Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Thank you, Everyone, who stopped by and made the book review party so fun!

The winner of the copy of A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME is:


(Number picked by #35)

Aretha, I will be emailing you at the email you provided to get your mailing details. Thanks! --Fran

Next week, I plan to be reviewing BLAME IT ON BATH by Caroline Linden
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Four Things I’ve Learned During Revisions

What a lame-o title. Sorry, folks.

I’m still revising. I know. It probably feels like forever to you too. I swear, I’m almost done. I’ve got about another 50 pages to cover, I think, and then I’ll be ready for people to read it and let me know where it sucks for them. Because I’ve done what I could with the sucky parts that I see.

You know, the past three months have been a real eye-opener. I’d love to say in only good ways. Like I'd love to say I’ve had some massive epiphanies and that the heavenly host alighted while I revised or some such. But I’d be lying. I’ve had to fight hard for the eye-opening parts and some of them just hit me on the head by accident.

So, I thought I’d share these things for you. I give you, the four things I've learned.

1). Take a Break. No, seriously, this is huge. After you hit the end of the first draft, for the love of all that is good and holy, TAKE TIME OFF! Find something to distract yourself. Go on vacation. Plan to finish right before the holidays so festivities sweep you away. Take on a DIY project. That’s what I did, I painted my kitchen cabinets. You don’t have to be that ambitious (read: crazy), but do yourself this favor and step away. A first draft needs time to ferment in your mind. Right after I finish, I can still hear the way I thought it should sound echoing around in my head. I needed the time to stop hearing it, to forget what I “meant” to say so that I could read it and hear what I really said. Definitely worth it.

I’d like to say I’ve always taken this advice. But I didn’t. Not my last two completed manuscripts.

2). Make a Game Plan. This one is my own personal thing, but maybe it’ll work/help you readers as well. For me, revising my novel seemed like this huge, insurmountable undertaking. So, I went at it like I do other seemingly insurmountable undertakings: I came up with a strategy to get from Point A to Point B.

In this way, I formulated a plan to tackle my manuscript. I decided to do Big Picture things first and then tackle the finer details (ie grammar, word choice, etc).

I write in Four Acts. So I went back to my outline and started with the first act. I looked at each scene, tried to picture how the story “should” flow, and I rearranged scenes. Then I thought about what each scene accomplished and made sure that they did what they were supposed to do. I moved forward in this way through each of my acts.

When I finished that, I went through and looked for emotional flow. What was keeping them apart physically? Then, after they did the nasty, what kept them from being together emotionally?

I’m just finishing up that part right now. Then I’ll hit it for grammar and word stuff and then I’ll let people read it.

I have no idea if this will work for you, but it’s how I did this one. Will it work for everything I write in the future? No clue. But it was something and certainly something better than staring at my monitor and feeling helpless.

3). Be Strategic about the Reveal. When I started to revise, I decided to wait to let others read it until I’d done what I could with it. I’m not sure yet if this was a good tactical decision or not. My thought process was that I wanted to get through my own “vision” before I let anyone have any input into how my vision translated for them. I’ll keep you posted on how this works out for me.

And--- my final thought here---
4). Emotion Trumps Plot. Please note, I have not become a pantser. You may all have a seat again, relax. What I mean is that I have realized that no matter how you plot, if my story doesn’t have that emotional pow, it’s going to be boring. This is sort of a topic for a bigger blog post, but I will add it here anyway. I’ve just been struck again by how plot is important but we read for the emotion.

So, how’s writing going ladies? What have you learned during revisions? Any major epiphanies? Anything that you’ve heard people say before but didn’t listen until you got there and made the mistake anyway?

Tuesday Book Review: A Rogue By Any Other Name

I have had an embarrassment of riches--books to review on the RWR site--and I'm commandeering Tuesdays for book reviews. The first book I'm reviewing for this new tradition is the much anticipated and eagerly awaited Sarah MacLean novel, A Rogue By Any Other Name.

I am a lucky pirate and you can be too.

I just finished reading Sarah MacLean’s newest delicious truffle of delight: A Rogue By Any Other Name. Delectable. Actually “truffle” implies something light and frothy—and this was really dark, rich, and sustaining. Like Starbuck’s coffee, maybe. A little frothy foam on top for sweetness, and dark and rich goodness to flood your veins and make you believe in a new day again. Yeah. Like that.

