Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Rewrites

Oh I found a really good one this time - this came from a handout by Rita Gallagher, who passed in 2004. There is no date on it but most of these handouts have been dated from the 1980's so I believe this is from the same era.

This is about rewrites - but before we start understand what might work for one person might not work for another. Each book is different. It depends on the type of plot, whether it is a contemporary or historical, and how many characters it has in it.

I love what Rita tells us.

First that too many rewrites can do more damage than too little. Someone once told me to use this rule of thumb and it does work. When you get so tired of your ms you want to throw it against the wall consider it done.

Another thing to keep in mind is to trust yourself. We all second guess ourselves, but the more people you ask to read your story the more opinions you will get and they might not all say the same thing. Some of those suggestions could cause more harm than good.

Learn your craft. Take classes, join a writing group that focuses on the art of writing. Buy books on writing, whatever works the best for you.

As your story flows along make sure your characters react when they are supposed to and react properly. They shouldn't under react or over react, and make sure it is logical for your character.

Rita then quotes Somerset Maughn:
Fuss about style
Try to write in a clear and concise manner
Aim for rhythm and balance
Take pains to be simple clear and succinct
Read the sentence aloud. If you stumble, it needs to be re-written.

Keep writing!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Guest for this Week: S.S. Hampton Sr.

I want to welcome Stan Hampton Sr. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I am a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist. I retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; I previously served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Ready Reserve (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which I was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. I am a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). My writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, I miss the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, I officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Tell us about your latest release. 

My latest release from Melange Books is The Gates of Moses, and takes place in Venice, Italy. Long story short, an engineer charged with saving Venice from the encroaching, stormy Adriatic Sea, fails in his task. The city is emptied of the population and artworks evacuated. He sends his staff to safety while he remains behind, ostensibly to wait for evacuation, but in reality to die when the sea submerges Venice. He remains because a Venetian succubus claimed him many years before. The situation escalates when a young woman from his staff returns to battle the succubus for him.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. 

And why? Ahhh, my favorite villain? Ah, I do not know. But, if I had to name someone, then, Salma Hayek’s character from the Quentin Tarantino movie, “From Dusk to Dawn.” Why? Ahhh, she really put her talents to good use?

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why? 
Well, I really do not have a favorite character, but if pressed for an answer—in my short story collection Intimate Journeys, there is a short story, Dawn at Khabari Crossing. The character is Sergeant Braddock Hollingwood, a mobilized Army National Guard soldier serving in Iraq. The Iraq War is over and the last American combat unit is rolling south for the Kuwait-Iraq border crossing called Khabari Crossing. Hollingwood’s own unit will soon cross from Iraq into Kuwait and, ultimately, return home where they will be demobilized. Though Hollingwood hopes to remain in uniform and go on to Afghanistan, he does not know what the future holds for him. Nonetheless, he hopes for the best. Of the many characters I have written, I can relate to Hollingwood the most because, in a way, the story is somewhat autobiographical. Of course, because the story is a work of fiction, do not take it as a thinly veiled factual story.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one? 

I write science fiction, fantasy, erotica, military fiction, horror, and I even dabble a little in the Old West and Classical Rome. As for Dawn at Khabari Crossing—military fiction—writing the story was actually a college English writing class assignment. Afterwards I developed the story further for my short story collection. As for the genre of military fiction, the Global War On Terrorism and the Iraq War was a defining moment in my life. After spending most of my adult life in the military, or being a civilian associated with the military, it is a genre that I may know best. Thus, that is why Dawn at Khabari Crossing.

4.)What are you working on now? 

I do not want to give away too much, but imagine a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who drifts West after the war and encounters a horror that takes a real interest in him. More or less.

5.) What got you to start writing? 

I have wanted to be a writer since I was 15 years old. And that is because I have stories to tell. Of course, I did not become published until I was in my late 30s, and then not again until my late 40s. Beginning in 2002, my published writings became more frequent.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from? 

