Monday, December 31, 2012

Birthdays and New Years

As you might have guessed with us hard-working pirates, today is another day off, but tomorrow we should be back to your regularly scheduled programming, starting with a book review by Terri. (She writes, she reads, she's superwoman!)

In the meantime, there are two very important birthdays on this ship: The Bo'sun's and the Captain's pirate daddy, Captain Hellion, Sr. (He's 91.) It must be tough to have a December 31st have to wait all year for it.

Today, Captain Hellion Sr is being taken by Captain Hellie Jr to the local steakhouse for his usual round of rare steak and a slathering of steak sauce. And Bo'sun is celebrating having her little Bo'sun Jr back again and writing like a fiend--so both of them will probably be checking in later to see the Happy Birthday well wishes.

So the questions today are:

What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

How do you eat your steak? (Mine is always rare or medium rare--as is Hellion Sr's.)

And what drink are you toasting the birthday kids with today? Something old or something new?

Happy New Year's, my favorite pirates. I hope this year brings you good health, happiness, and prosperity, and this year brings you closer to your dreams coming true. I'm honored and glad to know each and every one of you!
Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Vacation!

It's Christmas Eve and many here on the ship celebrate the season.  We'll be doing seasonal things. Like drinking too much rum punch and singing off-key carols. I'll be baking and keeping kids from spazzing out waiting for the guy in the red suit. Tonight, my family will watch Christmas Vacation and It's a Wonderful Life and I'll drink some champagne.

The crew will be absent until after the New Years. Some of us like to begin the party a little early, after all....

To all of our readers: please have a wonderful holiday and we wish you all the very best in the new year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Playing with Fire

As most aboard the Revenge are aware, I’ve been working on a Sherlock Holmes story. It’s an odd thing to play with. There are some very strict adherents to the canon, as they refer to it, out there.

And me, being me, well…I’m totally screwing with…well, everything. I know I could end up being pilloried for this, but I am doing this with an eye toward how much I love and enjoy Holmes.

The difficulty with doing this with any beloved figure or meme, if I’m using that correctly, is that you just don’t know how it will be received. Once upon a time, the lines between parody, pastiche, (another word I need to look up and make sure I’m using correctly), tribute, farce…all of these are fraught with peril. (Pastiche – basically a tribute using authentic selections from the canon.)

With the publication and acclaim given to 50 Shades of Grey, deserved or not, the window of what one can do with a world or character created by another has undergone a shift.

Fanfiction is one thing…but there are some creations that are all but sacrosanct.

I’ve yet to read about or see a fanfiction story about…oh, Jesus.

Okay, I’m lying. I have read some rather wonderful stories with Jesus as a character. But none of them were erotic. (Boggles the mind.) (Though I understand a few of the writing of medieval women who entered nunneries boarded on a sort of ecstasy that drifted into that territory…)

Anyway! I recently had a short IM exchange with a young friend who lives in Alaska. She is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. And she was a bit…worried…at hearing about my new story. She is a gatekeeper of the canon. While I am, admittedly, a barbarian. She left the conversation rather abruptly and I wonder… (She may have just been called away.)

We all have figures we can’t imagine anyone messing with. I’ve read fiction about so many historical figures, and beloved fictional characters. Never been offended. I’m not a big fan of stories where Kirk and Spock are hot and heavy for each other, but what the hell…I’m not a judge of what works for someone else!

I’ve read books where Jack London solved mysteries. Sherlock Holmes traveled aboard the Enterprise, Shakespeare met his ghost in the future…I have no barriers, that I’ve discovered yet!

I have a friend who despises seeing fairy tales retold, feeling they are trampling on childhood stories that should be sacred as they are. (Nevermind that they started as horrible stories told to scare people into behaving…)

Do you have limits? I’m curious…what about you? Any figure you couldn’t imagine seeing re-imagined? Ever thought about creating a story involving James West visiting England and wooing the ladies? Have you read anything like this?

BTW, if the Mayans were onto something…nevermind. It’s been a great ride!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I’ve finished what I’m calling my “rough draft” a few weeks ago.  I should be ecstatic, but instead I’m feeling a bit blah about it. 

