Sorry that I didn't post anything until now, but my hiatal hernia had picked late last night to act up, so no computer time last night and I slept in so late that it wasn't until now that I could get online to post this.
Since we started, we covered a ton of different authors, some new to the scene, and some that have been around for awhile.
Because we are curious and would like to know, how many of you discovered an author here on our blog and have since read their works? If you have read their books, when did you read them and what did you think?
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Happy July 4th to all the Americans! I thought I’d give you a few fun facts:
1. There are 30 places throughout the United States of American with the word “liberty” in its name. That’s a lot of Libertys. Iowa has more of these “liberty” places than any other state. Do you know the four cities in Iowa? They are Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.
2. There are 11 places with the word “independence” in its name.
3. There are five with the word “America” in its name.
For more fun facts visit: http://www.chiff.com/a/fun-facts-fourth.htm
How many of you are planning on attending a Bar-B-Q? I’d love to hear any plans you have!
I hope everyone has a fun and safe July 4th!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Hey there everyone!!!
If you're anything like me, you have a dark side to yourself that needs to fulfill itself by reading darker novels, even dark romance novels. While I love romance novels to death, I need a well-balanced reading diet to keep things interesting and to keep all parts of my soul happy in terms of reading. As part of this well-balanced reading diet, I pick up Sci-Fi/Fantasy, crime drama/thrillers and more recently, Harlequin's Intrigue line. Part of that line includes Intrigue Eclipse which is their Gothic Romance line. Yes, I like these, but I've soon realized that I have been satisfying my dark side by listening J.D. Robb's In Death series.
Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered that Leslie Parrish is coming out with a dark crime romance series starting with Fade to Black. Without further ado, here's Leslie!!!
The Human Element
Earlier this week, I wrote a guest blog about how I had to decide whether to leave the door flung wide open on the sexy scenes in my upcoming romantic-suspense trilogy. And while I was writing that, I began thinking about the tightrope I walked regarding how much violence to include in the Black CATs books.
When I read horror, I fully expect brutal scenes. Thrillers, probably so. Romantic-suspense, however, even if it’s on the thriller side of suspense, is a little trickier. Some authors do a fabulous job of getting the gory details in there without overwhelming the plot (Karen Rose for instance.) Others keep the suspense high without the gruesome bits (like my good pal Roxanne St. Claire.)
I honestly wasn’t sure which way to take these books. The horror lover in me wanted to let the blood flow. But the very last thing I wanted was for these books to be gratuitous, or for the violence to in any way overshadow the romance or the mystery.
It wasn’t until I started writing, started to feel my way through the first story, that I began to find my own comfort level in terms of violence and darkness in my books. I’d have to admit they’re pretty dark, but (and here’s the important part) they are not gratuitous. There aren’t pages and pages of torture or mutilation, nor long, gruesome scenes of detailed autopsies. In fact, probably the bloodiest scene in any of the three books is the prologue to Fade to Black, which has been on my website for several months. Yes, it’s awful to read about this woman slowly being tortured to death. But (imho) the scene does so much more than show her die. From the moment you’re in this poor, tragic girl’s head, you begin to see her as a person. Not a nameless victim, you empathize with her, not just because she’s a victim at that moment, but because you sense there are tragedies in her background that led her to make the bad decisions that brought her to where she is.
Take this, for instance:
>>“I’m sorry.” Tears oozed oozing from the corners of her eyes to mingle with the blood and dirt on her cheeks. She didn’t know who she was talking to, some God she’d long since stopped believing in? Herself for getting caught in this trap?
Maybe she was trying to say the one thing she’d never said to the one person who truly deserved to hear it. This will break her heart.
The vision of her sad, weary mother, who’d been so loving, yet so impossibly blind, brought her head forward. She again focused on her attacker.
He was no demon. Just a vicious, awful human being. << These kind of moments are spread throughout the prologue and are much more the focus than the knife or the pain. Lisa appears on only a handful of pages in this book, yet her heartbreaking character remains a major presence throughout the rest of it. My point is, the violence was not there to shock the reader, or titillate or get attention. The sadness of Lisa’s life, juxtaposed with the horror of her death, was simply the right way for me to start this book. The reader shouldn’t be quivering with fear when they read about Lisa’s death…they should be tearing up with sorrow for her.
Frankly, while the violence is much more subtle in book 2, Pitch Black, I find the prologue of that book far more horrifying. The villain prides himself on not being a villain at all. He’s simply putting people in positions where they’re almost certainly going to die, then sits back and watches them do it. The opening of this book, where two teenage boys are put out on an icy lake, conscious and aware as the ice breaks beneath them, is probably the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve written. The villain never lays a violent hand on either of them, there are no knives, no gun, no implements of torture. It’s all entirely psychological…and again, meant to instill anguish in the reader, not fear.
The whole scene is, again, on my website, but here’s a snippet of it:
>>>Jason knew what the man was going to do even before he bent into the car and flipped off the lights. The sudden darkness was almost as blinding, the terror infinitely more extreme. Because he didn’t have to see the car being shifted into neutral or hear the emergency brake being released to know exactly what was happening. “God, no, please.”
The vehicle began to roll down the slope, drawing irrevocably closer to the icy pond on which Jason and Ryan were trapped. “Why are you doing this?” he yelled, straining against the tape even as the front tires reached the frozen shoreline.
Behind him, he felt movement. Ryan was coming to.
“Goodbye, Jason,” the voice called. “The world will be better off without you. Shame about your friend. You really should have come alone.”
The shadowy figure moved, disappearing into the swirling snow. A moment later, an engine rumbled, then slowly faded away. He barely heard it as the car eased closer, sliding across the snow slicked ice. Adding weight...so much weight.
How deep is the water? How thick could the ice be?
Will we freeze or will we drown?
“Ryan, I’m sorry I got you into this,” he sobbed.
Ryan’s head moved, until his frozen hair touched Jason’s face. “S’okay. Sidekick’s always got the hero’s back.”
“Sorry!” Jason cried, trying not to move yet desperate to break away. But before he could do a thing, even say goodbye to his best friend, another crack came and the ice gave way beneath them. Freezing liquid rushed over his feet and ankles, bringing them back to life to experience the agony. They plunged down until blackness covered their heads and ice seared his lungs. And as the water turned the world above him into an icy grave, Jason could think only of his parents.
God how he wished he’d gone with them to Florida.<<< As you can see, it’s not gruesome, not violent. Terrifying, yes. Heartbreaking, yes. But not gratuitous. Again, what makes it effective is
the depth of emotion in their final moments, not the violent way they died.
The murder that opens the third book, Black at Heart, is incredibly brutal. Bloody, violent, vengeful. But it’s not shown on the page. Originally, I had written the scene from the victim’s pov. What’s done to him is horrible, but, honestly, considering he was a child rapist turning up for what he thought was a child-swap with a little girl, I didn’t mind so much. That scene (as Carrie knows) ended up cut out because my editor predicted (and got me to agree) that no matter what was done to him, inside a pedophile's head was just not a place a romantic-suspense reader truly wanted to be. So all the violence is portrayed by the reactions of the hero as he arrives at the scene the morning after. Through his eyes, we see how ugly it was, but, again, nothing is on the page.
But I don’t think that’s the most effective “deadly” scene in Black at Heart.
>> God forgive me. A little kid. A little boy not much older than Toby. Boyd had taken him. Hurt him. Killed him.
If there was a hell, Will would someday be there with the man he’d helped set free, both of them sitting front row, center.
“That’s right, I’m your Pop-pop,” he said, kissing the tousled blond curls on the top of the baby’s soft head. “And I’ll always be there for ya, kid. I’m gonna watch over you, take care of…”
A loud noise cut off his sentence. Pop! Pop! Something hit him, then something else, bang-bang, two in a row.
