Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shield of Fire by Boone Brux

I'm so excited about my new book release, Shield of Fire. It's been a long time in the making, but we finally birthed this baby and it's on sale now at most online retailers. Here's a peek inside.

Blurb:

Protecting humans is the Bringers’ duty. Sending demons to the Shadow World is their pleasure.

In one night, Ravyn’s life plunges from barely tolerable to deadly. Forced to flee the only home she’s known, she stumbles headlong into the clutches of Icarus, a powerful demon intent on stealing her powers. Unfortunately for him, she has no intention of cooperating.
When Rhys realizes the woman he’s rescued from the Bane Demon is no mere human, his obligation as a Bringer dictates he protect and train her in the ways of his people. But he’s unprepared for the intense desire he feels for the fiery Ravyn. To surrender to his need may mean her death.
As the Demon King’s desire for ultimate power escalates, fathers are slated against sons, and foes are made allies. The Bane threat upon them, Rhys and Ravyn must quest to unite the last of the Bringers—and explore a passion too powerful to ignore.

Excerpt:

Chapter One


Menda Abbey, Itta Territory, Inness
One Thousand Years after the Bane War


The demon’s gaze narrowed. “Let me see her.”

Beautiful and horrifying, Icarus moved toward Brother Powell with frightening grace. Sinewy muscles rippled under taut, black skin as he prowled toward the crumbled wall of the abbey. His leathery wings scraped the tree branches overhead and waves of ebony hair, banded with rings of gold, cradled two spiraling horns that jutted upward.
Powell glanced away, refusing to gaze into the mesmerizing, reptilian eyes.

The demon’s deep purr poured over him. “What troubles you, Brother? Are you not happy to see me?”

The monk ignored the question and swiped the cold rain from his eyes. He held the hissing torch higher to reveal a young woman. She stood unnaturally still, compelled by the monk’s hypnosis—a spell taught to him by the demon. Her thin shift clung to her bony frame, and her dull eyes stared ahead. Angela had been lovely once, but like so many, she hadn’t been woman enough to withstand the honor of his attentions. They never were, always crying and pleading to be left alone. Lucky for them, the Demon Bane preferred their sacrifices pure.

“This is not what I asked for.” The deadly calm of Icarus’s voice belied the danger of his statement. “Where is the other woman—the gifted one?”

“In her cell. She doesn’t trust me.” Powell stroked Angela’s limp, blonde hair. “But she’ll not be able to resist the cries of her closest friend.”

“For your sake, monk, I hope you are right.” Icarus held out his hand. “Come to me.”
The compulsion whispered past Powell, sweeping across his skin with the promise of pleasure. He slipped his hand under his robe and adjusted his erection.

The demon’s call slithered toward Angela and wrapped around her like a sensual net. Before the force could ensnare him as well, Powell released his hold and backed away. She glided forward.

He watched, immobilized with morbid fascination. Her progress faltered when she reached the holy ground’s boundaries. He leaned toward Angela, willing her to cross the invisible barrier.
“Come to me,” Icarus repeated.

Weak of mind and body, she lumbered forward through the opening in the wall and away from the protection of the abbey’s sanctified ground.

The demon stood before her and grasped her frail arm. With the smooth curve of his talon, he caressed Angela’s cheek.
She didn’t move.

Powell cringed, excited and repulsed at the same time. He ached for a taste of the power Icarus would give him one day.
“So pure,” Icarus crooned. He trailed his talon down her neck. “So sweet.”

Powell squeezed his holy medallion, its ornate embellishments biting deep into his skin. The pain kept him present and protected against the call of the Bane, a call he wanted to answer. Riveted, he held the torch higher, trying to shed more light on the black demon.

Icarus slid his claw lower, coming to rest between Angela’s breasts. His energy pulsed and reached for its prey. The compulsion grazed Powell’s mind. The medallion slipped from his grasp, the chain catching on his fingers to hang loose. Forgotten.

“Awaken, little bird, and let me see your fear,” Icarus whispered.

Like a parting veil, Angela’s deadened expression cleared. She gasped, frozen by the sight of the towering demon before her. She twisted and fought for her freedom. Bare heels dug into the soggy earth, but the slick grass provided no traction. Icarus jerked her hard, his hold unbreakable.

“No!” Her scream shattered the silence of the night, its echoes hanging in the air like a heavy mist.
He pressed his fingers against her heart and pricked her delicate skin.

She convulsed, her strangled cry dying in her throat. With whispers as soft as the lightest breeze, the silvery essence of her soul sighed and bled from her body. Gossamer threads slithered around Icarus’s hand like small, white snakes, encircling his arm and swirling along the planes of his rounded biceps in an achingly slow, erotically sublime dance. The demon tilted his head and closed his eyes. Angela’s shimmering purity crept up his neck and hovered at his lips. He inhaled and drew her in, stiffening as if in the throes of passion, absorbing every delicate wisp.

The intimate union between predator and prey mesmerized Powell. He crept forward, forgetting the danger. The seductive and deadly act held a perverse beauty. Powell stroked himself, dragging the rough material of his robe over his erection, losing himself in The Taking. Time had no place; the tap, tap of rain on the leaves the only disruption brave enough to break through the reticence of the night.

When the sparkling vapor faded around her heart, Icarus retracted his talons and released his hold. Angela’s body slumped to the ground, dead. He stretched and smiled, his fangs glimmering in the torchlight. “That’s better.”
Powell’s heavy breathing punctuated the quiet. His body quivered from the demon’s feral presence. As the pleasurable effect began to fade, he opened his senses and scrambled to ingest the lingering scraps of Bane essence. Its pure power raced through his body and filled his veins with an intoxicating fire.

Icarus bent and scooped up Angela’s body. Four powerful strides brought him to the abbey’s border. He heaved his burden at Powell. The monk shrieked and jumped back, his euphoric haze evaporating. Bones snapped as the body landed in a crumpled heap at his feet. Bile rose in his throat. For a fraction of a second, remorse pawed at him, but, just as quickly, the sentiment disappeared.

“Bring me the other—now.” Icarus’s wings unfurled and stretched behind him. “Do not fail me, monk.” He crouched and pinned Powell with a yellow stare. “Or I won’t be as kind to you as I was to the girl.”

Powell glanced at the broken body at his feet and swallowed hard. Meeting the demon’s stare, he nodded.
With a powerful leap, Icarus launched into the sky and was instantly swallowed by the darkness.


B & N    Amazon     Website   Blog 

Thanks for stopping by!  Boone 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Romantic Science Fiction

by Tam Linsey

Genres have been on my mind lately. Not just genres, but subgenres. Do I write "science fantasy" or "science fiction"? "apocalyptic" or "dystopic"? "science fiction romance" (SFR) or "romantic science fiction" (RSF)?

This last pair is what I want to talk about today, because I didn't know there was a difference until recently. Why do I care? Because I've had several agents who represent science fiction request my manuscript, only to pass on representation because there was "too much science" in my story.

Too much science?

How can science fiction readers not want the science explained? In my opinion, just setting characters onto another world and throwing in a space ship or two doesn't make something science fiction. There must be verisimilitude – credibility that such a world could exist. That is where the science part of science fiction becomes important.

I was baffled by the rejections.

So I did what any good scientist would do; I researched and developed a theory about why these agents didn't like the science.

