Thursday, October 6, 2011

For the next two days, author Jane Toombs will be here as our guest. Please welcome her to Ramsey's Reviews. Thank you Jane for being able to take the time to answer some Halloween questions for us. Congrats on your releases, too.

Tell us your latest news. Do you have any current projects your working on?
I have the first two books of Dangerous Darkness out from Red Rose Publishing and am working on the third, Terror From Before. When I have that finished , I'm taking a long out-of-print historical saga and dividing it up into either four or five novellas for Books We Love Publishing Partners to put on Kindle for me. They do the covers, but I have to format them and make sure there are no typos. They had been professionally edited once long ago. I have no desire to involve myself with trying to put them on Kindle myself as I am about as far from being a techie as can be imagined and am happy to pay BWLPP the small royalty fee they take. At the same time I'm doing this, I will be starting the third book for my Underworld Series, Uncanny, for Eternal Press. My most recent release from Devine Destines is The Turquoise Dragon, my first attempt at a YA and is paranormal suspense romance (on Kindle).

When and Why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was either six or seven, because I wanted to learn to use my father's big old L.C. typewriter. He'd told me he'd teach me when I could read and write well, but when he did, I'd have to write him a story on the typewriter. So I wrote a one-page story (elite type) about how he found and brought home to me my first kitten. He read my effort and told me it was good, letting me bask in that praise for a bit before he pointed out several ways I could improve my story. I rewrote it with the changes and even at that age I could see it was better, And so he became my first critiquer, never failing to say something positive before suggesting ways to make it better.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I'm sort of like a major airport with ideas circling like planes, waiting for me to let them land and turn into a story. I don't ever remember not having a new idea for a story, even if I didn't use it.

What do you think makes a good horror story?
I've actually only written one true horror story, Hugger Doll, from Double Dragon Publishing (on Kindle now). But some of my other books contain horror elements. One of my two stories in Whiskey Shots Vol. 9 from Whiskey Creek Press is "Blood Calls to Blood," which is a true horror story. (Also on Kindle.) And BWLPP put together a number of my dark short stories and poems in Ten Past Midnight, (Kindle) so I guess I do like to write dark. Except the green ghoul story in that book actually ends happily.
For me, a good horror story is one that really scares me but doesn't disgust me or overwhelm me with gore. By their nature, good pure horror stories never really end happily.

What is your favorite scary movie or book?
For me, nothing ever beat the first Frankenstein movie with Boris Karloff or the first Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi, perhaps because I was young at the time. Dracula as a book holds up, but for  me, Frankenstein didn't. Much of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry is wonderfully scary and I also read that early. Both H.P. Lovecraft and Abraham Merritt were masters of horror and I devoured everything they every wrote, liking some better than other. Much of Merritt's was also paranormal fantasy, as well and he did tend to have more happy endings.

What makes you interested in the genre you write?
Since I'm writing mostly paranormal suspense romance these days you can tell that my love of paranormal and my liking for happy endings plays a part here.

When you were a child, what creature or story scared you the most? And did it propel your creative muse to write about it later?
I really wasn't afraid of any real animal, even though I lived in a village surrounded by woods. Yes , there were bears in those woods, but I never carried any food with me, which is generally what attracts bears. No other animal was likely to do me harm as log as I avoided porcupines and skunks. Wolves didn't come back into Michigan until long after I left town and coyotes stayed out west at that time. We had no poisonous snakes. Still don't in the Upper Peninsula. So any scary creature I feared was in a book and was imaginary. But, yes, H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu scared me, perhaps because he is a highly intelligent monster.  Which is maybe why most of my scary creatures are paranormal.

Do you remember ever coming up with anything so wild that you scared yourself, leaving you to wonder where that came from?
I've come up with some wild things, and, yes, some were scary, but no creature I ever conjured up truly scared me. I read scary books as a child  because my parents allowed me to read anything I wanted to, and got scared reading them, but not afterward. I haven’t a clue where my monsters come from.  

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory description and/or erotic content?
I can't write erotica. Whether it's because I'm a nurse and can't bring myself to use slang terms for body parts or because it's not my favorite thing to read, I don't know. I can write sensual scenes with no trouble, so sensual sometimes that occasionally one of my books will be labeled erotica. But I generally read and write only m/f. As for gory, nurses see a lot of blood, so that's not a problem. but I generally don't go into great detail on horrific scenes.

