Thursday, July 31, 2008

Silly Love Songs

I am a huge music geek. My tastes are wide and varied - pretty much as long as a song has music and lyrics and everybody stays on tune most of the time I'll like it. I do have my favorites, though. Guaranteed listens that mellow me out if I'm stressed, pep me up if I'm feeling sluggish, make me happy if I'm down. The one song that does all these things for me is Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney and Wings. Not the edgiest or most independant of songs, I know, but it's happy! It's unabashedly un-selfconscious and it sticks its tongue out at music that takes itself too seriously.

I always think of the song when I hear someone reference the "genre ghetto." Or when an author talks about her frustration when someone asks when she'll start writing "real books." According to pop culture lore, McCartney wrote Silly Love Songs after years of listening to critics, including his own former bandmate John Lennon, debase his post-Beatles work.

""I listened to him for a few years," said Paul, "and used to think, 'I can't write another of those soppy love songs. We've got to get hard and rocky now.' In the end, though, I realized that I just had to be myself. It's bolder, you know, to say, 'What's the difference? I like it.'"

I've found a real inspiration over the years, watching genre writers meet similar criticism head on. It seems like the anti-genre critics defeated its own purpose in criticizing commercial fiction. Instead of bringing the genre community down, they pissed it off. It regularly speaks out. Recently, after a reader called her a "hack," Lilith Saintcrow responded by penning her Hack Manifesto. Ursula K. LeGuin wrote a hysterical article in response to a "real books" reviewer who called genre fiction a decaying corpse that writers of serious literature had abandoned in a shallow grave. In a Romancing the Blog post, erotic romance author Sylvia Day said, "Write “real” books? I do! And I’m proud of it." And Jennifer Cruisie writes some really empowering articles about the romance genre on her website. If you ever want to feel smart about your reading and writing tastes, go there. Actually, go there right now. I'll wait.

There's lots more out there. Much more than I can fit in one blog post. You know, if everyone wrote "real" books, we'd be living in a depressing Oprah List world where love brings no joy, lives have no adventure, and where readers have no escape, however brief, from their stressful jobs, family troubles, and the 6:00 news. How tragic.

In the 3-17-01 issue of Billboard, Paul McCartney said this about his post-Beatles work: "But over the years people have said, "Aw, he sings love songs, he writes love songs, he's so soppy at times." I thought, Well, I know what they mean, but, people have been doing love songs forever. I like 'em, other people like 'em, and there's a lot of people I love--I'm lucky enough to have that in my life. So the idea was that "you" may call them silly, but what's wrong with that?"

I think that's an excellent question! So, to those who scoff at the abundance of love stories, tales of magic, and spacefaring adventures, I issue this challenge: What's wrong with that? (I'd like to know!)

Print Source
Billboard 113.11 (March 17, 2001): p.1. (8065 words) From General OneFile.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Enjoy the Ride--Guest Blogger

This is Lexie, trying to blog while on the road vacationing with her family...we just left an exhausting whirlwind of trying to catch at least a minimum of the sights in D.C. and are now visiting family in Connecticut. So, of course, I'll write of my adventures at a later date--right now I'm too pooped to
be creative.

So, please join my heartfelt welcome of Carla Damron, our guest blogger. Carla has spoken several times to our LowCountry Romance Writers group and is a mystery writer rather than paranormal, but there's a little bit of paranormal in all of us.

Last month, the LowCountry Romance Writers hosted Carla Damron, author of the Caleb Knowles Mysteries (BellaRosabooks) as our guest speaker. This is a summary of her talk, with her permission.

Carla’s topic was the not-so-easy basic of scene and sequel. I had only heard of Dwight Swain’s well-known Techniques of the Selling Writer, so some of the other approaches to this crucial tool were helpful to me. Hopefully, they’ll be helpful to you as well.

Just as an extra, my Sunday School class the next day (no kidding) included a question about Jesus’ parables—what makes a good story? I listened to the others in the class, rather than jumping in and heard what you might expect. One lady answered characters, she needs to feel she knows or could get to know the people. Another chimed in that the story needed to be believable and, the third, drum roll, please, said the plot.

The Sunday School extra is very apropos because Ms. Damron began with a quote from Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House in which he stated the mechanisms of hell are akin to the mechanisms of narrative. Baxter, and many others I’ve heard speak over the years, believe we should put our characters through hell—and that’s what makes a good story.

But is plot equal to story? Damron went on to say that a story is like a history, a simple retelling of events in the order in which they occurred. Plot, on the other hand, is a story organized by logic and drama. Structure is process, not rigid. Not static, but dynamic—from Bickham’s Scene and Structure.

A story starts at the beginning. Plot starts where it’s fascinating. I actually want to open this one up for discussion because I’ve seen it both ways—some argue start with a glimpse of the ordinary world while others argue start where everything changes. Just my opinion, but I believe books appealing to a middle, older, or literary audience might open with the ordinary world. Books which promise to be action-packed are expected to open with the change. Keeping your promise to the reader should also figure in here somewhere—some readers, believe it or not, don’t want action all the time. But…begin as you mean to go on—in love and in writing.

Now, to the meat of the matter. Damron went on to describe three different approaches to outlining a plot. Since Swain’s is so well known, I’m going to recap Carolyn Wheat’s Writing Killer Fiction as summed up by Damron. Laurel Dewey’s Formula for a Novel in Three Acts will be reviewed at a later date.

Wheat calls her approach the Four Arc System. In Arc I, the opening scene, the writer must grab the reader’s attention, introduce the main character, the problem, make a contract with the reader, and establish the setting.

Arc I must then establish the character’s inner need, introduce a subplot or two, use conflict to get the story moving, and end at a crisis point.

Arc II sees the main character tested. He or she (and I insert they both should) be given tasks at which they either fail and things get worse—or they succeed and things get worse anyway. Subplots deepen and move along to crunch points. The main plot builds toward a climax. Discrepancies between what the characters want and what they need grow. Again, this arc ends at a crisis. Since Damron writes mysteries, she says a sign of the end of each arc in a mystery is another dead body. With a romance, this may be where the main characters actually fulfill their sexual relationship (unless it’s erotica and my guess is that’s happening in Arc I) and instead of lessening the tension, it increases it.

In Arc III, the pace increases—and something I’d not seen before—Wheat suggests the chapters and sentences should become shorter. Threads are coming together, with subplots being resolved but the main plot getting worse—lower levels of Hades. The character’s drive towards his/her goal increases and the character rushes headlong to the black moment.

In Arc IV, the showdown between good and evil arrives. Evil appears to win. But then, the hero and/or heroine transforms in both internal and/or external ways. The reader is given the gift promised in Arc I.

To conclude (this episode—an hour-long talk with good discussion is difficult to briefly put to paper—or screen), Damron quoted Wheat, “Writing the middle of the book is like driving through Texas. You think it’s never going to end and all the scenery looks the same.” Our task is to make sure the reader doesn’t feel this way about the middle of our books.

Strange, I drove through Texas and I saw cowboys and women with big hair and the town where George Strait lives and the Alamo and the border patrol…so much going on if we just see past the typical. And if our plot is a wild ride rather than a scenic tour.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is Magical About August 13?

Let’s see now, what is magical about August 13, 2008 ~ it’s Wednesday the 13th, not Friday the 13th, which may be a very magical day for some, especially if your story is halloween spooky with lots of naughty tricks or treats.
August is an 8 month in numerology, meaning all things material, money and what looks good, or appearance makes the woman or man. The day is a 4 (1+3) which denotes stability, the four corners or what you build a future on, whether an event or a decision. This is a 1 year ~ numero uno ~ ‘we are number one’ is the attitude.
What does it all add up to in numerology? This is a 4 day (8+4+1 = 13 = 4). So NOT my best numbers, yet very magical in the realm of the practical, bringing forth a stable future and making good decisions.
Okay, what’s really magical about the day for me is ~ ta-da! This is my release day for When A Good Angel Falls. This story is truly a labor of love on several levels, especially on a the spiritual level, for me.
Being an avid listener of Coast-to-Coast am, night talk radio, famous for its paranormal topics ~ the subject of 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar ~ is one of the hottest conversations going, and only gets hotter as we come closer and closer to what some people refer to as the endtimes.
So, what if? What will occur on that magical and mystical winter solstice date of December 21, 2012 ~ that final day of the Mayan calendar?
Well, I’m here to tell ya, my imagination couldn’t resist the fun of answering that question. No, indeedy, my muse was transformed into a crystal ball, and I forged ahead into the mists of the near future.
And thus, When a Good Angel Falls was born. This is Sedona and Volcano’s story as they travel to Maya Toga Days in LA.
Truthfully, this story was not only a delicious adventure and a fun passionate love story to write, it was also darkly disturbing, since all is not angel brightness in our world. The dark force rises just like Darth Vader rose to power in Star Wars. And that is the evil Sedona and Volcano must overcome to save Earth for humanity.

