Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Debut Author Anita Clenney

I'm thrilled to start my once a month series of debut author interviews with my friend, USA Today best-seller, Anita Clenney.

I met Anita in one of Margie Lawson's grueling yet worthwhile workshops. For any writer serious about getting published in fiction, I highly recommend one of Margie's workshops. You will not be sorry.

Last year, when I met Anita I asked her to come on my blog once her paranormal romance series was published. Not only did she graciously agree, but she's also giving away a copy to one lucky commenter in the US or Canada. Thanks Anita!!

AC: I’m thrilled to be here. I love connecting with readers.

IR: In 50 words or less, how would you describe Awaken the Highland Warrior?

AC: A chivalrous highland warrior from the past and a modern day quirky historian clash wits and hearts in this romantic, mysterious tale of secret warriors, ancient evil, and destined love.

IR: What inspired you to write this particular book?

AC: A dream. A really bad dream. I paired it with an idea I’d been tossing around about an undead buried warrior and came up with the story. I love this story. It’s the story of my heart.

IR: How many agents did you query for this book before receiving an offer of representation? And how did you deal with rejection/criticism?

AC: Not many. I got my agent fairly quickly. I think I queried a handful before her, and got rejected. Now I’m glad the others rejected me. She’s awesome. As far as rejection, it hurts, but you move on. It doesn’t mean your story is bad, just that it isn’t for them.

IR: How long was the book on submission with editors before you received an offer? And how did you maintain your sanity while waiting?

AC: The editor was actually on vacation when we submitted. She made an offer a couple of weeks after she returned.

IR: What makes this time-travel novel different from others?

AC: Usually with time travel, the heroine goes back in time. In this case, the hero, a big, strapping, chauvinistic warrior has been sleeping for 150 years, so he has to deal with the modern world he’s awakened in, and also modern women, which are a huge shock. It’s quite funny watching him adjust. The book has a lot of humor along with the mystery and adventure.

IR: Did you have any difficulty making Faelan’s (the hero) experience in the modern day world feel believable since he’s a highland warrior from 150 yrs in the past?

AC: I had to get inside his head and think like he would, which required some research to see what things were like in his time.

IR: Bree is a fun, feisty heroine. I was intrigued by her powers, but wanted to know more. Will readers see Bree again in future books?

AC: Yes, we will see Bree again. She plays a large role in book two and in the series. Her story has much more to be told. Everyone had questions about Bree. I had hoped to leave a little mystery to be solved in book two, but I’ve had such a noticeable reaction that I wish I had cleared things up a little more. Bree is in for a big shock in book two.

IR: Do you use critique partners and/or beta readers?

AC: Yes to both. I have one critique partner, Dana Rodgers. I don’t know what I would do without her. She knows how to keep me in check when I’m going too far, and how to push me when I need to make the story bigger. And I do have a few beta readers. By the time the story is done, both Dana and I have seen it so many times there are things we are bound to miss.

IR: What type of environment do you like to write in: office, surrounded by nature, on a sofa listening to music? And what are essential must have items while you work?

AC: Basically, I like quiet when I’m working. No music, nothing. I do love nature. Sometimes I go out on my deck where I’m surrounded by trees and squirrels. And I love candles, especially beautiful candle holders and lanterns, so sometimes I write by candlelight. The only essential items would be my computer or laptop and something to drink. Oh, and pens and scratch pads for notes.

IR: When is your next book coming out? And what are you currently working on?

AC: Embrace the Highland Warrior comes out November 1!

It’s the second in the series. It’s the story of Cody McBain, whose family spent over two decades protecting the identity of a powerful female warrior who was targeted by an ancient demon when she was a child. Fearing for her life, they even kept the secret from her. But years later, when she discovered that her entire life had been a lie, she turned her back on her clan and Cody, her best friend since childhood. Now she’s back, with hell at her heels, and Cody will have to break all the rules to save the woman who shattered his heart.