Could you share some of your blurbs or excerpts with us?
Dangerous Darkness Series
Book I Shadow On The Floor

As a former secret op turned lawyer, Dev is suspicious of the reason Natalie has fro coming to work for his elderly uncle as a companion. Is she hiding from something or someone? And why can she see the shadow on the floor in his uncle's den and avoid stepping on it when no one but family has ever noticed it?

Natalie made a polite acknowledgement of the introduction, gazing at the tall auburn-haired late thirties or so man standing by the windows.  His jeans and sweatshirt showed an athlete’s body, but seemed surprisingly casual for a lawyer type. Maybe he didn’t work on Wednesdays. Since he wasn’t seated, she remained standing. Always better to face the opposition eye to eye.

Dev assessed her.  At least thirty, brown hair and eyes, slim, her loose shirt and baggy pants hiding any curves she might have.  Pale lipstick, no other makeup, hair pulled back in a ponytail. Even then attractive, though it seemed obvious she’d done all she could to play it down.  Why? One to keep an eye on.
He walked over to her, avoiding the shadow by long habit, and held out his hand. When she responded he clasped hers firmly and got the shock of his life.  She broke the contact so fast he knew she’d felt the same jolt of—what was it?  Some kind of recognition? Yet he knew he’d never seen Natalie West before.
“Please sit down,” he managed to say. When she did, he took a chair himself. Forget what just happened. Stick to business.
“I understand my uncle has hired you as what he calls his house assistant.”
“Yes. I told Charles I could do no personal care, since I had no nursing experience. I will cook and take care of the house, as well as helping him in other than personal areas.”
“Are you from around here?”
 “Not until lately.”  
 “Stop being suspicious, Dev. In case you didn’t notice, she didn’t step on the shadow.”
Dev glanced at his uncle, then at the body-shaped shadow on the floor that had been there ever since he could remember, even though there was nothing in the room to cast a shadow like that.  He’d never stepped on it either. Nor did Charles. Most others never seemed to even notice it.  But then, no one, not even his uncle, had ever detected the faint tinge of evil the old place exuded, only Dev. He’d never found anything to account for it.
“So you can see she’s the right person for this house,” his uncle insisted.    
“You’re not bothered by living in this creaky old place?” Dev asked her.
“Not at all.”
Natalie might or might not work out, but he could tell his uncle was set on her, and she wasn’t nervous about the house. It’d taken him months to get the old man to agree to hire anyone, and she was the first of the few applicants they’d had that Uncle Charles approved of.  Hiding her looks was no crime, and he couldn’t see anything else to object to. Amazingly, she’d seen the shadow and walked around it. As for the evil, his uncle had never been harmed by whatever it might be, so she was probably safe enough.
“I’m pleased my uncle’s found a house assistant,” he told her. “I hope this works out for both of you.”
His agency training had taught him to identify reactions. Though her facial expression didn’t change, he caught her slight relaxation. For some reason she badly needed this job. In an area she wasn’t from, in an isolated house. Gotcha!  She’s hiding out. No telling what from, but he’d damn well do his best to find out.  And he sure as hell didn’t mean to act on whatever had connected them for that electric moment.
Book II Watcher At The Door Blurb: Sarah came home to take care of her young brother after their home was destroyed in an arsonist's fire that killed their parents. They’re temporarily living in a summer cabin in the woods. The last person she expects to see is Mal, her once lover. Worse, she has the feeling she and her brother are being secretly watched. But is the watcher human or an animal?

