Monday, December 28, 2015

STAR WARS THEN AND NOW (warning: spoiler inside)


In 1977, I saw Star Wars for the very first time. It was pure magic, an escape into a fantasy world.

I was a teenager that summer, and moving from New Jersey to Florida.  I sorely needed an escape from the upcoming challenge of packing all my possessions, facing a new school and making new friends.

My good friend Amy Frankel and I went to the movies to see Star Wars. We paid about $2.25 each to sit in a dark theater smelling of stale popcorn and mildew to view a movie everyone was talking about. Amy and I were geeks who loved sci-fi and we were deeply curious about all the hype.

I was blown away. The story and the characters were amazing! The feisty and spunky and pretty Princess Leia (although that hairstyle, WHAT were they thinking? How many jokes have I heard since about “hairy earphones?”) the mysterious and paternal Ben Kenobi, the scary, ominous Darth Vader (James Earl Jones, a favorite actor, loaned his voice for the part, I later found out), the na├»ve but brave Luke Skywalker, a reluctant hero if there ever was one, the sarcastic, sexy, blaster-toting smuggler Han, and the “walking carpet” Chewie. And the delightful metallic friends, C3PO and R2D2.

And there was the mysterious “force” that surrounds all of us – the power that some could tap into and release enormous magic for the greater good.

Or the greater evil.

Star Wars was a classic tale of good versus evil, with the good guys winning (temporarily) over the dark forces and being hailed as true heroes of the galaxy. An open and closed book, without any major cliffhangers (yet leaving the possibility of new stories, since the battle was won and the Death Star destroyed, but the war was far from over). I thought George Lucas was a demigod for creating such a fantastic world. I even bought the vinyl album because the score by John Williams (a favorite composer) rocked my world. I still have it in my collection.

To a teenager going through the angst of moving to another state, Star Wars became my “Linus blanket.” The “force” was a magic power I could tap into and use to overcome unknown obstacles awaiting me in the unknown deserts of Tatooine/Florida.

I thought about the movie constantly, escaping into my imagination to deal with the challenge of leaving the only home I had ever known. I was trading the snowy winters and hills of northern New Jersey for the intense heat and beaches of Florida. In a way, I was like Luke Skywalker, embarking on a reluctant journey, only this adventure was caused by my father’s new job.

After I moved to Florida, Amy and I wrote letters to each other to stay in touch. We mentioned the movie, our favorite scenes, pretending we were role-playing the part of Princess Leia and our conversations always ended up with the tagline: “May the Force be with you.”

On my first day at the new school, when I could not even FIND the cafeteria, let alone think of who I could sit with, I ate my sandwich in the bathroom and pretended I was Princess Leia tortured by Darth Vader. This was an apt parallel since I was eating in a bathroom that looked like it had been invaded by cranky Imperial Storm Troopers. Talk about needing magic powers, yeah, the Force was DEFINITELY with me on that day. 

Gradually Amy and I lost contact with each other. I settled into my new school and new life. But I kept going to the movies and shelling out money (more and more over the years) with each new release of a Star Wars movie.

Star Wars (A New Hope, though I’ll ALWAYS think of it as the original Star Wars), is an example of the classic story-telling model of Joseph Campbell – the hero’s journey. Despite the special effects, the battles, and the flash and bang, at the heart of the movie is a simple story: Wide-eyed farm boy reluctantly embarks on an adventure. He resists the call (when Luke tells Ben he has to get back to the farm), then is shoved into it with no options (his aunt and uncle are dead). His mentor dies (Obi-Wan) and he must struggle along on the journey. Along the way he learns something about himself and grows in strength and maturity as he encounters adversaries and challenges and makes new friends.

What made the original movie so compelling for me wasn't the special effects, nor the action. It was the characters whom I bonded with, and cared about. Any author will tell you that creating characters readers care about is vastly important to the story.

Readers (and movie-goers) want heroes and heroines who are likeable and flawed and sometimes make you want to both slap them and hug them. Would we care about Gone with the Wind so much had there been no Scarlet, with Melanie Hamilton as the hero? Or worse, the wishy-washy Ashley?

This weekend I had challenges with my home, and to escape the constant drone of machines needed to dry out my walls, I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Seeing this movie today, when I am in my fifties, versus seeing the original, was as much of an eye-opening experience as that long-ago summer of 1977.

I shelled out more than $8 for the movie. As the opening credits rolled, in the same style of the original, I smiled, lost in memory.

But the rest of the movie was different.