Blurb: When a Good Angel Falls
Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012 – The end of the Mayan Calendar
What happens when a world weary, worn out incarnated angel, Sedona, who believes she is merely human has three choices after her old van breaks down? Let the Nazerazzi squad of the North American Union capture her and force her into a FEMA concentration camp? Walk out into the Arizona night desert, let the wildlife have a good meal, with the hope her death will be quick? Or does Sedona trust the mysterious stranger suddenly before her? Handsome as sin and all in black, he emerges from the darkness astride a super-speed black motorcycle.
Is he her savior from the brutal hell of end times, or is he a roving cult member of the New World Order, hunting his next blood sacrifice?
Sent from heaven to help her save humanity, Zerr Dann knows the Divine is playing its last card on Earth.

Page Link ~ ~

What do you think ~ December 21, 2012, just another day? Just one more winter solstice...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Networking - Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

For everyone going to Nationals, here’s a reprint of an article I wrote back in 2007 for the Carolina Romance Writers’ The Final Draft Newsletter:


Networking - Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Most writers are introverts – far from the social butterflies that RWA National dictates. We chose this profession because we feel more comfortable keeping to ourselves. We tend to stay away from social events and instead prefer to surround ourselves with imaginary people and events that we control. And while the majority of RWA members are open and friendly, we know it’s all about connections. If you don’t already know someone, sometimes getting that first connection can be daunting and uncomfortable to the point where it takes the excitement out of being at National.

At the PRO Retreat this year, one agent stated she only took on new clients by referrals. A hand was raised and the million-dollar question asked: “How do I get that referral?”

The most likely answer is ‘Network’.

Networking is a term all writers are aware of but stumble at. Some of us are too busy to keep 10+ active email loops. Some of us just don’t come off as very personable – yes, you know who you are. Some of us are career motivated and cannot spare a minute away our writing time. I’m one of those. Whatever is keeping you from your ability to network, your must first determine what is hindering you and recognize it as your weakness.

There are two ways to overcome your weaknesses: play up your strengths or tackle those weaknesses head-on.

I get stage fright and do not do well in front of people. I’m naturally quiet and am more an observer than a participator. Recognizing this as my weakness, I play up my strengths. I am at ease with the written form of the language, so most my networking is done online and through emails and email loops. There’s not a loop I’m not on and I can guarantee a lot of people will recognize my name or email. This works for me because it retains the feeling of comfort and safety while giving me the exposure to my peers in the industry to develop the connections I need. Play it safe and you’ll be amazed at the number of contacts you’ve made and people you’ve befriended.

However, we all know nothing in life is easy. The most important goals in life are the hardest to achieve. Knowing this, eventually you will have to step out of your comfort zone and face your weaknesses.

Take me for example. Knowing what my weaknesses are, I decided I wasn’t going to let it stop me from coming into contact with key individuals that are strategic to my success. So I put myself out there. I signed up to moderate a handful of workshops, which meant that I had to get in front of a room of people and actually talk. And because I’m ambitious and determined that if I go down, I go down with a fight (or just plain suicidal depending on how you look at it), I took this even further. These weren’t just any average workshops I’d volunteered for, these were publisher spotlights of houses and specific editors I’m targeting or who already has my manuscript on his/her desk.

Talk about an overachiever. But it wasn’t an easy decision.

The morning of my first moderating assignment, I started to panic. Omigod, what if I choke or close up on stage? I’m going to fall flat on my face and make a complete fool of myself in front of these editors I’m trying to oh-so-coolly to make a good impression on. They’re going to return to NY and pick my manuscript from their desk and think, “Oh, that’s the girl that stuttered during my introduction and mispronounced my name.” I was terrified at the thought. I just knew something bad was going to happen and had I been able to get out of the responsibility, I probably would have.

But, I squared my shoulders, pushed the fears aside, and acted like there were not a hundred people in the room and these were not editors I’m standing four feet from but regular people like myself. I wasn’t trying to get a request. My sole purpose for signing up to moderate these spotlights were to hear about the individual houses, learn what they are interested in, and get a feel for the personalities of these editors. And suddenly, I knew I could do this. I wasn’t trying to prove something or be someone I’m not. I was there to educate myself and get to know these editors. So I walked up, introduced myself, exchanged pleasantries and asked for the correct pronunciation of their names, waited until it was time to begin and took my spot on stage behind the microphone – and sailed right through it.

Did I tackle it flawlessly? Ha, in my dreams, perhaps. Did I stumble? Well, not on my feet, but on a word now and then. But it didn’t matter because by the time my third moderating gig rolled around, I felt like I was ready to conquer the world. I’d overcome my weakness, gotten the results I needed, and broadened my network in the industry. And when it came time for Q&A, I didn’t ask about submission guidelines or what they are looking for, I asked what a particular editor read for personal enjoyment. I asked what that editor did before becoming an editor and why he/she’d chosen their profession. I showed a genuine interest in getting to know the editor and I could tell they were surprised but pleased by the questions. I walked away feeling like I’d gotten to know the editor, and that was what I’d wanted.

Can anyone do what I’d just done? Of course they can. Can anyone become a better networker? Most definitely. But—can anyone succeed at networking? Well, that depends on one key factor.

While most people will stress the importance of networking and give you pointers on what to say, how to dress, and how to behave, they forget to bestow the one advice that separates you from every other writer out there trying to make a connection.

Be genuine.

I spend a good deal of time studying others and observing interactions around me and have learned that at National, in an environment where everyone is aiming for the same goal (to make a good impression and get noticed by editors and agents), genuineness outshines pretension. A published peer can tell when you are genuinely interested in them and their books, and when you’re suddenly laying on the sugar in hopes of getting an introduction to an editor or agent in their circle.

Next time you attend RWA National, don’t be afraid to step away from your comfort zone and make those connections. Don’t network with the intention of advancement. Instead, network with the intention of broadening your knowledge and getting to know your peers around you. They will notice and the connections will come.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Title Magic meets Louise Allen

Today Louise Allen is with us, talking to Evonne about her linked series for Harlequin/Mills and Boon -- Six books, following the lives and loves of Those Scandalous Ravenhursts. Seven cousins – the grandchildren of the Duke of Allington – are at the heart of six stories charting their sometimes rocky, and always scandalous, paths to true love. Dangerous Jack, Outrageous Bel, Shocking Gareth, Disgraceful Theo, Bluestocking Elinor, Notorious Eden and Piratical Clemence.

The first book in the series, The Dangerous Mr Ryder was published in the UK by Mills & Boon in January 2008 and is out in America from Harlequin this month. The Outrageous Lady Felsham was published in the UK in May 2008 and will be out in America from Harlequin in August 2008.

Louise began her official historical romance career (if you don’t count the medieval drama, penned when she was eight) as half of a partnership that wrote as Francesca Shaw. Now Louise Allen has a string of titles to her credit and is a past winner of a Cataromance Reviewers Choice award.
Hello Louise, and welcome to Title Magic
Hello! and thank you so much for the invitation to the Title Magic blog – it’s great to be here.

The obvious question first - what attracts you to historicals?
History has always been a passion for as long as I can remember and at school I adored historical novels with Georgette Heyer and Dorothy Dunnett as all-time favourites. I love to see the roots of things - where they’ve come from, how they’ve evolved - whether landscape or words or customs or buildings.

Would you tell us a little about your career, and the story of the acceptance of the first book?
It began when I was a librarian, back in the late 1980s. My friend Stephanie and I would watch Mills & Boon novels being borrowed and thought ‘we could do that’. It took a while – and lots of rejections from the contemporary lines to work out that this was harder than we imagined it would be! Then we tried historicals – and realised that not only had our technique improved but we’d found our niche. Our first attempt, The Master of Winterbourn was published in the early 1990s. We wrote eight books together as Francesca Shaw, then Steph moved away and I took the plunge and began writing solo as Louise Allen. After working full time all my writing life it was great to be able to leave my job as a property manager in November 2007 and concentrate on the books. My 25th title will be out in the Christmas volume, Married by Christmas, this year.

