Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Special Guest: Anida Adler

Dr Jeckyll, Ms Hyde
The constant battle between the swooning maiden and the snarling dominatrix.

He was an absolute arsehole. The man was domineering, forceful, intimidating and, sometimes, rude. If I’d met him in real life, my alter ego would have sprung to life and… it doesn’t bear thinking of.

I first met that other me when I was about sixteen. My friend Adele and I were visiting her friend, Chrizelda. They had a swimming pool in their back garden - not an uncommon thing in South Africa. What they had which not many others did, however, was an enclosed lapa. A lapa is a thatched roof supported on wooden poles, which is usually open-sided. This one was more like a little house, and inside it was kitted out perfectly for teenagers. A dartboard was mounted on one wall. A fridge behind the bar was stocked with soft drinks. There were cane chairs to sit on. Most importantly, though, it had a pool table.

This lazy, hot afternoon, there was a group of boys visiting as well. In the company of beautiful, slim Adele and voluptuous, blonde Chrizelda, I felt my nerdy oddness even more acutely than usual. However, as the afternoon progressed, I turned from intimidated to annoyed. These boys were not the sharpest tools in the shed. And one of them took a particular dislike to me.

The little snot was good-looking, and he knew it. When he turned his sneering attention to me, something inside me woke up and snarled back. I had a retort ready for every cutting remark, a withering look for every superior glance. Then it came to a challenge of a pool game, and I took him up on it.

How in hell I managed it, I will never know. I’ve never been a great pool player, and the boy was generally considered more than competent at the game. Every other hormone-loaded teen there fell quiet as the competition progressed. I matched him shot for shot, and in the end, he only managed to beat me by a whisker.

The whole group looked at me with new respect. It was time for me to head home, and I did so with my head held high. That same head lowered gradually as the hours passed. What on earth had just happened? How had I managed that? But I did, and though it was very rare, this alter ego appeared again over the years, leaving a few arrogant bastards licking serious wounds in her wake.

Now the type of guy I so despise in real life confronted me again, this time from the pages of a book. And all I could think of was how much I was rooting for him to manage a shag with the heroine. What on earth is going on?

I’m not alone in this, you know. I’ll bet a hundred dollars… okay, wait. I’m broke this month. I’ll bet ten dollars that the vast majority of us would really hate many of the overbearing heroes depicted in romance novels, were they to knock on our doors. I outgrew my nerdyness, and had ample opportunity to prove to myself that a great looker only amuses you so far if he is not compatible with your personality. The man most pleasing to the eye in the whole world will lose his charms if a right bastard resides in that perfect body.

The man for most girls is the one who is great company, has a good sense of humour, is kind, considerate, compassionate and a good father. Thinking of my own life partner, it’s precisely because he gives me freedom and doesn’t dominate me, that I love him.

Why, then, do the guidelines of so many romance and erotica publications tactfully (and sometimes bluntly) advise authors that heroes need to be type A personalities? You know, the anal kind that are a walking target for heart attacks because they’re so… so… growly?

We want our independence, we want our freedom. We want to be respected as equals. And when we get anywhere near a bed with a naked man, we want to be DOMINATED! Tie me up, spank me, or at least take charge, for God’s sake. The whimpering heroine of the tacky novels of old is long gone. Yet in a way, she’s never left. The heroine must be strong, but the hero must be stronger! He doesn’t have to rescue her, she can rescue him… but then he must bed her and shag her senseless to say thank you. We want to read about the feisty lady, and we want to see her conquered by the hero’s inner bastard. What is wrong with us?

I don’t know the answer to this question. We’re all helpless in the face of our dual nature. But in a way, I think it’s fantastic that we have romance and erotica to live out this unfortunate aspect of ourselves. In a story it’s harmless, it’s exciting and fun. We can get rid of the urge to whimper, and get back to real life with a snarl.

The Ancient

By: Anida Adler


What would you do if you fell in love with the goddess of death?

June 1945 - Tadhg Daniels sees a woman clad in strange clothes and a feathered cloak, but she’s invisible to everyone else. He’s convinced his mind has been unhinged by the horrors of the D-day landings four days before, but when she appears to him again, the woman proves she is real. She is Morrigan, goddess of death, come to warn him his life is about to end.

Morrigan is disturbed by the man she meets. He looks in her eyes unflinching, while all others avoid her gaze. She’s never found such a strong will to survive in any of her charges before. He refuses to accept he’s going to die.

There is a way for Tadhg to cheat death, a secret Morrigan has guarded for millennia. Morrigan can save him if she takes him as her lover, but sex with the goddess of death will change him. He needs time to decide if he’s prepared to give up his humanity in order to be with her forever.

But Tadhg is not the only one who knows Morrigan’s secret. Someone else wants to take by force the gift she can bestow. And he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Excerpt 1:

Rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat, and two more German soldiers lay dead on the ground that had soaked up the blood of so many good men. The smell of cordite stung his nose and roiled nausea in his stomach. He glanced down at their faces, a seasoned soldier, judging from the lines etched around his mouth, beside him a boy not much older than Stephen.

Not now, not now. There had to be time enough to let the agony of taking life from others flow through his heart. He shoved past Morrigán. Someone fell beside him, and he pulled the trigger, shot and killed, wounded, maimed, and moved on. Bullets zinged an inch past him, and he tumbled into a shell hole beside Mark, breath racing in his chest.

And she was there, beside him, silent, waiting.

“I will not die,” Tadhg growled, but rising fear clutched cold fingers at his throat.
“You’re right there, my friend.” Mark clapped his shoulder. “We’re going to get through this shit together and go horseback riding when this fuckup is over.” He turned his attention back to the fighting, back to the air cloyed with hatred, anger, despair, and fear, and killed more Germans so they would not kill him. “Come on!” Mark shouted to Tadhg and launched himself over the lip of the hole.

Tadhg glanced at Morrigán and hesitated. Her gaze rested on him, and he saw eternity in her eyes. “No, Morrigán. No.” And with that he followed Mark, lifted his body from safety -- and felt the bullets slam into his chest as if time had slowed to a trickle. He fell and slid back into the shell hole, stared up at the blue sky in stunned disbelief.

Sound receded until he lay in utter silence among screams of pain and anger, in the midst of pounding boots and rattling guns. He felt no pain, but it was difficult to breathe, and something wet bubbled on his lips.

Morrigán crouched beside him. Why did she look angry? “You want to live, poet? You want to live no matter what?”

Again he felt that odd sensation of a part of him accepting, looking forward to entering the land of shades. He could blend with the power of running horses, exist in the steaming joy of early morning gallops across dewy fields. Yet inside him, another part rebelled, struggled for life, even as he sensed the last few grains of sand sink to the narrow waist of the hourglass of his measure of days. And as he lay dying, he rested his gaze on Morrigán’s beautiful, pearl-white face, and the part that wanted to live grew, filled him, became all of him.

“Tadhg, answer me. Do you want to live, no matter what the price?”

He couldn’t speak. Dear God, she offered him a chance, and now, because his lungs were filling with blood, he could not force his voice to reach out for what he craved with his entire being. Blackness tinged the edges of his vision; he fought to hold the receding image of her face. He nodded his answer, and she reacted in an instant, flicked her cloak over his body, and Tadhg felt himself falling, falling into a landscape of terrible dreams.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Special Guest: Sandy Lender

Abra Abracadabra
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

How did I write a fantasy series with magic without using magic in the novel? As luck would have it, the fantasy genre lets me create all kinds of new elements. As a friend used to say to me, “If you need a tree somewhere, in fantasy, you can just put the tree there.” So I made up a “power” for the good guys in my series to wield.

Being a Southern Baptist, I believe that using magic and sorcery is a negative thing. Among other passages, the Bible has a section that warns not to practice divination or sorcery or engage in witchcraft, etc., so I wanted to be really careful not to suggest that the “good guys” in my series were using divination, sorcery, or witchcraft. Well, gee whiz, how to give the good guys an edge? Fantasy is full of magic—that’s one of the things that makes it fantastical, right? In a moment of compromise, I made up my own form of “power” for the good guys. I call it the geasa and it’s a god-breathed power that some people receive after conception.

Now, you can argue that I’m walking a fine line there, but, hey, it’s my fantasy world—I’ll walk a fine line if I want to. (Read that to the tune of “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”) Mwuahahahahaha.

To be serious, Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings are enjoyable for a variety of audiences, including high schoolers, so I wanted to be sure I wasn’t flinging confusing ideas into impressionable minds. I kept the “colorful language” to a minimum; I think you can count the naughty words in each novel on one hand. I kept the physical innuendoes to innuendo and made most of them rather humorous at that. I kept the romance to a sweet romance that doesn’t have characters compromising one another’s integrity. The PG-13 rating (which I noticed my publisher has changed to a PG rating recently) is for violence, which I struggled to keep from going into the “R” category.