When the demon who left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes looking for vengeance, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. But the vampires also want the book. Shay knows she can’t fight this evil alone, so she’s forced to return to her clan and the Scottish Warrior who betrayed her…the only man she’s ever loved, where she discovers that betrayal isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s far worse.

In the meantime, I’m working on the third book.

IR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

AC: Learn what you can from other writers, but don’t get locked into someone else’s journey. This is not a one size fits all business. Also, learn the rules of writing, but more importantly, focus on telling a great story.

IR: Okay, two final, fun questions. If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream vacation?

AC: First, we’d go to Scotland, and then we’d tour some of the great castles and old buildings in Europe. Hubby and I are fascinated by old architecture. Then, we’d go skiing somewhere fun, maybe Switzerland. I’d mostly sit by the fire reading and drinking hot chocolate while hubby and kids skied. Then we’d cruise to an exotic island where I’d sit on a beach of white sand and turquoise water, with tons of books and read. Hey, you said money was no object.

IR: What is one daring thing you’ve done in your life or something about you that readers would be surprised to learn (if you don’t mind sharing)?

AC: Several years ago, I traveled with a group of Aztec dancers. I booked shows for them; I didn’t dance. Now that would have really been daring. The dance was powerful, mesmerizing, but I would not want to stick my toes in fire.

Thank you so much Anita for the interview and for taking the time to say hi to commenters!

Don't forget, ONE COMMENTER WILL WIN A COPY. For more on Anita's debut novel, see below.



Excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior:


She started from the kitchen, when a crash sounded from her bedroom. Gripping the tray, she ran down the hall, coming to a halt in the doorway.

He was naked, sprawled face down, feet sticking off the bed, as bare as the day he was born. The lamp was overturned, his clothes piled on the floor next to his dagger and boots. He’d tried to turn the covers back, but now they were trapped underneath him. Bree set the tray on the table beside the bed.

He wasn’t the first naked man she’d seen, but he might as well have been. Taut skin covered muscle so defined it made her want to weep at the raw beauty. Several faint lines ran across his back and shoulders and a couple along the side of his hip. Scars.

Bree gave one lingering look from thick, dark hair to sexy feet, then averted her gaze and poked his shoulder with her fingertip. “Faelan, wake up.”

He didn’t move. She took one more look, leaned down, and shook him again.

He grunted and flipped over, pulling her flat against him. He rolled again, and the air whooshed from her lungs as he slammed her into the mattress, his forearm braced against her windpipe. “Druan,” he said, looking through her, “stop the war.”

She lay still, trying not to panic. “Faelan. Let me go,” she wheezed. When he didn’t, she tried to put her knee into his groin, but with her legs pinned under his it proved as ineffective as it had in the crypt,. He groaned and moved his arm from her throat. She was so busy sucking in air she didn’t notice his fingers threading through her hair until she calmed enough to realize he was still on top of her, stomach to stomach, where her shirt had ridden up. Her legs, bared by shorts, were tangled with his. His skin felt hotter. He had a fever. And that wasn’t his dagger rubbing against her thigh.

His head lowered, damp hair brushing her cheek as he whispered strange words that made every cell in her body sizzle. Gaelic? His look was more alarming than before, as if she were water to his thirst. This was a look she could die in, a look that made her want to trash logic for a slim chance at bliss. His lips touched hers.

She was too stunned to stop the kiss and too captivated by the feel of his mouth on hers to pull away. The soft nibble, a mere testing of flesh against flesh, deepened to lips parting and a flick of his tongue. Just when she thought she’d lift off into space, he raised his head and blinked at her, then rolled off so fast she grabbed fistfuls of the quilt to keep from falling off the bed. She sat up, too dazed to move, and tried not to gape.

She’d thought the back view was good…



Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel--lasted half a day)…she realized she'd missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids. You can learn more about her writing at www.anitaclenney.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embrace-the-highland-warrior-anita-clenney/1100076266

http://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Highland-Warrior-Anita-Clenney/dp/1402251262

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Embrace-Highland-Warrior/Anita-Clenney/9781402251269

51 comments:

  1. What an interesting person Anita is. And I love time travel :-)

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  2. Thanks, Sarah. I hope you get a chance to check out the books. They were so much fun to write.

