Character Interview with Illion from DRAGON KISSES by Michele Zurlo – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michele will be awarding $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Character interview: Illion from Dragon Kisses

I’m here with Illion, a dragon shifter. On Zmaj, when dragons shift into a humaniod form, they appear as aspects, or parts, of one being. Though Illion appears as five separate men—Illion, Aurelio, Beck, Cashel, and Fayne—he considers himself one person. Speaking with one aspect is the same as speaking with all of them. They’re telepathically linked, and even when separated, they can function as one. When Cassie, Niall, Arabella, and Laurel first appeared on Zmaj, Illion was the one who found them. As such, he reserved the right to claim whichever one he wanted, and he chose Cassie. In Dragon Kisses, we don’t get to hear directly from Illion, but luckily he’s agreed to sit down with us today for this interview.

Q: From the start, you seemed quite smitten with Cassie. What went through your mind when you first saw her?

Illion: I noticed the spark in her eyes. She did not seem afraid; rather she seemed intrigued by my appearance. I may have noted her pleasing physical appearance at the same time. She has amazing curves that I find quite attractive.

Q: When Cassie left you, why did you not go after her and demand an explanation?

Illion: Zmaj are raised to view humans as pets, useful for scratching a sexual itch and nothing more. From an early age, I questioned this philosophy. I questioned everything we were taught and all Zmaj customs, which frequently landed me in trouble, but that is another story. My mother was human. She died a few years after my younger brother was born, so my memories of her are few, but the ones I have are powerful. My father treated her as a true mate. She was proud and strong, with a powerful personality that I greatly admired. I recognized those traits in Cassie, and I prized them. When a strong woman comes to you of her own volition, it carries momentous meaning. I wanted her to want me as much as I wanted her.

Q: Jonathan is the biological son of your brother. What kinds of challenges did he present to you?

Illion: Having been raised to fear the Zmaj, Jonathan wanted to reject his dragon when he reached maturity. This would have caused his death. I had to work to earn his trust and help him come to terms with his true nature. I blame myself for that, however. When my brother was killed, I did not notice what happened to Evelyn, his mate. I did not understand the nature of their relationship until Cassie opened my eyes to the concept of love. If I had, I would have kept them close so that Jonathan could have had a Zmaj father figure. Evelyn did the best she could under the circumstances. It seems my brother fell in love with a woman who was strong like our mother.

Q: Your point of view doesn’t appear in any of the Dragon Kisses novels. Will future installments feature chapters where you get to tell the story?

Illion: I do not know. My fate is in the hands of that wondrous force who directs all action.

Q: Thank you for hanging out with us today. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Illion: If a Zmaj somehow appears on your world, please greet them with more kindness than humans are typically shown here. Do not replicate our mistakes. I must go. Cassie awaits.

BookCover_DragonKisses1Dragon Kisses #1 (Cassie and Niall)

Waking up in a strange barn was just the tip of the iceberg. Cassie and Niall find themselves transported to another world, one full of dragon shifters who want to possess them. Cassie is claimed by Illion, an electric blue dragon who shifts into five hulking men, and Niall is claimed by Wynn, a lime green dragon who shifts into two men and two women.

The Zmaj feed from the sexual energy of humans, and finding a cache of five in an abandoned barn is a momentous occasion. Convincing them to stay and protecting them from the Inamanida, their sworn enemy, is another task altogether. And falling in love? Zmaj don’t do that.

When Cassie runs away, Illion is forced to confront his prejudices and his brethren in order to save her from a fate worse than death.

Warnings: MMMFF, MMFMMM, light bondage, dominant dragon shifters

BookCover_DragonKisses2Dragon Kisses #2 (Arabella and Jonathan)

Waking with no memory, Arabella finds herself courted by three men claiming to be her mates. Dragon shifters Tobin, Gerrit, and Blakely woo her with sweet words and deeds, convincing her that she’s always lived this fairy tale existence. Life is perfect until the Inamanida King decides the experiment has gone on long enough—and Tobin is ordered to turn Arabella over to be tortured and used by the entire clan.

Meanwhile Jonathan is working to help settle the humans in Zmaj’s outer city. As the son of a prominent human leader, finds himself thrust into a leadership role and having to liaise with creatures he was raised to fear. Soon he falls for Laurel, a beautiful woman recently arrived from Earth, but as secrets emerge, he faces a stark truth that could cost him everything.

Tobin and Jonathan must risk everything and deal with consequences that could cost them the fragile relationships they’ve built with the women they love.

