Friday, October 9, 2009

Special Guest: M. Jean Pike

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Black Lyon Publishing author M. Jean Pike! Her latest BLP title, Shadow Lake, is a sweet, contemporary romance that has garnered wonderful reviews:

They weren’t looking for love. So love found them.

Sexy campground owner Shane Lucy needs summer help. Divorced and raising a teenage son alone, the idea of finding love is the last thing on his mind. Yet there’s something sincere and kind about lovely Emma, something genuine unlike anything he’s encountered before.

Emma Beckman is trying to pick up the threads of her unraveled life. Recently widowed, she ventures into Shadow Lake for the prospect of tranquility and a new summer job. Her new boss is a prospect all his own—a magical, beautiful prospect … of love on the lake.

Welcome to The Cozy Page, Jean! I’m so glad to have such a talented author as a guest!

Thank you, Amber. It’s very nice to be here today!

Tell us more about Shadow Lake and how it came to be published with Black Lyon!

Set within a campground in beautiful upstate New York, Shadow Lake is Book One in my new romance series, LOVE ON THE LAKE. It is my first attempt at straight contemporary romance, and the first of my five published novels to contain a bona fide ‘happily-ever-after’ ending. Since BLP handled my last two titles so beautifully (gorgeous covers, top-notch editing, respect for their authors’ input, etc.) it seemed like the perfect home for my new series.

The hero, Shane, sounds a lot like my Cole from A Summer’s Hope. What is it about divorced heroes that make them so compelling to romance fans?

I think at one point or another just about everyone experiences a failed relationship. Be it a marriage or simply a long term love affair, when it’s over, it hurts! In life, as in romance novels, there’s something magical about the notion of second chances, something irresistible about a hero who has lived and learned and is not afraid to give love another try.

Your heroine, Emma, also comes with emotional baggage of her own. Is it her attraction to Shane or his tough past that draws her to him?

A combination of both, I think. Initially Emma is put off by Shane’s gruff manner and red-hot temper. Her attraction begins when she starts to see the kindness beneath his tough-guy exterior. When she meets his son, Mick, and glimpses the dark troubles that lurk in Shane’s past, she starts to see him as a kindred spirit. That’s when her feelings for him really take off!

Now let’s hear about some of those wonderful reviews Shadow Lake has received!

Since this was my first attempt at a straight contemporary romance I was a little bit apprehensive about whether or not I had pulled it off. Needless to say I was thrilled when it got such excellent reviews:

“Romance lovers of all genres will adore Shadow Lake. It’s a true romance, but delves into the deeper issues of family, divorce, betrayal, loss and suicide. M. Jean Pike’s writing has a magical way of drawing the reader in…”
—Working Girl Reviews

Shadow Lake, a story about letting go of the past and moving on with life, leaves the reader with a keen awareness of how one person’s actions can influence another’s life – either positively or negatively. Of course, the good feeling that comes when love wins against tremendous odds slips in and makes a rainy day turn bright and sunny…”
—Long And Short Reviews

“I loved Pike’s writing style and her ability to keep readers mesmerized. The fact that Emma was fragile and struggled emotionally did not make her a weak character. Likewise, the rough and gruff Shane was vulnerable in his own right. The supporting cast members were dynamic, vibrant people who greatly added to the enjoyment of the storyline…”
– The Romance Studio

Also available from Black Lyon is the literary love story In the Shadow of the Dragonfly and paranormal romance Heatherfield. Can you give us the skinny on each of these intriguing tales?

Heatherfield is a time travel romance about a young counselor who finds she has been transported from her modern day life into the world of post WWII America, into the town of Heatherfield, where it is perpetually 1949. What makes the story unique is that the heroine not only transcends the boundaries of time to be with her one true love, but she also crosses from the real world into the world of fiction.

In the Shadow of the Dragonfly is a story of two very different lives and how fate works to bring them together.

Which genre you prefer writing: literary love stories or mainstream romance? What sub-genre: contemporary, historical, or paranormal?

I enjoy all different kinds of writing and am always looking for new ways to challenge myself as a storyteller. If I had to choose a favorite genre, though, I would have to say it is paranormal romance. There’s just something about ‘spooky stuff’ that gets my wheels turning!

Okay, now tell us about you! How and why did you begin writing?

