**UPDATED: First off, CONGRATULATIONS, JENNIFER LEELAND! You just won a copy of FLAWED. Please email me to claim your prize :)
EMBER CASE is an awesome writer and equally awesome in person! I’m happy to have her visit our blog today. Besides being a writer of HOT romance, she’s also taking on a proactive role by running for Region 3 representative as Karen Steele at the next RWA elections. I’m interested in what she has to say about taking that leap into romance politics as well as learning more about her current release!
And as a bonus, here's your chance to win an eBook of FLAWED. Just post a question or comment to be entered in a chance to win OR tell us what you'd be willing to give up to make your dreams come true. **A winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on this blog on Friday**
First off, what made you decide to run for Region 3 and why?
I believe very strongly in the principles and goals that RWA was founded with. The organization has a history of members who supported each other, working together to develop their writing and the genre they loved. The 37 original members of RWA came together and really blazed a new trail.
But publishing has gone through some amazing changes over the three decades since RWA was founded. Changes in how books are published have affected every publishing house. Advances, print runs, and marketing have all felt the impact. These changes are still coming, and the ripples they create are impacting every aspect of publication.
It’s going to take strong leadership to continue guiding RWA as the organization faces new challenges and explores developing opportunities. I believe the organization needs board members committed to educating themselves on where Romance Writers of America came from, and looking with sharp eyes at where insightful and balanced leadership can take us. My own enthusiasm for hard work, open mind to new approaches, and belief that RWA can continue to develop and grow have led me to run for office.
You’ve been really active in the online chapters including the Passionate Ink and ESPAN, what drives you and why is volunteering for these efforts so important to you?
I have to credit most of it to what one of my chapter mates and fellow officers calls “helium arm”. Some things I think I have a natural skill for – organization, and technical application especially. But when I see something that needs to be done and no one else is jumping in, I just can’t seem to stop my arm from floating up in the air to say “I’ll do it”. It doesn’t mean that I think I can do something better than anyone else, but that I believe something needs to be done, and I’d rather learn on my feet to make it happen than see it not get done at all.
Especially with Passionate Ink, I came into the chapter at a time when the chapter was just finding its feet, and deciding what type of organization it was going to be. It was really important to me that it be a place where authors found total support. There is absolutely no entitlement given to any author at Passionate Ink based on what she (or he) writes, or which publishers our authors write for. Just complete support, encouragement, and a willingness to share knowledge and industry tips. We have several hundred members who know that even if they can’t tell their own mother what they write, they can tell us! When you write in a market that is frowned on or even vocally scorned by others, the confidence that support gives you can make all the difference.
ESPAN is another amazing chapter that is finding its feet right when it is most needed. It has undergone refocusing in the past year as new, strongly focused board members have come in and refused to let the chapter be thought irrelevant. The current board members, especially President Kristen Painter and VP MG Braden (who is also running for a seat on the board – she’s running for Region 4) are amazing, strong willed women who aren’t afraid to shake things up if that’s what is needed to get the job done. Like with Passionate Ink, ESPAN’s members are all part of different “niches” in romance writing – in ESPAN, they’re all either published electronically or by a small press, or they’re someone who wants to support those writers. Some of the most knowledgeable minds in digital and small romance press are members in ESPAN, and I think the chapter can have a strong voice in educating writers looking for information in these markets.
I’m really excited about your new release, can you give us some details and an excerpt for our readers?
Oh wow, this has been an amazing summer! Flawed released from Samhain a few weeks ago, and I was amazed by the feedback from readers on this one who say they love the genre bending of high fantasy and erotic romance. There are elves and magic and danger and of course that happily ever after at the end. My heroine has been stripped of her birthright – the magic that would let her rule her kingdom. But two very special heroes come into her life just when she needs them most. I love this line from the end of the official blurb – “Nothing is as it seems in the Bright Court, and their one night of exquisite pleasure could trap them all in a web of mortal danger…”
Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene –
The word echoed in Emilia’s ears as she slipped unnoticed from the quiet hall outside the receiving room. Futile tears unexpectedly spilled from her eyes and she fled blindly down the palace halls. But she couldn’t outrun the venomous words she had overheard spilling from her stepmother’s lips.
“With no Stone of Power, she isn’t much use to her father here at court. That sliver of dead mineral on her forehead is every bit as useless as the time she wastes with the mages. King Vayle has agreed to send her away if the stone still has not awoken after her birthmoon has passed.” Satisfaction had been clearly evident in Gisa’s voice. Emilia had lingered in the hallway, unnoticed by the ladies gathered just inside the doorway.