What readers may find bizarre is that this nice little So Bapt Chickadee made up a polytheistic society with a not-quite-worthy deity for the coo-el heroine to protect. But, hey, it’s fantasy. Ya gotta make up something fantastical.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”
Choices Meant for Kings
Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Special Guest: C.L. Talmadge

Alpha Heroines

Alpha heroines, where are you? The top protagonists to admire and emulate in books, films, graphic novels, television, and video games are overwhelmingly male.

Alpha heroes abound throughout fiction in all media. These talented and dedicated characters are too numerous to list comprehensively, although any mention has to include contemporary mega favorites Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman, and Superman. From the past there’s Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon, the Green Hornet and The Shadow. All of them terrific, and all of them are male.

Can’t a woman be an alpha hero, too?

To be sure, a handful of females hang out in the alpha heroism pantheon. They include Lara Croft, X-(Wo)Man Jean, Nancy Drew, Wonder Woman, and Xena the Warrior Princess. By and large, however, the ranks of alpha heroines are thin, and the reasons for this dearth have changed as women’s social role has evolved.

In the past, the creators and consumers of heroic fiction simply could not imagine women as courageous, strong-willed, and pro-active. Females were strictly to be rescued from peril, not do the rescuing themselves. Women provided eye candy and screams of terror-distress at appropriate moments to heighten the tension and help make the alpha hero’s exploits all the more remarkable. Females also could be the source of the alpha hero’s one weakness or play the ever present role of evil temptress (the ongoing rerun of woman as Eve).

Women have a lot more options and a bit more power in some societies today. So now alpha heroic fiction offers its primarily male audience an escape back to presumably happier times (at least for men). In these good old days, men were manly, a few were top heroes, and women knew and remained in their (subordinate) places. Much of today’s alpha heroes and their worlds are a tedious exercise in gender power nostalgia.

How tiresome and boring. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bring us some alpha heroines!

It just so happens that alpha heroines inhabit the pages of the Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic. First-generation heroine Helen Andros, a “formidable protagonist,” according to Kirkus Discoveries, is an alpha heroine to the max. She is so tall, brainy, opinionated, and accomplished that she scares many men. She’s also dedicated to her calling as a physician and willing to take risks despite her fears to help patients who need her.

Helen is an alpha heroine in a society that is male dominated. Women are strictly second class in Azgard, the lost island nation where she lives. Helen is especially vulnerable in her world because she is a presumed orphaned, illegitimate half breed. Her long lost mother was a Turanian, the subjugated race in Azgard; her unknown father a member of the dominant Toltecs. In every sense, Helen sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb, and struggles to find a place in a society hostile to her very existence for numerous reasons.

The public unmasking of the identity of Helen’s father sets the tale in motion, and Helen’s dangers only continue to grow even though every now knows her father’s identity as one of the most powerful and highest ranked Toltec lords. The state-sanctioned, powerful Temple of Kronos wants Helen dead because its leader fears the mythical gifts and abilities of half-breeds as a challenge to his institution’s authority and prestige.

But Helen grows, too, picking up skills to defend herself and heal others by wielding a spiritual energy known as kura. She and her descendents, who will be alpha heroines as well, hold out a loving, inclusive alternative to theocrats who persecute anyone who does not look or believe as they do.

The priests’ drive for dominance ultimately destroys Azgard. But a descendent of Helen meets the challenge of preventing the total destruction of her people, leading them to a new beginning in what remains of a world shattered by the unloving lust for total control.

C.L. Talmadge is the author of the Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic. The fourth in the series, Outcast, will be published Oct. 1. Vote for the first book, The Vision, by midnight Sept. 25 and get a free e-book on healing, love, and spirituality. Details at her blog: www.healingstonebooks.com/stonescribe

The series features four generations of strong-willed female characters who inherit a mysterious green gem ultimately revealed to mend broken bones and broken hearts, protect against missiles, and render its wearers undetectable.

For more information about each book, please visit http://www.greenstoneofhealing.com/

Friday, September 11, 2009

Special Guest: Lorhainne Eckhart

What inspires me to write romance?

Life and those relationships that surround me, inspire me to write romance. I love romance and I do believe we all need a little bit in our life. Whatever the story I am writing, there is always that key component the guy and the girl, a love story centered on them. Life is full of so many conflicts, trying times and troubling news. Out of that I see a resolve to a happier ending. So I start creating the story to that happy ending, with all the twists and turns that can arise out of that journey to love.

I believe with everything that we work through in our days one thing that adds that something special, is romance. We all need it to exist, to be happy and it is truly good for our soul.

Whatever bad times may be going on around us, whether it is in our personal life, with conflicts, local economy or a difficult path in your life. The one thing that is inspiring to me is romance and that happy ending which we all want to happen when times are difficult.

So add a little romance to your life, to spice it up, to give you hope.

The Captain's Lady
by Lorhainne Eckhart


Captain Eric Hamilton is a powerful force in the U.S. Navy, having earned himself a reputation of being a hard-nosed chauvinist. He’s commander of the USS Larsen, a destroyer, currently deployed in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Abby Carlton has just escaped from the man who held her captive for a year. Abducted while travelling in Paris, she was given to an Arab man as a gift, until one night she makes her desperate escape.

While on patrol one morning Captain Eric Hamilton discovers a dinghy floating aimlessly. Abby is found, battered and in an advanced state of pregnancy, lying in the bottom of the dinghy. From the moment she lay on the deck of his ship her innocence finds a way to penetrate his hardened heart. But time is running out. Eric is falsely accused of sexual assault and the CIA wants Abby and the baby for bait to flush out her captor.


“We have no reports of a ship in distress in the area, Captain.”

“What about fishing boats?”

“No, sir, no reports.”

Looking once more at his first officer, Eric issued curt orders, the harshness grating in his voice. “Send a rescue team to check it out.”

Handing the binoculars off to one of the crew members, he strode with determination off the bridge, heading directly to the ship’s launch. His well-trained crew scurried about. Joe appeared at his side and they watched from the rail as the small rigid hull sped off in the direction of the dinghy. His pulse rose and the dampness on his back soaked through his short-sleeved shirt.

“So what do you think?” Joe leaned on the rail, uncertainty clear in the crinkle of his brows.

“Don’t know, dammit.” Eric focused on the scene unfolding in the distance. Again he commandeered the binoculars from Joe and scrutinized the three-man team approaching, then securing the boat to the dinghy.

His senses were keen; over the years, he’d learned to trust them. The uneasiness that crept its way into his gut, the hairs now standing up on the back of his neck and the racing of his heart; this unshakable feeling was telling him that things were about to change—drastically. Puzzled, he felt the mounting frustration build inside, along with something else he could not quite put his finger on. Shaking his head, he realized it was not a feeling of dread.

The crackle of the radio interrupted his speculation. A voice from the rescue team came over the line. “There’s someone in here, a woman, and she’s in bad shape.”

Thursday, September 3, 2009

RWA Board Candidate Cynthia D. Morgan

First, thanks to the ladies of the blog for hosting my ramblings today.

And second, voting for the 2010 RWA Board Elections started on Tuesday. Voting runs all month to allow those members without email addresses to be notified via snail mail. If RWA has your email address, you should have received a passcode and a link to the voting site. If, as you read this, you have not received this email, and RWA has your email address on file, you might want to check with the national office. Or you might check your spam mail filter. Either way, it’s important to voice your opinion by voting.

Now, all this week, I’ve been roaming around the internet talking about the 2010 RWA Board Elections, specifically my run for PRO Liaison. My bio, vision statement and answers to the board questionnaire are all on my website (http://cynthiadalba.blogspot.com/) so I won’t use up space repeating them here. The last two days, I have been talking with other PROs about what RWA PRO membership means, why the designation was created, and what kinds of issues do PRO members feel need to be addressed. Take a minute and read the posts of these blogs and the comments.

Why does PRO membership exist on EveryoneNeedsALittleRomance (http://everybodyneedsalittleromance.com/2009/09/02/why-does-rwa-pro-exists/)


The importance of volunteering on The Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers (http://pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com/)

From what I’m hearing from other PRO members, they were surprised to discover that PRO was created to enhance knowledge of the business aspects of publishing, not the craft. I know that the ladies of this blog are PRO members. Did you know that? The comments on Everyone Needs A Little Romance are excellent and thought provoking and I encourage you all to read them.

Yesterday when talking about volunteerism, the readers were surprised to discover there were PRO committees they could volunteer for. I’ve heard many PRO talk about what they’d like to see happen with the Pro-Org yahoo loop. Did you know that you can affect that loop by being on the PRO-Communications committee?

So talk to me. What PRO issue is burning a hole in your gut? And if helping grow and improve the PRO element of RWA would require that you volunteer two hours a month, could you do that?

Thanks for reading this and a HUGE thank you to all my friends who have roamed blog to blog with me this week, keeping me company, and sharing their opinions (not that any of them are too shy or bashful to tell me what they think on everything!)

And if you haven’t voted, get out there and vote.

