Brain to Books Blog Tour
Author: Marie Johnston
Genre: Paranormal romance and contemporary romance
- The Sigma Menace Series
- Fever Claim (Book 1)
- Primal Claim (Book 2)
- True Claim (Book 3)
- Reclaim (Book 3.5)
- Fleet Week Romance Series
Marie Johnston still considers herself a microbiologist, though she left infectious organisms and full-time work over five years ago to be a stay at home mom. She is currently working occasionally as a fill-in medical technologist in clinic labs to support her habit of being home with the kids. Marie began writing a year ago and is still going strong. She’s an avid reader of paranormal and contemporary romance, therefore these are the stories hanging out in her head waiting to be told. Marie lives with her husband, four kids, and an old cat in the upper-Midwest where the winters are as brutal as the summers are beautiful.
Marie served two years on her children’s elementary school’s PTO (never again), teaches Sunday school (swears never again, but ends up volunteering every year), and is currently serving on the board for the local chapter of Mom’s Club (the socialization keeps her sane). At no point, has she ventured into coaching her kids’ teams, but there’s still many more years left of soccer, volleyball, and softball.
Blurb True Claim (The Sigma Menace #3)
Over a century ago, Bennett Young found his mate, a human woman he trusted and was brutally betrayed by. With his one chance at happiness gone, Bennett throws himself into his work. He dreads the inevitable day he turns feral and his partners will be forced to put him down, then a routine mission brings him face-to-face with his worst nightmare. A human mate. Discovering the lovely, but evasive woman is being hunted, Bennett can’t bring himself to abandon her, at least not until she’s safe.
Spencer King has a boy’s name and lives in the boondocks for a reason. The tall, sexy shifter who showed up on her doorstep was unwelcome…and pushy. The mating instinct she feels for him threatens everyone she’s worked to keep safe. Realizing the frustrating, brooding Guardian doesn’t intend to leave her alone, Spencer has to figure out if she can trust him, and to decide – stay and fight, or run for her life?
Excerpt from True Claim (The Sigma Menace #3)
WARNING: Sensitive readers be forewarned. This excerpt contains some language.
What a nice spread.
A good three hundred and twenty acres sat next to the Guardian’s land. Both chunks of land were far enough away from city limits to be considered extremely rural and isolated. The Guardians kept tabs on all the land owners around their acreage. There were just a few owners really, and only one wasn’t a shifter. The previous non-shifter owner was okay letting the land grow wild, snoring loudly all night while shifters freely ran his property, and heading into town to hit on the silver-haired ladies at the senior center all day. It was an ideal situation until the guy hadn’t shown up in town one day and the senior center ladies called the local police, concerned about him, and found he’d passed away quietly one night.
The new owner might be an issue. Recently, shifters exercising their wolves in the woods had some near misses with steel traps. Concerning enough, until Kaitlyn came back from inspecting the traps claiming they were plentiful, covering the entirety of the property like land mines.
Driving down the ambling, dusty road that served as a driveway, Bennett decided at the last minute not to pull too close to the house. If he was in his furry form, the fur would be standing up on the back of his neck. Instead, he parked on the circular drive so he was angled toward the exit and protected by the SUV when he stepped out.
After he climbed out, he let his senses soak in the surroundings. Birds were singing, enjoying the sunny spring weather after a harsh winter. Two cows stood in a pasture, a good hundred yards from the main house. Who the fuck only had two cows?
Bennett spun when he heard a screen door open and resisted the urge to transition when a large German shepherd slammed the door open the rest of the way. Growling and snarling, the beast roared toward him, fangs bared.
Without hesitation, Bennett flung out a mental command. Halt!
The beast stopped abruptly, already midway between the house and Bennett. He swung his furry head toward the house where a figure stood shadowed in the doorway, and then the dog made a lunge back toward Bennett.
Mentally, Bennett held the large dog in place, grateful his erratic mental ability was steady today. He rarely used his gift. Seriously, who needed to talk to animals? And how long could one guy put up with Snow White references? All of his pack’s gifts had been increasingly erratic for the last century, so much so they’d become less and less dependent on them almost to the point of disuse. That is, until the last year, when some of them started finding mates. It seemed as if their powers became stronger and more grounded with each mating. Bennett thought that meant he was screwed.
The German shepherd whined and sat with a huff on his haunches, then turned his head back to the house.
Keeping his hold on the loyal dog, Bennett took in the figure that walked out.