The hero was yummy, yummy delectable, though a bit of, well, a rogue. He, of course, has excellent reason to be a rogue—you burn for him, you do, but he’s a truly complex and broken hero who you want to wrap in a snuggie, feed him soup, and reassure him it’s all going to work out all right. The heroine does us one better and devastates him in (and out of) the bedroom. (Which is only fair, because he does his own share of being a devastating creature.) So when I wasn’t sad and weepy for either the hero or the heroine’s unfair life situations and hurt feelings, I was amazed my fingers weren’t scorching, turning the pages to some of the hottest love scenes I’ve read twice. (Believe me, they all need to be read twice. The man is delicious.) Complex, sensuous, life- and love-affirming—this book had it and a box of chocolates. Love really does conquer all.

As far as plots go, it works a nice Shakespearean kind of revenge. Our hero is young and foolish—as young men frequently are—and during a “winning streak” at the gaming tables, wagers everything not entailed on the turn of some cards. He loses everything to his guardian, the guardian who had spent the last several years building up the fortune that the hero was due to inherit through no work of his own. Of course, our burned and bitter hero seeks revenge at all costs, to claim back his inheritance and ruin the man who ruined him. The book is only missing a sword fight to make it really Shakespeare, but there are a few really lovely brawls for the pirate who adores a bit of blood-lust in her novels.

There are romantic moments galore to show the growth between the hero and heroine—mostly to show how far he has come because he has a long, long, long, long, long way to get to his happy ending. In fact, when I finally arrived at the Happily Ever After and our hero was pouring out all his apologies and “I love yous”, I was a bit, “Okay, enough already. He’s waxing way poetic.” But then I thought about it. I loved the hero—I felt bad for him—but he was an ass. He needed to grovel. If he was effusive in his praise of his bride, she deserved it for putting up with all the shoddy behavior he exhibited to her.

This story was just the sort of fantasy I love to get my hands on and consume in one sitting: Beauty and the Beast—the selfish prince who doesn’t believe he’s worthy of being loved by the woman he’s fallen in love with. Only her love can transform him back into a man, and it does.

Ms. MacLean hit this one out of the ballpark and set up her next book in one fell swoop, and I don’t know how she did it, but she managed to make me long for the next book even more than I longed for this one! Well done, Ms. MacLean!

Best of all, A Rogue By Any Other Name is out today, February 28, 2012. Go get it!

Now—to make another pirate as lucky as me. One lucky commenter will win a copy of A Rogue By Any Other Name (not my copy—a new copy I didn’t drool on). To be eligible, your comment should be either your favorite book featuring Beauty and the Beast as its structure or the book/series you’re looking most forward to devouring this year?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Captain Jack Talks with Trailblazer Jenn LeBlanc

Bosun: Jenn LeBlanc had a dream. In that dream, a woman was running for her life. When Ms. LeBlanc awoke, she decided to write the woman's story. Then one day, Ms. LeBlanc had an idea. As a world class photographer, why not put her lens to work and add images to go with the words on the page. An unexpected dream and an innocent idea have turned the Romance world on its ear and has readers buzzing about this Illustrated Romance.

A woman out of time.
A man stifled by propriety.
A nemesis determined to take her away.
A brother to the rescue.

How will a powerful Duke deal with a woman who doesn't know her place? How will a woman used to the 21st century survive in time where she is considered property?

Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.

How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

As he is wont to do, our own Captain Jack swindled-

CJS: I charmed her. CHARMED.

Bosun: Ahem. I stand corrected. Our own Captain Jack charmed Ms. LeBlanc into making a return appearance upon the good ship Revenge to tell us how her dream turned into a six-part serial Romance, complete with breathtaking and libido-stirring images. 

CJS: I do say, you're awful long winded this morning, Bosun. I could have done the introduction just as well. *takes a swig of rum* Now where is my lovely interviewette?

Bosun: She's your interviewee, Jack, and she's parking her Jeep. Did you brush your teeth like I told you to?

CJS: *rubs a filthy finger across his front teeth* I brushed them for the new year. The rum takes care of killing anything I might have missed.

Bosun: Heaven only knows why we keep you around, Jack. 

CJS: Because I'm the CAPTAIN, that's why. Now don't you have something else to do.

Bosun: If you think I'm leaving you alone with our guest, you're madder than a hare.

CJS: Wrong character, my dear. *Sees our guest climbing aboard* There she is. Ms. LeBlanc, you're looking better than the Black Pearl after returning from the dead.

Jenn: Oh flattery Jack? Stooping so low? Or is the rum almost gone...I did bring a crate of the worst, cheapest, most horrible tasting swill I could find...just for you. *winks*

CJS: A woman after me own heart. *slides barrel under his chair* Now we must get down to business before Bosun gets her knickers in a wad. Do tell me you brought more pictures of the feminine persuasion this time.