Everywhere. A conversation, a newspaper story, something I see, even my dreams. Ideas can appear at any hour of the day or night, and usually when least expected.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you? 

The tendency to include erotica in my writing. Ah, not gratuitous erotica, but erotica that really does have a place within the story.

8.) Do you have any special talents? 

Being a survivor? I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor did I marry into money. Unlike others, my life has always been difficult and probably always will be, until the day of my death.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why? 

Many years ago I communicated with the writer Poppy Z. Brite. She relayed to me something her agent said—and I am paraphrasing here—short story writers usually do not become successful, but novelists do. I am not fond of editing though I recognize its importance. Until the past year I always wrote short stories and novellas because they are easier to write and edit, even rewrite if needed. A novel—oh boy. And when there are multiple characters—oh boy. There are days when I miss short stories and novellas.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about? 

Well, it would be a choice between Publius Quinctilius Varus or George Armstrong Custer. In 9 AD Varus was a Roman governor in Germany; he was leading three Roman legions on a campaign and they were ambushed by the Germans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Wald. There were few Roman survivors. Custer, of course, led the 7th Cavalry Regiment to the Little Big Horn in June 1876, and he along with some 225 men of his immediate command (Regiment HQ, Companies C, E, F, I, and L) were all killed. Whoever I would ultimately choose, I would ask, from their perspective, what really happened. It goes without saying that the historical record of a battle 2,000 years ago is mostly conjecture. Even for a battle almost 140 years old, though analyzed through eyewitness accounts and archaeological examination, questions still remain. I would like to know the answers to those questions.

Thanks so much for joining me Stan. I love learning about each of my guests - you have some interesting answers here.


Here's the blurb and excerpt from the Gates of Moses - enjoy!


BLURB: An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice

EXCERPT: The dull booms, like the measured beats of a primeval heart, echoed through the gray drizzling afternoon. Each boom was a countdown to a finely predicted cataclysm that man, through his mistaken notion that he could control nature, had finally admitted that he was powerless to hold back.
Dr. Gregorio Romano, tall, with dark brown hair and watchful hazel eyes, stood before the open tall narrow window of his corner office in the ornate, gilded Ducal Palace of the once La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and peered into the gray drizzle toward the unseen barrier islands. The almost submerged islands of Lido and Pellestrina, with their channels opening onto the Adriatic Sea, formed the southeastern perimeter of the timeless Venetian lagoon. He listened to the echoing booms of the rising, stormy Adriatic, and thought of a mythical, prehistoric mother who gave birth to an imaginative species that dreamed of the impossible and often made it happen. And now the mother was ready to take back one of the greatest dreams of her children, ready to clasp it deep within her bosom.
“Gregorio?”
“Yes,” he replied as he gazed at the gray choppy waters of the lagoon.
“Have you reconsidered? Are you ready to evacuate?”
“Not yet.” Gregorio tilted his head slightly as a sleek dark gondola glided effortlessly across frothy, white-capped waters and halted before the flooded wharf, the Riva degli Schiavoni, in front of the Palace.
Patrizia Celentano, the first and last female gondolier of Venice, looked up at him and gave a friendly wave. He raised a hand in return. Her gondola was a traditionally built and shaped boat, but rather than the traditional black as required by law, she painted it a dark wine color. Though she offered to erect a shelter to protect Gregorio from the elements, he always preferred to ride in the open.
“We can evacuate you by force if necessary.”
“You won’t,” Gregorio smiled as he turned to face his computer on the polished wooden desk. The broad, bearded face of his boss, Dr. Niccolo Ricci, nodded in agreement. “There’s no need, and a helicopter is scheduled to pick me up from the roof of my home tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.”
“The calculations might be incorrect. The gates could break tonight...”

www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/GatesofMoses.html

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing

Amazon.com Author Page

Amazon.com. UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ramdon Thoughts: This is my 100th post

One hundred posts - that's a big milestone to me. It took me a little over two years to hit that milestone, but I don't post everyday. In fact in the last two years I didn't even post every week. So far I have been doing better, been able to post twice a week with the interviews on Saturdays and then my post on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I've written about so many things. My main goal is to share the writing tips I've learned along the way. Talk about the writing that caught my attention...and you don't know how many times I had to curb myself to keep from speaking about non writing things. Like drivers on the highway! holy cow could I go off on that.

