wan…ha!) I played around with some dreams, some mystical tea, an overbearing father and a love quadrangle. I was thrilled with the result, and can’t remember the last time a story was so easy for me to write.

I loved doing that book so much that I began thinking of other types of story I could adapt for a Blaze release. I have read most of the “classic” novels and that’s where I went for my next bit of inspiration. I immediately thought of the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Though that book was incredibly racy in its day, it is relatively tame compared to what’s being published today, and I thought I could take the heat up another notch. The problem is, I abhor infidelity. I knew I would never be comfortable writing a married heroine who’s cheating on her husband, so I had to play around with the premise to reach my comfort level. So far, the story’s coming along really well and I think readers will like it.

Now, the “author interview!”

1.     How’d you come up with your author name?
Actually, Leslie Kelly is my real name. When I sold my first book, I just thought it would be easier to stick with my real name rather than a pseudonym. Looking back, I wish I’d chosen another one since my books get some attention for their steam content.

I also write dark romantic thrillers under the pseudonym Leslie Parrish. I was going back and forth with my NAL editor on possible pseudonyms—one would be too short, one too long, one too similar to another author’s. Finally I said, “Well, how about Parrish…since so many people will perish in these books?!” She loved it and that’s how we settled on that.

2. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? And what about at a conference?
I remember being in 11th grade, sitting in one of those open classrooms that were popular back in the 80’s. (Basically an enormous area, with “giant cubicles” for each classroom.) It was Mr. Virts’s Contemporary Issue class—he was my favorite teacher, it was my favorite class. Anyway, I was leaning back on the back 2 legs of the chair, and of course I leaned too far. Not only did I fly backward, but as I was holding onto the edge of my desk, I brought that with me. It did a complete flip-over, smashing into another girl who sat nearby.

I was mortified to say the least!

As for the conference—at the RWA conference in Dallas in, oh, I think it was 2004? I was in the bar (not even having had a drink yet, believe it or not) and was pulling over a really heavy chair to join my editor and a few other authors. I was wearing really super-thick-soled flip-flops, and the chair was heavier than I expected. I ended up pulling, but it didn’t budge, and I fell back on my butt. Flat, hard, SLAM on my tailbone. I was in utter agony. My roommate came back to the room and found me lying on the bed, face down, with a towel full of ice on my butt. I had to fly home to Florida that way, and when I got home and went to the doctor for an x-ray, I found out I’d actually broken my tailbone. Talk about painful!

3. If you were to become a spammer, what product would you peddle? And what would your message be? Come up with the most attention getting, creative, crazy thing. Yes, that’s a challenge.
Dick of the Year Awards. They’d go only to spammers who constantly hit me with Viagra or “finance minister from another country” schemes. I would totally love to counter by spamming those spammers with a whole bunch of “Congratulations, you’re a dick” messages!

4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing/researching a book?
Hmm, going to be careful with this answer…lol! Let’s just say there’s a book I wrote called Overexposed, which most readers call “The Cannoli Book.” While writing that book, I discovered I reaaaaalllly love cannoli. 😉

5. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe definitely—they are two of my all time favorites. Mark Twain seems like an interesting guy to spend an evening with. I’ve always thought it so sad that Margaret Mitchell died such a tragic death, and since Gone With The Wind has long been a favorite, I’d invite her, too. Finally, Kathleen Woodiwiss, because she introduced me to the romance novel. I read The Flame and the Flower when I was twelve or thirteen years old, locked in my bedroom closet with a flashlight. My love affair with romance has continued ever since. She was, truly, the grand dame of our genre.

Now, Leslie has questions for you!!

I’m curious, am I the only one who loves these adaptations? Do you like seeing classic stories re-told in some new, original way? And what story would you most like to see made into a sexy, sassy Blaze?

Guess what?! Leslie said “I’d be happy to give away 3 backlist books, to random commenters, of any of my Blazing Bedtime Stories books.” So whee! Any comment – or fun questions for Leslie? (You can answer her question…) But I’m just waiting for that one outrageous one that tops my interview repetoire… ;D

*NB – ETA: So to clarify… the prize is a two-book set to each of three random commenters. Isn’t Leslie so generous? 

Guest: Carly Phillips

Hi everyone! Today we have the famous Carly Phillips guesting with us! Now, you know normally I don’t do author interviews except for my Guest Author & A Giveaway feature that happens the first Tuesday of each month. But Carly asked for one, and well, at the point where a super star author makes such a request, who am I to refuse? 😉 She’s also here because she had a new book out this past Tuesday, Serendipity! It’s the first in her new Serendipity series – the second book is Destiny, and the third, Karma.

1. What language do you most wish you could speak, but can’t? Why? How many languages do you speak fluently now?
I love this kind of Q and A 🙂 I can speak one language fluently – English – and as I get older I even question my fluency on that!!! I wish I could speak French fluently as I learned it in school but could only stutter through.

2. Would you rather have a broken finger, broken toe, or broken nose? Why?
Broken Toe  – I’m vain – save my face; I write for sanity – save my finger!

3. What is your favorite type of food? Your favorite meal? Would you rather host a dinner party at home, or take people out for dinner at a restaurant? Where would you go, if the latter?
Favorite foods – Pizza and Chocolate  Translation – carbs and sweets.
Favorite meal – chicken parm made by my mom!
I’d much rather take people out for dinner at a restaurant – I can’t cook, have no desire to cook, hate to entertain, because I hate stress.  That equals stress.  I love taking friends out for dinner.  My pleasure! Any restaurant where it’s on the quieter side and we can talk.