Why are readers these days okay with novels not explaining how things work? This is where the distinction between SFR and RSF becomes important. Although these agents claim to represent science fiction, they are big names in the romance industry. As romance readers, they want the story – be it paranormal, contemporary, historical, or science fiction – to be about a relationship first and foremost. Any speculative, otherworldly, or scientific elements of the story must be less important to the plot than the romance. In fact, the story they want could not exist without the romance. The science is taken for granted. Science Fiction has become part of our culture. Other writers have already done all the speculation for us. Who hasn't seen an episode of Star Trek, or a movie with aliens or space ships? The proof is already out there. Why prove it again?

Most romance readers don't care about the science. They just want a really good story about a relationship.

They want Science Fiction Romance.

I like romance. Love is what binds characters together, and binds readers to my characters. But love doesn't dominate the story in science fiction. My manuscript, Botanicaust, has a love interest relationship, but the plot could proceed without the romance. In fact, it wouldn't be too hard to rewrite the novel and remove the romance altogether.

But take out the science, and Botanicaust falls apart.

I write Romantic Science Fiction.

See the difference? It is all a matter of where the emphasis lies. The rejections are because I've been targeting the wrong readers.

Do you like to know how the world works in the book you are reading? Or do you prefer to take for granted that things are the way the author says they are?

Reposted from Romancing the Genres.

© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Reviews - Bookin' It Reviews: A Day in the Life of Rachel Dahlrumple

Book Reviews - Bookin' It Reviews: A Day in the Life of Rachel Dahlrumple: Bookin' It Reviews is proud to welcome AKRWA author Shea McMaster here today! She's here today with Rachel Dahlrumple, the heroine from her romantic suspense...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Story Logic and the Kitchen Sink




I woke up this morning and got hit in the head by a kitchen sink.
Er, let me explain that.
I used to write stories for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Edward Ferman – the editor and one of the truest gentlemen ever to grace the offices of publishing – once told me that my stories contained everything but the kitchen sink. Understandably worried – I was feeding a family of four by writing stories – I asked him if that was bad. He said, “No, it just may be your best asset.” (Which could be avoiding the question, if you think about it.)
So I began taking his advice to heart.
I began throwing in the kitchen sink.
*

To explain that, abide me while I switch hats to that of a professor, which is my “regular job.”
Begin with a pop quiz.
Answer the following. Neither is a trick question.
1. What is the image on the right?
2. Which item of the following does not fit with the others? hammer, saw, house, screwdriver.

The answers:
In the 1930s, when working with illiterate peasants in Uzbekistan, a great Russian educational theorist, Alexander Luria, made a startling discovery: People who cannot read cannot think abstractly.
This is not to imply, which Western culture unwittingly does with its typical ethnocentrism, that oral folk – nonliterates in Western tradition – somehow are sick, being ill-literate. Rather, oral folk think in concrete, real-world ways. Technically, their thinking is called “situational logic.”
The Uzbekistani peasants could not recognize the circle as a circle. They would say, “It’s the top of a water jar” or “It’s the end of a log.” And there was only a 25 percent chance that they would decide that house does not fit. They lacked the ability to group items by traits. Rather than realizing that three of the items are tools, they might say that saw does not fit. When asked why, they would answer, “I left it outside the house.”
Many literate people see such thinking as silly, superficial, or sophomoric. They do not realize that Western thinking is the result of the written word – a new change of human consciousness and thus not the result of basal intelligence – and that it has limited usefulness.
Probably as a byproduct of the Greeks’ greatest invention, the only true alphabet ever created, the human mind changed during the first millennium B.C. This new type of thinking so infused the Western mind, especially after Greek thinking and Christianity became linked through the Gospels, that even how we think of cognition reflects our love affair with the written word. We talk about context and being literal.
That mind change makes it difficult for Western peoples to think holistically, to see all the variables that a situation involves. Until the computer began to change everything (and if you think that your kids don’t think like you, then you’re probably more right than you realize), Western peoples thought lineally, sequentially, akin to chapters in a book.
But how we think was not the only byproduct of the alphabet. The other was a change in what form of logic is elevated as being important. This change is so pervasive that most Western peoples do not even realize that there is another form of logic.

The logic the Greeks’ love of abstraction produced was the syllogism, the most famous is the one Plato published: All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.

So what does this all have to do with a kitchen sink?
Aristotle was Plato’s star pupil. Aristotle disliked the direction in which Greek intellectual culture was going. He pointed out that syllogisms do not work in the real world. If Plato were right, Aristotle said, then the following is true: Women who are pregnant are pale. This woman is pale. Therefore this woman is pregnant.
By contrast, Aristotle advocated what is technically called “enthymematic logic.” It combines situational logical and syllogistic logic. Also known as evidentiary logic, it combines Western thinking and non-Western thinking. Expressed as a triad, Aristotle said, it analyzes a situation and then expresses it in a syllogistic-like form: Some women who are pregnant are pale. This woman is pale. Therefore this woman is pregnant.
However, the Greeks so worshipped the syllogism that Theophrastus, who inherited Aristotle’s school, threw out the enthymeme – which Aristotle had called “the heart of communication” – and steered the school back to the syllogism. Ever since, the syllogism has been what most Western people think of as “being logical,” even though it is a school-learned, artificial construct, rather than a natural way of thinking.
To make matters worse, in tenth century Byzantium, Greek monks copying over Aristotle’s manuscripts were so imbued with love of the syllogism that they assumed Aristotle was wrong. So they changed the master’s manuscript. Today, if you look up enthymeme, the dictionary will tell you that it’s “a truncated syllogism” or “a syllogism missing a premise.” Neither definition is correct, and what was perhaps the most powerful tool ever invented for communications fell by the wayside.
Skip ahead 2,300 years. About a decade ago, Walter Fisher – one of the finest minds working today in communications theory – announced that narrative, rather than the syllogism, is the basis of human logic. Narrative is so fundamental to human understanding, he says, that he calls us Homo narrans.
But narrative is not story. Narrative is usually just a retold incident. There is a basic difference between narrative and story. That’s why most people cannot write story even if they have an excellent ability to string words together. They confuse the two concepts.

In the Western tradition, story consists of a logical attempt to solve or resolve an emotional problem. The “logic” is not syllogistic. It is diachronic.
Diachronic logic is telescopic. It unfolds like an old-fashioned spyglass or, for us Alaskans, like a cup used in camping. Unless it’s experimental fiction, then it consists of a series of (false) solutions the protagonist attempts until at last she arrives at a final possibility.
The reader can look back and see that everything was planned, that nothing was extraneous, that everything led irrevocably to that final, satisfying conclusion. In terms of communication theory, such diachronic logic is narrative expressed as enthymematic logic. In romance fiction, that becomes Girl falls in love with boy, boy loses girl because he’s a dunderhead, girl must resolve the situation and bring them back together.

