Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday's special is...Thwarting Magic

Thwarting Magic by Ann Tracy Marr

Ann Tracy Marr is one of the newest entrants to the ranks of e-book authors. Since she loves the Regency period, her chosen method of torturing readers is to throw them into an altered universe. It looks like Jane Austen's era, with ladies in ball gowns chasing men wearing Brummell's elegant evening costume, determined to make the match of the season – with one small, but significant, detail added.

King Arthur, the round table, and Merlin’s magic are not myth, but history.

Yes, Camelot existed. King Arthur united Britain and Merlin messed it up with his magic. In Marr's Regency era, the Round Table rules, not Parliament, and although they are as rare as the man who never sets up a mistress, magicians walk among common men -- and flirt with marriage-minded debutantes.

So twist legend into truth. In the Camelot-inspired Regency fantasy, Thwarting Magic, a rogue wizard threatens the stability of the world. It is magician Adrian Hughes's quest to find and stop the wizard before magic holes destroy the atmosphere. It is his dream to win Margaret Ridgemont.

But in 1814, the fathers decide. Margaret and James Treadway will marry. Period, end of discussion. It promises to be a hell of an arranged marriage. With magic holes forming in the most unexpected places, Adrian’s quest throws him into the deepest pit of all, the void of a loveless marriage.

Today, Ann Tracy Marr is here, plastered to her keyboard, ready to explore this marriage with you, the devoted members of the Book Roast club.

Buy Thwarting Magic in paperback or as an e-book at Amazon or Awe-Struck . It's also available at a slew of online e-book stores, and hopefully sometime this year at Barnes&Noble.com.

Thwarting Magic is one of a series of books. Check out Ann Tracy Marr's website for more information.


Excerpt from Thwarting Magic

An unearthly howl caused Mrs. Norris to drop the Minton sauce boat. It landed on her toe and exploded, spraying shards of gilded porcelain far and wide. Cook squealed, dropping the long meat fork on the stone flags in front of the soot stained hearth. One of the tines crumpled. The juicy steak speared on the fork splattered her apron, skirt, the floor, and the good linen tablecloth a maid had just finished ironing.

"Lands, is a dragon got in the house?"

"Oh, not a dragon--please don't let it be a dragon." Massive thuds rattled the crockery.

At the second shouted snarl, wilder than the first, a footman threw his hands over his ears, accidentally tossing the knife he held over his shoulder. It sank into the potato a kitchen maid was peeling. She screamed and fainted. The scullion dived under the work table, rocking it. A pot of peas tilted and fell atop the shattered sauce boat. It was followed by a brimming pitcher of ale. Potatoes rolled. Another maid cast her apron over her head and screeched.

"Pray Merlin save us, it's the Questing Beast. The Questing Beast is come to destroy the house." To the occupants of the kitchen, it sounded as if that dread creature, which made the unholy sound of forty baying hounds, had been unleashed upstairs. The offspring of a girl and the devil himself, the Beast was the most fearsome of creatures. King Arthur had quailed before it; a kitchen populated by humble servants was undone by fear of it.

"Lordy, it's the devil. The house is possessed by the devil Questing Beast!" Another eerie roar made the hairs rise on Mrs. Norris' arms. "A magic devil!"

Devils were one thing, but magic devils were the stuff of primal nightmares. The Questing Beast--they were about to die. The knife boy curled into a ball in the middle of the floor and sobbed. Maids ran back and forth, seeking hiding places where none existed and the footman quaked. The scullion wrapped quivering arms around the table leg.

Porcelain shards glittered and green peas floated in a sea of ale as the chatelaine dashed up the service stairs to the hall, following the bloodcurdling sounds. Reaching the landing, she slapped a hand over her frenzied heart as the baize door swung open and the butler pounded through the doorway. They collided.

Both reeled; Mrs. Norris would have gone back down the stairs on her head if Craig hadn't grabbed her arms. Another prolonged roar, accompanied by the sound of furniture smashing against plaster, echoed in the stairwell.

Mrs. Norris flinched. "What is it; is it the Questing Beast?" Craig curled a hand tight around her arm and started for the kitchen, dragging her with him. "What is wrong?"

Craig bellowed to be heard above the pounding noise. "The master is in the library."

"Oh, my stars. It isn't the Questing Beast. We are safe. I take it he does not like the drapes?"

"Lime and orange stripes? I doubt it."

"Nor the tables Mrs. Treadway purchased? He does not approve of gilded cupids?"

"No, I believe the first howled comment pertained to the tables." Another crash shook the floor and the butler winced, his eyes rolling to the ceiling. "If I am not mistaken, that is a tribute to puce and yellow damask cushions."

"The celestial blue walls?" There came a great rumble, as of books and lumber crashing. Safe on the flagged kitchen floor, they exchanged horrified glances.