You write in several historical periods – is there one that you haven’t covered yet that you would like to explore?
I’m interested in all periods, but the more I find out about the Regency, the more it fascinates me as an era poised on the brink of the modern world.
So far I’ve only experimented with two other periods - the first Francesca Shaw novel was set during the English Civil War and Virgin Slave, Barbarian King, which came out at the end of last year, takes place in AD 410 during the Sack of Rome. I’d like to do a sequel to Virgin Slave and I’ve an idea for the 1920s as well, but I think it will be all Regencies for the immediate future.

Moving to the latest releases – a linked series of six books. Wow! How did that come about?
My editor suggested linked titles focusing on one family, and cousins seemed to give me more freedom than siblings might. I started off thinking about 3, or perhaps 4 – but the Ravenhursts had other ideas, so it ended up at 6. I’ve already had suggestions from readers about other members of the family, but we’ll have to wait and see

What gave you the inspiration for creating the world of Those Scandalous Ravenhursts?
It began with Lord Sebastian Ravenhurst (aka Jack Ryder) who invited himself into No Place for a Lady when the hero of story needed a private investigator. He was such a strong personality I knew that I had to give him his own book and solve the mystery of who he was. Once I began to explore his background I discovered the other cousins as I went.

Will you tell us a little about the six books and the heroes and heroines?
The Dangerous Mr Ryder is an adventure story which pairs Jack/Sebastian with the Grand Duchess Eva de Maubourg, escaping across France one step ahead of a murderous traitor and straying into the battle of Waterloo along the way. Sebastian’s sister Bel, the widow of the most boring man in London, thinks she needs a lover, not a husband, and is set on becoming The Outrageous Lady Felsham when a very tipsy Ashe Reynard trips over her bearskin rug and into her arms. Cousin Gareth is a respectable Ravenhurst – until he has to take shocking steps to avoid marriage to Lady Maude Templeton, steps that involve governess Miss Jessica Gifford, found naked in a brothel, and turn him into The Scandalous Lord Standon. Meanwhile, dowdy Cousin Elinor is tumbled headlong into a Burgundian adventure and lethal treasure hunt with The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst, her Cousin Theo. Back in London, Maude is free to pursue the man she loved at first sight, rake and completely ineligible theatre manager, Eden Hurst. The Notorious Mr Hurst proves to have more in common with her friends the Ravenhursts than she imagined. And far away in Jamaica the youngest cousin, Clemence, is forced to become The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst when she has to flee her home and finds herself at the mercy of one of the nastiest pirates in the Caribbean and his enigmatic henchman, Nathan Stanier.

What were your work methods – charts, diagrams, maps?
The backbone was a detailed family tree backed up with a spreadsheet with columns for all the characters against the dates. I planned research trips to Waterloo (for Dangerous), Burgundy (for Disgraceful), Margate (for the seaside scenes and bathing machines in Outrageous) and caused major marital disharmony by not booking us on a flight to Jamaica for Piratical. The study is buried under books on Regency theatre and life in Jamaica in the 1800s.

I imagine that creating the characters was fun, particularly having the space to develop them, but that keeping hold on all of them might have been a bit of a challenge. What was it like, staying on course – what were the highs and lows?
It was surprisingly easy to manage the continuity, but as usual I found some of my characters – especially the heroes – were prone to take off and want to do their own thing and developed sides to their character I wasn’t aware of. Eden, for example, turned out to be darker and more complex than I’d imagined, Gareth, once he’d gone off the rails, was more sensual and Theo, more dashing.

Two of the books are out – how long do we have to wait for the others?
Dangerous was out in the UK in January and in North America in July. Outrageous was out in the UK in May and North America in August. Scandalous is out in both in September. The other three are due in 2009.

One of the Title Magicians has already confessed to having a weakness for pirates, so is looking forward to Clemence’s story. Do you secretly have a favourite amongst the Ravenhursts?
All the pirates are very nasty indeed, I’m afraid – Captain “Red” Matthew McTiernan doesn’t fly the skull and cross bones flag, he hoists the real thing - but I hope she likes ship’s navigator Nathan Stanier, who I’m determined is going to do that thing involving sliding down the mainsail by sticking a dagger in it!
As for a favourite… that’s really difficult, because I love them all. I want to be friends with all the heroines and as for the heroes – it was like having the biggest possible box of chocolates to be able to discover six gorgeous men all at the same time.

It must have felt strange, coming to the end of a project of this size. How did you feel at the end? And what’s next for Louise Allen?
I don’t know how it will feel yet because I’m still writing Piratical with a deadline of the end of July, (I’m not panicking, of course I’m not…), but I’m really looking forward to bringing them all together at the end – plus the Ravenhurst babies who have arrived along the way. I’ll miss them, but I’m pretty certain I haven’t seen the last of the Ravenhursts.
And what’s next? There are a couple of schemes still under wraps and lots of plots and characters buzzing around at 5am – I’m not expecting to be bored!

Thanks to Louise for a great interview about a fascinating project.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tangerine Magical Cover Art

Short and tangerine sweet, everyone...the unveiling of my cover art for Tangerine Carnal Dreams, coming from Aspen Mountain Press. I placed the banner first, in case, the cover could be considered too risque. While there is no actual nudity on the cover, it is implied since the tangerine pleasure world of Yemisque is certainly clothing optional.
Just before I began this blog I heard Willie Nelson singing...a woman, and a stallion, and the wind...
There’s something so lyrical and so incredibly magical about that song for me...the song itself, the musical styling and especially how Willie sings it. And in that moment, the song was also a gift. With a flash of ah-ha, the lightbulb flared in my under-the-weather brain ~ those lyrics, changed a bit ~ perfectly fit the story of Tangerine Carnal Dreams.
....a woman, a stallion and the tangerine wind...

The woman, a fire-fierce heroine determined to save her father.
The stallion, shapeshifter playboy who keeps his royal heritage hidden.
The tangerine wind, a constant sultry aphrodisiac wind on the beaches of Yemisque.
I must confess as an author, there was something so lyrical and fun, so free and fantastic, as I wrote and lived Katta and Zio’s sizzle love story and their adventure, in my imagination.
I still don’t have a release day, but my stallion shifter and fire-fierce heroine novel is due to hit the e-shelves soon ~ ~

What was the most recent song lyric that contributed to your story, or was an inspiration to you personally?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where do babies come from?

No, not those babies but the other babies we love: our manuscripts. Where do those babies come from? How are they born? Blood, sweat, and tears--just like the other ones. But the conception takes place in many ways.

My female motocross driver heroine phase started by attending a motocross event with a boyfriend. I couldn’t think of anything more lame than watching motorcycles going round in circles. I was wrong. I had a blast and several stories were born.

An Ann Rule true crime book started my romantic suspense phase. Her depth of research and the twists and turns fascinated me and inspired many tales of love amid a riveting mystery.

A computer game, Gabriel Knight the Beast Within, set me on the road to writing novels set during the German medieval period because part of the game was set in Bavaria. Also, there was this delicious Baron von Glower (played by Peter Lucas) who just set my hormones and my writer instincts on fire.

My futuristic/fantasy phase started a long time ago with Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld, then got stronger with Susan Grant’s novel Contact, but then really got going with Joss Whedon’s Firefly. I developed a whole social structure, new planets, and new technologies. I’m still working on several novels for that particular series since the possibilities are endless.

I always wonder what will inspire me next but whatever it is I’ll happily go along for the ride. So what are the novels, movies, or television shows that have inspired an entire shift in what you write? Or have you always felt comfortable in your chosen niche with no desire to explore?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Jeanne Barrack

Today, we are in for a magical treat, everyone. Jeanne Barrack is an erotic romance author with Liquid Silver Books (plus other publishers) . I feel I've gotten to know Jeanne through the Liquid Silver forum, always a fun and verra risque party place to hang out. Hey! Just check out the Liquid Silver SEx blog today, where Jeanne (A Song of the Sidhe) and Roscoe James (The White Swan) are partying down in celebration of their new releases.
I am constantly amazed and enchanted whenever Jeanne's shares her knowledge about Irish history and Celtic/Irish music, especially the songs of the bards. And, let me tell you, can she pen a fantastic battle scene! Not to mention her writing style is passionate and lyrical, in perfect harmony with the tales she weaves, and the love stories she writes.