Except I push the envelope. I stretch the logic. I am constantly upset with myself for doing this, because it adds a thick layer of difficulty to my writing life, but I seem unable to think otherwise. Or maybe I just can’t say no, even though I am professionally trained in enthymematic logic and thus should know better.
It happened again this morning.
I am writing what started as a simple book in which an American physician right out of med school goes to Madagascar as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and falls in love with a Malagasy primatologist. He is dedicated to saving the aye-aye, an ugly but highly affectionate lemur that is being slaughtered because of the superstition that if it points at you, then you or a family member will die soon. The two run into difficulties, but through her efforts they resolve the difficulties, and they live happily ever after among the lemurs.
All fine, I think – except that other entities, all of which are real people and/or events, have demanded to be let into the mix:
A Hungarian Count who escaped from Siberia by seducing the warden’s daughter and stealing two Russian ships, a queen who was so truly evil that she came back fifty years after she died and people danced in the streets until they died of exhaustion, a member of the Madagascar Mafia, and the fact that Madagascar is the world’s worst ecological disaster.
All the writing advice I have read has said to avoid side streams and alleys where research can take you. But every time I have done so, my stories have gone unnoticed. And those times when I have finaled for or won major awards have been when I opened the doors and embraced everything except the kitchen sink, working and reworking the plot until all the pieces that caught my interest are there and yet all (hopefully) contributed to pushing the plot to its climax.
But once in a while, the kitchen sink has come flying through the door as well, demanding to be included.
It happened again this morning.
According to advice I have gotten from essays, blogs, and friends, heroines in romance should not be severely flawed. Their hearts can be broken, but the pieces are all there. It just takes Mr. Right and the heroine’s gumption and often all the king’s horses and all the kings’ men to put her heart back together again.
This morning, though, my heroine told me that at age thirteen she saw her mother drown and now, at twenty-six, the young woman can engage in professional relationships – but personal ones allude her. She functions well in the office but is dysfunctional when she’s alone. Unknown to others in the clinic where she works, her smile is always outward, rarely inward. She is physically beautiful but psychologically misshaped.
So is the story still within the environs of romantic fiction?
I don’t know.
And it scares me.

©2011 by George Guthridge

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Heaving Bosoms

Most historical writers could probably write a Thesis Paper on the corset. They look pretty sexy, but in reality they were seriously constricting to the point of creating health problems. The reason women fainted so often or swooned was because the corset restricted their breathing. With only the top part of your lungs able to fill with air, the constricted lower parts of the lungs filled with phlegm. It also created other catastrophic health problems due to the pressure exerted on the internal organs.

These days we are lucky girls, our corsets are made with plastic boning, instead of things like steel and Baleen from the throats of Whales. Most of us don’t have to wear a corset day in and day out either, however many of us wear Bras. The Brassiere is one of the sleek and beautiful Granddaughters of the corset, the girdle another.

We have a plethora in the types of Bras available; the rocket bra, the push up bra, the water bra, the padded bra, the seamless bra, the U plunge bra, the sports bra and so on. They come in fabulous colors, materials and beautiful designs. Even underwire bras have little spring loads at the ends of the wire for easier movement in the design. I think that people that design bras must be structural engineers.

There are a lot of us running around in the wrong sized bra. Your breast shape changes not just over the years, but over the monthly cycle as well. Also weight gain and weight loss can render a bra that once fit – not so fitting. I hear pregnancy can totally change the landscape. An ill fitted bra can give you bad posture and or dig into your skin. Not to mention sometimes it just doesn’t look right. Many department stores have ladies in lingerie that can measure you and give you a pretty good assessment of what bra size is best. If you haven’t done this before, I say give it a whirl, make a day of it with your girls.
If you can, only wear your bra for 12 hours a day. I even hold this rule for tight clothing like jeans or socks. If something is pressing into your flesh hard enough to leave an imprint don’t wear it all day. Your body has to have the space to pump all the precious fluids you are filled with. If it is uncomfortable for you to let the girls be free, try wearing a spandex/cotton tee shirt a size smaller.
Another thing I also encourage readers to do is a breast exam. You can Google Breast exam and find great information, even Youtube instructional videos, there is a good one by a gorgeous, beauty name Olivia. I know the ideal is once a month, I have not been so diligent, I am going to have to pencil it in my calendar -like a date with my girls from now on. Someone might discourage it later but I like to use my favorite lotion. Make the exam a beauty treatment too. Concubines for Chinese Emperors used rollers made of Jade to massage their breasts for optimum beauty. I imagine this was also really good for moving fluids in the lymph tissues well.

One more thing while we’re on the subject - don’t forget to get your mammogram if you are of that age or certain risk factor. I know, I know, I just had one last week and it wasn’t comfortable. But I gotta say it can’t be as bad for me, as it is for the men who have to have that done on their testicles. I give it up to them, big applause for the strength to get through that. I look forward to the day, when some blessed genius designs a comfortable, highly accurate mammogram screening.
So while some of you are donning your saucy pirate wench corset this Halloween, be glad it’s not made of steel and choking your innards. I’m sure you’ll look very sexy!
October is Breast cancer awareness month. Be aware and share with your friends- Love your girls and take good care of them. Aye Mateys, have a rousin’ All Hallows Eve!


Carmen Williams

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Theme is Travel

In the near future, I've got plane trips and blog tours. It's enough to send me into a tizzy. What has to be done before I leave for Mexico next week? Two weeks in Puerto Vallarta, lounging about breathing in the sea air, storing up Vit D the natural way, and doing my best to just hang loose.

And yes, I'll be taking my laptop. The mini one. I'm torn between hoping there's readily available internet or praying there isn't. After all, what better excuse to totally goof off? Sorry, but I just can't get to the internet easily.

Part of my goal is to get a really good handle on the next book in a series I'm writing. Maybe even start another one. But even more pressing, the day after I return I have a new release!

November 7 is the debut of my long awaited Romantic Suspense novel, Rachel Dahlrumple, by Shea McMaster. (That would be Morgan's sweeter side. The good twin, as it were.)

November 7 also is the launch date of a two week blog tour, celebrating the release of Rachel Dahlrumple. Or Rachel as the book is affectionately known.

So here's the schedule. There will be a quiz later, and I'll be asking for people to drop by.
As of this time, I'm only about half done writing the blogs. The interviews are done and I've only just begun to gather things to pack for my trip.
With all this traveling in the near future, both live and digitally, I'm feeling a bit frazzled and have started a check list.
  • Snow tires on car. Check. (It will snow any day now. Any day. There were ice crystals falling from the sky yesterday.)
  • Swimsuit, cover-up and hat - because I'm a red head who has been hiding from the sun for the past 6 years - Check.
  • Launch tour dates set. Check.
  • Sunscreen. Still need to buy.
  • Books for trip, both paperback and ebook. Almost check. Have the first four books of the Game of Thrones to read, in addition to several other selections.
  • Interviews written. Check.
  • Sandals and flip flops ready. Check.
  • Shorts and tops. Check.
  • Sundresses. Check.
  • Blogs written. Well, two down... not even close to check.
Ah, the list, it never ever ends. How do you cope with traveling? I do it so rarely, it's all one big adventure until I get to the airport. Lines. Pat downs. Worrying about what will be stolen from my suitcase once it leaves my hand. Long, long, long hours of sitting. Twenty hours from start to destination, if there are no delays.
Here's hoping the destination is worth the journey!
Morgan O'Reilly / Shea McMaster

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Oh, I don't read."

A few days ago, I was chatting with a young woman who expressed an interest in being an author. We had talked about all the typical stuff: you have to write in order to be a writer; make sure you finish your project; have a lot of patience and a thick skin. She’d seemed to be solid and on track, until I asked her what the best book was that she’d read in the last year was. As an answer, she shrugged, waved her hand, and said “Oh, I don’t read.”



