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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ivar’s Prize by Amy Pennza - Book Blitz - Guest Post - Interview - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Amy Pennza and her new book, “Ivar’s Prize”!

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!!  See below for more details.  Also, come back daily to interact with Amy and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

Ivar’s Prize
Amy Pennza
Publication date: July 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Nadia Green has everything–power, prestige, and a fiancé. That all ends when she’s sentenced to life on the prison planet Tolbos. Within hours of landing, Nadia finds herself captured, stripped, and placed on an auction block, where she’s purchased by Ivar Holok, a brutal warlord with golden eyes and an ability to wield kaptum with a mastery unlike anyone she’s ever seen. 
Ivar is instantly attracted to the beautiful slave, but he suspects her presence on Tolbos has sinister implications. The Council wants him dead, and what better way to achieve its goal than by planting an irresistible assassin in his bed? No matter how much he wants to trust her, Ivar has to protect his people–even if it means denying Nadia her freedom. He vows to keep her enslaved and at his mercy until she confesses her involvement in the Council’s schemes, but he didn’t count on the slave enthralling her master. 


Ivar Holok watched the auction from the edge of the crowd. All around him, men cheered and laughed as the woman on the platform twisted and fought to free herself from the manacles.

Ivar could have told her that was pointless. He knew they were reinforced with kaptum. Dario might look like he was short on brains, but he was a savvy businessman. He took no chances with his merchandise.

And this female was a prime specimen. Taller than average, she had long, lithe legs that flared into gently curving hips. Her full breasts were proud and high, her small nipples a becoming rose color. His cocked twitched as he watched her breasts bounce with her movements.

Dario faced the crowd as he rattled off the woman’s attributes. An appreciative murmur ran through the assembled men when she aimed a kick at his ass, her booted foot nearly connecting with her target. She threw her head back and screamed.

Ivar winced. Healthy lungs.

“Better watch out, Dario!” a man near the front called. “If looks could kill, you’d be a dead man already!”

The merchant gestured to Axos, who grabbed her legs and jerked off her boots and socks. He sailed the boots one by one into the crowd, followed by the pants that had puddled around her ankles. One man brandished them in the air like a trophy.

Now fully divested of her clothing, the woman gazed across the crowd, her eyes searching and desperate. Her long red hair had fallen over her shoulder in her struggle with Axos, and one dusky pink nipple peeked through the bright strands. The sleek muscles of her legs flexed continuously as she struggled to remain on her toes. Even after such a short time on the pole, Ivar knew her arms had to be on fire from bearing almost her full body weight.

Dario sidled up to her and swept her hair away from her breasts. “As you can see, gentlemen, this one is hot as flame!” He moved his hand to her flat belly, then slid it lower and cupped her bare sex. “As to whether she’s a natural redhead, you’ll just have to take my word for it!”

The woman jerked away from his touch, giving the men a look at her shapely ass as she twisted sideways. Her chest was a mottled red, and her breasts heaved as though she’d just run a long distance. Ivar discreetly adjusted himself.

He looked out over the crowd, which had swelled with the nude woman displayed on the platform. She raised up higher on her toes, her small, delicate features twisted in obvious pain. Dario attempted to pry her lips apart to show the men her teeth. She snapped at his hand, and he danced back. The crowd guffawed.

Ivar narrowed his gaze. She didn’t lack for courage. Most women would be weeping and begging for mercy by now. Most men too. But she kept her head high as she looked over the leering, boisterous crowd.

Her gaze connected with Ivar’s, and it was like a punch in the gut. He sucked in a breath. It was impossible to see her eyes clearly from where he stood, but he couldn’t look away. It was as though she held him captive with her stare. He crossed his arms over his chest and glowered at her, then watched, astonished, as her chin rose a notch higher.

“It’s a shame such beauty fell into Dario’s hands,” Porter said next to him, ending the unsettling moment. “He’ll sell her to the highest bidder without a second thought.”

Ivar looked at his second-in-command and grunted. “That’s the way auctions generally work.”

Porter gestured with his chin toward the other side of the crowd. “Not this one. Not with him here.”

Ivar followed the direction of his gaze. A small group of men strode to the edge of the crowd and began shoving their way to the platform. Their leader punched a man in the back of the head, making him crumple to the ground and then kicked him out of the way and kept moving. The crowd immediately parted. The leader swaggered toward the platform, his long black hair loose over his shoulders.

Dario’s face split in a broad smile that didn’t fool Ivar. The fat little merchant made his way down the steps, moving quickly despite his girth. “Raddoc! We are honored by your presence!” He bowed, his nose almost touching his knees.

