Thursday, March 31, 2011



I was attending a Steampunk Convention last weekend with a dear friend of mine, P. She is a real engineer type writer. By this I mean that she isn’t a plotter…that doesn’t go far enough to explain how P. writes. She doesn’t just outline. She OUTLINES.

Before she writes, she has every single scene figured out…or that is her ambition, since we all know that we writers seldom have things work so smoothly. But P. tries. Colored highlighters? Check! Colored post-it notes? Check! Character sheets? Check! Basic W Diagram, for every character, the romance, the plot and the arc? Check!

She has taken more classes in the last year than I have taken in eight years. She is an avid online class taker and actually…really…takes part in the online classes she takes. (Unlike me, who lurks, takes notes and stashes them away in a folder, intending to use them…someday.)

It’s really quite amazing we can talk writing.

P. has taken classes on everything you can think of. She has dissected her writing and revisioned it. I mean, honestly, she impresses the hell out of me. She writes with painstaking precision. It’s amazing. We talk and I burble on about some wild assed idea I had or how my plot ran away from me and split like that car commercial with the little mini (I think it’s a mini..) and runs down streets, seeking the clearest path and then eventually all comes together so the driver makes the ferry…

You know, that is a very apt analogy of how I write…

Where was I?

Oh, yeah! P. is an extraordinary plotter. If she were a computer programmer she would be the engineer all the other engineers would hate because she’d insist of perfection with every bit of code they wrote. If she were cooking, she’d be the tyrant in the kitchen who threw out ingredients because they weren’t perfect. She’d be the film director who exhausts her actors. But, in all of this, she’d put out something that would impress. No loose ends, no dangling plotlines, no side characters taking over anything.

None of the stuff I consider totally necessary to having fun.

I’m not sure she has fun when she writes. She is driven and doesn’t have time to sightsee.

I want to stop at every overlook and gape for an hour.

Now, you want to know something fascinating about this woman? She is also an artist. She paints wonderful visions, right out of fantasy and science fiction. Starscapes. Doorways to another world. Dancers skipping across the cosmos. Magicians and witches and cats and birds and wolves and… I met her at a science fiction/fantasy convention, selling her art and showing in the art shows. She once wore Vulcan ears to the convention. (Used the wrong glue and couldn’t get them off for DAYS!)

I know she paints with precision when it comes to technique. But it is amazing…how does the rampant vision of fantasy exist hand in hand with a writer who is so intensely structured?

I mean, I’m anarchistic. When I write, when I don’t clean house, when I shop or don’t cook… or flit about the internet with no plan… I…you know, that last one is biting me on the ass. But let’s not go there right now… (No, I didn’t set my reputation on fire with an ill-conceived rant. I just waste a lot of time.)

Anyway! The contradiction, or seeming contradiction, of how P. manages these two creative endeavors fascinates me. And she has admitted the way I write repels her. But I told her the way she writes has a similar effect on me! So, we’re about on the same page with that. She needs control and as much as possible, she has it. I could use some of that control, that hands-on-the-reins sort of thing right now.

Today, I’m one day away from leaving for Los Angeles and the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. And I’ve tried to plan my packing, plan my promotion, plan my being ready for whatever I face and how I handle it.

Of course, I expect to forget something important. I expect to deal with disruptions that throw my planning out the window. I expect to find things I’m not ready for. And when the things I expect come true…well, I’ll blithely look to the sky and thank the universe for giving me the chance to be here, regardless of how much something might stink at the time.

I hope I’m that good about it. ;-)

(I even enlisted two friends to be my designated ass-kickers. To keep me from falling prey to melancholy or freezing up when I need to be basking in the joy of simply being there. Celeste and Kim? You got your big boots ready?)

Am I prepared? Who the hell knows!? In control? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

When it comes to handling the ‘fiction’ of being in control, where do you fall? Not just the writing pantser or plotter stuff, but the planner, the schemer, the floating leaf on the currents of life? Are you the control freak? The give-it-to-the-universe type? How does it touch upon not just how you write, but what you write? Do you write your characters the same as you? (Prime material for conflict, btw.)

I speak-a the English good, no?

Last week, Terri posted an excerpt from Loretta Chase's Your Scandalous Ways, which sent me straight to the library. I've been reading it in chances during middle-of-the-night bottles.

One of the multitude of things I've been impressed with is Loretta Chase's ability to write dialog in such a way that you hear the character's accent in your mind.

Take, for example, this, from an Italian character:
"She reads the poems to me, else I would not understand them at all. To read it hurts my head. The way the English spell: Where is the logic? Nowhere can I find it. They spell like madmen."

And this, from a Russian character:
"Signoria enjoys to make me blush. I tell her, in my country, we awe shy to speak of such matters. To say them in the company of a woman is unheard of."

I can just hear these accents as I read. Part of it is the strong characterization, but much of it is the small tweaks to the dialog. The little nuances that a non-native speaker would miss.

For the Russian, she used "to make" rather than "making" - a tiny change, but one that has a big impact in the way we hear the speech.

Likewise, the phrase " Nowhere can I find it" instead of "I can't find it anywhere" has a foreign ring to it.

At the same time, the accents are not so over the top that they're difficult to read or annoying. In each excerpt, there are phrases or sentences that read exactly as a native speaker would say them. Its a nice balance, for me at least, to create just enough of an accent for readers to hear it, but not be distracted by it.

So let's practice! Pretend a character with a thick accent stumbles into your WIP. They can be French or Russian or Indian or anything else you can think of. Give us a few lines of dialog that has a accent to it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Influence this week: I found my missing Kiki flash drive!! And a new playlist for next month.




I've been working up a storm this month.


Yeah, the day job is chaos. No joke. When is it not? But also at home. Just like I prepared for National November Writing Month last November, I decided to embark on a similar journey for the month of April. It's affectionately being called, Awrapawrimo. The GPS made it up. I'm sure there is some April, Writing and Month in there. Much like the bruising pace of November, April will test the wills of even the hardest writers. I've set quite the goal for myself this year. One that won't be easily obtained and I will only get close if I manage to stick on track with my writing. I need to complete two books this year (the first and second book of my YA series) and by NaNo 2011, I will be ready to start my second book of Kiki's series. That gives me three months for each of the YA series, with a month in between to defrag my brain and breathe before November.


So just like how I prepare for November, I prepared myself for April. While I love and consume a number of paranormal and urban fantasy novels, I've never actually worked on one myself. I've never built a world or generated otherworldly beings. I live in my own little fantasy world where these creatures live and inhabit but never make their way to the light of day. My YA series is a paranormal, urban fantasy based series of a seventeen year old girl. At first, I wasn't convinced to write a YA book. I like YA books. I've read some pretty far out there YA books with lots of adult situations and language. But me? Write one? Um, on my best day my language is rated R and on my worst, I can make construction workers blush bright red.


But honestly, I'm tired of writing sex scenes. I truly am. Maybe when I find a set of characters that deserve it after they've earned the right in my story to have sex I'll start enjoying it again. I never thought I'd say this but I'm giving up the sex writing for the time being. YA is a good genre for me to get into and I think a good learning opportunity for me. To grow my own relationships, to watch my own characters grow and come to life. I'm looking forward to seeing through the eyes of a new character set even if the task at hand is a little daunting.


So is anyone willing to take on the crusade of Awrapawrimo with me? I made GPS pledge to do it. I made Hellie swear under penalty of walking the plank. But let's make it fun. While NaNo is stressful, how about we all set a lofty goal of words for next month and see how far we can get? You don't need to do 50k (I am. I've sworn a glittery blood oath with GPS) but something you want to aspire to next month. This is not the time to be stressed out. The whole fun of NaNo is quantity over quality. Use next month to edit. Or the next one after that, but let's get fired up. RWR and loyal friends, let's kick ass!


How many of you have participating in a writing challenge? What's the most words you've written in a single month?
Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting To Know Your Characters

I’m working my way through the Discovery phase of the new WIP, enjoying the new story smell, exploring the possibilities, bobbing on the waves of potential brilliance. Since my stories are completely character driven, fleshing out my hero and heroine is the most important part of my process. When my heroine’s greatest fear, stemming from a childhood experience, popped into my brain, a giant portion of her external conflict was born.

Since my story revolves around a love triangle that involves two brothers, realizing the brothers have the same father but different mothers gave me insights into both my hero, and the brothers’ relationship. A fact that also helped explain why the heroine doesn’t see a resemblance when she and the hero meet before they are officially introduced.

Everything I’ve learned about these characters came out of the first step in my Character Detail Sheets (provided by the lovely Dee S. Knight) - provide three adjectives that describe your character.

You’d think three little adjective would be nothing, but when you get them right, they’re development gold.

My hero is Joe Dempsey, charter boat captain and certified curmudgeon. The three adjectives that describe Joe are Bitter, No-nonsense, and Generous. For me, the trick is to make sure the adjectives are both positive and negative. We talk all the time about characters needing faults, but being people the reader can both relate to and root for.

We all have good and bad traits, and so should our characters.

Now it’s your turn. Writers pick one of your characters and give us three adjectives to describe him or her. Then see if you can come up with ideas how those adjectives inform your story. Readers pick one of your favorite characters, give us three adjectives and how they come through in the story.


