Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Post: Jennifer Estep and Venom Giveaway!

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Melissa for having me on the blog today. Thanks, Melissa!

Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

The first two books in the series are Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, came out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.
I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

So Melissa suggested that I do a post today about the questions that I get asked as an author. I get tons of questions and comments through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, everything from requests for bookmarks to tips on writing to when my next book is coming out.

But today, I thought I would focus on some of the most interesting and most unusual things that people have asked me. Here goes:

1) Are your Elemental Assassin books like the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? 

Uh, no. Gin does not barbecue and serve up the people that she kills at her restaurant. That would just be icky. You would not believe how many people have asked me this one, and it’s something that I never even thought about while I was writing the books.

2) You look like such a nice girl. How can you write all that sex and violence?

Apparently, I hide my true dark, twisted, evil nature quite well. ;-)  
Seriously, though, I like reading books with a little bit of everything in them, including sex and violence, and those are the kind of books that I like writing. Besides, it’s just fun to write about a character who’s as strong and sassy as Gin in. She lives in a violent world, and she gives as good as she gets. Enough said.

3) Why aren’t vampires featured more prominently in your books?

Because there are lots of vampire books out there already, and I wanted to do something a little different. So vampires are a part of my world, but the focus isn’t on them any more than it’s on the dwarves or giants. The focus is on Gin and her elemental magic. But I am thinking about having Gin take on a really nasty vampire bad guy at some point in the series. We’ll see what happens.

4) Are you the woman on the Elemental Assassin book covers?

No, that is not me on the covers. I wish my body was that good! But I get asked this question a lot when I sign books at my local comic book store. I think some of the guys there are hoping that I’ll pull a superhero switcheroo and suddenly go from geeky to hot in five seconds. Sorry, fellas, it’s not going to happen. What you see is what you get. LOL.

5) Are you as tough as Gin is?

Unfortunately, no. I wish that I could kick butt like she does or was just as mentally tough. The truth is that I’m kind of wimpy. I don’t like arguments or confrontations, and I tend to keep my feelings to myself. Heck, I don’t even like killing bugs because I hate the way they crunch under my shoes. 
I’m pretty laid back. Live and let live and all that. Be nice to me, and I’ll be nice to you. Treat me like dirt, and I will wish that I could make your head explode with my fiery gaze alone. 

I can be ruthless about certain things, though. If you are between me and the last cookie on the plate, then you are in serious trouble. ;-)

6) Can you cook like Gin does? 

You bet your bottom dollar I can! Well, okay, maybe I can’t cook quite as good as Gin does. After all, everything she makes turns out perfect every single time. My dishes don’t always do that. But I think I’m a pretty decent cook. Let’s face it – it’s not that hard to follow a recipe. LOL.

I think the key to being a good cook is to just keep things simple. It’s a lot easier to dress up a cake mix and have it turn out nicely than it is to make something complicated from scratch. I tend to stick to what I call “mix and stir” recipes. A few ingredients you mix together, then bake or refrigerate or whatever. I’m pressed for time like everybody else, so I like simple recipes with common ingredients. 

Besides, I think the best food is often the simplest. To me, you just can’t beat things like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, or chocolate cake. Mmm … I’m getting hungry just typing this …

7) Are the recipes in the books real? They sound so good!

Some of the recipes are real, while others (like Fletcher Lane’s secret barbecue sauce) exist only in my imagination. Most of the recipes are tried and true favorites that I’ve collected over the years from friends, family, magazines, etc. You can find some of them on my website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/books-series/elemental-assassin-series/. Scroll down until you see “Gin’s Recipe Box.” Every once in a while, I swap out the recipes or add new ones.

8) Are you really from the South?

Yep, I’m a Southern girl born and bred. In fact, my hillbilly drawl would probably make you cringe if you heard it. I’ve lived my whole life in the mountains in the South, and I don’t see that ever changing.

9) Do you like barbecue? What are some of your favorite foods?

I love a good barbecue sandwich, although baked beans are my favorite barbecue-related thing. I’ve got a big sweet tooth so I love cookies and cake and ice cream, but I also really like hearty foods, like mac and cheese, French fries, and pasta. Cheese is my real weakness though. I love cheese.

10) Do you have a plan for the Elemental Assassin series? When will Gin get revenge on the person who murdered her family?

I do have a plan for the series. I’m under contract for five books right now, which will let me finish out the big story arc with Gin and her nemesis. Most of the other big questions will be answered as well, like who Gin ends up with. 

I know that I hate it when a series goes on forever and nothing seems to happen or change, so I want to give readers a complete story with these five books. Of course, I’d like to write more books in the series beyond these five, but that will depend on sales, like everything else does.

So there you have it. Some of the many questions that I’ve been asked as an author over the years.

What about you guys? Got anything you’d like to ask me? Share in the comments.


Oh, and those of us who are squeeing at another book in the works... here is a glimpse of the cover for "Tangled Threads". 