Behind him, the woman stilled, her gaze now fixed on the huge man dressed all in black. The long column of her throat convulsed as she swallowed.

“How much?” Raddoc asked in a deep voice, his gaze never leaving the woman. One hand rested on a broadsword at his hip.

Dario wrung his hands. “Ah…well, we haven’t started the auction yet. If you wish to bid—”

“Five liters.” Raddoc snapped his fingers, and one of his men flung an old rucksack to the ground. It fell open on impact, revealing five canisters beaded with condensation.

The crowd gasped. The men closest to the canisters jostled each other as they tried to get a better look. One man crept close, his hand outstretched, only to be sent sprawling to the ground by another of Raddoc’s men.

“I do believe that’s a record bid,” Raddoc said, gesturing to the precious water.

Dario stared at the canisters, and Ivar could almost see the gears turning in his brain. In a blink, his expression changed from subservient to calculating. He glanced back at the naked woman. “It’s a princely sum, to be sure. But as you can see, this slave is fit for a king. Everyone should have a chance to bid—”

A meaty hand fastened around his throat. Raddoc lifted him off the ground, the muscles in his arm bunching. Dario’s legs flailed.

The merchant sputtered and coughed. “P-please.” His eyes bulged.

Raddoc paid him about as much attention as a gnat. Still clenching the merchant’s throat, he pivoted slowly, his black-eyed gaze falling on the crowd. “Who here can match my price?”

A tense silence fell over the crowd, the only sound Dario’s gurgling protests. All around, men lowered their eyes. A few turned and shouldered their way out of the gathering.

Ivar glanced at the platform and caught his breath. The woman was staring at him again. For the first time, she looked afraid. She sagged against the chains.

Raddoc pulled Dario forward until they were eye to eye. “Looks like I won your auction, fat man.” He opened his hand, and the merchant fell to the ground, his face an angry purple. His mouth gaped as he sucked in air. Raddoc snapped his fingers at one of his men and pointed to the platform.

“Go fetch my new slave.”

Ivar uncrossed his arms. “Ten liters!”

* * * *

Nadia watched as heads jerked toward the warlord standing on the edge of the crowd. Up until now, he’d been so still, she’d wondered if she was imagining him. The only thing he’d seemed to move were his eyes, which occasionally roved down her body with a heat that made her cheeks burn until she was certain they were as red as her hair.

Even with the distance between them, she could tell his eyes were an unusual color—a pale, glowing gold that reminded her of the holo-vids she’d seen of lions that had once roamed Earth. His hair was shaved so close to his head it was impossible to tell the color, but everything else about him was golden, from his strange eyes to his tan skin.

He shouldered the men in front of him aside. Murmurs rippled through the crowd as he and another man moved toward the platform, their pace unhurried.

Raddoc scowled and put his hand on his sword hilt. “The auction’s over, Ivar,” he growled. “The slave is mine.” The wind caught at his long mane of hair, sending the lank black strands whipping around his shoulders. At first, she’d thought his face was dirty, then she’d realized it was tattooed with strange swirling symbols a few shades darker than his skin. His men bore the same markings, although none had his monstrous teeth, which were filed to sharp points.

When he’d grinned at her, she’d felt truly hopeless for the first time since the head magistrate had read her sentence back on the starship. Until that moment, she’d thought that being stripped naked and chained to the pole was the worst thing that could happen to her. Then the black-haired warlord had flashed his razor-sharp smile, and she’d nearly given in to the blackness that beckoned at the edges of her mind.

For some reason, she’d sought out the golden warlord on the edge of the crowd. Their eyes had locked, and he’d stepped forward just as she’d begun to slump into a faint.

Now he and his companion had reached the space in front of the platform where Raddoc stood surrounded by his men. The golden-eyed man stepped deliberately over the canisters and stood over a still-gasping Dario. He gave the little merchant a considering look, then lifted hard eyes to Raddoc.

“Ah, Raddoc. You never did like playing by the rules. You heard our friend here. The auction hasn’t started.”

Raddoc’s hand tightened on his sword, and he took a step forward, bringing the two men toe to toe. Seeing them like this, there was no question they were both warlords. If Axos and his men were giants, these two were inhuman. They towered above the men around them, their big bodies roped with muscle. More than that, they practically bristled with weapons. Sunlight shined off the edges of blades tucked into belts and pockets. Like Raddoc, the golden warlord had a broadsword, but he wore his strapped to his back, its thick hilt a visible reminder that this was clearly not a man to be trifled with.