Welcome, Jeanne, to Title Magic ~

I love the name of this Blog! If your book has Title Magic, folks will at least check out the blurb or read an excerpt and then hopefully, buy the book.
Imagine if you will, if "War and Peace" had received the goofy title that popped up in an episode of the comedy show, "Seinfeld". The character, Elaine, is led to believe that Tolstoy's classic novel was originally called, "War: What is it Good For?" Now, I know that makes a fun song title, but it certainly doesn't fit the breadth and scope of Tolstoy's epic.

Often, titles go through a metamorphosis (another great title ) before seeing the light of day.
So it happened with "The Shimmering Flame", my stand alone novel in Liquid Silver Books' Terran Realm Universe.
Inspired by the legends of ancient Ireland and Brigid, the greatest of all pagan Celtic goddesses, its original working title was "Bright Arrow". Now, Bright Arrow is just one of many names and honorifics given to this amazing female. But the story was more than just about Brigid. When I developed the Terran Realm aspects of the story, I had other characters who were just awakening to their new abilities as Terrans. So, I submitted the manuscript with a new title: "Awakenings".
Great title, yes? Unfortunately, it was just a little too similar to "The Earth Awakened", an upcoming book in the Terran Realm series. Back to the drawing board.

So, I thought, "What aspect of this story is unique and captures the essence of Brigid and the other Terran heroes and heroines in the Realm? "Brigid can control the elements of Fire and Water. This makes her unique in the Realm. So, I decided to find a title that conveyed this.
I felt I couldn't use a title that had the word Water because one of the books by Tiffany Aaron is called "Troubled Waters", but I wanted to indicate Brigid's element duality. So I thought about the effects of water. Dazzling. Glistening. Frozen. (hey, I was desperate). And then it came to me. Both water and fire can shimmer....yes! Got the first part! "Shimmering"....hmm.
Okay, "Shimmering Blaze" - sounds like the name of a race horse. "Shimmering Inferno" - maybe a tad too hot! "Shimmering Fire", better but not quite there yet. So I cudgeled my brain some more and the word Flame burst out. A flame: steady, hot, giving warmth - to shine with a sudden light.
I liked it. So, the shimmering quality of water and fire and the steady, shining warmth of a flame:
"The Shimmering Flame" had a name! To find out more about the Terran Realm, please check out this link:
My next release for Liquid Silver Books also is set in Ireland, but this title was easy! "A Song of the Sidhe" is a repubbed, revised and expanded story set in Ireland of ages past.

The place: Ireland, a long, long time ago when the Sidhe walked among mortals
Donal Bawn was the most handsome man in all of Tipperary with a voice that could lure the birds from the trees. But that all changed when he angered Ogma, High King of the Tipperary Sidhe. Doomed to wander as a hunchback with a voice as thin as a reed, Donal keeps to the forests away from human companionship until one day he hears a melodious female voice singing a fragmented tune over and over.
Ceoleen, a beautiful female of the Galway Sidhe has also been cursed for her vanity and foolhardiness. Blinded and exiled to a fairy ring deep in the woods, she can only repeat a broken phrase of music until that fated day when Donal finishes the song for her.
But their curses are only partially broken. It will take a great deal more than music to decide their fate.
Will their love be strong enough to finally free them?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bite-Sized Fiction!

Until last autumn, I’d never thought of writing short stories for magazines. All my ideas seemed too long to fit into 1000 or 2000 words. That changed when I had the idea for a short fantasy romance called Jack’s Garden. My critique partners loved the story, so I decided it was worth submitting to a magazine in the hope they loved it as well. I chose My Weekly in the UK, as I knew the magazine published romances with a touch of supernatural or fantasy.

I’m delighted that My Weekly also loved the story and bought it. Not only is this satisfying in itself, I’ve realised what a useful promotional tool short stories can be. This magazine allows the author to include a short bio with the story, which gives the opportunity to mention published novels and include a website address. Imagine what great advertising this is: hundreds of thousands of people could potentially read the short story, and at the end, they will see the title of a book written by the same author. At least a few of them are likely to look it up on the Internet.

Short stories also provide the ideal format to try different techniques. I’ve often thought of writing a book in first person, but not wanted to risk all the time and effort involved in writing a long novel in first person, only to discover it doesn’t work for me. But I’m quite happy to take an hour or two to write one or two thousand words in first person, or present tense, to see how it sounds.

Some of the magazines also encourage trying unusual techniques, such as all dialogue. The short form is the ideal place to try all those techniques you’d like to try but never get around to. It’s also so much fun! I have many ideas swimming around inside my head and instead of having to finish 80,000 words or more before I can start a new story, I can write a new one every day if each is only a few thousand words.

Try bite-sized fiction. It’s instant gratification for writers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guest Blogger Jade Lee


I am of two minds on this blog. I was asked for my opinions about the published author contest circuit for romance authors. On the one hand, contests are a business choice. They cost money and time, and can be ego crushing, but also can have excellent results. Therefore, SERIOUS BUSINESS. On the other hand, they're just one tiny, infinitesimal, rather bizarre piece of the larger career plan. Ergo, SELF-FLAGELLATION could be more fun. I blog serious or reality-check? Being more schizophrenic than usual, I have decided to do both--side by side.

SB: Contests cost money and time. The contest itself costs, the books that you send cost, the postage to send them costs, and God-forbid you have TWO books out in a year. Double the price for everything. Then add the time you spend getting all that stuff together, writing checks, going to the post office, generally tracking the business of the contest. Would you have been more productive writing your next WIP? Making your heroine sparkle and your hero gorgeous? Time is money, and contests eat both.

SF: Puuulllleese! The whole point of entering a contest is so that I am busy working and NOT writing! If I didn't have to enter contests, I would have to be writing. Like I really want to do that! And my hero is already gorgeous enough! I mean, come on, he is the vampire god of the SexCapades. What more could you want? If you want to talk costs, then mention the week long depression you fall into when that stupid b**** wins. The one who stole your vampire sex god idea, then slept with the publicity department of every known media outlet to get the win
AND the sales when I didn't even final, thank you very much!

SB: Publicity. That's the short and the long of it. At a minimum, you're paying three judges to read your book. That's three more people who may be awed by your brilliance. And if you final or win, that's more publicity. That's why contests that give winners ads and bookstore posters are better than cash awards or simple website announcements. Plus, you get the added benefit of attaching "award winner!" to your name.

SF: Money is ALWAYS better than publicity for a no-name contest that no reader really cares about. Readers don't really even know what a Rita is, and she's the best publicized contest in our industry. Show me who I need to sleep with at the New York Times Book Review, then we'll talk publicity. Although, strutting my knew sparkly red pumps at the awards banquet does make up for a wealth of humiliation in other areas of my life.

SB: Can you accept that a win/final/loss in any of these contests does not necessarily reflect your writing ability? Can you believe that it means little regarding your creativity or marketability in the larger scheme? If so, then I recommend the following contests: RITA because NY tends to pay close attention to this one. And as previously stated, it's the best publicized.

Next comes the Readers Choice which gets huge play in RomanticTimes Book Review magazine. Other strong smaller
contests: Holt, Maggies, Book Sellers Best, Book Buyers Best, and the sub-genre contests. The ones I am familiar with are Daphne De Maurie (mystery/suspense), Prisms (sf/f), Passionate Plume (erotica). There are also sub-genre contests for epublishing, inspirational, and literary. That last one (literary) can be a huge boon if you can get your genre book in as a finalist. A new group of readers may pick up your book simply because of your finalist status. Unfortunately...that's a pretty big "if".

SF: Um...hello, these are contests to JUDGE the quality of a book. Ergo, my self-esteem is absolutely tied to the results. If I win, I'm going to lord it over everyone in my sparkly red shoes. If I lose, I'm going to fall into the writer PIT O' DISPAIR and never come out until someone offers me an award for something. Hint: Most gorgeous PJs when living in the PIT O' DISPAIR only works once. Then you're going to have to go for jewelry and chocolate.