The bullets struck hard, pain erupting in his lower back, and in his left shoulder. He stumbled forward from the impact, staggering onto the sidewalk, dropping to his knees. Even as he fell, he was careful to hold the baby up so his tiny frame didn’t smash onto the cement.
The sharp pain from each gunshot rapidly expanded, spreading throughout his body before merging to create one enormous torrent of anguish. He’d never known a person could hurt so much.
“Toby.” The word lingered on his lips. As he started to fall forward, knowing he was going to land on his face, he gently pushed the boy to the side, out of harm’s way.
“Help,” he whispered, not even sure he understood what had happened. “Help.”
Toby began to whimper. Then to cry. But his cries were drowned out by the sound of a car’s engine, revving up and roaring away, the tires spinning and screaming on the blacktop as the vehicle tore up the block.
Will reached for the boy, his own flesh and blood, the kid who was supposed to be his chance to make everything right, to do it all over again. He wanted to touch him, to stroke that hair, brush his fingers against that little cheek and promise it would all be okay.
But his fingers were bloody and his arm was weak and he was dying, and Will could only stare at the child as the world went dark and he headed for his front row, center seat. << A man has been shot down, in cold blood, murdered with his grandson in his arms. But I somehow suspect it’s not the violence of it that grabs you as you read it.
I’m sure you’ve now seen the common thread in all these examples. Yes, I want the reader to find these scenarios horrifying; they are horrifying. Disturbing, violent, ugly…all these things. Yet the real horror comes not from the level of detailed violence but from the connection we feel to the victims. They’re human. And our shared humanity is what makes each of these scenes work on such a deep, intimate level.
I’d really like to know what other readers look for when you open a dark romantic-suspense novel.
Do you just want to be scared?
Or do you, (like me) enjoy a book more when you feel an emotional connection to every character—including the victims?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
As a writer, one of my favorite parts of the process is planning. Taking that little nugget of an idea and deciding what to do with it is one of the most challenging - and rewarding - aspects of writing for me. Kind of like planting the seeds for a gardener. A true gardener does not just cast the seeds out willy-nilly and "see" what happens with them; a true gardener strategically places each seed in a certain place, arranging them for their best visual impact when they bloom. A true gardener can see that far into the future, when the seeds begin to grow and bloom into a startling array of life and color.
The same can be said of a writer - or at least this one. When I first come up with the "seeds" of a story, I start to visualize what they will look like when they bloom. How will this seed look next to that one? Will this one naturally flow into that one? I plant each seed exactly where I want it, for the best overall results. Then I nurture and cultivate them until I have a beautiful garden that is bursting with life and color. I water them conflicts and fertilize them with rising action until they flourish - and thrive. And when they achieve the results I am striving for, I put them on display for others to enjoy while I go off and plan my next garden...
Looks like this year, I'm going to have a bumper crop. So many gardens, so many wonderful species of flora to populate it.
If you are a writer, what is your favorite part of the process? ~ Margay
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Yeah, yeah, I know, I should have announced these awhile ago, but I wanted to give any stragglers time to enter.
As most of you can understand, I have a life away from the Internet, and a birthday to celebrate, so I have been quite distracted these last couple of days. I'm going to be cutting off the line now, and will be drawing a winner shortly, so keep checking back!
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
MELANIE (Tampa, FL)
Be sure to email me with your mailing address so that Kate can get you your book!!!
Whispered by Carrie at 11:32 AM
Monday, June 29, 2009
I thought that, since I have been teasing you with hints and mentions of my world and I don't have anything formal published, I would give you a taste with a sort-of interview done for the Regent Park Illustrator. The RPI is the local newspaper for Regent Park Isle and a major one for the two isles protected and governed by Regent Park Isle - Freedom City and Fantasy Isles:
I was sitting here waiting, believing I was stood up and am about to leave when a tall man with golden blonde hair and dark amethyst eyes, wearing a black tux strides in, followed by a very harried, but shorter man with dark hair, teal eyes and a similar suit. It is somewhat obvious that the shorter man is somewhat used to running to keep strides with the taller man. When I say tall, I mean tall! He’s at least seven feet tall, if not taller. The man at his side is no less than six feet tall!
I establish eye contact with the tuxedoed man striding towards me and find I cannot stop looking at him. His eyes are the amethyst purple you’ll find in a prismatic sunset and they look as if they’re on fire! I’m so riveted I keep staring and watching as he walks up to me. He’s so careful, no, careful isn’t the word. All I know is that he bends down closer to me, never breaking eye contact as he takes my right hand in his right hand, lifts it to his lips while saying, “I’m Brandelbuck. Brandon Brandelbuck,” as he places a caressingly soft kiss that makes my knees so weak I instinctively reach out with my left hand and grab his right arm to balance myself. If he hadn’t bent down, I would have had strained my neck muscles from looking up at him.
His arm is deceptively muscular, making me forget my manners, my name and the reason I’m here. Heat and desire radiate from, somewhere. I’m not sure if it’s just from me or if it’s from both of us until he, in one swift move, releases my right hand and places his right hand on my waist, taking my left hand with him. If it is an effort to steady me, it doesn’t quite work because I stumble even closer to him. Before I can stop him, his soft lips are caressing mine and I feel his arms encircle me, drawing me even closer to him, deepening the kiss.
A moan radiates from deep within me and the electricity flowing between us feels strong enough to power the entire planet of Centurion 54! Just as I am about to surrender to the awesome power of this mutual desire, his lips release mine, breaking the trance, to say in a voice that can only be described as predatory, “You must be Lily.”
Shaking my head and gathering my thoughts while I disentangle myself from him, I respond, “Yes. I’m Lily Straygon, Regent Park Illustrator Correspondent.”
“The camera doesn’t do you justice, Miss Straygon.” The knowing sparkle in his eyes is enough to start the energy flow again.
Blushing as the electricity reaches places I never knew existed, I inquire, “It doesn’t?”
“Definitely not,” he replies with the look of pure predator in his eyes, eyes that sweep over my body as if they could devour me whole, right here and now.
I look down then and am so grateful I had taken the time to set out the note cards with the intended questions on them. If they weren’t there, I don’t think this interview would have continued. “Well, they do say that the camera can add ten pounds and this newer type of viewer screen makes flaws much more visible.”
“You have flaws,” he asks with his eyebrows raised and a dreamy smirk on his face, “I wasn’t aware you had any. I guess I’ll have to conduct my own interview then.”
“Huh,” I blurt out, completely off my guard now.
“Later, much later. I’ll let you ask your questions now.”
Questions, right, questions. Okay. Let’s see, what’s first…. “Do you mind if I record the interview, to make sure that I do not misquote you?”
“No, record away!”
“Okay, great,” I say as I press the button to turn on the voice recording device, “let’s start with an easy one. There are rumors floating around that your bloodline reaches back as far as the original founding families. Is that truth or merely speculation because of those purple eyes of yours? They are real aren’t they?”
With a laugh he replies, “Yes, my eyes are the genuine article. No contacts or transplants here. Yes, my family tree extends all the way back to one of the original founding families.”
“So, which one is it? Come on, we’re all dying to know where our new leader comes from!”
“Well, since this position is usually handed down from father to son, you would know that already, but that’s not the case with me, is it?”
“Definitely not, which is why there’s all this buzz around you! The people want to know who’s leading them and what makes him worthy. So, which founding family member are you related to?”
“Do I have to?”
“Please, Mr. Brandelbuck, we’re all dying to know, so yes, you have to tell!”
“Only on one condition.”
“What condition is that?”
“You stop calling me Mr. Brandelbuck. Mr. Brandelbuck is my father. I’m Brandon.”