"Perhaps not." A drawn out, guttural yell heralded the smash of slammed doors. Blessed silence fell over the house.

Mrs. Norris cocked her head and smiled, a slow tilt of the lips upward. "Mr. Treadway must have liked the rug. I thought Mrs. Treadway's choice was inspired with all those red and blue dragons thrashing around the edges eating each other."

The scullery maid, her nose pressed against a leg of the work table, suddenly bolted to her feet, screaming fit to kill, "A hole. Right in front of my nose--a hole. Oh, my gawd, it made a hole. Somebody save me!"

The leg the maid had anchored herself to--the leg of the massive oak work table, thick as a man's wrist--broke. The table slowly tilted, sliding bowls, potatoes, knives, and the ham, studded with cloves in a star pattern, to the floor. The table followed. The crash rattled china nearly as much as the master's response to his wife's decorating of his library.

**********************************************************************************

Phew! As you calm down after all that drama, for a chance to win a free copy of Thwarting Magic why not answer today's question?

CAN THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?

And be sure to pop in to chat to Ann Tracy and quiz her on her intriguing idea for choosing a winner - she says "the winner of the contest will be the most cynical respondent". Get the cynical hats on and we'll see you in the comments section!

74 comments:

Chris Eldin said...

Good morning everyone!
I'm still in my party clothes, so let's get the party going!!
:-)

jason evans said...

Welcome Ann! Great to have you over. :)

Speaking of dragons, I could use one here today. More wintry weather. Brrrrr.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Party -- you had a party and didn't invite me? I know what it is; all you care about is my books. I slave away, day after day, pouring all those silly letters on a page, and you can't even invite me to the party.

Oh well, I can live with a broken heart. So...

Good morning.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Good morning to you, Jason. I assume you missed the party also. And yes, I have a dragon around here somewhere -- she's just a baby, so her heat ony gets to the low 60's.

Want to rent her?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Seriously, you don't want a dragon. They are terribly destructive.

An example: I was going to use plaster to keep myself at the keyboard today, but Sophie burned a hole in the side of the bucket. All my lovely plaster hardened on the floor. The cat is stuck in it; so I had to dig out velcro to keep me here.

And now Sophie is in the refrigerator, looking for breakfast. How much heat can milk take before it curdles?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

But I still feel grumbly about the party. I wasn't told this was fun. I showed up and Chris put me to work. Everyone else might be sipping champagne and devouring shrimp, but I am off in the corner with a warm bottle of water and the keyboard,, waiting for five star reviews.

Did I mention that Thwarting Magic got a five star review on Amazon? Betty Dravis, a top 1000 reviewer for Amazon, really liked the book.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Well, everyone, shall we make some fun?

Bet you wonder how I chose the excerpt. Is it the best (or only) good scene from the book? Does it give you a bit of romance to warm up a cold winter day?

Naw, its a bunch of servants. This is the Regency; anyone who was anyone had servants. So what?

It is the clamor upstairs, the noise that sounds like a dragon or the dreaded Questing Beast is tearing the library apart, that I enjoyed so much I wanted to share.

You see, I am an avid Regency reader -- have been for years -- and I have longed for a romance that showed what happened when the MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE didn't do Happy Ever After.

So I did. And this excerpt gives a teeny, tiny hint right at the very end as to the status of that marriage of convenience.

If you want further explanation, just holler. I'm over in the corner all day, ready to do as you command.

jason evans said...

Hey, you have a great point!! I WASN'T INVITED TO THE PARTY EITHER! Hmph.

Low sixties with that dragon? I think I might need an upgrade. Sounds like they have tempermental dispositions in general. Maybe I'd better opt for kerosene.

Chris Eldin said...

I have a *special* party waiting for people who grumble.
Come closer.
Just a bit closer....
That's it!

hehehehehe!
:-)

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Good idea, Jason. Dragons are chancy critters at the best of times. There aren't enough to go around, either.

Most people think of dragons the way they think of ghosts. "No, you won't get me to admit they exist."

It is the people who actually have one who know if they are happy or if they want to sell the house and move under cover of night.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Ok, Chris, grumble, grumble. I'll move over to the podium.

Wow! A plate of shrimp and my own bottle of Dom? Thank you, thank you.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Back to the excerpt, if you please. This is serious business. I had another reason for using that particular scene.

I have a social conscience. (Didn't I tell you this was serious? Put down that fork and listen up.)

I have a social conscience. Thwarting Magic is not a romance, it is not fantasy, it is not comedy with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Ok, ok, it is, it is. But, Thwarting Magic also deals with the burning issue of our times: the environment. Remember at the end when the table leg breaks? It is not the ozone layer, but then, Regency types don't use the word ozone.

Somehow, someone is burning holes into the environment. That person probably frogged up the ozone layer also. And if that sniggly peron isn't stopped, England might crumble into the sea.

