Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Guest Author: Julie Leto

Hey guys. I "met" Julie Leto online when I guested with Plotmonkeys. So happy to have her here with us today, so please give her a warm, Rider welcome!!

Wow, that’s cool...what is it?

One of the key tenets of marketing in the book business is that an author should be able to “sum up” their “hook” in a few words or less. Some people borrow from the film industry, which famous uses comparisons like “Star Wars meets Gone With the Wind” to pitch new ideas to producers who can only think in terms of what’s been done before.

I’d love to be able to do that. I did, actually, when I wrote my Marisela Morales action-adventure series for Pocket, which was pitched as “Dirty Harry meets the Dirty Girls Social Club.” (If you don’t get that reference...well, the editors got it, bought it, then promptly replaced my clever hook with “Love her, love her handcuffs.”Probably better.

But my new series is really hard for me to classify. Is a romance? Absolutely, first and foremost, both books are romances. PHANTOM PLEASURES, which was released in April, featured a hotel heiress and a British nobleman from the 18th century. I suppose “Ivanka Trump meets Mr. Darcy” is the best I can do. The second book stars an action-hero heroine named Lauren Cole with an 18th century soldier. “Xena meets Colonel Brandon,” perhaps? But that doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The books are romances. Contemporary romances in that they are set in the contemporary world, though my heroes, who have been cursed into historical artifacts by a dark and mysterious Gypsy curse, are from the past. So, I suppose that sort of makes them Time Travels, with the characters coming forward instead of going backward to the past.

The books are also paranormal. Each hero, by nature of the curse, possesses the magic that ensnares him. In PHANTOM’S TOUCH, Aiden can use the cursed magic to read Lauren’s mind, to appear and disappear at will and to make love to her while invisible, which is a whole heck of a lot of fun. But the magic comes with a price. As the magic is evil, every time the hero uses it, he is overcome with lust. Luckily for my heroines, they’re around to take care of things.

The upside of writing a series that contains so many different elements is that I can answer, “Yes!” to so many questions.

“Is it a sexy romance?”

Oh, yes...super hot. That’s the most important aspect of the entire series. Hot, sexy sex with hot, sexy men.

“Is it a paranormal?”

There are these phantoms who are cursed by Gypsy magic and who must fight a cult who wants the power for themselves.

“Is it a historical?”

In a manner of speaking, yes! I certainly had to do a lot of research to make my heroes, their experiences and their thought processes authentic.

“Is it a contemporary?”

Very much so. My heroines, in particular, are modern women who can hold their own and then some in the 21st century.

“Is there suspense?”

Definitely a suspense threads through each of the books, with a pair of intelligent, ruthless villains in both book that will stop at nothing to get their hands on the power.

“Are the men Alpha and hot?”

How could they not be? They’re from a time when men were men and sex was decadent and delicious (though I’d personally like to think that hasn’t changed over the centuries!)

So the Phantom series, staring with PHANTOM PLEASURES and now PHANTOM’S TOUCH (in stores now!) and continuing with KISS OF THE PHANTOM (out next June) has a little something for everyone. Or at least, that’s what I hope!

Are there any elements in this series that appeal to you? What are your favorite “mix” kind of books? Do you like the straight forward or the blended books like these?


Anonymous said...

First, the books sound wonderful!

Now, what do I like? It depends on my mood, which is why I am so glad there is a variety out there. I ADORE hot, alpha males (who doesn't). I like the touch of paranormal. I like the contemporary setting, although I read a lot of historicals also.

Seriously, the STORY and the story telling is more important to me than whether it's a blended genre or straight genre. That make sense?

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Julie. All of these elements appeal to me. You practically have 3-4 genres in one romance novel. I love romantic suspense, so I like the intrigue of if and how the villains are stopped.

Ellory said...

I wanted to come over and say hi to Julie. I finished posting an answer to her blog question on Plotmonkeys.

I love a well blended book.

Kylie said...

Welcome, Julie! I suppose the only really blended series I read is the JD Robb one, which I love. I'm looking forward to reading yours!

I envy you the ability to sum up a book in a short pithy line. I have to leave that to my agent. I soooo don't have that talent!

Keri Ford said...

I like a lot, okay, all of these elements in your story. Blended books are fun. You never really know what to expect.

Helen Brenna said...

Hey Julie - thanks again for visiting today! Fun to have you!

I love it when books have several different elements. It makes it harder for me to guess what's going to happen. But to write them must be a challenge. Is it?

Hot, hot, hot concept!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Julie. Welcome to the convertible.Your new books sound fantastic!
I agree with Arkansas Cyndi who says it's all about the story but to that I'll add, it's also all about the people. If I don't love them, I don't care how good the story is, that book isn't going to get finished. Your fans don't have to worry about that. Great characters, great stories and what fun to have all of those elements in the books! Congrats!

Nightingale said...

The Phantom series sounds like the kind of books I'd read! Enjoyed the bit about book hooks. Star Wars meets Gone with the Wind--it boggles the mind.

Lori T said...

Hi Julie~

Great interview!

I like a lot of different really depends on my mood of that moment. I, also, like when elements are combined in a story.

Happy Holidays!

Cher said...

Hi Julie!

Great picture of you, btw. :-) It's like you're in mid-sentence. And terrific interview!

Have a great day,

Cher :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Julie! Thanks for riding with us today.

What a blend! Did you set out to create something for everyone or did it start with just one element and grow from there?

I hadn't read a time travel in ages until I recently picked up a Lynn Kurland book. What fun these type of stories are!

And hey, the cover is fantastic!