Excerpt: Sarah Volek stopped on the deer trail feeling watched. Her twelve-year-old brother, Ivor, had complained of the same thing a couple of days ago.   She glanced around. The pines were tall to the right, their shade discouraging undergrowth. To the left, grew young maples mixed with birch and ash, plus lots of bushes, all with new green leaves of mid-June. Which hid human or animal from view. She shrugged and hiked on toward the cabin she shared with Ivor. Probably what she felt watching was a deer or other wild animal wary of humans.
     She’d always loved the woods. Under any other circumstances, she’d be happy to be back home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness. Three weeks ago, the house in town where she’d grown up had burned to ground, killing both her parents. If Ivor hadn’t been away at a Boy Scout overnight camp-out, he’d have died as well. A lump rose in her throat as she remembered his tearstained face and the lost look in his eyes when she’d arrived from downstate and picked him up from his friend’s house. Worst of all, the sheriff suspected arson.
     Just as she reached the cabin door, she heard Ivor call her name. He burst into view, waving papers. “I got the go-ahead for my project on fishers. And guess who’ll be helping me?”
     “I can’t imagine,” she said as she let herself in, Ivor at her heels.. “I can’t imagine. One of your teachers, I suppose.”
     “Nah. Come on, guess. You know him.” Ivor stopped beside her, showing her the okay from the school superintendent.
     “Hey, guy, you forget I haven’t lived in Ojibway for going on eight years now. Tell me who.”
     “The DNR district officer, Mr. Martin. He said he knew you in college.”
     “Mal Martin?” Good grief, she’d figured if she never saw him again it’d be too soon. “He’s the Department of Natural Resources officer here?”
     “Yeah. Lucky for me.”
     Not so lucky for her. If Mal was going to help Ivor with his project, though, she’d have to be polite.
     “Mr. Martin thinks it’s a great project and says his department will be interested in looking at it when I finish.” Ivor grinned. “That oughta impress my teacher when she grades me on it.”
     “Sounds like it.”
     “So it’s okay with you if Mr. Martin comes by the cabin sometimes?”
     There was no way she could refuse. “Of course.” After all, they were no longer college kids. No big deal. The past was just that. She’d moved on and he certainly must have as well. After all, it’d been a long time ago--going on ten years.
     He hadn’t been the best looking guy she’d ever seen, but he’d sure been the hottest. She’d never forgotten the night they’d… No! she wasn’t going there. Over was over.
     “What’s for supper?” Ivor asked as they entered the cabin.
     “Macaroni and cheese. Brownies for dessert.”
     “All right! Mr. Martin said he might drop by after he got off work, So maybe you could ask him to eat with us if he’s early. If he isn’t, he still can have some brownies.”
     Great. Ivor was working up to an acute case of hero worship, and she didn’t dare do a damn thing about it. Sarah knew she could never fill Mom’s shoes, but Ivor did have her to look after him. As she recalled Mal, he was about as far from the ideal father figure as she could imagine. But he was a man, and Ivor needed one around right now.
     But she didn’t. She glanced down at her grungy jeans and faded sweatshirt. No, she was not going to change on the chance Mal might drop in. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and needed washing. She wore no makeup. So what?
     As she fixed the meal, Ivor hung out in the cabin’s tiny kitchen area. “You know what he said about fishers?”
     Meaning Mal, of course. “What?”
     “Take a weasel, cross him with a wolverine, that’s a fisher.”
     “Sounds like a pretty mean animal.”
     Ivor grinned. “Yeah.”
     In college Mal had been mean and lean himself, showing off on his hog, usually with some gal hanging onto him. Even Sarah Volek. Scared the hell out of her, but exciting, too. Like he’d been.
     Ivor had just finished setting the table for them when someone knocked at the door.
     “It’s him!” Ivor dashed to open it.
     Sarah didn’t look up as she set the salad on the table, already annoyed at herself because she’d weakened and put on lip gloss. But when Ivor brought Mal over to her, she had to face him.
     “Sarah. Been a long time.” His voice was the same, deep and sexy. He held out a hand. Good manners made her respond, but she broke the contact as quickly as possible. “Yes, hasn’t it?” she said, noting the tartness in her voice. Damn. She’d tried for neutral.
     He looked surprisingly neat in his DNR uniform. Not like a different man exactly, but it took away from the bad boy image of him in her mind. His brown hair was still curly, but tamed and short. Eyes the same startling blue, though the devil-may-care glint was missing. Conscious she’d stared at him far too long, she looked back at the stove.
     “Sarah says you can stay for supper,” Ivor said. “It’s macaroni and cheese. With brownies for dessert.”