“Where would the king send her?” The question came from one of the handful of women clustered around Gisa like so many vultures around a fresh carcass. Gossip was the currency of the court and word that the princess could soon effectively be banished was high coin indeed.
“Does it truly matter? To the deserts of the south likely. There are many clan lords that will gladly take a princess of the forest in handfast. Several of the clansmen we welcomed tonight have expressed an interest in such a union. Even with one so flawed.”
Her father’s consort had never hidden her distaste for Emilia. In the dozen years since Gisa had seduced her way into Vayle’s bed, she’d driven every wedge possible between the king and his daughter. What had begun as a somewhat-discreet power play had developed into a dislike for Emilia that her stepmother no longer tried to hide. Now her stepmother was openly reveling in the thought that soon, Emilia could be removed from the court for good. Gisa was not from Silverhaven herself, and could not claim the title of Queen to the Bright Elf people. But she hungered for every scrap of power she could claw from her marriage to the king.
Anger, humiliation and pain screamed in her heart for release. Her father was nearing the end of his mortal life. The man who had once carried her on his shoulders and taught her to love the forest he ruled had faded away to a shell of the striking figure he once had been. Even the Stone of Power that had once pulsed between his eyes had begun to dim. If Gisa succeeded in having Emilia removed from court, how long would it be before the king’s consort ruled the council, the palace fortress of Silverhaven, even the great forest of Silvertop, queen in all but name?
The noise of the court’s revelry was fading behind her as she rounded another twisting turn in the maze that formed the palace halls. With fumbling fingers, Emilia pushed open the next door she came to and slipped soundlessly into the shadow-filled room. Closing it behind her, she leaned her overheated face against the wood’s comforting coolness. Her escape may not have been elegant, but with any luck it had gone unnoticed. Taking a deep breath and holding it in, she listened for signs anyone had noticed her departure and followed her.
She heard nothing but the rapid pounding of her heart and the shallow breaths she forced into her burning lungs. The tears she refused to let fall were blinked away, and she swallowed against the bitter taste of defeat that lingered in their wake. Satisfied her escape from the court receiving line had not been seen, Emilia sagged against the door in relief.
Attempting to calm herself from the ugly scene she had fled, she rolled her flushed face against the coolness of the wood. First one side, then the other, before she let the warming surface press against the useless dark rock that rested in her forehead. There was a distant sensation of pressure where the stone met her flesh, an unwanted reminder of her most obvious shortcoming. The stone that should have been a source of great magical power was nothing more than a daily reminder that she was, indeed, as flawed as a princess could be.
A low moan from the room behind her jerked her from her thoughts. Spinning around to find the source, Emilia stared openmouthed in surprise at the scene before her.
Firelight cast a dim light over a couple near the fireplace. A large male body reclined across the brocade cushions of a finely carved settee, one long leg propped against the back of the small sofa and one braced on the floor. His thighs were spread wide, giving her a clear view of the naked muscled chest that rose from a slender waist. A cream-colored shirt of the finest shadowsilk was unbuttoned across his skin, framing the sculpted muscles and smooth ebony skin in light.
His head was thrown back in abandoned pleasure, allowing shadows to flicker across the planes of his face. A rising flame threw him into light, and then his features were cast again into the shadows. Through the haze of shock she felt a stab of recognition. Rorek Northmark, Lord Magician of Darkknell, the visiting ambassador and blood cousin to King Torek of the Shadow Elf, was sprawled in lusty abandon as she had never seen him before.
On the floor by his side, a male Shadow Elf knelt in sensual service.
So, how tumultuous was your writing journey? Was your family supportive with this career choice?
I really see myself as just barely having taken the beginning steps on the road of this career, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate so far. My first romance was accepted by Samhain Publishing just over a year after I stared writing, and they have been an amazing publisher to work with. Heidi Moore, my editor, and Executive Editor Angela James are both the kind of smart, articulate, and educated women that make you sit up and listen when they tell you something. My family has been hugely supportive too. One of my sisters is my first reader on everything – Flawed was dedicated to her. And my husband is an amazing man. He believes in me, and never lets me down when I need him.
How many books do you write a year and what have you seen the most results in doing promotions?
My writing schedule has grown over the three years since I started writing, so I can’t say there’s been a “standard” year yet. My goal for this year is to finish 3 novellas and two novels. Since January I’ve finished 2 novellas and am well into the first novel, so I’m on track so far.