Or we can bitch about the weather, I’m good with that too. (If you’re really feeling froggy, you can give us three adjectives that describe you.)
Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deanna Wadsworth aka the Networking Mistress

- Chance groans and lets her head fall to the bar. “I’m never gonna get a handle on all a’ this! Why did she put me in charge a’ networkin’?”

- Barossa reaches out and grips her hair, lifting her face and bending to peer into her eyes. “Net-whatting?”

 -She jerks away from his hand and rubs at her head. “That hurt, ya know!”

- “Thought you were drunk, if you were drunk, it wouldn’ta hurt. I do apologize! But really, what is networkin'?” His blurry eyes open and close as he lifts his rum tankard.

- Chance snatches it away from him. “You’ve had your limit, Hector. You’ll be no good ta me if’n yer soused. She sighs and tales a sip from the tankard. Networkin’…it’s sorta like usin’ a net ta snag customers. Me alter-ego put me in charge a comin’ up with ideas ta help sell ‘er book, thinkin’ as a bartender that I’d be social and all. HA! She don’t know me so well… I hide behind me rum bottles…”

- “Serve yer drinks nude, ya’ll get customers that way!” He leers.

- “I don’t need customers, she needs customers. Or fans or whatever ya calls those who read. She needs readers.”

- Chance’s head rises as a Tarzan like call comes from the shore.

A moment later, a gorgeously dressed blond sweeps down from the topsail and onto the deck, dropping the line as she lands. Her ruby red high heels gleam, her teeth shine, her hair is…perfect. She lowers her glasses and peers over them at the motley pair.

- “I heard someone is in need of networking advice!” the blonde says.

- Barbossa grins crookedly at her. “I remember you! Last time ya brought a curvy lass in a red cape and an…interesting young man.”

- “That is my alter ego. Today, I’m your Networking Mistress! You think you scurvy lot are ready for RT?”

- Chance and Hector snap to attention at Deanna’s stern voice. “Aye, ma’am!”

- Deanna cracks the long whip no one realized she had strapped to those leather pants. “That’s Mistress Deanna, you flea ridden dogs!”

- Sobering up immediately, Chance and Hector salute.  “Aye, aye, Mistress Deanna!!”

- She smiles wickedly. “Now, that’s more like it. I want you to listen up! You’re running out of time here! Your conference is in one week and you, Chance, need to sell some books! I think I got here just in time to remind you a few things.

- “First is your swag. You better have business cards on you at all times. NO EXCEPTIONS!!! This offence is punishable with a long walk down a short plank! Hear me?”

- “Aye aye, Mistress Deanna!!”

- Mistress Deanna begins pacing in front of them like a general addressing  her troops. She palms her whip which Hector eyes warily. “Now this is important because you may spend all your days in your jammies writing, but this is a professional conference. And professionals have business cards. Now let me see your cards!”-

- Chance looks nervously at Hector who shrugs. She reaches under her pirate hat and pulls out a small metal container and slips a crisp business card out and with trembling hands presents it to the dominatrix before her. “Here ya go, Mistress Deanna.”

- Mistress Deanna takes the card and eyes it shrewdly. “Hmmm,” she says after a minute. “You were paying attention. I see a crisp card you were carrying in a business card holder. Very professional. So much better than a rubber band. I hate rubber bands. Though I had a sub once who was into cock and ball torture. He loved a good rubber band….but I digress. These cards are nice. And I also see that the design on the front is simple and clean. You have your email and website on there. And you even have your card white and empty on the back. Very, very good. It’s important that you leave the back clean and matte. Why is that?”

- Chance grins big. “So ye can write all the stuff you talked about with the person on the back of the card, Mistress Deanna.”

- She grins. “Very good, Chance. And why do you do that? Hector?”

- He scratches his head, looking at a loss but finally says, “So’s you can use that email thingy to contact them later?”

- “That’s right, Hector. The most important thing you can do after a conference is contacting all the people you talked to via email and Facebook. But you lot look a right mess! Stand up straight! NO slouching!”

Chance and Hector straighten up straighter than the mainmast of the pirate ship Revenge.

- “Networking is about more than fancy bookmarks and nice business cards,” Mistress Deanna tells them. “If you don’t look your best and put yourself out there to meet new people you can have all the pretty swag you want and when you get home there will be no one for you to email.

- “The real reason for going to conferences is to promote yourself thru networking. If you hole up in your room and write or sit in the back of the classes and take notes like a good little school girl you are wasting your money and time. I don’t know about you salty porpoises but my time is valuable! And I am going to make the best use of it.”

- “How’s we gonna do that?” Chance wants to know.

- “By making a goal to talk to three strangers every day so that at the end of the day you made at least one good connection.”

- Chance and Hector share a nervous glance and Mistress Deanna saves them by saying, “Don’t worry your flea bitten heads.” She cracks the whip and they both start. “If you go where the people are you will find someone to talk to. But this ain’t Field of Dreams. If you go into the bar or the café they WILL NOT COME!

- “You have to go up to them! But have no fear they are there for the same reason you are. Networking! As soon as you say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself they will do the same. Then if you prepared well, you can even have a conversation starter prepared such as “Is this your first writing conference?” Let them talk about themselves and ask leading questions. When your great chat ends, make sure you make notes on the back of their business card so that when you get home you will remember who they are. Believe me, if you do your jobs right you will come home empty of your own cards and swag and bearing a hefty load of cards from all the people you met.

- “Don’t forget, if you met someone you really connected with, stick their card in your business card holder with your cards so you don’t lose it.”

- “Yes, Mistress Deanna!!”

- She eyes them one last time “Now I have to go, but just remember this:

- If you don’t step out of your comfort zone and try to make friends, your conference won’t be nearly as fun or as successful as you want it to be.”

Without another word, Mistress Deanna whistles loudly. Everyone jumps and she leaps effortlessly up on the gunwale of the ship. When they look down into the water they see two giant sea turtles harnessed with patent leather waiting patiently for their rider. Mistress Deanna leaps over the side, and effortlessly lands on them despite her stilettos, one foot per turtle. She grabs up the reigns and waves at her pupils.

- Before she rides her reptilian steeds into the sunset she shouts back up on deck, “And don’t forget to smile and shake hands!”


Bestselling erotica author Deanna Wadsworth leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her hubby of 14 years and three demanding little dogs. She has a fascination with the exotic and taboo but it is her love of love in all its stages and incarnations which made her an erotica and m/m author.

You can find her on Facebook, or her blog.

Her blog, btw, has all sorts of wonderful pictures on it! ;-)

She's at Goodreads

And you can buy her books here: Decadent Publishing and Amazon


Now, I know no one but me be goin’ ta RT, but there be conferences and opportunities ta network everyday… Mistress Deanna be available today ta answer questions ‘bout how ta make connections. Ask away!

Baby Baby Baby...

(Sorry for the Bieber reference.  Good luck getting that out of your head today....)

So, I admit.  I'm sick of looking up good looking guys.  I never know what to search that isn't going to get me XXX rated pics.

I decided today, I'm going to use today's post to distribute other hottie people.

Aren't they wonderful?  I love the face on the fellow with the hat.  And the pretty eyes on the girl with the blanket.  The smooshy, sleeping one is my all time favorite.  I love that face.  Especially when it's accompanied by drool.  I've also decided I want a sweater like the gray one and the little white blanket one is all kinds of sweetness.

It's the usual suspects this week, crew.

And a big CONGRATULATIONS to all of our GH/Rita finalling friends.  :)  Way to go ladies!!


And this last one is mine....  :)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Caption Contest!

[caption id="attachment_4026" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="And this little piggie went ARG! ARG! ARG! All the way home!"][/caption]

I love animals.  And you KNOW I love pirates.  So putting them together is good!  Right?  So, for your entertainment, here are the creme de la creme of pirate animal photography.  I would like to suggest we have a little caption contest.  I'll come up with some weird but fabulous prize for the winner.   Here's an (really lame) example.

[caption id="attachment_4024" align="aligncenter" width="264" caption="How do ye like me wooden legs?"][/caption]


Okay!  Let's see what you can do!  I'll be in the corner, drinking me kraken's rum.

The Assassin
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Contest or Not to Contest, that is the question…. Again

Here it is, another contest season.  I’m going forward on my story and my mentor says I’m doing great.  Whew.  That’s a good sign.  It’s slow moving.  Ok, it’s caterpillar crawl moving.  It’s “was that a turtle that just passed me?” kind of moving.  It’s “old women with arthritis and bad backs run faster than this” kind of moving.

It’s slow.

So, I’ve been trying to decide whether I should enter any right now.

When it comes to contests, entering is a very personal thing.  In my mind, there are a lot of pros and cons.  I thought I’d throw some out there for your consideration.

PRO:  Get in front of agents/editors.

If I final (the ultimate goal), I could get in front of agents or editors I want to impress.  Maybe they’ll request more of my story.  It could be a gateway to a business relationship.

CON:  Exposure too soon?

If I do final and an agent/editor does like what they see, there’s a chance—with my slow pace—that I won’t be ready to give them anything when they ask.  Or, what I give them might not be ready for public consumption.  Either may do more harm than good.