Jenn: well...there is a woman. In fact. Because my hero is not into auto-eroticism, he would much rather unleash his well-honed talents on a lady. *grins*

CJS: Auto… Uh…yes. Whatever you said. There's a girl. That's enough for me. But before we get to the images, we must get to the words. Do have a seat here and tell us how this whirlwind tour Bosun told me about has been going. Faring well, are you?

Jenn: I am exhausted! It has been a great time though, sort of delaying the inevitable which is the end of my time with the boys. I love my characters so dearly at this point, I mean, I’ve spent the last three years with them! But it is almost over, for will soon be up to my readers to keep them alive for me. 

CJS: And I'm sure they will! In the meantime, have some rum then. It always does the trick for me. *leans forward conspiratorially* The tricks Hellion does are entirely different, but give the same effect.

*camera moves off target*

*Bosun cuts off Hellie and rights the camera*

CJS: Right. Best to stick to the cards. *clears throat, holds cards close then far away then close again* Says here you took one book and turned it into six. That sounds like a lot of unnecessary work. What's that about?

Jenn: It’s actually how I envisioned the novel to begin with. To be honest, taken as one book it would be of “Outlandish” proportions *winks* *turns to Bosun to whisper* See what I did there? OUTLANDER and all? *giggles* But I saw the book as a sort of miniseries or drama. Each book stands on the bit of story it tells, while they do not stand alone...except for certain scenes. So when the new part of the serial was set to release I decided to do it up right and re-edit, shoot, add scenes and re-release the book as it was meant to be. 

CJS: You're one of those overachievers, aren't you? I've heard Hellie refer to Bosun that way. No wonder you two get along so well. *flips to next card* This says something about casting heroes. There's no need to look any farther, my darling. I'm the perfect hero, at your service.
Jenn: Oh yes, Jack, *clears throat* of course, I...well. The minute I need a mangy pirate Jack I would look no further. I suppose I am an overachiever...though aren’t we all happy for it at this point? It took awhile to cast the brother, and I ended up right where I started, because, why find a guy to look exactly like the other when the one is talented enough to play both? And isn’t he just.

CJS: He's just something, yes. *flips card and finds image of male backside* Let's skip past that one. *flips card again* Ah, here we are. Every hero needs a leading lady. So your two heroes are brothers, but what about the ladies in their lives?

Jenn: Gideon’s heroine, Francine is from the 21st century. She was a business woman well versed in international law. Now...she is with Gideon. I hear she has been managing his households and finding other things to pursue, like improving the care of mentally ill patients, trying to revamp Bethlem Royal Hospital, and such. It’s a subject dear to Gideon, and herself. As for Perry’s lady...well, are you sure? It’s been a big secret and frankly has shocked a few people. Her upbringing would normally NEVER put her on the path she is on.
 Gideon and Francine
 Perry and Lilly

CJS: A secret? A lady with a past? That's something to which I can completely relate. Let's not spoil it for the readers, but you could tell good old, Jack. Perhaps we could even bring both ladies aboard and make this a foursome, if you catch my meaning.

Bosun: JACK! The cards. Stick to the cards.

CJS: *mumbles to himself* Careful, Bosun, you might swallow your whistle. *Flips a card* Bosun refers to the people in your pictures as models. She wants to know how difficult it is to find models who fit the characters in your head and if those characters ever change after you find a model you like better?

Jenn: Absolutely, Francine was originally blonde, in fact. But the more I write these books, the more I realize there has to be a give and take between the writing aspect and the photography aspect and I write my character’s physical traits in a much more general way now. I have an idea what I want, and when I’m casting I find her, or him, and they become the part. 

CJS: *flips another card* Bosun, these questions are so boring. Must I… *sees Bosun about to dump the rum* Fine. But I'm adding some flare. Tell us, for these more…intimate shots, how does that lens thingy there not get all fogged up.

*Bosun throws up her hands*

Jenn: We actually have so much fun in studio Jack, I bet you’d love it. It isn’t like being an intruder in someone's bedroom, not at all uncomfortable. We are all so close, working together like this. First you have to have a sense of humor because when a perfect stranger mounts another, well, you just have to. Second you have to be able to pull in and out of the scene at the drop of a hat, so what was awkward, just isn’t. Third, professionals. No giggling schoolgirls. On second thought, you might not fit well in the studio.
 An outtake.
 The final image.