It was a wonderful movie and I’d go see it again. Yet I found myself analyzing scenes and plot twists, something I never did back in 1977. It makes sense. I've changed and I'm now an author who writes paranormal and romantic suspense novels. I always watch movies and critique them internally. 

At one critical juncture (GIANT ENORMOUS SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE!)….

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When Han faces “Ben” on the gangway and “Ben” sets down his weapon, I actually found myself thinking “Oh please. Don’t tell me he’s going to embrace the light. That would be so boring. WHERE is the conflict after that?”

But when Ben does that dastardly deed, I thought, "YES!!!" 

That one heinous act MAKES the rest of the story. It cranks up the tension, and the stakes, especially for Rey, the heroine. And it makes the villain nearly irredeemable. Rey loses her mentor, just as Luke lost his mentor in the original. Rey is now fully committed, even if she doesn’t acknowledge it. She cannot turn back, no matter how much she resists continuing the journey.

The Force Awakens is an echo of the original Star Wars with all its plot similarities. But as a friend pointed out, now it lays the groundwork for the rest of the series. The world has been established, the main characters are set, and we shall see what happens after this. Anything is possible.

There are many questions left unanswered, more so than with the original Star Wars, which was a nifty little package all tied up with a big CGI-less bow. Along with many other fans, I will be impatiently waiting for the next movie. But for one Sunday afternoon when I sorely needed a break from plumbing problems, major reconstruction and adult concerns about the future, it was pure magic, an escape into a fantasy world.

Just like in 1977.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Lovestruck. New dragon story!

Now available! Lovestruck, my new dragon novella. Only $1.99.
Fiery red dragon Anna Dixon knows what she wants – the sexy, handsome Michael Vincent as her mate. Once childhood friends, an undying passion now claims them both. But Michael is a black dragon belonging to a rival clan, and her father will never allow the match. Heartbroken, Anna is resigned to the fact that the hatred between their families will never cease and she must deny Michael for the sake of peace.
Michael has tried to put away memories of Anna, but can never forget the red dragon who aroused his passion and claimed his heart. When Xavier, the Crystal Wizard, sends Michael to gather rare Lumen seeds from land belonging to Anna’s clan, the two dragons consummate the desire burning between them. But after Michael is caught and his presence stirs old animosities, they are threatened with a dragon war in the skies that can claim everything Anna holds dear, including her beloved Michael…

Lovestruck on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1L4zxVE
Lovestruck on iBooks: http://apple.co/1M9yp7f

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Facebook party, and a chance to win a $200 gift card!

Next week, Dec. 2, I'll be participating in a fun Facebook party with Caris Roane and 12 other terrific authors called Romancing the Holidays!

I'll be talking about Christmas with a Vampire, my old Harlequin novella that I loved writing, and my new release, Lovestruck, A Dragon Story. Everyone's invited to stop by. There will be a Rafflecopter drawing for the grand prize, and I'll be giving away some prizes during my time slot, which is TBA. 

Click here to check out the party and join this fun event! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

From werewolves and wizards to Navy Seals!

I'm changing gears...slightly. And the shift is fun! Right now I am fully immersed in writing my June 2016 Harlequin Romantic Suspense book, Navy Seal Seduction. 

This is a big departure for me, as it's my first romantic suspense book. I am so happy I am trying out a new genre. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but not that big a departure since I usually have suspense in my PNR books.

Writing straight romantic suspense is a bit of a challenge, as I'm tempted to toss in a werewolf or a Mage like I did with my Harlequin Nocturne series featuring a team of Navy Seals who were paranormals (Demon Wolf). 

I love how this book is turning out. Jarrett is a very alpha Seal who is in a volatile country, trying to get his ex-wife to go home to the US, where she will be safe. But Lacey isn't budging and for a very good reason. 

And Navy Seal Seduction is already up for pre-order on Amazon.

You can check it out here. 

I'm not stopping with the PNR. I'll have more werewolves and wizards (Tristan's book, among them) and next month I"m hoping to release a short story/novella called Lovestruck. Lovestruck is about two dragons and Xavier, and you'll get a good insight of the wizards of the Werewolves of Montana. 

That's it for now. Happy reading!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Mating Challenge and The Mating Season..Werewolves and Wizards!

Aiden's book, The Mating Challenge, is out October 1! It's book 5 in my Werewolves of Montana series. I know this book has taken a long time to be released. Thank you, thank you, all the readers who have been so very patient! Here is an excerpt from The Mating Challenge. Warning: This book contains lots of hot sex.

