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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Blog by Anita Clenney with Giveaway!

I am pleased to welcome 
Anita Clenney, Author of Embrace the Highland Warrior
to Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf.
Thank you for sharing some of your writing wisdom - and humor - with us today.

Adding a Touch of Humor
I love humor in stories. Of course it has to be tailored to the story or it can feel out of place, but even a dark paranormal or a thriller can benefit from stirring a grin in the reader. But funny is a funny thing. It’s difficult to tell if it really works, or if it just sounds funny to you. It usually takes some outside opinions to see if the humor hits the mark.

I always include some of these lighthearted moments in my stories to balance out the warriors and demons and vampires battling for the world. Brodie is my prankster. He’s a tough warrior, but he loves jokes; refilling a wine glass, slipping a fake snake into a female warrior’s bed. Bet he won’t do that again, because the warrior was Anna, and Anna doesn’t like snakes, real or plastic.

In the second book of my Scottish paranormal series, Embrace the Highland Warrior, the humor is even stronger, thanks to two old ladies. One is the heroine’s aunt. I should say, the heroine THOUGHT Nina was her aunt. But there are lots of things in Shay’s life that aren’t what they seem. Matilda, the aunt’s cousin, is the real kicker. Matilda has brilliant red hair, wears garish clothing, can’t hear worth a darn, loves gambling, and she’s claimed to be 49 years old since Shay was in elementary school. Matilda causes more trouble than a wound up toddler. Here’s what happens when Nina and Matilda try to play matchmaker.
Shay woke in the night. She heard a thumping sound downstairs. The noise didn’t concern her as much as the fact that she was draped over Cody and they were both naked. She lay for a minute, reliving what they had done, wondering how different things might have been if she had known he hadn’t ignored the letters. Would she have forgiven him for hiding her identity and moved on? Maybe to this? His life? His bed?
Cody nudged her shoulder. “Don’t follow me this time,” he said, untangling his limbs from hers and slipping out of bed.
She watched him pull on his boxers and pick up a gun from under a pillow on the sofa before easing out the door. Shay scrambled quietly for her clothes. She crept down the stairs, not far behind him. She couldn’t see his face, but she felt his glare. The front door was cracked. The chill of night air brushed her skin. As they slipped outside, busy little whispers met her ears, a grunt, and then another thump. Cody turned on a bright flashlight. She didn’t know where he got it. Shay saw a flash of red and heard a squeal as Matilda’s hands flew up in the air. The wheelbarrow dumped over, and Jamie rolled out like a sack of flour.
“We panicked,” Matilda said, between gulps from her water bottle. “So I thought if I gave him a little of my sleeping medicine—”
“A little?” Shay said, her voice shrill. “He’s out cold.”
Cody had carried Jamie back to bed and was with him, making sure Jamie was only drugged, not dying.
“Well, I may have given him too much. We didn’t want him to wake up in the car. He’s big, and he looks strong. That’s a nice, sturdy wheelbarrow. I need one of those to move rocks in my garden,” Matilda said.
“Where were you taking him?” Shay asked.
“Somewhere safe,” Nina said. “We didn’t want to hurt him. He seems like a nice boy. We just wanted him out of the way.”
“Out of the way of what?” Shay asked, exasperated.
“You and Cody,” Nina said.
“Cody and me?”
Nina clutched her robe tighter. “Here you are, back home after all these years, and we’re thinking you finally came to your senses, and Jamie shows up to ruin it all.”
“He wants to marry you,” Matilda said. “We couldn’t have that.”
Oh, heavens. “You think Cody and I are…?”
“But of course, dear,” Nina said. “We’ve always known. We were just waiting for you two to realize it.”
Matilda clutched her water bottle. “For a smart girl, you can be slow sometimes.”

Playing matchmaker is bad enough, but when Matilda is thrown into the middle of a group of covert warriors who must secretly protect humanity from demons, and are now faced with vampires as well, she becomes as much of a threat to the clan’s existence as the demons.