CJS: *brow raised* Did you say "mounting"? *turns to Bosun with pleading look – sees rum is still in jeopardy* Ahem. We'll discuss the mounting after Bosun has had a little more to drink. One more thing before I turn you over to the crew. You've created this monster of a series and introduced readers to something they've never seen before. Do you worry about keeping them coming back? What's next from you and do you plan for all your books to be illustrated?

Jenn: I do plan for all my books to be illustrated, because this has been SO MUCH FUN there is no turning back for me. I have two books in the works, the first is titled BETWEEN A FRIEND AND FOREVER and we should be shooting that this summer. We talk about the heroine on twitter codename #Twitchy. She is a little odd. Asperger's or tourettes possibly with an OCD chaser...makes for an interesting girl. On top of that she is the only child of an ailing Duke, so she must secure a good match to protect herself and her mother from the future Duke who isn’t interested in caring for the former’s leavings. Not an easy thing in Victorian England. 

The second will be another epic serialized illustrated romance, and it brings us back into the Trumbull family. Which makes me happy, because I’ll get to visit with my guys again. :) 

CJS: Those brothers could have a long lost pirate cousin, you know. *gives the classic Jack smile and a wink* Now I understand there's some sort of contest going on. A pirate is always interested in new booty, especially the kind he doesn't have to work for. How does your contest work?

Jenn: Well!! This IS the best part, I am giving away a copy of the full serial novel to one lucky commenter here, THEN everyone who comments is entered into the grand prize drawing for a Nook or Kindle tablet! (in the form of a giftcard to either venue.) The grand prize drawing will be held at the beginning of March after my final tour post. Rules can be found HERE. A full list of all the posts in the tour can be found HERE. I would also mention that the FIRST book in the serial, FREEDOM, is FREE on All Romance eBooks right now...(maybe Amazon as well, if they managed to catch up) 

I can be found here: Twitter | Facebook | Author Site | Blog | Tumblr(NSFW)
I LOVE to chat with readers!

Here Jack, I know you have a short attention span, while I’m chatting up readers, how about you watch this little video.

CJS: A moving picture? For me. Don’t mind if I do. You heard her wenches, get to commenting. But first, what say you to Ms. LeBlanc? And if you were the one hosting the casting couch, who would you want to have in front of your lens?

Where to get the books:
 FREEDOM : Part one brings Francine to the world of the Duke of Roxleigh, clashing worlds in first installment of the completely revised novel, with all new material.
Available now from these ebook retailers:
iBookstore for iThingys

Available now from these ebook retailers:
iBookstore for iThingys

TAKEN : The Rake And The Recluse : Part Three
Part THREE brings Francine and Gideon closer than they ever imagined possible, until the unimaginable tears them apart. What will Gideon do if he loses her, this time, forever?
Available now from these ebook retailers:

RUINATION : The Rake And The Recluse : Part Four
Part FOUR is full of revelations, celebrations, protestations and one surprise that will have you holding your breath for the final chapters. What has Perry done?

SUBMISSION : The Rake And The Recluse : Part Five
Perry leaves Roxleigh House without a backward glance only to be tossed headlong into one of the most difficult trials of his life. How will he protect the very thing he is dedicated to pursuing? How will a man dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure survive a woman who refuses to relent, when he knows he cannot have her.

RETRIBUTION : The Rake And The Recluse : Part Six
Perry must find the woman who has managed to capture his heart, then he must find a way to keep her. Someone else is on the hunt, someone from her past who doesn’t appreciate that she still lives and breaths.
Friday, February 24, 2012

On Jury Duty Excuses...

Do you think this might work?

I got called up for jury duty this past week. I spent a crazy weekend worrying about it because I had some major projects due at work this week and I'm still trying to get the edits on ADULTERER'S GUIDE done.

It's not that I don't want to do it. Au contrare - I'd love to serve on a jury. Just not this week. Or maybe, ever if I'm always this busy. What struck me as interesting was all the excuses people gave me for trying to get out of jury duty. It's definitely something a writer enjoys - coming up with a lie and a back story to make that lie seem plausible.

Here is what I've come up with for the future (I didn't have to serve after all, but a pirate's got to be prepared, right?):

  • "The kidnapped man I have chained in my basement might starve if I'm not there to feed him." (This one is particularly effective if you have duct tape, are wearing rubber gloves and have a roll of condoms in your purse)

  • "What are all these chickens doing in here?!" (I'd recommend dressing as a chicken too - just to give it that extra something - although this may backfire and you might have to sit through a trial in a hot, sweaty chicken suit)

  • "My name is J.K. Rowling." (Have 20 copies of The Sorcerer's Stone on hand and give them to your fellow jurors. Sign each one, Dumbledore dies and Snape killed him, Love, Jo.)