Have a Safe and Happy Labor Day Weekend.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

RWA Board Candidate Karen Steele

Why am I running for a seat on the RWA Board of Directors?

By Karen Steele

When I first started talking to some friends about whether I should run for office as an RWA director, they began showering me with comments and suggestions.

The things they brought up were as varied as they were entertaining. Well they entertained me, but then that's why they're my friends. The conversations went something like this.

"You'll have less time to write. You'd need to get up before the kids do to get anything done."

"Then I'll just have to write smarter. Getting up early or staying up late isn’t anything new - I think I can handle the absence of sunlight with my coffee."

"You're going to have to bury yourself in bylaws, policy, and committee work. Why do you want to do that?"

"I've spent the last 3 years as a chapter officer loving almost every minute of bylaws, policy, and committee work." I do love the blank stare that often generates.

"Are you positive you want to run for the RWA board? I'm pretty sure they don't even have a cover model competition at their conference."

"Yes I'm sure, and no, they don't." (This friend, who has never been to an RWA national conference, went on to say she thinks it would really liven up the Golden Heart / Rita ceremony if we could just throw in some cover models. I suggested she write a letter to the event organizers and maybe try to get to a conference herself sometime in the future.)

"You won't be able to serve on your chapter board anymore."

I paused on this one. I do love my chapters, and working with the chapter board is something I've enjoyed. "I'll still be in the chapters though. And you don't have to serve on a board to be an active part of a chapter."

"Ah-ha. So if you don't have to be on the board to be an active member, why are you running for the board?"

I was starting to think maybe my friends didn't know me very well by now. So I called my best writer friend, the one who's known me since before I even joined RWA.
"I'm thinking about running for the board of RWA" I told her.

"Good. I think you'll do a great job. Now tell me why."

It's a good thing only one person brought up the cover model thing, or this post might have gone down an entirely different thematic road. But that "why" question was becoming my running-for-office theme. With each person I talked to, I became even more convinced that running for a seat on the board was the right thing for me to be doing now.

So, why? For starters, I love RWA. I know I’d still be writing if I had never joined, but I wouldn’t be writing as well. I might still be published, but I don’t think my work would be as polished and professional. If you want to become a comedian, I’m pretty sure you don’t sit in your bedroom telling jokes to no one besides yourself for five years. You head out to the comedy clubs and learn from the pros. Then you get on stage, and see if anyone laughs.

No one laughs when I get on stage, or if they do it’s probably not for the right reasons. So I stick to writing.

When I joined my first RWA chapters I looked at the authors around me. I saw people like me, just getting started. And there were members who had just sold a first book, who were celebrating their twentieth sale, some that were bleeding over a rejection and others celebrating finding an agent. But no matter where they were in their career, they were all focused on becoming the best writer they could be. And they were all there with their advice, support, cheers, and tissues when they were needed.

The chapters I belong to range in size from several dozen to several hundred members. Each chapter has its own sense of spirit, but they all share one common, unifying theme. We support each other and know that as each member grows and succeeds, our chapter grows and flourishes with her (or him). And the chapter board members each work as hard as any volunteer can to make sure their chapters and members keep moving forward together towards success.

Over the past few years it seems this sense of unification has not flourished on a national level. We've seen publisher controversy, eligible vs. recognized disarray, contest confusion, even a complete kerfuffle over something that's meant to be as positive as an awards ceremony.

Except for that last one (I'm still trying to figure out how that one happened myself) some of the most strident disputes have been over issues that build walls between members. Writers have been divided, pushing the membership into labeled groups instead of joining them into a unified organization.

Now I'm not looking to lead a round of Kumbaya around a council campfire. If you’d ever heard me sing – and you probably haven’t, because I don’t sing - you’d know that would probably lead to me drinking alone at the bar when everything was said and done. But I am interested in finding ways to bring the spirit of the membership back to where it started. When those 37 original members formed RWA nearly 30 years ago, I don’t think they felt a need to divide the membership based on where each member was in their career. They just wanted to become successful writers, and to support their fellow writers while they reached for their own success.

It takes a completely different level of leadership to educate and advocate for 10,000 writers than it does for 37. With the growth of membership came a lot of good things. But if it came with the loss of unity, I think we need to ask ourselves if all the growth has come in positive directions.

I don’t have an agenda, or a pet cause. I’m pro-writer, no matter if you are writing with your toes or with a keyboard, published on printed paper or digitally. I truly believe that just as there is no single "right" way to write, there is no single "right" way to publish. I wish to work with the board on educating members to the new choices and challenges that open to them every year, and promoting membership development as RWA continues to grow into an organization that serves and advocates for every one of its members.

And that is why I am running for a seat on the Romance Writers of America Board of Directors.

I encourage you to email me at kasteeleauthor@bellsouth.net if you have any questions.

You can see more information on me at my website, http://kasteele.com, and complete information on all the candidates at www.rwanational.org

Biography :
Karen Steele is currently running for a seat on the RWA Board of Directors as Region 3 Director. She lives with her husband and two children in Florida. Under the name Ember Case, she writes for Samhain Publishing.

Karen joined RWA in 2006. She has served the Passionate Ink chapter as Treasurer, Website Administrator, Contest Coordinator, and on numerous committees. She is also a member of ESPAN, the newly formed YARWA, and the First Coast Romance Writers. An active member of Romance Writers of America, she has previously served as contest judge and conference volunteer.

Karen is also a graphic artist, and has been a small business owner for over 15 years. To learn more about her writing, visit www.embercase.com or www.kasteele.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

Special Guest: Icy Snow Blackstone

For my blog today, I have as my guest Philip Hamilcar, hero of Earthman's Bride. Welcome, Philip. Thank you for coming. I hope speaking to this many unseen people won't be a daunting project for you.

Philip (The Governor of Tusteya is a tall, blond Earthman. He wears a dark blue uniform similar to the ones : Thank you, Mistress Blackstone. As Governor of Tusteya, I've spoken to the entire population of a planet, so I'll just pretend this is more of the same. (clears his throat) I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm Philip Hamilcar, Junior, and I'm the Earthman in Mistress' Blackstone's novel Earthman's Bride.

ICS: And you're the governor of the planet Tusteya.

Philip: That's right.

ICS: Pardon me for mentioning it, Philip, because I’m sure you get a lot of this, but you’re awfully young to be governor of an entire planet. I understand you became governor at a very early age.

Philip: That’s kind of you, Mistress Blackstone, for I’m fed up to here (waves a hand above his six-foot-three-height) with people pointing out my age! I was fifteen when I inherited the position from my father and I’ve been governor for five years now. Actually, no one else wanted the job. The men calling themselves my father's friends refused to accept the responsibility--even my Uncle Alexander. So...it was dropped into my adolescent lap. I became governor by default.

ICS: Uncle Alexander. That would be Alexander McIntyre? Your father's ensign?

Philip: Yes. He's not really my uncle but he helped my father raise me. I'll have to admit he's been a great help. (smiles with fondness) He managed to help a lot of the weight off the shoulders of a young boy who hadn't the foggiest idea how to rule a conquered planet. In fact, Uncle Lex and I got along fine...until I learned how to think for myself!

ICS: Give us a little background here. How did a man from Earth become governor on another planet?

Philip: It's not a pretty story, and--being an inhabitant of Earth, you may not like it but...here's goes: The Earth I know isn't a very nice place. They've used up all their resources and have started conquering other planets and sending their natural materials back to Earth. They call it "taking them into protective custody." The planets called it “invasion.” When it happened to Tusteya, they fought back but they were conquered anyway, and my father... Well, he protested the invasion and for his trouble, he and his men, including my Uncle Alexander, were left on the planet. To maintain Terran control, they were told. (looks angry) In reality, they were marooned!

ICS: That's awful! Was your mother marooned also? Did she chose to follow your father to the planet?

Philip: The Federation doesn't allow women in its ranks, Mistress. Every child born to the Terrans has a Tusteyan mother. There isn't a purebred Terran in the second generation and I'm one of them. I guess that's an old story where invaders are concerned but my father made certain every couple who got "involved" was lawfully married by a Tusteyan priest. Unfortunately, where the others had been love matches, my mother hated my father, hated the child she bore him and ran away to join the rebels in the mountains three days after I was born. She died in those mountains, killed by a wild animal.

ICS: Philip, I'm so sorry. So there your father was--stranded on a hostile planet, a widower with an infant, and--

Philip: --a planetful of natives wanting to kill him. Is it any wonder he died early? But please, let's not dwell on the sad part of this story. I loved my father, he did what he had to do. He raised me as an Earthman and I suppose I might have turned out as he did if Alcin Spearman hadn't decided to call a truce.

ICS: How long had this war with the Tusteyans been going on at that time? Thirty years or more, wasn't it?

Philip: Yes, thirty years. I was born ten years after it started and I was near to celebrating my twenty-first birthday when Alcin sent his representative to me. An honorable gentleman named Dr. Martin Celcius.