     “Sounds good to me. Thanks for inviting me, Sarah.”
     She hadn’t, Ivor had.
     To her relief, her brother took charge of the conversation at the table, firing questions at Mal that kept the topic fixed on fishers. They were finishing dessert when the phone rang. Ivor jumped up to answer, muttering into the phone as he carried it off to his bedroom.
     She rose to carry the dirty dishes to the sink. Before she could reach for Mal’s plate, he was on his feet, plate and utensils in hand. He set them on the counter by the sink. “You wash, I’ll wipe,” he said.
     “Wiping is Ivor’s job.”
     “It’ll be my thanks for a great supper.“
     No way to refuse without being ungracious. But the kitchen was so small, the enforced intimacy unsettled her. No way did she want him to touch her.
     Sarah groped for something to say. “I felt like I was being watched when I walked in the woods today,” was all she came up with. “Ivor’s mentioned the same thing. But I figure it’s maybe a deer or other animal. “
     “Likely to be. We did have a rogue bear in the area, but I haven’t spotted him anywhere close lately. Not that he’s dangerous to humans who aren’t carrying food. But awhile back he killed a calf at a farm a mile up the road from here. I’ll keep an eye out.”
     Great. Now she’d given him a reason to hang around the cabin.
     “Sorry about your parents,” he said.
     She nodded, not wanting to get into what happened.
     “Sorry about us, too. More sorry than you’ll ever believe.”
     “You got that right.” The moment the words were out she regretted them.
     “You’re not into bygones?”
     Saying no meant the past meant more to her than it really had. “You’re welcome in the cabin any time to help Ivor. I do appreciate you helping him. But I’m off limits.”
     He grinned at her, that same old rakish grin that used to make her heart pound. And still could. Ignoring her speeded pulse, she frowned.
     He dried the last pan and slid it into the lower cupboard she indicated.        “Thanks again for a real home cooked meal.” Ivor reappeared and he turned toward him. “You about ready, partner?”
      Sarah retreated to the bedroom while the two of them co-opted the table to lay out papers. So she was a coward. Safer to be. Despite turning on her CD player to listen to her current favorite, The Ghoul Dogs, she was all too conscious of the man on the other side of that closed door. Neither could she get involved in any of the books stacked on her dresser.
     Instead, she stood, hugging herself, looking out the window into the dusk. Dad had kept the trees cleared around the cabin, but the woods pretty much surrounded the cabin, except for the front, which faced onto a dirt road. The place was fine for the summer and even into the fall, but there was no way she and Ivor could winter here.
     Sarah well knew she should be making plans for their future. Instead her mind persisted in wandering back to those college days. Mal had been three years ahead of her at Michigan State. Thank heaven she’d never had another episode as violent as the one at the party celebrating his graduation. They’d all had a bit too much to drink, but, damn it, even if the guys were cheering him on, he shouldn’t’ve made such an effort to seek out every girl in his class and kiss her, some far too passionately.
     She never was at her best during her time of the month, but the vodka had taken care of her jitters. Unfortunately, it also quashed all her inhibitions. She shuddered to think of the exhibition she’d made of herself. Not that she remembered it clearly, but her so-called friends made sure to dump every detail on her the next day.
     “You went weird crazy, showing your teeth and snarling, “Mine! Mine!”
     “You landed on the poor guy’s back like a cat with all its claws out.”
     Worst of all, she remembered Mal’s comment as he hauled her out of the place. “You’re acting like some wild animal. What the devil got into you?”
She snapped that she never wanted to see him again. He’d left the next day without saying goodbye to her.
     The back of her neck suddenly began to prickle, jerking her back to here and now. Nothing moved outside her window, no animal or person was visible in the gathering darkness, yet she knew absolutely that something out there watched her.
Something dangerous.

Where can your fans go to find more information about you and your books?
My web site at  Or , click on authors, then my name and my pages will pop up. JOTQ is a closed group of twelve authors who promote each other. Also we do a lot of giveaways, so check us out.

Is there anything else additional you would like to share with your readers?
I do like to hear from readers.  If you care to email me it’s jtoombs( at) jamadots (dot) com and I‘ll certainly answer, Furthermore, If you don’t mind sharing your snailmail address with me I’ll be happy to send you a read-only CD with excerpts from all my recent books and their cover on it.


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