  • "Did you know there are still some of us who still follow Charlie Manson?" (You can't just say 'Manson' or the young kids today will think you're talking about Marilyn Manson. Carry a bunch of forks with you for the added gravitas)

  • Wear dark glasses and have a giant python on a leash. Insist he's your Seeing Eye Snake. If challenged, loudly shout, "You BASTARDS! Why do you hate disabled people?"

That's all I've got. What can you come up with?

The Assassin

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everything (and one) needs a beginning.

So we've got this lovely revamped ship, with awesome new digs by our revamp artist Carrie and Terri assisted (because Terri is awesome at these things). Getting a new home, pulling back into our first port and taking a look around with more experienced eyes puts me back into memory lane.

But I'm not going to rehash a blog that I wrote five years ago or anything for this occasion. No, I think we should take the day to consider how far we've all grown in the past five years. Five years ago I wouldn't come out and say that before I start a story, I need to outline and see where it's all really going. Five years ago, I was just starting out with the writing thing. I had no direction. No clarity of where I wanted to be.

Things that have changed for me from the time we were in our old port (blogspot) to our new port (URL) and back to our beginnings:

  1. I have a grasp on outlining.

  2. I can write in actual format.

  3. I have this insane need to write the entire story before posting. (Of course, this applies only to my fan fic writing.)

  4. I love all my heroes. And most of my heroines. This was not so much the case when I first started writing originals.

I'm sure there are other things that have changed for me in the writing world but as of right now, this isn't just about me. This is about you- our readers, our fellow writers- and how you've changed since you've become our blog mate, our faithful blog readers and our friends. So take today to tell us how you've grown. (And I'm sure it's okay to comment on how much you like our revamped look.) I can tell you it's nice to be “home”.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

World within a World

Music Influence: “Scars Align” Cyrenic (Dying to Live, 2011)


I spent a large amount of time traveling on Thursday from airport to airport hoping planes as if I were an Easter bunny tripping on sugar. Had twelve minutes to make a connection flight in Salt Lake City- don’t think I’ve ever run through an airport faster in my entire life. An airport is a world all to itself. When you're inside it's a complete different mindset. Even the most bashful of people will find their inner hellcat. You have to bite, scratch, claw your way into position to board the plane. You have to elbow and throw dirty looks at the guy sitting next to you taking up half your elbow space. And put up with the other person getting rip roaring drunk, which in turn, you have to get drunk to deal. Airplane courtesy is not everyday courtesy. It's a one man island. You've gotta look out for yourself and say screw the others. Leave them for the sharks.

But while I was doing all this traveling I had nothing more to do than read. And I’ve seriously been low on reading time lately. I’m three years behind on Melissa Marr’s faerie series and I absolutely love these books. The Fae world is a world within our own as the Fae walk the streets most humans are oblivious to their presence unless the Fae want the humans to see. There are a few humans who have the sight. The notion of something abnormal happening in the normal intrigues me. This is the type of Urban Fantasy I enjoy reading. The world within the world.

The world of mythical creatures inhabiting the world I know enthrall me. As if I were the one walking down a dark alley with enchanted eyes watching me, waiting to make a move. The world where creatures of the night fight with one another. The world where only in my wildest imagination things happen. This is essential when writing Urban Fantasy novels. Build your world around the one the reader can understand and relate to. I’ve read a lot of fantasy/paranormal books where as the reader I can’t relate to the characters or the world they live in. Either the explanation isn’t there for the world, or the creatures who inhabit the world are too strange and foreign for comprehension. This is a problem I have as a writer. It’s so hard to paint the right picture for your reader when you see it so vividly in your head but lack the worlds to properly explain it. And when you’re beginning to write a new world, you want to dump as much information into the beginning as you can possible pack. You want the reader to experience the world immediately, when actually; you want the reader to wade in slowly as if to test the waters. Too much information could spook off a reader from reading your really kick ass world you’ve built.

So what I want to know from my fellow readers and writers is how do you wade in? You don’t have to be writing (or reading) a paranormal/urban fantasy novel to see the world within the world. We all create our own world when writing. What’s the right mixture in the beginning of the world the reader knows and relates and the world you’ve built and created? What’s the best world you’ve read in a book lately? Anyone read any really good paranormal or urban fantasy novels?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recipe for Success

One of the major principles of Weight Watchers—or really any eating plan in which you want to lose weight—is planning. If you don’t plan to succeed, then you’re planning to fail.