“Okay… Brandon, tell me what founder you come from.”
“This is going to be as much a shock to you as it is to my family because I just don’t fit the mold for this line.”
Oooh, juicy scandal possibilities and he hands them to me! “Well, how much of a shock?”
“Well, you know that as far as founder blood goes, it’s the most dominant and usually everyone has the same abilities and tendencies. So, it follows that whatever the parent does, that’s what the children do.”
“But that’s not the case with you, though, is it?”
“No, it’s not.”
Okay, the suspense is killing me, but I need to draw it out for the story, so I continue this dance by probing this a bit more. “My sources tell me that both of your parents are highly ranking scientists with the FF. Is that correct?”
“Yes, it is.”
“What kind of scientists?”
“Wait a minute! That means you’re related to,” I can’t even finish the sentence I’m so shocked.
“Yep, I’m related to Chuck Jones, marine biologist. According to records, he didn’t marry until after he arrived on Centurion 54. He married Selena Arcononi and they had a daughter. That daughter became a marine biologist and married a marine biologist and it has been that way in my family line with every branch, except me.”
“Where does your height come from? Chuck Jones was, what, five foot seven as the history books record it?”
“Yes, and no one else in this line was anywhere near this recorded height that I have been told.”
“That name, Selena Arcononi doesn’t sound familiar. She’s not listed in the history books that I recall. How did you come by that name?”
“No, I don’t expect it would be in any history books.”
“Well, because, she was a native.”
“A native! Native to what?”
“She was a native of the dark twin planet.”
“Well, that’s not something we were expecting!”
“Well, I don’t think anyone was expecting the daughter they had either since everyone, including Selena herself, thought she was infertile.”
“Wow a miracle child!”
“Something like that, I guess.”
“Your family has managed to keep this a secret for centuries. Why tell us now and why to me?”
“True, my family has kept it hidden and I’m not sure why. Speculation has been that the noble bloodlines occurred because of the intermixing of the transplant human species with the dark twin species, but I don’t think that’s really the entire case because, even in his journal, he talks about things happening well before coming together with Selena.”
Jackpot! “His journal! Oh, would we love to get a sneak peek into that. While it’s a nice diversionary tactic, you still haven’t answered my question. Why tell me, Brandon, and why now? It’s not going to affect your status as Regent. You easily could have refused to tell and maintained the family secret.”
“True, Lily, it’s not going to affect my status as Regent, but it’s been long enough and it’s just time to get the truth out there, especially if I am to truly understand where I come from.”
“Can the public expect this kind of candor from you as Regent?”
“Yes, because I believe that truth solves more problems than it creates. Lies don’t help anyone.”
“Again, why tell me when you could just as easily have made a tri-isle wide announcement?”
“Because, I know you’ll treat this matter with respect and won’t sensationalize it.”
“Honey, I’m a reporter and it’s my job to sensationalize everything!”
“Yes, but you’ll do it with class!”
“Flattery will get you everywhere and a peek at that journal will get you everything!”
With a boyish grin that makes me quiver, he replies, “That’s what I was counting on!”
Before I know what his immediate intentions are, he turns off the recorder, places it in his pocket and latches on to my right hand with his left. Damn, his hand is so large that I can barely see my fingers. I feel like a child being pulled along by a parent. What’s worse, I begin to wonder what wondrous things those hands could do to me as we entered the elevator with doors that seemed to open on cue, just for him! I soon realize I didn’t even have enough wits to collect my belongings, when I notice that the harried man I saw earlier following Brandon around, was still with him, my things in tow.
He pushes the button for the Dragon Suite! It shouldn’t really be a surprise to me that he is staying in the best room of the hotel, but I can’t quite help it. I really hope that I’ll get to see that journal!
To be continued at a later date!
Okay, while this happens to be the first piece I am putting out there, copying is strictly prohibited without express written consent of the author, Carrie Hinkel-Gill
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Hopefully by next week, we can start our Young Adult Author Saturday Spotlight. I am getting responses and I will be sending out some more request soon.
But on to the next thing, I have been paying attention to the round robins on the blog Romance in the Backseat. It's been pretty interesting so far, especially since there are so many different authors involved. It's clear they must have had a huge pow-wow before it all started to make sure everyone was on roughly the same page.
My question to you, our readers, is this: Do you like round robins and would you like to see us do one here? Who would you like to see participate in it? Would you like us to keep it limited to just Gracen, Margay and myself?
I look forward to hearing your answers, no matter what they are!
Whispered by Carrie at 12:46 PM
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Lynn Reynolds’ newest release is THIRTY-NINE AGAIN. Her first full length romantic suspense novel became available on June 12, 2009!
You can purchase THIRTY-NINE AGAIN at Amazon.com, BN.com or through the publisher, The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com). Links to all these are up at Lynn's website, http://www.lynnreynolds.com/.
When/how did you know you wanted to write?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved living in my little imaginary worlds and making up stories about myself as a princess or space explorer. Or space exploring princes. In high school, I wrote a very silly serial called The Guam Syndrome, which featured some pretty wild satires of all the teachers. It was a huge underground hit with my classmates and fortunately no teacher ever caught me. Well, one did, but he was this ex-hippie, radical type who thought the whole thing was hilarious and actually encouraged me to keep it up. I’ve been writing ever since, although mostly as a journalist and publicist in my adult life.
Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?
I don’t see me doing anything ten years from now that I’m doing now! Except staying married to my wonderful hubby and still being a mom, of course. I tend to be pretty restless and would fully expect I’d be writing in a totally different genre. Although I’m sure there’d always be some romance in there!
Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
I almost always write the first draft out by hand, using a nice sharp pencil and an old-fashioned copybook. No worries about hard drive crashes or batteries running down!
Getting back to your new book. Tell us a little about what to expect.
Thirty-Nine Again is a "chick noir" novel about Sabrina O’Hara. She's a fortyish breast cancer survivor who discovers her boyfriend is leading a double life. Now she's on the run from him, his friends in the Mexican Mafia, and the very sexy Homeland Security agent who's investigating the case.
Chick noir is a little like chick lit - only with guns and dead bodies instead of shoes!
When and where can we purchase your books?
Thirty-Nine Again is sold directly by The Wild Rose Press as an e-book or print book. You can also order the print editions from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
Well, after we finished reading the complete works of Jane Austen yet again, I’d suggest we read Elizabeth Hoyt’s Legend of the Four Soldiers series. I love how she’s used a little-known event in American history to create these stories about emotionally damaged war veterans and the women who love them and help them resume their lives.
For contemporary reading, I’d strongly suggest the club read Tori Carrington’s Sofie Metropolis series, which feature the funny, sexy adventures of a Greek-American aspiring detective – Sofie.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.
Three fun facts about me:
I was briefly a child model and did a TV advertisement for a nursery school and even did a few runway shows.
I know most of Hamlet’s part in Shakespeare’s play of the same name by heart. I’m just a frustrated actress and playwright and have read it over and over again and watched about a dozen productions.
I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue.
Do you have any advice to fledgling authors?
Don’t be in such a hurry to get published. I have found it really hard to balance learning how to do self-promotion and publicity with writing a new book. I wish I had a stockpile of finished manuscripts I could draw on to take the pressure off whle trying to promote THIRTY-NINE AGAIN, but I only have one other completed book right now. Well, only one that I’m willing to let other people read!
Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? Which do you prefer?
I tried some face-to-face critique groups but they tended to get kind of mean-spirited. Or they just didn’t do much actual critiquing. I’ve been involved with a great online critique group sponsored by the Elements Chapter of the RWA and that has worked out really well for me.