PRO:  I’d get some feedback.

Feedback at this point would help me to see if the story is resonating with an audience.  Granted, contest judges are just a slice of the reading population, but feedback—good or bad—is still feedback and maybe it’d help me to refine my story, if it needs to be refined.

CON:  Maybe I won’t get any good feedback.

Not really an explanation needed.

PRO:  Can put a final on my query letter

IF I final, I can use that exposure going forward on my query letter.  Some agents are into that, maybe it’d draw their attention.

CON:  Maybe I won’t final

Again, not really necessary to explain.

CON:  Contests are expensive

If I don’t final, it’s basically money out the window.  Oh, the feedback’s nice, but there are other ways to get feedback.


PS:  Good luck to any of our contributors and readers who entered the GH or the Rita.  We're rooting for you!!


Anyone else thinking about jumping into the contest pond?  Anyone else excited to see who finals in the GH or the Rita (that's tomorrow, squeee!!)?  Anyone else have any pros or cons to add to the list here?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Blog Swiped - Welcome Kathleen Gallagher!

*Chance hauls herself reluctantly up the side of the ship, losing her grip on one of the rails, she falls only to be scooped up and delivered gentle on the deck by the kraken. She waves and stands shaking water from her hair.

(By the way, she’s nude.)

*A moment later, a vile curse rises from the side of the ship as a long, sinewy arm waves about. Woman! A line!

Chance nonchalantly kicks a bit of line over the side, glad to see it was tied to a mast. She glances over the railing *If you hadn’t kicked him, he would have helped you.

And arrive covered in slime, no thank you! Barbossa makes it to the deck and ogles her for a moment. And why didn’t we use the cutter?

*I asked the Bo’sun to bring my guest aboard with the cutter. The swim is good for you, Hector. You needed a bath.

*Women and your fixation with cleanliness! He wrings out his shirt and puts it back on, then strides to her side. She’s already seen that look on his face and ducked behind the bar.

When she rises, she is wearing a long shirt. Stow it, Hector. Kathleen will be here any minute! Make sure the chocolates are ready and here! Open this bottle for me!

A few minutes later the ship rocks gentle as the Bo’sun climbs aboard, chatting with Kathleen.

The Bo’sun grins at Chance - Her story features a ghosts, a witch, twins, and a couple who meet in an addiction recovery center!

- Yup, I heard that! Sorta like the idea of a twin chatting with the passed over twin!! Come on over, Kathleen, I gots a nice toasty hot buttered rum fer ya ta start the mornin’ off right! So, tell us ‘bout this dead twin and how she’s gonna mess about wit’ yer heroine’s life!

 Thanks for inviting me aboard, Chance.  Takes a sip from her cup. Hmm! Good rum! Clears her throat and set the rum down on the bar.  Now, to answer your question.  Echoes at Dawn is my first novel and it’s a paranormal romance. The strangely intertwined lives of a widowed mother,, and a charismatic bachelor come together in order to show that in life there are no coincidences…only destiny. 

Chance raised an eyebrow - So, how does the handsome doctor come inta the picture?  Yes, there be a handsome doctor in the book…though I read he gots a secret past that needs dealing wit’. She glances at Hector, Don’t they all!

He nonchalantly looks away.

-True, but that makes them interesting! Madeline attends a lecture given by Nat Griffin, and is intrigued by his ability to deliver a compelling speech.  He holds his audience captive with his emotional delivery. The attendees are not the only one he holds captive.  From that moment on, Madeline wants to learn everything about him.

Chance tilts her head. So, does the heroine have any a’ this talent fer chattin’ wit’ the dead? Is there a villain ta this book? And btw, I do like yer cover!  

Thanks, I love the cover, too. There’s a scene in the book to match it. Oops! Maybe I should let you find out for yourself.

You see, Madeline has no special abilities when it comes to spells or talking to the dead.  It’s her mother who practices witchcraft. Katy’s recent dementia does not keep her from her from remembering how to stir up a potion, or cast a spell to help someone in need.  There are no real villains in the story, only remnants from Madeline’s and Nat’s past, left behind by the repercussions of alcoholism.

Chance takes a sip of rum. No villain, interestin’! Can ya tell us yer call story? All the lasses love a good call story!

Hector breaks in, Shouldn’t ya be callin’ it an e-mail story anymore! With all this modern technology, does anyone actually call any… Chance yanks at his beard and Barbossa closes his mouth. Pardon me, go on! 

 Sure, I’d love to.  I worked on Echoes at Dawn for a couple of years. It had control of my heart, so I nurtured it.  I had some interest from a few editors and got a couple of offers which I turned down.  One day while I read The Liberty State Fiction Writers Newsletter, I saw a book by another author from Decadent Publishing.  I researched the site and liked what I saw. I submitted soon after. I had a feeling it was where I was supposed to be.  Before long I got an acceptance letter and almost fell off of my chair. I had finally found a home for my baby.   I had an appointment to pitch the following weekend at a writer’s conference.  I decided to take the contract with Decadent Publishing and canceled my appointment.  I knew it was the right decision.

It’s always amazin’ how these things work out! Now, ya gots a blurb ta share? And excerpt? And can ya tell us when the book be available? And where?

Echoes at Dawn is set to be released on March 30th by Decadent Publishing. 

Here’s the blurb I brought along, just for all of you!

 - Waterfront restaurant chef Madeline Young adores her job. If only her love and family’s lives were as successful as her career.  With a teenage son, who spends time in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and a dementia-plagued mother, Madeline doesn’t know how much more she can handle.  Then her mother enlists the help of her deceased twin sister, Mary to guide Madeline to true happiness.  An early dawn visit from the spirit directs Madeline to volunteer at the local hospitals center for addiction recovery, where she comes alive for the first time in many years under the attention of Nat Griffin.

Nathaniel Griffin, a part-time counselor and contractor, fascinates his clients with his lectures. In keeping with his philosophy of professionalism, Nat prefers to keep his personal life private.  When attraction tests his beliefs, Nat must confront his marred past.  Is he willing to face his demons or take the easier path and remain isolated?

Can unworldly ghosts save this couple from their own destructive behavior?

And here’s a sneak peek.

The day was about to end, and so far, it had been unbelievable.  I felt at ease and relaxed in Nat’s company.  I sat down on the sofa and realized what might happen next.  As I closed my eyes, I sunk into the plush velvety sofa.  My mind drifted, while I listened to the melody. A warm sense of familiarity enabled me enjoy the moment.  Nat got up to dim the lights and placed a few candles on the mantle.  The fireplace had gorgeous gold details around the marble, which added an extra hint of drama to the room.  Nat returned and moved close to me.  He looked into my eyes provocatively and gently placed his arms around me.  Before I could react, he pulled me up against his chest.  Our lips met in a kiss that sparked all the desires of a lifetime.  It seemed to last forever as we embraced.  I gave in to the temptation.  While we remained in each other’s arms, I felt his heart race.  The warmth of his body heat tantalized my senses, and I felt the strength of his back muscles as he held me close.  Nat placed my head on his shoulder, and kept his arms around me.  The sound of our breathing meshed together as one. It seemed as if time stood stopped, yet an hour had passed.

He whispered to me softly.  “Let’s go to the second level balcony.  “I want you to see where I meditate. I think you’ll love the view.”

Nat took my hand, put out the candles, and slowly led me upstairs.  He told me to close my eyes and guided me outside.

“Okay, open your eyes now.”  He gently moved my shoulders and faced me in the right direction.

In front of me was picturesque scenery, with trees as far as the eye could see.  It was lovely and the stars sparkled in the sky above us.  “It’s amazing up here,” I said. The stars sparkled in the sky above us, and the vintage lamp posts in the corners gave an ambience of romance.  Trees with auburn tipped leaves surrounded by tones of yellow and brown surrounded the area. Tiny lights sparkled in between the winding trails.  The peaceful sound of a fountain trickled gracefully in the background.  It was a magical garden.

“I come up here to relax, and just breathe,” he said.

“Oh, Nat, this is amazing.”

He turned on the stereo upstairs.  Before I could realize it, we were slow dancing.  Nat gently placed his arms around me and placed his cheek next to mine.  We danced under the stars as our bodies connected on every beat.


Chance sighs, I love a good bit a’ dancin’! I hopes ya will be stickin’ round fer questions!


You can find me at;





- I had a blast chatting with you. I’d love to do it again.  Thanks for the hospitality and the Rum!!!


Booty call for the Bo'sun!

*Get yer mind outta the gutter!

Patricia Kirby picked a winner from Friday's blog and it's the beloved Bo'sun! Whoop! I already sent her yer e-mail addy, so the copy a' the book should be wingin' it's way through cyberspace in no time 't'all!
Monday, March 21, 2011

One Book, Two Book, Three Book…Huh?

*        Hey, Hector!

*        Yes, Chance?

*        Think the Bo’sun’s gonna mind, we hijackin’ her day?

*       Doubt it, remember, she’s a bit…busy…today. Probably a relief!

*       Okay, good. Me alter ego needs ta chat ‘bout her new stories…and show off the covers. What do ya think? This is the first one…

*      That is really lovely! The ship is a bit small and blue hair?

