Guest interview: Julia Knight
Our special guest today is Julia Knight. First, let me say Happy Birthday, Julia!!
Julia Knight lives in Sussex, UK, with her ever patient husband, two eccentric kids and the world’s daftest dog. When not writing, which isn’t often, she likes motorbikes (men in leather), watching the wrestling (men in not very much apart from muscles, sweat and baby oil) and exploring new ways to get a giggle out of life.
Welcome, Julia! Please tell us about your new release from Carina Press.
Ten Ruby Trick is a piratical fantasy centring on Van Gast, a racketeer who lives for thrills; his lover, the unpredictable Josie, and the mage-bonded slave set to catch them, Holden. Van Gast and Josie delight in pretending they loathe each other, using that to further their scams. Sadly, when Van Gast steals the wrong ship, Holden is ordered to use the racketeer’s “worst enemy” to help flush him out. Things go from bad to worse when Holden discovers that “enemy” is Josie, his own former lover…
Sounds fun and fascinating! What inspired this story?
Lawks, all sorts of things. I was a bit obsessed with pirates at the time—my pirate period!—having just finished an historical erotic novella about them, inspired by a trip to Portsmouth Naval Museum. Then these two scallywags turned up in my head, Van Gast and Josie. She was trying to scam someone by pretending she hated Van Gast, so I wanted to know who they were scamming and why, and it all sort of spiralled from there, especially once I had a certain song in my head—The Unforgiven III by Metallica. Yes, I know it sounds a bit odd, but once I have a song for a book, it really takes off, and that one suits both Van Gast and Holden, and the theme of the book, so well.
I know what you mean. Having a song that fits the story is so inspiring and truly helps me write it. Please tell us about an interesting or unusual quirk one of your characters has.
Well they all have their quirks! Van Gast will always pick the stupid-but-exciting over the sensible-but-dull (and I’m sure we all wish we could do that more often). Josie is capricious and unpredictable, just a blast to write about, and probably my favourite. But the most unusual quirk is probably Holden’s. He’s mage-bound, that is he’s under the control of a mage who directs even his thoughts. He struggles through the whole book between doing what he’s supposed to, and what he wants to, and the best way to keep his mind in order is to look for patterns in everything. He finds order soothing.
Those are great quirks. How do you choose names for your characters?
It depends. Josie and Holden just sort of came with names attached. Van Gast, well I couldn’t think of a good name. Luckily my husband is used to questions such as ‘I need a pirate name. Now!’. Then it stuck, although a friend of mine, after seeing the cover, insists on calling him Van Gasp.
LOL! I agree. Awesome cover! Did you choose the intriguing title of your book and if so how did you do it?
I did, in fact it was almost the first thing I knew about the book, which is unusual for me. It’s the name of a con that Van Gast and Josie used to run, and that now resurfaces in a more menacing manner.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
I can’t say I have one—there are so many places to love! However, I suspect you can spot my love for Marrakech in one of the cities in this book. I have a soft spot for the Norwegian fjords too.
What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?
Just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean it should be a doorstopper! My first book was, and I blush to admit this, 225 000 words long. More than twice your average book. Once I discovered that a debut book this length was such a hard sell, I trimmed it down to 110 000, and discovered that it became a much better book in the process. So I suppose what I learnt was to take out what wasn’t important to the story.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m waiting on betas to finish ripping apart, er, critiquing a Viking historical romance and I’m just finishing up a rather dark fantasy noir—no romance, just for a change. After that, I’m going back to Van Gast’s world for a new con trick: Find the Lady.
These sound wonderful! Would you like to ask readers a question?
Staying with the piratical theme—who is your favourite fictional pirate?
Please visit Julia on the web...
Ten Ruby Trick is available at Carina Press and Amazon.
Thanks for being our guest today, Julia! I hope your birthday is wonderful!
Bikinis, Ice Cream, and Dragons--Oh my!
Also, spring is when I can start really exercising and getting ready for summer and my bikini. Yeah, I know what you're thinking--Cameo in bikini? But, oh yes, I do wear one. Or two. Actually, I have about three that I alternate between. I even wear them to do water aerobics. Most of the other women wear one pieces, which would be fine, but these one pieces usually have turtle necks and sleeves. Me? I show up to work out in my bikini--how else am I going to get any sun on my tummy?--and my aerobics mates look at me like I'm insane. Maybe I am, but I just can't stand to be trussed up in a piece of spandex that, when I try to get it off after it gets wet, clings to my skin and wraps itself around my torso like a jealous boyfriend.
So spring inspires me to continue to work out, which is good because this is also the same month that the local ice cream shop opens up. I just had a banana split tonight, and it was fabulous! Talk about inspiration...oh my! Don't you just love it when restaurants that have been closed all winter start to open up and offer their delectable treats again? Is there any better way to shout, "Hey, summer's almost here!"?
I hope you're enjoying this wonderful time of year as well. Happy Reading!
Robin's Cap--Get a free copy!
A faerie with a hat made of human skin and dripped with human blood?
So the research on Redcaps commenced. It didn’t take me long after that to stumble across Robin Redcap and the tale of Hermitage Castle. To say I was fascinated would be putting it mildly. Who wouldn’t be drawn into an evil lord with his faithful familiar?
