Today, I welcome NYT and USA Today Bestseller Anita Clenney! Anita's celebrating the release of her second book in the Highland Warrior series, Embrace The Highland Warrior. And we have a giveaway of a copy of the book and 5 custom handmade bookmarks. Simply comment to enter!
Anita, tell us about your upcoming release.
Here’s a blurb:
Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…
But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…
Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the emotion between Cody and Shay, the powerful connection they shared, and I love watching them try to reconnect now. They’ve changed so much, but the elements of their past are still there. I also love having all the warriors from Awaken helping them out. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it gives a feel good element.
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
A terrible betrayal, and secrets that will make your heart ache.
Why did you put these two together?
These two just seemed so natural. They belonged together, then all the secrets got in the way and messed up a good thing.
What is your strategy in creating villains?
I love my villains, one of them in particular. In fact, he’s so great I want to make him a hero. It’s either that or go back and do a prequel. His backstory is just wonderful. I don’t know how I come up with them. I can’t explain it. They’re just there. And I have so many of them. I love it.
What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Love scenes. I’m never sure how far I want to go.
Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
This second book was the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was originally a romantic suspense. I started writing the first book in this series, what is now Awaken, about six months later. When my agent saw Awaken, she said this is the one. She was right. She always is. I knew this had to be a series, and I realized that the first manuscript was the perfect second book of the series. So the first became second and the second became first.
What do you love most about this book/series?
I love this series. The warriors have become like family members to me. I love hidden treasure and secret things, old keys and graveyards and all those eerie things. They’re all in here. And I absolutely love that connection between a woman and a man that defies the universe to stop it.
Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are some underlying messages. Evil doesn’t come up and say, “Hello, I’m evil.” But mostly, when readers pick up my books, I want them to laugh, cry, gasp, maybe even scream.
Does your novel have a theme? How did that come about?
I’m rotten at figuring out themes. It’s about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil, and Destined Love. The series started with a dream and a very vivid imagination.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose…Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Amelia Peabody series.
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think the stories I loved influenced me. I read, I felt, and I wanted to do it myself.
How does your family view your writing career?
They’re very supportive and proud of me. My husband is waiting for me to get rich and buy him a ranch.
What entity do you feel supports you most in your writing career outside of family members?
My critique partner, Dana Rodgers is amazing. She’s such a help to me.
How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Mostly email. It’s so great getting emails. That was something I wasn’t quite prepared for. What a thrill.
What is in your TBR pile?
I get a headache just thinking about it.
What would you like to tell readers?
Please buy my book…oh, you were serious. I adore this series, and I hope you do too. There are so many wonderful writers out there, that I cherish every reader who spends their hard earned money and time on me.
Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
If motherhood counts, I have two! I spend a lot of time with my hubby and kids, but I do write full time.
What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was staying home with the kids for a few years, but prior to that I worked in real estate, and I was an administrative assistant. I’ve also booked shows and traveled with Aztec Dancers.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good storytelling, really nailing down the characters and the emotion.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?
The importance of writing faster.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formulas. I get an idea (this series started with a dream) then I mull it over and as the story unfolds in my head I make lots of notes, and then I start writing. I usually have a synopsis before I start actually writing the story.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Only an imagination and some method of getting it down. Typewriter, computer, notepad.
How would you best describe your books?
Mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, adventurous, sprinkled with humor. I love blending genres.
What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
I love this series, and I also love mysteries. I’m working on two mystery series now.
What do you most like about writing? Least like?
I love brainstorming, creating the plot twists for a story. Least like…promotion. I adore meeting readers, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m pushing my books.
Which is your favorite of the books you have written? Awaken is the story of my heart, but I also love Embrace. I don’t know. That’s sort of like asking which child you like better.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
It’s been amazing to see my book on the shelf.
What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
I find it hard to write if I’m not motivated.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Other than spending time with my family, I’m usually on some kind of obsessive kick. It might be collecting candle holders or mirrors. I can devote an unhealthy amount of time to those things.
What are your current projects?
This series, a paranormal romantic mystery series, and a cozy mystery series.
Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
I can smell a TJ Maxx from a mile away. I’m like a TJ Maxx bloodhound.
Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I have a lot of the same characteristics, but now they’re molded in different ways.
Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Depends on the day, usually half full.
Favorite Midnight Snack?
Whatever is the quickest.
Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introvert who loves people.
Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
I like both, but I probably lean toward long.
Ever Hit A Jackpot On A Slot Machine?
No. I’ve never been gambling. I spend all my time and money at TJ Maxx.
Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Do you prefer your mattress soft or hard?
How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Do you believe in snipes?
Only if they’re named Wesley.
Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?
What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Pepsi or Coke.
Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Do You Have Any Phobias Or Fears?
Goofy ones. I don’t fear the real things that I should be afraid of.
Are you a night or a morning person?
At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?
I’ll dig in the sand for lost jewelry. Did I mention I love jewelry?
Do You Have A Recurring Dream? What Happens In It?
I do have recurring dreams, a few of them. It would take far too long to explain them since I don’t fully understand them.
Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Promptly 5 minutes late.
Where can we find you online?
Some places Embrace can be purchased:
Barnes and Noble
We’ll leave you with an excerpt from Embrace:
Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”
Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.
She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.
“Get off me, you oaf.”
“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”
She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.
“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”
“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”
“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.
Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.
While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.
“Where are you going?” he demanded.
“Get away from me.”
“You can’t leave.”
“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”
“I explained it to you.”
“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.
“You’re not leaving.”
Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”
He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.
“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.
She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”
“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.
“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.
She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”
“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”
“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”