*crickets*

For a moment, all I could do was blink at her. Speechless. Completely speechless. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why she would want to be a writer if she didn’t even like to read.
See, any of us who love to write, loved to read first. Every author I know fell in love with the words, and the stories, and the story tellers. We each have the author(s) who captured our fancy and made us think I want to do this (Andrew Greeley and Nora Roberts, in case you’re wondering). We love to read as much – and sometimes more – than we love to write.
Is writing a cool profession? Oh, yeah. Not even going to try to lie. The other day, I was sitting outside, enjoying some late-season sun, reading a book, when a neighbor stopped by. With a smile, she called over “I thought you were working today!” I laughed along with her and decided to let it go, but truth of the matter is I was working. Reading other authors’ works is indeed part of my job. My first editor sent me several of Lucy Monroe’s books in order for me to notice how she developed her characters and resolved conflicts. My first agent had me reading category romances, to get a feel for how concise a story must be to be told in 50,000 words.
In spite of that, writing is hard work. It’s a skill, something that can be learned and honed. Starting with natural talent is hugely helpful, of course, but it doesn’t stop there. Instead, we work on how to develop characters, write fight scenes, build tension. We spend hours agonizing over our critique partners’ notes. We read dialogue out loud and study reactions in front of mirrors to literally see what we’re trying to describe. We pace, we bitch, we grind our teeth, and figuratively beat our heads against our desks trying to come up with the perfect turn of phrase. Our friends, significant others, and colleagues have learned “five more minutes…” actually means “go ahead without me, because we’re looking at hours before I can walk away from this scene.” When we’re writing, we stress over the words. When we aren’t writing, we stress over the lack of words. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other reasons to stress. Most of the authors I know have to squeeze writing time in and around a scheduled day job. It can be a heart-wrenching and all-consuming profession, and that’s before we put the finished product out there for Monday morning quarterbacking from total strangers. Why anyone would choose it when they don’t love the end result is beyond me. Except…
On this day in particular, I happened to be sitting on a deck overlooking the truly magnificent Priest Lake, in Coolin, Idaho. I have written all over the state of Alaska, from Kenai to Prudhoe Bay. I started a book in Mexico and finished it in Connecticut. Once people find out I’m a writer, they answer questions and tell me stories that they wouldn’t otherwise dream of telling a stranger. And let’s be honest; you cannot beat the writer’s commute.
Now, I still don’t understand why someone would choose to be a writer if they don’t love to read. I figure that would be akin to becoming an elementary school teacher when you don’t like kids. The idea of being an author is very different from the reality of being an author. But I will admit, I have been reminded of the allure, and that was good for me. There is nothing easy about this job. At the same time, if you love it – love reading the words, love writing the words, love it all – writing can indeed be worth it. Worth all of it.

--Pauline Trent

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Summer I was Twelve


Two Life Lessons I Learned the Summer I Was Twelve.



1) Don't ride your pony on the boardwalk.



I grew up in the Ozark Mountains, back when that was a remote place to live, similar in some ways to how the Alaska bush country is now. The nearest neighbors to our tiny house were down a fair distance down a narrow dirt road: two miles in one direction, and four miles the other way.



When I was twelve, I rode my bareback pony to the nearest town called Morrow, which was ten miles away. We went at a gallop most of the way, and when I arrived, sticky horsehair clung to my tan legs. My long hair was so tangled, my fingers got stuck when I shoved it back. I threw my shoulders back and let my bare feet swing in time with my pony's strides. I was proud of myself, ten miles was a long way to ride by myself!



The store had a marvelous boardwalk that ran the entire front it. I couldn't resist forcing my pony to climb up on it. Clompty-clomp. Back and forth. Hop off the boardwalk. Hop back on the boardwalk. Pete's hoof beats echoed with joyful magic--until Mr. Reed sprang out of his store and thumped my pony in the butt with a broom.



I stayed on Pete's back through his amazing circus pony sideways leap off the boardwalk into the middle of the street. A slow-moving car stopped short of running into us and honked, which didn't help Pete's mood. He charged into town yards, head tucked to his chest to evade the bit.



"Whoa Pete! Whoa!" He pinned his ears back and tore through grass and flowers, throwing hoof-shaped dirt clods behind him.



People yelled and shook fists at us, "Who are you! I'll call your mother!" Like I'd answer that while clinging for dear life to the back of a pissed-off pony. (Not that I'd answer at any other time, either.) It took a mile, stampeding back the way we'd come, for me to get Pete under control.



I never rode my pony on the boardwalk again, but did we ever return to town? Let's just say you can't trust a twelve-year-old girl and her pony to stay out of trouble.



2) Take care of your shoes, because your feet need them.



The summer I was twelve, I had no shoes at all. My mother, peeved at me for destroying the cheap canvas sneakers she always bought me, the only pair of shoes I owned, told me I could do without shoes that summer and learn to appreciate what her hard-earned money purchased.



This didn't seem fair. I was a country girl. I fed livestock, chased escaping pigs, rode my pony and went hunting. These activities can be hard on any kind of shoes, but three-dollar sneakers don't stand a chance.



Okay, so shoeless that summer, one day I chased a baby rabbit out into a small field that'd been brush hogged, which is how Arkansas farmers clear fields of weeds and bushes so grass can grow between the rocks.



When I was out in the middle of the field, I stopped to notice two things: the baby rabbit had disappeared and the bottoms of my feet were on fire. Dry and splintered brambles lay so thick on the ground no grass had managed to grow, to push up through the graveyard of briars. Some of the branch-sized stems were studded with barbs nearly as big as my little finger. How I'd managed to run into the middle of this field of dead thorns without excruciating pain is a mystery to this day.



The only way out was the way I'd come in.



Thorns impaled the bottoms of my feet with every step. I had new revelations concerning the suffering of Jesus Christ and his crown of thorns.



I moaned, squealed, and wept as every step reaped thorns piercing and sticking to the soles of my feet. I stood on one foot and lifted the other high to remove a harvest of briars. I must have resembled a wading crane--that cried.



After I got out, I sat for a while on the edge of the field and cradled my screaming, bleeding feet. Then walked a mile back home on bleeding feet through the woods and down the gravel road.



I learned to take off my shoes while running through mud puddles or feeding farm animals in the rain. They lasted forever, that next pair of shoes, until my big toe ate its way out the dirty canvas tip. Even my thrifty mother could see I needed a new pair before the condition of them fatally embarrassed her.



Today, I will sometimes look in my closet and count the pairs of shoes in there. And every one cost more than three dollars.

Veronica

Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Romance Writing Hazardous to Your Romance?

We all know the guy is the romantic genius in any romance worth its HEA. Our Hero, however alpha, knows his way around a florist’s shop, reads minds, and may not clean bathrooms but sure can scrub his girl’s back (among other things). But, I’m here to talk about real life. C’mon, no guy can read minds. Very few pick up flowers anywhere but Wal-Mart, if they remember the flowers at all. And if there’s a card to be had in the house, it’s been purchased by the girl.

Real women lament all the time a lack of (consistent) romance in their lives.

I’ve also heard from multiple reliable sources that men whose wives read romance reap many additional benefits and are much happier in, well, all areas than the average guy. In other words, if the wife does the research, the man wins again.

Men=Mars/Women=Venus stuff aside, it’s all good. Women may whine but, secretly, we like being the keepers of the keys to perfect romance.

But (there’s always a ‘but’) notice I said the happy men belong to women who read romance. I’ve come to believe the husband/partner/SO of someone who writes romance is in a different kettle of rosebuds altogether. For him, his woman might keep all the keys to romance, but she’s using them to open some other door – usually a door on page 147 or so.