So the idea of Robin’s Cap started forming in this whacked out imagination of mine. A few weeks later, I had my first (and to this day, only) romantic horror about a couple on the rocks who go on a trip to Scotland in an attempt to save their relationship—or Graham is trying to save their relationship, Kat’s just trying to get through the week. LOL.
The story was accepted into the anthology and released in March 2008 with a group of other talented writers and their faerie tales.
Fast forward three years later, contract expires, rights revert and I’m left with a previously published story sitting on my hard drive. I can’t have that. So Robin’s Cap got a spanking new cover and I uploaded it onto Smashswords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Are. Here the cover:
It took me awhile to find the pictures I wanted to use. Any other authors out there spend hours looking through pictures for covers? It’s a time suck, I tell ya.
But here is the blurb:
Tales of ancient evil surround Hermitage Castle. What happens when legend becomes reality?
Graham Parish and Kat Davis are about to find out.
What started as an attempt to save a relationship turns into a frantic fight to save their lives. Can love be rekindled when faced with certain death?
And a quick excerpt:
Kat wrapped her arms around her body. Dear Lord, it’d really happened. Some psycho had them trapped. They were going to die. Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger was hiding in the shadowy corners somewhere, or worse, some Scottish version of Michael Myers with his horrible white mask and crazy synthetic hair.
Would that be the last thing she ever saw? A grotesque mask and the reflective surface of a knife as it plunged towards her?
Fear twisted her stomach. Her gaze ran over the uneven walls, looking for a possible hiding place for their soon-to-be killer. “Graham, what are we going to do?”
The shuffling of his feet answered her. She felt the heat of his body against her back before his strong arms embraced her. He pulled her to him. Turning, she rested her cheek on his chest, hugging him tightly in need of his comfort.
“I’m not sure,” he answered, “but we’ll find a way out. I promise.” His hold loosened as he stepped back. “Why don’t you sit down while I take a look around?”
She shook her head. Sit down? Was he crazy? “Uh-uh. You’re not getting away from me!”
His lips twitched at the corners, but his features remained serious. “I meant look around the room. I’m not letting you out of my sight, Kat.”
Her first instinct was to refuse his request, but her knees still quaked from her near-death experience. And there was the added horror of the threatening laughter. She shivered as she remembered the horrifying sound. Maybe a seat wouldn’t be a bad idea. One in a nice cozy corner where a masked murderer couldn’t come up behind her and slit her throat. It would give her an opportunity to gather her scattered emotions and prepare for escape.
Finding the perfect spot, she settled on the chilly floor, then pressed her back against the rough wall. The aged-worn corners of the stone chaffed her bare shoulders, but she was too exhausted to care. Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes.
A scurrying noise caught her ear, as if a rat frolicked on the landing above her. She snapped her head up, gaze drawn overhead. Every muscle in her body stiffened. She listened for the noise to repeat.
Moments passed. Nothing. Not even a rustle. With a sigh, she relaxed.
Don’t build things up in your head, Kat. All you’re doing is asking to leave this place with a head full of gray hair.
The thought hadn’t even left her mind when the scurrying issued again, only this time lower and louder.
Okay, a corner doesn’t feel too safe right now.
She jumped to her feet and whirled around, examining the wall. Directly above her, a face peered out of the shadows.
She screamed and stumbled backward. In her haste, her foot caught the seams of the stone floor. Her legs flew out from underneath her. Flailing her arms, she tried to catch her balance but failed. Her palms slapped against rock. Her backside contacted with the hard ground. A stabbing pain shot through her wrist. She hissed. Her ass felt as if her tailbone had been shoved to the top of her spine. Groaning, she rolled to her side.
Too dazed to respond, she opted to lie on the ground. In seconds, Graham was by her side. His arms slipped beneath her shoulder. He helped her sit up.
“Are you okay? What the hell happened?”
“Eyes...red, evil eyes.”
I'd like to give away a couple of copies. So leave a comment and I'll throw your name into the pot.
Thanks for letting me share!!
www.esmereldabishop.com (I apologize for the state of my website. I'm remodeling:)
You can find the short story at the following locations:
Guest interview: Cindy Spencer Pape + Free Book for Everyone!
A: Phantoms & Photographs is a 20,000 word free read in my Gaslight Chronicles series for Carina Press. The world combines steampunk, fantasy, and of course, romance.
Q: Free read! Yay! Needless to say, I've already downloaded my copy. I loved your Steam & Sorcery so I can't wait to read this story, too. Why do you write romance?
A: Because I LIKE romance. It makes me smile, and for me, that’s the whole point of reading fiction. I like the ability to escape mundane reality for a while in the pages of a book. I do write a wide variety of subgenres, for the same reason. It makes me happy and keeps me from getting bored with my work.
Q: I can totally relate. How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A: Because steampunk is an alternate history, the women in my Gaslight books aren’t confined exclusively to the traditional feminine roles in Victorian society, though most of them still follow those ways. I’ve also opened university up to women in this world before they really were, so my heroines can be more educated and independent that was often true of women in the Victorian era. Adding magic also makes my heroes even tougher and stronger, as well as my heroines spunkier, in some cases.
Q: Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A: Characters, easily. I love figuring out what makes them tick.
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: Keeping it to 20,000 words!
Q: LOL I can imagine! What is your writing process or method?