Jade Lee (both the SB and SF sides) is an award winning author and a Rita finalist for TEMPTED TIGRESS. Since she has lost her sparkly red shoes somewhere in the PIT O' DISPAIR, please help her out by sending her cyber jewelry, chocolates, or an award for something. Comment here or email her at: She can also be found at


Jade Lee


These Boots were Made for Stomping! April 08
Dragonborn, March 2008
The Tao of Sex, Blaze Jan 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something To Think About

A while back I read a book from an unfamiliar author that I had purchased from the bookstore. The blurb sounded interesting enough, and the cover looked good. It started off like your typical romance should: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl …

But wait—

Boy doesn’t get girl.

What?! Can you believe my shock (and anger) when there wasn’t a happily ever after? Both characters were still very much alive, both pleasantly happy, but NOT together. Through some rash decisions made by the heroine because of where her priorities lay, and because of the hero’s willingness to show how much he loved her, a decision was made by the hero that pretty much prevented him from her for the rest of her life. She has their baby (something she’d wanted from him) without him and reflects at the very end of the story about how much she wished it was possible for him to be there to see the child grow up, but she couldn’t wait to reunite with him in the afterlife. Mind you, he’s not dead but because of what had transpired, her death would be the only way they’d reunite. The end.

You should have seen me. I was quite livid. I was expecting a romance – definition: happily ever after – because the book had been marketed as a romance and was sitting in the romance section of the bookstore. Had it been marketed as a women’s fiction, I could have accepted the ending. But it wasn’t, and I couldn’t.

Well, two weeks ago, I was at another bookstore and guess what? I saw the same book in the fiction section. Not romance, but fiction! Which got me started on this rant again.

I don’t blame the poor author for writing the book the way it was written. It’s a perfectly fine book. I blame the publisher and marketing department for mis-marketing (is that even a word?) the book. When I read a romance, I expect a happily ever after. When I read women’s fiction, I expect a satisfying ending to the heroine’s journey and know that she may or may not be with the guy at the end. So because of bad marketing decisions made by the publisher (which was out of the author’s hands), they’ve completely turned an unsuspecting reader against the author and her book. Which got me thinking …

How does an author cope with something like that? How do you make the best of things from something that was out of your powers to fix or from something that you had very little say in? More authors face this problem than we care to admit. The majority of authors have very little say in the cover art or how the book is marketed and what happens after the books hit the bookstores. And the sad truth is that these things that the author have so little say in are the things that could hurt an author’s sales the most.

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time Travel - Do I really want to go there?

Time travel. I've been thinking about this lately-- as you do. (You can tell I've been hanging out with some sci-fi practitioners.)

It occurred to me that time travel in print and film isn't just time travel. It’s 'Take me back/forward in time -- and to somewhere more exciting.'

Logically, unless you choose somewhere with potential to start from, like Stonehenge or the Tower of London, time travel might be pretty boring. If your starting point is your own front room and all you do is move forward or backwards, how much fun would that be? The future might be interesting, provided your house isn’t destined to be under a shopping mall or an office block sometime in the future, but back in time would probably only land you in whatever field, forest or swamp was there before the house was built. Think about it.

So, most time travel seems to have time and space built in. Dr Who never knows when or where he might land, although I believe the TARDIS is meant to be programmed to take him to where there's some trouble that needs to be sorted out. If you were going back, you'd probably want to specify where, as well as when-- ancient Egypt, the coronation of Henry VIII, the first airplane flight.

And how would you do it? There are innumerable time machines, torpedoes, glass coffins, chariots pulled by geese, magic potions and fairy portals that will allegedly get you there – though getting back again seems to be more of a problem.

Apparently, C. S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien dabbled in what we would now call science-fiction at one time -- in Lewis's case, the result was Out of the Silent Planet. Tolkien's efforts are a tantalising series of incomplete notes and drafts, but his take on time travel seems to be that it was all in the mind, and that it would be achieved through dreams and tapping into collective memory. I have to say that idea appeals to me much more than the 'Step into my time machine.' approach.

So, that's today's question. If you could travel in time:
1. Would you?
2. If you would, how would you like to go?
3. Where/when would you like to go?

Or would you rather do it through the pages of a book?


Cathy! You're this month's TBR winner! E-mail me at melhiers at with a title from your wishlist. The title must be in print or currently available as an e-book.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Abusing the TBR Pile

My reading lately has taken a turn for the super slow as it does every summer. Thankfully, I had a couple of Jane Austen audiobooks to get me through. I'd never read Northanger Abbey, and now it's seriously threatening to replace Persuasion as my favorite!

I'm looking forward to August, when life gets back to normal, and I can make at least a dimple in my out-of-control TBR pile! And, of course, I'm still adding to it.

There's some good stuff coming out this month that I don't want to miss. Like Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. This is the first epic fantasy in a long time that has caught my eye.

Bound by Shadow by Anna Windsor kicks off a back-to-back released series that sounds too kick butt to miss. And Hidden by Even Kenin is a sequel that's high on my list. Electra Galaxy's Mr. Interstellar Feller by Candace Sams has one of the niftiest titles since Savanna's Murder By Hairspray in Gardenia, New Atlantis. I love the Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl and Twilight Fall is just sitting there, begging me to read it. As is The Iron Hunt by Marjorie Liu! I'm a huge Lilith Saintcrow fangirl, and she's launched a new series. Night Shift is the first one.

So, what are you all reading? What books are you adding to your TBR piles this month? Since I'm posting this late, you have 'till the next post goes up tomorrow to comment. A random commenter will win a book of her choice from her wishlist! (As long as the book in question is still in print.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guest blogger Devyn Quinn

I met Devyn through the Aphrodisia Author loop and when she asked if anyone wanted to host her for her blog tour, I jumped at the chance! Devyn has a wonderful Gothic edge to her work--be sure to check out her website to see what I mean. Recently, I read her novella, “No Strings Attached” from the Aphrodisia novel, Trio, and I found it throughly erotic and engaging. Please put your fingers to the keyboard and welcome Devyn Quinn!

For today's stop at Title Magic, I thought it might be interesting to write a bit about my first New York sale. For many writers, selling a book to a New York publisher is the brass ring. I know it was for me. What I didn't know is that actually making contact with an editor and making the first sale would take nigh on 20 years, and include a lot of stumbles, bumbles and just plain luck.

Let me begin my story at the beginning. I completed my first manuscript when I was about 22 or thereabouts. The title of the book was Darkside Exile and clocked in at about 70,000 words. I'd worked on the book with all my heart, convinced that I had created a true epic in the Goth-fantasy genre. Well, that's what I thought, anyway. Never having marketed a book, I got my first Writer's Market. The first thing that big sucker revealed was that I had a lot to learn.

A query letter. Had no clue what one was. An agent? Did I really need one? Most publishers seemed to have that requirement in their listings. So, I trotted back down to the bookstore and got a book listing literary agents. I won't detail my search for an agent and how many scam agents (and publishers) I encountered. That's an entirely different thing to blog about and I might just do that someday. (For more info on that see the SFWA's Writer Beware, and Professor Jim Fisher's book, Ten Percent of Nothing, in which I am mentioned as one of the founding members exposing scam agents and publishers.)

Needless to say, the entire search for an agent and a publisher for my epic tome came to naught. From legitimate agents and publishers I collected a massive amount of rejection slips--enough to paper my house, out-house, hen house and dog house. Ouch.

Let's skip forward ten more years, past the writing of the second and third volumes in my epic fantasy series (I obviously had faith to go and write yet more books, eh?) In the early 90's e-pubbing was beginning to raise its head on the internet. Having been unable to sell my series to a New York publisher, I began to consider e-publishing. Slowly, through many years, I did actually begin to build a name for myself. I started out writing my Gothics under the name of Caitlyn McKenna. Then came the demand for erotic material. After much thought I decided to take the plunge into writing for that genre. I even created a second pen name, Jeya Jenson, to separate the paranormal romance (low sex) from the erotic material (hot, hot hot!). That didn't work very long, as I found it too difficult to keep two websites for two pen names. Eventually I abandoned Caitlyn McKenna and simply penned my stories as Jeya Jenson. And with each release came a small readership. I was beginning to, as they say, take off. My books and novellas won awards, garnered terrific reviews and were even making a little pocket change every month.

But I still wasn't happy. Why? I hungered for New York. Through the years that brass ring always seemed to hover out of my reach. I wanted it. Bad. Trouble is, I still did not have a clue on how to break in. I was stymied. Stumped. And after almost 20 years of writing, I was tired. Yes, you read that right. I was tired and I was ready to throw in the towel and say I gave it my best, but the gig didn't work out. So I put down my pen and retired Jeya Jenson and Caitlyn McKenna in 2004.