“I bid five liters,” Raddoc said, his eyes glinting. Metal flowed down the insides of his arms and formed into knives. His men stirred but didn’t pull any weapons.

The warlord he’d called Ivar leaned into him. “And I bid ten.” Behind him, his companion drew a short sword from a sheath on his leg. It rippled and sprouted a jagged edge where it had been smooth a moment before. Nadia gasped. Kaptum could transform, yes, but the transition had been flawless—like living art.

“You’re outnumbered, Ivar.” The pointed teeth flashed. “I could kill you where you stand.”

Ivar’s reply was so quiet, Nadia had to strain to hear it. “Do it. You and your people will be dead in a week.”

Something on his arm drew her eye, and she squinted as she tried to make it out. At first, she thought it was an insect, but that was impossible. There were no insects on Tolbos. A darkly-inked tattoo slid from his biceps to his forearm, where it curled around his skin like a snake. She blinked and shook her head, trying to figure out what she was seeing.

The wind whipped around the platform. Nadia sucked in a breath, waiting for either man to make the first move. Raddoc stepped back, and she exhaled on a shudder. He glanced at her, then leaned to the side and spit. A wad of glistening saliva hit the ground with a wet smack. Without another word, he pivoted on his heel and walked away, the knives dissolving and slithering back up his arms. His men gathered the canisters and then hurried to catch up to him.

Ivar watched them go before casting his gaze over the crowd. “Does anyone else wish to bid?” Men shuffled their feet and kept their eyes trained on the ground. Seemingly satisfied, he reached down and hauled Dario to his feet. “You know where to find me. I’ll have your ten liters waiting.”

The merchant massaged his throat and nodded, his bald head shiny with perspiration.

The golden eyes fixed on her. She tensed. The weight of his stare was even more intense up close. He strode to the platform, planted a hand on the wood, and vaulted his body over the edge. He stopped in front of her, and she fought the urge to shrink away from him. Instead, she forced herself to look at him, craning her neck back as her eyes traveled up and up his body. He stared down, his cruelly handsome face a mask that revealed nothing of his thoughts or feelings. His gaze dropped to her breasts as he reached a long arm up and tapped the manacles. The metal bracelets snapped open, startling her.

She fell forward, and he caught her, mashing her breasts against his chest. Big hands massaged her arms and shoulders.

“How…” She stared at his chest. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

She tried to pull back, but he held her in place, his fingers still kneading her arms. “The manacles. You just touched them and—”

“Ask your questions later.”

She snapped her mouth shut. His order rankled, but she was hardly in a position to argue with him.

He stopped kneading and slid a hand to her wrist. “Come.” He pulled her to the platform’s steps.

“Wait!” Her bare feet skidded on the rough wood.

He rounded on her. “What?”

She stepped sideways so his body blocked her from the crowd’s view. “I…I’m not wearing any clothes.”

His gaze flicked to her chest. “I noticed. Now, come.”


10 Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

As a new author, I’m still navigating the publishing journey — and when I say “navigating” I mean stumbling around and banging into everything, occasionally knocking stuff over. Each step on the path to publication has featured a steep learning curve, but the good news is there has never been a better time to sit down and write something you feel passionate about.

If you’ve been bitten by the writing bug, first: put something on that so it doesn’t get infected. Second, relax because the internet is a goldmine of resources. The title of this post could easily be “Everything I Needed to Know about Writing and Publishing I Learned Online.” Okay, not everything, but I owe a lot to authors who have come before me and generously offered advice and tips on the web. Here are the top 10 takeaways I’d like to share from my own writing adventures.

1.   Write the Book First

When you’re just starting out, creating characters and devising plot elements, it’s tempting to dream about what your book’s cover will look like. Who hasn’t stood in the shower, fantasizing about the dedication page for their first novel? To everyone who said I wouldn’t make it — suck it. These are fun exercises, but you’ll never get to do them for real until you finish that first manuscript. When I really buckled down and got serious about writing a book, I didn’t allow myself to google literary agents or publishers. My only goal was to finish a manuscript. Take it step by step, and make writing the first one.

2.   There Are Many Paths to Publication

The traditional route to publication involves submitting your manuscript to literary agents, securing representation, and freaking out waiting while your agent submits your manuscript to editors at publishing houses. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but it’s not the only option these days. Don’t overlook small publishers and digital-first publishing houses. They put out high quality books, and many don’t require authors to have a literary agent to submit manuscripts.