A: It varies horribly from book to book. I write often and quickly, but other than that, there’s no real method to my madness.
Q: Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A: Keep writing, keep submitting. One regret I have is not being aggressive enough in getting my stuff out there. I could have been doing this much, much sooner. And don’t let the rejections stop you. Just submit it “one more time,” and meanwhile, write another great book, and submit that one too.
Q: Great advice! What’s next for you?
A: I have an Ellora’s Cave novella coming out sometime soon called Midsummer Dreams, that’s the fourth of my Holiday Hearts series, and the third Urban Arcana book, Motor City Werewolf, from Carina Press releases in August. I just turned in a Christmas steampunk story, and am working on the outline for the fourth Urban Arcana book. Other than that? Who knows? Sometimes I surprise myself.
In honor of Steampunk week, there is a contest for a piece of steampunk jewelry, running all week at the Carina paranormal authors’ blog, Here be Magic. Thanks so much for inviting me today. Everyone have a great spring, and Happy Reading!
Wow, you are busy! Congratulations on all the new releases! Thanks for being our special guest today, Cindy!
Everyone, please visit Cindy's websites and be sure to download your FREE copy of Phantoms & Photographs at Carina Press. Or click here to read an excerpt.
Cindy's website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com/
Newsletter group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cspapenewsgroup/
An Inspiring Walk
But there are elements of spring that I truly enjoy. The first night of the year when I don't have to turn on my electric mattress pad. The first day when I can open the windows and finally get some fresh air in the house. The daffodils which are now just starting to bloom under the front window. The buds forming on the tree branches. In a few more weeks the flowering trees in my back yard will be a beautiful mix of pink and white.
Spring signifies renewal. The earth coming back to life after the winter. That in itself is inspiring. But the walk I took with a friend around the neighborhood this weekend was truly inspiring.
For the first time this year, it was warm enough to walk without a jacket. People were out and about everywhere, walking and jogging (with dogs and without) or picking up the yard or working on their houses. It's a time to reconnect with neighbors after a long period of hibernation. Walking always seems to stimulate my brain as well as my body, the creative juices always flow a little stronger after a walk outdoors.
But none of those things was the real reason I was inspired this weekend when I walked in the spring sunshine with my friend. See, she just got some scary health news a couple days ago. And after crying with fear and ranting at fate, she called me and said, "Let's walk." We talked as we walked, about what she knows for sure and what she fears and what she hopes. We laughed a lot too. And we hugged each other tight.
Whatever the year has in store as spring coaxes the world back to life, bringing color back to the gray and dreary world around us, I hope I can be as strong as she is. See, it's scary for me too. I don't even know if I'll know the right things to say to her, the best things to do for her. All I can do is be there for her. She's mad now at this cancer that's invaded her body and ready to fight like hell.
It doesn't get more inspiring than that.
Boston Marathon-first "modern" marathon
Last Monday was the annual running of the Boston Marathon. It was a cool, sunny day, perfect running weather. And the race goes straight through the center of my town. So we go most every year. My husband likes to see the top runners. I like to see the runners who dress up in wacky costumes. Though my favorite runners are the Navy runners I've seen in the past. Yum!
There are some unique facts about this marathon.
• Boston has the world’s oldest marathon, begun in 1897.
• Boston also holds the record for the all time highest number of participants in a marathon- 38,708 entrants in 1996.
• This week, a world record for running a marathon was set by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya with a time of 2:03:02. Congratulations to him! Alas, though his time is a record, it won't be an acknowledged record because the Boston course is a "net downhill" which means, basically that it's too much downhill (ending, as the course does, virtually at sea level). Though I can see the fairness of this rule, it does mean that no world record can ever be set in Boston, which seems harsh. Hopefully, this won't discourage elite runners from entering this race.
It’s a state holiday in Mass., though not because of the Marathon. It’s Patriots’ Day, and not because of the football team either!
No, this holiday is unique because it commemorates the start of the American Revolution when the British marched from Boston to Concord and Lexington, and hostilities were opened on the Lexington Green. The famous ride of Paul Revere was taken at this time to warn the colonists of the approach of the British.
On a side note, consider the importance of names. Everyone knows the famous opening of Longfellow’s poem: “Listen my children and you will hear- Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere-”
William Dawes rode with Revere. But what rhymes with Dawes? So how many people know he was part of the duo? ♥
A Routine Way of Doing Things
Granted, there are things that can go wrong that are out of our control. Your kid forgot the homework project he'd been working on all week, and mom!! It's due today. Can you pleeeease bring it to me? Or your husband's at work and he's locked his keys in the car. Or your mom needs to be taken to the store. All those little things can wreak havoc in a writer's life.
But say the day is a normal one. Husband goes off to work with no issues, kids are now off to school (for the next few weeks anyway. Summer, well summertime in a writer's life can be pretty interesting...) and you start your day. What do you do?
Let me tell you about my day.