ICS: So Dr. Celcius came to you with an offer of peace...?

Philip: (smiling broadly) Oh, he brought more than an offer of peace! He told me Alcin had sent me his most cherished possession to keep until he himself could arrive to go over the terms of a peace treaty.

ICS: His most cherished possession! That must have been something very valuable.

Philip: It was...most valuable...(studies his hands a moment) and it also came my most cherished possession and one I'd die to protect.

ICS: My goodness, what was it?

Philip: My wife. Rebeka. He offered Rebeka to me as part of the peace agreement, and I-- (laughs in embarrassment) --Well, I was a twenty-year-old and not married and... (face reddens slightly) Do I have to go into detail? Let's just say that I fall in lust with her immediately.

ICS: Hmmm.

Philip: And within twenty-six hours of meeting Rebeka, that lust turned to love, though I didn't realize it for another twenty-six! Meeting Rebeka Spearman was the luckiest day of my life--and of the Tusteyan people's.

ICS: How do you mean? I think I understand how it was lucky for her people. After all, you apparently signed the peace treaty but how was it lucky for you?

Philip: Because Rebeka encouraged me to rebel. Don't think I was a wimp or anything but I was still fairly young to have such authority and I'd come to lean rather heavily on my uncle, but for a couple of years I'd been questioning the way we were treating the Tusteyans. And then Rebeka came along. She was the catalyst. You wouldn't think it to look at her rhat she could stir up everything so. I mean, she's so tiny, and delicate...with the most beautiful blue eyes and hair that's like black silk...and when she moves...(stops, coughs slightly) Excuse me, didn't mean to get so poetic. Guess you can tell I love the girl. Anyway, Rebeka kind of tipped the scales, make me recognize the fact that I wasn't an Earthman and I wasn't a Tusteyan but a combination of both. I was part of the conqueror as well as the conquered. She gave me the courage to do the things I later did.

ICS: And what were those things?

Philip: I think, Mistress Blackstone, that at this point, I'll have to be a little coy, and suggest anyone wanting to know about that part of our story should read your book. For a native Terran, you've been a very accurate historian, by the way, recording our struggle with total truth and a great impartiality. I'm hoping you'll stick around to report anything else that happens to us and to Tusteya, also.

ICS: Thank you for saying that, Philip, and that's a great segue for me to announce that Earthman's Bride, the first part of your and Rebeka's story, is available from Lyrical Press as an ebook.


He held out his hand, and she took it without hesitation, and when he smiled at that, she smiled back. They continued to walk.

They were behind the high hedge, now, out of sight of the android. Philip glanced towards the terrace. He couldn't see Darius and he was certain the robot wasn't able to see them, either.

Without warning, he caught her by the arms, pulled her towards him and kissed her, thinking as he did it, Fool! Idiot! She'll call for Darius and he'll pound you into the ground and you'll lose your life and your chance to make peace just because you're getting a hormone itch for Spearman's daughter!

But she didn't move, didn't fight, didn't do anything as he pressed his mouth against hers. All he felt was her warm breath floating gently onto his tongue.

When he released her, Rebeka's hand went to her mouth. She was breathing in little gasps.

"I know I shouldn't have done that," he began, thinking he'd better ward off the hysterics he expected.

"You're the first man who's ever kissed me."

He was startled at the--Oh God, was that awe?--in her voice.

Since she didn't appear to be about to yell for her bodyguard, he asked, "Then may I also be the second?" and kissed her again.

This time, her arms went around his neck and her mouth opened slightly, and, he felt a warm, soft tongue brush his lips before darting back into her mouth like a frightened little animal scurrying for its hiding place.

This time, when he released her, they were both breathing rather heavily.

The man who gets you is going to be a lucky devil! Philip thought. He'd felt just a brief hint of the passion Rebeka possessed, probably was holding in check for the man she'd marry. God, he thought, if I could be the one to unleash it! If keeping the girl untouched weren't so important, if only there was some way he could have her and the treaty, too!

Earthman's Bride is available as an ebook from www.lyricalpress.com. See the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIXWZuGtgHU

Monday, August 24, 2009

Villain Archetype: The Parasite

The Parasite is always dissatisfied with his own life and wants to live someone else’s, and he/she doesn’t care what they have to do to make it happen.

When I first started thinking about this archetype, I was surprised at how many examples leapt to mind. The first being The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). The movie is based on a novel written in 1955 by author Patricia Highsmith.

Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is working a part time job as a piano player at a party in a borrowed Princeton jacket when he is approached by Herbert Greenleaf. Ripley leads Herbert to believe he’s a graduate of the university and a friend of his son, Dickie. Herbert Greenleaf hires Ripley to travel to Italy and convince his son to return home to help run the family business. Thus the man gives Ripley a taste of the life he’s never known and a hunger for more.

Ripley arrives in Italy, contacts Dickie Greenleaf, and wastes no time ingratiating himself into his life. Throughout their relationship, in both the movie and the book, the reader/viewer becomes aware of the sexual attraction Ripley feels toward Greenleaf and how he covets, the man’s wealth, attention, and charm. But his feelings go deeper than that. He wants to BE Dickie. He emulates the man in every way and becomes desperate to maintain the lifestyle to which he’s become addicted.

Ripley ends up killing the focus of his affection and takes on Dickie’s identity in an attempt to cover up the murder. But when a friend of Dickie’s comes to visit and grows suspicious, Ripley’s parasite persona once more turns to murder to cover up the horrible truth.

He later writes a suicide note to explain Dickie’s death. Herbert Greenleaf pays Ripley off to keep his son’s past indiscretions secret, unknowingly allowing Ripley to avoid prosecution for his murder.

In the end, a chance run in with a woman who knows him only as Dickie forces Ripley to kill his lover, Peter Smith-Kingsley, to hide the secret once again and Ripley realizes the life he wanted has cost him everyone to whom he’s become close.

Similar but less dark is the second example of the Parasite Archetype that came to mind.

In Six Degrees of Separation, (1993) Paul (Will Smith) is a gay con artist. He shows up at Flan and Ouisa Kittridge’s (Stockard Channing and Donald Southerland) door asking for help. He claims to have been mugged in Central park but his lies don’t stop there. He also says he’s friends of their son and daughter at Harvard and Sidney Poitier’s son. This last outrageous lie doesn’t set off the alarms that it should. The couple take him in for the night and are completely charmed by him. But when they investigate Paul’s life later, they learn the truth. They’ve taken a stranger into their midst on face value and been conned. The truth makes them look at the insular existence they lead and turns their perception of it on its ear.

The third example of the Parasite Archetype is DJay ( Terrence Howard) in Hustle and Flow (2005). DJay is a drug dealer and a pimp. A Parasite of the worse kind. He doesn’t just prey on his customers, but lives off the women in his stable while he tries to pursue his dream as a Rapper.

In his quest for his big break, DJay hustles a way into a party where he attempts to give a successful rapper, Skinny Black, a demo tape he’s created. The rapper destroys the tape and DJay assaults him and shoots one of the man’s entourage.

While in prison, DJay learns that one of his prostitutes and business partner, Nola, has succeeded in getting his demo played on the radio. But “Everybody’s gotta have a dream.” No matter what the cost. Right?

The Fourth example of the Parasite Archetype is Jullian Kaye (Richard Geer) in American Gigolo (1980). Julian is a male prostitute in Los Angeles. He’s handsome and polished and works hard to maintain both his outward appearance and his lifestyle. He even takes some pride in being able to please his clients. But he’s a Parasite.

When he meets a politician’s wife, Michelle Stratton (Lauren Hutton), he becomes more involved emotionally than he’s ever been tempted to do before. But he continues to work as a Gigolo.

His pimp sends him to a house of a wealthy businessman who wants him to abuse and copulate with his wife while he watches. Julian’s heart isn’t into the abuse, the one thing that saves him from being completely unsympathetic. But he does perform, though the experience gives him a bad feeling.

A few days later, the woman he was with that night is killed and the police hone in on Julian as the main suspect. He was with another woman the night of the murder, but she won’t give him the alibi he needs to prove his innocence.

His life spirals downward as he realizes he’s built his existence on a house of cards that could have crumbled at any time. He’s not important to anyone. He’s viewed as the Parasite that he is.

He turns to the one person he thinks may view him as a valuable commodity, his pimp, and learns he’s the man responsible for his being framed for the murder. They get into an altercation and the man falls over his apartment balcony to his death.

With the only person who can clear him dead, Julian ends up in jail. He’s humbled by the experience, accepting of his fate, and perhaps even feels that he deserves some punishment for the life he’s led. When Michelle shows up, he’s surprised. She’s laid her reputation on the line to give him an alibi and cleared him with the police.

Out of all the Parasites thus far, I’ve found Julian the most sympathetic because he learns from his mistake and you feel as though he will make an effort to change once he’s set free.