3.   Write Every Day

This is advice I see often. It’s simple, but it’s spot on. Carve out time to write every day. Even if it’s 100 words — even if it’s 10 — get something on paper (or computer screen) somehow. Write on a cocktail napkin if you have to. Writing is like working out: it’s easier and more rewarding if you do it all the time. It’s also easy to get out of the habit quickly if you stop.

4.   The 30,000-word Slump Is Real

Slump…hump…whatever you call it, there is a “sticking point” in every first draft that makes you want to give up and swear off writing forever. You get to about the 30,000-word mark, and you run out of steam. Suddenly, your plot is like overcooked macaroni noodles — all stuck together and unappetizing.

For me, the way out of this is to go at it like a mom determined to get the doorbuster on Black Friday. I just keep shoving doubt and obstacles aside until I get that sweet, sweet word count in my cart. Other people like to jump to a different part in the book and write a scene they’re excited about. However you handle it, know that a lot of writers experience (and overcome) it.

5.   You Probably Can’t Quit Your Day Job (at Least Not Right Away)

Unless you write the Great American Novel and sign a deal for a six-figure advance, you’re probably not going to make enough money to quit your regular job. The phrase “starving artist” isn’t exclusive to painters. There are many, many authors publishing many, many books. However, if you’re persistent and talented and willing to hang in there and continue improving your work, you’ll be successful. Maybe not “dining on a private yacht on the French Riviera with Oprah” successful, but successful enough.

6.   There Is No Right Way to Write

Does your favorite author post Instagram photos of her antique writing desk on the veranda of her beach house on the Nantucket Sound, complete with Cocker Spaniels and mugs of Earl Grey tea? It’s probably a kick ass writing environment, but that doesn’t mean yours has to look like that. In other words, do what works for you. James Joyce wrote in blue pencil and sometimes crayons. Charles Dickens wrote his manuscripts in longhand (not that he had much choice) in a pronounced downward slant. Sir Walter Scott wrote on horseback. Lewis Carroll wrote standing up.

There is no magic formula for writing, nor is there an ideal environment for getting words on the page. Whether you write at the kitchen table, in your car during your lunch break, or in between the kids’ naps, what matters is that you’re making progress.
7.   Be Willing to Hustle

Once you’ve written your book, landed a publishing deal, and watched your precious manuscript launch into the literary world, your job as an author is far from over. Being an author today means promoting your work — and yourself. Many authors are naturally introverted, so self-promotion can feel as awkward as a sixth grade dance. Be willing to invest time (and some money) into things like social media and advertising.

8.   Focus on Writing Before Anything Else

“Wait. Didn’t she already cover this in #1?” Yes, I did, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so important. If you talk about writing and dream about writing and think about writing, but never actually write the darn book, you never will. Don’t let that happen.

9.   Don’t Get Derailed by Rejection

Subtitle: Get a thick skin, fast. In elementary school, we called this “I am rubber, you are glue.” Rejection is a reality for all writers. At some point in their career, every author you’ve read and admired was just starting out. Most likely, they heard “no” more than once. Heed agents and editors who take the time to offer critiques — they usually only do that if they see promise in your work. But don’t let rejection shut down your creativity (or your soul). You can hear no a thousand times — all you need is one yes.
10.  Patience, Grasshopper

Few aspects of writing — and the business of writing — happen quickly. It takes months (or more) to write a manuscript. It can take just as long to find a literary agent or publisher. Once you’ve secured a publishing deal, you can expect multiple rounds of editing. And then, when you’re finally published, growing your career as an author takes— you guessed it — time. Like most good things, however, the end result is worth waiting for.


Good morning Amy!  Welcome to Fabulous and Brunette!  We are thrilled to have you here and can’t wait to learn more about you and your new book, “Ivar’s Prize.”

Why do you write romance?
I always answer this by replying, why not write romance? What’s not to love? There are so many genres of romance, from historical and sci-fi to young adult and suspense. In the past, I think it was de rigueur to downplay romance as a “women’s genre” or somehow “lesser” than other genres. Fortunately, I think a lot of that attitude has gone away as people realize that romance offers a mix of just about everything. If you like thrillers, you can find that in romance. If you’re a fan of dystopian fiction, romance has that, too. It takes talent to weave a romance into a secondary plot, and I think many readers see that now. You can even see it in the sales. According to Romance Writers of America, romance books netted $1.08 billion in 2013.

