Welcome Guest Author Toni V. Sweeney

Hi and welcome to my blog, Toni V. Sweeney. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake.  So tell us a little about yourself.

So tell us a little about your latest book. What inspired this masterpiece? 

I’m still trying to figure that out myself!  I’ve never written anything even remotely biblical before, so when I started on Bride of the Beast, I was surprised at the turns it took.

Bride of the Beast is based on the story of the Golden Idol in the Book of Exodus.  My question was:  What exactly happened to those who back-slid or didn’t show enough faith while Moses is in the mountains receiving the Commandments from God?

Some of his people build a golden calf (the goddess Hathor) and worship it in an attempt to ensure their safety in case Moses doesn’t return.  Malachi ben-Gurion’s people build a golden cat (Bubastis) and ask the goddess to protect them, but only until Moses comes back, then they plan to worship Yahweh again.

It doesn’t turn out that way, however.

Unlike the others, Malachi finds himself and his eldest son punished in a particularly horrible way, and also every leader of his portion of the tribe  following thereafter.  And it’s into this kingdom, with a king cursed forever to wear a mask hiding his face from his people, that a young woman descended from the Egyptians comes as a bride.  Her husband believes she can rid him of his curse.  She isn’t so certain.

Senset discovered she isn’t the savior Michael is looking for, and what happens next  is something neither expects.

 

If you had any super powers, what would they be and why? 

The ability to think my books and have those thoughts transferred into my computer so I wouldn’t have to sit in front of it all day!

What genre haven’t you tried yet but want to in the future? 

I’ve never written a mystery.  I really don’t think I’m sneaky/crafty enough. 

What is one thing readers might be surprised to know about you? 

That I’m 70?  I was trained as a ballerina?  That I once drove 3000 miles with a broken leg?  I really don’t know what would surprise a reader these days. 

If we asked your muse to describe you in three words, what do you think he might say? 

Talented…lazy…needs prompting.  Oh wait, that’s four words! 

What authors can be found in your library of books? 

Jim Butcher, Stephen King,  JD Robb, Bram Stoker, A. Conan Doyle, Margaret Mitchell, and everyone who’s ever sent me a book to review.

Note:  I keep all my reviewed books in a folder in my computer but NEVER loan them to anyone.

Have any guilty pleasures you want to share with us? 

When you get my age, any pleasure is guilty! 

Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can give us a taste of? 

See notation under “upcoming or WIP projects”.

 

What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?

Kicking back and watching some TV on my computer.  Right now I’m going through the shows on the Sy Fy Channel.  Love Eureka and Warehouse 13.


What is one historical figure you would love to chat with and why?
 

I‘ve been asked that several times and I really have no answer.  I think one person I’d like to talk to (and she isn’t a historical figure if you mean a famous one) and that is my great-great-great-great-grandmother Icy Snow Blackstone.  From all I’ve learned about her, she had a story of her own to tell and I’d like to discover it, and ask her how she liked having that name, too.  Also, if she minded my using it as my pseudonym.

 

Would you care to mention any upcoming or WIP projects that readers can look forward from you in the future?

I’m working on a Western right now.  I’ve only written two others, so decided to give a third a try.  This one is set in Nebraska (of course) and concerns a romance between an Irish ranch owner and a French Creole from New Orleans.  It’s tentatively titled The Lily and the Shamrock.

Here’s a bit from the beginning of the book:

The evening Seamus Brady tried to force himself upon Angelique Duval was the night she decided to run away.

Oncle Georges had no right to invite such a ruffian into their home.  Even Tante Mathilde had said so.

What can he be thinking? Mathilde wondered.  If only Robert or your gran’pere were alive.  That lourdaud wouldn’t be allowed to disgrace our doorstep with his boots!  But neither Angelique’s papa nor her grandfather were living now, and Oncle Georges was head of the household and could do as he pleased.  And apparently what he pleased was to invite that rude, uncouth brute to the townhouse in New Orleans.  Both Angelique and Tante Mathilde were aware that her husband liked to gamble, as well as the fact that Seamus Brady owned the Crystal Swan, a steamboat of magnificent proportions, if less than sterling repute, which docked at the levee and each night plowed its way up and down the river until the early hours while its guests drank and gambled away their wealth or pleasured themselves with the women whom Brady employed…if that was considered the proper term.  That fact along should have been enough to prevent his entry into any of the better homes in New Orleans, yet Georges occasionally had asked Brady to the townhouse on Rue du Prytanee for brandy and cigars.  They always stayed in his study, fairly sequestered from the rest of the house, so that was more or less permissible, but to actually invite the man to their dinner table…!

Neither Angelique nor her aunt dared protest.  They simply accepted that they would have to endure the boor’s presence.  And then, Oncle Georges called Angelique into his study…

“Since we’ve a guest tonight, cherie, I want you to make yourself presentable.”  As Angelique was about to protest that she was always presentable when at table, and at all other times, also, he went on, “More than presentable.  Mr. Brady’s an important man and a good friend and I wish you to look your best.”

With a murmured, “Oui, oncle,” Angelique curtseyed obediently, then left as her uncle dismissed her with a wave, going back to the snifter of brandy he held, though it was only a few hours after dinner, and, according to Tante Mathilde, much too early for any kind of spirits.  Her uncle’s words angered her…speaking as if she were some ragamuffin who came to supper with mud on her face and her gowns dusty and torn!  They also confused her, and that, along with the identity of their guest, made her think something was terribly wrong.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite one? If not, then which one is closest to your heart? 