And thus began the quiet genesis of Devyn Quinn. I just didn't know it yet. Yes, you read that right. I was in what I considered full retirement from writing when a cattle call came through in September 2005 on the Yahoo writer's lists that Kensington Books was to launch a new erotic imprint in January 2006. The email listed the details of what the new imprint was looking for and listed a contact name. I knew the imprint was going to be an exciting one. Several of my friends had already sold for the launch of the imprint, including Vivi Anna and Morgan Hawke. Also in the launch was author Kate Douglas, a writer I had admired for years. Her Wolf Tales series, which had been released by Changeling Press and one I had read and enjoyed, was going to be the flagship series of the imprint. I had read Kate's work for years and was mightily impressed.

I had a niggling thought in the back of my mind. If Kensington had purchased Wolf Tales, would they perhaps be interested in my Kith & Kynn series? The first book, originally titled Before Night Falls, had pulled in many awards, and even a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award nomination. With that in mind and thinking that this was going to be my final shot, I prepared a query letter for Kensington and emailed it off to the contact listed on the initial email.

Turned out that email belonged to a Kensington promo person. Not an editor. That alone should have put my email in the delete bin. It didn't. She very kindly forwarded my email on to Hilary Sares. To my utter shock, Hilary responded to my email and we began to correspond about my work. Through the entire process, lasting about a month, Hilary was very encouraging as I pitched proposal after proposal. Some she liked, some she didn't, but one title in particular caught her eye: Flesh and the Devil. Originally it was a novella, about 30,000 words. After reading it, Hilary asked me to make some changes to the characters and expand it into a full novel--and made an offer for a 2 book deal. Holy cow and magic beans!

I couldn't believe my eyes as I read her email. An honest to God New York editor had made an offer to publish my work! I immediately printed that email out and showed it around to every person who would bother to take a look. I was going to be a New York author, a dream come true. It seemed impossible. My family had told me to give it up. I'd even had other authors look at me and say it'd never happen, that there wasn't a demand for my style of Goth-erotic writing. I'd always believed there was, though, and I don't know what made me come back and take a last stab at submission.

I'm happy to report that I'm on the 9th of 11 books I currently have contracted with Kensington's Aphrodisia imprint. My editor has been a wonder, always encouraging me and letting me write what inspires me. How can a writer not love an editor like that? Best of all, I also landed my dream agent within 24 hours of the Kensington offer. Roberta Brown has been my agent ever since, and has been a godsend, holding my hand when I get the heebie-jeebies over a book, getting me through the meltdowns that come with learning to write on deadline. She is a treasure and not one I'd give up willingly! During negotiations over the first contracts, Hilary decided that the Jeya Jenson pen name didn't fit my dark style of writing. After casting around for a good name, we decided on Devyn Quinn.

And that is how I made my first New York sell...and became currently known as Devyn Quinn. It's not anywhere close to my real name, but it's who I'm now "known" as on the net as I build my career as a writer.

***Oh, and here's a postscript: I did sell the Kynn books to Kensington after all, where they are now known as Sins of the Flesh and Sins of the Night. :)

Win a copy of Sins of the Night! Simply comment on the blog and you will be entered to win your very own autographed copy of Devyn’s Sins of the Night. To whet your appetite, here is a brief blurb:

Sins of the Night

Once, Adrien Roth was a Shadow Stalker--a hunter of vampires called the Kynn. Captured, he was forced to pay a devastating price, to become the very thing he despised. Over a century has passed since that time and Adrien's revenge against the creatures who tainted him is almost complete.

Little does he know that his thirst for justice will turn on him.

Foiling an attempted rape, Adrien is stunned by his attraction to the would-be victim. Cassie Wilson is a vibrant woman, obsessed with living for every moment. Though he knows better, Adrien begins to fall in love with her. But Cassie hides a terrible secret: her cancer is incurable.

When he and Cassie are captured by his enemies, Adrien is given a choice. Should he choose death for himself, or life for Cassie by making her one of the clan he's shunned for too long?

"Deliciously dark and erotic, Sins of the Night will have readers on the edge of their seats as each character is introduced and their motivations revealed. Knowing that they will soon be on a collision course--and not knowing if someone will die, gives this enthralling tale a dark edge....

Devyn Quinn has once again created a tale that will leave you wanting more and expecting no less than another stellar story." - RRT Erotic

"Devyn Quinn delivers a sexy, dark and inventive tale of vampirism. Not for the faint of heart!" - Fresh Fiction

"An exciting fantasy thriller... 5 Stars." - Harriet Klausner

"Unique...part thriller, part love story and part fantasy. Quinn has created some intriguing creatures with unique interesting addition to the vampire genre." - Romantic Times

Friday, July 11, 2008

Let’s Talk About Setting.

I'm delighted to welcome back Mona Risk as our guest today. Mona had a lot of success in writing contests prior to her first book being published. Her second book came out recently from Cerridwen and her third will be released soon by The Wild Rose Press.

Helen, thank you for inviting me to talk about my books, their settings and characters.

My book, TO LOVE A HERO is set in Belarus, a Russian country I visited on business trips, a place where I learned to drink vodka, toast by saying Nazhtrovia, and discover the Russian hospitality.

When I visited Greece ten years ago, I fell in love with Mikinos and set a new story I’m still working on in this, Island of Passion. It’s a sizzling romance between a Greek millionaire and an American lawyer.

Last month, we cruised the Italian Riviera. First stop was Sicily. I wanted to visit the home of my Sicilian hero in High-Rise Style.

A few years ago, I visited the Loire Valley and was impressed by the magnificence of the French Chateaux. I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in lavishly decorated galleries and plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. I don’t write historical romances but kept thinking about the setting.

A year later, while spending Christmas with my sister, my niece enthusiastically related her summer training in a French chateau, as an American student in Architecture from Harvard University. She was offered the unique opportunity to work on the restoration of a chapel in France. When I asked jokingly, “Was the owner a haughty old man?” My niece answered: “He was a young, handsome count and the five girls in my team had a crush on him. He dated my friend.”

Oh, oh. Chateau. Handsome count. Training on a historical chapel. Maybe looking for a historical statue. I had an epiphany. Here was my story premise. When I pitched it to an agent at the RWA conference, she suggested I change my story to a romantic suspense. I took her suggestion to heart and upped the stakes with a missing statue and the murder of a professor to the plot.

French Peril was born. My characters would like to introduce themselves:

Cheryl Stewart: My mentor, Professor Howard became sick during a lunch with a Malaysian student and was rushed to the hospital. Food poisoning or heart attack? He asked me to go to France on his behalf and help a French count with the restoration of a chapel and the search for a valuable statue that had been missing since World War II.

What could be more exciting than spending a couple months working in the plush Loire Valley, in France? I will have to live in the count’s chateau. The same count I saw at Harvard three years ago. The handsome playboy was so busy entertaining gorgeous women he didn’t give me the time of the day back then. I bet he won’t remember me.

François de Valroux: I can’t believe Professor Howard skipped our appointment and sent his graduate student. On the other hand, Cheryl is such a lovely young woman. What can I say… I come from a long line of glorious adulterers and fabulous lovers. When the Boston Hospital calls to announce Cheryl’s mentor died, I do my best to console her with a hug and a kiss, and pledge to protect her. It’s my pleasure. Huh…I mean my duty.

For her own safety, I ask her to keep the search for my statue secret from the five other students training on the chapel reconstruction.

Edith Blaise: I consider myself François’ current girlfriend. I want him badly but I also have a weakness for his title, his fortune, his chateau and its treasures. I won’t let anyone interfere with my goal of becoming the next Countess of Valroux. Certainly not, the American student, a nerd who lives in a pair of blue jeans and finds her happiness in old stones and computers.

Adriaan Van Deem: I come from Amsterdam. I’m studying archeology and I can’t resist the appeal of old stones. Especially if they have a high monetary value. It wouldn’t hurt to befriend the American student who seems to know a lot about the missing statue.

Juan-Pablo Rodriguez: My correct title is Don Juan-Pablo. I hail from the Universidad de Madrid and I am preparing a doctorate in the history of Romanesque churches. I’m a gallant man who always compliments a beautiful woman. I also like artistic treasures.