*       Well, there be a reason fer her blue hair… You should read the book. Remember that night I jumped you? I’d jus’ finished it…

He grins *     I do like it when you read books like that!

She snickers *     This is the second one, it comes out on Friday…

*       Two men? I’m not going to share.

*       Yeah, I bet you’d go for it if it were me and another woman!

He looks a bit preoccupied. *        Perhaps…

*       Dream on!


Enough frivolity. Yes, I have two new novellas out from Decadent. The first was released last Friday, the next is this Friday. And I’m still promoting The Kraken’s Mirror. I was so ready for that book to come out. I had months to prepare, to set up blog guest spots, buy advertising…I chatted about it, blathered here there and everywhere.

And now, these shorts! I feel caught by surprise! I mean, The Kraken’s Mirror came out January 31st. The Ship’s Mistress came out March 18th. The Sister’s Story is March 25th! And I’m still talking about The Kraken’s Mirror!

Man! The whirlwind of e-publishing!

I made plans to promote all three books at RT. Have promo material, etc. But suddenly, I have a new short out and I don’t know what way to turn! Before I can do much more than set up on blog with it…the second one is coming out!

As I wrote to the Bo’sun yesterday…

I wish I'd been more on top of promoting this short. I'm going to have to ramp up slow and steady, and how the hell do you figure out which to promote when you have two stories out? Soon, three? I mean, honestly!


So, here I am…wondering how to manage this juggling act. I feel like I’m starting a race ten minutes later then the rest of the runners…

(That metaphor would work better if I ran…but you get the idea!)

Okay, better late then never...added after the fact...blurbs for the two books!

The Ship's Mistress

Jahari gave herself to the starborne Etwa to save her little sister from life in a foul brothel. Ironically, tests reveal an aptitude for sensual service and Jahari is trained as a high court slut. A contract of seven years runs out on the planet Mentari but the powerful Basba is determined to keep her. She escapes swearing to see him reported to the Etwan authorities.

Toseman is the captain of the Sea Horse, sailing the seas of Mentari. Several days from port a stowaway is brought before him. Her bright blue hair betrays her high slut identity and puts his secret at risk. Drawn to her, he accepts her offer to serve as ship’s mistress and promises to see her to the nearest Etwan spaceport.

They are pursued by her former master as the two join forces and with the help of the Sea Horse crew, they seek Etwan justice.



(Slut: (noun) In the common vernacular a word denoting a man or woman of great sexual prowess, strength and knowledge. A high slut is one considered extremely valuable and treasured. Once a word with a far different meaning among the human population, used to denigrate and deride a woman with a strong sexual appetite. Still in use on the more primitive patriarchal worlds under Etwan influence, a condition the Etwan strive to eliminate.)


The Sister’s Story/Sari's Search

Sari lives on the Etwan world of Verdant. A student for twelve years, the Etwan have helped her learn control of her telepathic abilities. She is sexually experienced, a bright woman with a past that is a blank slate. As she approaches her 18th birthday, her desire to know more of her background grows.

Haunted by bits and pieces of a world she barely remembers, she hears a name at a trader’s fair. Her faint memories begin to rise. Determined to discover more, she seizes the clues fallen her way and leaves for the world of Mentari, where she hopes to meet the woman who may have sold her to the Etwan.

On this journey she is accompanied by two men, J’reem and Dell. The three of them find a deep connection on the journey, reveling in the physical and mental bond that develops. But trouble awaits her on Mentari, riding with the Etwan ship. She reaches Mentari and sees the ocean, but whether the high slut Jahari will acknowledge her is something she may never discover. 


Any suggestions? Do I try to even up the promo? Do I stick with the first figuring that will lead readers to the others? Or vice versa? Help!
Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quilting With Character Flaws

You know you’ve sunk to a new low when you think quilting is easier than writing. I can tell you this: it certainly isn’t cheaper. Writing costs one little notebook and a Bic blue ink pen. You’re out less than a dollar if you buy the notebook and pen in August, but fabric costs more. Plus there’s scissors, rotary cutters, a mat, an iron, needles, thread, and pins.


But in some capacities it is easier. I’m sewing little straight strips together, ironing the flat down, the sewing a new piece to that, and ironing. Eventually I have a little square of pieces all sewn together. Then you sew the squares together, smooth out the edges, and finish it.


It’s not that different from writing. Writing is very basic, like sewing. You put the pen to the paper and move—the words usually come to the pages like straight stitches. Some stitches are better than others. Sometimes the tension is wonky and you think, “I’ll have to fix that later.” Sometimes you have to fix it then. Sometimes you get the pieces of a square together and go, “God, that’s stupid looking. This whole thing is ridiculous, and I’ve invested so much into it. What the hell was I thinking? I know what I was thinking—I was thinking this was easier than writing and I was dead wrong, that’s what.”


But you press on because you’ve invested way too much money to toss it all into the closet now. Worse, your friends know and occasionally they even ask about it. Your boyfriend has banned you from the fabric store until you finish the damned thing, and you love the fabric store. Plus you still love it, even if you suck, because you’re constantly buying quilting magazines and dreaming about new projects. Projects that will turn out better than this one. Projects that will make your boyfriend acknowledge this was not a grand waste of time. Projects that will prove you are a quilter. Seriously, quilting is so much like writing, I might as well be writing.


First quilts are a lot like first books, manuscripts. They’re not anything you’d ever share with the public because they’re usually not very good. They’re just good practice of getting something approximating a quilt from start to finish. Then you get to look at the whole and see where your strengths lie—and what you need to work on. But even if they’re ugly, you get to be proud you finished something so few ever do or would be stupid enough to attempt.


One of the quilting articles I saw recently—which proves to me that this quilt should never see the light of day once finished—says that new quilters never have enough dark colors in their stash of fabric. Lights and mediums, yes, but never darks. New quilters are afraid of using the dark, of making the quilt unattractive or not quite right. But it’s when you have a quilt of nothing but lights and mediums that you realize something is not quite right. You end up with a quilt that’s rather dull.


And I looked at the pieces for my quilt and almost all of them were whites or pinks or reds. I considered my reds “dark” but they were more medium, I realized. I didn’t have any fabrics with enough dark colors to truly contrast. I went and located a piece of black fabric that contrasted with the ones I have, but I doubt it will be enough. I shall have to see. I hope it’ll still work out. Maybe.


But it’s funny. Here I’ve taken up a new hobby for the moment, hoping for something “easier” and I’m inserting the same flaws in the new project as I did with my old. My writing was getting too hard because I’m not keen on the dark. I love reading it, obviously, but giving my characters a true dark side or real character flaws to overcome and conflict up my story, that’s almost impossible for me. You can’t be a real writer if you’re not willing to torture your characters. Sometimes I think it’s because I like my characters too much, but part of me worries if I darken them up, they won’t come out the other side the same. Darkness changes all of us, but I have trouble believing that it changes us for the better. What if I give my characters a conflict they can’t handle and they aren’t right for each other? What will I do then? So I give them lights and mediums—and then I wonder why my story isn’t that interesting.


I don’t trust myself or my characters enough to even try. I have trust issues.


You know what happens when you only have lights and mediums in a romance? You have movies like Hitch. Jennifer Crusie summed up the problem perfectly.


Well, I’ve made the first step in admitting the problem. I can’t embrace the flaws of my characters—hell, I can’t even embrace my own flaws—and it’s stagnating my writing and draining my finances as I take up new, expensive, and equally poorly executed hobbies.


How do you come up with character flaws for your characters? Do they arrive with their flaws and are you able to figure them out right away, or are your characters good at keeping them secret? Do you ever worry that the flaws of your characters will make them unlovable to your readers and their true love? Do you have any flaws that you try to hide? And have you ever noticed that no matter what it is you’re doing, your personality (and flaws) color the outcome? I want to talk about flaw today. In craft books, some of the most intriguing suggestions have to do with creating a flaw in a character that’s their strength, but also their Achilles’ heel. What are some of your favorite strength-flaws?

Contest Time!

This is it, ladies.  The week the Golden Heart and Rita Finalists are announced.

*Blows noisemaker here*

I don't have a dog in this race (not a PC phrase but it fits) so I'll just be watching enviously on the sidelines while everyone else reaches their goal.



There are the olympic men in 2010.  So we've got some eye candy.

But is there any contest that's your favorite?  For me, the one that fills me with disgust and fascination, is the Philadelphia Wing Bowl.   With names like, El Wingadore and Drunken Mussel, I'm totally grossed out but I can't stop watching.

How about you?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vampires! Dark Elves! A horse! Oh, MY!

*Chance crawls out of her hammock and staggers to the bar, determined to be more alert than was the norm for a Friday on the Revenge. The time change be hard on a west coaster! She had a guest coming aboard and wanted to give the appearance of attentiveness, even at this ungodly hour of the morning.

- Blast the rest of this blog being on Eastern Standard Time! The sun were barely up here on the left coast!

*She snorts and pours herself a hefty portion of pineapple rum. That way she got her fruit portions out of the way!  She wipes the bar and sets out the morning chocolates, then looks up as Barbossa comes sauntering onto the ship, on his arm, the lovely Pat Kirby.