I've really enjoyed doing this blog and I hope I have given everyone information they can use as they write.

Here's to my one hundredth post!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Welcome Frances Paulli!

I want to welcome Frances Pauli First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Frances Pauli writes across multiple genres. Her work is speculative, full of the fantastic, and quite often romantic at its core. Whenever possible, she enjoys weaving in a little humor. Once upon a time she was a visual artist, but she's since come to her senses. Now she fills her miniscule amount of free time with things like crochet, belly dance and abysmal ukulele playing. She lives in Central Washington State with her husband, two children, a pair of hairless dogs and five tarantulas.

Tell us about your latest release
Dogs of War: Vertigo is the first book in a paranormal romance series featuring demons and the dogs who hunt them across multiple incarnations. The books cross timelines for the hero and heroine, bringing encounters from their past lives into the present and renewing a soul mate connection under the constant threat of the parasitic demons who follow each couple through life after life. The Dogs of War series also highlights the canines used in military conflicts and, hopefully, is a tribute to the dogs who have served alongside man in various theaters throughout our history.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

Oh I have always loved Maleficent, primarily because she was so totally wicked for a Disney character. Over the top bad. I'm actually a little concerned that the new film might try to make her sympathetic. I like my bad guys to be bad to the bone, and would hate to see her nastiness explained away too much. 

For a purely aesthetic choice, however, I'd pick Lucius Malfoy...because yum.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

It's really hard to pick a favorite. You've heard that before, I imagine. For the Dogs of War series specifically, I'd pick Angel Remington. Angel is a big, tough as nails, tragic character who, despite liking dogs a lot more than people, manages to show her soft side at times too. Angel's soul mate, Rachel, was possessed by their demon and Angel was the one who had to kill her. So, she's pretty messed up, but her heart is always in the right place. I have big things planned for her in book three Cry Havoc, and I can't wait to put her on center stage.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I didn't. I just can't do it. (despite much advice to just pick one!) I have always read multiple genres, and I'm learning that that makes me something of a mutant. However, because of that, I think up stories in all sorts of places, space, underwater, past, present, future. I love them all. The romantic theme at the core is always there, and there is often humor, but the story that screams loudest gets written next and it is often a different genre than the last one.

4.)What are you working on now?

Currently I am writing book four in the Kingdoms Gone series. That one is set in a fairy tale world after the Final War has destroyed all the old kingdoms and left the current society in something of a mess. Most of the nobler races were wiped out in the war and we are left with imps, tinkers and fairy godmothers who use the scraps of magic that still linger in hidden pockets of "old space" to keep things from falling completely apart. 

5.) What got you to start writing?

I always had stories in my head. Originally, I kept them for myself and spun them out in my head, elaborating and expanding to entertain myself. Then I became suddenly afraid that I would lose them. I started taking notes, but the notes didn't hold up over the years and I realized I'd forgotten some of them. That panic to "save the stories" is what finally got me motivated enough to sit down and actually write them out.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

I get some from dreams, and my dreams have a lot of story fragments in them. Since I started writing regularly and prolifically, however, the ideas can come from anywhere. Things I hear or see in real life and then ruminate on, people that catch my eye, conversations or questions about basically, life, the universe, and everything.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

Well, I'm pretty ordinary. I write about the very fantastic, but I live in the middle of the dry, empty desert, surrounded by brown grass and bare hills. I home school my two kiddos and have very, very little time to actually write. Somehow, the stories find a way to get out despite my schedule.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

This answer is going to come out a lot like the "what genre" one. Focusing is not my strong point. I crochet, spin and weave, paint, belly dance, play the ukulele, make wine, show dogs, do puppetry and teach Reiki. Not all at the same time, and definitely not often. There are far too few hours in the day!