This is never more evident than when you don’t pre-determine what you’ll be eating through out the week, or at least hatch some possible plans to pick from if you don’t like being tied to one thing. The benefit to planning healthy foods to keep you from overeating also keeps you (usually) from overspending. You’re not going out to eat every night, you’re not planning last minute meals that require you to buy everything each night—no, instead you’re taking stock of what you do have, what you are capable of making and what you enjoy, and creating from that.

If you’re not a leftovers person, then you have to figure out what one portion meals are easy to throw together without involving a lot of prep work. I like having pre-cooked chicken or beef and making various things: Italian, Mexican, or Chinese themed that can be adjusted by using different sauces or vegetables. But I also enjoy making a meal—like meatloaf—and figuring it out how to use it to make something new a couple meals later, like Bolognese sauce.

I am pretty good at this because 1.) I’m not adverse against recycling what I already have; 2.) I’ve cooked enough that I can be flexible and creative about it without relying too heavily on following the recipe exactly; and 3.) I plan. Food matters to me. I love food. Some people eat to live, but I’m definitely a live to eat type of gal.

Now think of writing.

If you want to succeed in finishing your novel, you need to plan—or you’ll be planning to fail. Have a goal—you want to write a story where the hero triumphs and love conquers all, great—and decide how you’re going to make that happen.

You don’t want to grow bored while you’re writing, so take some basic ingredients that can carry over into whatever you’re doing. The rakish hero, the intelligent but plain heroine—and think of the ways you usually like to devour these characters when they’re presented by other writers. How can you make this recipe your own? What tricks do you know that can make the story better, funnier, more emotional?

Take a classic story line—like Beauty and the Beast—and figure out how you can make a different twist or story out of it. Is the woman the beast? Does she lose her beauty? How do you take a successful “recipe” for storytelling and create something new? How do you make a fusion of your two favorite writing styles? You play with it. You take a chance. The worst that will happen is that you have to throw it out, but most of the time, it’s still edible…and sometimes you come up with something truly delicious and innovative.

Be daring. I know you’re good at this because I’m sure you’ve all already taken to recycling things from your own writing that you couldn’t use in another story, something too good to bury forever. You’re great writers and you keep improving because you’re always writing or thinking of writing. The only thing left is to plan…plan for your success. Really think about your story and the story questions. What do you wish to achieve with this story? And like nearly all achievements, the best ones are the ones for yourself and not for others. Writing for yourself first is almost always more successful than just picking something you think will sway the marketing trends. The marketing trends are always fickle.

It’d be like if the marketing world’s new trend was BEETS, but I hate beets, I don’t even like to eat them—so how could I possibly cook with them? And usually these sorts of trends only last a year or two, which is the average length it takes a person to get published anyway. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a food you’re passionate about and write about that? You love chocolate…and beta scholars—then write about them. Maybe some sweet, sensitive hero discovers how to make the world’s best chocolate bar. Wouldn’t we all love to read about that guy? Haven’t we all wanted to thank him?

Write what you love. Make a plan. Realize nothing worth doing is going to happen overnight.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about planning your novel, I highly, HIGHLY recommend the book: Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. (Incidentally the Kindle version is only $2.99! What a deal!) I’m reading it now and writing in my notebook as I go along. It’s definitely one of the top five craft books I’ve ever read. Structured enough to keep you progressing, creative enough not to make you feel stymied. This is a woman in favor of a plan.

So it’s Monday…and I’m sure everyone’s not done being hungover yet. But once you get a few cups of coffee in you, let’s talk about planning, cooking, and success. What types of things do you plan in your writing/novels or other things in life? Do you have a favorite recipe that you’ve had to lighten up over the years so you can keep enjoying it? What do you think it takes to be successful?
Friday, February 17, 2012

Fabulous Interview with the Incomparable Captain Jack Sparrow: Lois Greiman Edition

*camera zooms in on a crystal white beach and turquoise waters; palm trees and fauna beckon; and in the distance near the shore are three riders on horseback, two women and one flamboyantly familiar man*

JACK: *waving at the camera before realizing he shouldn’t have let go of the reins, snatches them up again and veers his horse in a circle* ‘ello, pirates and wenches, we’re…whoa horsie…here with another edition of Fabulous Interview with…oh, bugger, why is he tossing his head like that?

HELLION: It’s a girl, Jack.

JACK: That’s odd--*horse skitters sideways*--I’m usually so good with girls.