He winks at the author, then hands her off to Chance, pulling out a bar stool for her. Only then does he take a seat to gaze at the bartender with his normal intent gaze. He taps the bar and she congenially sets up a bottle of Kraken Rum with a glass.

- Pour it yerself, I gots a guest!

- Aye, she was telling me about her book. Vampires and magic! Sounds quite enticing.

- Stop spillin’ ‘er secrets, Hector! I needs ta chat wit’ her! Now, Pat, let me say I do love the title a’ this book ya broughts on board wit’ ya. The Music of Chaos…jus’ spins the brain inta all sorts a’ flights a’ fancy. What be the music part a’ the story?

*Does finger wave at Barbossa. Starts slipping chocolates up her hoodie's sleeve for later.*

Regan O'Connell is, in her words, the improbably outcome of human and vampire sex.  There's also a bit of elf in her lineage.  You'd think, given that lineage, that she'd have magic wrapped around her little finger.  Magic, however, didn't get the memo.  More often than not, Regan has trouble casting the simplest spells.  Or her spells go awry and someone ends up on fire.

But she has a workaround.  If she sings her spells, they work.  This kind of magic, however, is only seen in a certain species of demon. Which means her power makes her a bit of a freak. (As if being a vampire/human/elf, isn't freakish enough.)

- So, yer heroine certainly sounds Irish, and a songsmith! Wondrous. I sing, too, ya know. (grins at Hector who raised one eybrow at her) Now, wi’ a name like Regan O’Connell, she had ta be Irish! So, she were born wit’ this magic  she ain’t got the best control over?

Regan's father is Cullan O'Connell.  Cullan is an ancient vampire who owes his vampirism to an elf witch named Morrigan. See, Blood gift is a kind of battlefield medicine, where one elf gives his (or her) blood to a dying comrade.  Elf blood, when given to a dying human, just makes 'em dead quicker.  But with all that elf magic zipping around in their system, dead humans don't stay dead for long.  Voila.  A vampire. 

Morrigan, who had a bit of a "thang," for Cullan, found him dying after a tribal battle. (Not much to do in prehistoric Ireland, besides steal your neighbor's cattle and kill said neighbor when he took umbrage to said theft.)

- Well, I be Irish, so I know we do love ta fight. I’d rather drink, but that be pretty Irish, too? What else can ya tell us?

She gave him Blood Gift and soon after, he joined the ranks of those with lethal sun allergies.  Except Cullan, before becoming undead, was a half-elf, so he wasn't as dead as your average vamp.

Two millennia later, he met a lovely Irish witch who literally charmed his pants off, and nine months later...Regan O'Connell.

- So, after all this trouble, she got these vampire sorts in charge a’ her destiny. I sees from the blurb ya sent that she ‘s gonna learn ta handle her own decisions…including fallin’ in love wit’ the wrong sort. Chance glances at Barbossa, I know all ‘bout those difficulties!

He snorts, takes a hefty bit of rum and remarks. As do I.

Pat slaps the pirate on his shoulder, “Aw, quit your whining, Barbossa.  You couldn't live without the torment, you old, scallywag -

Anyway...Jason Lake is tall, sexy and a chemical engineer.  And nothing gets Regan hotter than a big....brain.

One of Regan's co-workers, thinking Regan is just an ordinary human woman, sets her up on a date with Jason.  Unfortunately, Jason is a Holder.  Holder's are an all-human organization dedicated to making sure paranormal folk behave themselves while on Earth. The Holder's methods of enforcement are often brutal, sometimes lethal.

Up until The Music of Chaos begins, Regan hasn't had much of a love life. She has her mother's ability to magically charm potential mates.  One kiss turns nice guys--undead and human--into stalkers.  Puts a damper on romance.

So even if Regan and Jason can get past the whole "paranormal Romeo and Juliet" thing, getting romantic with Regan could turn Jason into a Fatal Attraction-style psycho.

- Can ya give an example a’ how this stalkin’ thing works? Eyes Barbossa with a narrow eye. I think I might know somethin’ ‘bout this sort ‘a thing!

A few decades back, Regan made the mistake of kissing one of her dad's buddies, Breas Montrose.  He isn't happy about his obsession with Regan and expresses his distain by moving into her house, refusing to pay rent, and ordering expensive televised sports programs.

- I guess a pirate followin’ me ‘bout ain’t so bad! Now this story sounds a bit dicey! Now, how did ya come ta write this book and do ya have a call story? The pirates all love a good call story! Would you like another drink? And never mind the calories, all the snacks on the Revenge be calorie free!

The Music of Chaos is my first book. It was written with the intent of being the antithesis of gritty urban fantasies featuring, bitter, loner, heroines who are estranged from their families.  (Regan loves her family, undead though they may be. Though snarky, she's quite cheerful.)

Technically, The Music of Chaos has had a few call stories.  I got two offers for it several years ago.  One from an ebook publisher.  Another from a small pub who did ebooks and print.  Because print makes an author tingly in her nethers, I opted for the second.  The pub went out of business the instant the ink was dry on the contract.

The manuscript then languished on my hard drive, while I moped.  Eventually, I shook off my angst, and sent it out again.  It got another offer, but the contract was...icky.  Politely rejected that offer and send it out to another pub. And it finally found a home (un-scary contract) with Decadent Publishing.

- Where can the pirates find it? We be the good sort a pirate, we not be lookin’ ta steal her words. But be careful, we would lift yer wallet…afterall, we be pirates!

You won't find much in my wallet besides lint, hay, and my eyeglass prescription. But, knock yourself out w'the pickpocketting.  Practice makes perfect, no? The book can be found at Decadent Amazon  and Smashwords 

- Well, I hopes ya be plannin’ on sticking around ta answer questions from the lasses. Nevermind the lads wanderin’ ‘bout wit’ lots a skin showin’. They jus’ be the hotties and swab the deck fer us! Da ya want ta ask us anythin’? She’s got ‘er own blogs, swabbies and it looks ta be as lighthearted as this one!

Oh, and I saw in yer bio, you are co-owned by an Arabian horse… Cap’n! You hear that? She’s inta HORSES! There’s some pictures on her website!

*Chance ducks in preparation fer the rush a’ Cap’n Hellion comin’ forward ta talk horses with Pat.

*Points  toward the mast.*  Look!  Shiny swag! *Sweeps rest of the chocolates into her hoodie pocket.* 

Um, before I go, I was hoping you could help me with a problem.  *Pulls something from behind her back.*  Meet, Beaky, the baby kraken.  Beaky is already housetrained; he walks well on a leash; has all his shots; and he graduated first in puppy kindergarten at PetSmart. (On account of he ate all the other puppies.)  I hoped to give him a forever home, but unfortunately, the greyhound has developed a taste for hookers and booze that would make Charlie Sheen green with envy. I can't afford to keep them both.

Could you, or perhaps some other fine pirate family, could give Beaky a home?  Beaky's a real people pleaser and he's looking forward to a long career terrorizing the high seas.

-Ya know, the kraken been naggin’ me fer an apprentice…think he’ll like some tasty inner critics!? Thank ya! Ah, ain’t he cute? No! Ain’t a good idea ta bite the undead monkey, ‘e might bite back! Now, Pat gonna be visitin’ wit’ us, so any questions, ask away. She brought us a blurb as a taste a’ ‘er book. And is willin’ ta give a copy ta one lucky commenter!

Blurb -  
***The Music of Chaos***
Regan O’Connell seems to have it all. She has a PhD and a good paying job as a project manager with a consulting company. Unbeknownst to her co-workers, she’s a one hundred and thirty-year-old demi-human, with a magical pedigree that includes vampires and elven royalty.

Harnessing her magical ability has never been easy. Immature by the standards of immortals, she has little-to-no control over the magic that simmers in her blood. For more than a century, she has worked as a secret operative for the vampire syndicate the Grey Brethren. For just as long, she has hidden her magical disability, struggling with one paranormal misadventure after another. Tired of her shenanigans, the Grey Brethren station her in Albuquerque, far out-of-the-way by paranormal standards.

The arrival of a mysterious user of chaotic magic—a world destroying power—spells the end of Regan’s trouble-free existence. Soon after, her vampire employers issue an ultimatum: find and neutralize the chaotic magic user or find a new job. To make matters worse, she has inadvertently started a war and developed a surprising attraction to a human. Sorting the mess out will require a little help from her friends, some growing up, and acceptance that she will never be a practitioner of conventional magic.


A lifelong resident of the desert southwest, P. Kirby grew up in El Paso, Texas and is a graduate of New Mexico State University. Though an avid reader, she only started writing fiction in 2003. She prefers to recast familiar, villainous archetypes – dark elves, vampires – in a more heroic light and avoids traditional “big-bad out to destroy the world” story lines. Home is a tiny house in the desert, shared with her long-suffering husband. She is co-owned by an Arabian horse and a Greyhound. She has never owned, or been owned, by a cat.