Times are never really set for me, so I'll leave the clock out of this. I'm a VERY lucky writer in terms that I get to do this full time. I don't have an EDJ (evil day job) to work around, and understand that my kids are older and very much self-sufficient. That being said:
Hubby strokes my hip to wake me and tell me he's leaving. That's somewhere a little before 7 every morning (that's the only time I'll throw in, because that's the only time that's set!). He kisses me good-bye, and depending on the night's sleep, I either roll over and check my iPhone for email and whatnot, or I roll over and go back to sleep. Being somewhat of an insomniac can be a real pain in the ass :)
After that, it's out of bed for me. First things first, of course. Coffee. Oh, and feeding the dog. Little guy hounds me like, well, a dog, if I don't feed him right away. Then it's me, sitting at my kitchen table, sipping my coffee and flipping through the Chicago Sun-Times while the pupper is outside doing his thing. That's typically the only news I get for the day, other than what pops up on my homescreen when I bring up the internet.
The day can go one of two ways after this. Either down into the basement with me on the treadmill (which I started up again this week after all the heart tests I had earlier this year. Don't worry, everything is fine :)), or upstairs in my new office to get the day started. Either way I go, I end up in my office.
I check my email, blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. Some may think it's strange that I do all that, sometimes I may even write a little (either on my WIP or like today, this blog) before I hop in the shower. But, it's become routine for me to do it that way. After the shower, I'm really ready to get my day started. Back into my office I go, and if my muse is kind and liking me that day, I write. And write. And write. If that's not the case, I research, promo, just something related to my writing.
Lunch is at my desk, which is usually another chance to check email, blogs, facebook and twitter again. Then, hopefully, it's right back into the current WIP. I can go like that until 5 or 6, depending on how things are flowing. Then it's time for the big decision of the day: What to have for dinner! Nighttime is spent with my family (as are most weekends), and away from the book I'm working on. After that, it's bedtime, only to get up and start all over again the next day.
So that's it. Exciting, isn't it? Actually, for me it is. To a lot of people, sitting in front of a computer typing away all day sounds like a boring life. But for me, it's like going into another world -- one where I get to have the say of what happens. My stories take me away and more than anything else, I love going along with that.
So, that's my work routine. I'd love to hear about yours, how it differs or how it's the same. I'm always up for some inspiration on how to make things flow better and I'm not opposed to implementing new ideas!
Have a great holiday weekend! Hoppy Easter, everyone!
I wanted to share my experience with you, especially over the last five days. You see, this is the first novel length I’ve ever edited. I have a whole new respect for authors that write larger works. I thought editing novella’s were a challenge. Boy, I’ve never been more mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, all edits are challenging, but when you are dealing with double the word count, one major revision causes a large ripple effect throughout the rest of the manuscript. That is a lot of pages to make sure now flow before you send it back to your editor. I had what I considered small change. That one small change actually connected to other paragraphs 50 pages from where it originated. It could be a phrase, passage of internals, a piece of dialogue or even one dang word. But it no longer fit. It was like an Easter egg hunt as I searched for every reference to what I just cut.
It was hard--very hard. I got to the point (I get to this point during edits every time, but it was way worse this time, lol) where every change I make is ruining the story and my editor is going to think I suck. There were points over the last few days I just wanted to rock in a corner and stare into space. I’d ruined my book, my baby, and time was running out for me to fix it.
This is where I wanted to give a huge shout-out to Christina and Tina for being there and keeping me from going over the edge. They jumped in and made me see that yes that the changes made sense and weren’t a pile of complete doo. No, I wasn’t ruining my story and I wasn’t rambling like a madman.
So I ask for all the writers out there to take a few minutes to raise a glass to critique partners. I have no idea where I’d be without mine. No, I do know—rocking in a corner.
Thanks Christina and Tina!!!
Guest interview: Christine Bell & The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale
It comes out on April 25th, and I am so excited because I LOVE these characters.
And I do have some early reviews from Netgalley useres. My favorite is from Joyfully Reviewed.
Awesome! Congratulations! (By the way, I love your cover!) What inspired this story?
Gosh, I wish I knew, lol! It almost never really happens for me like that. It’s always the characters that come first. I’m usually just sitting around and a character comes to mind. The plots just sort of fill themselves in as I write. Secondary characters (Bacon, Gilly and Devlin-the Loony Duke of Leister) came to me first. Then Stormy’s voice rang in my head. She’s so funny and sharp and dry. Once I knew her, the story kind of flowed around her.
What is your writing process like?
I’m a total pantster, so my process is…well, I don’t have a process. I just have characters that start to sort of nag me, usually at inopportune moments, lol. Then I just start writing and it comes out. One time, my husband did say something to me that directly resulted in a book. It was an Ellora’s Cave release (by my erotic romance alter-ego Chloe Cole) called Naughty Godmother. Hubby and I were sitting around talking plots (because that’s what people who love writers have to do in their spare time, lol) and I told him I wanted to write about a fairy godmother who sort of helped nerdy guys get in touch with their cooler, sexy side etc. And he said “Ooh, cool. She can be a Naughty Godmother. Maybe she used to be in teeth.” And I was like “Wait, what?” and he said, “You know, she just got promoted. She used to be a Tooth Fairy and this is the next step up.” That’s all I needed. I got out my laptop and wrote it. It was a lot of fun. And I guess I’ll give him double the credit because the sequel, Tempting Trent is coming out on the 22nd.
Oh that sounds like fun! Congratulations on your other new releases! How do you choose names for your characters?
