Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Dorchester Author

10/20/09 update!Here is Barbara Monajem's gorgeous cover. She sent me one I was able to upload while retaining its striking color theme. Quite an improvement over the one you'll see later in this post. Covers really do matter, don't they?

When my first novel, Maidensong (written as Diana Groe) came out, I didn't know much about the beast of publishing. My learning curve was steep, but not nearly steep enough. Now I know how important it is to get the word out about a new release and it's almost impossible to start too soon.

That's why I'm glad to introduce Barbara Monajem, a new author, to you. Her debut title SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL won't be out till next April, but I wanted you to get to know her ahead of time. So I invited her here to share a bit with you today. I had a bit of trouble with the jpg of her cover. It's really a striking black/white and red design, but the colors came out strangely. Sorry.

Barbara Monajem wrote her first story in third grade about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she writes paranormal and historical romance for grownups. She lives in Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and mostly feline strays.

And now my blog is now yours, Barb. Take it away!

I love writing about heroines whose talents I can’t aspire to. This is vicarious competence, I suppose. My heroines have plenty of emotional issues (which I don’t envy), but they’re always good at what they do, which is anything from painting to embroidery to costume design, from baking to pottery to gardening. Ah, gardening! I would love to have a green thumb, but when faced with heat, mosquitoes, and voracious weeds… I wilt.

Not so the heroine in SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE & EVIL, which will go on sale March 30th. Ophelia Beliveau is a landscaper in a small town near New Orleans. She’s not much for housework, but in the garden, Ophelia rocks! Not only does she design and plant exquisite gardens, but the demon wisteria that strangles my pine trees, pries the siding off the house, and sneaks in the windows wouldn’t daunt her one bit.

She’s also a vampire.

Impossible? Well, Ophelia’s not your standard vampire. I’ve never been too keen on the undead aspects of vampires. (Wouldn’t they have bad breath? And I’m a day person. I don’t want to write about someone who’s only awake at night.) On the other hand, I love the sexy characteristics! So Ophelia has fangs and is irresistible, and has a few enhanced senses, as well as saliva that heals wounds.

But as Ophelia learns at puberty, being irresistible sucks. When her friends grow breasts, she sprouts fangs as well. As she matures, so does her craving for sex and blood. The problem is, guys get possessive or obsessive, or even downright violent. In desperation, she decides to give up on men, and sticks to it for two whole years.
But when a vandal destroys her garden, her self-imposed exile comes to an end. A web of blackmail and murder is being woven across town, with Ophelia at its heart. Into her life comes Gideon O’Toole, a sexy, persistent detective determined to uncover far more secrets than Ophelia can afford to bare.

Here’s an excerpt:

Gideon left the headlights on and the engine running, got out, and held the door open for his dog. “Put the gun away, Ophelia.” He walked calmly toward her. “It’s only me.”

“I know who it is.” Ophelia’s voice broke, and a tear spilled treacherously down her cheek. “Go away!”


“Don’t call me that! I am not sweet.”

She watched Gideon control himself and start again. “I brought Gretchen to stay with you. She’ll warn you if there’s any danger.”

How had he come up with such a blessed idea? “I don’t need her. Take your dog and go home.” Ophelia bit down hard, piercing her lip, ignoring the blood, fighting tears, wanting the dog like crazy. She felt so alone.

Anguish in his voice, Gideon said, “Ophelia, don’t cry. Honey, you can’t think I’d harass you after what you’ve been through tonight.”

“You are harassing me,” she choked out. “I am not honey. I am poison. Get the hell away.” Gretchen trotted up and stuck a cool nose under her hand. Ophelia’s fingers moved by instinct toward the dog’s curls, but she yanked her hand away, clenching and unclenching her fist, needing and wanting the animal so much it hurt. “Gretchen doesn’t want to stay with me. She’s yours. Take her and go away.”

“I discussed it with her on the ride over, and she agreed to stay with you.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Ophelia cocked the shotgun. “Get off my property and don’t come back.”

Gideon swore under his breath. “Stupid or not, Gretchen is staying with you.” As if on cue, the dog planted her butt on the drive.

“Damn it, Gideon!” Ophelia let out a scream of rage and fired, kicking up gravel far too close to Gideon’s feet. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t move a goddamn hair. “Don’t you get it?” she yelled? “I’m trying to protect you from yourself. I am not safe!”

“‘That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life,’” Gideon echoed in bitter mockery. “You could at least come up with an intelligent lie.”

Ophelia opened her mouth and shut it again. Pissing him off was what she wanted. Still, the disgust in his voice tore into her.

“I’m out of here,” he said. “I won’t come back unless you need me.” He turned to the dog. “Stay, Gretchen. Stay with Ophelia.” He got in his car and backed into the turnaround, flinging his last words through the window. “What makes you think I give a damn about being safe?”

My question for you: What talents do you aspire to? What would you have your heroine do, that you know you can’t (or won’t) do yourself?

Thanks for being here today, Barb!

If you want to know more please visit Barb's website:

PS. If you haven't entered my Merry CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST, please do it today! The prize is a $100 B&N gift card and the drawing will be held Dec. 1st.


Unknown said...

Hi Emily :)
Thank you for having Barbara Monajem here today. Thanks to Barbara for the great post! I loved the excerpt. Great characterization & dialogue. I am looking forward to this novel now!
Thank you to Emily for introducing you to me.
All the best,
PS - Is Barbara Monajem on Twitter? I searched but could not find her.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you for having me here today, Emily!

I had the same problem with the cover when trying to post it to my own (very virgin) blog. It's something to do with the file size, I think. My graphics expert, Holly, has now fixed it for me....

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to see the real thing, please try my website at, where it's displayed in its gorgeous (kudos to the cover artist) red, white and black.

Barbara Monajem said...

RK -- Aiiieeeeee... No, I'm not on Twitter. I've made promises, I've looked it up, I've put it on various to-do lists... Maybe I need someone to hold my hand and drag me to the party. Sigh. Thank you for the nudge!

Edie Ramer said...

Really enjoyed the excerpt! My heroines and heroes have been things that I'd like to do: artists, songwriters, chefs... Things that interest me, but not enough to pursue as a career. And perhaps not enough talent.

EmilyBryan said...

You're welcome, RK!

Barbara, I will hold your hand as you learn to Tweet. Follow me It's fun!

Edie--I think that "borrowed competence" Barbara mentions is one of the main reasons I read/write!

Sheila Connolly said...

I had the privilege of reading Barbara's book when it was still in the polishing phase, and it's terrific (as I kept telling her, during the long hunt for a publisher). It's funny, sexy, and smart, all at once, and that's not easy to pull off. Put it on your wish list!

Carol Kilgore said...

Sounds like a fascinating read, Barbara. I went to your website, but couldn't see the book cover. All I got was a little red 'X'.

Barbara Monajem said...

Edie -- Hi! Great to see you here. Heh. I know what you mean. I'm amazed at what wonderful artwork my imagination can come up with, that my fumbly fingers couldn't possibly produce!

Sheila -- Thanks for the kudos, and back at you re your mysteries. I just finished reading Rotten to the Core, and Snake in the Glass (where you're being Sarah Atwell) is at the top of my TBR pile.

Barbara Monajem said...

Carol - A little red x??? Oh, no!!!! I guess I need to ask a bunch of people to have a look at my site and see if this happens often. Maybe it depends on the browser, or the kind of Internet service, or what security functions you have turned on and off. Groan. This technical stuff is pretty much beyond me.

There's a little picture of the cover on my blog ( but so far all I've posted there is a couple of recipes... trying to get my blogging feet wet and hopefully webbed.

Beth Trissel said...

I enjoyed your post, Barbara. Liked the apple tree gnomes you wrote about as a child. And hear you about wilting when it gets too hot outside. I love gardening, but to a point. Your new novel sounds super.
High five!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Oh, Barbara, you so rock! But then I've told you that many times ;) Absolutely love your hook line, what makes you think I give a damn about being safe. Well done, and congratulations! Thanks for bringing Barbara Monajem to your readers, Emily, expect great things.

Barbara Monajem said...

Beth - Heh. I wish I remembered the details of the apple tree gnome story.

Donnell - Thank you, sweetie! Mwaaa!

Re the annoying little x on the website -- the cover loads fine in Firefox, so I think it's an Internet Explorer issue. Will follow up! Thanks, Carol, for letting me know.

Pamela Cayne said...

Emily--thanks for having the wonderful Barbara her today! (I had despaired of ever seeing her in the blogverse.)

I've been lucky enough to read some of Barbara's other writings and she has such a fresh and unique voice that I was totally hooked. March cannot come fast enough if you ask me, and with such a gorgeous cover, I'm even more excited.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Emily for having Barbara.

Barabara, I love the concept of your story. My whole family were farmers, gardners and landscaper, but not me. lol

Very neat excerpt.

Sandy said...

One other comment. I think it's blogspot that is messing up the photos because yesterday they were there at first, then they were gone.

Mary Marvella said...

I love it, Barbara! Who knew? As long as I've known you, I hadn't read anything of yours before today. Good choice of guests, Emily.

Unknown said...

Gotta love a gardening vampire. Barbara, here in the north I have tried to grow wisteria without success, so to you it might be a demon, but to me it's an elusive angel. Can your vampire offer any advice? LOL
Your story sounds great and I love how you have made the vampire world all your own.

Mary Marvella said...

Hey, Barbara, we are so lucky you agreed to join us at

Mama Mary

Barbara Monajem said...

Pamela - How cool to see you here! Heh. Yeah, I had to get dragged into blogging, but I do enjoy it now.

Sandy - There are a lot of gardeners in my family, too. I've tried, believe me, but now I just appreciate all their dedication and hard work!

Mary - I'm so glad you liked the excerpt. Now it's my turn to read something of yours. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Ann - A friend from England who visited us was astonished that we considered wisteria a weed in the South. On the other hand, it can be really beautiful even so. It will climb a tall pine tree, and for a few weeks in the spring the pine is covered with purple blossoms. Absolutely glorious.

Unfortunately, my vampire only knows how to get rid of wisteria, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Barbara,

Loved your excerpt. I remember reading the first fifty pages of this manuscript as a Golden Heart entry. Of course, at the time,I didn't know who the author was. It was a wonderful read.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.


Pamela Varnado said...

The cover of your book is AWESOME!

I loved your new take on vampires. RK Charron is right, your excerpt oozes great characterization and dialogue. I wish I could be as focused as the heroines in my stories. Though they often have to overcome emotional issues they always accomplish whatever goal they set for themselves, and in just a 400 page manuscript. Oh, if only life was so easy.

Barbara Monajem said...

Connie - Thank you so much! I'm glad the excerpt worked as well for you as the other selection you read.

Pam - Heh. Only 400 hundred pages to a happy ending. Sounds a bit like New Year's resolutions - 365 days to become a new person. Sigh. Never works for me.

EmilyBryan said...

Oh, wow! While I've been hacking away at my new premise, Barb has been a busy little bee here.

Hello everybody! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and giving Barbara such wonderful support!

Barbara, if you size down your jpg, send it to me and I'll replace this one with a true color one. It's too gorgeous not to post here.

Linsey Lanier said...

Hi Barbara,
That is a great cover.

What a cool excerpt. These characters are hot and the tension sizzles. Can't wait to get a copy!

The heroine in my current wip is a Chicago cop who goes up against the Mob. Not something I would EVER do. :)

Much success with "Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil"!!!


Scarlet Pumpernickel said...

Emily you have a wonderful blog, I enjoyed reading Barbara's excerpt. What an interesting story, I can hardly wait for it to come out!

Mona Risk said...

Barbara, what a great excerpt and enjoyable characters. It's the first time I read your writing but I know it won't be the last. I can't wait for your book to come out. I hope you'll post excerpts more often.

Barbara Monajem said...

Linsey - Yeah, it's fun writing kick-ass heroines we can in no way emulate! Biff! Pow! Bam! Just like in comic books.

Scarlett and Mona - I'm so glad you enjoyed my excerpt. I had fun choosing it!

Nancy said...

Hi, Emily and Barbara--what a fun post! I really relate to not being a gardener. I tend to kill plants, unfortunately. So I stay away from ours.

I love the excerpt, and the last line is great!

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Nancy! Hmm... Do you suppose you could come kill my wisteria?

Thanks for stopping by!

Patricia Barraclough said...

Good luck with the book, Barbara.
What would I like to do if I could?
Sing on Broadway
All take real talent and can't be faked.
Emily, thanks for introducing a new author.

EmilyBryan said...

Oh, Barbara, your wisteria is so misunderstood. It's only trying to carve out a little piece of sun for itself. Sad about its host plant, but wisteria is so pretty while it's commiting "plant-i-cide."

Susanne Saville said...

What a beautiful cover! Looking forward to reading it. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Patricia - I would like to be able to sing, too. I do a lot of loud singing along to CDs while driving the car. Fortunately, I can't really hear myself over the speakers.

Susanne - Glad you like the cover; hope you enjoy the story, too!