Cody headed to the kitchen and met Duncan. “Anybody seen Matilda? She’s missing again.”
Coira stopped wiping the kitchen table. “Bloody hell.” She slapped her hand over her mouth and then frantically crossed herself.
“It’s all right, Coira. Matilda could make a saint curse.” Cody sighed. “Nina hasn’t seen her?”
“She’s the one who alerted us.”
“She’s probably out terrorizing the guards,” Ronan said. “She asked one of them if this was some kind of gigolo set-up.”
Cody grimaced. “We’ve got to get her out of here before she destroys thousands of years of secrecy.”
“I saw her headed toward the library earlier,” Coira said. “Her and that giant cat.”
“The library? Damn it. The secret passages.” Cody hurried down the hall with Duncan and Ronan behind him. The hidden door stood open.
“Blimey,” Duncan said. “Might as well start offering tours.”
Cody stuck his head inside. “Matilda? I hear something,” he said to the others. “Anybody got a flashlight?”
“Here.” Ronan pulled one from his sporran and turned it on. The three men entered the stone passage, following the narrow beam of light.
“That way,” Cody said. “Matilda?”
They heard running, and a second later, Matilda flew into Cody’s arms. “Oh, thank heaven.” Her hair stood on end, covered by cobwebs. Red lipstick was smeared down her chin. “I got lost. I couldn’t figure out which way I came in. I don’t know what to do. I think I killed a man.”
“You killed a man down here?” Ronan asked, glancing at the others.
“Over there, around that corner. But I don’t think he was a man. I saw this shadow and thought it was one of you. I called out, and he leapt at me. He hissed. I’ve never heard a man hiss.”
“You sure it wasn’t the cat?” Duncan asked.
“No, I was holding the cat, only because it was dark, and my flashlight was dying,” she said, defensively.
Cody moved toward the corner where Matilda pointed. “Nothing here.”
“How did you kill him?” Ronan asked, eyeing Matilda doubtfully.
“Holy water.”
“Where the hell did you get holy water?” Duncan asked.
“Well, I was clutching my bottle of water to my chest. I carry one with me so I don’t get dehydrated. The doctor said I need to stay hydrated. And I got lost, like I told you, and I started praying somebody would find me, and since I was holding the water, I guess the praying must have blessed it. Or it might have been the cat.”
“The cat blessed the water?” Duncan asked, scratching his head.
“No. Killed the man. When he hissed at me, the cat hissed back and jumped at him.”
Cody caught Ronan and Duncan’s worried gazes.
“Then I threw my water bottle at him.” Matilda held her hand over her heart. “I think I might faint.”
“Come on, Matilda,” Duncan said. “I’ll take you up. Ronan and Cody will check it out. I’m sure it was just a shadow.”
“I’ve never seen a shadow with red eyes.”
“It couldn’t be,” Ronan said, his voice somber, as Duncan led Matilda away. “Maybe she’s insane.”
“She’s not normal, but she’s as sharp as your sword.”
“What the hell did she see, then?”
Cody aimed his light along the walls. “Damn.”
“What is it?” Ronan joined him, his gaze on the beam of light on the floor. A bottle of water lay in a pile of dust.

Sourcebooks is giving away two copies of Embrace the Highland Warrior to random commenters. My question is: What’s the funniest story you’ve read, or the best example of adding in humor?
* This contest is only open to residents of US and Canada but anyone can answer the question. :-)  Please let us know with your comment if you are not eligible for the giveaway.
Giveaway ends December 2, 2011 at 10pm Central.

Embrace the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney—In Stores November 2011
They were driven apart by a timeless secret…
Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…
Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

About the Author
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes mysteries, and paranormal romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory and a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more information, please visit, follow her on Twitter @anitaclenney, or like her on Facebook

And Embrace the Highland Warrior can be purchased here:


  1. Anita,
    I'm with you, I love humor in stories when done well. It truly adds a spark to the read. :) Take care, congratulations on your tremendous success, and I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with blessings! *Hugs*

  2. First, great excerpt! I have this on my TBR and can't wait to dive in once the holiday crazy slows down.

    The funniest story I've read? The first Stephanie Plum book was great, it kept me giggling throughout. A close second is my nine-year-old daughters about a lizard that went on a date with a fly. It did not have an HEA. :)

  3. Hey Anita,

    I think humor is a must even in the darkest of tales. My current WIP is kind of dark (okay, dang dark), but the characters have either biting humor or are inherently funny, and can't help but make remarks during dire times. For me what I have to be careful of is not going for too many cheap sitcom jokes - television influence on writers can do that to your brain...great post and excerpts.

  4. Humor is a great way to break up tension and, it might be me, but old ladies are hilarious. I laughed through both excerpts. Matilda reminds me of my aunts. One of my favorite old lady stories is about my Aunt June who absolutely refused to tell anyone her age, even when she was in her 80s and was being wheeled into an ambulance after she fainted.
    "How old are you?" the EMT said.
    "I won't tell you that," Auntie said.
    "Lady, we need to know to save your life."
    "A woman never tells her age," she said, stubborn as hell.
    EMTS are frantic. My cousin thinks fast and says, "Mom, they don't want your age. They want your birthdate."
    Aunt June brightens up (on the stretcher) "Why didn't you say that? 2-23-29."