Roberto Cantari: I was born in Sicily. Women love my dark looks and I love women. My nonna raised me. Now she prays all the time that I remain an honest man. I respect my nonno, a former and famous mafioso. I would do anything to please my grandparents.

Chuck Minho: I was born in London. I am a quiet man who doesn’t talk much, but I don’t miss anything going on around me. I don’t like the looks the American girl gives me. Dirty looks. As if she suspects me of killing someone, just because I look Chinese.

Karl Boderman: I’m studying art, painting and sculpting at the University of Berlin. I can’t believe the show these young studs put when a pretty face shows up. I don’t trust any of them. If you want my opinion, I don’t think they are who they say they are. But then…I’m not too.

Bernard: I am the old butler. My father served François’ grandfather and I was raised in the chateau. I love François as if he was my own son and I want to see him married with a good French woman. Mademoiselle Edith seems to love him. She’s always visiting and staying in the chateau, in the room next to his. But I think François is attracted to the American student. He asked me to put her in the room next to him, on the other side. I don’t like that. François sandwiched between the women’s rooms. I don’t like it at all. Especially that the rooms in this old chateau have secret communication doors.
My fondest dream is to find the statue and put it back on the altar of the reconstructed chapel. But someone hit me in the dark and asked me questions about the statue.

Cheryl: I pledge to go after Professor Howard’s killer and find the statue to honor my mentor’s memory. Things would be easier if I wasn’t so attracted to François.

François: Cheryl is careless and exposing herself to danger all the time. I’m constantly worried about her. She has turned my life upside down and I’m ready to give up the search for the statue to ensure Cheryl’s safety, but she won’t let me.

Together we need to find out:
Who poisoned Professor Howard?
Who hit Bernard?
Who broke into Cheryl’s room?
Where is the statue?
Why is François jealous when the students flirt with Cheryl?

It is easy and comfortable to place our heroes in settings we know, places where they (and their authors) can navigate without problems. What if you write historicals or paranormals? How do you study your setting? How do you create your hero and heroine’s special home?

FRENCH PERIL and TO LOVE A HERO are available at Cerridwen Press. 1419917189

Both books can also be bought and downloaded from my website or my blog

And then? Do you dream about visiting the places where you set your characters?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Magical Seduction of an Angel

2012 ~ What happens ‘When a Good Angel Falls’ ?
Being an avid listener of Coast-to-Coast am, night talk radio, famous for its paranormal topics ~ the subject of 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar ~ is one of the hottest conversations going, and only gets hotter as we come closer and closer to what some people refer to as the endtimes.
So, what if? What will occur on that magical and mystical winter solstice date of December 21, 2012 ~ that final day of the Mayan calendar?
When a Good Angel Falls, my novel coming soon from Siren-BookStrand, answers that question with Sedona and Volcano’s unusual love story.
Join me at Ann Cory’s Magical Seduction blog ~ ~ for a story blurb and to share your thoughts and insights about 2012.
I will choose ONE person who comments for a free fun angel mini-reading via e-mail. This means I pull one angel card for you, tune in to the wise words of the angelic realm, and e-send you the results.
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
Red Lioness Tamed ~ spicy sci fi available from Liquid Silver Books, Molten Silver ~ ~ Untamed lioness lost in space
All Shades of Blue Paradise [World of the Blue Pearl Moon, Book I] ~ aristocratic fantasy available from Siren Publishing ~ ~ Which seductive shade of blue are you?
Pleasures of Blue Lotus Oil [World of the Blue Pearl Moon, Book II] ~ aristocratic fantasy coming from Siren Publishing
Tangerine Carnal Dreams ~ stallion shifter adventure coming from Aspen Mountain Press
When a Good Angel Falls ~ 2012 angelic fantasy coming from Siren-BookStrand summer 2008
Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis ~ futuristic coming from Siren-BookStrand

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And the next one along will be ...

I've been talking recently to Louise Allen, who will be joining us in one of our regular Friday guest slots, later in the month, to chat about her new linked series. Those Scandalous Felshams are currently two books in from Harlequin/Mills and Boon, with four more to follow.

Interviewing Louise about writing six books got me thinking about the nature of series, and all the different types there are.

The classic is, of course, the continuing story of one protagonist, often an amateur sleuth or a policeman. Holmes, Poirot and Inspector Lynley pass from case to case, and from book to book.

But there are now other variations in series. Linked books, like Louise's -- a set number of books where the cast of characters have their own chance centre stage, but have supporting or walk on parts in other books. Then there are the grouped books, like Harry Potter or the Narnia Chronicles, where the story develops, in full, over six or seven books. In Dickens’s time his books often began as serials, which might have felt similar to readers.

I’ve also identified another variation, though I may be getting a bit pedantic here. It’s what I think of as the themed series. Something like Sherilyn Kenyon, and the Dark Hunters -- where the protagonists are a part of a group, but they don't always, or necessarily, interlock. You know the world you will be entering when you open the book, but the characters and setting might be very different from what has gone before.

Then there is the happy accident. We’ve all heard the story of the minor character who demanded their own book, sometimes to the author’s surprise. And of course there’s the successful book (or film) that produced demand for sequels, prequels and any other quel you could think of.

Another kind of series is the trilogy. I was going to say that this is a fairly new phenomenon, and then I remembered The Lord of the Rings! A brilliant leading exponent of this writing method is currently, of course, Nora Roberts. Three linked books, three love stories, one challenge, often paranormal, building over three books to the final showdown. There is also another touch to this: publishing houses releasing the books rapidly over a period of months, so that the reader is not left waiting too long for closure.

As a reader, I'm wondering whether I have a preference. I love them all, but I think I may have a sneaking weakness for those linked trilogies.

At the moment I’m waiting, of course, for Ash’s story. Plus the last in Nora Robert’s Seven trilogy. My friendly neighbourhood librarian informs me that won’t be out here until November, and she is ahead of me on the list, but I have been able to get my paws on the latest Elizabeth George, Careless in Red which is now top of the TBR pile.

The Title Magicians are writing across the spectrum -- stand-alone, links, trilogies.

So -- contributions ladies?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Burdens We Carry or The Upside of Down

My mother once told me that everyone carries a burden. All of us have hurts, pains, shames--it’s what makes us human. Sharing the burdens releases some of the pressure caused by shouldering difficulties by ourselves.

I have found I deal best with my burdens when I use them in my writing. For example: When my eight-year-old dog started having seizures, the news from the vet was not good. When we eliminated toxins and major organ failure, we were left with the horrific possibility of a brain tumor.

The only way to know short of an MRI (a thousand dollar test) was to wait. If she did have a brain tumor, she would exhibit personally changes within six months. So all I could do was wait. (The picture to the side is my dog on a river trip around the time this was going on.)

During that time, I wrote about a character who struggled with the same thing happening to his dog. To this day I think he is one of the most interesting and compelling characters I’ve ever written.

In the midst of my contest diva days, this character was beloved by judges because he was all alpha male but he had this marshmallow heart where his dog was concerned. It rounded him out and made him human. Giving a character a burden takes him from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

After a year of agonizing waiting we knew my dog did not have a tumor. She was eventually diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. (Er, Idiopathic is fancy doctor speak for, “Gosh, we have no idea why” it is where we get the word idiot.)

My dog takes two medications to help control her seizures. She will be thirteen this November and I’m grateful for every moment I have with her. I don’t have kids so she is my hairy, bowlegged child. If she were human, I couldn’t love her more than I already do.

My point with all of this is that writing is great therapy. I took my burden and shared it with my character. My struggle became his and we both learned how to deal with the burden. As I helped him cope, he helped me.

Have you ever done something like this? If so, did it help you deal with it or did it only exacerbate the problem?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Is Your/Our Reader?

Belated Introductions…

I’m not published yet, so I technically don’t have any readers yet…but as part of this blog, I do. I also realized when we Title Magic ladies began this blog, we really didn’t introduce ourselves…we had been on a loop together for several busy months before beginning this blog.

We know each other, so we assumed anyone logging in would know us, too. Or perhaps we thought only our friends would be blogging with us. I don’t know, but we might have overlooked something in those assumptions. We had even decided on our chat loop the purpose of the blog and what we hope to offer. I’m not sure we made those goals clear—or perhaps it doesn’t hurt to review—on the blog itself.