Would you recommend critique groups to other writers? If so, what elements, in your opinion, make a successful writer’s group?
I think a critique group can be very helpful as long as all the members treat each other with respect. If you’re feeling beaten down and belittled, then it’s not a good group for you!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I’d like to mention that a portion of all my royalties from THIRTY-NINE AGAIN will be donated to breast cancer awareness charities. I have some friends who are breast cancer survivors, and since the heroine of the story is a breast cancer survivor, I felt like this would be a good way to honor my friends and other women dealing with cancer.
Thanks for inviting me to Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Toasty Thursday Everyone!
Like many of you, I have followed author blogs for some time, commented regularly and take time to learn about the different authors I read. Now, this is a switch for me. Kate Douglas is a top author of erotica novels, and to date I haven't read her work yet, but I plan to. Yes, I hang my head in shame on that one. I have thus far made a point to read at least one book before an author makes a guest spot on our blog.
However, I think that you may forgive me once you've had a chance to meet Kate. She is so cool and, from what I've read from her blogs, website and some of the email conversations we've had, we seem to be cut from a similar cloth and she is definitely someone I want to meet in the future. Because you can read her bio (and I hope you do) on her website, katedouglas.com, I'm only going to give you a brief background.
Kate is the author of Wolf Tales I to VIII as well as one of the regular contributors to the Sexy Beast I to VI anthologies. She has also written four other Romance novels, Last of the O'Rourkes, Cowboy in My Pocket, On Wings of Love and Honeysuckle Rose.
Since most people probably won't find Kate Douglas in their local library, and I was curious to gain an understanding of all these characters that I've heard readers rave about for the past year, I asked Kate to tell us more about them and their relationship.
First of all, thank you to Carrie for her invitation to guest blog here at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem—love that name, by the way! Conjures up all sorts of images. This is a pretty exciting week for me—Wolf Tales VIII, which is actually the fifteenth story in my erotic paranormal series, releases this week. I’m currently writing the nineteenth and am contracted to twenty-one...for now. When I first began writing these stories as an online serial back in 2004, I never dreamed they would be my key to a fantastic career as an author writing for a New York publisher. Sometimes, though things work in mysterious ways, but who am I to question fate?
When my good friend Margaret Riley started Changeling Press, she asked me to write something really “over the top” that was short and hot and ongoing. I wrote Stefan without knowing, in the beginning, what my main character, trapped in a beast’s body, was even going to turn into. I did some research, discovered a species of wolf native to the Himalayan steppes called Chanku (spelled Changu), and the premise for my series was born. Of course, my Chanku live as humans but have the ability to shift into wolves—an ability they’ve lost after migrating away from their homeland.
As I wrote more stories, with a new one releasing about every six weeks, my Chanku began to evolve and I discovered more about them with each chapter I wrote. They were still discovering their heritage, the fact that they needed certain types of grasses native to their homeland to enable their genetic gift as shapeshifters. They’re a matriarchal society. The women have complete reproductive control, but once they become shapeshifters, they can only conceive in their wolven form, and then only when they consciously release an egg for fertilization. They’re telepathic, with the ability to block others from hearing their thoughts, but if a pair mates as wolves, they create an unbreakable pair bond, a link so powerful that they can have no secrets from one another.
The one thing that sets my Chanku shapeshifters (and note I do NOT call them werewolves—as my über alpha, Anton Cheval says, “Chanku are not werewolves dependant upon the phases of the moon. We are not creatures of legend. We are shapeshifters, and we exist.”), apart from other stories is that mine are ruled by a powerful libido. Sex is as important to them as breathing, and after a run as wolves, they’re so aroused they must find release. This leads to open sexuality among the various packmates without jealousy...their sensual natures are a fact of life for them. In fact, quite often if two unmated Chanku are making love, they maintain a link with their mates so that they can join in through the mental connection. It leads to all kinds of interesting situations, to say the least!
Unmated Chanku never have sex with one another in their wolven forms, though they often switch with one human and the other wolf. When the series first came out, I was accused of promoting bestiality in my stories, but far from it. When Chanku are wolves, they still have the minds and thoughts they would have in their human form. Granted, if they are hunting and bloodlust has them wound up, they might be more feral than human, but the sex scenes I write, while definitely kinky, are not between an animal and a human. They’re between packmates who merely choose a different shape for variety, and that’s something you’ll always find in my stories—lots of variety. I work hard at keeping the relationships fresh, the stories exciting, and the characters as compelling as possible. I firmly believe that if I can’t create an emotional connection between my readers and my characters, then the story won’t work, so when I hear from readers telling me they had to pull out the tissues to get through a book, or that it made them laugh so hard they snorted a latte, I know I’ve done my job.
I’ll be around all day, so if you have any questions at all about the series, the characters or where the story line is going, feel free to ask. I have first chapter excerpts of all my books posted at www.katedouglas.com/eroticromance in case you haven’t read any of the stories before. Those excerpts will give you a good idea of the level of sexuality in the series—but please, only enter the site if you are over eighteen.
Also, if you have any questions about my new mass-market series, Demon Slayers, coming out next March from Kensington Publishing, feel free to ask. The first book, DemonFire, is with my editor now, and I’m getting really anxious to see what the cover will look like!
Links to find more about Kate and her books:
Note: Kate is from California, so it may take her a little longer to respond, but please be patient, because she will respond!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Well, I would love to put my review here for you, but I made the critical error of allowing my daughter to read the book first - and I haven't gotten it back from her yet because she is still doing all of the exercises in it. So, unfortunately for me, what I know of the book itself is secondhand because I'm getting it filtered through my daughter. But I suppose that is a good endorsement for the author, considering this is the target market for her book. I am happy to inform her that she is hitting her target market with good results. My daughter loves the book so much that she wants to use it as her guide for better health and fitness and she even expressed an interest in Ayurveda. If I'm lucky, perhaps I will be able to get her to share her take on the book on my personal blog http://margayleahjustice.com on Thursday. Be sure to swing by to find out. In the meantime, I will just have to hang out at the Get To Know Your Daughter site while I wait for the return of the book. Somehow, I get the feeling I might have to sneak a look while my daughter is at work or out with friends. Thank you, Nikki, for writing such a wonderful book and for taking such an interest in teenage girls. They are a gift and this is a nice way to appreciate them. ~ Margay Leah Justice
This content is by, Nikki Goldstein, author of the GirlForce series. Nikki Goldstein has worked as a beauty editor and writer for Marie Claire, Vogue, Elle, InStyle and Cosmopolitan. She regularly blogs on her two websites - www.mygirlforce.com and www.gettoknowyourdaughter.com which give further information about the power of GirlForce, as well as fun quizzes, activities and forums. You can also visit Nikki at http://www.facebook.com/pages/GirlForce/76740694436 or http://twitter.com/MyGirlForce. Learn more about the book at http://www.amazon.com/GirlForce-Nikki-Goldstein/dp/1599903547.
Testimonials for Nikki Goldstein & GirlForce -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/testim...
Excerpts/Images from the Book:
Table of Contents -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/table-...
Book Cover, Book Excerpt Images and Author Picture for Girl Force -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/book-c...
Chapter 1 - Pages 1-4 -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chapte...
Chapter 1 - Pages 5-8 -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chapte...
Chapter 1 - Pages 9-12 -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chapte...
Chapter 1 -- Pages 13-16 -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chapte...
Chapter 1 -- Pages 17-20 -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chapte...
Air, Fire and Earth Girl Pictures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Quizzes Exploring Topics in GirlForce:
Body Type Quiz - Which Body Type Are You -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/body-t...; see also Air, Fire and Earth: The Awesome GirlForce Body Types -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi... and Air, Fire and Earth Girl Pictures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Quiz - How’s Your Body-Lurve? -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-h...