There are plenty of things to be proud of with this story.  It’s a legitimate start to the story. It’s a framework to build on. I think I figured out key aspects of these characters’ GMC.  It only took a few months to write.

But, at this point, all I can see is how far I still have to go.

In the past, I would take a long time to write a rough draft.  By the time I finished, I could see the revisions I wanted to make.  Most of it was character tweaking.  A few plot twists.  Grammatical issues.  Stuff like that.  My last book was my biggest revision and it took a couple months.  Probably because I had no clue how to do a revision for real so I was learning as I went.

This, though, is a horse of a different color. (What is with that saying anyway? I don’t get it.) This is not a revision.  What I have ahead of me is a pretty serious rewrite.

I’ve already begun, pulling each scene out, adjusting the plot as needed.  Tucking away what I cut to be used later.

I know some of you (ahem, Ter, ahem) like this part.  But, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I’m trying to tell myself that there’s no difference between revision and rewriting, they’re all just along the path to the book’s final pretty face.  But, frankly, that feels like bologna when I end up cutting huge chunks of utter garbage from my Word document.

So, first of all, if you have revision/rewrite pointers, send them my way.  Do you think revision and rewriting are different?  Am I totally screwed?  (NO, don’t answer that.)

But, also, the holidays are upon us.  I know we shared recipes but tell me about your holiday traditions.  I need some warm fuzzies this week.  Big blessings to you and yours this time of year.  Hug your loved ones close.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Four Weddings and a Duke

I'm a little late in raving about it, but as you know, that wild and wicked trio of bestselling authors: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway, did it again. They collaborated another book, THE LADY MOST WILLING, every bit as delightful as the last. To make it even more delicious, it's set at Christmas time, and if that's not enough to up the stakes for you, they even threw in a kidnapped duke to amuse you.

And you will be amused, my good friends. You. Will. Be. Amused.

Because kidnapped dukes are horribly cranky.

There are four delightful potential brides: Miss Marilla Chisholm (the BONNIEST lass in Scotland and rich); her sister, Miss Fiona Chisholm (also rich but with a slightly dubious reputation); Lady Cecily Tarleton (English, but you can't have everything); and Miss Catriona Burns (neither rich or famous and they apologize profusely for inconveniencing her). Okay, confession time: three of the women are delightful--one of them is so irksome that I as the reader was seriously hoping she'd marry a butcher for her behavior--think Lydia from Pride & Prejudice only more irksome. Yes, that bad. Four guesses which one she is.

So the first third of the book, the duke goes from being horribly cranky to wonderfully in love. And it couldn't have happened to a better girl. And then the second third, one of the grooms: Lord Oakley meets the girl who sweeps him off his feet; and in the last, the younger brother, but half-French (so hottie!) picks a girl from the remaining two. Don't worry, the fourth girl also gets a groom. You'll never guess.

It is a comedy and a there is always plenty of weddings to go around.

So if you haven't read it yet, and you need some romance novels to take with you for Christmas with the family (which I always do), put this one in your tote bag! I hope I didn't ruin it for all of you by revealing all the girls end up with a husband--believe me, there is enough entertainment seeing it unfold that you'll enjoy it just the same.

What's your favorite Christmas set story you've read or read this year?
Monday, December 17, 2012


We have a special guest on the blog today. Marina Adair is a National bestselling author of romance novels. Along with the St. Helena Vineyard series, she is also the author of Tucker's Crossing, part of the Sweet Plains series. She currently lives in a hundred-year-old log cabin, nestled in the majestic redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband and daughter.

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. She also loves to interact with readers and you can catch her on Twitter at @MarinaEAdair or visit her at
She’s been nice enough to give us a little glimpse into what makes her such a good writer and thrown a little eye candy and excerpt in for good measure. Take it away, Marina!

I am a Hart of Dixie addict!

Every week, my friend Hannah Jayne and I sit down with a bottle of wine—or three—and watch as the lives of our favorite Alabamians play out in the town of Bluebell. Sometimes, when the season is on hold, we watch reruns while eating fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and sipping mint juleps. And I know that we are not alone in our obsession….

So, what’s the appeal?

I mean, sure George Tucker is so hot that one Southern-boy smirk packs enough panty-melting power to wipeout every Victoria’s Secret on the eastern seaboard:   

And the chemistry between Zoe and Wade has every good girl in America wondering what it would be like to take a ride on the wild side.