Well, me pirates, she be ready ta chat! Ask away.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Writer Life with C.C. Hunter

Five Things you Might Not Know about Writers, Or at Least this Writer

1. We’re mean SOBPs. (SOBP:  Sons (or daughters) of Bad People.) 

Seriously, we’re the baddest of the bad. You think you don’t want to deal with gun-toting thugs?  Well, guess what?  We writers make those gangsters look like little old ladies sipping tea and nibbling on cookies. 

Think about the last book you read, think about the problems that character went through.  Who do you think put those characters smack dab in the middle of chaos? Yup, it was the writer.

Kylie Galen, the heroine of my book Born at Midnight, my first Young Adult paranormal romance, has so much crap tossed in her lap, it’s ridiculous.  Her parents are getting a divorce, her grandma died, and her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out.  You might think that’d be enough, but oh no.  Her best friend is taking a walk on the wild side and wanting Kylie to tag along, and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker.  A very strange and spooky-looking dude wearing army garb whom nobody seems to be able to see except for Kylie, a little fact which lands her a series of appointments with a shrink. 

When Kylie thinks it can’t get any worse, it does.  Kylie attends a party with underage drinking that gets her shipped away to Shadow Falls, a camp for “troubled” teens.  And that’s only in the first pages of the book, wait until you get to the part where Kylie starts figuring out things like vampires and werewolves exist. Yup, Kylie is up to her eyebrows in crap.

And guess what?  I’m the bad person who tossed it at her.  Now, don’t go hating  me. You see, it’s all this bad stuff that makes a book interesting to read.  Or maybe I should say it’s watching the characters overcome the bad stuff that makes it interesting to read.  And Kylie does overcome.  Shoot, she triumphs.  Look for Born at Midnight on sale everywhere March 29th

2. Most writers write for therapy.

It’s not the fact that we’re mean SOBPs that make us require therapy.  Or that we hear voices and talk to ourselves. I think it’s just the fact that we spend so much time in our heads.  However, I’ll admit it, I’ve been known to hear voices, and have long chats with myself, or an unseen character.  Freaks out my husband every time, too. 

But the truth is, writing helps clear my mind.  I sometimes don’t know what I think about an issue until I think about it on paper. 

Writing helps me see all sides of a problem, and because I write humor, I can begin to see the lighter side of a dark situation.  And if I have something that needs to be worked through, putting those words on paper helps me move past things.  Seriously, I got over my negative feelings for my ex after penning about four murder mysteries and killing several bad guys.

For this writer, penning stories is a bit of self-discovery.  I learn a little more about myself with each character I create…and kill.  And as I watch my heroes and heroines triumph, as they deal with all the mean stuff I toss at them, I find a bit of my own inner courage. 

3. It’s not always a life of glamour.

As y’all know, I write romance under my real name, Christie Craig, and I’m now writing YA paranormal under my pseudonym, C.C. Hunter.  That means I’m now a YA author, I’m new to this genre, and I’m not completely sure what the image is of a YA author.  My mind says people see them as totally cool, wearing frayed jeans and a pair of wickedly expensive high heels.  However, I know the image that most people have of romance writers.  They see them as classy, smart-looking women wearing expensive suits made of silk, eating bonbons while reclined on a chaise lounge.  And almost always these romance writers are seen with a fluffy, prissy dog napping in her lap.  Yep.  I’m talking the glamorous life.  Now, I won’t lie to you.  I have a chaise lounge, I’ve been known to indulge in bonbons, I love frayed jeans, and I have a dog.  Oh heck, I’ve even owned a silk suit and a pair of wickedly expensive high heels.  I don’t wear the heels because I if I did, I’d fall on my backside, but I still own them.

And while I truly love the idea of people thinking of me as classy, smart, cool and living the glamorous life, the truth is a bit different.  You see, I wake up, barely comb my hair, slip on a pair of worn sweats--the bra is optional—and tennis shoes.  I stumble into my office still half-asleep, sit at a desk that I haven’t seen the top of in months, and start to work.  Oh yeah, the dog?  The ninety-pound mutt, he’s sleeping on the chaise lounge in my living room because he’s already eaten the other furniture.  I ran out of bonbons last week, and because I’m on a deadline, I won’t go to the store until I’m out of the one thing we can’t live without in my house—toilet paper.  And while I’m there, because my mind will still be contemplating what mean thing I’m going to do my characters next, I’ll probably forget the bonbons.  I’m lucky if I remember the toilet paper. Yeah.  It’s a glamorous life, all right.

4. Most of us writers are thieves by nature. 

We plagiarize from our own lives and from the lives of people we read about in the newspaper.  We steal bit and pieces of stories from our neighbors, from our spouses, and the garbage man who looks suspiciously like an undercover rogue vampire.  We snatch snippets of dialogue from the couple whispering at the table next to us at the restaurant when they think we’re not listening.  We boldly take speech patterns from people we meet at the doctor’s office.  If we like the mannerisms or the body posture of the grocery clerk loading our purchased items into plastic bags at the check-out, we take it home with us, too, and give it to one of our characters.

 5. There are two different kinds of writers. 

The first are writer writers.  They’re the kind who were born knowing what dangling participles are and couldn’t misspell a word if their life depended on it.  Heck, maybe they are the classy, smart-looking people on chaise lounges with poodles, too.  I wouldn’t know because I’m not one of them.  Their first drafts are polished, and the only thing they need before shipping off their book is the layering of characters and story.

Then there are the storytellers: the kind who can’t spell Jack, but can make that man a hero, a man that you’d love to get to know and hear about in their first drafts.  They are the writers whose manuscripts are riddled with misspelling and grammar errors, but the story and characters are almost ready to walk out the door after the author first types the end.  But the storyteller writers can’t let them walk out until they find those participles and whack off the dangling parts, and learn how to spell Jack’s name.  Yeah, I sometimes envy those writer writers.

So there you have it.  Five things about writers, or about this writer, that you might not have known.  I’m giving away a copy of Born at Midnight to one lucky poster who tells me one thing about them that I didn’t know.  Come on, I told you all my dirty little secrets.  It’s only fair that you tell me a few of yours.

Also make sure you snag my free short story, Turned At Dark.  It’s Della’s story and it introduces the Shadow Falls series.  You can read the first three chapters of Born at Midnight, too. All you have to do is visit my Born at Midnight page at Macmillan on March 15th .  Or you can download a free eBook copy of Turned at Dark at all major online retailers.  The download also has the first three chapters of Born at Midnight on there as well. How cool is that?

Oh, and one final thing.  To celebrate the release of Born at Midnight, I’m running a “Tweet my Book and Win a Kindle Contest” from March 22th through March 29th.  The grand prize will be the Kindle but I’m also giving away copies of Born at Midnight, some Shadow Falls swag and ARCs of Awake at Dawn, which is scheduled to release in October. All the details will be at my blog beginning March 22nd.  So, please drop by and help me tweet my book and you could win a Kindle!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sparkling Conversationalist... I am not.

Influence this week: “Ticking Bomb” by Eyes Set to Kill (Broken Frames, 2010)

I started a new manga series. Yeah, I know I said I was gonna give up my guilty pleasure. So shoot me, I didn’t. Reading manga is somewhat of an addiction to me. I don’t feel high, or feel euphoric every time I pick up a new volume or find a new scanned chapter straight from Japan. I smile secretly to myself and consume it. It’s like picking up that fifth of vodka and knocking it back or opening a new pack of cigarettes and smoking them all until they’re gone. There is no satisfaction in the addiction, only the feeding. Then you’re left with the guilt and the want of more.

I’m in awe of the fast past of manga. Picture and dialog based stories. I’ve struggled to write realistic conversations between my characters since I started. I’m sarcastic. Nothing I say comes out the way that I want it to, even when I’m being sincere. I’m constantly stating in emails when I try to be serious, or sincere that I’m not being sarcastic or mean. I can’t get my voice to express that type of emotion. Apathy (it amuses me that apathy can be construed as emotional laziness) doesn’t translate well into conversations. And while that’s all fine and dandy for some of my characters (Tory, for one. Ry, for another) I need to grow as a writer.

When I come to a dialog heavy portion in my writing, I ponder it for hours. Days. Weeks. I write it, read it and cringe. It’s stilted. Full of sarcasm on my part as the writer. I don’t find my characters lacking the emotion for the scene or even myself lacking the emotional state to pour it out, it’s wording and placement. It’s clues to be given, advancement of the storyline. I’ve tried just pouring it out and moving forward. Rushing it makes it worse. Stalling brings on bouts of doubt and self loathing for my lack of creativity. I fall into a pit of despair every time I run into dialog. And that’s often.

I don’t read many self help blogs and books about writing. (Maybe I should. I need a therapist for all the characters and personalities inside of my mind while I work on my two separate series’.) I once read that agents and publishers flip through manuscripts to see how many breaks in a line per page. If there were lots of short sentences, they knew the book would read fast, keep the reader interested and engaged on the storyline. But if the paragraphs continued on and on without many breaks, the manuscript tended to be put to the side.

I find dialog to be incredibly boring. Sorry. For me, writing description, filling in the blanks for the reader is what keeps me interested. While dialog may move the characters forward with the reader, for me, description is what allows me to show you the world and the situation the characters are placed in. It allows me to interact with my reader, allowing them inside my mind, what the scenery looks like as it played out. Dialog is incredibly telling. While dialog allows you to see how my characters connect to others, the way they interact within the situations is showing you more of their personality.