    Congratulations on the success of your series, Anita!
    (no need to enter me for the win, I already own both books!)

  5. Hi Anita, Great excerpts. I especially like the holy water scene. Matilda is too funny. To answer your question, the first funny book that springs to mind is Lamb, by Christopher Moore. His vampire trilogy provides a good chuckle, too. :)

    Anne ( mmefran (at) gmail (dot) com )

  6. Love Matilda--also love the name for her. You are right. Even in heavy drama, we need to give our readers a break with humor.


  7. Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins is the first book that came to mind after reading the question. I laughed so much while reading this book. It was so funny but I loved the book too.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Diana. I love to laugh and a good chuckle makes for a better story. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Avery, I love Stephanie Plum. Lula is hilarious. I think the new one is out soon, maybe today.

  10. Hi Denny. I think humor is so important, but it's tricky finding the balance for each story.

  11. Rochelle, that's hilarious. Oh my gosh. That's so Matilda!

  12. Anne, I haven't read Lamb, but if there is humor and vampires, that sounds great! I'll have to check it out.

  13. Marilyn, I was worried that my editor would think there was too much humor, and she also likes trimming secondary characters, but when she read the manuscript for edits, she ordered me not to touch those two old ladies. She loved them.

  14. I so agree with you, Anita. I love to slip humor in and love even more to read it. I started my reading with Julie Garwood and Jude Deveraux. The humor they slipped always delighted me and when my daughter was sitting next to me doing homework, she would always have to hear the reason I was chuckling. I think it is one of the reasons she is starting to enjoy reading today. And, like you said, when parts of the story are dark and foreboding, it is fun to toss in the humor to lighten the story.

    Nice to spend time with you today.

  15. Hi Anita!

    I LOVED the excerpt!!

    I like a book that will make me LAUGH and then turn around and make me CRY! It doesn't get any better than that!!

    Best of luck with Embrace the Highland Warrior!!


  16. Hey Anita, great point. Even intense books can't be all darkness and angst without running the risk of tedium. With a bit of humor, it contrasts to make the tension more vivid.

    The Kasey Michaels Alphabet Regency books are probably my favorite these days for a good laugh. Congrats on your much deserved success, and good luck with ETHW.

  17. Oh these books sound wonderful! I've got to put them on my wish list. I love humor in books, the first book that comes to mind that I laughed all the way through is, Mr Perfect by Linda Howard. Can't wait to read your books!

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  18. I am a huge fan of humor especially the sarcastic kind best example for me is all the Dark Hunter series IMO Sherrilyn Kenyon is remarkable with that and is what usually draws me in deeper into a book.


  19. The best time to add humor is to alleviate tension or make me connect more with a characters. Typically I prefer darker stories but I definitely appreciate lighter moments whether the character uses sarcasm or charm to bring humor to a situation.


  20. Hi Anita,

    The second book sounds like another fun read! Great post.

    Wishing you continued success.

  21. The Stephanie Plum books are a standout for me in humor. When my dad died nine years ago , I heard what sounded like sobbing the night of the funeral....turns out it was my older sister in her old room below mine , busting a gut laughing while reading one of the books...It lifted our spirits and brought laughter into a sad time.

    Anita , I just finished reading Awaken the Highland Warrior a few minutes ago and REALLY enjoyed it! Thanks,

    Mary Jo

  22. Just the name "Matilda" makes me smile. Reminds me of the wonderful Roald Dahl book my kids had when they were small. I thoroughly enjoy stories that blend humor with suspense and romance. Can't top those "old lady" stories for humor, though I did laugh out loud all the way through Mary Janice Davidson's stories starring Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor. Not my usual type of story, but I read them to please a friend and ended up enjoying them. Best to you and your writing, Anita!

  23. I love humor in books I really don't read them if there isn't any laughter! One of my favorite series is Love at Stake by Kerrelyn Sparks! So very funny! Thanks for sharing with us today!


  24. Double Play by Jill Shalvis is a story that definitely made me laugh. The Coach was hilarious.

    cwilliams127 at gmail dot com

  25. i have the funniest story about my friend, he is so coward especially with ghost, one day when he and his friend are walking in public school with famous for ghost story, a friend suddendly shouting that a ghost in his back and he suddenly jump over the plants fence with tall about a half meter even in front of the fence there is a trench with wide about half meter too and he successfully passed it ;)

    btw i'm international reader ;)

  26. I don't have a funniest book coming to mind right now, but I do enjoy some humour, sarcasm and wit added into books. I think a good example would be the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward because I really enjoy the sometimes humourous interactions and camaraderie between the brothers that often make me smile as I read.


Your comments are always appreciated!


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