But it’s more than just mind-blowing sexual tension and hunky heroes that has me tuning in—although Wade’s abs and Lavon’s tats make my girly parts stand up and cheer.

For me, the must-see-mentality is because Hart of Dixie has some of the tightest writing on television. The show is full of conflict, love-triangles, tension and a whole lot of humor and heat. And, as with all great writing, every scene is packed full of character and plot.

The writers make sure that every scene has its own beginning, middle, and end—and that every scene introduces a new problem to drive the next scene forward. If one scene were to end up in the cutting room floor, their entire story would unravel because it is so tightly woven. 

But how do they accomplish all of that in ninety-second of screen-time?

Conflict and motivation.

Motive creates conflict and, in turn, conflict intensifies the hero and heroine’s motives. Before I sit down to write a scene, I nail down what each character wants and how their goals can directly conflict. Once I know what motivates one character, what scares them, and what they are willing to do anything to obtain, then I pair them with someone who wants the exact opposite. This works for individual scenes as well as the overall story arc.

For example, in my book KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE, Gabe is a 100% alpha-Italian who loves his family something fierce. In fact, after his parents died he made it his life’s mission to ensure his family’s happiness. So I picked the one thing that would lite him on fire: someone messing with his kid sister.

Not just any woman could go head-to-head with a guy like Gabe, so I needed a woman whose motivation was equally as important. Intro Regan, a single mom who just moved to town with the goal of giving her daughter the best childhood possible—unfortunately, years back she unknowingly had an affair with Gabe’s brother-in-law and got pregnant. The only way Regan can accomplish her goal is to raise her daughter in the small town of St Helena and the only way Gabe can keep his family safe is to make Regan leave town before his sister finds out.

These motivations are the driving force of every scene, every action, and every line of dialogue.
In this scene, Gabe’s goal is to gain information from Regan on the whereabouts of his cheat of a brother-in-law, Richard. Regan’s goal, at the urging of her friends, is to either make-nice with Gabe or leave the bar before she says something that would further ruin her standing in town.

Excerpt from Kissing under the Mistletoe

Gabe dragged a chair from the next table and dropped into it. This was his town, these were his friends and Regan needed to understand that. “Thought I’d come over and see how St. Helena’s newest resident was faring.”
Actually, he’d come over to see if his brother’s plan was even possible. Not that he would ever sleep with a woman to gain an edge on anything. It wasn’t how he was raised. But Nate had a point. Gabe had met Regan once and, six years later, he could still remember exactly what she looked like, exactly what she had smelled like. If Richard kept in contact with anyone from his past, it would be her.
“Jordan, Frankie,” he acknowledged. When he looked at Regan, heat flickered. He wondered if she was experiencing the same stupid attraction that he was, or if she had a bad case of heartburn.
“Gabe.” Her smile was all sunshine and roses, but she spit out his name like it was a four-letter word. Yup, she definitely had it bad for him.
“Regan?” He feigned surprise. “I almost didn’t recognize you with that smile on your face. You look so serene and . . . tame. You must have called my guy.”
Regan pressed her lips tightly together, but he still heard a faint and muffled “Bah Humbug,” come from her general direction.
 “If you’ll excuse me, I need to be getting home.” Smile back in place, she grabbed her purse off the chair. Gabe was supposed to be winning her over, seeing if becoming friendly enough for her to open up to him was even a possibility. A hard task when all he wanted to open were the next two buttons on her blouse.
“Ah, and here I came all the way over here to buy you a drink.”
“Maybe another time,” she said, smile holding. “It was—” She stopped, slapping a hand over her mouth and looking at the other two women, who, eyes wide, cheeks strained and nodding their heads, were definitely sending her all kinds of signals. None of which he could understand.
Big surprise there, buddy.
“It was…?” he prompted her to finish.
“That’s all, it just was.” She stood, ready to leave.
Now his brothers were sending him various kinds of signals, all of which had a matching hand gesture. He knew the only way to play this was to pretend that he wanted her to leave. So he leaned back in his chair, rested his feet on her chair and sent his brothers a cocky nod before wiggling his fingers at Regan in a smart-assed buh-bye.
Game on.
Regan growled. Swinging her purse, she whacked his loafers off the chair and reclaimed her seat. She signaled the waitress and looked him in the eye. Man, she was sexy when she was spitting mad.
“You know what, Gabe? I’ll take that drink. In fact, let me buy you one as a token of my thanks for all you’ve done for me over the years.”
“Ah, there’s the girl I know and love.” He sat forward and pressed his fingers into her forehead, pulling and massaging until he ironed out the wrinkles of her frown. His other hand tugged her lips up into a smile. “Much better.”
She swatted his hands away and was about to swat him in the junk when Jordan cleared her throat. Both women were giving Regan a reprimanding wag of the head.
Batting her eyelashes she leaned into Gabe and asked, “What can I get for you? Wine? I hear the new DeLuca Zen is fantastic.”
That’s more like it. She was set on staying. His friends were back where they should be—in his corner. The other DeLucas were all but high-fiving him from across the room. And if Regan leaned any further forward he’d be able to see right down her shirt.
Time to volley.
“Actually I’ve got a beer over at my table. I came over to let you all know that there’s an ATL on one missing Randolph.”
“Wait, is he the brown one with the red nose?” Regan deadpanned.
“Yes,” Gabe leaned forward, making sure to take up all of Regan’s space. “He is also a treasured town mascot.”
“I heard about that,” Frankie said, her face scrunching in anger. “Some idiot destroyed the town Christmas display. People are pissed and I don’t blame them. Every kid in town looks forward to getting their picture taken in the sleigh on Christmas morning.”
 “I heard they’re offering a reward for his safe return.” He spoke directly to Regan, who swallowed.
He knew she still had the deer and he wanted to put the pressure on. A woman like Regan would know something was off if he suddenly went soft. Plus, he’d seen her mad and he knew riling her up was the quickest way to get her to open her mouth. It was also the quickest way to gain information. And if he was lucky it would win him another glimpse of those Christmas panties.  
 “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about poor Randolph, would you?” Gabe raised a brow.
“Why are you asking me?” Regan said, her voice close to a shriek. “I’m new here.”
“You are the town Vixen.” He leaned in, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
She closed her eyes and he watched her mouth silently count to three . . . make that ten,  then she dug through her purse. She dropped two bills on the table for her wine and smacked a quarter against his chest.
He eyed the coin and smiled. “What’s this for?”
“For not saying, ‘Have a good night!’”

I am happy to report this tasty-sounding read is already waiting on my Kindle. If you’d like your own copy, click on the book title above to go straight to Amazon. And one lucky commenter today will win a signed ARC offered up from Marina. (Us residents only.) Do you watch Hart of Dixie? Love Christmas stories? Wish you had a wine-making, 100% alpha-Italian of your own? Comment and you just might get one (on paper. *g*)
Friday, December 14, 2012

The Heart of a Good Chord


There’s a lot I don’t understand about what works in a story and what doesn’t. I’m piss-poor at analyzing, labeling or even remembering why something worked.

But I know when it hits that chime inside me.

The same thing goes with music. It often isn’t the words in music that will make me catch my breath, it’s a chord. A progression of notes that evokes a visceral response I have no control over. There is a passage in Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis that makes me choke up every time I hear it. The lyrics? Nice, but they aren’t the magic in this…it’s the piano between the bridge and last verse. It’s what opens the song and ends it. Those notes ring inside of me.

The same with the drums from Phil Collin’s In the Air tonight.  You know the riff… right after ‘no stranger to you and me…’ Ba da da-da da-da-da DA DA

At this time of year, I often hear Christmas Eve Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and it always…always…makes me want to sob. Yes, the music is familiar, but the way they play it, the heartbreak over what became of Sarajevo…it is evocative in the extreme.

It’s magic. I’m sure it isn’t the same chord or riff for everyone. But I imagine we all have the bits of music where we’re listening and not really paying attention and suddenly, something catches us unaware and we blink back a rush of tears, a wall of emotion we’re not even sure the significance of.

Perhaps it is tied to the music and the first time we heard it, where we were or what we were experiencing right then. Or it’s a primal thing, as that song from Shrek ‘…the secret chord that David played that pleased the lord…’ That Hallelujah place. It’s a song written by Leonard Cohen and covered by a lot of artists, but that progression he wrote… ‘the fourth, the fifth, the minor four, the major lift…the broken king composing Hallelujah’ is sublime.

This is what I want to hit when I write. Now and then, I think it’s there. In the scenes I wrote that I go back and read again and again. A plot twist, a moment of revelation, a heartbreak or celebration…there is no given pattern or reason for the sense that I touched what I wanted. It’s subtle or it’s blunt. A light touch on the keys or a total slam down on the drums. Planned? Or from out of nowhere. I don’t have a formula, but I just know when it’s right.

I’m a superstitious writer. I don’t necessarily want to know how to get there. I’ll know when I arrive. And if I’m fortunate, I’ll hit that peak at least once in every story I tell.

Do you have a piece of music that struck you with this magic? Read that scene where you are transported and didn’t really know why? Written it and known it? What’s the magic you know?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making Time Count

Musical Influence: Cin and Uri's playlist-

If time could yield to my command
I'd take you gently by the hand
And the ties that bind you...
they'd fall and break behind you.
“The Return” Tread, 2012

I spent the entirety of November writing.

Well that's not true. For the first time during the month of November I managed to have a bit of a life away from the blinking cursor and blinding light of a Word document. I was behind in my word count. I swore vehemently up and down that I was going to keep up after I spent days staring at the screen trying to play catch up. Only to find myself the next day running around and having a good time at the expensive of 1667 words each day I procrastinated into the next. And next and next. Until I found myself on the Friday night yanking out my hair going, “Argh! I have to write 9k tonight. I'm such an idiot!”

This was wash, rinse, repeat every week until the very last days of November. I struggled hardcore with this years National Novel Writing Month. It's not the first time that's happened to me. In 2007 I also struggled and gave up about halfway through. Sometimes when you don't have the mojo, there is no making it either. And I felt like this NaNo was like that for me. I couldn't get settled into a writing routine. I couldn't make anything work for me. And I hate writing the beginning so the first two weeks were an absolute struggle to just make me sit down and get through it.

I was frustrated. I love the spirit behind NaNo. Nothing makes me happier than to participate in this epic challenge with a bunch of other struggling writers. In a world where being a writer can feel like the most lonely side job of all time, NaNo brings us all together and forges a new bond of absolute writing insanity. But I wasn't feeling it. At least until I found my newest music love. For me, the right music is absolutely everything. Music helps me focus and get into the zone. The wrong music can throw my whole writing vibe off and send me into fits of writer's block.

So much like the first CD of Under the Flood (The Witness, 2006) is dedicated solely to reading Kim Harrison, Tread's second CD (Blood in the Dust, 2012) is dedicated to Cin and Uri- my fantasy originals from the start of their story all the way through the stories. Once I found this soundtrack, I flew through the words. In the beginning there isn't much interaction between them but once they interact on an adult level for the first time, I couldn't stop writing about them.

So thank you Tread for making this CD that has nothing to do with my writing and everything to do with my imagination and creativity. You kept me going when I thought I would give up and quit NaNo.

So what do you do when you're unmotivated? What puts you back in the seat? How do you make time when you don't want to make it? Do you have soundtracks for your story?
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Off Topic: Holiday Recipes

I've had some things on my plate lately; and I'm battling a cold, writer's block (which probably doesn't really exist but try telling my word count that), and stress. I've read a couple books in the last two weeks (a lot slower than usual, just let me say), and neither of them was so brilliant that I wanted to rave about them to you guys. I'm sorry. They weren't bad, just okay, and I just couldn't get up enough enthusiasm to write a blog about either of them. Or both of them.

But I did make some smoked salmon dip last night. Now that I can rave about.

I love those little crisp breads with a bit of salmon, a bit of horseradish and sour cream, and a sprinkle of onion. Pop it in your mouth and it's like a little Russian davai goolyat!

So here is the recipe:

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 oz smoked salmon, minced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
2 Tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon dill weed (or to taste, I just sprinkled it in)
1 Tablespoon horseradish

Mix up really really good. Serve on crackers. Tastes better if you let it hang out in the fridge for a while and do its thing, but I have eaten it straight out of the bowl just fine.