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

Keep writing. I think deep down that that's the only one that matters. Lots of advice, lots of it, is speculative, or based on personal experiences that may not mirror your own. But keep writing is the whole point. Finish one book, write another. Don't wait. Keep your muse moving and working. The words must flow.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I always pick William Shakespeare. Mostly because I want to hear him talk. Still, I think my love of words came from reading Shakespeare and it would be lovely to have a chat with him about it, about poetics and drama and putting it all together in a way that is timeless and lingering. What author doesn't want that? Words that linger long after they've moved along.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog!

Thanks for joining me Frances! Loved your answers - by the way you'll have to put those spiders away if I ever come to visit - have very healthy fear of them ever since a banana spider fell on my head as a kid. Won't touch them, don't even like to be in the same room with them.


BLURB
A modern day accountant with a level head and her feet firmly planted in ordinary reality, Genevieve doesn't believe in past lives, demons, or true love. All of which seems like a perfectly practical approach to life until the thing that killed her in World War One decides it’s time to try again…
Genevieve Oliver doesn't break the law. She doesn't take risks, and she definitely doesn't believe in anything weird. So getting pulled over for speeding on the way to pick up her new dog wasn't exactly on her to do list. Even more surprising, the cop who shows up at her window seems familiar. She’s never seen him before, and yet, just looking at the man makes her want to cry. But Viv has her head on straight.
She shakes off the encounter and heads to the dog breeder only to have an old magazine photo trigger a full blown, past life flashback. Not only do the soldiers in the picture look like her and her mysterious cop, she remembers them, a memory that holds as much danger as it does passion.
Now Viv is bouncing between two lives and being stalked by something evil in both of them. As the love story of two soldiers unfolds, her own heart opens for a man who may not even be available. Not that she has time to worry about minor details. If she can’t figure out the demon’s identity fast, Viv could lose more than just her life. She could lose everything she never believed in. 

EXCERPT
Dogs of War: Vertigo
Viv cursed the lights flashing in her rearview mirror. Her speedometer read ten over, five more that she’d normally travel and enough to earn her a nice, fat ticket. Damn. Her wipers squeaked and brushed off a thinning film of rain. The side of the highway beckoned like her own funeral. So much for her perfect record.

She pulled her Malibu onto the shoulder and eased to a stop. Dog toys piled on the passenger seat, and she leaned across and shoved them back out of the way. The registration would be in the lower glove box, the slidey one she never opened. Her elbow jabbed a squeaky toy and it joined the wiper blades in mocking her. The box was locked. A chew rope tumbled off the pile and landed amongst the litter on her floorboards. Viv sat up and turned off the engine.

The patrol car lights shimmered and blurred through the rain—red, blue, red. The driver’s side door opened, and she looked away. The flashing and haze spawned a wave of dizzy she didn’t care to continue. He’d want her license as well, and she knew where that was. Unfortunately her purse lay buried beneath the heap of supplies, dog toys, chewies and sweaters that she probably hadn’t needed to bring today. Her nerves had made her do it, made her bring the whole shebang, and now they made her hands tremble as she tried to extract her handbag.

The sweaters parted and she managed to get her purse open before the light tap, tap, at the window stopped her heart. Her fingers snagged the wallet that miraculously hadn’t drifted to the bag’s bottom, and she sat up and tugged it free in one move. She felt dizzy again, had to lean back against the seat to catch her breath and found it ragged, her pulse racing. Was she having a panic attack?

The tap came again. Great. She’d look guilty or worse, drunk. She slid her left hand out and pressed the window lever. It hummed, and the glass lowered while she tried to compose herself. Outside the window, a wall of uniform waited. Viv could just make out the name on the badge: Officer Adams. Her eyes darted to the rearview mirror and back. She didn’t look drunk. Maybe he’d be in a good mood. Maybe he loved dogs.

“License and registration.” Officer Adams spoke too quietly for a cop. He nearly whispered.