4. If you had to choose between electricity and running water, which would you go with? Why?
Electricity – I hate being too hot or too cold.

5. Imagine you’re forced to travel to your past. Which grade – any level of school/education – would you like to re-live? 
NONE  but since you are making me choose – sophomore year of college!!! Fun, fun, fun. (Ok, now I have to ask – why that one in particular? C’mon, Carly… spill! :P)

6. How many US Supreme Court Justices can you name without looking them up?
You’re asking an ex-lawyer to humiliate herself. Here goes and I’m betting some are off the bench or dead <g> -Ginsberg, Thomas, Stevens (retired?), … hubby said to cheat for more. <g> I didn’t.  I looked it up – Stevens IS gone and I blanked on the rest.  I got two. 🙁

7. What is the most exotic place you’ve ever been to? Where is the most exotic place you’ve never been to but would like to visit?
I’ve been to Greece.
I’d love to go to Israel.

8. If you could be any character in any movie or television series, who would you be? Why?
Easy – Sydney Bristow – Alias – because she’s gorgeous, can kick @$, is intelligent and married Vaughn (Michael Vartan). 🙂

Carly Phillips is the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy.  Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy.  She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers.  More information on Carly can be found at www.carlyphillips.com.

And isn’t Carly cute? She said, “Thanks for so much fun! LOL.” Carly is giving away a backlist book of the winner’s choice to one lucky commenter! Sadly, open to US residents only, due to shipping and hassle.

Anyway, I think we should continue the fun. I’m sure the interview with Larissa Ione earlier this week got the wheels turning for creative questions. So – what do you want to ask Carly? The sky’s the limit!

Guest: Julie Leto!

Hello everyone! Prepare yourselves for a serious post later in the day… but for now we’ve got the wonderful Julie Leto visiting with us! First, I want to say happy release day, Julie! I’m also super thrilled that she’s writing a series with Blaze for the first time – one of my favorite Harlequin lines! Exciting news, yes? Anyway, I think of it as something of a milestone. 😀 Without further ado, Julie!

After 30+ books for Harlequin, you’d think I would have written a series for them by now. Surprisingly, I have not! I’ve written series for NAL and Pocket and I’ve written connected books for Harlequin, but never an interwoven, deeply connected, back-to-back release three book series until now.

Legendary Lovers is about three half-brothers who are brought together after the death of their father. They learn, over the course of the three books, that they are the descendents of Joaquin Murrieta, a name that probably doesn’t mean much to most people. But Joaquin Murrieta was a real, historical figure—a California bandit who made a name for himself with feats of daring-do.

Rumor has it that Johnston McCulley, the author of “The Curse of Capistrano” and later, the novel, The Mark of Zorro, studied Murrieta and based his legendary bandit on him. I used this bit of history to weave my own legend and thus the series was born! In my version, Joaquin had been a rough, unschooled and sloppy thief until he won the ring of a Spanish nobleman in a game of chance. In my story, the ring gave him—through the power of suggestion or magic or both—the need to be a better man. He grew more adventurous. He fought for justice. He became more talented with the ladies.

In other words, he became worthy of the legend.

It was so much fun to twist history to suit my needs…and I was surprised during my research how real history popped up in so many fictional versions of the story. In fact, the film, The Mask of Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas, got a lot right, though they twisted the story to fit their needs, too. But if ever there was a character better suited for romance novels, it’s the man in the
black mask. He’s sexy, mysterious and capable. He’s strong and clever and romantic. I think it’s pretty universal that he’s scratched a little Z on the hearts of women everywhere!

Reading all this, you might think the books are historical, but they’re not! These are sexy contemporary romances grounded in legends of the past. Alex, the hero of Too Hot to Touch and his brothers, Michael (Too Wild to Hold) and Daniel (Too Wicked to Keep) are very modern men grappling with the legacy left to them by a man they all have mixed emotions about. And there aren’t any more modern women than my heroines. Lucy, who tangles with Alex, is a fence who has a life-and-death reason for wanting to steal the ring from its new owner. Claire, who meets her match in FBI agent Michael, works as a private investigator in sultry New Orleans and is being stalked by a sociopath who deeply identifies with the masked hero. And Abby the heiress doesn’t take long to wrap Danny, a renowned jewel thief, around her finger.

Men in masks can be very sexy. (They can also be creepy and terrifying, but stay with me here.) Sometimes, the masks are physical…but more often than not, especially in our modern world, they’re emotional. I played with that theme, too…and I can’t wait to hear if readers enjoy it.

What do you love about a man with a mask?

By all reports, Julie Leto was a sweet child once, somewhat shy, preferring to play quietly in her room making up stories. However, being raised with three brothers in a loud, primarily Italian household did have its influences and Julie discovered her inner tough girl. That’s probably why most of her heroines kick serious butt. Writing sassy heroines has worked out, as she’s sold over forty books to four publishers featuring strong, confident women and the super-sexy men they drive to their knees. Julie lives in Florida with her daughter, a spoiled dachshund, a haughty lynx-point Siamese and a wide range of relatives all within driving distance.

Julie has very generously offered one of her back list books to one commenter! So – what do you love about a man with a mask? Psst and Too Hot To Touch? That comes out today!

ETA: Since Julie and I both love this clip… I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing it. <3