The Mating Challenge 
copyright 2015 Bonnie Vanak


Nikita watched as the doors closed behind them. “I can’t believe you won.”


“Try not to sound so enthused.”

“I’d try harder, but I’m not a terrific actress.”

Aiden stepped close, enjoying her rich scent of spring flowers, vanilla innocence and musk. Taking a long curl in hand, he wrapped it around his finger, forcing her to step closer. Close enough for him to see the desire and alarm swirling in her eyes.

“I bet I can coax a little enthusiasm from you when we’re alone.”

She looked around the crowded room. “We’re far from alone now, so you can stop thinking about sex.”

“Sweetheart, when you’re in the same room with me, all I can think about is sex.”

He enjoyed the flush tinting her cheeks, knowing his words, and her own arousal, caused the coloring.

Hot, sweaty sex, those long legs wrapped about his hips as he pumped hard and fast into her soft, wet heat. Her scent wound around him, making his blood run thick and hot. He’d take her upstairs, make slow, gentle love to her the first time, then tutor her in passion and f**k her hard and fast. 

Keep her in bed until she conceived.

Aiden needed an heir.

But he needed Nikita more. Couldn’t get the woman out of his system, hard as he’d tried. Aiden studied his future mate. He longed to nuzzle the sweet slope of her neck, trailing tiny, biting kisses down to her breasts. Mark her with each exquisite nip, culling little cries of pleasure from her plump, tender lips.

And then, the ultimate triumph, spread her legs open and taste her…

“I’m the winner, pixie. Get used to the idea.”

“Pixie! I’m no fairy!”

“You keep dashing in and out of here like one. Can’t fool me. But now you’re staying put. I’m your mate. You can’t deny me what I’ve wanted from you for all these years. Give in. It’s time to make you mine.”

“The full moon isn’t due until tomorrow.”

He stared at her mouth, making his intent clear. “I have no need to wait for a formal mating.”

“Impatient much?”

“No, I’ve been quite patient,” he murmured, tugging on another curl that had escaped the tight braid. “When I see something I want, I can be patient. Very patient.”


In other book news, in November I will be releasing Lovestruck, a short novella about Xavier, the Crystal Wizard, who makes a guest appearance in The Mating Challenge. This novella is the prequel to Xavier's story. I'm going to be changing up the order of the wizards' stories because I "know" Xavier better right now than Gideon. Gideon needs time to "cook," and this happens sometimes as I am writing other books.

But after Lovestruck comes Tristan's book, The Mating Season! And I am happy to report that book is more than halfway finished! In Tristan's book, Sebastian and Skylar from Temptation make an appearance and you'll get to see what they have been doing. Sebastian and Skylar play a pivotal role in Tristan's book.

 I am hoping to finish The Mating Season next month and have it released January 2015 or sooner. 

Happy reading! 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Waiting, new short story


WAITING is a new short story in my Werewolves of Montana series. It is about Aiden and Tristan and if you plan to read The Mating Challenge, which is out October 1, this story will enhance your reading experience. I am offering this story as a free download on the Members Only section of my website. 

Tired of waiting for The Mating Challenge, a fierce competition among male werewolves for the right to mate with Nikita Blakemore, alpha Lupine Aiden Mitchell decides to he will wait no more. He will force her into declaring a date for the Challenge, and he will win, no matter what the cost. Aiden does not realize that the woman he desires is Nikita’s twin sister, Nia. 

The real Nikita wants nothing to do with Aiden, especially since she started experiencing sensual dreams of another man. The dreams are becoming more intense, and so are the feelings she has for the mysterious lover who visits her each night. Little does she know that in shadows the powerful Silver Wizard waits as well. Tristan is determined to claim Nikita for himself and fulfill the prophecy to make her his bride… 


All you have to do to access this story and others is sign up for my newsletter. When you receive the next newsletter, it will have the login and the password to access the Members Only section. Click here to sign up for my newsletter.

Or if you prefer, you can purchase Waiting.

Purchase Waiting for 99 cents on Amazon.

Purchase Waiting for 99 cents on iBooks.

Purchase Waiting for 99 cents on NOOK.

Purchase Waiting for 99 cents on Kobo.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Mating Challenge available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle


Note: I changed the cover to better reflect Aiden, who is a werewolf cowboy and a ranch owner. 