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  3. Don't get locked into someone else's journey is great advice. And you'd really dig Scotland.

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  4. Love the interview and love the sound of your book, Anita! Can't wait to read it.

    What a cool looking blog, by the way :-)

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  5. I loved this interview and I am adding Anita to my must read now list. I am totally hooked.

    Huge successes to Anita. Sales to the stars. :)

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  6. Alex, I think we all compare ourselves to others, but publishing depends on so many different things. Including luck. The journeys are completely different, and it's easy to get frustrated because it comes easier for someone else. Oh, I do hope to see Scotland someday.

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  7. Kari, thank you for everything. You are one awesome gal. I'm so excited to read Tempest in the Tea Leaves.

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  8. Oh, Melissa! Now you've just gone and made my day. Thank you!!

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  9. Ooh, intriguing excerpt! I like Donna Grant's paranormal Highland series, so I have a feeling I'll enjoy this series, too.

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  10. Enjoyed the interview and the excerpt, Anita. These titles have been added to my TBR list! Continued success on your publishing journey!

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  11. Thanks so much, Erin. If you like Donna Grant or Karen Marie Moning, you may like this as well. Please let me know if you do. Or don't. :)

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  12. Runere, thank you so much. There are so many wonderful books to choose from, I know it's difficult to choose. I really appreciate you adding my books to your list.

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  13. What a great twist on time travel. Can't wait to read it!

    ~Ally

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  14. Alysia, this is different, in fact, it's so different that I didn't think of it as time travel at first. Faelan is just sleeping, for a LONG time. :) And also, usually the heroine goes back. I loved having the big, protective warrior coming forward. He has a lot of surprises awaiting him. And he'll have even more throughout the series.

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  15. Great interview, your book has piqued my interest and I love series books...
    Neecy

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  16. I love your vacation ideas. I went to Scotland once, too many years ago, and really loved it. I didn't see any Highland warriors though. They must have all been time traveling. :) Thank goodness I can find them in your books!

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  17. Anita,
    Your series sounds fascinating. Wonderful interview! Holy cow, traveled and booked shows with Aztec warriors! That is so interesting. Take care and I wish you continued success!

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  18. Hi Anita! I loved reading about your journey to publication, and I'm also a Margie L alumni. Your series sounds as fantasic as your varied occupations! I love that the idea for your series came to you in a dream. Best wishes! Maggie

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  19. Thanks for the fun interview--I loved that part about the Aztec dancers! I can't wait until the second book is released. :)

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  20. This is a great interview. When I read the answer on how you got your agent, the little green envy monster reared its head. Then I read your statement, "..don’t get locked into someone else’s journey." What a great piece of advice. My envy monster disappeared. I wish you much success!!

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  21. Anita - Congratulations! I have the book on my Kindle in the TBR folder - can't wait!

    Question - What thing in Margie's classes do you think improved your writing and got you sold?

    Robin

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  22. Anita,
    I meant to add that I'm a Margie's class graduate many times over. She's amazing, and I owe part of my success to the numerous lessons learned during her classes. ^5 Wishing you every success!

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  23. I'm excited to check out this series! It's been a while since I've read a highlander book. Thanks for sharing this great interview, Isis. Good luck to you, Anita!

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  24. Sounds like a fun story. Actually, I just read a book about an irish woman who somehow time travels to the future and has to cope with today. I think this book and that one would be a good match. Bella Streets 'Kiss Me I'm Irish' for anyone interested. http://amzn.to/qehWMF

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  25. I like the idea of someone time travelling into our time. I can well believe watching him adjust to modern life and ideas could be funny.