Promotion for novellas is a funny animal. Since electronic novellas are only sold online, there aren’t any book signings to set up (unless you end up in a print anthology). But interacting with readers is still the key. So I do a lot of online blogging, twittering, and reader loop type discussion. A lot of it I don’t even consider “promotion” while I’m doing it – I’m sure not out there saying “Buy my book!” every day. But I’m making friends, forming bonds with readers, and if that relationship makes someone more interested in my books when they release then it’s a happy bonus. If it doesn’t, I’ve still met some amazing people on the journey.
Do you have a posse you write with? Do you suggest critique partners or beta readers?
A posse! I want a posse. I really want to be the quirky sidekick though, the one standing off to the side making snarky comments and jumping in at the last minute to bail the lead out of trouble. I think I’ll get more writing time that way.
No, my schedule has kept me from finding an in-person writing posse, but that’s one thing I love about the internet. I can find an online group at any time of the day. There’s Romance Divas, which I joined even before I found RWA – the Divas are amazing! My RWA chapters run various writing challenges, which can really help with cranking out some pages. And I’ve got a half dozen close writer friends on my IM lists that live everywhere from Australia to Great Britain; they’re my kick in the ass when I need it.
I don’t like to submit chapters to critique partners as I’m still writing, because I’m enough of a pantser that by the time I write the last chapter I’ve always got huge structural changes that need to be made. I’d feel guilty for wasting someone’s time if I’d had them critique it, then those pages ended up in the trash bin. But once I’m at The End I can’t imagine submitting something without having it critiqued. Tunnel vision on a manuscript can really keep you blind to some big flaws that are obvious to fresh eyes.
Do you ever run out of ideas and are you ever afraid that you will?
I think, of all possible horrible things that could happen to a writer, this one would be way down there as far as how likely it is that it could happen to me. I’ve got a “plots” folder from just the last 3 years with over 30 developed ideas. There’s another folder with even more ideas that haven’t made it to plot status yet. I’ve got the usual writer’s tools of a notebook by the bed, another in the car, one by every seat I frequent in the house – I write down those “What if’s” as soon as they pop in my head. “What if” is the seed to everything for me. I can’t imagine those words never popping into my head again, but even if they stopped I’ve already got more ideas than I can ever write.
What is the most extreme sport you’ve ever done, or adventure you’ve ever taken, and what did you learn about yourself?
I love caving. Spelunking. Rappelling down over a hundred feet of rope into a dark, sometimes muddy crevice in the ground, and entering a world that relatively few human eyes have ever seen. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of caves in Florida. When I lived in Alabama, I was part of a group that went out almost every weekend and explored some amazing places. It’s been much too long since I strapped on a helmet and climbing boots, but I have amazing memories of those adventures and would jump at the chance to do it again. Having to work as a team, but at the same time having to depend on my own strength to get back up that rope at the end of a long day, was a powerful feeling.
Let’s have a little fun. If you were a nail polish, what would it be called and why?
Hidden spice. Because looking at me you would see a typical PTA mom, and you’d never know just how much spice there is under my surface. Dark coral color, like the sweet ripe flesh near the pit of a peach.
What’s can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I’ve got a holiday release titled My Christmas Wish coming from Samhain on December 1st! This is a first for me in a few ways – it’s my first Christmas theme story, first straight contemporary with no paranormal or fantasy elements, and first straight man/woman story. Also my first story set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and my first Sexy Cajun hero, and my first… ok stop me now, I love this story and could go on from now until December 1st about it.
Any parting words for new authors? For our readers?
Not just authors, but everyone – whatever your dream is, don’t let it go. If you believe in yourself, have something that you want bad enough to sacrifice all the unimportant things (I’ve given up almost all my TV time, and sleeping in on the weekends) then stop sitting around wishing “if only” and go make it happen. Start with that first page, or that first brush stroke, or that first step on the track, whatever the beginning step is to making your dream happen. And then don’t let it go. Don’t look back. Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who believe in you as well. Hold your head up high and even if you can’t quite see your goal, tell yourself it’s right there over the horizon, and keep moving toward it until you can see it, until it’s really right there in your reach.
Just believe in yourself.
Ember Case was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the second of five children. Life in a large family taught her that everyone is the hero in their own life story – lesson one for the writer.
After attending college in the deep south and doing time working in the IT department at a Fortune 500 corporation, she traded in her business suits and heels for jeans and bare feet. Today in addition to her writing career Ember is a graphic artist lucky enough to work from home, and has been a small business owner for over 15 years. She has spent most of her life in the south, from Kentucky to Alabama, and now lives with her husband and their two children near the sandy beaches in Florida.
Published in short length romance since 2007, Ember has 2 published romances with Samhain Publishing, and is currently under contract with them for more.
To learn more, visit www.embercase.com