You are cordially invited to read Thwarting Magic and catch the villain before holes start showing up in highly inconvenient places, like foreheads or ship hulls.

Sarah Laurenson said...

King Arthur, magic and Regency England? I'm so there.

This sounds like a heck of a lot of fun.

And holes popping up willy nilly too?

Oh my!

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love dragons.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Chris - you are one non-stop party.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Sarah, you mention the magic name:
King Arthur. Be still, my beating heart.

He lived so long ago, but Arthur united Britain and created the Round Table, which still rules the land. We don't need no stinking Parliament, we got the knights of the Round Table.

The romance of Arthur and Camelot influencing the Regency - that is my twist on fate. As one reviewer said, it is surprising, but it works.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Please, stop throwing oranges. I did not mean to mislead you. There are no dragons flying around in Thwarting Magic, only magic. It is the superstitious who believe in dragons.

Jane Austen would roll over in her grave if I altered the Regency THAT much.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I think Jane would've loved to have a pet dragon. Can you imagine Mr. Darcy dealing with one on the estate? I can imagine Elizabeth having one follow her home.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

I would love a dragon also, if only to heat the house. I am only babysitting Sophie, the six month old dragon. Darcy would have given it to Mr. Collins, I am afraid.

Martha Thomas said...

This looks great! How come the library is so poorly decorated?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

What, you don't like lime, orange, blue and cupids?

Margaret, our heroine, is retaliating for her husband's slights by redecorating HIS library. It's a marriage of
IN-convenience and may the best (wo)man win.

Who should win?

Martha Thomas said...

Of course Margaret should win. Even when women pretend to lose, we all know they really win.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

:)

There may be a consolation prize for her even if Margaret loses. It is a romance, after all.

Martha Thomas said...

Do you have any other books?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

I sure do, Martha. Round Table Magician is the second book in the series. The third, To His Mistress, comes out in March, just in time for a season and presentation to the Queen.

Still no dragons, but the Green Man, an ancient deity, is as much fun. Look at my website for details. www.AnnTracyMarr.com

Ann Tracy Marr said...

With all my chatter about magic and Camelot, Thwarting Magic is a Regency. Lady Jersey controls Almack's and woe unto the person who smells of the shop -- any shop. That is how I pull the Banshee Brigade in, and no, I am not going to discuss them, other than to tell the unsuspecting to expect four year old antics in thirty year old men.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

So we have Margaret Ridgemont married to James Treadway. Margaret redecorates James' library and, in a rage, he destroys the gaudy result. Read between the lines - does this sound like a happy marriage?

Your hint: Adrian Hughes is the whimsical hero.

Maryann Miller said...

What fun to have a book roast. My first visit, but I'll be back. :-)

And I could have used a dragon to melt the ice in my horse trough last week.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

A horde of dragons equals global warming, yes?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Now there's a great reason for the existence of global warming.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

I thinkyou saw them, Sarah, as extras in the movie, Lord of the Rings.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ah yes. And burning up all those tree people (so they wouldn't have to pay them for their role in the films) also contributed to the overall warming effect.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

That is probably the best kept secret in Hollywood -- it isn't cars, but movies, that need to be cleaned up.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's all the petroleum that goes into video.

If we melt down all the video tapes in the world, would we have enough oil to power a nation for a year?

Ann Tracy Marr AKA Luella Persons said...

Those pesky dragons caused the smog in LA, and all the fires --- well, now you know.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

If you add in all the obsolete music cassette tapes...

Shona Snowden said...

Hi Ann! This is very funny! And I did wonder why the table leg collapsed.

Now, back to the cynicism. I wanted to discuss why somebody who writes novels with a strong element of romance is looking for the most cynical answer?!

Ann Tracy Marr said...

There are more interesting creatures than dragons...

The Green Man shows up in my next book, To His Mistress (coming in March). He is so ancient no one understands him any more; scholars believe he was involved with crops. We only know him through the icons of him in English churches.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Hee hee. I love cynicism. The best humor issues from it, and when the roamnce novel features a love triangle, husband-wife-love, someone deserves the back handed chuckle.

Shona Snowden said...

Hi Ann! This is very funny! And I did wonder why the table leg collapsed.

Now, back to the cynicism. I wanted to discuss why somebody who writes novels with a strong element of romance is looking for the most cynical answer?!

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Besides, there is enough sweetness and light floating around the romance world.

Shona Snowden said...

Sorry, didn't mean to post twice.

When I was at high school one of my teachers told me I was a cynic. I had to look it up!

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Or another green man?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Thwarting Magic has an element of darkness threading through the humor. A table collapsing is funny, but what if it were the support for a bridge?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Not a knight, but a God. The Green Man is very old, Celtic, and enigmatic. In To His Mistress, he has the ability to shut down all agricultural activity because to him, all growing plants matter equally, weed or grain.

darbyscloset said...