I and, by some reciprocal property, DH, had that truth driven home this week when we celebrated our 37th anniversary. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us has ever forgotten the date, but back in the days before I was a real writer I was big time into special placemats for dinner, a steak or his fave meal on the table, and always a card and a gift on the plate. I unlocked the romance door and threw it open all the way.

Now I write romance. And along came September 7, 2011. DH worked overnight on the 6th and I was happily getting my H/h cozy. At 12:02 a.m. my phone beeped and there it was—The Romantic Text: “Happy Anniversary. I love you.” Awwwww. I didn’t feel too guilty until I woke up the next morning, DH sound asleep after his graveyard shift, and I found a card on my computer keyboard. “You are the love of my life,” he’d written. And my second thought (after a double “awwwwww”) was, “Dang, dang, dang, I KNEW I forgot something.”

Sad.

I’ll jump ahead here and tell you I did get a card (a very perfect card—seriously), and I managed to disguise the fact that I’d forgotten. But that isn’t the point. The point is – writing romance is becoming hazardous to my romance health. I don’t know if that’s true for any of you. Maybe writing romance is hazardous to some other aspect of your life. I wish I had a solution for myself – and for you. I don’t – this is just my newest epiphany. I’m thinking it’ll all come down to some great truth I already know in my heart-of-hearts like: learn to prioritize or practice self-discipline. Until I figure it out the only piece of advice I have is this: find someone who, after 37 years, has seen you in so many stages he couldn’t care less whether it’s you or he who opens the romance door. After all –I guess that’s the real definition of Happily Ever After.

How ‘bout you? Does writing throw any aspect of your life outta whack? If so, what do you do? If not, I’m coming to breathe the air at your house.

Liz Selvig

Friday, September 2, 2011

GO DEEP Release



When the first book in my Wild, Alaska series came out, quite a few people wanted to know if such a place existed. A town whose cure for cabin fever is a mid-winter festival called Wild Nights, during which “anything goes, nothing counts?” Where is it? they asked. Show me on the map.

Well, sad to say, Wild is a fictional town. Wild Nights does not exist, although it’s probably similar to Mardi Gras or any given night in Las Vegas. But my version of this concept has an extra punch. After a few months of winter, trapped inside by snowdrifts, your typical Alaska resident needs a break. If the cold doesn’t get to you, the darkness probably does. Where my husband and I live it gets dark at 4:30 in the dead of winter, and light again around 10:30.

So how does one deal with the cold, the dark, the endless snow? For some it might be a trip to Hawaii. For others, a weekend of letting off steam does the trick. That’s where Wild Nights comes in.

My Wild stories always involve a turning point in someone’s life. It’s not just a wild and crazy night—there’s an emotional element to the story as well. In GO DEEP, Beth and Gavin Thomason are a married couple who love each other, but are virtual strangers sexually speaking. Here’s the blurb, and if you’d like to read an excerpt you can click here.

Go Deep comes out on September 7 from Ellora's Cave. And here in Alaska, winter’s already breathing down our necks ...


Go Deep
Juniper Bell

A standalone sequel to Go Wild.

Beth is the shy, dreamy type. No one guesses at the wild sexual thoughts she hides behind that quiet fa├žade. She doesn’t even share her secret longings with her husband.

Gavin loves his wife, but he’s tired of living in a marriage in which neither he nor Beth reveal their true desires. When Gavin sees Beth’s response to an erotic bondage photo in her framing shop, he jumps at the opportunity to break through her barriers.

He accepts an invitation to a showcase match for the amateur hockey team he coaches during Wild Nights, the infamous winter festival during which “anything goes, nothing counts.” But he’s opened a sensual Pandora’s box—Beth has some surprises of her own. When she meets Eagle, a free-spirited Wild resident, she knows he’s the perfect man to help enact her erotic fantasies. And once they go deep, there’s no going back.

Thanks for reading!

Juniper


Friday, August 26, 2011

"Leeky Friday"


Just Another Leeky Friday Morning

“What the stinky lint and abandoned food particles trapped in the deep dark recesses of the belly-button of a naky ogress trollop trying ta entice a group of poor, unsuspecting halflings into her lair, do ya make of the week I've had?
“She's impossible ta live with, I tell ya! I think she's finally lost her mind. What little she had left that is. Maxine Mansfield has been spending her days lately, stumbling from room to room mumbling in what can only be described as, an edit induced trance.
“Just keeps repeating over and over to herself and the bird who now keeps his head down and shivers at the back of his cage, 'I will not use the same word twice in the same chapter, let alone the same sentence. I will start to no longer be a passive writer. I started to begin my sentences and paragraphs with the words start, started, began, begin, as if to, but I now know better. I will, no longer treat comma's, as my personal, slaves. I will insert action into my dialogues, and dialogue into my action, and I will use the word insert, only once in my sex scenes. I will not be so sick of my hero and heroine that I hope they die horribly gruesome deaths, and I (Will) meet my deadline.'
“Gotta admit, I'm kinda scared for her, and I'm usually fearless. Is there perhaps a writers intervention hotline I can call?”
Leeky Shortz!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tharz Gold in Them Thar Hills... The Value of On-site Research


I completely understand the proverbial statement: you don’t have to jump off a bridge to know it will hurt when you hit the water. Like everyone, I’ve jumped off some very high bridges in my life knowing full well there would be consequences but just defiant enough to jump despite the warning. Those jumps were not futile attempts at self-inflicting pain. What I learned from those experiences is that you do sometime have to jump to be able to differentiate the quality of the experience. You can watch someone jump and say to yourself, “Holy crap, that’s gonna hurt.” But if you jump yourself, you gain an entirely different perspective on the way down! Your experience is totally encompassing beginning with the roots of understanding the process and consequences then radiating through your entire body, mind and soul. Assuming, of course, you survive, you carry the experience with you through life in cognitive memory, emotional memory and muscle memory. So what is this all leading to? An epiphiny of sorts.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Ireland for 15 days. I presented a woman’s self defense class in the wild northern hills near Kylemore Abby, but the rest was pleasure, pure, unadulterated pleasure! I jumped... Now, I have to mention up front that traveling through Ireland was the first time I ever felt as if I walked (and drove) in a world in which I truly belonged. It was a world where almost everyone looked like me – fair skin, some freckles, green eyes and varying shades of auburn hair. Seeing the country and meeting the people stirred in me a creativity that I have not felt before and did not expect.
The stories just rolled out, splashing from my mind so rapidly that I would often pull to the side of the road and scribble some new idea or sketch a character. And trust me, pulling to the side of the road in Ireland is an adventure all its own! My mind was filled with thoughts of the wee folk, fairies, gnomes and strong women who fought for their families and people carrying on in the face of daunting odds. As I walked the chambers of Knowth and Dowth lightly touching the ancient carvings, visions of a civilization dead
some 4,000 years played with my senses and tickled my imagination. Climbing the tight circular staircases of dilapidated castles pressed upon me the reality of life in an age most people can’t even comprehend. Standing on the Cliffs of Mohr feeling the sea breeze beat against my face reddening my cheeks like those of the children who ran past chasing sea gulls that rode on the wind. They could have been children in my own family or from a family centuries ago. Spending time in a small crystal-cutting workshop on the Dingle peninsula with the hands of a master cutter wrapped around mine, I created a pattern in lead crystal that amazed us both. You can put those feelings into words without having been there and done it, but the richness these experiences have lent my writing is incalculable.

