Friday, March 2, 2012

A Rose By any Other Name...

Today on the Vampire Scribe, Jean Maxwell joins us, talking about how she found her niche in the multicultural/interracial category. Jean has a new book out from Evernight Publishing entitled, El Mirador. If you like steamy Spanish seduction, don't forget to check out her excerpt below.

Thanks for hosting me, Annalynne! I thought I'd talk a bit about the surprises we encounter when jumping into the writing gig, and finding your audience where you least expect them! Cover art is attached and excerpt follows below. Hope you like it, xxxooo JM

My first published novel, El Mirador, was released this January by Evernight Publishing. I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for! Just when I thought writing a book was hard, it's nothing compared to what came afterward. Just keeping up with FB, gmail, blog hops, review sites, has me more tired than pulling all-night writing sessions.

Don't get me wrong -- I just love my publisher and my wonderful EP author friends. I've learned so much in such a short time! But it's hard not to feel a bit...inadequate....when following the amazing antics of my fellow writers.

One of the first surprises I got upon the release of my book was finding it listed in the Interracial category, in addition to Contemporary and Suspense. While the setting is in Spain, and there are characters from several countries involved, I hadn't intended to write an interracial romance. Since the hero and heroine are both Canadians, I didn't look at the story this way. But working in the marketing industry in real life, I realized that being positioned where there is less competition is always a huge advantage. I also realized I had perhaps found a niche, and a completely different audience than originally expected.

As one of our other EP authors said, "I think we find our audience AFTER we've been published." (Thanks, AG!)

At any rate, whether we call it "interracial" or "multicultural" it's still romance, and it's still smokin' hot. The inspiration for El Mirador started on a trip to Spain many years ago. The places in the book actually exist, and I hope I captured the feeling of being there. The title, 'El Mirador' translates as "the viewpoint" or "vantage point,"  and refers to a place on the coast of Spain. If you look closely at the cover art, you will see "the viewpoint" in the background. Kudos to LF designs for incorporating this into the scene.

You can also see it in the video trailer for the book. Go to the "product videos" tab on the publisher's buy link below!

So on the topic of multiculturalism, I thought I'd share and excerpt from the book where the heroine, Zara Flynn, is seduced by the Latino superstar, Miguel Montana. Think Ricky Martin crossed with Enrique Iglesias... and enjoy.


Even with his face in shadow, she recognized Miguel. Showered, shaved, and dressed in something, ah, much more comfortable than his white leather outfit of earlier.

“Did you appr├ęcier la performance?” he asked in a quiet voice.

Dumbstruck, Zara could do nothing but stare at him. I’m in freaking Miguel Montana’s hotel room. Her mind went fuzzy. She should not have come, yet now wanted to stay. He had his hand entwined with hers so that their forearms met from wrist to elbow and they stood chest to chest. He wore a spicy, sensual cologne.

“Oui, c’est formidable,” she answered. “But you had better let me out of this room right now before I—”

He interrupted by pressing a finger against her lips. “I am sorry to…sneak you here, mademoiselle. Please don’t be angry. Won’t you visit with me for a while, let me apologize for embarrassing you yesterday.”

“I wasn’t embarrassed. You were the one with no clothes on,” she said.

He smiled and removed his finger from her lips. “C’est vrai, I was. And I am sorry. I owe you an explanation.”

“I accept your apology, you don’t need to explain. Your fans tonight did it for you. But you should let me go now. I’m not feeling well.”

He looked sincerely worried. “Then you must stay,” he said. “I’ll make you feel better. I’m very good at that. Please stay. Aren’t you wondering how I found you?”

Zara swayed a little, her resolve crumbling. He looked so vulnerable, his brown eyes brimming wide and pleading like a cocker spaniel. She had no doubt he was good at making women feel better.

“I saw you in the audience,” Miguel said. “But I began my research the minute you stepped off the elevator.”

“Research? How do you mean?” she asked.

“I have many friends traveling with me who find things out when I ask. You parler Francais, then? I only made a guess when I learned you were from Montreal.”

“Naturellement,” she answered. “But most people from my country learn at least a little French. If only from reading the back side of a cereal box.”

Miguel laughed softly. “I knew you would have a sense of humor. You were very funny when I surprised you in my towel.” He stared into her eyes. “Ah,” he said suddenly and switched to Spanish. “Por favor, please come in, sit. May I offer you something to drink?”