As far back as I can remember, I have loved stories. Even at a young age, curled up beneath a cozy quilt while my mother read to my siblings and me, I recognized the power and magic of words. As soon as I was able to put words together I began to write poems and stories. Though I had a handful of poems published in small poetry journals when I was in college, I didn’t get serious about my writing until I hit my mid-thirties. I took some courses through Long Ridge Writers Group and Writer’s Digest. When I started to see my byline in magazines, I became a writing addict!

Brainstorm with us for a moment: if you could place a story in your hometown, what kind would it be? Sweet, sexy contemporary, intriguing paranormal, or heart-pounding romantic suspense?

Oh, that’s easy! If I could place a story in my hometown it would definitely be a paranormal romance. I even have the perfect setting. High on a hillside overlooking the town, there is an abandoned sanatorium that looks for all the world like the crumbling ruins of a castle. Rumor has it that at the turn of the century people came from all over the country to sit in the sanatorium’s natural healing hot springs. I have spent countless hours contemplating the building, flirting with dozens of possible storylines.

My favorites include long, dark hallways and secret rooms with hidden passages that lead to other worlds and times …

Who is your favorite romance hero of all time? Heroine?

Darby Sullivan and Willow MacKenzie in Waiting for the Rain.

What recent read would you recommend to us here at The Cozy Page?

Another great Black Lyon Series you won’t want to miss, The Quinguard Immortals by Kerry A. Jones. A fabulous mix of history, romance and the paranormal!

What’s your favorite scent? What makes it significant?

Autumn has always been my favorite season, a season of bright blue skies and cool, sunny days. Not surprisingly, my favorite scents include all the wonderful scents of fall. I love the scent and sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet, the spicy delight of a fresh baked pumpkin pie, and the tantalizingly tangy smell of apple cider. For me, these scents call to mind the comforts of hearth and home and all the breathtaking wonder of nature’s most artistic season.

Last but not least: if you found the end of the rainbow and found your heart’s desire, what would it be?

A pretty, little cabin in the woods with a lake in front and a huge flower garden out back. It would come complete with a housekeeper, so I’d never have to worry about laundry or dirty dishes again, lol! It would be my own private paradise where I would spend my life writing and tending to my gardens.

Thanks again for stopping by today, Jean! I personally can’t wait to purchase Shadow Lake and your other titles! To close, would you mind sharing a short snippet?

I’d love to! This excerpt comes from Chapter One, Emma’s disastrous job interview with Shane…

He might as well have reached across the table and slapped her, for as much as the comment stung.

“I’m not in the habit of hitting on teenaged boys, if that’s what you m-mean,” she said, struggling to control her stutter.

“No, that’s not what I meant.”

Waves of anger and embarrassment washed over her and for a moment she was afraid she’d cry because she knew exactly what he’d meant. She wouldn’t be a problem for his male workers because she was plain and unattractive. Her eyes ached with the effort of holding back tears.

Beck had thought she was lovely, and the beauty he saw in her had been his pride and joy.

He was forever surprising her with jewelry, bottles of perfume, gift certificates to have her hair done at upscale salons. After Beck’s accident the medical bills had chewed up their savings, and when he died, Emma had sold their house, a handyman special still in progress, for only a few thousand dollars more than was owed on it. Now she had to save what little money was left to pay the rent and keep the lights on in her shabby room on Fuller Street. There was no money for clothes, salons, or even a bottle of nail polish. But she was a hard and willing worker; she’d proved that today, hadn’t she? And he’d not given her so much as a word of thanks or encouragement. All she had left was her battered pride, and she couldn’t, wouldn’t let this brute of a man take it from her.

“Could you start tomorrow morning?” he asked, oblivious to her anger.

Gathering the shreds of her dignity, she stood. “I d-don’t think I’m interested in the j-job after all. But thank you for your time.”

He reached out his hand as if he meant to touch her, but seeing her angry expression, let it fall back to his side. “Look, about what I said, it came out wrong. I didn’t mean—“

The bell above the front door chimed and a voice boomed out, “Hello? Is this where we’re supposed to check in?”

He passed a hand over his face and pushed out a breath. “Just wait here, alright?”

While he trudged up front to deal with the customer, Emma quietly slipped out the back door.

…A job in the middle of nowhere. A beat-up old rust bucket to get there in, and an arrogant ass for a boss, she thought, jamming her key into the ignition. Strike three. You’re out.

Readers, don’t forget to visit M. Jean Pike at her website to learn more about her and her love stories! And you can purchase Shadow Lake, Heatherfield, and In the Shadow of the Dragonfly today from Black Lyon Publishing!

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