I love naming characters. It’s like my most favorite thing! I truly believe you can almost tell a story in a name. You can almost know a character just by reading a really well constructed name. I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, and he is positively lethal at it. For instance, take Ebenezer Scrooge. What a great name, right? Without reading another word, you can almost visualize him. I am certainly no Dickens, but I try not to just slap a name on for the sake of it. I think of who my characters really are. So in this book, Stormy Gale is an adventurer, she’s unpredictable and sort of shakes things up wherever she goes. Her brother Bacon is lovable and simple and without guile. In Naughty Godmother I have a fairy named Holly Tucket. She’s clumsy and funny and cute at a button and it just fit.
I love the title of your book! Did you choose it and if so how did you do it?
I did! And I knew I wanted it to have Stormy’s name in the title. I had gotten as far as The ____ Tale of Stormy Gale, and during and impromptu brain storming session, my husband said “Twisted!” It was PERFECT, because there are a lot of nods to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in this book, so I loved the play on the words twisted and twister (tornado). I was ecstatic that Carina Press loved it too.
Which element of story creation is your favorite?
Ooh, good question! I actually think plots are highly overrated. At the core of it, there isn’t a story that hasn’t been told a thousand times. A plot is secondary, maybe even tertiary (because I think voice is more important than plot too), when it comes to entertaining people. The story is in the characters.
Take the movie, The Matrix. A conceptually ambitious story about…err, I don’t know, whatever it was about. The fact is, I couldn’t care less. Why? Because Keanu Reeves was like a walking mannequin; totally lifeless and unappealing to me. I didn’t care whether they unplugged him or plugged him in, or whether he was The One, or Not The One or whether he saved humanity. They could have set him on fire and I would have been like, “Where’s the marshmallows?”
Then, take Ellie, the wife in the Pixar animated film Up. She’s in the movie for all of ten minutes and I wept when she found out she couldn’t have children and sobbed when she died. Because she was so full of life, so real, so nuanced and quirky. A CARTOON CHARACTER.
Don't get me wrong, you need a good hook. But it's your CHARACTERS that will keep them hooked. If your readers love them, they'll follow them anywhere. Or nowhere. I’ll meander along for seventeen books of Stephanie Plum doing the same stuff, book in and book out, because I love her. I love that she eats olives and peanut butter. I love that she blows up cars and eats more than one donut in a sitting. Do I remember what the plot of the last book was? Not really, because it was pretty much the same as the previous five. But do I care? Not really. Because when I’m reading, Stephanie Plum feels like an old friend and I’m just happy to enjoy the couple of hours we get to spend together. So, to my mind, it’s IMPERTATIVE that your audience can connect your characters. Because if not, who cares if they find the Wizard and get back to Kansas? Who cares if their ship sinks and there aren’t enough lifeboats? Not me.
I definitely agree with you on that. Can you share with us “the call” story?
My call story is actually kind of funny! Rather than recreate the wheel, I’ll just copy and paste my blog post from that day. Mainly because I think you can *hear* my excitement and lunacy just from reading it!
“They want to publish my steampunk romance novella, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale! My whole body is shaking right now. They want it, Angela James just called me. From Carina Press. On the telephone. And she said it was her and I said “No it's not.” And she said yes it was. Then she laughed. Then I said, "Wait, you don't call with bad news do you?" and she said that no, she didn't. And then she told me that they want to publish my book. At which point I burst into tears. I wish I was kidding about that part, but I'm not. And then I babbled on and on about how I almost emailed her to get it back because of all the goofy dialogue tags and stupid adverbs and how I am taking her editing workshop. I came across very cool, suave, you know? Anyway, it's scheduled for release spring 2010. And I am STILL freaking out!!!”
LOL! I read that sometimes and laugh because I remember just how I felt at that moment. It was probably one of the top ten moments in my life.
Wow, that is wonderfully emotional! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Probably nothing earth shattering that hasn’t been said, but these are a few of the things I think can’t be said enough:
Get a copy of On Writing by Stephen King
Find a crit group or at least two CP’s who are at the same level as you are as a writer.
Be willing to listen to constructive criticism.
Did I say don’t quit? DON’T QUIT!
Wonderful advice! What’s next for you?
Let’s see, well, I have Tempting Trent coming out on April 22nd with Ellora’s Cave. I also have an anthology project I am working on with three amazing authors that will come out in June on Amazon. And, as always, I’m writing my head off! I’m working on novellas for two of my e-publishers, and I’m also writing my first paranormal single title that I hope to pitch at RWA Nationals in July.
Would you like to ask readers a question?
Absolutely! Are you like me, where the characters make you come back for more? Or is it flowing prose, or maybe intricate world-building that sucks you in? What makes you all fall in love with a book?
New Cover! Secrets Volume 30 Desires Unleashed
This volume contains these 4 stories:
Alice Gaines: Cox Club - At the urging of her best friend, Andi Crawford visits an exclusive club in order to find some sexual satisfaction after her divorce. The last person she expects to find at a place like Club Cox is her overbearing ex-husband, Blake. But, he’s there and as tempting as ever. Can she maintain her independence, or will she surrender to the intense physical pleasure only he can give her?
Maree Anderson: Kat on a Hot Tin Roof - Workaholic architect, Jace Burton, inadvertently flashes Kat Meyer, who later turns up at a crucial meeting… and seduces him in the bathroom. She’s one of the designers vying to impress him. And boy, is he impressed when he discovers her prowling his house — naked. Kat has no clue what’s causing her nocturnal wanderings. And when Jace discovers she’s the victim of a zodiac curse, will he fight to keep her, or run for the hills?