Quiz - Unleash Your Creative Powers -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-u...
Quiz - Tame Your Dark Side -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-t...
Quiz - Discover Your Emotional Self -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-d...
Quiz - Love or Loathe Clothes? -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-l...
Quiz - Friend or Foe -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-f...
Quiz - Get To Know Your Mum -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/quiz-g...
Information for Young Women Discussed in Girl Force:
Indian Giving (The ancient art and science of Ayurveda) -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/indian...
Meditation and Affirmations
Chakras and Meditation -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/chakra...
The Sacred Chakra Meditation -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/the-sa...
Affirmations -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/affirm...
Quiz: Find out your body type to discover which postures are right for you -- Body Type Quiz - Which Body Type Are You -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/body-t...; see also Air, Fire and Earth: The Awesome GirlForce Body Types -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi... and
Air, Fire and Earth Girl Pictures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Yoga and Your Body Type -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/yoga-a...
Air Body Type Yoga Postures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-bo...
Fire Body Type Yoga Postures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/fire-b...
Earth Body Type Yoga Postures -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/earth-...
Air - Fire and Earth Stress Tips -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Beauty and Style Tips
Beauty Tips -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/beauty...
Beauty Tips -- Air Body Type -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/beauty...
Beauty Tips -- Fire Body Type -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/beauty...
Beauty Tips -- Earth Body Type -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/beauty...
Air - Fire and Earth Style Tips -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Air - Fire and Earth Hotties -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Air - Fire and Earth Romance -- http://virtualblogtour.ning.com/group/girlforce/forum/topics/air-fi...
Monday, June 22, 2009
Hey there everyone!
Sorry for posting late and for not keeping things moving this weekend. As it happens to be my 6 year anniversary with my husband today, I kind of took the weekend off the Internet and some other things too, but not before writing a prequel story to my Centurion 54 novels, but you'll see that another day.
Early this morning, before I went to bed and when I should have been writing this blog, I chad the opportunity to watch a movie that was my favorite when I was a child. To this day, I'm not sure why I like it, but I have a few theories. The movie is from 1943 and is called The Song of Bernadette.
This is supposed to be a movie based on the account of St. Bernadette Soubirous. For those of you not familiar with her, she is said to be the girl who saw a beautiful lady appear in the town dump of Lourdes. According to legend and lore (I say this because it happened so long ago that neither science nor the religious investigation group did not have the same abilities then that we do today to investigate this claim properly and satisfactorily), a young, sickly girl was waiting for her friend and her sister to return from gathering wood on private land. She had a "vision" of beautiful lady that told her to do things, etc. No one else saw the lady, and she never said who the lady was, but others around her claim it was the Virgin Mary.
The lady apparently told this girl to return every day for 15 days. So, she does this, but it turns into a spectacle that both the French government and religious "higher-ups" want to ignore and make go away. Convinced that this is a fraud, the local priest tells Bernadette to tell the lady to make a miracle and have the rose bush underneath where she stands bloom now in the last week of February. The funny thing is, I don't think the rose bush ever bloomed because the lady apparently told the girl to eat some plants and wash in a seemingly non-existent spring. At some point, the girl starts to dig and rather than keep digging, she washes herself in the mud that she finds there. Everyone laughs and calls her a crack-pot and begins to leave the area. Then, before everyone has a chance to completely vacate, water starts to bubble up from the spot where she was digging. The interesting thing is that her father is one of the first to "use" the water and he has his sight miraculously return, even though there is no sign that his injury has corrected itself. He couldn't read, so there was no real way to test how good his vision really was in the first place. Since he started out as a stone carver, he easily could have been good at what he did, even an eye down. Yes, there were people who supposedly were injured and miraculously healed by bathing in/drinking the water.
Again, I say that the medical field in the late 1800s was not sophisticated or educated enough to handle an investigation of these people because they had more trouble properly diagnosing people then than we do now (although many do still fall through the cracks). The question is, what was in the water? Was it truly blessed or was it the fact that it was just a fresh water spring that made a difference?
I don't think we'll ever know because there's no way to test the water, and even if we could, any supposed healing properties it may have had, probably disappeared long ago. We must also not forget that she was so sick with asthma and who knows what else. The town dump was also where a lot of diseased cloth and remains would be burned, so who knows what was surrounding them.
So, could it really have been that it was just a matter of "clean" water that really did the trick? Also, how many people were really sick and not just "depressed"? Seriously, at that time, people were suffering from economic hardships and as we now know, depression and stress can cause and exacerbate a variety of problems. With the "mental idea" of being healed, many of these issues could easy just "go away," indicating the true power of mind over matter.
Case in point, before 2007 (when I did suffer from the effects of CO poisoning albeit low and over the course of about 4 months), I was sickly and stress always seemed to make me sick, very sick. However, since I have a "new lease" on life, and different point of view, things that bothered me then, don't bother me now. What I mean is that I thought my tolerance for pain was high then, but it grew even more. My allergies, as nasty as they've ever been and really still are, don't seem to be as bothersome, but I think it's just that I am not as bothered by them because my head doesn't feel like it has spikes driven in it when I think and I can read with ease and when I do have headaches, they are manageable, even when I am hanging over a toilet. Medication will make them go away.
For me, it was a shift in thinking that seems to be making my body work better, even though it's still in as much if not more pain than it's ever been in. For me, it's about fighting against the pain, not letting it win. It's hard and can be very depressing, but I don't let myself feel depressed about things for too long anymore because I can still wake up to see another day. I can still tell my husband I love him and I still write and create.
The skeptic that I am, I totally feel that these "miracles" seemed that way because they caused a shift in thinking from negative to positive. Positive thinking does have power.
I don't mean that you have to become religious and pray and all that. No. What I mean is that you need to just appreciate what you have and focus on that rather than what it is you don't have. Right now, even though my husband had to take a pay-cut, he still has a job and a steady income, insurance, a roof over our heads and each other. I am grateful for that.
That being said, I think the reason I always liked the movie is that the girl used logic to defend herself and never fell for their trickery (such as agreeing when they tried to say she said something when she didn't) and it also (in my opinion) brought to light the ever present hypocrisy of the current religious leaders. How can I say that? Well, they didn't believe her in life and continually ridiculed her all her life, why did they all of a sudden believe her in death? What made the situation so different that they made her a saint after she died? It makes no sense to me, even though I do believe that these "miracles" did happen during her lifetime.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Hi, all! *wave* I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and hope you have an even better weekend! :-)
Tarot Cards. I do not know much about them. The concept and idea fascinates me. But then any anything and everything supernatural fascinates me. I have been tempted to buy a deck several times, but have always resisted the urge because of fear basically. What if I bought them and screwed them up? I don’t even know if that’s possible, but I don’t want to take the chance either. But what if I bought them, did it right and got a scary reading for the future or something? Honestly, I think I’d rather not know.
In preparation for this blog, I visited a free online Tarot reading at Tarot Lotus, http://www.free-tarot-reading.net/. Thanks to Scorpio, a/k/a Alessandra, for this website. I did this in fun, because I am not sure I believe in a tarot reading that is computer generated, but I will not discount it either. There are forces at work in this world that are way beyond my knowledge and understanding. And I was able to relate almost every card to my question. So, accurate or not? What do you think? I would love to hear how accurate you think it is.
Here’s how it went
First off, I was supposed to focus on my question while quieting my mind. No easy task when there are 4 boys in the house at that time. ;-) I did the best I could and asked about the future of my books.