HELLION: *resting comfortably in the saddle with reins in one hand* Hello, everyone, as you’ve determined, it is another Fabulous Interview with the Incontinent…


: Captain Jack Sparrow. Today’s guest is none other than Ms. Lois Greiman. And as you might have guessed from our trail ride on the beach, Ms. Greiman is a bit of a horsewoman as well as an author. Ms. Greiman, writers, like actors, frequently wear many hats before they break into the writing biz. What other jobs have you had in your life and how have they played a part in your writing now?

LOIS: Keep your heels down, Jack. Well, after high school, I moved from my parents' cattle ranch in North Dakota to a horse ranch in Minnesota where I trained and showed Arabian horses. Horses, Arabians in particular, are still the love of my life, but I've followed a few other interesting, and less deadly, pursuits. I managed a fitness club for a while. I was a veterinary assistant. But neither of those gave me that thrilling 'will I die today' kind of jolt. Writing, on the other hand, is a nice way of living vicariously without risking your life on the back of an over-excited steed. And you get that added bonus of being able to kill off people every once in a while. Very cathartic.

HELLION: I do find killing people to be very cathartic. What kind of books do you like to write? I'm guessing ones where you get to kill people?

LOIS: I started out writing historical romance novels. It took me approximately forever to sell my first one. But finally Avon Books gave up and offered me a contract in 1992. Since then I've written over thirty titles including romantic comedy, children's, historical romance, and mysteries.

JACK: *bouncing hard in the saddle as his horse trots around Hellion and Lois* I’ll be right with you, Lois. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about our interviewwwwwwwww! *horse gallops off wildly with Jack barely hanging on*

HELLION: *completely unperturbed* That sounds fascinating. I love Avon books--I'm glad they "gave up." *LOL* What do you have out now available for readers to buy? Tell us all about it—and speak slowly when you describe the hero in detail.

LOIS: My 7th Chrissy McMullen novel, Uncorked, was just released. Chrissy is a crazy psychologist in LA. Her nemesis/romantic interest is Lieutenant Jack Rivera who tends to (simultaneously) make her nuts and save her life. He's all cocky and Latino and sexy as hell. A little like Captain Jack only (Lois stares into the distance at the flapping Jack Sparrow) a little less...something.

HELLION: Yes, a little less something. I can guess what. *sighs* Now there’s a hero to enjoy. *Jack veers back past them in another gallop, still screaming* Tell us about what you’re working on now. I saw that you have started a cowgirl series that you’re excited about. What is it about and when can we look forward to reading it?

LOIS: Yes, my first Hope Springs book is due April 1st and I'm having a ball with it. It's set on a ranch in South Dakota, not too far from where I grew up. It's a coming home story, kind of a redemption story, about Casie Carmichael, a young woman who inherits her father's ranch. She plans to dump it and high tail it back to the city at the first possible opportunity, but abandoned horses and abused kids keep showing up on her porch. Once Casie gets her bearings on the ranch she has several men who show interest in her, but the real hero's name is Colton Dickenson. I might love him just as much as Lieutenant Rivera…or Jack Sparrow…but don't tell the captain.

JACK: *fighting his horse and diving between Hellion and Lois, as the horse skitters sideways between them* You hellspawn of my ex-wife, you will—er—Lois, darling, I told you I would return. *horse spins in a circle like a gyro* You’re such a natural on your horse. I thought I would start our interview by asking who are some of your favorite authors and genres to read?

LOIS: I've loved J.R.R. Tolkein since the dawn of time. That love directed me toward a real appreciation for paranormals. But I have a pretty eclectic palate. J.D. Robb, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich… I guess it's no secret that writers love to read.

JACK: Fascinating that you like—son of a *horse bucks, then bolts off again, this time toward the jungle area; Jack’s last words drowned out by more screaming*

HELLION: I’m sure you’d never notice, but this is Jack’s first time on a horse.

LOIS: He should maybe stick to ships.

HELLION: Indeed. Normally this is when we would ask you about The Call and your writer’s journey into publishing. Would you care to share?

LOIS: I had been writing very seriously for about 5 years when I got the call. After more than 100 rejections, Christine Zika called me from Avon Books and said that Ellen Edwards was interested in my manuscript and wanted to make sure it was still available before she finished reading it. After sooo many rejections, I was flabbergasted and said…"Available for what?" I'm not sure if I was thinking she was going to line bird cages with it or what!

HELLION: These stories never get old. Awesome. Okay. So do you have any questions for us, or anything exciting to share that I haven’t touched on?

LOIS: I'm thrilled to be writing for a major publisher since Kensington picked up my cowgirl series, and I'm happy to say I have a romantic suspense series coming out with with the wonderful Debs at Belle Bridge Books, too. But right now I'm really enjoying Chrissy McMullen's world. It's been a fun journey putting Chrissy online. You can find her and all her neurotic friends at if you're into e-books.

Or if you still love print books as much as I do, hop to: for your Chrissy fix.

Thanks for having me, Hellion, and ummm….Jack…wherever you are.

HELLION: Debs? As in THE Debra Dixon of GMC fame? Wow! Well, I'm glad we can definitely get our Lois Greiman fix while we're waiting for your cowgirl series! So discussion for the day: how skilled of a horseman are you? And if you could be published by your dream publisher, who would it be? AND most importantly, which one of Lois' books do you want to try first? Me--I'll definitely try Uncorked, but I cannot wait for the cowgirl series!! You know me and series! It's Friday, Pirates, get your party on!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dead Earwigs and Deleted Scenes

There were a few scenes that got deleted from the final cut of Love is a Battlefield, many of which were near and dear to my heart. I imagine this is a common occurrence for authors, so I suppose I’ll have to suck it up and get used to it.


It’s hard, though. Mostly because one scene in particular—the DEAD EARWIG scene—is something that needs to be said. Equal parts cautionary tale and personal horror story, this is one narrative I simply can’t let die.


Unlike the earwig.


It needed to die.


Consider, if you will, a city in which creepy bugs aren’t a real problem. The weather here in the Inland Northwest is such that scorpions, giant-ass beetles, those huge, hairy Brazilian spiders, and other horrors of the insect world can’t survive the winters. So instead, we have a handful of mostly harmless spiders, seasonal ticks and bees, and….EARWIGS.


They love it here. They love to climb in all the dank, warm places that exist in the summer, continuing on in the winter pretty much underneath my house and nowhere else. They ravage my corn crops (okay, I had a total of four stalks and they grew about two feet, but still), and sneak up the drains so that you can’t take a bath without one of those suckers joining you for a swim.


In short, they’re everywhere.


In said deleted scene, my heroine awoke from a camping excursion only to stumble to the bathroom. Inside, she set about to do her normal business, as heroines so rarely do. But as she pulled down her underwear, she noticed something strange inside (the underwear, not her).


IT WAS AN EARWIG. Inside her underwear. Previously nestled right against her womanly core, soon to be killed and flung across the bathroom with all manner of screams and crazy dancing.


That woman, dear reader, was once me.


There are several explanations for this episode, none of which have done much in the way of providing long-term comfort.


a)      My best friend suggests that the earwig was dead and inside the underwear BEFORE I put them on. Perhaps that wily little guy was inside my clothes drawer, snuggled up inside my favorite panties, and died of natural causes. And then I somehow put them on without noticing.


b)      One alternate option is that throughout the course of my day, the earwig fell down my shirt or pants, made its way to my underwear, and then died in situ. I don’t want to know how long it might have been alive until that happened.


c)      There is also a chance that the earwig fell from above while I was in the bathroom, landed in said underwear, and then died as I tossed it across the room. I know this scenario isn’t very realistic, people, but it’s how I sleep at night.


Even though the scene didn’t make it into the book, I feel it would be a crime to let this important public service announcement go unheard. Like my heroine, I find strength in forcing myself to move outside my comfort zone and in fighting for what’s right.


Learn from me, world. Always check your underwear before you put it on. And if you do find an earwig in there, know that you are not alone and that I fully sanction its execution.


* * *


About Love is a Battlefield


It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.

It might be modern times, but Kate Simmons isn’t willing to live a life without at least the illusion of the perfect English romance. A proud member of the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society, Kate fulfills her passion for courtliness and high-waisted gowns in the company of a few women who share her love of all things heaving.

Then she encounters Julian Wallace, a professional Highland Games athlete who could have stepped right off the covers of her favorite novels. He’s everything brooding, masculine, and, well, heaving. The perfect example of a man who knows just how to wear his high sense of honor—and his kilt.

Confronted with a beautiful woman with a tongue as sharp as his sgian dubh, Julian and his band of merry men aren’t about to simply step aside and let Kate and her gaggle of tea-sippers use his land for their annual convention. Never mind that “his land” is a state park—Julian was here first, and he never backs down from a challenge.

Unless that challenge is a woman unafraid to fight for what she wants...and whose wants are suddenly the only thing he can think about.

Warning: The historical re-enactments in this story contain very little actual history. Battle chess and ninja stars may apply.

About Tamara Morgan


Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.


You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.