Anne Kane: Kellen's Conquest - As an Alph-Elite warrior, Kellen is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is the sexy data thief, Mia. Problem is she won’t admit she wants him or that someone is trying to kill her. It takes all of Kellen’s mutant strength and Mia’s streetwise smarts to keep her alive long enough to unravel a vicious plot for revenge.
Nicole North: Scoundrel in a Kilt - Brodie, Chieftain of Clan McCain, is a dark, sensual Scottish scoundrel, who likes nothing more than being a selkie shape-shifter, even if he has been cursed by a witch of the dark arts. Stunning, modern day supermodel, Erin Schultz, blazes into his 1621 world like a falling star. Though he’s certain she will shatter life as he knows it by breaking his curse, he can’t resist her tantalizing seduction.
Rejuvenating and Recharging
Whether indoor or outdoors, I celebrate life and do my best to accept its harsh realities knowing full well I've happened upon ways to recharge my creativity and rejuvenate my body and mind.
While some of these favorite energy and mood boosters are tailor-made for spring, some of them are savored the whole year 'round:
1. Embracing the man I love while the sun shines down upon us.
2. A latte, espresso or mocha sipped while sitting at an outdoor cafe.
3. Visits to the local ice cream shop to indulge in a hot fudge brownie sundae. Many of my hometown's residents eagerly await the seasonal opening of this favorite spot.
4. Nature walks.
5. Weekend mountain retreats.
6. Fishing at the lake.
7. Reclining in my favorite patio lounger while reading a good book.
8. Attending Major League and local baseball games.
9. Taking long walks around the neighborhood.
10. Making sun tea, especially when it's flavored with fresh mint from my garden.
11. Grilling and chilling
Wishing you all many happy reading moments,
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED (Recommended Read)-- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Guest interview: Janni Nell + Book giveaway!
Sounds fascinating! Do you have a review you could share with us?
“Pick up this book for an entertaining lighthearted look at several of the legends that abound in the mysterious land of Scotland mixed with a plucky heroine determined to solve her cases no matter what the risk. This is an enjoyable debut novel with enough interesting loose ends to make one hope for other chapters in Allegra Fairweather’s life.” 4 stars Night Owl Paranormal Reviews.
Wonderful review! Scottish legends always draw me in. Why do you write paranormal mysteries?
I’ve always enjoyed reading the mystery genre, but I seem unable to write any genre without a hint of the paranormal creeping in. I’ve given up fighting it and these days just allow the ghosts and witches and goblins to play.
What do you enjoy most about writing paranormal mysteries?
I love using my imagination to create things beyond the normal. I also love writing in Allegra’s kind of snarky voice, which allows me to say things I could never say in real life.
How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
For the Allegra books, the setting always comes first. It impacts enormously on the story. So far, I’ve used a different country for each book and often use the mythology of that country, when creating the paranormal characters.
I love unique settings. Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
I did choose the title, although it wasn’t my first choice. I planned to call it “The Secret of the Loch”, but that didn’t seem to capture the essence of the book, so I decided to go with “Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator”.
Interesting! I love the title. Also, the cover is gorgeous. Where is your favorite place in the world?
Right where I live in Sydney, Australia. Okay, the traffic sucks, but the climate is lovely, and I live near a semi-rural pocket of the city so a short drive will take me into “the bush”.
I would love to visit Austrailia at some point. Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
I love Allegra. She’s kind of like me plus wish fulfillment. She’s way taller than I am, stronger, a better fighter, braver.
What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?
After years of submitting to agents, I faced the fact that I’d probably never become a professional author. I made peace with that, realizing I had a good life, even if I never got published. As I had several completed manuscripts in my bottom drawer, I figured I might as well send them off to publishers. I didn’t have an agent so that meant choosing publishers, who were happy with unagented submissions. Luckily, Carina Press liked my book. I became one of their launch authors.
That's fantastic! What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
That the freedom of e-publishing is ideal for me.
Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Keep writing, learning and submitting. Be polite and co-operative. Be careful what you post on the internet.
What’s next for you?
The second Allegra Fairweather book, “South of Salem”, will be released 30th May 2011. I’m currently working on the third book in the series.
Congratulations on your upcoming release! I love the title. Very intriguing. Would you like to ask readers a question?
Everyone, a winner will be chosen from all the commenters to receive a copy of Janni's book, Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator.
Please check out Jani's websites.
Laird of Darkness - Review
"Laird of Darkness is a sinfully erotic tale, taking place in the Scottish highlands, that I just couldn’t get enough of!
Duncan is a half fae Scottish laird whose mother died while giving birth to him before she could gift him with protection from the creatures of the Otherworld. So every night that he allows himself to fall asleep they attack him in his nightmares, leaving painful claw and bite marks on him upon waking. Duncan needs a magical bow from his half brother to keep the monsters at bay and when he comes across the beautiful Lady Alana he finally gets the leverage he needs. Holding her hostage he offers a trade, but will he get more in returned then he ever imagined possible?
I was a bit skeptical starting this novella, but I loved every minute of it. Laird of Darkness was a fast and incredibly sexy read, with the perfect balance of plot and eroticism.