Warnings: MFMM, MF

BookCover_DragonKisses3Dragon Kisses #3 (Laurel, Niall, Jonathan)

In the months following Jonathan’s transformation, Laurel struggles to come to terms with her feelings for him and the horrific memories of time spent as a dragon’s slave. Jonathan struggles to be patient, but Laurel’s fear is breaking his heart. Niall and Cassie open a popular bakery and revel in the bliss of love and their new lives. Arabella pines for Tobin’s aspects to be reunited, and Nora discovers the secret of creating Zmaj offspring.

Meanwhile all Zmaj braces for the Inamanida attack that Tobin warned them about. When it finally comes, the Zmaj find themselves vastly outnumbered by enemy forces. In the violence that follows, everything changes.

Enjoy an excerpt from Dragon Kisses 1:

Dragon Kisses #1 (Cassie and Niall)

Excerpt 1:

“Cassie.” The deep voice calling my name belonged to the dragon man standing next to the one who had watched over us. “Come.”

Was it wrong that his commanding tone had me close to coming? Nora’s assurance came from, I knew, deep inside my psyche. After all, in a dream all the characters were aspects of myself. Niall was my caution, and Nora was my sense of adventure. I pried myself from Niall’s hold. “We’ll be fine.”

Even facing the weirdest situation and the worst odds, I was an optimist. Before Niall could process what I was doing, I left the safety of the group. Taking those first steps toward a new life was easy when I knew I’d soon wake up in the safety and comfort of my bed, and I figured nothing was to be gained by huddling against a barn. Plus, this would make one hell of a diary entry when I woke up, and it would help keep my mind off Chad, the jerkweasel who’d dumped me yesterday.

Laurel and Oliver followed me. Both of them seemed to be dazed and confused. The blue-haired men morphed into a dragon, and we climbed onto its back. The three of us fit easily. I sat forward of the wings. Oliver situated himself behind me, and Laurel wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Hold onto the scales,” Nora shouted.

I slid my hands around the edges of two blue scales. Each was a large as a dinner plate, but they had ridges on the top which were perfect for holding. One leap, and it took off.

Flying on the back of a dragon was unlike anything I’d experienced. My tummy fluttered from the quick ascent—or from that niggling bit of sense that told me I wasn’t playing it safe, and wind whipped through my hair. I had the feeling the dragon was flying slower than normal, and I appreciated his restraint. Any faster, and I might have freaked out.

Or not. Who could be afraid of heights or strangers in such a wonderful fantasy?

About the Author:I’m Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. During the day, I teach English, and in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips.

I’m not half as interesting as my characters. My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day. I’m pretty impulsive when it comes to big decisions, especially when it’s something I’ve never done before. Writing is just one in a long line of impulsive decisions that turned out to showcase my great instincts. Find out more at www.michelezurloauthor.com or @MZurloAuthor.

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Kiss Me Goodnight’s Songs by Michele Zurlo – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michele will be awarding an autographed paperback of Kiss Me Goodnight and choice of T-shirt or travel mug to one randomly drawn Rafflecopter winner (US only). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Kiss Me Goodnight’s Songs

The novel Kiss Me Goodnight contains original lyrics. My beta readers raved about them, and then the editing team at Omnific had similar feedback, which gave me definite warm fuzzies. Since KMG is written entirely from Lacey’s point of view—and she’s often clueless as to what’s going on with Dylan—the songs serve to give us insight into what Dylan is thinking and feeling.

I’m not a natural songwriter. I don’t have an ear for melody, and I’m told that I dance like I sing—off key and to multiple beats—none of which exist in the song that’s playing. I approached this task with more than a little trepidation. In order to do what I wanted with KMG, I had to overcome my mental roadblock when it comes to poetry writing. I did this while watching my daughter take her first serious dive classes, that way if I grew tired of one kind of stress, I had the other kind waiting right in front of me.

Some of the songs came from nowhere. The title song, “Kiss Me Goodnight,” was like that. I just sat down and wrote it. The words flowed right out of my fingertips. “Six” happened similarly. I couldn’t tell you what the melody could possibly be.