“Of course. One second.” Viv extracted her driver’s license from an inside slot in the wallet. The registration would take more maneuvering, but she could buy a moment by passing one of them over. She extended the photo ID out the window at the same time her cop leaned down to peer inside the Malibu.

He looked familiar.

Deep set brown eyes regarded her over a strong nose and classic cop mustache. She knew him. Viv would have staked anything on it right then, but she was almost just as sure they’d never met. She watched his eyes narrow so slightly she’d have missed it if she hadn’t been staring. The dizziness morphed into a pressure in her head. His mustache moved, but he didn’t say anything more.

She was going to cry. The realization startled her enough to drive her to action. She dropped her gaze to the card in her hand, waved it a little to catch his attention.  Her license. The cop. She’d be getting a ticket any second now. How stupid would crying look? God, she didn’t want to find out.

She chewed her bottom lip and waited.

He hesitated. His eyes fell to the card and lifted. Viv found her hands gripping the steering wheel and didn’t remember how they’d gotten there. Don’t cry idiot. He’s just waiting for your registration. Shit. She’d only given him half the request. Now she sat like a weepy teenager and he had to be wondering what kind of drugs she’d taken.

She reached for the glove box at the same time he spoke again.

“Do you have a dog?” Again, his tone didn’t match his profession, or his face for that matter. She’d have bet his normal speaking voice boomed.

“What?” She sat up and the seat beside her squeaked again. Christ. She had a kennel in the back seat for heaven’s sake. It was a logical question. “No. I mean, I’m on my way to get one. A puppy.”

“I’ll be right back.” He took her card and stepped away from the car.

Viv watched him in her rearview mirror—cop walk—but his had a nice edge to it. Or was she imagining that? She didn’t imagine him stopping halfway between their vehicles. He paused and looked back down at her license. She still hadn’t offered her registration. How much more guilty could she make herself look? But he didn’t spin and come back to arrest her. Instead, he returned to his patrol car, swung into the driver’s seat and sat behind the wheel without closing the door.

Weird. She pressed her lips together again. They trembled, and her eyes stung. Stupid. It’s just a ticket. But the embarrassment of it burned, and she knew she’d be crying before he got back. He’d think she was trying to get out of the fine.

He was beautiful. Viv cringed at the thought and watched him unfold from the car again. She sniffed but held herself together while he walked back through the rain. Her chest shuddered. He reached the side of her car and stopped again.

This time, he didn’t bend down. He poked the license back through her window. Viv took it and they both held on a fraction longer than necessary.

“You have a perfect record,” he said.

“Yes.”

“I love dogs.”

The first tear escaped. He’d already turned and started away. Maybe he loved dogs. She cried while he started his car. Maybe she was sick. The dizziness could be a flu coming on. She should leave first. Wasn’t that the protocol? She fumbled the keys and had to duck to retrieve them from the floorboards. When she sat back up, his headlights already veered back out onto the road. His light bar went dark, and Officer Adams drove away.

 link:  http://wardogseries.blogspot.com/p/book-one.html



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: What your Publisher doesn't want to see

I found another wonderful handout - this one from 1988 by Susan Wiggs - now a lot of it is a bit outdated now. Some of the rules have changed but a lot if still very true. As an editor I constantly see things like this and have to mark them.

Starting the chapter - Susan said to start each chapter with the word chapter - which is capped followed by the number - Chapter 1 - this is still true although with electronic publishers I have also seen the number spelled out.

Scene breaks and chapter breaks - Susan used the pound sign, which might still be true with traditional publishers but I have found the electronic publisher wants you to use the astrid now. There is no mark at the end of a chapter.

Use a personal pronoun instead of the characters name - this is still true - when I first started writing and belonged to a critique group someone made a comment they didn't know who was speaking so I started using my character's name like every 6 times. Several years later and a different critique group I was told I used them too much. Rule of thumb I use is if I think my readers could get confused about who is talking I put their names. I also use their names if I think the sentence reads better.