For a long time alpha werewolf and ranch owner Aiden Mitchell has desired the curvy, vivacious Nikita Blakemore, alpha female of the Blakemore pack. He will have her as his mate and no other. To force her hand, Aiden maneuvers her into hosting a Mating Challenge, the ultimate warrior competition for werewolves, where males fight for the right to mate and breed with a female alpha. Fiercely protective of his future mate, Aiden will do anything to make her his own, even fight to the death. 


Masquerading as her twin sister, Nia Blakemore knows she is the one Aiden wants in his bed. Nia has dreamed of the handsome cowboy sweeping her into his strong arms and consummating the passion consuming them both, even though he thinks she is Nikita, the true alpha female. Nia must try to keep Aiden from discovering the truth to protect her frailer, gentler twin. But Nia and the real Nikita hide a secret far more deadly than the charade they have pulled off for years, one that can kill Aiden and any healthy male who sets foot upon their land… 

You can pre-order The Mating Challenge on Amazon by clicking here.


I will also have a short story preceding The Mating Challenge available soon. You can download it for free on my website on the Members Only page, and get the password by subscribing to my newsletter. Click here to subscribe to my newsletter.

Or you will be able to purchase it on vendor sites like Amazon, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo for only 99 cents. Soon as it is available, I'll let you know. Happy reading!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

New release! Temptation: A Dragon Story

Now available!

After spending 15 years as a celibate dragon, Sebastian Kane finds his desire ignited on his latest assignment for the Silver Wizard: preparing a curvy college graduate for her first shift into dragon. Problem is, Skylar Moore thinks she's human. Although she thinks Sebastian is a smokin' hot hunk who ignites her libido, the idea of her being a fanged, fire-breathing dragon is a little too much to take, even with a shot or ten of Tequila from the bar where she works.


Not only is Skylar a dragon, she's a rare Jewel, whose scales will be real diamonds. Skylar is the missing princess of a dragon clan and it's Sebastian's job to return her safely back to her people. There's a pack of greedy hyenas howling to kill her so they can get rich from selling her scales. Sebastian has his hands full training this pretty dragon, and keeping her safe from those who would harm her, while fighting the temptation to call her his own.

Purchase on:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New dragon story now available for pre-order!

On Amazon. Out August 2, 2015. Temptation, Mating Mini #5. 

After spending 15 years as a celibate dragon, Sebastian Kane finds his desire ignited on his latest assignment for the Silver Wizard: preparing a curvy college graduate for her first shift into dragon. Problem is, Skylar Moore thinks she's human. 
Although she thinks Sebastian is a smokin' hot hunk who ignites her libido, the idea of her being a fanged, fire-breathing dragon is a little too much to take, even with a shot or ten of tequila from the bar where she works. 

Not only is Skylar a dragon, she's a rare Jewel, whose scales will be real diamonds. Skylar is the missing princess of a dragon clan and it's Sebastian's job to return her safely back to her people. There's a pack of greedy hyenas howling to kill her so they can get rich from selling her scales. Sebastian has his hands full training this pretty dragon, and keeping her safe from those who would harm her, while fighting the temptation to call her his own. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

New dragon story, coming soon.


Temptation, Mating Mini #5, will be out soon. I will have it available soon for pre-order and will post the links when they are live. If you've read Redemption, Mating Mini #4, this is Sebastian the dragon's story.

Got fire? Sebastian Kane does, and he's raring to use it on a pretty dragon shifter he must train. Problem is, Skylar Moore doesn't realize she's a dragon. She thinks she's human. Although she thinks Sebastian is a smokin' hot hunk who ignites her libido, the idea of her being a fanged, fire-breathing dragon is a little too much to take, even with a shot or ten of Tequila from the bar where she works.

Not only is Skylar a dragon, she's a rare Jewel, whose scales will be real diamonds. Skylar is the missing princess of a dragon clan and it's Sebastian's job to return her safely back to her people. There's a pack of greedy hyenas howling to kill her so they can get rich from selling her scales. Sebastian has his hands full training this pretty, curvy dragon, and keeping her safe from those who would harm her, while fighting the temptation to call her his own.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dolce



This is a different kind of blog post. It's not so much about my books, releases or stuff like that. You might call it a dedication to our dog, Dolce, our "lil buddy."

Two weeks ago today, we had to put him to sleep. He had a heart condition and wasn't eating and was suffering. Trust me, it was one of the most painful, heartbreaking decisions we've had to make in a long time. We've been forced to do this with two of our other dogs who had cancer, and it never gets easier.