Because I love this series so much I want to share it with as many people as possible. To enter, answer Jennifer's question, ask a question, or make a comment in the comments section to win. Don't forget to leave an e-mail addy. She'll be here the first day to answer any questions you might have. There will be 3 prizes available. 
  • Signed Venom copy from Jennifer Estep (US only)
  • Spider's Bite book (international anywhere bookdepository.com delivers) If you are an international visitor, let me know and you'll be able to pick any book in the series.
  • Copy of Web of Lies (courtesy of Chasity of Lovin', Livin' Life Reviews) and Venom together. (US only)
Just don't forget to let me know which one or one's you would like to enter to win.

I'll end the giveaway on 10/12/2010 at 10 PM mst/ 12 PM est.

Giveaway is now closed.


    1. Hi!
      Just wanted to let you know that I've given you an award at my blog, for being absolutely amazing!

      And this comp looks great. I have a question for Jennifer: What have been some of the best moments for you as an author?

      Email: readingcouture@gmail.com


    2. I would love to win any of the books in this series! Jennifer's series has been on my wishlist for awhile. Any hints as to what is going to happen in Tangled?

      Great interview and contest!

    3. Tina -- I would say one of my best moments was when I saw a copy of my first book, Karma Girl, for the first time. That made the whole published author thing real to me.

      Also, another one of my best moments has just been this whole year. Folks just keep emailing and emailing me about the Elemental Assassin series. It's been really great to know that folks are reading and enjoying the books. I'd say that I had more interest in Spider's Bite than my previous three books combined -- and it doesn't seem like it's slowed down yet.

      NR -- In TANGLED THREADS, Gin goes up against Elektra LaFleur, an assassin that's been hired to come to Ashland to hunt down the Spider. There's also a lot more good stuff with Owen and Gin's relationship with her sister Bria gets more complicated too. ;-)

    4. I's always looking for new reads, so thanks for introducing me to some really fantabulous/ right up my alley sounding ones!

      What I would like to know is, as an author do you have lots of time to read for yourself? Or are you always busying planning, writing and whatnot? If you do read lots, do you have any favourite series or authors?

      I would love to be entered into the "Spider's Bite book contest"... Thanks a bunch!

      Avery elfee_2_ava@hotmail.com

    5. Avery -- Cool. Glad you're interested in the series.

      I don't have nearly as much time to read as I'd like. I work a full-time day job, so I do my writing, blogging, editing, etc. at night and on the weekend.

      But I try to read at least 50 books a year. Some of my favorite paranormal authors are Jeaniene Frost, Kresley Cole, Suzanne Collins, Kirstin Cashore, Robin McKinley ... I could go on all day! ;-)

    6. Lol on that fried tomatoes one, I would sure hope she never served up her kills, icky for sure.

      Did you have any say on this awesome covers?

      Not entering since the books I would like to read would be nr 2.

    7. Blodeudd -- It is icky, but folks ask me that all the time. LOL.

      I don't really have much say on the covers. Usually, my editor sends me the preliminary art and asks for my thoughts, but honestly, the covers have all been so awesome so far that I haven't had much to say other than great job. LOL.

    8. Hi Jennifer, will you consider writing books for young adults? Do you think the cover of a book is important?

      I'm entering for the international giveaway. I've been wanting to read the series for a long time! Hope I can win!

      aikychien at yahoo dot com

    9. I can't wait to read these books. Great interview by the way. I'd love to be entered for all 3 giveaways please.

      hewella1 at gmail dot com

    10. @ Blodeuedd I'll enter you and if you win the international, I'll get you #2. :) Same with the other internationals (just let me know you are international).

    11. Aik -- Actually, I have a YA series coming out next year. It's called Mythos Academy, and the first book, TOUCH OF FROST, will be out in August 2011. It's about a Gypsy girl who gets shipped off to a school for the descendants of ancient warriors.

      I do think a book cover is important. If you like an author, you'll buy her book no matter what the cover looks like. But if you haven't read an author before, I think you're more likely to buy the book if you like the cover. Just my opinion.

      Ashley -- Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    12. Hi Jen! Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear theres plans for at least 5 books in the series.

      How much input did you have on the titles?

      Id like to be entered for Venom.

      bacchus76 at myself dot com

    13. Donna -- I have some input on the titles. Usually, my agent, editor, and I will email lists of potential titles back and forth until we find a couple that we all like. After that, it's just a process of narrowing it down or tweaking until we have the best title for the book.

      I think all the titles have been really great so far, and we'll be working on the one for book 5 soon.

    14. I really enjoyed Spider's Bite and can't wait to read what happens next. I haven't had a chance to pick up Web of Lies or Venom, so to win both of them would be absolutely awesome. I'd also like to be entered to win the signed copy of Venom, that would be fantastic as well.
      My question for Jennifer is: I know you said you'd like to write more than five books in the series. Do you already have ideas for many more after that? Do you think you would eventually get tired of writing the same character and want to move on to something else?