I’m torn. My number one goal of a writer is to learn, to grow and mature. I want to be the best. I’m too proud to ask for help. Too shy to take an improv class. (I read Janet Evanovich did this before she started the Plum series.) And too poor to start taking classes. So I come to you, oh wonderful blog readers (and also fellow writers). What are your suggestions for learning to write more creative and showing dialog? Tips are welcome too. Do you like to write dialog or description more? And what is your least favorite part of working on a novel?

Booty Prizes!

We have winners!

First up, the winner of a copy of ANY WICKED THING by Margaret Rowe is...

Di R.!!!!

And the winner of a copy of THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU by Jana DeLeon is...

Scapegoat aka Sabrina!

Congrats to both our winners. Please send your snail mail address to be (da Bo'sun) at djtloATyahooDOTcom and I'll forward it along to our generous guests.

Thanks again to Maggie and Jana, and everyone who made them feel welcome aboard ship.
Monday, March 14, 2011

How Did You Two Meet?

I’m piggy-backing off the Captain’s blog from yesterday. Hellie talked about the first beat of seven explained by playwright (and very smart man) Billy Mernit in WRITING THE ROMANTIC COMEDY. Today, I’m talking about the second beat.

The Cute Meet – aka The Catalyst.

These two beats (the setup and the cute meet) often happen simultaneously in Romance novels. Gone are the days an author can spend a chapter introducing us to the hero, and then another letting us get to know the heroine. (Though Eloisa James does a marvelous job of letting us get to know the heroine long before she meets the hero in her latest, WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST.) Now, it’s right to the action and somehow, we have to make the reader care about these total strangers.

The Cute Meet is often funny, it does include the word “cute”, but it doesn’t have to be. It does have to be meaningful. Something significant has to happen that sets these two into motion. The characters don’t have to be strangers, but whatever encounter they have in the beginning has to be significant enough to change something in their relationship. For good or bad.

Jenny Crusie does this so well. In BET ME, Min is not in a good mood when she meets Cal. Her boyfriend just dumped her because they aren’t having sex, and then she overhears said ex bet Cal he can’t get Min into bed. As soon as their first words are exchanged, you know these two are going to challenge each other constantly, but you also know they’re a perfect match.

The movie Sweet Home Alabama is an example of two people who have definitely met before. When Melanie walks back into Jake’s life, she’s carrying divorce papers. Jake isn’t interested in signing any papers, and Melanie isn’t leaving until he does. It’s obvious the moment they see each other again that they still love each other. Well, obvious to everyone but Melanie. She spends the rest of the movie fighting who she really is, telling herself the same things she keeps telling Jake, that they’re over.

The Cute Meet sets the tone for everything that follows. Min in contrary, Cal can’t resist a challenge. Melanie is running from her past, Jake is trying to pull her back to it.

Do you enjoying writing this part of your story, or is this one of those things you edit over and over? What’s your favorite Cute Meet in a book or movie? What’s the most original you’ve come across? SEP’s heroine wearing a Beaver Costume has to be one of the most creative, but then SEP has the Cute Meet down to a science.
Sunday, March 13, 2011

In the Beginning Again

Reading: What I Did For a Duke

Just Read: An Unlikely Countess (5 stars, the hero is dreamy, realistic but romantic)

Raving about: Hush, Hush (Becca Fitzpatrick, YA, 5 stars, so delicious, perfect HEA)


If you’ve been writing for more than five minutes, you’ve probably stumbled across the concept of “beats” which to me are much like the steps found in the hero’s journey (Vogler). Of course, if you’ve ever read Vogler’s hero’s journey, you can get disheartened pretty quickly because many of the steps don’t seem to have anything with the romantic journey at all.


This is where Billy Mernit steps in and helps you out. He wrote a book called Writing the Romantic Comedy, which for obvious reasons I bought long ago. Granted it’s a screenwriting book, but it can still be useful to you in novel writing. There are still beats in novels, things that we all expect to happen.


And most blessed of all, Billy only requires 7 beats and not the 12 or so that I think make up the hero’s journey. Thank you, Billy!


The first beat: “The Chemical Equation”, Setup. This is the same as Vogler’s—the original world. We meet the characters for the first time and we find out what is wrong with the picture. What is missing in the character’s lives? And it’s not the external problem that’s missing, but the internal problem—the emotional. It’s important because you need your readers to bond with your main character. (Billy makes a really good explanation about this--so if you can get your hands on this book, I recommend it.)


Many times your character might be involved in something the reader won’t approve of or is doing something that makes her rather unlikable, but because you set up this emotional setup, revealing what is missing, the reader keeps turning the page to find out how the character is going to find what she is missing.


Then you do a similar setup for the hero. You reveal to the reader what the hero is missing, his emotional internal problem. And when you do this, you end up showing how both of these characters are going to complete each other. This is the part where you make a promise to your reader that these people are meant for each other, even if it’s going to take them another 300 pages to figure it out.


It’s a lot to promise—and it is why beginnings are so important and get rewritten a score of times. We writers are coached so often about making the beginning a big enough HOOK and start with the action, and all those important things that beginnings also need. But when you’re creating your hook and your action (the external problem in crisis), don’t forget to define what the characters’ emotional/internal crisis are. The action and external problems are why readers keep turning pages, but it’s the emotional crisis why they all picked up the book in the first place. We all want the emotional connection.


Let’s see if I can do it for the book I’m reading: What I Did For a Duke. (I’ll give everyone a moment to stop gaping at the screen.) Although I’m not a fan of dukes, I do have to applaud Julie Anne Long for her opening hook. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it; it was a hook I’d seen before—but then it got real interesting. Not only was the adulterating couple caught by the hero (his fiancée with a young rogue), when the rogue asked the duke what he was going to do, the hero says, “Very well, we’ll just share her” and proceeds to act like he’s going to have a threesome with them. Quite clever, JAL. Very smart hook, and definitely starting things off with a bang to see how everything is resolved.


But did I figure out what the hero was missing? Yes, yes, I did. The hero has a little talk with his soon to be ex-fiancée and she explains why she chose the rogue. “You’re unlikable.” Which is a dart apparently. The duke can’t deny he’s not likable; and it’s revealed that he uses his unlikablity to keep others at a distance. Yet at the end of the chapter, you can tell this quality of himself bothers him. As a reader, you feel immediate empathy for him--we all want to be liked; and as a reader, I can immediately guess why he's not likable. He’s a duke. He’s used to fawning and fake people. He’s a celebrity of sorts, and as such, you never really know who are your real friends and who are only being friendly to get things from you. After so many years of proof, now he’s just resigned to not being liked for himself. He doesn’t feel that will ever change. His internal yearning is that he wants to be liked for himself.


And this is very much at odds with his external goal: revenge. He’s going to punish that rogue; and he’s going to do it by seducing his sister. Hardly the actions of someone who wants to be liked, eh? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, but one can’t let something like that pass by. As a reader, I can’t blame him for wanting revenge. In fact, when I first see him again, putting the events in motion, I can only applaud him. He’s hysterical. He’s Alan Rickman at his unflappable, sardonic best.


I looked for the heroine’s internal yearning. She’s in love with a cousin, who turns out to be in love with another cousin instead. Heartbreak. So is her internal yearning for relief from her heartbreak or for her true love? I’m not sure which it is. I’m too interested in the hero to give it much thought. This story belongs more to the hero, and the heroine, although burdened by her own problems, is along for this ride.


So that’s a lot to expect from a beginning, isn’t it? A Hook, Action, and a What’s Missing From This Picture for the hero and heroine. Are you able to define yours in your story, or have you read anything lately that you’re able to define these things? And if you want to ignore my shop talk, you can just talk about what awesome books you’ve read lately.
Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Madness with Ashley March

Welcome to everyone celebrating March Madness at Ashley March's blog today!  We're re-posting an interview we did with Ashley when her first book, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, was released.  So grab a tankard of rum, get settled in your choice of hammocks here, and enjoy this pleasure cruise through a romance writer's paradise.

DRD:  Welcome back to Hero Hot Seat!  Yes, it's been a while.  The last hero was a little too hot, so the fire marshal got involved, and there was that whole four-alarm blaze thing.  But I know you're going to love today's guest, Philip Burgess, Duke of Rutherford, the hero of SEDUCING THE DUCHESS— 

*Captain Jack Sparrow saunters onto the stage, blowing kisses to the audience*   

DRD:  Hey!  I'm in the middle of a show! 

Captain Jack:  Perfect!  *faces the camera and bows* 

DRD:  *yanks Captain Jack up by his collar*  Look, I know you're big on impromptu appearances after that recent school visit, but I already have a guest today. 

Captain Jack:  But I'm here! 

DRD:  *tries to look sad*  So sorry!  *puts hand to corner of mouth* Psst!  Security.  *tilts head in Captain Jack's direction* 

*two burly security guards lift him by the arms, his legs bicycling madly in the air as they head backstage* 

*loud crash offstage* 

DRD:  *presses finger to ear mike*  He did what?  *looks at the camera*  It looks like our guest is going to be delayed.  Fortunately, we have his creator, debut author Ashley March, standing by.  Because who could possibly know a hero better than his author! 

