Friday, November 30, 2012

GuestPost - Preaching Versus Teaching with Shelly Holt, Paranormal Romance Author

Today, I'm turning my blog over to a guest.  Please welcome paranormal romance author, Shelly Holt, as she introduces her debut novel ~ Tasting Fire ~ and tells us a bit about her love of the Asian Snow Leopard and why she chose this animal as the focal point of her novel.  The floor is yours, Shelly.

Preaching Versus Teaching 

In Tasting Fire I had to walk a fine line between preaching and teaching in my debut paranormal romance. Tasting Fire is about a race of shape-shifters whose ancestor's DNA was accidentally merged with that of an Asian Snow Leopard twenty thousand years ago. The book explores what happens when the leader of the shape-shifters, Tibetan, Kai Tenzin hires an American scientist to try to hide the DNA from modern science. I chose to focus on the Asian Snow Leopard in part because this incredibly beautiful animal is highly endangered. That was where I had to really watch myself. I knew if I wasn't careful I would start to preach to my readers instead of entertain and educate.

Prior to writing my own book, I read the reviews of a paranormal romance, whose title I couldn't tell you now if I tried, but I did remember how angry people were at the injection of personal politics into the plot. Those reviews helped to guide my hand and try to limit my time on my own soapbox, although admittedly it does rear up in the end of the book, on the floor of the U.S. Senate no less.

I was horrified to learn while researching the book that experts believe there are only three to seven thousand of them left in the wild. I watched video after video on You Tube to learn all I could about their habitat and the challenges snow leopards face in the wild. Everything I learned pretty much ended up distilled into the book. I knew that to do justice to my story about shape-shifting Asian Snow Leopards, the characters would have to actually be from cultures that evolved in the habitat range of the animal itself. That's why my alpha male hero, Kai Tenzin is from Tibet, because snow leopards are from Tibet. Many of my secondary characters are from cultures that live in the habitat range of the exotic cat as well. My shape-shifters come from China, Mongolia and Pakistan.

Writing Tasting Fire was truly an illuminating experience. I learned a tremendous amount about the highly endangered Asian Snow Leopard and am in awe at what dangers conservationists in the field face while they do everything in their power to help protect the highest predator attitude wise on our planet. I subscribe to a Facebook feed from a snow leopard conservation group and every time a picture of one of these magnificent cats pops up on my Facebook feed, I fall in love with them all over again.

Tasting Fire ended up reflecting the cultures that live in the habitat range of the Asian Snow Leopard. The story has a deeply spiritual tone and deals with issues ranging from personal development to the evolution of human society. I will warn readers that Tasting Fire is not a light read. If you want a book where the hero and heroine fall into bed together within the first two minutes of meeting each other, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a rich, textured story and if you wish to lose yourself in an intelligent, romantic, erotic, adventure, this is your book!

My thanks to Chantel Rhondeau for inviting me on her blog today to share my experience of writing Tasting Fire with you. 

Thanks for being here, Shelly! I totally understand why you love these magnificent creatures so much. They really are gorgeous and it would be a tragedy if they became extinct. 

Check out the blurb for Tasting Fire below:

Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. As a young man, Kai left his small village where the mountain touches the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.

Shelly Holt's Biography

My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on. 

Want to connect with Shelly? Follow her on:

Read on for an excerpt from Tasting Fire.


Rae took an admiring look at the vista below as she dropped her heavy pack on the ground. The mountains in the distance looked purple and the desert brush spread out below them like a master oil painting. It was awe inspiring to human eyes. Rae wondered what would it look like to a snow leopard. She suddenly realized many a biologist would sell their very soul for the opportunity she had at that moment. Rae turned to Kai who had been sitting on the ground with his pack and fishing around for lunch and asked him “what is it like when you're in your Shan form out in country like this?” Kai rewarded Rae with the most brilliant smile she had yet seen to grace the handsome shape-shifter's face. He seemed truly delighted to discuss the subject with her. Kai stood up to answer Rae's question. He addressed the human scientist. “It's like nothing you can imagine Rae. Every sense is in tune with the planet. See that tree over there” he pointed a few yards away at an ancient gnarled pinyon. “Yes” Rae replied. Kai walked up behind Rae and put his hands on her shoulders and directed her to look even closer at the tree. He whispered intimately in her ear as if they were in a church or another sacred space “when you look at that tree with your limited human vision, the average person can certainly appreciate its form and color. A biologist like yourself would ask what type of tree is it and how old it is. A philosopher might ask who may have sat underneath it in the past or who might sit underneath it in the future. All of you might even wonder when will it die. That's the limit of your human perception. When you're in Shan form every single leaf will bid you a glorious greeting as you walk up to the tree for the first time. Every drop of sap tells you the history of the tree's life like an intimate biography written in the utterly sensual language of scent. The tree itself will tell you if it's healthy or sick. You can smell if the water that nourishes it is bitter or sweet. If you deeply pay attention you can smell every animal that has ever been there.” Kai looked to Rae like he was experiencing a spiritual moment and Rae suddenly realized he was. The enthralled shape-shifter continued to explain to Rae the nuances of the animal world “when you are ready to move on to another place you reach up with your powerful claws and dig deep into the bark to mark the tree with your scent. It's added harmoniously to the scent of hundreds of other animals. You do this not just to mark your hunting territory, but to tell every animal after you have left this world that you lived and breathed here at one time in the great mystery that is life. That is your only immortality in the animal world. There are no monuments to mark a man's ego, or family albums for a mother to remember her children by, but neither is there hate, nor fear of the future or regret of the past. You are fully alive in each and every moment. It's a wonderfully free existence. I wish I could truly share it with you... words, words pale in comparison.” Kai looked so happy at that moment. Rae was so moved by what he had just shared with her that all she could do was reach out and touch his wrist. “Thank you!” she whispered. Kai nodded at her in acknowledgment, but he was too emotional to even speak.

Once again, Tasting Fire is available on Amazon:

Happy reading, my friends! Have a terrific weekend!

P.S. Don't forget my policy to read the samples before you buy! Everyone's tastes are different. 


  1. Thanks for inviting me on the blog today.

    1. Thanks so much for being here, Shelly! Best of luck with the book!


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