Because he's a psychopathic killer, I think it is in your best interest that this marriage not be saved.
Thanks for the fun!
Darby
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Ann Tracy Marr said...

:) ohhh, Darby... I have only killed one person in three books. It wasn't hard to do, either.

Shona Snowden said...

LOL, though. Nicely cynical.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

I love the Arthurian elements in the series.

Knights are more plentiful than peers and younger sons of lords hold the honorary title Squire, making it a lot easier to figure out who the heir is and who is the spare - it is sooo important to know who to entice to marriage.

If a man performs a successful quest, he can join the Knights of the Round Table. One quest was to breed a superior hunting dog.

Shona Snowden said...

Marriage was a business deal. Love came last.

Must scoot off for a meeting, back asap. Have fun! There's another bottle of wine in the fridge and I think the Dishwasher put some clean glasses in the cupboard, but you can't always trust a Troll.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

The conferring of knighthood is performed at Camelot, in the heart of London, usually during a ball. Our love triangle attend one; along with Prinny, who isn't getting along well with his father, King George.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

If the troll forgot the wine glasses, I have plenty. The White Rabbit might be willing to pass some through the monitor, if you can figure out his password.

Lucy Smith said...

Hey Ann,

This looks like a good read!

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Thank you, Lucy.

Lucy Smith said...

Here's some cynicism for you: 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway. Is this book making up for the rest of the romance industry's lack of representativeness?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Lucy, your mind is warped. LOL

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Now that I have stopped laughing, I can defend myself, though I can't think of a smart reply. It's a Regency where divorce is very unusual!

Clarissa Thomas said...

I would like to know why magic, which is typically seen as a positive influence, is the corrupting force in this book?

Charles Gramlich said...

It's amazing how the story of King Arthur and Camelot have entranced so many over the ages. It definitely is one of the enduring myths of our time.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Clarisaa, It isn't the magic by itself which corrupts, but the way it is used. In other words, it is the person making the magic who is corrupt. In a funny book, it wasn't the easiest thing to do. I don't know anyone who has solved the mystery before I reveal it, so I managed.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

You are so correct. It is the romance that keeps Camelot fresh, Charles. We are suckers for it.

Clarissa Thomas said...

I agree with you on your point that people are corrupt, not magic. Also, you mentioned that your book is funny. I was wondering whether that meant sarcastic comments, physical comedy, or interspersed comedic lines?

Ann Tracy Marr said...

I am a poor judge of my own writing, Clarissa, but I would say that the comedy comes from the situations as they are set up. I manage some witty dialogue, and sometimes I throw slapstick in for the sheer love of it, but I don't think there is any sarcastic humor in Thwarting Magic. mainly because there are no super sophisticated characters. They are more like "real" people.

Remember my name for the future. I am ALMOST as funny as a comedian.

Lucy Smith said...

Hey Ann,

I just went to your website and I think it looks great. Good luck with your other books, too!

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Thank you again, Lucy!

Dare I hope you will consider buying - my raison d'etre.

Clarissa Thomas said...

Well that sounds like a good blend of comedy and reality. I like slapstick too. It's hard to find good slapstick, but when it's done right, it can make the moment priceless. The next time I see a comedy show, I'll look for your name!

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Which reminds me...

Someone who speaks French is going to hate me, because I do not use French correctly in my writing. The explanation is simple: it is the Banshee Brigade's fault. They mangle French.

Clarissa Thomas said...

That's ok. I speak Spanish. I think French is a mangled language anyway.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Watch what you say in Paree.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Almost time to announce the winner of the contest. Five minute warning: if you would like to win a free copy of Thwarting Magic, answer this question: Can this marriage be saved?

By cynical, please.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Lucy Smith had the most cynical response to the question, "Can this marriage be saved." She wins a complimentary copy of Thwarting Magic by Ann Tracy Marr.

She said, "Here's some cynicism for you: 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway. Is this book making up for the rest of the romance industry's lack of representativeness?"

We will be in touch, Lucy.

Ann Tracy Marr said...

Thank you for the champagne, shrimp, saddle sores from sitting hours on end, the the opportunity to be the featured author on the Book Roast.

I enjoyed everything but the saddle sores.

Good night, sweet prince and princess.

Chris Eldin said...

Thank you, Ann, for playing and being such a great sport!!!!

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and read the excerpt!!! This really does look like a terrific read. I agree with Charles about the endurance of King Arthur.

:-)

Congratulations Lucy!!!

Shona Snowden said...

Glad you had fun Ann and thank you so much for spending so much time with us today.

Congratulations, Lucy and please send your details to Ann via the email link on her web site so she can get that book to you.

Next roast coming up soon...

Julie Weathers said...

Dang it. I missed dragons?!