Always define the word thing - this is always a smart move. Mary had things to do - what sort of things? Does she need to buy large garbage bags, and rope? Why? Mary had to pick up the rope and garbage bags. A body wasn't going to bury itself. which one would you rather read?

Susan also spoke about redundant phrases like sitting down, retreated back, straightened up. I had that one pointed out to me - no need for the second word in each of those phrases - if you're retreating it's normally back.

She spends a lot of time on modifiers. One big one was try not to use more than one modifier for a word, another is placement. She used thick honey colored waves of hair and reworded it to waves of thick, honey colored hair.

Susan also recommends that you put the important information at the end of the sentence for more impact. You need to simplify trick sentence structure and be economical with your words. I've seen authors use "big" words to convey what the want the reader to know, I've also read my share of convoluted sentences. Mary stuck her tongue out at the man who cut her off as she brushed her hair back from her face. Brushing her hair back, Mary stuck her tongue out at the jerk who cut her off.

Some of this I have spoken about before, but I have learned that sometimes we need a 'refresher' course. It's fun seeing how other authors viewpoints on editing too.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Guest for this week: A.J. Williams

I want to welcome AJ Wiliams First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Thanks for having me Barb. There really isn't much to tell you...(laughing) I am a mom first and foremost.  I have been writing since I was about nine or so. When my mom and I moved from Arizona to Missouri the kids in my new school made fun of me for the way I talked. Writing became a release for me as I had to learn to fit in. As I grew, writing helped release a lot of hormonal issues we girls often face as we mature.

Now I am married to a great man with two wonderful kids and my love of writing has intensified. I encourage my six year old to write her own stories. I love TV and record everything as I HATE, really hate commercials, can't stand the things. Also I have super powers as I love telling my kids.

Tell us about your latest release:
 My newest release will be His Final Bounty, which releases in March. It is the final story in the Bounty Series. 

Blurb: Eva Rosenberg hacks a secret file of Jefferson's and discovers the man who shattered her heart and her world has one giant secret. 

Jefferson Anders’ current bounty hunting status has allowed him to hide in the shadows, never forcing him to face the secrets of his past. Having spent five years hiding the truth, he never dreamed the secrets of his past would catch up to him. Secrets which cost him both the love of his life and connection to his family. Now, he must face the mistakes of his past. 
With a confrontation looming with Eva and a possible death threat, they must work as a team to find forgiveness and defeat the enemy that waits in the shadows.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
 Hmm hard question. I don't think I have every really loved a villain. However, I am working on a story where the villain is my main character. So I guess I would have to say him.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
 I love Keylee Anders from Bounty for Hunter. She is in your face, doesn't make any excuses for who she is or how she behaves. This girl has gone to hell and back. The best thing is that she came out better, and stronger than before. She is strong and independent, as well as loyal.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
 I write Contemporary Romance. I chose contemporary because it called to me. As much as I love historical romances, I would rather read then write them

4.)What are you working on now?
 I am currently working on several different books, each about at the half way point. I am working on a sweet romance about a girl who is going  back home for the first time in ten years. Another story I am working on is about a shy girl stepping out into life instead of hiding from it. That story will be spicy. My other story is about a woman stuck doing wrong deeds to save a loved one.

5.) What got you to start writing?
 I starting writing a story in 2007 while I was on  bed rest, pregnant with my first child. I had over hundred thousand words when my computer crashed. I cried for a whole month. Pulling my big girl panties on I decided to sit down and write it all over again.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
 I get ideas from music, my kids, believe it or not, and people watching. We as humans are hilarious in our reactions.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
 I am a very shy person.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
 I can play the flute, not as good as I did, but I can still play.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
 I was told to write everyday, another is don't worry about the mistakes just write.  These have stuck with me because it is important to get what you can on paper. If I can't make it to the computer I have a pen and pad near me at all times just so I can jot down ideas or scenes that play out in my mind.