This is what I got
Strength card: It predicts that regardless of my past challenges, I will find not only the strength, but also the courage, to succeed. It went on to say that if I was looking to overcome a bad habit, now was a good time to do it. I’m thinking my obsession with the television show Supernatural and my fellow Bust Dean Outta Hell Brigadiers does NOT count because I’m not looking to overcome that at all and do not consider it a bad habit. I’m sure my husband would disagree. ;-) But, since this reading was about my books, the only bad habit I can think of is my inability to stick to a strict writing schedule. I tend to allow myself to become distracted easily. So, maybe now is a good time to set aside a couple of hours each day to write at a particular time. I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to tell the world and life to take a flying leap during those hours. *shrugs* Any suggestions are extremely appreciated?
The Hermit card: It suggested that I want to know what to do at this time and that I felt somewhat lonely at this time. LOL! Lonely? I’m rarely lonely and I often would prefer more alone time. I tell my good friend that being with people over-stimulates me. I don’t mean this in a bad way, I love people, but I need that downtime of being alone to reboot, so to speak. I could probably thrive as a literal hermit at times. Sad, I know, but at least I know myself this well. So, I’m wondering how does this apply to my books? The only thing I can think of is I’m not listening to the voices in my head (my characters), but instead I’ve been ignoring them and putting them aside for life. So, yeah, I guess in that respect, I do feel lonely. I actually feel better, more focused, and more alert and I’m a much happier person when I’m writing. It’s kind of like exercise…so, why do I deny it from my life?
The Temperance Card: It suggested that I was afraid that the harmony in my relationship or life is not going to last. Harmony? Are they serious? The cards obviously do not know my life. Harmony does not reign in my house among my relationships or life. I certainly do not worry that a rival is going to disrupt my household. It did say that I needed to be patient because life would soon have normalcy again. Yeah, right. I have two boys actively involved in sports, not counting the boys in the neighborhood that visit daily, so my life hasn’t resembled normal in ten years. How harmony relates to my writing and books stumps me. I’m open to suggestions and ideas though. Maybe it means I'll get back to the harmony of writing soon.
The Hierophant Card: It tells me that help is here. YAY. But I have to ask for it. Yeah, I’m not so good at this. If I ask for help, then I really should have asked for help weeks ago. I don’t like bothering people with my troubles, so tend to bottle them up and keep them inside until I burst with the need for help. It goes on to say that if I’m anxious about making the correct decision then I know someone that has the right moral fiber to help. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think? It suggested I could receive counsel and honesty from a teacher (hmm…okay, gotta think about who this could be), pastor (LOL, he’d kick me out of the church if he knew how demoralized I am) or parent (my parents are too critical as it is at times, so don’t think I’m asking for advice from them), or anyone else I might highly respect (that is actually doable). Now, as it relates to my writing and books, I do actually ask for help. My friend, Bridgette, is a whiz at creative genius. Too bad she doesn’t put that to use in the written word, but she’s an awesome source of help! Thanks, girl! You’re awesome and I’m so happy to have you!
The Star card: This cards means that I am in a period of disturbance and stress and that I am afraid and cynical that all my hopes and dreams will be dashed. Um…who doesn’t suffer from this a little? Especially if they really want to succeed at a life-long dream, like with my writing? While this may sound negative, the card went on to say that any of the bad luck I’ve been having (and I’ve had a lot lately, which is unusual really because my life tends to rock along without any major upheaval) is primarily down to your self-doubt and negativity. (Not sure how this is viable, since my bad luck has been more centered toward house and health.) It encouraged me to have faith that my luck will change. Thank you! Best news I’ve had in a while.
The Empress Card: It tells me that now is a fertile and creative time. Woohoo!! I need a creative and fertile time! I am to expect only the best if I’m contemplating starting a creative mission. Hmm…just so happens I have one going on at the moment. One is the sequel to my currently unpublished book that stars Aysha as the angry witch and Rogh as the frustrated, desperate vampire. The sequel is about Aysha’s sister, Azira and Beld, who is a god from another dimension. Okay, so the card goes on to tell me that this is a time of wealth, pleasure, happiness and encouragement, with best of all, a solid underpinning for future progress. WOW! I am loving this card. Can I sleep with this one under my pillow and receive a double dose of it? Anyone know?
So, that was my reading. What’d you think? Any suggestions for me? I recommend you take the plunge and visit Lotus Tarot at http://www.free-tarot-reading.net/ and get your own personal reading. Whether you believe in it or not, it was fun. Have a great weekend everyone! Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our weekly Saturday giveaway! I promise, you won’t want to miss it!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Not long ago, I wrote about how I had to get through the Baccalaureate ceremonies at my daughter's school. And how I just barely made it through without becoming a blubbering mess. Which made me believe that I was going to be a total embarrassment come graduation. What can I say? I am a very empathic person and I feel things deeply. And when I do, I cry.
I am happy to report, however, that I made it through the graduation without embarrassing myself or, more important, my daughter. Yes, there were times when I nearly lost it, like when my daughter won an award for "dedication, perseverance and loyalty" to her school (one of the most prestigious, according to my aunt, who drove up from Pennsylvania for the ceremony) and when her name was called for the diploma, of course. But, all in all, I somehow managed to keep it together. And I am so glad I did because I would have missed so much if I didn't. I would have missed how surprised she was when she received that award, how proud she was when she accepted her diploma, how thrilled she was when she saw how many people came to her party to celebrate with her.
Graduation. It is the one rite of passage we all think is "somewhere off in the future," but it comes around sooner than we think. One day, we are putting our little girls and boys on the bus for their first day of kindergarten and the next, we are watching them file out of their school for the last time after receiving their diplomas. The times between may seem long when you're a new parent, but they rush past in a flash, so enjoy every minute of it while you can. Before you know it, you will be dropping them off at college.
So to the members of the Class of 2009, from Hudson, Massachusetts (go, Leah, Catie, Katie, Shayna, Corinne and Julia!) to Los Angeles, California and everywhere in between, my heartfelt congratulations. It was a rollicking twelve years of work, study, projects, dances, games, parents' night, science fairs, class trips, snow balls and prom, but you made it through and the future is just waiting for you to transform it. I wish you all the best of luck in all of your endeavors and I know that you will continue to make your parents proud.
Please feel free to share you graduation stories here. Let's all celebrate the wonders of parenthood and the joys of raising these bright and wondrous people who are going to make their mark on the world. ~ Margay Leah Justice, incredibly proud mother of Leah.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Judi's newest release is In Over Her Head. Her full length paranormal romance novel became available in paperback on the New Release and New Romance towers at Barnes & Nobles and Borders or online at:
How long did it take you to become published?
I joined Romance Writers of America in 2004 with one manuscript that needed a lot of work. Since joining, I fixed that manuscript and wrote 3 more. The fourth complete manuscript was In Over Her Head which sold to Sourcebooks.
How long does it usually take for you to research a book? And what is the most unusual method you've used in the process?
The nice thing about writing paranormal and creating your own world is you can make up a lot of it. However, when I was writing In Over Her Head I did have to do a lot of research on the ocean. I bought books of Caribbean fish, poured over Google Earth, a lot of research online, and personal research in Ocean City, NJ when we went on vacation - including climbing on boats in a marina to get that research correct. I'd have to say walking into a marina and telling a boat salesman that I was writing a book about mermen and needed to check out the boats was probably the oddest bit of research I did. Bob, the salesman was incredibly helpful and professional, not even blinking an eye when I told him what I needed. I've been back since to research the next books in the series and he's been fabulous.
(Ha! Now, that would make an interesting story itself, don't you think? Can you imagine what Bob told his friends after that first meeting? "You'll never guess what I did today...")
Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?