The first travel I have done solely for myself since I began writing in earnest, I now know that there is no substitute for taking that leap, for seeing something with your own eyes, feeling the real thing beneath your fingertips and literally soaking up the ambiance of being in the presence of a story come to life. There is just no alternative as enriching or stimulating. The stories that rolled from my mind drenched the pages of one travel journal, then another and a third was filled by the end of my journey. In 15 days! Sitting behind a computer researching facts, descriptions and characters on the Internet or in an encyclopedia can not compare to what I gained in those few days I drove the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle. Granted sitting behind a computer is cheaper and less dangerous considering the Irish drive on the left side of trails they call roads, but dodging tourist busses and lories is just one of the many adventures that make it all real. Real is important to an author and critical for our readers. Lying on a damp rug, bent over backwards kissing the Blarney Stone I came to the realization that, had I never been there I would not have known that the rock I was kissing used to be a drain for - yep, sewage and rainwater! Now that's a "holy crap!" moment. And there were many moments that ignited a passion within me. I found my renewed imagination and desire to write surprising and totally encompassing. It was a challenge to cram everything into my brain before it was time to leave.

So here is my humble recommendation for all writers: whatever the challenge is, do it. Whatever the food might be, eat it! I ate blood pudding and guess what? It’s a kind of sausage. I drank Guinness with bitters. It was horrible but I can definitely describe it now! I cut a pattern in crystal with my own hands on a wheel in a tiny village in western Ireland. I felt it. I carried it all the way home in my shoulder bag in a towel I swiped from a hotel! Okay… don’t steal it, but take away every experience you can, like it is a valuable jewel in your author’s crown. If you have an opportunity to stretch your wings and meet new people, conquer your American inhibitions and grab at the chance! Stretch your comfort level and go for it. What I do know is one thing leads to another and soon your feet walk a path you could never have imagined from a chair behind a computer. The jewels you gather will definitely twinkle in your manuscripts catching the eyes of those how venture past the covers.

If I could have met a real leprechan on my wanderings, I would have asked for this wish; that my sister writers seek out and treasure all of life’s experiences blown their way by the gales on cliff’s upon which they have the opportunity to stand. I did and now I have a burning desire not only to return to Ireland but to return to everywhere I have never yet been. I have a scalding desire to take those half a dozen stories that beg to be written bouncing about in my brain banging on my imagination out of me and put them on paper. But I will never again write from behind a computer. I think one of the wee folk lit a fire under my chair that makes me jump up and run for the hills where I not only find gold, but diamonds, and emeralds and crystal! More jewels that will eventually find their way into my manuscripts.
Happy spilunking.
Miriam Matthews.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chickens and Writing


How many of you have ever correlated writing with chickens? Well, I’ve discovered that having and housing chickens is a lot like writing your first novel. First there is a desire that grows until you decide to take action. You investigate the types of chickens and what you would like to end up with. As an example, you could choose a breed that will be showy pets, or meat producers, egg layers or a multi-purpose breed. Next, you look at plans and pictures of housing facilities (coops) that have been built before you. An idea of what you would like gets mulled around in your mind until you are satisfied you will end up with something that will be of use.



Now you build your frame work. This seems to go up rather quickly and as you sit back and admire your work you think that this could be easier than you thought. Confidence builds. You start enclosing the coop and paying attention to details like nesting boxes, a feeding station, water, window and lights, the human door and the access door for the chickens to go in and out to their run. Whew, that was work, and it takes longer than you think, but you still have the determination and confidence that you can do this . . . yes you can, so you move on to the next step. The chicken run. The first run contains the chickens, and all is well. You even planned ahead and made sure the neighborhood fox couldn’t dig under the fence by using large timbers to line around the bottom of the run. That was easier than you thought it would be, you are almost done. Finally, or so you think, you take the last step, purchase chickens and bring them home. All is well, the chickens are happy, you are happy, and even your husband is happy because he loves the fresh eggs. Life is good.



Now for a more painful phase, the learning phase. The chicken run was built to keep the chickens in and the fox out, and that works. The run was even built near the house in a treed area giving cover from prying, or should I say, preying eyes above. That also works, at least for the first year. The second winter brings in a hunter from above, a hawk. The hawk had a very tasty last meal and that took care of that.



Now things are going along without much change and you feel the need to expand, learn and even create. You know what that means? That’s right, hatching chicks. It gives you some much needed enthusiasm for the never ending and mundane chores you have to do, the cleaning, feeding, watering. It all gets a little easier as you expectantly wait for some new additions to the flock. Then the little peepers start popping out one by one. They are adorable, you smile as you watch them run around mimicking mom. You have to take in some sadness as you learn that not all of the eggs hatch, and you lose a chick or two for some unknown reason, but all in all things go well, until . . . those tiny little chicks decide it is time to go exploring and the holes in the chicken wire are too large to keep in such tiny creatures. The fox was pretty much dissuaded from hunting here, but the distress calls from little peepers that could find their way out, but not their way in, was just too enticing. Now that there are distress signals, it also brings in magpies. Time to go back to work and build a better chicken run. Maybe the second time around you will get it right. Maybe not. Maybe there will be other bumps in the road. Only time will tell how determined you really are to make all of this work.



Sandy Shacklett

Friday, July 29, 2011

What Writing and Pageants Have in Common


AKRWA Blog by Lynn Lovegreen:

As some of you know, my daughter Katy Lovegreen is Miss Alaska 2011. As I’ve been enjoying watching her wave in parades and getting ready for the Miss America competition, I’ve noticed that there are some things that writing and pageants have in common:

1. You’re judged by experts as you compete for a spot. In writing, you’re trying to get an agent or editor to choose you for their client or author list. In pageants, you're trying to impress the judges so they choose you for the title.

2. There’s a lot of prep behind the scenes. In writing, there are hours of writing, editing, working on your website or blog or other marketing. In pageants, there are hours writing your essay and other entry paperwork, practicing for your talent and interview, working out at the gym, and fundraising for the pageant’s national community service partner, the Children’s Miracle Network.

3. You meet lots of great people. In writing, I am always impressed with how generous writers are with advice and encouragement. In pageants, most of the girls and volunteers are very helpful, whether it’s loaning you a pair of high heels or teaching you how to walk in them.

4. People have stereotypes. For writers, people think we’re all Barbara Cartland (or pick your “typical” contemporary author). For pageant participants, people think they’re all Barbie dolls or bubble heads. Actually we’re all individuals with our own personalities and motivations. (Did you know that most of the Miss America participants are interested primarily in the scholarships?)

5. It’s satisfying when you win. It’s heartwarming when readers tell you that your book is important to them. It’s rewarding when you see the kids at the children’s hospital and know that you made their day.

If you’d like to learn more about my Katy and the Miss Alaska Scholarship Foundation, go to missalaskapageant.com or to see how to donate to the Children's Miracle Network, check out https://www.missamericaforkids.org/m.aspx?i=1232899E0375FF55A.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Switching Gears

Not all of us are just writers. We wear many hats. Besides being a mother of four and a wife, I’m a commercial fisherman. Just this week I finished fishing the Sockeye salmon season in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

I’ve exchanged my fishing hat, raingear, boots, and bibs, for a laptop and a much needed green tea frappuccino.

Problem is my writer’s hat doesn’t fit. Something is wrong this year. I usually dive back into writing—into that magically world where I pull all the strings—with barely a splash. My characters welcome me back with a barrage of dialogue spewing so fast it’s all I can do to make sense of it all.