Zara almost hiccupped but stifled it and realized she’d had quite enough to drink already.

“Perhaps some water?” he suggested. Then he smiled and nodded. “Si, agua. You won’t mind if I open some champagne?”

Zara shook her head slowly, taking a serious look at him, all of him. He wore a plain pair of beige khakis but no shirt. Her gaze panned over his well-defined abs, arms, hands, and his bare feet on the marble tiles of the floor. The most perfect male feet she’d ever seen. Whoa, wait a sec. Were his toenails…painted? She blinked, not entirely trusting her eyesight under the circumstances.

He led her to a fabulous black leather couch in the greatroom and sat her down. “Don’t go away,” he said, moving off to the galley kitchen.

The room was huge compared to her suite and the furnishings more luxurious. The pin lighting cast a glittering yet relaxing ambience to the room. Fatigue began to set in and she sank back into the comfortable couch, going over the architectural details of the place in her mind, never quite able to shut the designer engine off completely.

Miguel returned with three glasses, one of water and two of champagne. “In case you change your mind,” he said, setting all three on the coffee table in front of her and offering her the water glass.

“Gracias,” she said and sipped it down to help clear her head and ward off tomorrow’s hangover. The liquid had the distinctive tang of mineral water.

He sat next to her and toasted his glass to hers. “Thank you for coming.” He seemed a perfect gentleman.

Zara tried to keep her guard up but felt her eyelids begin to droop. “I didn’t have that much of a choice, thanks to your…boys.” She put her glass down as if to leave. “I really shouldn’t be here.”

“Are you truly so disappointed?” he said, looking deeply into her eyes while taking a sip of his champagne.

“Well,” she said, thinking it over. She wasn’t exactly guiltless in the matter. “Not quite yet.”

A clever smile crept across his handsome face as he set his glass down. “I am forgetting my manners,” he said, placing his hand on his chest. “My name is Miguel. I am honored to meet you, Se├▒orita. I, of course, have already found out your name but want to hear it from your own lovely lips. What is it?”

“My name is Zara Flynn, architect, and as of yesterday, CEO of Flynn Enterprises,” she said with a flourish of her hand.

“Welcome, Miss Flynn the architect, to my little universe for the evening,” he said. “Smart as well as beautiful, I see. What will we build here tonight, do you think?”

She scanned his face at close range. A crooked, white scar snaked a route from the middle of his upper lip to just past his left nostril. Aha. Not so perfect after all, stage makeup goes a long way.

 “Something unforgettable, I imagine.”

Taking her hand, he rose from the couch, pulling her with him. “Let me show you the universe.”

He led her to the penthouse windows that looked out onto the waterfront. Here the beach arched into a shallow cove, the lighted windows from neighbouring resorts reflecting off the water. Beyond that, the sparkling breakers of the Mediterranean appeared and disappeared against the blackness of the waves beneath them.

“This view is one of my favorites,” he began. “You can see up the coastline almost all the way to Barcelona.” They moved over to the bar where he said, “This is my bistro while I am touring and over here,” he led her to the fireplace opposite the couch above which hung a large painting, “this is a portrait of my home. I have it placed in my hotel rooms so that home can still be with me when I am away from it so much.”

The painting depicted a small harbor with fishing boats tied to a pier and seabirds floating above. Silhouettes of pine forests covered the surrounding hills.

“It’s lovely,” she said. “Where is home?”

“San Sebastien. On the north coast, in Basque country. Yes, it is lovely,” he agreed. “Like your name. Zara. Tell me how you came to have this name.”

Zara smiled, thinking of her mother. “I was named after a place near here where my mother was from.”

Miguel’s eyes lit up. “So you are partly Spanish, also? I should have known. Donde? Where?”

Zaragoza. So she named me Zara.”

He smiled, apparently delighted they had a shared heritage. They stood near the wall adjacent to the fireplace. He brought his palm up to her chin and turned her face toward him. Taking both her hands in his he pushed her gently but firmly toward the wall, flattening her against it.

Then he covered her mouth with his and she felt his hand trace down her thigh, finding the hem of her red silk skirt. He pushed it upward until his hand met the curve of her buttocks. With her back to the wall, as the saying went, panic seeped into her brain and her free hand rose to his chest in an attempt to resist. No good. Her muscles tingled and refused to work properly. Her eyes fell shut and she surrendered to the sweet pressure of his lips on hers.

Then the spinning sensation returned and everything went black.

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