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Please welcome Maria Hammarblad, author of UNDERCOVER, with a guest blog visit today.

Thank you for welcoming me to the blog, Sarah. It’s a pleasure to be here!

For me as a writer, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out what category my books belong to. It might sound like a joke, but there are so many to choose from, and the one you want usually doesn’t exist. Is it important? Yes, kind of. If people search for books in a certain category, and stumble over something they don’t expect, they’ll be disappointed.

My novel Kidnapped is an excellent example. It’s a romantic science fiction story. Amazon doesn’t have a category for science fiction romance for Kindle books, so my publisher categorized it as romance and science fiction. Seems reasonable, right? Lots of people bought it, some wrote reviews, and seem pretty happy.

One person e-mailed me the other day and said, “I really don’t like your book. It’s nothing like Isaac Asimov at all.”

I stared at the screen, I laughed, and I stared some more. Kidnapped is a romance novel.

Personally, I don’t like Asimov’s books all that much (blasphemy, I know), but I respect him. I have no intention of even trying to emulate him. If I ever write about robots, they’ll go crazy and kill people without regard to any robotic laws, because that’s the way my mind works.

I couldn’t figure out a way to answer without sounding snarky, so I wrote, “I’m sorry you didn’t like my book. Try reading something by Chris J. Randolph. His works might be more to your liking.”

Later the same day I stumbled over a review giving the book two stars, saying, “It’s nowhere even close to Douglas Adams.” I chuckled and thought, “Well, Douglas Adams didn’t write romance now, did he?”

While I realize people are different and expect different things, comments like these send me into fits of laughter. I’m sorry if I’m hurting someone’s feelings with saying that, but… I wouldn’t read a book by a romance novelist and say, “I don’t like this, because it’s nothing like Stephen King.”

I thought it would be easier with Undercover. It’s my first novel that’s not science fiction. Contemporary romance, how hard can it be? It’s a big category containing many, many, many books, but it’s pretty clear. Reader reviews have been positive.

RT Book Reviews reviewed it as a thriller and said, “It’s a bit boring.” I bet: it’s not a thriller. It had some both sexy and violent parts with murders and suspense, but they all fell under the scissors in editing. It’s pretty clean now, and readers expecting a thriller will surely be disappointed.

Undercover

When Jenny Moore meets Alexei Roshenko, it’s love at first sight. The tall, dark and handsome stranger appears to be the answer to every romantic fantasy any woman ever had. There is however more to him than meets the eye, and a dark and violent past is catching up with him. When Jenny decides to follow him back to Russia, she gets entangled in a web of deceit and secrets beyond her wildest imagination.

Find it @ Amazon | Watch the trailer on YouTube

Giveaway

For a chance to win a Kindle, PDF, or epub copy of UNDERCOVER, please leave a comment with your email address and preferred format. And, while it will not affect your odds of winning, it would be awesome of you to show Maria some love! Want to learn more about the story? Here’s a tantalizing excerpt.

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED** Congrats to Anne (11/5 @ 11:04) who was chosen by random.org as the winner!

Excerpt

When the wheels finally touched American soil, Jenny was both relieved and nervous. She was so happy to be home she could cry, at the same time as she fretted over his papers. They looked good but could hardly be real. Alex didn’t seem worried at all; he was the epitome of calm as they stood in the long line to the passport checkpoint.

Her own passport had been unused before this trip, and she opened it to look at the stamps. Alex bent over to kiss her on the cheek. He knew her well enough already to know what was on her mind. “Don’t worry, I do this all the time.”

The comment distracted her, and she thought he probably did it on purpose. She wanted to ask a million or so questions, but didn’t even lift an eyebrow. “I can’t wait to be home.”

Once they reached the counter, the woman sitting there hardly even looked at the photos. She threw one glance at their documents, gave them back, and yelled, “Next!”

They waited for the luggage for an eternity, and Jenny was nervous all the way through customs. She relaxed a little once they were well into the large airport, surrounded by Americans hurrying in all directions. The protection of being in the country was more imagined than real, but she was still happier. They walked slowly hand in hand with the suitcases rolling behind them like obedient dogs, and just seeing the crowds made her heart lighter.

She wondered if her lover would miss seeing and hearing his own language, and if he would miss his own people. He was stranded in a foreign country and culture with nothing but her, with an axe hovering over his head, and all this after knowing her for just a couple of months. Thinking about it made her feel incredibly guilty, and telling herself she couldn’t have done anything about it didn’t help at all.

Eventually, Alex stopped and pulled their bags up next to a wall. “Are you up for the drive home, or do you want to stay in a hotel tonight?”

She kept going because he did, but now when he said it, she was very tired. “I don’t know. It would be good to be home, but it seems so far away. What do you think?”

“Oh, I want to go somewhere and take all your clothes off, but what I want is not important. Your wish is my command, my sweet.”

It made her laugh. “So, a hotel it is.”

When they walked towards the exit, past one of the cafés, she saw a familiar face turn towards them. A smile played on the man’s lips. She had seen him not all that long ago, on the other side of the world, in Alex’s apartment. He met her eyes, and she said, “Ignore him.”

They walked right past the old man. “They’ve been with us all the way. One would think people would have something better to do.”

She hadn’t seen anyone else, but if he said they had been there, they were there.

Maria Hammarblad

Born in Sweden in the early 1970’s, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, “The Sun Book.” They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother’s horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.

As an adult Maria’s creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.

Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.

Upcoming releases

  • Flashback, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2013
  • Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013
  • Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013

Fun Facts

  • Favorite color:             Blue
  • Favorite food:              Chicken with cashew nuts
  • Doesn’t eat:                  Mammals
  • Favorite TV Show:       Star Trek TNG and Leverage
  • Favorite animal:           Border Collie
  • Quotes:                        “Full Speed Ahead” and “Caffeine is good for you”

Find Maria on the web