My last example of the Parasite Archetype isn’t human at all, but grew from the imagination of one of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton. Crichton died earlier this year, a real loss to the human, writing and television community (he was the creator of the hit show ER.) His numerous books have always fascinated me because he was able to take the unusual things he discovered about technology and put a wonderful spin on it and make it completely spellbinding. He’s the author of such blockbusters as Jurassic Park, Timeline, The Andromeda Strain, Rising Sun, Congo, The Sphere, Airframe, Disclosure, The Terminal Man, and several others. Most of his books have been made into movies. But I suggest you read them for each one has a warning in it as well as an unusual way of making the technology he’s focused on a character unto itself.

Jack Forman is an out of work software programmer and house husband who’s having trouble finding another job. Because he sought to blow the whistle on an illegal operation at his last job, other companies are wary of hiring him. In the high-tech world of software it doesn’t pay to be honest.

Because Jack has been a house husband for so long, his self-image and his confidence have taken a nose dive. Thus when he grows suspicious that his wife may be having an affair, he’s almost numb about it. Julia has grown increasingly distant and distracted, but also acts almost manic when she’s at the house.

Concerned for her and their children, Jack accepts a job with his old company to iron out problems their having with a computer code he wrote for a game. They’ve subcontracted with his wife’s company, so he’ll be working at the same facility as she and he may be able to figure out what’s going on with her.

When he arrives at the facility in the middle of the desert, he grows increasingly suspicious and concerned. The members of his team (people he’s worked with before) act both glad to see him and wary. Everyone speaks in double-speak but no one wants to come straight out and tell him what the code problem is.

He learns that his wife’s company, Zymos, has been contracted by the Defense Department to use the nanotechnology they have created as an internal imaging tool as a spy and reconnaissance weapon. The nanobots have been released into the desert and have begun to evolve and learn on their own. In fact they have become a swarm who Prey on any living creatures they come across in the desert.

Crichton’s nanobots evolve to the point they become Parasites using living hosts, their creators, to carry out their agenda, to reproduce and conceal themselves in plan sight within the general population. They learn to take the form of the humans they come into contact with and represent a global threat.

To tell you the ending of the story would be a spoiler. You need to read the book and discover what happens. But these small microscopic computers represent one of the most vicious Parasite Archetypes I’ve ever read about.

What makes Crichton’s books remarkable is that they always hold a grain of truth and that makes their impact thought provoking and a little scary.

Thank you for reading my blog on the Parasite Archetypes. What Parasites have you run across in other books and movies, or in real life? Join me on Inspiration-Ink and let me know.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor

Friday, August 21, 2009

Special Guest: Toni Sweeney

1. How long have you been writing to get published and what do you think finally garnered your success at it?

I started writing at age 6, gained speed in high school, got serious about it in 1975, and had my first novel published in 1989. As for success? I don't know that I have that, yet, but if anything, I'm darned persistent! If anyone ever comes up to me and says, "Toni Sweeney? Yes, I read (insert title here) and liked it (or didn't like it, for that matter), I'll know I've arrived!

2. Since you write science fiction, what differences and similarities to other genres stand out to you?

I guess all stories are similar in that they all have (or should have) plot, characters, and conflict. Placing a story on an alien world, in an alien culture gives the writer freedom to make comments on society by contrasting it to what's going on there, or having the aliens view our own society with scorn, irony, or curiosity, pointing out how absurd, unjust, or complacent it sometimes is. I have one story now that's a horror story but I realized the other day that with a change of the characters' natures from vampire to human, it could be a very entertaining story set in the England of the Plantagenets.

3. What inspires your story ideas?

Anything! Sometimes, it might be something someone says, a catchy phrase, or a play on words. Or an idea that pops into my mind. Or the question: "What if...?" Or just a title.

4. How did you come up with your titles?

I try to have my titles relate in some way to my story, try to make them intriguing, of course, so the reader will look at the title, think "Hm, wonder what that's about?" and buy it to find out. Like in my new book Blood Sin. I'd like the reader to wonder "What's a blood sin? And how does it relate to the hunky guy on the cover, with the beautiful woman clinging to him?" Generally when I choose a title, I stick to it. There have been only a couple of times when my titles have gone through changes. Bloodseek went through four titles before one stuck. Blood Sin went through three. The second story in the series was actually titled Blood Sin and was written first; when I wrote Book One, it was called Blood Ties. Then, I decided that would be better for the second book, so I swapped them. Later, I changed the second title also. (Is that confusing?)

5. Do you use visual aids to help you write? If so, what kind?

Once in a while, I find an online picture which strongly resembles my hero or heroine. I might print that and tape it near the computer to look at while I type. Generally, I just keep things like that in my head. I've done the same thing with scenery, castles, etc. And I'm always researching so if there's a lengthy explanation of something which is integral to the plot, I may copy it out to refer to directly instead of accessing it continuously online or in a book. Saves time.

6. Do you relate more with the hero or heroine in your stories?

My heroine, although when it comes to emotions and secret feelings, I tell myself both men and women experience the same things deep down so there's really no difference. A man can feel the same dismay, elation, and feelings of inadequacy as a woman; he'll just display it differently. I try to make my heroines feisty, so the heroes, who tend to be the domineering type until you get to know them better (or perhaps they change once they meet the heroine) see them as a challenge.

7. Whose POV do you like to write your love scenes from the most and why?

I generally write from the third person POV. Somehow, doing a love scene in the first person feels a little embarrassing. Then, too, that limits the sensation of the act because only the other person's reactions--and not their emotions and thoughts--can be described. First Person always limits the story because nothing can be told that doesn't happen in the speaker's presence. I once wrote a first person love story but before it was published, changed it to third person because that made it flow better.

8. Describe the hero and heroine of your current release.

My latest novel is Blood Sin.

The hero is Aric kan Ingan, a prince of Arcanis, a planet in the Emeraunt Galaxy. At the age of twelve, Aric was taken from his mother and raised by his uncle to be the next Margrave of Arcanis and as a result, he's proud, spoiled, and more than a bit of a snob. He's twenty when the story opens. His uncle astounds everyone by not only opening trade relations with the Earth--a minor planet which has been quarantined from outside contact for two thousands years because of its propensity to violence--but also announces he's marrying an Earthwoman. Aric not only loses his succession to the throne but is expected to accept this graciously and welcome his new aunt with open arms, which--being the spoiled young noble that he is--he refuses to do. This isn't to say he's not a worthy person; he's also brave, an able warrior, and obeys his mother. He just wants to be king!

The second "hero" in the story is his uncle Deroes who became margrave at the age of eight. When Deroes was thirteen, he dismissed his advisors and has ruled alone ever since and is continually in conflict with those same men. They want him to marry...just not an alien, which, of course, is what he does. He recognizes Aric's dislike of his new wife but has no clue how to make his nephew accept what's happened.

Elizabeth Sheffield is more like Aric than she wants to admit. She's spoiled, beautiful, and an opportunist who's accustomed to manipulating men into doing what she wants. At first, this doesn't work with Deroes who's much older and experienced than she, but eventually, even he is maneuvered so that he thinks marrying Elizabeth is his own idea. She thinks she can control Aric the same way she has all the others but it finally comes down to pitting one spoiled young person against another spoiled young person, two personalities too much alike...and the inevitable happens...they fall in love.

9. Is there wiggle room for a sequel and do you have plans to write one?

Blood Sin is the first in the series, the kan Ingan Archives, the premise being that all these stories are in the history of the royal family. (They weren't shy about writing down their faults and foibles for posterity.) The second has now been tentatively titled Sinner's Exile, and there are two to three more, if things work out.

10. What are you up to now? Do you have upcoming releases you'd like to share a little info on?

The next one out will be Blood Sin which will be released in August. I also have A Singing in the Blood, in the Chronicles of Riven the Heretic series, and Sinbad's Pride, from the Adventures of Sinbad, both expected out toward the end of this year. Maybe an anthology of short stories.

11. Tell us something we'd be surprised to know about you.

You mean other than the fact that I'm madly in love with a hunk thirty years younger than myself? Nothing much, I guess.

12. What is your favorite fictional love scene of all time (can be literary or film)?

The first one coming to mind is that famous scene from Gone with the Wind where Rhett forcibly carries Scarlett up the staircase and into their bedroom but I have two others, also. The novel Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong, in which witch Paige Winterbourne and sorcerer/lawyer Lucas Cortez first make love. Also, a novel which I bought decades ago (and, I'm ashamed to admit, no longer remember the title). It was the third in a series, about the Colonies and sailing ships, and the titles had something to do with the ships names and the sea (if anyone recognizes this vague description, thank you!) The first time the hero and heroine make love, he gets very instructional, telling her various names for "things" and it gets very funny. He's trying to be so understanding and gentle and and serious and she's sooo ready!