But that wasn’t the case with the majority of the songs. I found that I could keep a rhythm in my head if one was coming through my headphones. This was challenging because it took about a half hour to write each song/stanza, and I was at the mercy of my randomizer. While the songs don’t entirely go with any one song, you can sing a couple of them (sort of) to other songs you might know. The beat for “Wrong Name” sounds a lot like Sublime’s “Wrong Way,” at least for the first two lines. It might have switched to something by The Killers or Sarah McLachlan after a bit because I only hear Sublime when they come on the radio in the car. When writing “You Wish He Was Me,” I had “Forrest Whitaker” by Bad Books stuck in my head. I’m pretty sure that playlist had The Airborne Toxic Event and Blue October somewhere in there, and possibly some Tegan and Sara. “Avalanche” was written while listening to Blue October’s Consent to Treatment album. This post was written to AFI’s Burials album.

As you encounter the songs, I hope you’ll hear them to whatever tune you like best.

How have you adapted to deal with a challenge?

5_28 Cover_Kiss Me GoodnightI’m Lacey Hallem, and I have a few secrets. These aren’t them: I wash my hands a lot and lie when I’m stressed. Also, I have horrible taste in men. That’s how I knew Dylan was trouble the first time I saw him…

Life can be challenging for Lacey, especially when things don’t come in sets of six, but she’s smart and funny and able to keep her demons at bay—most of the time. She might have sensed trouble when she set eyes on Dylan, a delectable musician in a vintage T-shirt, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking about him, or spending more and more time in his company.

Enter Thomas. Wealthy, handsome, and completely adoring of Lacey (flaws and all), he’s everything a man should be. So why can’t she convince her heart to fall in love?

About the Author: 5_28 kiss me AuthorPicI’m Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. During the day, I teach English, and in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips.

I’m not half as interesting as my characters. My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day. I’m pretty impulsive when it comes to big decisions, especially when it’s something I’ve never done before. Writing is just one in a long line of impulsive decisions that turned out to showcase my great instincts. Find out more at www.michelezurloauthor.com or @MZurloAuthor. Check out her books at her Amazon or Barnes and Noble author pages.

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Fun Facts About HANGING ON 2: SURREAL NEAL by Michele Zurlo –Guest Blog and Giveaway

Fun Facts about Hanging On 2: Surreal Neal

1. I took the title from a friend’s fake Neil Diamond cover band. (Funny story there: I was at work talking to another teacher. She commented on the fact that she hadn’t known our friend was a Neil Diamond fan. I said we both were huge fans–I’d skipped classes in college to score concert tickets, and he was in a Neil Diamond cover band. Later my friend came by laughing, said he’d corroborated my story by telling her the band was called Surreal Neil. The other teacher still doesn’t know it wasn’t true.)

2. Neal created himself. I originally had him there as a temporary fling character, but he turned out to be so much more.

3. The scene where Neal meets someone from his past and comes to terms with it was inserted when my beta readers demanded the topic be addressed. They really gave great advice.

4. Hanging On was originally written in 1st person, and I liked it a lot better that way. When I get the rights back, I’ll probably rewrite it back into 1st person before I re-release it. Surreal Neal only worked when I wrote in 1st person. When I submitted Surreal Neal to Siren, I put a note on it that said I wasn’t willing to change it to 3rd person, and that I’d understand if they didn’t want to publish it. They wanted it anyway.

5. The epilogue overlaps with the timeline where the Two Masters for Samantha sequel begins. I have the draft for that finished, and I’ll be working on revisions for it as time permits. I have some other irons in the fire that might interfere with that being my next release. At this point, everything’s up in the air.

6. While Sophia is loosely based on somebody I know, and Drew is an amalgam of Food Network chefs, Neal is completely my creation. Except his name–that came up in a Yahoo search. I didn’t read the article, but I liked the name, so I used it. I don’t remember what I was searching for…

7. I finally reached a point where I had to create a notebook to hold information on Awakenings characters. I officially have too many characters to keep in my head. It was getting a little crowded in there. (Surreal Neal is book #20 for me, but I’ve written 21, 22, and 23, and I’m working on 24.)

About the Author:9_11 author photo My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day. Alas, that dream faded when I got a social life. Years later, I happened upon a free laptop that didn’t come with games of any kind, which I figured was a good thing because I didn’t have that much free time to throw down the Minesweeper Black Hole. Staring at the brand-new computer, I thought it would be a shame if it went to waste, so I decided to write a novel. Once I started writing, steamy, sensual stories poured from my fingertips, and now I just can’t stop using that laptop. I hope you enjoy reading these tales as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Website: www.MicheleZurlo.com
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormichelezurlo

9_11 mz-a-surrealnealSophia and Drew Snow have everything they could possibly want–wealth, property, and true love. So why do they keep inviting thirds into their bedroom? It’s the only way for Sophia to spend time with a submissive and for Drew to scratch his itch for having a man in his bed.