Shiiiiiit. He felt his chest growing tight, his breathing becoming shallower. Not due to the shotgun emerging from the doorway, thankfully pointed downward, but it was the arm attached to it. Bennett ran his eyes up from where the tanned hand confidently gripped the shotgun barrel, up the delicately muscled arm encased in a red plaid shirt to where the rolled-up sleeve showed off a slight bulge of bicep. His eyes continued up the sun-kissed skin of a slender neck, bared by a clip holding up the sun-bleached, honey-brown hair, letting it cascade down from the clip like a waterfall of ripened wheat. Bennett took in the lash-lined hazel eyes and full, raspberry hued lips and felt like he’d been punched in the gut.
Because it wasn’t the stunning beauty, cautiously stepping off the porch, suspicion ripe in her bright, intelligent eyes that made Bennett feel like he was suffocating. It wasn’t the glinting, steel weapon in her hand, or the dog trained to attack.
No. The bottom dropped out of Bennett’s world as soon as he caught the scent, drifting toward him on the gentle breeze. The scent of lavender and vanilla, the signature smell of this human female. The scent of his mate.
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Interview with the author
Tell us about yourself?
I started writing about a year ago, but have always gravitated toward it. When I worked full-time in the lab, I volunteered to write procedures and really enjoyed it (really, I did). Before I wroteFever Claim, I had only written scientific papers (not as enjoyable) but always joked about how one day I was going to write a book. I never did because I would try to think of the entire story first, whereas I’d been making up individual scenes in my head for years (and years). At my husband’s urging to “just write,” I finally decided that I was getting older and still had written nothing so what was there to lose.
When I’m not writing, I’m running the kids around and trying to hold my peace together amidst the chaos. I also still work as a fill-in med tech occasionally throughout the month. For fun (though my knees really hate it), I play softball in the summers and dabble on a women’s hockey team (noncompetitive!) during the winters.
Is this your first book?
Fever Claim was my first book. There were three earlier attempts at different stories and two of them I plan to go back to, but the plot and emotions were much more complex than I could express, so I wanted more experience first. Fever Claim was followed by Primal Claim and True Claim and the short story Reclaim, all part of the Sigma Menace Series. Book 4, Lawful Claimwill debut in early fall 2015.
I’ve also started a new contemporary romance short story series I’m really excited about: Fleet Week Romance. These stories will each be independent reads, with the first two shorts beingRebound and Shooter. They are meant to be quick, sweet, and steamy reads.
What genre do you enjoy the most?
I LOVE paranormal romance – both reading and writing. I love the emotions, the chemistry, and as far as writing goes – I get to make the rules. Creating your own world is fabulous.
What inspired you to write this book?
Lawful Claim (Book 4 of The Sigma Menace) is in progress. An underlying theme of the main character in the book, and the main character for upcoming Book 5, is about originally good people stuck in bad situations. Romance has a lot of bad boys, but I’ve always been drawn to good guys that behave badly, and exploring the reasons why.
How did you come up with the title of your book and series?
When I was in the lab, we were introduced to an efficient system called Six Sigma and I just plain liked the word “sigma.” On top of that, it’s has a math reference…be still my science geek heart.
I wanted a theme to tie all the books together and well, they’re about wolf-shifters and their mates, hence there’s a lot claiming going on. Each title, I strive to make relevant to the overall story of the main characters.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art.
I’ve solely used P and N Graphics and I love working with them. I feel like Sahara Kelly has become a mentor for me as I’ve learned so much from her. For the Sigma Menace series, I told them I wanted a dude with a background and they’ve kept a constant underlying tone to the covers while still utilizing relevant backgrounds from my story. They look sharp and professional.
For the Fleet Week romance series, I had a vague vision: I wanted a couple on the front, not too steamy, not too sweet, and with a naval background. And somehow make it all not look absurd. I didn’t have much inspiration to pass on, but Sahara sent a cover idea for Rebound and I was thrilled. She nailed it.
What Hollywood actors would play your characters?
Duuuude…I have no idea. I don’t mix my books and movies. It sounds weird, but if I watch the movie, I don’t care to read the book and vice versa (confession: I haven’t read any Harry Potter books). If I happen to see a movie that I’ve already read the book for, I find I prefer my imagination over Hollywood’s adaptation.
What authors have inspired you to write?
