Happy Anniversary, Coffee Time Romance!  I’m so happy to be part of the big celebration!  When Tarah told me the theme she wished authors to focus on for today’s guest posts – Then (2004) and Now – I didn’t realize how serendipitous it was.  But the more I thought about it as I prepared to write the post, the more I realized that 2004 was really the year that launched my career as an author.  Was my first book released in 2004?  No.  Was I offered a publishing contract then?  No.  Did I get an agent?  No.  But I did write a manuscript that planted the seeds for my Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series.

If you aren’t familiar with my Immortal Guardians series, the vampires in it are humans who have been infected with a very rare symbiotic virus that replaces their immune system and lends them enhanced senses, speed, strength, and regenerative capabilities.  It also produces extreme photosensitivity, increases their need for blood, and causes brain damage that makes them rapidly descend into madness.  That’s right:  Vampires are the bad guys.  Very bad guys.  Immortals, on the other hand, are gifted ones, men and women born with advanced DNA, who have been infected with the same virus.  That advanced DNA lends them talents and abilities ordinary humans lack – telepathy, precognition, teleportation, etc. – and protects them from the brain damage vampires suffer, so immortals spend their nights hunting down the insane vampires who prey upon humans.

The first inklings of this world made an appearance in a manuscript I completed and began to submit in 2004:  A Sorceress of His Own, a medieval romance with paranormal elements that revolved around a heroine who was a gifted one and included as a secondary character a tall, mysterious, powerful figure named Seth.  I entered the manuscript into several RWA sponsored writing contests and was thrilled with the results, winning first place in three of the contests and third place in three others.  If you follow author blogs, read interviews, attend author seminars, or are an author yourself, you know that many authors, when asked, will say they could paper the walls of their office with the rejection letters they received before getting published.  The same is true for me.  Despite the positive responses of contest judges, agents and editors rejected my queries.  The most common reason given:  They weren’t interested in romances with paranormal elements.  Times have changed, haven’t they?  πŸ™‚
Undeterred, I wrote another manuscript, a time travel sequel entitled Rendezvous With Yesterday that again revolved around a gifted one and included that mysterious secondary character Seth.  This manuscript won second place in the only contest into which I entered it, but didn’t net me that elusive publishing contract.  What both of these manuscripts did, however, is provide the foundation for the Immortal Guardians world I created in my next manuscript, Darkness DawnsGifted ones infected with the virus became immortals who hunted maddened vampires and Seth became the incredibly powerful Immortal Guardian leader.  Darkness Dawns won first place, then was declared Best of the Best in one RWA contest and won second place in another.  And, though every agent I contacted passed on it, it also landed me a three-book contract with Kensington/Zebra.

Fast forward to today.  Darkness Dawns was released in February 2011 to rave reviews and has since been nominated for roughly half a dozen awards, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Vampire RomanceNight Reigns, Immortal Guardians Book 2, was released in December 2011, also to rave reviews.  It was declared an “Utterly addictive” Top Pick by RT Book Reviews and was nominated for Best Book of 2011 by Long and Short Reviews.  Phantom Shadows, Book 3, will be released on October 2, 2012.  And I recently signed another three-book-contract with Kensington for Immortal Guardians Books 4, 5, and 6.  So that medieval romance manuscript I wrote in 2004 essentially jump-started my career and began my journey as a paranormal romance author, just as Coffee Time Romance’s creation in 2004 began their own successful journey.  πŸ™‚

To help CTR celebrate, I’m giving away either a signed copy of Darkness Dawns or a signed copy of Night Reigns (winner's choice) plus Immortal Guardians swag.  To enter, just leave a comment below and tell me:  What event in 2004 impacted your life today the most?

Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible — when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.

Ami isn't much for trusting strangers. She has a hard time trusting anyone. But she's no coward, and she's no pushover in the protection department either. So when she comes across a mysterious warrior taking on eight deranged vampires on his own, she doesn't hesitate to save his bacon. Of course, that was before she realized what one little rescue would get her into . . .

Marcus Grayden has been an immortal protector of humanity for eight hundred years, and at the moment he's not interested in backup. From the moment Ami arrives in his life, he can't deny that she's strong, smart, and extremely skilled at watching his back. But she's also destroying his protective solitude and stirring desires he can't bear to awaken. After all, whatever her secrets — how can she defeat death itself?

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Thanks so much for joining me!  I'll choose a winner at the end of the day, so check back tonight or tomorrow to see if you've won!

Dianne Duvall


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