Audience:  THE HEROINE! 

DRD:  Well, yeah, but—give a big round of applause for Ashley March!  Ashley, can I get you something to drink?  We have a fully-stocked bar, along with a coffee maker, an espresso maker, a French press coffee maker. . . 

Ashley: *cranes neck to look in the direction of Captain Jack* Is he on the menu?  No? Are you sure? *gives audience salacious wink* Could he come back and serve my beverage? 

DRD:  Well, um, sure, but he can't even compare to Philip, your hero.  I recently spent the night with him—er, well, I read his story, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, in one night.  *fans face and takes a sip of ice water*  Tell us more about him. 

Ashley:  Ah, Philip.  *eyes glaze over wistfully*  Well, he looks a bit like Clive Owen.  Tall, dark, handsome, of course.  Also rather like Captain Jack…without the dreadlocks.  The kind of man that makes you want to rip off his clothes and…I mean…*clears throat* He makes you want to rip off his exterior masks and reveal the man beneath.  You see, on the surface he’s not hero material.  He’s arrogant, manipulative, and can even be deceitful at times.  But he’s desperately in love with his wife, Charlotte, and that’s what redeems him.  For her, he’ll do anything.  Even change from the villain of the story into a hero, if need be. 

DRD:  *sighs*  This is a "reconciliation story", which sounds  tough to write, because there's a history between the characters, as well as emotional obstacles in place.  You did it wonderfully though because I was a nervous wreck the last third of the book!  What was it like writing this kind of story?  

Ashley: *still looking toward the back for Captain Jack*…Oh!  What was that?  Reconciliation story.  Right.  It warms my heart to hear you were a nervous wreck. *smiles* In some ways, it was easier to write such a story because there was a history between them.  The emotions and attraction were already there, and all I had to do was get them on the page.  At the same time, however, that’s also why writing the book was difficult.  I had to balance the vulnerability, anger, resentment, attraction, etc. in a way which would be believable for readers.  This meant I couldn’t make it easy for Philip to get Charlotte back, and Charlotte had to give as good as she got.  Although their love story isn’t very neat or pretty, it shows that failures can be overcome, hearts can be healed, and even the worst marriage can be redeemed by love and forgiveness.   

DRD:  Did the idea for the story come first, or was it the hero? 

Captain Jack:  *pops up between DRD and Ashley*  Did someone say hero? 

DRD:  *shrieks and puts a hand to her bosom*  Eyes up, Captain!  Or I'll pop them out with a fork. 

Captain Jack:  *winces*  I merely wanted to ask this lovely lady a question.  *lifts Ashley's hand to his lips*  Your heroine Charlotte was quite the saucy wench.  Perhaps even a bit of a pirate in another life.   You must have created her with me in mind, no? 

Ashley:  *grabs DRD’s ice water and holds it to her forehead*  Well…not exactly.  *mouths to DRD “He kissed my hand!”* Although I’m sure she likes rum, too, I, um, created Charlotte as the perfect heroine opposite of Philip.  She was inspired by Scarlett from Gone with the Wind, and-- 

Captain Jack:  Oh.  I thought--perhaps I might help inspire your next hero then.  *attempts a seductive pose* 

DRD:  *snorts*  I'm sure she's already created her next hero.  Ashley, can you give us a hint of who that might be, and how long we have to wait before we see him on the shelves? 

Ashley: *blushing as she looks back and forth between Jack and DRD* Sure.  Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, is my next hero.  He’ll be appearing in Romancing the Countess, set to release in Fall 2011.  It’s a story about Sebastian and his best friend’s wife, who are drawn together after their spouses die in a carriage accident and it’s discovered they were having an affair.  It’s a sweet, sexy, emotional book…that’s currently lacking any pirates.  *smiles at Jack* But perhaps I can convince my editor to let me make one last change. 

Captain Jack:  *preens* Ashley, everyone loves to hear those Port of Call Stories.  So. . .when might I call upon you? 

DRD:  *shakes her head*  Could you tell us your Call Story, either with your agent, or editor, or both? 

Ashley: *leans over and whispers something in Captain Jack’s ear before turning back to DRD*  Ahem.  My Call Story.  Yes, of course.  How about with my agent? I had started SEDUCING THE DUCHESS before I got pregnant with my first daughter, and then the nausea hit…and then my hips ached…and then all I wanted to do was sleep.  After she was born, I still hadn’t finished the manuscript.   I had about 80 pages to go.  However, being quite sleep-deprived and assuming it would take forever before I got an answer, I decided to go ahead and query a couple of agents anyway.  One read the first ten pages I was allowed to submit with my query and a few days later asked for the FULL.  Shocked, I asked for advice from my writer friends and replied with an email saying I needed about three weeks to “polish” the story.  Two weeks and five days later, I submitted the full.  The following Wednesday she emailed me, said she loved the story, and asked if she could call me the next morning.  I said yes, of course, didn’t sleep at all that night, and was surprised that I even let her say two words the next day before I accepted her offer of representation.  It was a fantastic day.   

Captain Jack:  *lays head on Ashley's shoulder*  That was lovely, although we should probably talk about my pants now. 

DRD:  *glares at Captain Jack*  He's always a bit of a flirt when we have guests, but he's quite taken with you, Ashley.  I hope you don't mind.  And I dearly hope he’s asking if you're a plotter or a pantser. 

Ashley: No, no.  I don’t mind…at all.  *blushing again* Becoming a published author who submits proposals has forced me to become more of a plotter.  I’m still a pantser at heart, though.  I basically plot out all the major points of the story, then pants it the rest of the way.  I usually don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the next chapter until I’m finished with the current one.  *bats eyelashes at Captain Jack* And may I say, Captain, your pants are quite lovely. 

Captain Jack:   *prances down the stage like it’s a catwalk and spins before falling off* 

DRD:  Ashley, thank you so much for stepping in when Philip, uh, well, became indisposed.  Now it's time for questions from the audience.  Hopefully Ashley can stay around for a bit, or stop by later, so fire away!   Uh, forget I said fire. . .And don't forget to stop by for more info about the March Madness Blog Party.  Lots of great prizes!
Thursday, March 10, 2011

I’m BA-A-A-A-CK!

Yup, after three weeks a’ bein’ absent from me customary Friday position at the bar, I’m here once more. Ta talk drinks, me philosophy of writin’ and me book!

I been chattin’ a great deal wit’ the Bo’sun ‘bout a guest blog I’m signed up ta do, a big, very busy blog. Yup, I’m gonna invade the Romance Bandits Lair and so we’ve been battin’ ideas fer a stupendous blog back and forth. Mark it on yer calendar, we gots ta make this a real stormin’ the lair! April 12th!

I do write stupendous blogs here, but I’m not one ta plead fer people ta love me and buy me book on the Revenge. I know ya already love me even if ya haven’t bought me book. It’s okay, I won’t poison yer rum.


So, at first I thought, “I hear the Bandits have a dragon in their Lair. Perhaps the Great Albino Kraken could challenge the dragon ta somethin’ interestin’… Or he could court the dragon… Or just flirt wit’ said dragon…” I do have a fair amount a’ kraken lore I’ve collected regardin’ cephalopods and their fascinatin’ habits… And I could go on and on about krakens at most times…

Bo’sun liked that idea! And I could tie it inta the book wit’ some sparklin’ excerpt, perhaps where Silvestri comes face ta face wit’ the Kraken, when castin’ a spell… That could be fun!

Then I thought, “Well, they know me as 2nd Chance, the bartender here on the Revenge. I could talk drinks.”

I do have a drink I invented ta celebrate the book, called Silvestri’s Delight. It involves DeKupers Sour Apple, which be green, along with Bacardi and lime juice. Emily, me heroine, wears a scent reminiscent of green apples. It’s somethin’ Silvestri really digs. I could use an excerpt when he discovers ’er attachment ta the perfume and devises an extremely thoughtful gesture.

Bo’sun thought that might be nice. But the Kraken idea seemed more promotional material worthy.

I had a third idea! I thought, “Well, the week before ma appearance in the Lair I’m going ta be at me first signin’ as an author at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I could write about the real schism between the many personalities I’ll be juggling at the convention.”

I mean, I’m the blogger 2nd Chance. Chance mans a bar, author barely drinks (save at conventions. I sure hope they make a good rum runner there!), and pre-con, I’m also a mini-mentor to buddin’ writers. I’m also a wife, a sister, a daughter… Sometimes, me head really does spin!

Bo’sun thought this was a good idea for a blog, but not a great topic for the Lair, where the hope is to increase me sales and make new fans and friends. Got to admit, she’s right on this one.

So, mostly what we write ‘bout on the Revenge is writin’ involved. I need ta write a fabulous blog fer the Bandits and all their fans. I gots me three ideas…what sounds grand ta the rest a’ ya? Which idea would peak yer interest? And I will be blabbin’ quite a bit about the Revenge!

Yup, I have no problem writin’ a blog all about me and me stuff! But I will admit, I'm nervous about this blog, more than I have been with any other blog I've visited. Gulp!

Pirate! ;-)