So today instead of books, we're going to talk recipes. What is your go to recipe for the season, or what is your favorite snack to eat (with recipe link)?
Monday, December 10, 2012

All Dads Go to Heaven

When my Deerhunter came home for hunting season, the normal Friday before banter commenced as soon as his brother walked through the door. They’re brothers in the truest sense of the word: Deerhunter likes to express how much more awesome he is at hunting, and his brother just quietly lets him think that while getting prize deer with his bow. They’re both great hunters; they should be—they were taught by a great hunter, their father.

Deerhunter’s father is a colorful soul with colorful stories that you can’t generally share with PG-13 audiences; however, this time, he had Deerhunter silenced when he gave him a knife that he and Deerhunter had made together when Deerhunter was little. The knife had been sold and given away, but a while back, Deerhunter’s father was given a box of stuff from a neighbor and in the box was the knife. And in the knife was Deerhunter’s best memory of home, father-son bonding, and childhood. There was a touching conversation where they spoke about hunting and all those things dads teach their sons, and the father’s concerns that had he taught them how to survive, how to live? The boys reassured their father he had; he had given them the best education.

Then Deerhunter’s father expressed how he wished he could have gone to the Rendezvous and how he was born 200 years too late—and then when I admitted I had no idea what they were talking about and that I had never seen The Mountain Men, they all began educating me. Immediately. I watched the movie, and I could see the appeal for them. And I could see his father in Brian Keith, the good-natured, loyal friend who seems to have nine lives and never turns down a good drink.

I looked forward to talking to Deerhunter’s father about the movie and the Rendezvous and all those bits of information he seemed to know and I was glad to learn about. History buffs are nerdy that way. But I never got the chance. Deerhunter’s father passed away on November 30 suddenly and to the devastation of us all.

I wrote a poem for Deerhunter (I tend to express big feelings with poetry) and he wanted me to share it on the blog. He said it expressed his dad perfectly. I’m not sure Deerhunter’s father would approve; the man never liked a fuss being made about him. But for Deerhunter I will—because daddies are the best and should be honored. And all dads go to heaven, I know.

Crusty old mountain men
Don’t linger or say goodbye.
They cannot stand a fuss or scene.
It is up to us to remember them when they slip away
Until we are able to meet up with them again
At the Rendezvous.
When we do, and we will,
It will be as if no time has passed
Or that there ever was a hole in our hearts,
Only old stories and new to share and rejoice.

I’m not sure how to segue this to writerly discussion, but here’s my try. Do any of you do other sorts of writing to express yourself: essays, poetry, journaling? Do you have any favorite childhood memories of your dad? What relationship does your character usually have with their dad—and what things did they learn from him? 

P.S. If you want to toast Deerhunter's daddy, I think he'd actually like that. Even if he hated having a fuss made about him. 
Friday, December 7, 2012

It’s My Birthday and I’ve Decided I Want To Grow Up…

…and be like Bruce Campbell.

My all-time favorite B movie actor. I took this from IMDB, about Bruce… “As a child, Bruce watched Lost in Space on TV, and ran around dressed as Zorro.”

Is it any wonder I adore this guy?

B movies. They are something that it takes a great talent to do right. A good B movie will make you smile, groan, and grab bits of paper for lines that you don’t want to forget! You’ll want to watch these movies with people you love, to point out classic faux pas, or brilliant bits of mayhem. You make drinking games out of them. And get drunk when you watch them, gleefully. You know they won’t any awards but they will live forever on late night TV.

Actors in these movies will be seen over and over and over again. And sometimes they will rise to the rare A movie. And sometimes fall to a C movie. And they’re on television a lot. Mostly as guests.

But the best? Well, they know who they are and what works for them.

Hence, Bruce Campbell!

Hero of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness movies.


Played Autolycus, King of Thieves on Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess.

Portrayed Brisco County Jr. and Jack of All Trades on TV. And more. So much more. Including the marvelous Sam Axe on Burn Notice.

But let’s face it, the reason I look on Bruce as a hero is that he is my role model. I don’t want to be the Tom Cruise of writing. But I’d love to be on par with Bruce. He isn’t a big movie star. But he stays busy. He has a voice/character that is very recognizable, very well-known. As a character. As a voice.  He started small, in home made movies. He moved upward, slowly. Steadily.

I recently read his two books and found both of them made me smile all over the place. It was like listening to him tell me a story, while we sat in a hot tub, drinking mojitos. A story all about Bruce. All about his path to B movie fame. And the hard work it took. The constant work. The willingness to throw himself with conviction and a sharp sense of humor at anything that came his way. Because that is what he does.

Now, I’ve had a pissy year and fought my demons all over the place. Especially when it involved my ability to move forward as an author.

But stuff happens and people come into your life when you need them. In the course of a month, three things woke me up. I met another self-published author who is intent on seeing me take the next steps. (The 2nd one this year. Self-pubbed author that is.) I read Bruce’s books. And the Bosun helped me stumble on a key fear that held me motionless.

I do know to pay attention to what life presents to me. And this time I don’t want to die to get the point. (Again.) Today is my b-day. And all of the bits and pieces of the last year, including of the last month, is bobbing about in my head. Reaching the float point, nearing the ready to launch point…

It’s a good place to feel again.

So, in the immortal words of Bruce Campbell, as Ash in Army of DarknessGimme some sugar, baby.

So, pirates. It’s my birthday. And I’m not shy…wish me success as I am prepare to tackle the edits for…the first dozen of my Caribbean Spell series. To self-publish, the first in March/April of 2013 and another every two/three months. (I haven’t done the full scheduling yet.) And the novella I have prepared before Christmas. And just because I’m the bartender and no one gets any rum today until I get a birthday hug. Hugs.

And celebrate a new sale for me! Decadent Publishing has agreed to take the plunge off a cliff with me and publish Lorelei’s Song, a steampunk/horror/erotic romance. With tentacles. And we’ll do the Cthulhu Hulu off into the sunset!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When the cliche is turned on its head . . .

The season finale of Boardwalk Empire was this weekend. It's a violent, slightly depraved, awesomely written show. I can't watch it. My husband, however, loves it, and invariably, I end up in the room during scenes of it.

This week, I was walking through when I saw a creepy conversation between a man and a woman who did not look so comfortable. The conversation was sexual . . . and disturbing. I wasn't really listening to the words, but as the conversation went on, she grew viably frightened.

It's set in the 20s, it looked to be a woman without much personal power, in the presence of a man who clearly had the advantage and looked willing to take it.

Frankly, I got creeped out and bolted. I knew what was coming next. I got my water, grabbed my bedtime snack, and started to sneak back through the living room without actually looking back at the screen.

But you know those train wrecks? When you just can't help but looking?  I looked . . .

This frightened, powerless-looking woman was in the process of strangling the man with his own belt.

I burst out laughing (which believe me, drew a strange look from the hubs). But it was just exactly what I never expected. I was prepared for the cliched female victim, who is run-over by the powerful male. I was prepared for some horrible assault.

Instead, she took the power, and flipped the whole scene on it's head. It was amazing.

Now, as anyone who does watch the show already knows, and which I found out later, it was actually some kinky sex they were having, rather than her killing him as I had assumed (rooted for?), but that didn't lessen the emotional ride the brief moments took me on.

I was emotionally ready for, and expecting, one thing, and bam! I got hit with the exact opposite. It's an emotional roller coaster I would love to take my readers on.

Anybody have any examples of when a cliche is turned on it's head? Ever get hit emotionally by a surprise you never saw coming? Do you love it or hate it when you get the opposite of what you expect? Got any scenes in your book where you lead reader's one way, and then whack them over the head with the opposite (and any advice for the rest of us trying to add one in)?
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THE DIVINERS Is The Cat's Meow!

I've been a fan of Libba Bray's books ever since I read A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, which fortunately was the first of a lovely trilogy that was smart, suspenseful, evocative, and funny. The other two books in the trilogy were equally good. I'm seriously hoping there will be more books associated with this cast of characters in THE DIVINERS.

Here are my list of reasons why you should run out and read this book. Immediately.

1.) John Hobbes: he is the creepiest, nastiest villain I've read ever. I swear I felt he could exist now and it was almost a trial to sleep at night, wondering if John Hobbes was going to come through my door. But then again, he was associated with a religious cult, and I don't know about you, but serial killers with religious backgrounds ALWAYS creep me out more than the typical homicidal maniac.