    15. Amazing interview and giveaway! I would like to know where did you get this idea from and how do you keep going with it? Was there a point you felt like giving up? I can never stay with one idea.

      Also, I'm looking forward to your YA series, sounds fab! How did writing for young adults compare to writing for adults and which one do you like more/ prefer if any?

      Thank you for making this giveaway international.

      I would like to be counted in for the international giveaway and have the first book if I win please.


    16. Thank you so much for the sneak at the new book. I have the first and cannot wait to get started.

      I would love Venom and/or Web of Lies!

      Great contest and post.

      robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

    17. I just had to say that some of the questions you get asked are too funny!

    18. hi jennifer! you must be exhausted from all these tour stops! lol if i win, i would lurve the signed copy of venom (as i already have the other two)!

      what is your specialty dish?

      k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

    19. I love having vampires (and other supernaturals) in a story without them dominating it! : ) Thanks! Can't wait to start Spider's Bite (it's on my shelf).
      ambience.of.rain {at} gmail.com

    20. Whoops... I forgot to add I'd love any of the 2 newest book since I already have Spider's Bite!

    21. Are you planning any spin offs of other residents in the town? And did you always know that you were going to be an author?

      I would love any of the giveaways as I haven't read any of them yet so I will just fill out the series.\


    22. I'd like to enter to win, too, please! I'm in the US, so any of the prizes would be fine with me!

      Jennifer, I am originally from PA but have lived in the south for 18 years now, and have raised bith my daughters as true GRiTS...my question for you is, if you could live anywhere in the world OTHER THAN the south, where would you choose? I would choose rural Ireland, myself.

      Crazy Cat Lady

    23. Barbara -- Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed Spider's Bite. I have an idea for book 6 already, and I have an idea for another nasty villain that I'd like to introduce at some point. But like I've said before, me writing more books will depend on sales, like everything else in publishing does.

      I really love writing about Gin, but I do have ideas for other books. I've sold a YA series, and I have an idea for another urban fantasy series. I don't know that I'll ever get tired of Gin, but I do like switching between characters/worlds from time to time. I think it helps to keep my books fresh.

      Kulsuma -- I've always thought that assassin characters were interesting, especially in fantasy lit. One day, I just decided to write my own assassin with my own magic/world.

      Oh, I always think that whatever book I'm writing sucks at some point, but I force myself to keep going. Getting that first draft done is the important thing. Then, at least you have something to work with.

      Thanks! I hope you enjoy TOUCH OF FROST when it's out next year. There wasn't much difference really writing the YA book, although I did have to tone the sex and violence down a bit, especially since my YA heroine isn't an assassin like Gin is. LOL.

      Robin -- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Stephanie -- Yes, they are. I had several strange ones that I could have shared too. LOL.

      K-Sunshine -- It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun too. It lets me interact with tons of readers, which I like. ;-)

      Hmm. Probably my Southwest Chicken. It's basically chicken coated with chili powder, red pepper, etc., baked and then served with a drizzle of honey for a little touch of sweetness.

      Christa -- Me too. Cool. I hope you enjoy the book.

      Shaiha -- I'd love for the series to be popular enough to one day do a spinoff. Or I wouldn't mind writing a seperate book about Finn, since everyone seems to like him so much.

      I didn't know that I always wanted to be an author, but I always loved books and reading, so one just kind of followed the other.

      Crazy Cat Lady -- I would want to live out west somewhere -- Montana or Wyoming. Anyplace where there are mountains and cowboys. LOL.

    24. Oh great post! I love the question on looking like a nice girl and how can you write all that sex. LOL :D I love that one. The recipes sound like they have really caught some attention. I do think I read somewhere there is a link to a cook book by the author. :)

      Oh, this is such a great giveaway! And Venom is the one I don't have yet. :) Thank you!

      Sorry Melissa, I would have stopped by last night but when I got home my phone and internet was out. Boy I was bummed. But I got here now. :) Thanks!


    25. Gin is simply the best (if she's on your side that is). Fun, sassy and original-all the ingredients to a great story. Keep em comin'!! Especially Owen, I think I have a book crush :)!!

    26. This series sounds really good.


    27. Didn't read any of them yet but sounds great so I would like to be entered in the international part of the giveaway, plz =)

      tibiux at yahoo dot com dot br

    28. What a wonderful interview, Jennifer! I read the guest post of yours at Romancing the Book, and I really wanted to get the chance to read one of your novels. Hopefully :)


    29. I love this series and I really hope you get to write more than 5 books.
      I'm international, BTW.


    30. Great interview and I have been wanting to start this series in what seems like forever;-)
      My question: Where is your favorite spot to read?

      Thank you for this chance to win, I'm international and if I'm the lucky one I would love to win the first book Spider's Bite.


    31. I haven't seen these books yet they look really good. I would love to get the first book. I love the titles of them!

      giveawaymommy at yahoo.com


    Thanks for commenting! I ❤ comments!