13. What can readers expect to see from you in the next few years?

Probably more of the same. I'm pretty consistent and predictable.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Villain Archetype: The Evil Genius

The Evil Genius has an evil plan--for you. Intricate puzzles are his specialty and he’s contrived one in your honor. This character not only has street smarts but is a walking encyclopedia of just about everything. Brilliant, clever, skilled and determined this bon-a-fide show off has a unquenchable appetite to beat you in his game of life or death. You’ll think you’re a player only to learn your nothing but his pawn. Unrelenting, this villain’s always two steps ahead.

Dennis Hopper in Speed. Recall the crazed bus driving 50mph on the freeway with the huge gap? Sounds like something only an Evil Genius could contrive. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves were pawns for the hell-bent, retired officer Howard Payne until the very end.

I Robot. Ah, ha. The Evil Genius here is the main computer, VIKI, aka Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence. VIKI controls all the robots in the film, who are commonly used as servants. Will Smith’s character detests the technology of robots and, in the end deactivates her Positronic brain with the help of good robot, Sonny.

Primal Fear. The genius here is played by Edward Norton. OMG, what a creepy sociopath of an altar boy he portrayed. Aaron Stampler and his multiple personality “Roy” played Richard Gere’s character, Martin Vail, like a finely tuned fiddle--until Vail questions a moment of “lost time” both personalities are privy to.

Other movies include Eagle Eye, Fractured, and Murder By Numbers.

Thanks for reading!
Sloan Seymour

Friday, August 14, 2009

Special Guest: Diane Craver

My Experience with A New Publisher

Since my publisher of Whitney in Charge is new, you might not have heard of them yet. Just this past March I learned about Desert Breeze Publishing from one of my author friends, Lula Thomas/Miss Mae. I immediately went to their website. After reading what they wanted in a manuscript, I felt it would be a good fit for the type of sweet romances I write. I asked others active in the publishing world if they knew anything about this new house, and was pleased to hear only positive things about Desert Breeze Publishing. Their first books were published in April, and I was told by a review site co-owner that the ones reviewed had been well edited and were top-notch.

Early April I emailed my manuscript Whitney in Charge to Gail Delaney, the editor-in-chief of Desert Breeze Publishing. I was happy to receive a contract from her during the same month. At the same time, another small publisher offered me a contract, but I felt Desert Breeze was the best fit for me as an author. I knew I'd submit my future novels to them. I especially liked the fact that they launched their company to provide a place for readers and authors to go where there are only non-erotica/non-erotic romance novels. You don't have to search through erotic romances and erotica that are offered on many other publishers' sites. I haven't regretted my decision in accepting Desert Breeze's contract.

Gail instantly posted my author and book information on their website. After I submitted my cover art form, Jenifer Ranieri contacted me for my input. It was nice to be included so much in the whole cover art process. I'm very pleased with my Whitney cover.

I can't tell you about my sales since Whitney in Charge just released on August 1. I do know that as owners of Desert Breeze, Gail and Jenifer have a great relationship with their authors. Both are available to answer questions and give frequent updates about the growth of their company. Just in the short time I've been with them, they have made great strides in the publishing world. They are definitely getting our books noticed by their aggressive marketing.

If you are an aspiring author or a published author looking for an appropriate home for your non-erotica/non-erotic romance novels to submit to, you should consider Desert Breeze Publishing.

Question for Aspiring Writers or Published Authors: What do you look for in a publisher?

Question for Readers: What do you think of my cover for my new release? What enters into your decision in buying a book by a new author? Is it the cover, reviews, excerpts, or the book jacket blurb?

Whitney in Charge
By: Diane Craver

Whitney Benson is tired of her older sisters’ attempts to fix her up with every single male they meet. Shannon and Regan cross the line when they arrange for her to go skydiving with the simple excuse that more guys like to float in the air than women. Whitney needs to find something else to keep them busy.

When she suggests that the three of them start a family business, the fun begins in their small town. And she thought being a TV producer in New York had been exciting.

Without going skydiving, Whitney meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole.

But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?


Shannon and Regan entered the room with determined looks, immediately making her wonder what they were up to. With her being widowed and their mother gone, both felt she needed direction and had told her so more than once.

“Whitney, we need to talk,” Shannon said.

“But first, let’s go into the kitchen.” Regan smiled, carrying Chinese food. “I brought your favorite.”

“And fortune cookies,” Shannon added.

Well, that wasn’t a good sign. When they wanted her to cooperate with their plans, Regan always thought food was necessary in winning an argument against the youngest sister. Two years ago, she’d been a television news producer for a popular morning program, but those two still treated her like the baby sister. Maybe if she’d had children with Rob, things would’ve been different. Probably not. She’d always be their little sis.

What plans did they have for her? She loved Shannon and Regan but at times they overwhelmed her. Whitney followed them into the kitchen, getting plates from the cupboard while Shannon made coffee.

Regan opened up the containers of food. “We think it’s time you get out of the house and do something exciting. Mom would want you to go on with your life. And…” She grinned as she scooped out fried rice. “We thought of something to do for you.”

Whitney shook her head. “That’s not necessary—”

“Yes, it is.” Shannon put a spoonful of sugar in her coffee. “You quit your job and came back to take care of Mom.”

“I didn’t mind. Both of you have families, and I didn’t have any reason to stay in New York.” Please don’t mention Rob.

Shannon carried the cups of coffee to the table. “Regan and I have thought of the perfect thing for you to experience.”

Whitney broke open a fortune cookie and read from the slip of paper, “You will soon fall in love with a handsome stranger.”

Shannon thumped Whitney on the back before joining them at the table. “That fortune fits right in with our plans for you.”

“I think it fits in with any single woman’s hopeful plans,” Whitney said. “But certainly not mine.”

“It’s a sign,” Regan said in an eager voice. “You’ll see.”

“Not a cruise. Remember, I told you I don’t want to go on another cruise.” Several months earlier, they made her go on a three-day trip while both took turns staying with their mother. They had meant well but going by herself and being surrounded by couples hadn’t been much fun. Shannon and Regan were disappointed that Whitney hadn’t fallen in love on the ship. The only available guy she might have been interested in was the recreational director and he was too short.

“We knew you’d say that, and we’ve heard you say how you’ve done it all.” Regan put a lock of auburn hair behind her ear and cleared her throat. “But we thought of something you haven’t done and will be a thrill of a lifetime.”

“And when we tell you what it is, please don’t say no,” Shannon said. “We already paid for it.”

Whitney stared at them. “Okay, you have me curious now. What is it?”

Regan set forks down on the table and mumbled, “Skydiving.”

Whitney gasped, spilling coffee on her hand. Why in the world would they pay for her to go skydiving? Had they lost their minds? “You can’t be serious. Are you trying to kill me?”

“You won’t be jumping by yourself. We talked to the owner about signing you up for a tandem skydive for your first jump. You’ll meet fun people.” Shannon patted Whitney’s hand. “And the female-male ratio is good…”

Regan nodded. “There are more guys than women skydiving. And the men are hot and love any woman who drops from the sky.”

With raised eyebrows, Whitney asked, “How would you two know?”

“We checked it all out before we got it for you,” Shannon said.

Regan grinned. “Shannon, you’re skipping the best part of our visit. We drooled over all the instructors before we signed you up. I did mention I thought you’d be the most comfortable with Nate.”

“Why Nate?” Whitney asked.

Shannon laughed. “Regan couldn’t take her eyes off him. He’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

Whitney swallowed a forkful of rice. If her sisters were correct and there was an overabundance of men, she knew why. Men wanted to act macho, but how many brain cells did they have to think jumping out of a plane made them tough? That wasn’t fair. Just because she wasn’t into skydiving didn’t mean it was stupid. When had she become so critical? She knew when. After Rob’s death, the optimistic, open-minded part of her died with him.

“Maybe you two should go skydiving instead of me.”

Regan shook her head. “No way. We want you to go.”

“But I’m afraid of heights.”

“It’s time for you to overcome your fear of flying.” Shannon took a bite of shrimp. “We want to go to Hawaii sometime. Remember how we promised Mom we would? Just the three of us.”

Whitney shrugged. “That’s different. I can fly to Hawaii without doing skydiving first.”

“I don’t think so.” Regan scooped a heaping spoonful of chow mien onto her plate. “You drove me crazy when we flew to Wisconsin for Aunt Martha’s funeral. You had such terrible anxiety attacks.”

Why did she have to have such stubborn sisters? The last thing she felt like doing was something stupid like skydiving, but she knew they’d never give up on her. They always thought they knew best because they were older and married. Big deal they were a bit older. Shannon just turned thirty-nine, and at thirty-four Regan was only three years older than Whitney.

Shannon nudged Regan, grinning with her eyebrows arched high. “Tell her about Jack.”

Regan shook her head. “Not a good idea.”

“Who’s Jack? Another skydiver?” Whitney asked.

“He’s a paramedic and single. He’s worked with Casey, but Jack’s not a firefighter. He’s not interested in meeting you.” Regan gave Whitney an apologetic shrug. “Sorry. It’s a shame because Jack’s a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey.”

Shannon raised her eyebrows. “What did Casey tell Jack about Whitney?”