I was drawn in immediately to the main characters, Duncan and Alana, and riveted by their story. Duncan is a dark, super-sexy laird in a kilt (who doesn’t just drool over that?) and Alana made a sweet and spunky heroine. As expected in a novella, their relationship moved forward at a quick pace but with the authors writing it flowed naturally and was believable. There was suspense, action, sexual tension and gratification. A fabulous read!" 4 1/2 ~Crystal at Reading Between the Wines
Great Review for See Me!
Through the eyes of desire…
These days, Lydia is feeling increasingly restless, and tired of being invisible. No one at work notices the nose-to-the-grindstone colleague dressed in business drab. Her neighbors don’t even know her name.
No one knows she burns off her frustration by dancing to her favorite music, alone in her apartment. No one knows her closet is a wardrobe divided: monochrome and flats by day, silk and stilettos by night. No one knows her secret ritual has slowly evolved into private stripping…then dancing naked on her tiny balcony, daring someone—anyone—to notice.
Then, at the apartment across the way, the curtains move.
Wes can’t believe what he’s been missing by working the night shift. He is drawn to the amazing woman whose every sensual move makes his body ache. And when she catches him watching, the evening explodes into an erotic fantasy. Afterward, though, she confesses she’s not all she seems. No way is this fiery siren as boring and unlovable as she claims.
And no way is he going to let her go without convincing her she is brave, beautiful…and the face he wants to see every morning.
I just want to be noticed. To be accepted for who I am and what I can do. I just want someone to...see me.
Intrigued? You should be. Those are the feelings of Lydia in Natasha Moore's book, See Me. Now, this is a short little book, but that doesn't mean its not packed with excitement--both erotic and plot excitement. Although this book is told in first person and not my favorite means of storytelling, it works for what Lydia has to say. The writing flows, like having a converation with a friend, albeit a hinky conversation.
Lydia is like any woman. She feels invisible unless she's in her zone. Who can't relate to that? We all have days where it seems like we're just moving in a little space and completely invisible to the world around us. I liked she was so realistic. Another thing I liked was the depth in her character. This wasn't a run-of-the-mill heat story. She's wanting more than a roll in the hay. She wants love and understanding. Again, who can't relate to that?
And then there's Wes...the man is sex on legs. If I were in Lydia's shoes--and yeah, she's got lots of funky shoes, so many I was jealous--I wouldn't be able to turn Wes down either. I loved the fact that they were so compatible. Sure there were moments when I wasn't sure how the story would end, but that's the fun of reading this book. Get yourself a copy. You'll see what I mean.
If you want a book with brains and heart, then you need to read See Me. I give it 4 cherries.
Reviewed by Tiger Lily - Whipped Cream Erotic Reviews
Thanks, Tiger Lily!
Coming at you from RT 2011!
|At the Ellora's Cave Bollywood Party.|
|At last night's Masquerade Faery Ball.|
|Unmasked, and with the lovely Mari Freeman.|
Guest - Cassandra Carr - Strange Things Writers Do
Me? I have nothing like this. I’m not really the type to begin with, but at this point in my writing career, I can’t really afford to anyway. I write when I can. If I can listen to music, that’s fine. If I can’t, that’s okay too. I wear whatever I happen to have on that day, I write in whatever location I can find at the moment.
But I do know writers who absolutely cannot write without their little quirks and rituals. Hey – we’re all as different as our books, and that’s what makes the world go ‘round, so I’m all for it. If it works for you, by all means, do it!
Do you have any little things you like to do to get yourself through a day?
The elevator doors opened, and Drew hurried to unlock his apartment and punch his code into the security pad before continuing straight to his bedroom. He spun and picked Jamie up as she neared the door, and she let out a squeak of protest.
“What? I’m trying to be romantic. Efficient too.” He grinned at her when she struggled to get out of his grip. The way she fought against him both amused and aroused him. “Not so fast,” he warned her. “I’m not planning to let you get away until I’m good and finished with you.”
Jamie cocked an eyebrow. “Good and finished? Be still my heart! Such dreamy talk from a man like you! I had no idea.”
Drew laughed and dropped Jamie on the king-size bed with enough force to make her bounce, then climbed on top of her. Before she could protest again, he’d taken her lips in another deep kiss. Jamie melted beneath him, snaking her hands around his neck while his found her hips, pulling her closer. “You need to get naked,” he declared, rolling off her.
“Just me? That’s hardly fair. If I’m getting naked, then this time, so are you.” Her beautiful, full lips pouted at him.
He stood up, and in seconds, his pants and boxer briefs landed in a heap on the floor. He pulled his shirt over his head and added it to the pile. “Your turn.”
Jamie rose up on her elbows and stared at him in disbelief. “How did you do that so fast? And may I add, very nice.” She smiled and waggled her eyebrows, giving him a quick once-over.
“When I want something, I don’t waste time. And I want you naked. Now.”
He reached over and started yanking her top over her head, but she batted his hands away.
“Hey -- stop that. You’re going to dislocate my shoulder with your beastlike strength.”
Drew laughed but allowed Jamie to gently pull her blouse over her head. He took it and tossed it on the chair near the window. Next she tugged her jeans off, leaving her in only her bra and panties, which Drew made short work of.