2.) Evie O'Neill: a most hilarious young dame who is always looking for a good time. Her small town in Ohio was just...too tame for her, and through some fortuitous circumstance, she is sent to live with her uncle in New York City (at least until the scandal blows over in her hometown.) No sooner does she land in Manhattan than she starts new scandals. She's a pistol.

3.) Uncle Will: the sober uncle who runs the Museum of Creepy Crawlies (actually it's named something more formal, but everyone calls it the Creepy Crawlies...). This is an ideal place for Evie to live because she in fact is a special girl with special talents; and it's good she's in NYC because there are a lot of "talented" souls there, if you know what I mean.

4.) The Best Friend: Evie (or "Evil" as Theta calls her) can be a bit much, but her best friend Mabel is the breath of normality who balances out Evie. Mabel isn't in the current heel of fashion; she's not as rebellious or keen for adventure as Evie is. But like any good friend, she is right there with Evie when they go to jail.

5.) Jericho, Memphis, and Sam: the handsome heroes of the book. They've all got their own dark pasts, but you want to kiss them all. There's enough to go around!

6.) The New Best Friend (Theta): she's a Ziegfield girl and struck me as the glamorous Catherine Zeta-Jones friend we all have. She's more than just beautiful though--she's had a complicated life and watching it unravel in this book is a thing of wonder.

7.) All those dead bodies: You get to meet everybody--and you have a hard time figuring out where John Hobbes is going to go next or how the next "sacrifice" will be met. I found myself holding my breath at every killing, hoping against hope someone would get away.

8.) The spooky stuff: everyone's talents (many of them are diviners in some form or another), the story of John Hobbes, the cult, the haunted house, the widow of John Hobbes...there is spooky crap on every page. And you're going to want to read it as fast as you can.

9.) John Hobbes: I only mention him again because well, he shows up twice. The man will just not die. I told you this was spooky!

10.) Because I said so. And really that's the only reason you need.

Yes, it's another YA novel, but there's really nothing wrong with that when authors are writing YA novels as awesome as this.

Be warned: Evie (who's 17) is a bit of a drinker, and that might be a turn off if you're oh, a mother of a teenage girl...or an aunt who has nieces who are this age and probably just as willfully drinking at all hours. It's not that it's unbelievable, it's just that it's almost TOO believable.

Now I'm off to see if there will be more books to follow. I sincerely hope so!

What have you been reading lately that you're excited about?
Monday, December 3, 2012

What I need is a TARDIS!

I have to start with a disclaimer here. I don’t watch Dr. Who. Never have. But if you don’t know what a TARDIS is then you’re living under a rock. Now to the blog.

When I start a new book, one of the first things I determine is how much time the story will cover. My first MS covered about two and a half months. My second MS (which will be my debut release) only covers approximately two weeks. For me, writing a book I had to squeeze into two weeks was much easier to do.

With the current WIP (which will be my second release) I knew the story needed to cover six weeks. The impetus that gets the hero home to Anchor Island (which is the LAST place he wants to be – for good reason) is an issue that required a six week commitment on his part. So I had my story length and off I went.

But now there’s a problem. I’m about two thirds through the story and we’re only eight days in. 50,000 words and basically a week covered. That means I have about 35,000 words to write the other five weeks. I know I could condense a bit of time, but that’s A LOT of story and I’m not sure the reader would be happy if I went from day 8 to a month later.

I guess you could say I’m in a bit of a quandary, folks. But maybe I have an answer. Shorten the book.

Not the word count, of course, but the length of time covered in the story. I have a really good reason it might be cut short. The hero would have to make a really tough choice. The heroine already knows the current situation will end in six weeks so if it suddenly ended in three or four, she’d be devastated.

Heartbroken is what I need, so this could work. Of course that means I still have to fit two to three weeks into 35-40K words. I can do that. Maybe.

To the writers, ever found yourself in this kind of a pickle? Do you know going in how long your story will be or do you pants it and however long it takes, that’s how long it takes? If you do plan ahead, how do you decide how long it should be? To the readers, how do you feel about time lapses in books? Do you mind if the author jumps a week or two? Feel like you missed out on anything? Can you think of an example that worked for you?