Do you write full-time?
I do, but my day job is copywriting. People often ask me if I get burned out with writing because I spend all day writing marketing material for companies and national brands, but I really haven’t experienced burn out. If anything, copywriting is good exercise for fiction writing. In copywriting, every word matters — and excess gets cut. You have to maintain high quality, but you also need to be fast because someone is paying for your time. I guess you could say that copywriting is like a work out and penning fiction is like strutting around in a bikini — you feel a heck of a lot more confident doing the latter because you put in the hard work on the former. (That’s totally metaphorical, by the way. You’ll never get me in a bikini.)

Are your books based on your life?
This always makes me smile…then I feel kind of awkward because my books feature high heat levels and mega sexy time. Ivar’s Prize is about a sex slave auction on a prison planet in the dystopian future, so I can’t say I drew from personal experience for that one. So far, my plots spring solely from my imagination.

What does your writing day look like?
Well, I’m very fortunate in that I work from home, and I have a flexible work schedule that allows me to take breaks and type out a scene in the middle of the day if inspiration strikes. Most days, however, I work a normal “office” schedule from around 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with breaks to get the kids from school and make sure the cat isn’t eating my houseplants. Once the kids are in bed, I switch to fiction mode. My goal is 2,000 words per day, but I don’t always hit it. I find that after about 2,000 words, I’m out of steam and need to recharge my brain (and remember to eat).

Where do your ideas come from?
Honestly, they really do just pop into my head. Inevitably, I’ll get two or three new ideas while I’m working on a first draft. It’s super tempting to drop what I’m doing and chase after the shiny new idea, but I force myself not to do that. I’m also a big proponent of shower plotting. I always seem to untangle the biggest plot snarls when I’m standing in the shower. It must be because your brain is on autopilot when you’re in there. (And it’s way safer than driving plotting.)

How much research goes into your books?
Quite a bit, actually! I am a huge fan of books with detailed worldbuilding. Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs are two authors who do a phenomenal job with this. Even if you’re writing a book set in your hometown, you have to make readers feel like they could visit and immediately recognize the “set.” For Ivar’s Prize, I wanted people to have a strong sense of how desolate Tolbos — the prison planet — is. I read about surface conditions on Mars, as well as studies and conjecture about ways to power space shuttles across an interplanetary system. It’s subtle, but there is a global warming/climate change theme running through the book, and it is very much intentional. Research is probably the most exciting part of starting a new book.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, it’s sitting down and writing every day no matter what. Writing really is like a muscle — if you don’t exercise it, you get kind of flabby and just generally blah. There is no “perfect” time to write for anyone. We all have a million responsibilities: kids, work, taking the dog to the groomer, etc. Most people have to sacrifice at least one thing they enjoy doing to make time for writing.

What surprised you about the publishing process?
The sheer number of choices authors have today — and this is a great thing! I’ve wanted to write since I was old enough to know what that means. When I got serious about publishing a few years ago, ebooks were still sort of new, and most publishers were just starting to switch to email submissions. I feel very fortunate that authors have more paths to publication today, whether that’s traditional publishing with a big house, a smaller publisher, or self-publishing. As a reader, there are never too many books!

Your book, Ivar’s Prize, is a sci-fi romance. Is there a specific reason you chose science fiction?
I really love smart, strong female characters, and I wanted a setting where the heroine isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with an Alpha male. And I thought, “What conflicts and crappy situations can I throw at her to make her personality traits shine? How can I make this guy admire her right from the start?” Without giving too much away, I can say that Nadia is sent to a futuristic prison planet and given the choice between taking the easy way out but compromising her beliefs and working in grueling conditions but maintaining her dignity. I needed an extremely harsh, brutal world where the inhabitants are forced into a “survival of the fittest” environment to survive. That sort of world worked best in a dystopian future. I also love worldbuilding, and sci-fi gives you a fantastic opportunity to do that.

What are you working on now?
I’m wrapping up the first in what I hope will be a three-part series on werewolves with special “gifts” and an ability to form lifelong bonds with their mates. The first book has been so much fun to write, and I am smitten with the hero — an Alpha in every sense of the word. Seriously, some of these scenes are scorching hot, and I can’t wait to send this one off to my editor!

Thank you so much for spending time with Fabulous and Brunette readers and sharing your exciting new book with us!  We wish you all the best on your book tour!

Amy Pennza is an author of romantic fiction that’s not afraid to turn up the heat. A lawyer-turned-copywriter, she’s much happier behind a keyboard than she was in the courtroom. A mom of four, including a set of twins, she always has a granola bar and a package of baby wipes handy. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and one very persnickety cat. You can visit her at amypennza.com


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This contest is sponsored by a third party.  Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Xpresso Book Tours.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette.  The featured author and Xpresso Book Tours are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


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