“Not enough obviously,” Regan said. “But I’ll─”

“No.” Whitney put her hand on Regan’s arm. “Don’t say anything. I don’t want to go out with someone who feels pressured.” She grinned. “Although resembling McConaughey might change my mind.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Special Guest: Christine Clemetson

Inspiration comes in many Forms
By Christine Clemetson

Early on, I discovered that I loved reading about the relationships in books. I would read the Nancy Drew books, most of all anticipating Nancy’s next date with Ned. As I grew, I enjoyed reading books that zeroed in on a love story—a story that made all things right in the world. I enjoyed learning how the characters could depend on each other, despite the conflicts they faced along the way. Authors like LaVyrle Spencer and Kathleen Woodiwiss created magic between the characters, and those stories inspired me in a way that made me want to write my own stories.

In general, for me, inspiration comes in many forms, from the books I read, to the support from people in my life, to all the events happening around me. I keep a folder of story ideas. This includes everything from newspaper articles to even dreams that I’ve had. I’ll jot the ideas down and stick them in a folder. The thing about inspiration is funny thought—if I’m inspired with a great story idea, in my eyes destined to be The Great American Novel, I won’t need to put the idea in the folder. Good ideas for stories are like first loves….you never, ever forget them.

When my first book came out, “A Daughter’s Promise”, the question I was asked most was “What inspired you to write this story?”. Inspiration came in the form of an article in my local newspaper. It detailed the history of a surprise attack on Anzio beachhead in Italy, 1944, which killed thousands of US soldiers. When I did more research, and learned more about what the soldiers faced, I wanted to give a voice to those lost. In my book, a soldier survives the battle, and through his pain he finds love and unexpected hope with a local woman. The strength of their love is what helps them survive and be able to share their strength with others—and shed light onto a dark part of our history.

What inspires your stories?

**For some reason Christine's lovely cover isn't displaying properly. I uploaded the picture a few different times trying to correct the problem, but it must be a Blogger glitch because it won't show up right. There is a banner on the right side of this page that displays the correct coloring for Christine's cover. (Sorry, Christine!)**

Christine Clemetson – A Daughter’s Promise

A Daughter’s Promise, by debut novelist Christine Clemetson, is a sweeping love story of sacrifice and unexpected hope. In war torn Italy, 1944, Serene Moneto made a promise to her dying mother—a promise so haunting that it directs the course of her life. When she chooses to save an American soldier from death, she risks everything—her name, her life, and capture by the Germans. Finding forbidden love with this soldier tears her world apart. Against the backdrop of a war raging right outside her door, can she choose happiness? Despite the promise she made those years ago?
See the trailer at http://www.christineclemetson.com/trailers.html


They both knew Serene’s turn had come. She took in a deep breath and touched his arms in a stiff embrace. She hugged him the way she had rehearsed in her head over and over, the way a mother would hug her son going off to war.

“I don’t care who sees,” he said gruffly, pulling her closer. He pushed her chin up with his
fingertips, and bent his head to kiss her.

She took his lips, his body, all of him, into her heart for the last time. Feeling the rapid beating in his chest, she fought the urge to mold her most intimate part against his.

When their lips parted, his warm breath on her neck made her body shiver. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she buried her face into his jacket. “I’m not ashamed about
what I said to you last night or what happened between us.” Her voice cracked. “It’s a sin, I know, but it was the most beautiful—”

“Ashamed? I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of love again.”

Trembling, she stood back a little, clinging to her emotions with the delicacy of a spider web. “But you were right. We made the most logical decision.”

“Jesus, Serry. I want to tell you so bad that I—”

“You’re all set, then?” Sam said, coming back into the house.

Serene let go of Miles, letting her one finger intertwine with one of his pinky fingers. She couldn’t let him go.

Slowly, he released her and went to the door, putting one foot on the outside pavement before hesitating and turning back. His eyes were red, and she clutched the stair banister to keep from running to him. How much she loved him would be a secret
she’d take to the grave.

Carrying a bottle of whiskey, Marcus passed him at the door and gave him a friendly slap on the back. “I came to give you a goodbye, Coulson.”

Serene stood up straight and froze.

Miles jerked himself away. “Change of heart about me?”

His answer was Marcus’ deep kiss on Serene’s cheek and an arm around her waist. “I realized, Coulson, that I’m proud of her for taking the responsibility for you. I thought it was about time that I offered my apologies for the undiplomatic way I acted. We’re all in this for a cause, no? Why don’t we share a bottle to celebrate?”

“No, your change of heart doesn’t rub me the right way.” Miles offered an apologetic glance to Serene and then shifted his gaze back to Marcus. “You hurt her, and I’ll hurt you. You understand me?”

“Have a safe trip,” Marcus drawled.

Serene watched the driver help him in and her knees weakened. As the truck’s engine started, she braced herself against the wall.

“Don’t worry. Serene. Just think of this as a wedding present from me. No more worries about your American. He is well now and gone for good. Your only thanks is to marry me.”

She couldn’t hear him. Her throat ached and she made no effort to wipe the tears spilling freely from her eyes. She started for the door, but he grabbed her by the shoulders.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's All About A Drip in the Bucket

My friend, Lisa Miller, told me about a guest blogger on Zen Habits who wrote about The Power of the Gradual. The blogger talked about turning a water tap on just to drip into a bucket then walk away. Later, the amount of water collected in the bucket surprised him.

Many tasks when viewed from the big picture perspective, such as the following, look simply too overwhelming to begin:

• Cleaning out and organizing a garage, or
• Removing outdated clothes from your closet, or
• Throwing out food in your kitchen cabinets with an expiration date of 2007 (2007? Yikes), or
• Cleaning out a child’s playroom and removing outgrown toys freeing up valuable storage space for new toys (from Gramdma!), or
• Completing a deep editing pass of your current work in progress,

You need a starting point that doesn’t overwhelm you. You need a – drip!

Start with one section of the room or closet. Not only will that give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will also motivate you to move on to the next section, and the next. In a few days, or weeks, or however long it takes, you’ll be able to look from the big picture perspective again and pat yourself on the back, or click your heels together if you happen to be young enough to get both feet off the ground at the same time!

Now that I think about it…if I could just get the clothes that are stacked haphazardly on top of my dresser, back into the drawers they belong, then I’d be taking a small step at solving a larger problem. I don’t have to clean out all the drawers today. Whew! But if I have to remove something old that I don’t wear when I put away something current that I do, then I’ll at least have taken a step at cleaning out all the drawers and all the closets.

Actually, I think I’d rather tackle that deep editing pass. Reading about love and romance is much more fun!

It’s all about a drip in the bucket.
Have a blessed day, Katherine

Monday, July 27, 2009

Villain Archetype: The Devil

You’ve read about him in the Bible. Seen him on a tarot card. And perhaps wrestled with the temptation he represents on a more personal level. But when we talk about the Devil Archetype we’re speaking about fiction, not a real entity.
The devil is insidious, charming, alluring, and without conscience.

As in Stephen King’s Needful Things, Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow) moves to the small town of Castle Rock and opens a store called Needful Things.

Leland promises his customers the one thing they’ve always coveted, their fondest heart’s desire. But they must do something in return for him, something that may cost them part of their humanity. And in the end, the entire town erupts into violence that nearly destroys it. The people learn the price they’ve paid is too dear for what Leland has promised them.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, was written in 1980 by Oscar Wilde. The book has been made into many movies over the course of the years. But the theme of both the book and the movies remains the same. Evil deeds scar the soul.

When he sees a painting of himself, Dorian (Ethan Erickson in the 2001 version) is so enamored with his own image that he makes a pact with the Devil (Malcolm McDowell) so he will remain forever young and handsome. Tempted by the fame and fortune his looks offer him, he begins a journey of debauchery that continues for years. And with each sin the portrait takes on the lines and scars of his soul.

In the end Dorian destroys himself because he can no longer live with what he has become.

The Devil offers you success, wealth, and tries to charm you into following in his footsteps. In the movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas plays business tycoon Gordon Gekko.

He seduces Bud Fox (Martin Sheen) into giving him inside information about a small airline. Gordon then shares the wealth through several of his other deals and seduces Bud further and further into his financial net, with money, connections, and an old girlfriend. But Bud runs right up on the one thing he can’t live with—his father losing his job because of what he’s done. He uses his inside information to rectify the damage and ends up losing his career and his freedom.

In The Devil Wears Prada Written by Lauren Weisberger, Andy Sachs is a new journalism graduate who lands what a new writer would think was a dream job, the only hitch is her boss is The Devil.

Andy endures humiliation, scorn, and condescension from her boss and her co-workers, but she sticks with the job because she’s been told it will give her a leg up to the kind of writing job she really wants. She neglects her friends and her boyfriend, she changes her outward appearance, and in the end compromises her moral standards, just to please her boss. In the process, she learns that she doesn’t like the person she’s become and walks away earning The Devil’s admiration and the job she wanted in the first place.