I don't think it's the end of "real" books, or p-books because people do like to have the physical thing in their hand. You don't want to drop your Kindle/eReader in the bathtub, but if you drop a paperback, it'll be soggy, but it can be saved. I have a few friends who have Kindles and they say they really miss the cover art, so I can't see all books going electronic. That being said, I do know my publisher (Sourcebooks) is looking at e-versions for our print books. I think having them available in other formats can only keep readers happy. Whatever way we can get our stories in readers' hands is great.
How long does it take for you to write books?
Once you're under contract, you no longer have the luxury of time. You have deadlines and there are schedules to be kept to. My deadlines were tight for this series, so I had the third book in by the time the first one came out - and we only had a 10 month turn around for In Over Her Head from sale to shelves.
Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
Well, it's no secret that I gave Erica (the heroine) my irrational fear of the ocean - and that she realized it's irrational. That is definitely me. But all in all, these are fictional characters. I'm sure some of my beliefs come through, but I don't base characters on any one person.
Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?
I love paranormal, but I also love other genres. Where I'll be in 10 years is anyone's guess. I want to be in the business and as long as the stories are flowing, I'll be writing them.
Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
My story ideas have all shown up in my head differently. Sometimes I just wake up with them, other times it's a "what if" question that happens. Other times I'll see something and think... hm. I could have a lot of fun with that. I don't base my characters on people I know, but I might give one of them a friend's name, just to have fun.
Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.
The three books are about Mers and the Humans who love them. The first book, In Over Her Head, which is out now, is about Reel Tritone, 2nd in line for the Mer Throne who has no chance of inheriting. He's The Spare who talked to a Human years ago and ended up getting royally punished (pun intended) for it. Erica is the Human and when she ends up almost drowning years later, he saves her and then they're off on a series of adventures to recover stolen diamonds and escape a sea monster or two. Wild Blue Under, which comes out November 1, is about Rod Tritone, the Heir to the throne, and Valerie Dumere, the Half-Human/Half-Mer. Rod has to bring her to Atlantis to fulfill a Mer Prophecy or it could be the end of their world. The problem is, she lives in Kansas and has no idea she's half Mer. Catch of a Lifetime is about Angel Tritone, their sister, and Logan Hardington a Human who finds a naked woman on his boat who just might not be what she seems.
How do you feel about fans doing fan fiction and/or roleplaying on the web based on your or other author's works?
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I think it has its upside. I'd love to have enough fans who would want something like that.
(Personally, I'd want to be Chum - he has some of the best lines!)
A new trend for authors seems to be creating a playlist for their books. Did you play certain music as you wrote yours that symbolizes all or parts of your book(s)?
I wish I could say yes to this, but I need to block out sound when I write, and if I'm playing music I can sing to, I won't be able to immerse myself in the story. So, I write with a selection of classical music, some Yanni and a soundtrack of ocean sounds. Does it inspire me? I don't think so - they block out sound and fade into the background as "white noise."
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.
Three fun facts about me:
1. I was the only girl in 4th grade who got down on the floor with the classroom pet: an iguana. The rest of the girls were screeching on top of their desks, while the guys and I were crawling around, steering "Ozzie" through the maze of desks and chairs.
2. I was a majorette from 6th grade through 12th and was captain and feature performer. I twirled fire batons, rifles, machetes, sabres in addition to batons. It was my life and I loved every minute of performing, especially when we won State Champs in my junior year.
3. I lived in Spain for a semester while I was in college. Talk about a growing experience! I ended up engineering a 1300-mile, 8 day road trip through the south of Spain with 3 others who didn't know how to read a map, drive stick shift or pack for a road trip. I came back from that Spring Break trip with a whole new attitude - don't tell me there's something I can't do. I did that; I can do anything I put my mind too.
How do you structure your day for writing?
It's easier when the kids are in school. I put one on the bus and head to the gym. I do my workout then come home, shower, answer email, have breakfast then start writing. Depending on where I am in the process I might work until 11:00 pm. I am working all the time; if it's not on a story, it's on promotion or blogging or coming up with the next stories. It's a full time job for me now.
What are your experiences with publishers and agents?
Joining Romance Writers of America was the best thing I could have ever done. I go to conferences and luncheons and other industry functions so I've met a lot of editors and agents. I've done pitches at conferences. I've queried. I've had friends introduce me to their editors/agents. A lot of networking and getting to know them which came in handy when I was looking for an agent during the First Chapters Contest.
Do you have any advice to fledgling authors?
Join a writers' group. Go to industry functions. Get to know the people in the industry. Do your research. Put your stuff out there for critique and be willing to look at it from other perspectives.
What will the role of the Internet play in the future of publishing?
If the amount of blogging I'm doing is any indication, it's an excellent way to get your name out and connect with readers.
What's your next project?
I just turned in Catch of a Lifetime and my editor and I were discussing whether we're going to go with another Mer book next or another idea I have for a series, so I'm putting together a proposal for them and we'll go from there.
(I can't wait to see what you come up with!)
Why and how did you get started writing?
I've always written. I have a story I wrote in first grade; in 2nd grade I won honorable mention in a Caldecott Award contest. It's just something I've always done.
Why did you choose your genre?
It wasn't a conscious choice - it's what I liked to read. I recently had a high school reunion and my books were a topic of discussion. I was amazed at how many of my classmates remember me with my nose buried in a romance novel, or carrying a bunch on the bus to trade with a friend of mine.
What do you consider your best work and why?
I love all my stories as I write them, so I can't really point to one and say "that one." It's like children - each one has their own strengths and weaknesses and you love them because of who they are. I can't pick a favorite child and I can't pick a favorite story.
How do you create your characters? What determines their characteristics and names?
Names are very important in my stories - they could be a play on some part of the story, a certain characteristic I want them to have, a pun, in honor of someone... Each character creates him or herself and their name follows.
Have you ever gotten to a point where a story wouldn't come? If so, how did you get back on track?
I have, but now that I'm writing on deadline, I don't have the luxury of putting it aside and coming back to it. I tend to write linearly, so I've learned that if something is stuck, skip the scene and move on. I usually have an idea where the story is going, but since I'm a pantzer (as opposed to a plotter, i.e. write by the seat of my pants), the story can go in any direction. I've found I end up with a harder path if I try to direct it. If I let it direct me, it's a smoother ride.
What do you think is the most important characteristic of a prolific writer?
Professionalism. It's a job if you're under contract; treat is as such. Behave in a professional manner; don't put anything on the internet you don't want to "own." The internet is forever. Remember that.
How do you come up with original story lines?
They just pop into my head. It could be a character, a scene, a line, an ending, a black moment... I have so many ideas that my problem is not enough time instead of lack of ideas.
Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?
I can't see myself ever writing straight thrillers, but there are enough subgenres within Romance: Romantic Suspense, Historical, Contemporary, etc. that I don't think it'd be hard to switch from paranormal to one of those, providing my voice fits it. But this is my first love, so I'll hang out in paranormal for a while - until some new idea shows up and directs me down that path.
Where did you receive your most valuable lessons in becoming a writer?
My first critique from the first contest I ever entered - and it was from my (now) critique partner. She read my story and said, "It's good but you need to lose the first 20 pages." She was right, but it hurt to hear that. But that experience taught me to disassociate myself from my writing - she wasn't being personal. She taught me about not doing an info dump at the opening. She taught me how to get a thick skin. All of that in one sentence.
(That is some great advice - learning to disassociate yourself from your writing when get another's opinion on it. Must remember that.)
Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? Which do you prefer?
Perfect segue from the last question! Steph and I used to belong to a critique group of 4, but the other two women are no longer writing. She's published with Ellora's Cave and has very tight deadlines for her book. We still bounce things off each other and if I need an emergency read, she's right there. I also got involved with Charlotte Dillon's online critique group right after I joined RWA and that was INVALUABLE! I met a couple of great women on there who were excellent writers and critiquers and we broke off from the group and created our own. Of the 6 of us, four are now published and the other 2 are close! I have a few other very good friends - one is fellow Gather-er Beth Hill who is a goddess! - who will read something and offer me their honest opinion when I need it
Would you recommend critique groups to other writers? If so, what elements, in your opinion, make a successful writer's group?