Neal Purcell isn’t looking to tie himself down to anybody again, especially those with money to throw around and a dominant streak. He’s been hurt badly, and now he only wants to focus on his career as an up-and-coming chef.

When Sophia and Drew hire Neal to work at Sensual Secrets, they have a hard time keeping their thoughts on business. Neal figures he’s safe from emotional entanglement with a married couple, so he proposes a casual fling. Can the three of them overcome the obstacles to find happiness together?

If you could do one thing to spice up your love life, what would it be? One lucky commenter will win an eBook copy of Surreal Neal.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Michele Zurlo

Happy Holidays, Whipped Cream readers! During the holidays, people make a lot of big gestures. They donate a larger sum of money. They give more food for the local drive. They purchase the higher-end items for family and friends. I certainly enjoy the looks of pleasure and surprise on the faces of my loved ones when they open that gift they really wanted. At work, I challenge my students to donate food, toiletries, and pet food to our local community sharing center. All items are redistributed locally, which means the impact is greater. I’ve encouraged my teams of 130 kids to donate as many as 4500 items in a two-week drive. The past few years, with the tough economic climate in Michigan, and particularly in my community, I’ve set the bar at 1200. As I write this, we’re halfway through the drive and almost halfway to our goal.

Local community resource centers operate year-round. Having spent more than a few of my formative years living in poverty, I know that you can run out of shampoo and laundry detergent in the summer just as easily in the winter. When my parents didn’t have the money to buy those things, we used dish soap — usually Palmolive — until payday. I’ve washed my hair and my clothes with it, and sometimes I even got to take a Palmolive bubble bath. Those were special occasions. I didn’t know we were poor. My mom made sure I ate, even if she had to send me to the neighbor’s house as a breakfast/lunch/dinner guest. My neighbors never once made me feel like a charity case. Until I was older, I didn’t even understand that I wasn’t a beloved guest. It was the little things that mattered. They’d send their kid to our house to ‘beg’ for me to come over to eat with them. Our other neighbors had a special plate just for me. (Plastic. They didn’t have kids, and they didn’t want to chance me breaking their plates. Still, they introduced me to all kinds of tasty Polish food.)

I’ve made a point to highlight the importance of giving in some of my books. I drop references to it every now and again. In Letting Go, Sabrina argued that she could pay off Jonas’s debts, citing the fact that she gave more money to charity each year. In By My Side, due out in January 3, 2012, the whole plot revolves around a charity event to benefit leukemia research. In Re/Bound, due out spring 2012, my heroine, Darcy, works as a grant writer who, among other things, sets up a charitable arm for a growing corporation so they can more easily give to people in need.

I’ve had some excellent role models when it comes to teaching generosity. Not only do I have a few good neighbors to thank, I had a wonderful role model in my Aunt Laurie who worked tirelessly in big cities around the country (Minneapolis, Washington DC, Detroit) to enrich the lives of everyone who needed a helping, nonjudgmental hand. She’s been associated with several foundations, most notably the United Way. She developed early childhood and community outreach programs. She helped fund places for inner city kids to go after school that would provide physical exercise and academic support opportunities. Sadly, she lost her battle with breast cancer last February, but her legacy lives on.

I’m a teacher and the provider in a one-income household. I don’t have a big house or new cars. We don’t vacation every year. I’m not always in a position to give, but I like to do it whenever I can. In my house, we clean out our gently used clothes seasonally to donate. My kids and I make a big deal out of going through it all, tossing out the the things that are stained or that have rips, making sure all the outfits, especially pajamas, are matched up. Giving fills a place inside like nothing else. It’s like a whole bucket of warm fuzzies that we get all at once. Last time my daughters and I unloaded our car to take things into the Community Sharing building, my eight-year-old daughter looked up at me and said, “It makes me feel good inside to give.” Her twin sister smiled and said, “Yeah, I like it too.”

My heart swelled up with the poignancy of what I taught my children. Take some time this holiday season to reflect on ways you can carry the spirit of community and generosity with you throughout the year. What is your favorite act of generosity you do/plan to do this year? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a pdf copy of your choice of Safe Word: Oasis #1 Yes, Justin or Safe Word: Oasis #2 By My Side. Check out these books (and more!) on my website at www.michelezurlo.com.

Thanks and have a great 2012!