Also, I haven’t heard from a guest blogger I’d hoped to have here today so I’m being creative:)

When I attended the Pro Retreat at Nationals two years ago (wow, time flies and Dallas and San Francisco were a bit much for my pocketbook), one of the talks focused on this very topic—who are your readers—of your book and/or your blog. The finalists of the American Title IV contest last year decided we wanted to blog about the craft, the business, and the joy of writing. Our targeted audience has been writers like us—some relatively new to the process, some experienced and wise, all of us busy. Please let us know who you are—and what topics you might like to see covered.

Our purpose is both to inform and entertain—and we hope you can’t get the exact same information elsewhere. We hope to provoke a response from the reader—and we hope to personalize the blogs—make them relevant to all of you out there in cyberspace—and we hope to have repeat customers. All of the same goals exist when we write our books.

Finally, just in case you didn’t see the American title stuff in Romantic Times magazine, here’s me—Lexie. I’m the mother of two (who are not letting me write very much lately), wife, and psychology professor in the Southeastern United States. I’ve been a member of RWA since 2002, but only get to write in the summers so I consider myself still very new. I’ve been writing fantasy romance—aliens and rednecks, shapeshifters and so on. This summer, I’ve been sort of at a resting point—writing, and receiving “good” rejection letters as if such things exist. They do to me, I appreciate it when an agent states—you’re a good writer, but I can’t advocate the story line. Maybe I’m making progress, but at the very least, I’m enjoying writing!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tangerine Magic

Pardon for the late posting. Storms rolled through last night.
From the moment I heard the word ‘tangerine’ I felt enchanted. Why? I don’t have a clue, except that I simply luv the sound of the word itself. Of course, once I saw the brilliant red-orangey color, then smelled a tangerine...that sun-exotic tangy sweet fragrance...and, even better, tasted a tangerine, I was completely bewitched, and even more in love with everything tangerine.
Yep, Tangerine, a great name, a great packaging color, a great smell and a great taste. It’s healthy and it’s portable.
So, you may ask, where did the name originate from? Tangiers, of course. Because that’s where this variety of mandarin orange was shipped from at first, the ports of Tangier. The ‘-ine’ was added according to my secret intel...yeah, right (info via internet search) in the city of Florentine in Italy.
However, I say the Word Magicians waved their ever-powerful wands from behind the secret garden curtain, from whence the most wonderful and spectacular words originate...and voila, Tangerine was created for the enjoyment of All.
Now, the next fab four event in my love affair with the word ~ The Beatles ~ and the song written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The instant I heard that song, I was again enchanted and totally transported via my imagination into a fantasy-like world, one which could only be experienced within the imagination...and, one of the keys, I believe, to why psychedelic music and the movement, itself, held its own sorcery. Like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, it could be experienced within the dimension of the imagination and the mind. We fiction writers know about that intimately, the imagination, where our stories live and wait to be written.
The psychedelic age provided a new excitement, a starship of music and culture to explore the frontiers of the mind. Life had begun anew, or think a Jimi Hendrix poster vs the iconic magazine covers of Norman Rockwell.
Okay, I’ve sorta gotten off track...sorta. Picture yourself in a boat on a river, With tangerine trees and marmalade skies ~ the first two lines of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (actually inspired by John Lennon’s son, Julian, a childhood drawing he called by that name) ~ Not only did I fall in love with those lines, and the entire song, I was beautifully beguiled. And there it was again, firing up my imagination with flowing dreamy and magnificent images ~ that word, the color. Tangerine.
What if there was a tangerine world? The color, that is...yep, I invented that world in my novella, Tangerine Carnal Dreams. And had an awfully fun time building this world. And, yep, the edits are finalized. Whew!
And thus, we have arrived at promo time. For those who don’t enjoy erotic romance, or stallion shape shifting or a heroine who can and does shoot fire from her palm, please forego the following excerpt. While there is no nudity or actual sex, still...there are naughty words and I want you to be warned.

Happy Fireworks and Freedom day!

Tangerine Carnal Dreams ~ Savanna Kougar ~ coming from Aspen Mountain Press
Excerpt: From Chapter One ~
"Katta! Where are you? I’ve lost your blink on the netscope."
"I’m here, Jessa. Power-divert to tracking. I’ve got him, sis. I’ve got the son of a wormhole." Katta struck her relay panel forcing more power to her speed system. The old spacecraft jerked forward, into a new warp level-humming loudly, vibrating roughly.
"Come on, you bucket of silicon bolts. You know I luv ya."
"Katta, where are you?" Jessa’s voice bounced in and out, shrill with concern.
"Looks like our personal villain is on the fast trail to Yemisque."
"Yemisque! Katta, no. It’s not worth it."
"I don’t care. I’m going to get him."
"He can hide, do anything to you–almost anything." Jessa amended, having enjoyed Yemisque’s free wheeling sex pleasures often.
"I’ve gotta get it back. I’m not letting Dad go down the devil’s asshole. He’ll lose everything..."
"Katta, even you can’t–"
"I see it, Jessa. Tangerine as those gumdrops you gobble. Yep! His vapor fart swirls down to that planet lust-playground."
"Come back..." Her sister’s worried voice crackled faintly.
"Sorry, sis. Gotta cut you free."
Katta hit communications’ access with a swift hard slam of her fist. Then punched on the opening to Yemisque.
"Tangerine carnal dreams, here I come," she muttered fiercely, on fire with capturing her prey.
Automated landing instructions flowed, a sensual male crooning, translated into her birth language.
"Yeah, that’s what I’m coming for, a really hard-lunging time. Oh baby, give it to me, harder, oooooh harder," she mocked. Quickly, she set the rickety, but plucky craft on cruise.
Katta stretched, relieving the tight anticipation of her muscles. "I don’t suppose it’ll be a flush-out run to the nearest fornicating mecca. Get my quarry. Then get out. I wish. Upon a trillion zillion stars."
"Corporal Kattalonia Svelle of Windsworld, an interview once you land."
The Adonis male beamed a sensual smile from her antiquated screen. Her breath caught in her chest. Just for a moment. His clear blue lake eyes transfixed her, tripped her heart beat. Just for a moment.
"Sure, Master of Security. Could use your assistance. And you’re not half-bad to gaze longingly upon. How’s the wife?"
"In rambunctious heat. I’m in carnal paradise. Still playing the ice spinster, Corporal?"
"Too much chasing the bad galactic guy. No time for rambunctious lusting. See ya on the ground, handsome." Katta raised one brow. "No men hiding in the bushes, right? Ready to abscond with my unwilling body?"
Yemisque’s Master of Security merely fondled her with his smile, then blipped free of her screen.
Katta shook her head, then her entire body, freeing herself. His presence was all passion- encompassing. And a reminder she required a garment change to undercover gear.
"Trashy space babe coming up, or going down to..." Stretching, she slowly combed her fingers through her hair. "Oh, my goddess!" she whispered, an image of a male cock coming up, the idea of her going down on him. "I’m already ruined."

Tangerine kisses from the Kougar...

Pony Romance Reviews
~ The review corral for equine shifters, humans and all OtherWorlders
Tangerine Carnal Dreams reviewed by Pokey, the Prairie Kid
(Son of Pokey, Gumby’s equine pal)
This fast blast, carnal romping adventure is the perfect summer pasture read for every mare and stallion. Your tail will fly banner-high as you enjoy how Zio, hero and a stallion shifter, chases his one true love straight into his human arms, despite Corporal Kattalonia’s determination not to become his Mate. With her fiery temper and her fiery palm aimed at him, he’ll have to stampede over every obstacle on the lust playground planet of Yemisque to win her.
Pokey paws the ground and gives 5 whinnies.
Have a book you want reviewed? Toss it in the oat bucket. Or e-send to

Red Lioness Tamed ~ spicy sci fi available from Liquid Silver Books, Molten Silver ~ ~ Untamed lioness lost in space
All Shades of Blue Paradise [World of the Blue Pearl Moon, Book I] ~ aristocratic fantasy available from Siren Publishing ~ ~ Which seductive shade of blue are you?
Pleasures of Blue Lotus Oil [World of the Blue Pearl Moon, Book II] ~ aristocratic fantasy coming from Siren Publishing
Tangerine Carnal Dreams ~ stallion shifter adventure coming from Aspen Mountain Press
When a Good Angel Falls ~ 2012 angelic fantasy coming from Siren-BookStrand summer 2008
Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis ~ futuristic coming from Siren-BookStrand

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~