I suppose my favorite character is Sinbad sh’en Singh from the Adventures of Sinbad series, so that makes those novels my favorite.  (Sinbad’s Last Voyage recently won 3rd place in Critique Your Novel’s 2012 Novel-Writing Contest.) I’ve had a couple of people also tell me they think Sin’s the perfect man.  He’s brash, crude, has a wicked sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to fight for what he wants, but he’s a devoted husband and father and a man who goes from being a wanted criminal to one of the richest men in the galaxy because of his love for his wife and his determination to provide for his children.  I just finished the last book in the series and it’ll be out some time in 2013.

I’m probably going to get some flak about ending the series but I don’t believe in dragging something out.  In the stories, Sin goes from 29 to 80 and I think that’s a long enough stretch of stories.

 

Thanks for coming. Is there anything else you want to add? 

I’d like to invite everyone to stop by my site  http://www.tonivsweeney.com/ and see what’s new.  The blog, book review, and guest trailer are changed each Friday and stay up for a week.

 

 Teaser from Bride of the Beast by Toni V, Sweeney

Blurb: 

A political marriage to stop a war…a king whose golden mask hides his face from his people… a princess who loves her husband though she never sees his face…and a curse placed on a royal family by God…

Senset’s people have fought the Beast Men for generations, but after one of the creatures is captured and the princess discovers him to be an articulate, intelligent man, she secretly helps him escape.  Months later, an offer of peace comes from the king of the Beast Men…and a marriage request…all because of Senset’s mercy to his brother.  Long wishing a husband of her own, the princess agrees, traveling to a foreign city where she will learn the odd customs of a people once slaves to her own before being freed by their God.  She also falls in love with the tortured man behind the golden mask, and learns his shocking history.

Michael of Habir believes his bride is the one to break the curse God placed upon him, but Senset herself has doubts.  Only one who has selfless love will free the king from becoming a Beast.  Can she truly be the one her husband seeks?

Publisher’s Link:  www.classactbooks.com

Bride of the Beast will be available on September 15, 2012.

EXCERPT:

(Senset’s curiosity about the beast her brother has captured sends her to the dungeon to see the creature.)

For a moment, Senset stood still, staring into the room. There was no one around. The dungeon master must be off somewhere having his supper. She hoped.

It was very dark, the only light trickling dimly through an open square high in the wall, just a few inches above the outside ground-level. She could see motes of dust swirling thickly as the air from outside stirred them. Her eyes followed the pale beam of moonlight downward to where it widened slightly, illuminating a bulky object in the center of the room.

A cage…a large cage fashioned of iron slats woven together. On one side, she could see a smaller rectangle, a door with chains wrapped through the slats, a U-shaped padlock holding them together. The dust swirled faster and she felt the wind as it swooped into the cage and out again, bringing with it a thick smell of urine-soaked straw, blood, and sweat. The center of the cage was dark, but in one corner…

Is the beast sleeping? One of the soldiers had struck it with the flat of his sword. It was already wounded. Could it have died from the soldiers’ abuse?

Carefully, she tiptoed into the room. Hugging the wall, she stopped in the shadows cloaking the walls and just stood there, staring.

She felt a brief disappointment. She’d expected the creature to be clawing at the walls of the cage, screaming its rage at being imprisoned. As it was, she could barely see anyth—

“Are you going to stay there in the shadows staring at me or are you coming out where I can see you?”

Senset jumped. For a fraction of a second, she just stood there; then, before she realized it, she was taking a step toward the cage. “Y-you can speak?”

“I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” The beast turned its head. She thought she saw the glow of eyes reflecting in the shifting light.

“But you’re a beast,” she protested. “Horem said you couldn’t talk, just make sounds and grunts.”

“Then he’s mistaken, isn’t he?” There was a rustle of straw as he rolled over so he was facing her. She became aware that he was much larger than she’d originally thought. His voice was rough and harsh, like a hound who’d bayed itself hoarse. With a groan, he rose to his knees. The movement sent the mix of smells toward her again.

“He was right about one thing.” Senset raised a hand, flapping it in front of her to wave the odors away. “You are dirty, smelly, and hairy!”

He gave something that might have been a bark…or a grating laugh…and shook his head, a shaggy head with a beard hiding most of his face. “I’ve been fighting a war, little mistress.  I’ve been wounded, beaten, and dragged through your none-too-clean streets. Should I smell as if I’ve just been bathed by my handmaidens and anointed with fragrant oils?”

“You have handmaidens?” Her memory of him slashing out at the villager imposed itself over him splashing in a pool-bath while slavewomen shrieked and fled in terror. Would he like water any more than Bubash did? Would his fur stand on end like the cat’s, before being slicked to a sodden mass?

He crawled closer, looking up at her, one hand against the woven bars. It was a real hand, she saw, with four grimy, bloody fingers and a thumb. Dirt under the broken nails. From his knuckles upward was covered by torn leather wrapped in fur…a lion’s paw, the claws still embedded in it.

“More than I need.” A smirk touched the bearded face. “Or want.”

“Horem says that same thing.” Senset wrinkled her nose. Not so much at the smell, she was getting accustomed to that. It wasn’t any worse than being in the stables, really.  The gesture was to emphasize her next words. “Men. You’re all alike.”

“Get past the smell and the hair, I imagine I’m as much a man as your beloved General.” His hand tightened on the slats as he hauled himself to his feet with a swallowed grunt. “Maybe more so.”

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