JulieLeto said...

Hi, everyone! First, I want to thank Helen and the convertible crew for allowing me to ride along today. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get a virus last night and I'm visiting via my laptop. Author Susan Gable has an awesome PC Doc company who is working on fixing the problem now!

Christie, I'm so thrilled with the cover--easily my best ever. I did not set out to blend the genre so much. The first book, PHANTOM PLEASURES was base don the third manuscript I ever wrote over fourteen years ago. It already ad the time-travel, historical, paranormal and sexy contemporary genre. I was just writing the book...I never really thought about the blend until recently, when "blended" books have become so popular. I guess I was ahead of my time, LOLOL!

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

Hi Julie --

I love mixed element books -- especially yours!

JulieLeto said...

Helen, the challenge is the historical aspect. I'm not a historical author, but I completely respect the genre and I'm really interested in making sure that my heroes from the 18th century are authentic to their time and status.

They are all sons of a British earl, but grew up in a fictional colony in a fictional corner of Germany reserved for Gypsies run out of London. (The earl is the colony's governor.) The first hero, Damon, was the oldest and spent most of his time in London, so his way of thinking is different from his youngest brother, Rafe, who is half-Romani and grew up entirely in the colony. The second son, Aiden, is the hero of PHANTOM'S TOUCH, fought for the British at the battle of Culloden and obviously, he was changed by that experience. Most of the research about Culloden is from the Scottish point of view, so it took some digging to get into the British frame of mind. None of this is key to the story I'm telling, but it's important to the way I shaped his character...hardly any of it ends up on the page, but it's all in my head and in his voice.

The paranormal stuff is only a challenge in that if you say the magic works one way in one book, you have to make sure it jibes with the next books. And I thought worldbuilding was just for fantasy authors! How wrong I was!!

But I love this series, so I don't mind the challenges. It keeps me on my toes.

Debra Dixon said...

Julie-- Welcome and LOL! I love that you've turned the art of promotion into one word, "Yes." How clever! (g)

I love the forward travel aspects of the books. I love an Alpha but that doesn't generally work for me in "most" contemps because this is 2008 and I want to smack him! (And not in a special nice way) But bringing a man from the past gives us reason to forgive some of his alpha-ness while the heroine is taming him.

Excellent job on all fronts! I'm adding these to my list.

lois greiman said...

Hey Julie, thanks for joining us. I love all your elements. The books sound great and I love your cover.

Playground Monitor said...

I met Julie Leto in Dallas in 2004 where she sat with this newbie in the snack room on the concierge level of the hotel and talked and talked and talked. I appreciated the time gave me.

::sigh:: More books to add to my TBR mountain.


Betina Krahn said...

Hey, Julie! Soooo glad to have you here. Sorry I'm late-- had a million things to do this morning before I could get to the computer!

And I've had the pleasure of reading Phantom Pleasures (eat your heart out, everybody who hasn't!). . . and i can report that it was fabulous! It positively sizzled with sexual tension and had an ingenious concept and unusual plot. Not to mention a clever (and totally believable, Julie!) blending of historical and contemporary and paranormal! All I can say is, I can't wait to get to Phantom's Touch! I'm saving it to read on the plane tomorrow as I fly up to Minnesnowta.

May you sell a million of them Julie!

ddurance said...

A mix is good, kinda keeps you guessing while reading and makes you want more from that author.


Penny said...

Hi, Julie! Dropped in from the Plotmonkeys just to say that if folks here haven't read these books? Dudettes! Run, don't walk, to get them both. WONDERFUL stories. Hot heroes. Spunky heroines....

Okay, you can slap me down for that "spunky", Julie. How 'bout... feisty? Yeah. That works. These books should not only be on the TBR shelf, but they're keepers as well! Can't wait for the who series. Julie blends several different subgenres seamlessly for a truly satisfying read.

Estella said...

This book is on my Wish List!
I love blended books.

FIONA said...

Sounds like a great mix of elements.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks for visiting, Julie!! Hope you get your computer issues straightened out!

JulieLeto said...

Penny, the check is in the mail. :-)

I don't know where my last post went...eaten by the big, bad Internet.

Betina! Why are you going to the great white north? We'll miss you here! I'll keep the sun warm for you. Thanks for the really kind words on PHANTOM PLEASURES. I still have the email you sent me when you read the book originally. You know I'm a huge fan of your work and thank you, thank you for the compliments!

Debra and Lois, thanks! Debra, I think you're right about the inherent danger of creating a contemporary Alpha male. I'm not entirely convinced my 18th century heroes are 100% Alpha...but they're close. Luckily, it gives me a chance to pair them with really strong women. (Strong is better than feisty or spunky, LOL!)

Thanks, Helen. It's been awful...apparently, a malware that disguises itself as virus protection. Luckily, I recognized it, but it took a good part of the day to fix...though I have to say, having someone fix your computer from a distance while you're out running errands isn't a bad way to work it.

Thanks so much for having me!!

Virginia said...

First off your book sound fantastic. Its sounds like a mixture of everything.

My favorite to read is historical, but I love to have suspense mix in. So I guess you could say I am big on books that are a mixture.

Caffey said...

The curse! I love reading that theme part within a book. Just to go through how they break through that! Great on the upcoming one in June too!

I do love to read alot of paranormal as well as historical. I like when they are blended, like a Regency Vampire. I'm just waiting for something to come up set in Medieval!

JulieLeto said...

Isn't Carrie Lofty's new book considered medieval? I'm not's set amidst the legend of Robin Hood, but stars Will Scarlet as the hero.