This year there is only silence.

The logical part of me says not to worry. Fishing was really hard this summer. Give yourself a freaking break. Remember those gale force winds, ten foot seas, and cutthroat fishermen. The parade of bears to where you were no longer saw them as a threat but more of a nuisance. Come on. Mosquitoes are a nuisance!

The creative side of me is frantic, mentally searching for anything worth writing about and coming up blank. It’s amazing how scary blank is. I’d rather deal with bears.
I know I need to “chillax” as my teenage daughter is fond of saying. I definitely need a few fraps. Reading a good book is also sound advice. Rereading my own material and maybe editing is a stellar idea too. But no. I don’t want to do any of it.

I’m just exhausted. Right? My creative well hasn’t dried up. Surely not. I could write about my recent summer experiences, but who wants to relive all that hard work and frustration? Not me. I want to fall into a coma.

So please, share how you refill your creative well when it appears to be all dried up?

This writer/fisherman needs to be tossed a line.

Tiffinie Helmer

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alaska


Alaska is hard on writers.
You may be thinking about winter. It is cold and dark from October until March. When the sun comes out it is blinding and brilliant and the only colors are black and white and that amazing blue sky. The snow is tedious, the ice is treacherous and the wind is brutal. It is a major production to go anywhere because of the layers and layers of clothing you have to put on. Moose the size of a quarter-horse are hiding behind the bushes waiting for you to drive by so they can commit suicide. The cost of fuel is frightening and the cost of groceries horrific.
Uhh, no, winter is the easy part. Writers are happy. They're cozy by a fire, wrapped in an afghan with fuzzy socks and a cup of something warm. Not necessarily caffeine. They are writing like crazy because they know--Oh my Gosh! They've only got six months.
In Alaska the hard part is SUMMER.
There is so much to take you away from writing. Lush is the first word that comes to mind. Lush green chickweed growing inches overnight to envelope any little beet foolish enough to sprout. Fish to catch and process for next winter, a garden to work in. Festivals to celebrate all the foolish things we miss for the other six months. We get up in the light and go to bed in the light--oh, the glorious light. We look up from what we are doing and realize it's eleven p.m. and the reason we're hungry is we didn't stop to eat at six. The frantic pace we keep in summer is hard to explain to people from Outside. But, there is so much to do. Four-wheeler trips with family and friends-plane rides to scout for a new hunting area-new puppies and new chicks and new friends or old ones that you only see in the summer when they stumble out of the brush to go to the hardware store.

We collect ideas in the summer and write in the winter-I guess it isn't all bad.
DeNise Woods

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Cannibal Irony

Cannibals are evil, right? They kill and eat people, and that is inherently wrong. Yet Cannibals are some of the most interesting characters in my story world. How can readers possibly bond with someone who does something so evil?
In Botanicaust, the Cannibals survived the demise of world food crops by refusing to be picky. Yes, they eat humans, but not exclusively. They eat anything. And they don’t believe in wasting. Their culture evolved as the ultimate conservationists. They have laws to protect people with knowledge that must not be lost. And only certain bands, called Hunters, actively hunt and kill other people. The rest of the Cannibals are gatherers, healers, craftsmen, and parents. If the situation suits them, they take pity on outsiders.
Beyond the one nearly unforgivable trait that defines them, Cannibals in Botanicaust have many good qualities. There is a reason for what they do, proven again and again by a harsh environment. Readers can empathize with the need to survive. And that is the crux of memorable characters; the reader doesn’t have to actively like them, only empathize with them.
Can you think of a character with a serious flaw who for some reason, you bonded with anyway? What redeemed that character for you?
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.
Cross posted at http://tamlinsey.com/ and http://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 10, 2011

Can Talent be Inherited?

Hi World!


You know...I volunteered to be the overseer/nag of the Alaska RWA BLOG. I figured it was the least I could do. (literally). Weirdly enough - I've been bugging all the other BLOGGERS about getting theirs done on time, and somehow, I just never got around to doing one. Well, guess what. Somebody in the group finally noticed.

Which explains - sort of - why I'm writing today.

I read a lot of historical tomes and watch a lot of educational/historical DVDs. I call it research, but to me it's just plain fun. I recently finished a series on the seer Nostradamus, and one thing he said really bothered me. His son Cesar (I don't know if I spelled it right) claimed to have inherited the talent to foresee the future as well, but his own father seemed to dispute it, and that got me to wondering why anybody would question if talent can be inherited.

My answer has to be: YES. Look at just about any family of actors in show business. I won't bother listing any. I don't have that much room. But, in a roundabout way this brings me to my little sister. I have a mother who is amazingly talented in the arts - and can she sing! I have lots of siblings, too, and they exhibit lots of talent, but I'd really like to introduce you to my baby sister, Barbara. (And she's just going to have to forgive me for calling her "baby".)


She's a painter that takes your breath away. Now. I dabble in drawing. I've done a few paintings. I won scholarship and attended college on my talent. My heart just isn't that into it - much to my family's chagrin, because I'm not bad. Here's one of my pictures, GRAY WOLF 1990. This one was drawn with a 12 pack of colored pencils. Not bad. Like I said. But, I have to tell you. My baby sister, Barbara, blows me away. I stuck a picture of her recent painting at the very beginning of this post. Wow, huh?

And then there's the writing thing. now. Writing is my true love, my joy, my passion, my reason for living. Okay. That's probably a tad overboard, but you get the gist. (and don't tell my hubby). I've got several books out, a few ebooks now, and I've won or finaled in some contests over the years. My next one is a paranormal historical vampire anthology. HIGHLAND HUNGER. It's due out in September. In October, my next Scot Highland historical comes out. It's titled KNIGHT EVERLASTING. I already have a review on this one that ends with one word: "Wow". It'll be up at Long and Short Reviews once the release date gets closer.


Well. You should have guessed it. Barbara caught the writing bug, too. Before I started writing, I was the most prodigious reader anywhere. I'd go through 30-40 books a month. This isn't an exaggeration. The book store In Rawlins Wyoming had a standing order when the romances came in that I got first peek at them before they'd load them on the shelves. Oh. Brother. My TBR stack was embarrassing. Well, I got Barb started reading historical romances when she was back in High School. And that's all it took. I think she's now out-read me.

And recently, she got her own book out there. She's got a long adventure (ok. It has a little romance angle) book up at Amazon! It's a fun read. Really. You gotta check it out. Heck. She even illustrated it.


So. There's my case. Talent is definitely inherited, and I was lucky to get some.
Thanks for listening. I've now fulfilled my duty and can go nag the next BLOGGER.

Oh! I'd love to do a contest. If anyone wants to win an Advance Reader Copy of HIGHLAND HUNGER, you gotta comment to enter. I'll send it out when I get back from RWA in New York. Promise.

Jackie


Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Aspire

I remember reading an interview with a Romance Author, in which she stated that a Fan came up to her and Thanked her profusely for a book the author had written. The reason for the gratitude was that the Fan had read this book, while she sat by her child’s bedside as they recovered from injuries sustained in a car crash. The child pulled through with flying colors and the Fan was able to abate her anxiety by reading this author’s book.

I aspire to write a book such as this, a story that will give someone out there, sitting beside a loved one in a hospital bed, solace. Someone who hasn’t slept for days and is praying for those they love to have peace or healing. Perhaps some poor mother who is holding her child’s tiny hand and feels as if her heart is being squeezed like a sponge, because there is nothing she can do but wait and read and wait. A book that a girlfriend reads to her best friend, who recuperates and they can laugh and cry together. A book that can make those sometimes painful and sometimes cherished, hours fly by like a morning bird in flight.