I wouldn't be where I am today if not for my critique group/partners. Their feedback was invaluable and everyone should have one - but you need to make sure you're working with people who will help you.
Do you ever look back and think, "I wish I had written this differently?"
No. If it's not working, I don't continue. No matter how much work it takes, I'll rip the piece apart if I have to to make it the best it can be.
Is writing your full time job or do you have another job also?
I had a part time job, but it got eliminated due to the economy - and it actually came at a good time for me because I had two books to write.
How do you cope with the inevitable stress of deadlines?
Take out pizza. The kids love it, I love not having to cook, and the folks at the pizzeria love it.
How do you keep your books fresh?
The characters. Instead of looking at the three stories as a related group, I look at them as individual stories that have some similar characteristics, like setting and relationships, but each one has to be a complete story and able to stand on its own because a new reader might pick up book 2 without reading book 1 and I want them to know everything they need to know and to feel that the story is complete in that one book.
How important is it to attend writing conferences?
I can't stress enough how important writing conferences are. The workshops, the industry professionals, being around other authors, hearing what they're doing, what works, what doesn't work, what editor is looking for what type of story... and the sheer motivation of being with all those creative and successful people. I told my husband that the six months between events from the NJ conference in October to the Romantic Times Convention in April is entirely too long to go without attending some type of industry function, so I'll be keeping an eye out this year for another conference to attend.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I like to read the same kind of books I like to write. But I also like to read any story that's going to sweep me away in a world of romance and adventure and emotion... and of course, that happily ever after. I have favorite books as opposed to favorite authors. My favorite books are: Bewitching by Jill Barnett, Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux, When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn, Sexiest Man Alive by Diana Holquist and Cardinal Rules by Barbara Delinsky.
For now. I'm always discovering new books that I love.
What do you do to unwind in your free time?
Free time? What's that? LOL. Seriously, right now, I don't have free time. When I'm not writing, I'm with my family or taking care of them. I do try to keep up with my Thursday night group of ladies in my neighborhood - we get together to watch Survivor and have been doing so for the last 6 years. It's a nice bit of real life sanity in the midst of the insanity.
Thank you so much for having me, Margay. This has been an amazingly fun ride since entering the First Chapters Romance contest. I'd love to hear what you think of the story, and don't forget that I'm raffling off three romantic beach getaways on my website: www.JudiFennell.com
Judi, thank you for allowing me and Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem to be a little part of your journey. I knew the first time I read your first chapter in a certain little Gather contest that it was destined for publication and I am so happy to say I was right. Much continued success! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! ~ Margay
Monday, June 15, 2009
Hello again everyone!
Yes, I know, I know, I've blogged about world building before, but I am so fascinated by it. I've read about some very neat worlds. One created by Jayne Ann Krentz, of course, there was middle earth (J.R.R. Tolkien) and then there was the planet of Toril (R.A. Salvatore). One thing that I noticed with each of them is that, while they had unique and interesting things, they also had very similar things as well like schooners, trees and horses. I just find it very interesting that while creating a world with magic, fantasy creatures and such, that they would have such mundane things like trees and horses. In the case of Jayne Ann Krentz, her futuristic world had very neat cars. Even though they used different methods to start them (amber or jelly ice), they were ultimately car styles we have here on earth.
I wonder why that is? Do authors use mundane, everyday things because it's easier, or because it helps the reader feel more at home?
I suppose it would be able to just use the word trees because now I have to work on what rumble trees and humming trees do and what they look like and how their names came to be, which isn't necessarily an easy task, but one that excites me.
So tell me, how many nuances need to be covered in worlds you read about? Do you ever find yourself wondering about such mundane things as insect pests like mosquitoes, gnats, flies and ticks?
Has there ever been a time when reading about a different world, that you have been left wondering about something in that world that you wish the author went into detail on? If so, what was it? Was it a minute detail or was it something that came into play throughout the story?
How detailed do you want a world you read about to be? What small nuances would you like to see given some detail, even if it is in passing? How much detail is too much?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Giving Henry His Due
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
When Carrie, Gracen and Margay invited me to provide a guest article for today, they didn’t specify a topic. And I’ve written so many of these guest posts in preparation for my online tour this month that I wasn’t sure I had another fresh and exciting topic in me. Then poor Henry Bakerson peaked in on me and said, “You could stop neglecting me for a while.”
He’s got a very good point. For all the promotion and marketing I do for CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS, I rarely mention Henry. I let the hero Nigel Taiman have his own blog (at http://sandylender.blogspot.com). I talk about the heroine Chariss all the time. I put short stories with her wizard guardian Hrazon in my chapbook WHAT CHOICES WE MADE without ever making any mention of poor Henry. And he’s not chopped liver.
The guy is a solid, strong, bad-boy kind of character who saunters in on a wing and a prayer and throws a hitch in everybody’s giddyup (if you don’t mind me throwing a completely inappropriate analogy into the fantasy genre, here). When the reader meets Henry in chapter eighteen of CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS, she’s already heard of him and his raucous days with Nigel when they were younger lads drinking every bar in Arcana City dry and seeking “female companionship” in less-than-reputable places. So he shows up and tells some tall tales over too many ales and reveals that he’s got a contract to carry goods for the bad guy in the novel.
You can imagine what that leads to.
But Henry’s one of those ruffian-on-the-outside-good-guy-on-the-inside kind of characters that women are attracted to. He’s a kind ol’ fellow who teases little Kaylin Taiman and sends the miserly ol’ Godric Taiman into a much-needed tailspin. He gets Nigel into enough minor trouble, but keeps him out of any real trouble, if you know what I mean. Yet I forget to talk about this fabulous guy. I forget that he’s got important stuff to do in the subsequent books. I forget how dear he is to Chariss and to the matriarch of the Taiman family and to the folks who start to depend on him.
So this blog post is dedicated to Henry Bakerson. His decision to sell off his family’s bread-making business to go off to sea (which really was an escape from a young lady claiming to be “with child”) may have made him appear rash in the past, but his decision to stay on land and help an old friend in CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS proves he’s a trustworthy partner after all. Scoundrel…perhaps. But he’s a scoundrel with heart.
If you’d like to know more about Henry, or the heroine he languishes over, be sure to type up a question for me here. I’ll be checkin’ in to answer! And thank you to my hostesses for letting me give Henry some much-needed attention today. (Henry thanks you, too.) “Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.
When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?
This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...
Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.
“Hey!” she objected.
“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”
Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.
“You’re staring at me.”
“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”
“I’m not angry.”
“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.
“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”
“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”
She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.
“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.
He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.
“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.
“And that I’m your friend?”
“And does that please you?”
He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.
“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”
“Friendship?” he retorted.
“Such a rapport.”
He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”
“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”
“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”
“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”
She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”
“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.
“Because I’m in love with you?”
She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”
He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”
“I don’t think you should say those things.”
“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”
She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.
“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.
“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”
She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.
“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”
She nodded again.
“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”
“You shouldn’t assume that means—”
“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.
“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”
“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”
“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”
“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”
“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”
“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”
They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.
Thank you, Sandy, for creating Mayhem in the Moonlight with us today! And thank you to Goddess Fish Promotions for inviting us to be a part of this tour, who promise "at the end of each week one commenter will be randomly drawn to win an autographed, hard cover, first edition" of Choices Meant For Gods. So be sure to leave a comment for Sandy!