In The Devil’s Advocate, Attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) draws the interest of a leading Manhattan law firm for his win at all cost courtside manner. When he’s offered a job by the firm, he leaves Florida and heads to the Big Apple. His wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) immediately comes under supernatural attack from the head man’s minion.

While Kevin is challenged by the cases his boss John Milton (Al Pacino) gives him, his ego is stroked and he’s cheered on and told how good he is at winning until that drive blinds him to his wife’s desperation and the tentative hold she has on her sanity. After Kevin loses his wife, his blinders are suddenly lifted. He realizes that he’s set a murderer free and is eaten up with guilt over his wife’s death. And SURPRISE!! Daddy dearest is none other than John Milton aka. Old Scratch himself. To keep from embracing Dad’s ways and breeding the next generation, Kevin chooses to end his contract and his life. But Dad being The Devil, he gets a do over to try the whole thing over again.

Do you sense a theme in the popular fiction that depicts The Devil? In every story the person seduced into following the path El Diablo has set for them, ends up giving up everything they’ve gained with their association to break the ties that bind them to him.

In doing so, they all perpetuate the belief that Good triumphs over Evil.

Can you think of any movies or books in which The Devil archetype plays a part? I’d be interested in discussing them.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor

Friday, July 24, 2009

Special Guest: Donna Marie Rogers

Author Donna Marie Rogers has been kind enough to do an interview with us today. Readers, don't forget to leave a little hello comment to enter yourself to win an e-copy of her new book, Meant to Be! Now on to the interview...

1. How long have you been writing to get published and what do you think finally garnered your success at it?

I sat down at my computer with serious intent to get published in early 2004. I had tried writing a novel several years earlier (in my 20s), but became discouraged when I realized how hard it actually was to write an entire book. (LOL) But with a thicker skin and a stronger sense of perseverance, I sat down in 2004 and wrote the first draft of There's Only Been You, which took about eight months. I can't even describe how excited I was to type THE END after all those partial stories I'd written years earlier. :-)

2. What inspires your story ideas?

Lots of things, really. The news, articles, life experiences. Family, friends, neighbors, people everywhere. Reality shows, I've discovered, are a great source when looking for quirky characters. LOL

3. How did you come up with your title?

Well, I wanted a title I could work into the story as dialogue, like I'd done with There's Only Been You. I honestly don't remember exactly how I settled on Meant To Be, all I know is when I said it aloud, it just seemed a perfect fit for Garrett & Jessica. :-)

4. Do you use visual aids to help you write? If so, what kind?

Maybe a few pictures of stud muffins...strictly to help keep me focused. LOL

5. Do you relate more with the hero or heroine in your stories?

I know it's odd, but I tend to relate more to my heroes. I love writing in the male POV, and sometimes have to remind myself that my heroines would like to be heard from, too. LOL Maybe it has to do with having two brothers, no sisters, and being the only girl born in four generations on my father's side.

6. Whose POV do you like to write your love scenes from the most and why?

Again, I prefer the male POV, even for love scenes, though I do them from both. But I guess...I already know what's going on inside a woman's head when she's making love. LOL So I prefer to hear it from the other side when I can. ;-)

7. Describe the hero and heroine of your current release.

Garrett Jamison is a big, moody cop with a heart of gold. He's 6' 5" and built like a Mack truck with dark brown hair & eyes. He's the oldest of the Jamison brood; then comes Nick, Sara, and Danny is the youngest. Their parents died when Garrett was twelve, and Uncle Luke, their father's brother, moved in to take care of them. But Garrett's always been the head of the family. A job he takes seriously--maybe too seriously at times.

Jessica McGovern is a tiny slip of a thing, just over five-feet tall, with long blonde hair & blue eyes. What she lacks in height she makes up for in feisty. She struggles back from the brink of depression after her ex-husband is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their young son. She packs up her old pickup truck, her mammoth gray-and-white tabby, Mr. Louie, and moves halfway across the country for a fresh start in Wisconsin where she’s rented her uncle’s house--right next door to the Jamison's.

8. Is there wiggle room for a sequel and do you have plans to write one?

Meant To Be is actually the second book in my Jamison series, There's Only Been You (Sara's story) is the first. I plan to write Nick's story soon, and Danny's story eventually (he's in his early twenties, so I'll give him a few years ;-).

9. What are you up to now? Do you have an upcoming release you'd like to share a little info on?

My naughty alter-ego, Liza James, has a recent release with eRed Sage titled Hot For Teacher. Is it all right if I share the blurb? *g*

High school teacher Tessa Marshall is at a club with her sister celebrating her 40th birthday when the hunk of her dreams walks through the door. He's tall, dark, and oh-so handsome. He's also ten years her junior, which makes him the perfect candidate for a night of smokin' hot birthday sex. Only it quickly becomes apparent the man is special, which scares the hell out of her since nothing can ever come of it. With regret, she slips from the room while he's sleeping, intending never to see him again.

Scott Chapman is captivated by the beautiful Tessa, and though he swore off relationships several years ago, he finds himself instantly drawn to the blonde stunner. He takes her back to his hotel room for the birthday night of her life, and soon realizes their connection is deeper than he'd imagined. When he wakes up the following morning and discovers her gone, he's disappointed. They both find out, however, that fate has a mind of its own.

10. Tell us something we'd be surprised to know about you.

I can make & can my own sauerkraut. Pie fillings, too. Beef stew, soups, chili. I can can pretty much anything. Exciting stuff, hey? LOL Sorry, I'm an open book, so I can't think of anything surprising...that I can tell you, anyway. *big wink*

11. What is your favorite fictional love scene of all time (can be literary or film)?

Wow, now that's a hard one. Hmm...If I had the time to really think about it, I'd probably come up with tons of favorites because I've read some fantastic love scenes. One that comes to mind is from Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard, which takes place during a thunderstorm. For some reason, that's always hot...LOL Actually, many of Linda's love scenes come to mind. The woman is a master. Lori Foster writes great love scenes as well.

12. What can readers expect to see from you in the next few years?

Definitely the sequel to Welcome To Redemption, a small-town anthology I wrote with my good friend Stacey Joy Netzel. I know lots of people are looking forward to it (and not just our families...LOL). I'm also halfway through Jack Sutton's story. Jack is introduced in Meant To Be, and I knew right away I wanted to write the brooding ex-con's happily-ever-after.

Tracy, thank you for having me. And thank you to everyone who stopped by!

**I plan to give away an e-copy of Meant To Be to a random commenter, so please leave me a comment to be eligible. :-)

Meant to Be

She's running from her past, he's unsure about his future. Maybe together they can figure out what was MEANT TO BE. Officer Garrett Jamison is at the lowest point in his life. He’s lost faith in his ability as a police officer after unwittingly setting his sister up with a dirty cop. Garrett ended up getting shot, and his sister's son kidnapped right out of his own bed. He takes a leave from the force, in need of some time to make a decision about his future. Too bad he can't get a decent night's sleep thanks to his sexy new neighbor and her howling cat.

Jessica McGovern moves halfway across the country to start a new life in Green Bay, Wisconsin after her ex-husband is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their young son. Her new neighbor is as infuriating as he is handsome, but when her ex is released from prison early and shows up in town, Jessica discovers she's never needed anyone more...


"Come here, Miss Crabbypants."

Jessica resisted, but it was no use. The big oaf outweighed her by a ton. "Look, I just want to finish my tea and relax. Today's my last day off for almost two weeks."

He leaned back and frowned down at her. "Why are you working so many hours?"

She rolled her eyes. "Um, I have bills to pay...?"

His gaze became pensive as he massaged the back of her neck. Slowly, she relaxed until she was leaning into his broad chest, eyes closed, inhaling his spicy masculine scent. He always smelled so good...Damn, the man was a magician; she'd already forgotten why she was mad at him...Wait, oh yeah. "So what's with all that hammering?"

"We're building a doghouse."

His busy fingers moved to her shoulders wringing a groan of ecstasy from her. Oh, God, was she drooling on his shirt? Then his words registered. Jessica leaned back and swiped her mouth with the back of her wrist. "A doghouse? But you don't have a dog...do you?"

"No, but Ethan's been begging for a puppy for a couple years now. I guess he finally wore Sara down. And Mike's still in the ‘buy-Ethan-anything-he-wants' phase." Garrett glanced down at his T-shirt and chuckled. He reached out and recaptured the back of her neck. "Liked that, did you? You do seem a little tense—"

"Oh, no you don't." She ducked out of his reach and took a few steps back. He started to follow but she held up both hands. "You stay right where you are."

He propped his hands on his hips. "So do I have a date tonight or what?"

"Or what."

He grinned. "Wear something sexy," he said with a wink before strolling out the back door. The jackass even had the nerve to whistle.

Jessica walked over and slammed the door with a muttered, "Nutjob." Then she headed into the bedroom to search through her closet.
~ Inspiration, Ink. ~ © 2007 Template feito por Áurea R.C.