JR Ward, Laura Wright, JR Ward, Larissa Ione, JR Ward, Kresley cole, JR Ward, Gena Showalter, JR Ward, Karen Marie Moning. Did I mention JR Ward? That woman is epic and I want to be her when I grow up. Those stories, the chemistry, the dialogue, her alpha males…just…wow. I’m in awe of her. I fall into utter deadbeat mom status when I’m reading one of her books.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Action. By far, action. Am I being too technical, am I being realistic, does it read well, was I descriptive enough? My mind likes to ruminate over emotion and the expression of it, so physical action is tough for me.
That being said, love scenes aren’t easy. Not if I want to be original, steamy, and again not too technical. I don’t want to gloss over them too quickly, but they don’t need to drag on for pages and pages.
I don’t seem to struggle as badly with dialogue, and I hope that now I’ve said that, I won’t start. A natural introvert, I’ve spent my life watching people, listening to what’s going on around me so dialogue seems to flow more smoothly as I write, though I have a lot of room for growth.
Do you read your reviews?
Absolutely. I don’t have many, but I may or may not have read them once or five times. I love Goodreads and the groups where we can swap reviews, but life gets so busy, I find myself shying away from review swapping because it can be a bit time consuming. I enjoy doing it, and I love helping out fellow indies, but the last few months have been especially busy so I hope to get back into it once school starts again and I’m not moderating children’s activities (and arguments).
Where do you write?
On my couch, with my legs stretched out. I still want to find the guy that recommended a laptop when we went in to buy a new computer. I couldn’t imagine being tucked away at my desk with my back to the world (well, on most days).
Naptime is writing time. When naps become fully boycotted (not by me!), then afternoon TV/quiet time will become writing time. Otherwise, on the weekends, I sneak back to the bedroom and write with some semblance of privacy.
When I first started writing, I used to go to the library. But I’ve gotten better tuning out the world at home where I don’t have to pack up all my gear to go to the bathroom.
Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I’m a pantser. Which is totally weird if you knew what an uptight planner I am. I have my yearly agenda, and every week is written out for each day exactly where and when we need to be somewhere, who I need to call, what needs dropping off, etc…But writing is different. Unless I’m out for a long walk or run and my mind can wander, I can’t force a storyline. I have to let it play out for me.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
Yes. When I was a kid, I wrote a few short stories, but didn’t recreationally write until I wrote Fever Claim. Well…my emails got a bit wordy. In college, especially for my master’s degree, I wrote A LOT of papers. I’m even published under my microbiologist alter ego, so if you’re curious about the incidence of Campylobacter in turkey carcasses, give me a call. In my career, I’ve written lab procedures and headed up a newsletter for the section where I also wrote an article or two. No matter what I was doing, there’s been writing.
Do you have pets?
I have a fifteen year old cat, Killian (you know, named after the beer), that likes to yowl in front of the toddler’s room at 5am. I’d love a dog, but seriously, I want all my kids out of diapers and then a long reprieve from dealing with other beings’ bodily functions on my carpet.
What is your favorite song?
Right now, there’s a close tie between two. I’d been away from country music for years before I heard “Drunk on a Plane.” My first thought was, what hick song is this? Then I listened to the lyrics, which tell a good story, and let Dierks Bentley’s voice caress my ear drums and fell in love with the song.
“Sangria” by Blake Shelton is on my repeat-at-least-twenty-times list. Not only does he have a smooth voice with a hint of drawl, but the lyrics spike my romance writer jealousy. How can a couple of verses paint such a complete, vivid picture of a couple getting ready to get it on? “Wrecking ball dancing down the hallway…you’re holding your shoes wearing my shades…”
Do you remember the first book you read?
The first for realz book, when I got through all of the quickie reads for kids at that time (like Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley), I was in fourth grade and found my mom’s The Diamond Throne by David Eddings. I had to keep asking my mom what some words meant and got the standard “look it up in the dictionary” response. I gobbled up every David Eddings book after that and started a long love affair with fantasy. I even read Game of Thrones in real time, up until book four when I’d already found JR Ward and become a romance convert.
I knew there was something special about my husband when I first met him, because he was reading a David Eddings book. He was the only other person I’d met besides my mom that read the genre I did (I was only 19 when we met, but still…).
What book are you reading now?
I just got done reading The Shadows by JR Ward. In fact, I have a book hangover because I stayed up hours past my bedtime to finish it so I could read in peace. I adore that woman’s writing and The Shadows ripped me up, but I trust certain authors to carry me through their character’s gut-wrenching story.