Dolce was one of our three rescue Shih Tzu dogs. He came to us in 2008, when a friend's friend could not longer keep him because she had to move. She loved him, was heartbroken at the idea of leaving him, didn't want him in a shelter and wanted to find a good home for him. She brought him over to us, and our other Shih Tzu at the time, Tiger, ran away from him. Tiger was scared of Dolce. Tiger was scared of everything, thus his name - Tiger!

Dolce peed on one of our chairs. His owner was mortified. We shrugged it off - "he's a dog!" So Dolce entered our lives and we were privileged to have him for 7 short years. When we had to put Tiger to sleep a year later because of cancer, Dolce was a huge comfort to us.

Dolce was the dog who always greeted us with a happy bark, and then ran to fetch a toy and bring it to us, his tail wagging furiously. Anything on the ground was game to Dolce. I traveled a lot for my day job to Haiti and other poor countries, and it was always tough leaving the DH and the dogs. They didn't like it, either. Once Dolce found my American Airlines ticket to Haiti and marched around with it in his mouth as if to say, "You're not going!"

He was a wonderful dog who loved us, loved eating, loved looking out of the window and playing with his toys. He was well-trained, never had an accident and so laid back that when Cookie and Holly, our other two present rescues, would snip at each other for dominance, you could almost see him shrug. Like, "What's the problem, ladies?"

He loved lying on the floor of our bedroom at night. When we'd go to bed, he had "his" place right in the doorway. You had to step over him in the middle of the night if you got up. Or he'd lie on "his" pillow on the floor at the foot of our bed. He was a wonderful, happy lil fellow. He was part of our family, and when it came time to make that horrid decision, we did what we had to do. I held him in my arms as the vet administered the shot, I stroked his head and whispered good-bye. And then I cried, and I've been crying on and off since.



His death, and the subsequent ill health of one of our other dogs, Holly (she has renal failure) has taken a lot of out of me these past two weeks. I've found it very hard to write anything. This weekend, I finally did drag myself out of it and wrote 8,000 words on The Mating Challenge, Aiden's book. I did it because I'm a professional author and I want to finish this book for readers who have patiently waited for Aiden's book. I did it because I need to focus on something other than grief.

I think I will dedicate The Mating Challenge to our lil buddy, who was always there in the background, patient, waiting, happy and so loyal and loving. He was the best lil guy in the world.

We miss you, buddy. Have fun chasing after squeaky toys on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New release! Redemption in DARK & DAMAGED

DARK AND DAMAGED, our new boxed set, now available!  Only 99 cents for a limited time! We have agreed to release our stories to this box set exclusively for one month. Redemption, my story, will be available for individual purchase on July 15.

Featuring the heroes of:
LION EYES by Jennifer Ashley
BLOOD FLAME by Caris Roane
TEMPTED BY FIRE by Erin Kellison
HER SINFUL ANGEL by Felicity Heaton
THE RESURRECTION OF SAM SLOAN by Erin Quinn
REBEL'S DESIRE by Laurie London
REDEMPTION by Bonnie Vanak
RAGING DAWN by Colleen Gleason


BONNIE VANAK – Redemption (Werewolves of Montana Mating Mini #4) Robert Keynes has known more tragedy than any soul should have to bear. Years ago, a Mage—Robert’s ex-lover—cursed the alpha werewolf and his pack, resulting in the deaths of many, including Robert’s parents. Only a great sacrifice on his part stemmed the curse. But the magick that protects the pack is now waning, putting Robert’s people in peril once more.

Aurora Seville is little more than a captive; a beautiful slave given to Robert so he might produce an heir. A gifted Mage, Aurora has little chance of gaining his trust—until he discovers she bears the mark of the dragon. Mating with her could be the key to breaking the curse over his pack forever. In exchange, Robert promises Aurora her freedom…unaware the very woman capable of saving his pack could also destroy the dark secret keeping them alive.

Aurora has her own reasons to get close to the sexy wolf. The secret Robert hides could free her beloved sister. So she’ll agree to become his mate—but at what cost to both their hearts?
  
Robert and Aurora first made an appearance in my last book, Passion

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/1GllV9D
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/1f9srHA
AMAZON DE: http://amzn.to/1Qw1PBo
AMAZON AU: http://bit.ly/1KOGzST
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/1G2Amfv
B&N: http://bit.ly/1C532DS
KOBO: http://bit.ly/1C535j5
iBooks: http://apple.co/1MGyDl9


You can read an excerpt of Redemption here.