He groaned when she was fully nude. “God, you’re gorgeous, you know that? And I’m gonna put my hands everywhere on your beautiful body, so you better be ready.”
Jamie shivered, and he covered her body with his, kissing her briefly before moving down her jawline, sucking and licking. This is gonna be good.
Cassandra Carr lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com, "like" her Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCassandraCarr or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Cassandra_Carr.
I’ve always considered my characters just people. Imaginary, mind you, but their life didn’t start the moment I typed the first word. They’d led a full life before I began their story, maybe with happiness, maybe with heartache. Those trials and tribulations made the characters who they are, flaws and all.
But I’m not big on the word flawed. The one thing that might draw me to a character, make me sympathize with him, may be the very reason why someone else is repelled, thus repulsed, by that same character. So flawed is subjective.
So my characters aren’t flawed. They’re just well-rounded people with personalities/pasts some may jive with while others won’t.
I’ve been told my flaw is stubbornness. (I don’t agree with this, lol.) My stubbornness has gotten me where I am today, so I’ll keep it. But I can acknowledge my inability to waver can mess up other people’s plans at times. I have other flaws too. I have a drill sergeant personality. I’m blunt and much rather have a fit of anger than cry over something. But it’s who I am. My friends love me for it, though I can frustrate the hell out of them. I want my characters to have this same thing. All the good and bad combined into one person and them finding the people who accept everything about them, not just the good, fluffy stuff.
So what have people said are your flaws?
ETA---sorry for the long paragraph. I've edited it three times and it keeps coming up as one long paragraph. Not sure what is wrong.
Characters with a Past
The backstory events I’m talking about are generally bad, negative or painful things that happened to the character in the past. It could’ve happened last month, last year or when he was five. It could’ve lasted five minutes or ten years. A bad thing could be a traumatic event or something that caused them emotional pain. Someone tried to kill him. His brother was murdered. She was raped. A curse was placed on him. She was kidnapped. He was abused as a child. She was left orphaned and penniless, then raised in a string of foster homes. He was in a car accident that left him with a major injury and the person riding with him was killed. Her father gambled away the fortune. It could be almost anything that would negatively affect your character for a long time, and this event still haunts him. He is not yet healed from this life-changing event. This is his emotional baggage. This is when you bring memories and repercussions from the past event into the current story. She doesn’t trust men (or the hero) because she was raped. She wants a family more than anything because she never had one. He grew up in poverty and this is what drives him to be the wealthiest business owner in town.
The character’s GMC often comes from their past, especially their motivations. Motivation is the “why?” Why does the hero work so hard to be the best cop he can be? Because his father was killed in the line of duty fifteen years ago? Because the hero’s little sister was killed by a drug dealer ten years ago? Why does the heroine not trust men? Because she saw how her father abused and cheated on her mother? Because all the men close to her in the past treated her like dirt? These are the deep issues that trouble your characters. And the problems they have to work through usually come from seeds planted in the past.
Backstory events don’t have to be traumatic and extremely painful, especially if your book is lighter, like a comedy. Or if your story is very short. (You may not have time or space to work through traumatic events.) You could use lighter-weight backstory events. Did he quit high school and now he’s determined to be incredibly successful anyway? Did the other kids in school tease her about her braces, her excessive height, or her hair? Is he/she divorced? Were her parents extremely strict? Too lenient? The point is that any story and any character can benefit from backstory events that still affect him/ her now in some way, even in minor ways. This doesn’t mean you have to have a backstory event or that you need one, but if you do it’s a plus. And the darker and more dramatic your story, the more your characters will benefit from backstory events.
That's why we want to read about flawed characters. People like you and me. Stubborn. Selfish. Vain. Obsessed. Ambitious. Hot-headed. I could go on and on. And what the heck, let's read about characters who are more flawed than you and me.
What kind of story would Gone With The Wind have been if spoiled Scarlett O'Hara had been a perfect young lady? How interesting would Elizabeth and Darcy have been to read about without their pride or prejudice?
And if our characters are perfect to begin with, how can they grow and change during the course of the story? How can they fall in love and earn their happily ever after, if they were perfectly happy to begin with?
Or am I wrong? Have you read a story you loved where the characters were not flawed? Who's your favorite flawed character?
I'm taking notes.
Guilty but in a Good Way
Tonight, the thunderstorm earlier was a major distraction but passed as quickly as it stirred.
Whenever my favorite Rock band is on television, whether in an interview, video or movie, I'll set aside whatever I'm working on to watch them with rapt attention.
The same holds true when the handsome face of the star of "24" appears on the screen. Can't wait for the movie to hit the theaters and to catch him "live" in a Broadway performance.
Cowboys and rodeo men don't need lassos to capture my attention...especially when they have moves like this rhinestone stud.
Batter up! Oh, yes, I grew up watching baseball with mom and cheering on the best birds to ever fly into any ballfield--the Baltimore Orioles. Gotta catch as many of their games as possible, whether on the radio or t.v. or, best of all, at the stadium.
One of the best things about distractions is the way they energize me and heighten my creativity. Even the most mundane task finds me returning to it with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, a spring in my step or all of the above after I satisfy the urge to succumb to those distractions.
Truth be told--all we need is love and some wonderful distractions to make our days and lives the best they can be!
Wishing you all many happy reading moments,
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED (Recommended Read) -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave