Friday, October 9, 2015

Always Have and Always Will by Stella McLeod

Have you ever read about the ancient Greek God’s and wondered where they came from? 

Well the new paranormal romance released this week, Always Have and Always Will has the answer. This luscious romance set in the Greek Islands unveils the secret to Immortality discovered in Antiquity, reveals a young ancient warrior who has waited for over 2000 years for his lover to return to him and a modern reincarnated woman who cannot remember her past-life or him. Throw in his sinister twin brother, her best friend Menander, some living God’s and the murderer and you have a plot to die for. 

McLeod brings her experience as a psychologist to bear in the creation of her characters and story, making them challenging, flawed and deliciously vulnerable. Her hero is a warrior who wants to be a lover and her heroine, a lover who wants to be a warrior. With a past she cannot escape and a future he cannot accept does love find a way?  Of course it does! This is a romance after all, and like all good therapists or romance writers, and despite a twisted plot, McLeod delivers that perfect happy ending.

We put some questions to Stella McLeod about her new book and being an Author.

How did you become a writer?

Some people say authors are born not made, I think authors are just people who decide they want to write. I decided I wanted to write when I was a teenager, mainly because I was abysmal at Maths, Physics and Chemistry but good at English. I entered competitions, started winning awards and the positive reinforcement strengthened my behaviour. What I didn’t know and wasn’t to learn until I became a Clinical Psychologist was that intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful force in determining human behaviour and writers get plenty of that with rejections/acceptances, fans who love you and others not so much. Like the majority of writers I’ve managed to keep writing and getting published consistently, while being a mother and working in a full time occupation but a few years ago I decided to retire early from private full time practice as a Psychologist and that writing was going to be my full time, instead of part-time career. It wasn’t so much a leap of faith, rather just a reaching of a crossroad and deciding one path gave me more joy, more fulfilment. All the clues were all there anyway, like signposts, showing me which way to go; most of my friends were writers, I spent all my free time either writing, thinking about writing or reading other peoples writing. 

What types of books do you like writing the best?

Over the years I’d written everything from Medico-legal reports for the courts, professional journal articles and conference papers for Psychologists, scripts for pre-school TV shows, children’s picture books and cook books, YA and teenage fiction, a series of technical cookbooks for The Culinary Library and novel length romances. When I committed to writing full time I knew, both consciously and subconsciously, it was Romance novels I wanted to focus on. One of the things I’d learned as a Psychologist was that, although every one’s stories and pain seem different there are common universal threads of humanity and we are more similar than we know.  For most people it is the complexities of human relationships that they seek to unravel, understand and master. We may all start off on different roads but they are all heading in the same direction, hoping for the same destination. Romance writing is the genre that, to me, best explores the many facets of human relationship, but in the end it is the ONLY genre that absolutely delivers what most people are ultimately looking for throughout all stages of their life from childhood to death, acceptance, love and a place of peace and acceptance where they feel good about themselves and the world. (or as my heroine in Always Have and Always Will says, she just wants to feel beloved on the earth.)

Has being a Psychologist helped you become a better writer?

I could easily and legitimately draw an analogy between Psychological Therapy and Reading Romance books. They both involve a stepping away from and temporary suspension of the everyday world, trust and faith that the therapist or author can deliver what they advertise and promise and the goal of a happy ending that makes the participant feel better about themselves, more in control and more optimistic about the world. The difference is romance readers don’t need and aren't looking to be told anything because they’re not looking for therapy in that sense. What they are looking for, I believe, is entertainment, not just to be shown a different world from theirs, but to be taken there emotionally, to be immersed in it for a few hours and forget about everyday responsibilities. But it has to be interesting, exciting and peopled with characters that they can quickly learn to love (or hate) and care about and ones they hope and know are going to find happiness if they can only stay strong and courageous.  Romance novels are a temporary escape from the pressures of everyday life and they immerse the thoughts and emotions of the reader, literally, into a different world, into lives and problems that are entertaining and interesting, and a story that guarantees those problems will ABSOLUTELY all be sorted by the last page, or in my case, the last word if necessary. (Never read the last pages of a book first, your subconscious will hate you for it because it wants the chance to work it out for you!)

So why paranormal?  

Always Have and Always Will is not about vampires, shape-shifter, werewolves or some of the other traditional paranormal species or human aberrations, it’s a paranormal in the sense that it introduces and normalizes the super-natural themes of Immortality, reincarnation, life after death and mind control. These concepts are not so unfamiliar that we can’t believe in them and empathize with the characters and an added bonus is the beautiful and exotic setting they allow for the action to unfold.  Most paranormal characters require dark, gloomy and edgy setting to get about their bloody business. My ancient warriors, living Immortals who are alive today, are more likely to be found in the Greek Islands,(book 1) Egypt(book2) , Rome and Italy, Babylon (book 3) and the lands mentioned in the Bible. And the added plot benefit with Immortality is the complications it allows for relationships and love. Let’s face it, Immortality is shit if all the people you love are dead or if you keep making the same mistakes for centuries or if your love is unrequited. And it doesn’t matter how many decades, centuries or millennium you live there are times in your life when you are going to want to feel beloved on this earth. 

My Hero:  The face-paced action and exotic settings don’t work if the characters aren't interesting. Mine are complex and flawed with rich inner psychological lives who are searching for, and trying to understand, love. I am particularly fond of my hero in Always Have and Always Will. Alexander is my kind of man, He’s handsome of course, and built as you would expect an ancient warrior to be built, he’s self sufficient, reliable and tough. But he wants to be softer, gentler and a better lover, he just doesn’t know how.  He’s exasperating! But my heroine, after a rocky start, starts working him out, making excuses for him and making a plan! Her humor is a foil to his seriousness and her vulnerability counters his strength. There are plenty of clues to the core mystery along the way, plot twists you won’t see coming and a fully resolved but delicious ending.

The message ?  

Never give up on love, it’s worth every sacrifice.

Why is it called the Omega Series?  

Because it’s about time the heroine told the story and whilst we all love strong and delicious alphas, Romance Writers, I believe, are the most supportive and inclusive group of Omegas in the world. (and that included the male authors as well.) Every romance reader knows the Greek alphabet begins with Alpha and it has been adopted and used to describe the first or strongest male, the hero, but did you know the Greek alphabet ends with Omega? The Omega symbol in classical Greece was associated with Birth and Creation, it symbolized the female or feminine and celebrated a woman’s ability to nurture a child thereby achieving immortality for both herself and her mate. So although man was symbolized by the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha, women get the last word because it was the Omega symbol that was considered the most auspicious and most blessed by the ancient Greek Gods.  Yaaaaaay!!!

The Cover: 

Designed by the wonderful Hang Le (USA) who does Kylie Scott’s, Anna Campbell and Elsa Holland’s covers. And the image of Anastasia holding her lituus is by Deanne Whitmore, a talented digital designer from New Zealand who’s work can be found as rgus at deviantart. The lituus plays an important role in the book. It was a perfectly straight shaft of wood, without knots or blemishes, with two intricately carved and curled golden ends. It was used by a cult of ancient diviners, priests & priestesses called augers who divined the will of the Gods. By moving the Lituus, the auger created a templum, a ritual or sacred space, either in the sky where birds, clouds or stars were read as portents or on the earth to create a place of power protected by the Gods. A templum on earth was for aligning Elysium with the four cardinal points on earth, each corner for different portents, North (divine approval), South (divine disapproval), West (the sacred entrance and altar) and East (sacrifices). Buildings, gardens, animals and people inside the templum were deemed sacred for eternity. The Roman historian Livy wrote, "who does not know that this city (Rome) was founded only after taking the auspices, that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?" 

In 300 BC there were 9 augers who could wield the lituus and who had the knowledge necessary to interpret auspices, the messages sent by the Gods. 

The auger selected an elevated place, the lituus was moved to draw two straight lines intersecting at right angles one from north to south, one from east to west. Then two parallel lines were drawn at the ends of these lines to form an external square, divided into four by the first two lines. This templum intersection, in the centre, was the tabernaculum where the augur stood or sat, facing north and asked for the Gods’ assistance. A sign on the left was good, a sign on the right was bad; Greece was always north. In the observation of birds, the augur was not confined to noticing their flight, but used cries and entrails. Pre-Christian augers existed until the end of the 4th century AD but by then, when the multiple ancient Gods were usurped by the one single God, a modified lituus, with only a single scroll on one end, was renamed the ‘crosier’ by Christians. It is still carried by Bishops of the Roman Catholic church today and by the Pope who has replaced the scroll with a cross!

Thank you for having me as a guest today

I hope you all love Alex and Anastasia and they inspire to greater love.

Kind Regards

Stella Mcleod

Always Have and Always Will
The Omega Series
Book 1
Stella McLeod

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: October 1, 2015

ISBN: 1500270598
ASIN: 978-1500270599

Number of pages:  264
Word Count: 70,000

Formats available:  pdf

Cover Artist: Hang Le

Book Description: 

Reincarnation is easy until you have to face being murdered a second time. A life destroyed 2000 years in the past, a buried Greek temple with the secret to Immortality, ancient families torn apart by betrayal and a modern reincarnated woman who holds the key.

Ana Black thinks a villa on a Greek Island will be the perfect summer holiday but her plans don’t include Alexander Petrakis. He’s an ancient warrior who thinks he’s Immortal, says he’s waited 2000 years for her to return and claims she’s his reincarnated lover, a woman he freely admits he failed to protect in her past life. Even if she believes him and gives him a second chance, what hope he won’t fail her again?

With a past she cannot escape and a future he cannot accept, all they have is the present. Will they find a way or are they both out of time?

Available at Amazon
Chapter 1. Island of Monemvasia, Greece. Present day.

“I would rather be tied to the soil as another man’s serf ...than be King of all these dead and destroyed.” ~ HOMER, The Odyssey

When the last shutters close nothing moves but the wind in the trees and the thin fabric of my dress as it drums and billows in the air.
I knew it was a mistake, like my hair. When I’d left it had been neatly arranged in a loose knot and now it’s unraveling out of control. Like my life.
The streets are quiet and everyone is inside but I try not to think about the shitty weather, try to pretend it’s not a bad omen. The oppressive summer heat has given way to warm autumn days that gave no hint of the winter to come, the blue skies were bluer, the air cleaner.
Until today. Today the grey started and rain threatened.
A short while ago I felt safe, now my imagination creates danger where there is none. But it doesn’t matter, just like the rain and mist in the darkening streets don’t matter and the shutters closed against the coming storm don’t matter. The local villagers snug and warm behind those shutters though, are smarter than me.
But I have no choice. I have to meet him or the Greek authorities are going to burn my passport, lock me up and throw away the key.
I rub my arms, not for warmth but to brush away the goose bumps that thinking of Alexander Petrakis brings. I should be scared and I am, I should abandon my crazy plan but I can’t, and if I try walking any faster in these high-heeled shoes skipping the country is going to be a lot harder with a broken leg.
So I keep my head down, watching for rising cobblestones that might trip me up and see a scruffy dog instead. He’s too happy to see me, too sad to be anything but a stray. If he were mine I’d have him inside on a night like this. So I stop for a few minutes to give him a scratch behind the ears and a few words of comfort.
“Gotta go now,” I say shooing him off gently, making promises I can’t keep, watching him amble away with his hunched shoulders and limp tail in search of comfort and shelter he will never find. I walk away fast, think of other things but my hearts racing and breaking for not turning around and not doing the right thing. I should take a lesson from him, do a runner and take him with me. But it’s too late for me for that.
I pass an ancient olive tree that flashes its leaves to me in the wind, flipping them silver to green then silver again, sending me a thousand SOS’s. I ignore their warning and instead look out to sea at the jutting island with its crumbling relic and ancient ruins that fills tourists with awe. I shudder. It makes my flesh crawl and affects my mood. Dark weather stirs dark thoughts, and dark thoughts are perfect for dark deeds.
Across the narrow straight of choppy sea I estimate distance, current, and opportunity. It’s far, but not too far to steer a boat against the tide. I calculate the risk of missing the dock against the likelihood of being smashed against the rocks; glad I didn’t make that mistake.
That mistake I avoided by going the long way around and walking across the long causeway, but I’ve made plenty of others.
He’s chosen the place. I would have preferred the plush Chrisovoulo or the Kastraki for our meeting rather than his stuffy restaurant but he’s insisted, owns it evidently. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end because I doubt I’ll feel safe anywhere in Greece at the moment. At the moment I just feel betrayed.
I walk along the waterfront then turn into the small lane and make my way carefully up the steps to the Bellagio. I don’t want to open the door. That fact alone should chill me to the bone, instead
I’m on fire, feel slightly sick, getting a temperature maybe. I take a deep breath, push harder and step across the threshold into my future and a blast of hot air where my skin is cold, then hot, then cold again; tingling with dread or excitement, I’m not sure which. My senses are confused. My life is confused. Same old, same old, nothing new tonight then for Ana Black.

About the Author:

McLeod’s books deliver exotic and interesting locations with characters flawed in quirky everyday ways and as a Clinical Psychologist, she draws on psychological insights into human behaviour and motivation to bring her story and characters to life. Published for over twenty years in a variety of media including television, books, electronic and print media, with additional qualifications as a London trained chef, food writer and lecturer means her readers will always find psychological complexity, tension and food written into her books. Stella McLeod is a member of the Australian Romance Writers Association.

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