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  26. Neecy, I'm so glad the books piqued your interest. I hope they live up to your expectations. :)

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  27. That's right, Donna. They were all time traveling. I think the only way I'm going to get to Scotland any time soon is if I time travel. :)

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  28. Diana, the Aztecs were an interesting bunch. But I'm telling you, you wouldn't catch me dancing with fire. And the girls wore colorful gowns but the guys...they were colorful, but they showed a lot more skin. :)

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  29. Patsy, Wouldn't it so cool to watch their surprise and fascination? We sort of get to do that with Faelan.

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  30. Great suggestion, Jennifer. I haven't read it but it sounds fun. I'll check it out.

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  31. Jamie, I hope you like it. It's a little different than a lot of highlander books, not only because the hero comes forward. Lots of highlander books have Scottish history interwoven in the story. That isn't relevant here. It's fast paced but with an old fashioned hero. Still, one reviewer said it had an old world feel, which I thought was nice.

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  32. Robin, awesome! I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much for the purchase.

    As for Margie's classes. I learned so many different things, and I'll be there on her Grads blog Nov. 4th, but I think the most important thing I came away with was seeing the need to "empower" my writing and my stories. Not just sentences and scenes, but also characters, their motivations, the suspense, the romance, twists and turns in the plot. I believe everything in a story can be empowered.

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  33. Diana, yes, I adore Margie. I learned soooo much from her!

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  34. Brinda, carve your own path! Seriously, this business will drive you insane if you compare your journey with someone else's. And don't give up. My advice is also to learn what you can, but the most important thing, even more than craft, is write a story that will knock your socks off. It'll likely knock others off as well.

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  35. Maggie, don't you just love Margie? She's really so amazing. I have some things from her class posted by my computer because it's easy to slip into old habits.

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  36. Julie, thanks for stopping by. The Aztecs were fun. It was a crazy time.

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  37. Robin, another thing that I think helped me to sell was that my story has some unique elements, and editors like different. I did what I tell other people to do. I wrote a story that I absolutely loved. This is the book of my heart. I will grow as a writer and hopefully hone my skills, and I know I'll have other great stories, but this story was somehow special for me.

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  38. The Aztec dancers sounded amazing. What a cool time you must have had.
    Congrats on your release! Love the premise, and the excerpt.

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  39. Margie Lawson is tough but great. I'm adding this book to my TBR pile.

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  40. A wonderful interview Isis and Anita. And that book sounds, verrrry inviting. :-)

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  41. Wow...Anita can sure write. That scene you posted there is as hot and steamy a thing as I've read since some of George R.R. Martin's stuff.

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  42. Anita, what a lot of wisdom you have, and what a wonderful series you've started. Looking very much forward to book two--and before you take off on that castle tour, could I see the itinerary? Can't get enough of Scotland, or Scottish heroes... I mean, kilts. That says a lot right there, right?

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  43. I love stories set in Scotland and pretty much all things related to the place. I'm gonna check these books out. Thanks for introducing them to me, Isis!

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  44. Thanks for hosting Anita, Isis. This was fun. I love the premise of the book too. Historicals/time travel are my candy.

    Best of luck, Anita. You're inspiring.

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  45. Great interview - I really enjoyed reading it. I find time travel concept fascinating.
    Anita, the excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior is delicious. I want to read the whole book now :-)

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  46. Awesome interview! What an exciting story. I love time travel and am a sucker for any type of romance. How cool that you got an agent so quickly. And I do write what I love so hopefully that'll pay off. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Hi Isis. :)

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  47. Hi Isis. I'm here from the Pay It Forward blogfest and I just wanted to say thanks so much for signing up!

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  48. Great interview! Nice job, Isis.

    Congratulations on getting representation so quickly, Anita. That is certainly one of the places where luck comes in, but you also wrote a good book, and that's an essential place to start.

    I enjoyed the excerpt, but I can tell I'll need to have my wife read your book first so she can let me know if it is too "romancy" for my taste! ;-)

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  49. This book sounds really awesome! Congrats to Anita!

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  50. Hi Anita,
    I found this link on the FF&P loop. Wow, your book sounds great. I'm going to add it to my wish list. I love highlanders and what an exciting twist. I am so glad I found this blog too.

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