I continue to work towards improving my writing with education, life experience, reading other good books and one of the best critique groups on the planet. I aspire to write this book one day.

Carmen

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coming Soon

New from Morgan Q. O'Reilly


Til Death Undo Us
Book One of the Open Windows Series


She never imagined love could happen twice—until her husband returned from the dead.

Cassidy thinks she’s getting on with her life just fine after her husband’s fall to cancer. Life is quiet, which is just the way she likes it, half a continent away from her overbearing Irish family.

Niall doesn’t want to scare the fragile Irish rose, but her husband, supposedly two years in the grave, has been caught on security tapes at a secret government laboratory. Together, they unearth evidence of industrial espionage and identity theft ...and frightening connections to the Irish Mob that will put more than just their own lives at risk.

Sex, bullets, more sex, intimate body piercings and a few red roses. What more could a girl want?



Excerpt:
“I’m Cassidy Malone.”
“Niall Malone.” He didn’t offer a hand to shake. A part of me was glad, because I couldn’t have disguised my sweaty palms.
Jacob stopped at my side and I had the distinct impression he wanted to step in front of me. “Jacob Levin, senior partner here. What do you want with Mrs. Malone?”
The intense blue eyes shifted to my boss for a moment. “I’m afraid it’s personal. Mrs. Malone, is there some place we can talk?”
“I’m in the middle of a project with a deadline, if you could give me a hint of what this is about?”
“I need to ask you a few questions about your husband.”
“All right.” I folded my arms and waited.
His gaze flicked to Jacob then back to me. “Really, if we can do this in private it would be best.”
“Cassie?” Jacob took my arm and glared at Malone. “She’s been under an incredible amount of stress. I can’t imagine what you have to say will make it better.”
“Nevertheless, it’s important. Mrs. Malone, we can do this the easy way, here and now, or the hard way.”
I didn’t need him to spell that out. I’d watched too many crime dramas. “Give me the first question and I’ll decide if it’s good enough to drop what I’m doing. Otherwise we’ll have to schedule something for later.”
That didn’t go over well. A muscle in the side of his cheek twitched and his lips tightened for a moment. “All right. Just tell me how to get in touch with your husband.”
Ever had one of those moments when it seems the world stops moving? The blood stops, then draws inward, leaving the sensation of limbs filled with ice water, heavy and cold. The roaring in my ears might very well have been the rush of blood leaving my head.
Jacob plucked Malone’s card from my numb fingers and studied it as the receptionist gasped.
“That’s not funny,” I managed to whisper from a throat so dry I could barely swallow.
“I’m not joking.”
“You want to know where my husband is?”
“Yes. Please.”
“All right.” If this were some sick joke, I’d play along for a minute. Maybe the goons at lunch had been setting me up after all. I didn’t think so, but the same conversation, twice in one day, less than two hours apart, who knew?
I gave him the street and number. I drove past it every single day. Sometimes stopped and sat on the grass to pull the weeds and tend to the Forget-Me-Nots I’d planted there.
I watched as he drew the map in his head. A crease formed between his heavy black eye brows. It took a minute, but he had it.
“That’s the Oak Knoll Cemetery.”
“Precisely.”

Coming July 18, 2011 from Lyrical Press
Morgan Q. O'Reilly

Books available on Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader and many places where ebooks can be found.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Obsessed With Numbers

So, I’m not really a numbers person…ask my best friend the math teacher. When we’re out at dinner and I’m trying to calculate a tip she says things to me like “my class is doing decimals this week…I think you should come by.” Ha. Ha. Ha.

I made it through Algebra in High School and even got a “B” in Calculus in College but after that…I was done. I’m a word person. With the exception of grammar issues, there aren’t a lot of “wrong” answers with words.

But now, I’ve become obsessed with numbers on the Internet…sales, web hits, links, etc.

There are all sorts of things you can track…how many people click the page, how did they get the link, where do they live...well, not a specific address because that would be creepy, but still, I know what country they are in.

I had a new release (A Change of Pace) come out this past week and here is what I’ve learned…I need to bump up my audience in the UK.

I had 102 hits on various links over 3 days…88% are from the US, then I had a few from Canada, Trinidad and Tobago (no really), Croatia, one from the UK (I’m going to work on that) and a couple from Australia.

Most of them connected to me through Facebook and my webpage but not all. Some got the message through email or through places I’ve never heard of, which means, I don’t know how it got there in the first place.

And sales numbers are the worst. I’ve spent hours going back and forth to the Amazon page for “A Change of Pace” just to watch the numbers…I’m #14 on the list of Erotica Books. No, now I’m number #9. Wait, I’ve dropped to #27? How did that happen?

Arrgh. It’s way too distracting. I’m going back to writing my dragon book.

Okay, let me check Amazon one more time.

Tielle St. Clare

P.S. I know there are a lot of choices out there for getting these numbers. I use Stat-Counter and bit.ly

Friday, May 6, 2011

New to Alaska

I am new to Alaska. So new, in fact, that my husband and I can still measure how long we’ve been in here in months (thirteen if you’re interested) and I’m still amazed by things like moose and 24 hour sunlight. Conversations with my friends and family down the lower-48 still include a lot of questions about the state and what it’s like actually live here. My best friend and I were on the phone the other night and she asked me how much fresh fruit costs in Alaska. We talked about the fact that goods and services are more expensive up here than they are down in New Jersey. I assured her that the fine print at the bottom of commercials that reads “prices higher in Alaska and Hawaii” doesn’t lie. Eventually, though, she asked about seafood, because, surely that was cheap, cheap, cheap. When I explained that the state is big enough that the costs of getting something from one part of the state to another automatically makes it expensive, she laughed and thanked me for bursting that bubble. She’d always assumed that, even if I was paying more for my grapefruit, I was at least getting king crab for less than the cost of chicken. The reality isn’t nearly as full of inexpensive crabby deliciousness as she would’ve liked it to be. Which is actually something authors have to be aware of whenever we write. Not crab, or the lack thereof, specifically, of course, but the differences between the realities of a situation and the assumptions we make about that situation.
Writing what we know is helpful, but still not foolproof. My first novel was based in Denver, Colorado, because that’s where I was living when I wrote it. By the time I had finished it, though, the coffee shop where my hero and heroine met had closed and the working class neighborhood where I had the best friend living had been gentrified and house prices had skyrocketed. So much for writing what you know. For my next novels, I thought I had solved the problem. I created Lambert Falls, North Carolina out of thin air. Only I still had to know how far it was to the Virginia border and how long of a drive it was to the Outer Banks. Even a fictional town required very real research.
My current work in progress takes place in New Orleans. I know nothing about New Orleans. You’d better believe, though, I will find someone who knows that city and pick their brain. I will become best friends with google maps and local librarians. I will learn about the local haunts, not just the tourist traps. Because for every reader out there who assumes certain things about New Orleans, there’s a reader who knows New Orleans. We as authors can’t get away with only writing the idealized version of a place.
So, I’ll research New Orleans and, hopefully, get it right. However, I do admit I would love to write a story with voodoo priestesses in every shadow and dark brooding men on every corner. Of course, I’d love king crab to be cheaper than chicken, too.

Pauline Trent