As to not worry about mistakes I have found that helpful because I worry about any misspelled words or grammar mistakes then it takes away from my time of getting my thoughts out completely.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
 I would have to say Juliet Mariller, her book Daughter of the Forest helped me fall in love with romance books. I would love to ask her about her writing process, the research that goes into each of her stories and what it is like to be a member of a druid order.


And A.J. Has a give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the excerpt from his Final Bounty!


Eva wasn’t sure when it happened, but her body called to her in a way that she hadn’t felt in years. After all this time, he still wore Ralph Lauren Polo Black. She loved that smell. Her reaction to him spurred her body closer to his, lightly brushing her nipples against his side. Every sensation from Jefferson rubbing her back, to her tracing circles on his chest increased her breathing. Her nipples tightened and the dampness increased between her legs.
Jefferson.” Her voice was soft as she moved her finger to his nipple in a sensual circle.
“Eva,” his growl pressed her to continue. There was something about the way he growled her name that caused her to stop circling and started to use her fingers to rub his nipple with her thumb and finger.
“You have to stop.”
Lifting her head up from his chest, she kept rubbing his nipple as she looked into his eyes.
“Tonight, please just give me this one night. After that, we will go our separate ways. I just need to feel you.”
“There will never be ‘just one night’ with us, Eva. If we do this, it’s for keeps. Do you understand? I could never let you walk away, nor would I allow myself to walk away from you again.”
His word slammed over her. His eyes danced in the light. She could see that he too needed tonight. As much as she wanted more nights, she didn’t think she could ever give him more. Then again, maybe she could, but it all depended on him. She had the truth, but it didn’t really ease the hurt she still felt in her heart.
She didn’t respond at first, as her thoughts rolled through her mind.
“Tonight please, Jefferson. Just tonight.”
“I’ll give you tonight, but we will talk,” he declared.
She didn’t want to talk. She wanted all or nothing and tonight it was all. If she couldn’t have tonight, then she could go back to having nothing in her life. She’d had five years of practice. What was another fifty? She nodded edging closer to his body.
“I mean it, Eva.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Random Thoughts: Is Paranormal Romance dead?

I was going to pull another handout to write about then someone said something to me that made me start thinking. I've been writing for a long time. I Joined RWA in 1993 and published in 2001 and since I joined RWA I have heard that Paranormal stories were dead. That publishers weren't buying them anymore. Twenty years later and many books later I still hear it.

There's only one problem - I don't believe it.

First I want to explain my definition of a paranormal. It is anything out of the ordinary. From shapeshifters and vampires, to science fiction and futuristic stories, to stories about psychic abilities and ghosts.

Since I started writing I've seen the run of vampire books saturate the market, and werewolf/shapeshifter books have been making the rounds recently. Time travel was big for a while. I love reading them and have written two of my own. There's been books about witches, physics, superheros. Then there's the movies and TV shows.

I thought paranormal was dead.

I've been writing in the paranormal field since I started writing. I don't write it because it sells but because it's what moves me. It's the way my mind works. Most writers who write what I write are the same way. We have that weird what if question that pops up every time we start a story.

I wrote paranormal when they said the market was dead. It's one of the reasons I went the electronic publishing route. I didn't want to write what the big pubs said was hot, I wanted to write what was in my heart. Electronic publishers are willing to publish a good story. It doesn't have to fit what they thought would sell.

I just find it funny that "they" keep saying the same thing year after year yet it seems to be what people want to read.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meet My Guest Nancy Corrigan #rhacafe

It's saturday again and time for another guest! Today I have Nancy Corrigan! A fellow author of Red Hot Author's Cafe. She has been kind enough to answer my crazy questions.

First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’m a geek turned erotic author who believes in unending love and fairytales. I love weaving tales that transcend the boundaries of reality to take my readers on an erotic, emotional and romantic journey. Currently, I write the Royal Pride series for Ellora’s Cave­, but I’ll soon be unveiling another series, the Wild Hunt. That one will also go to Ellora’s.

On a personal note, I’m married to my college sweetheart and have three wonderful children. When I’m not writing, I work as a chemist in a pharmaceutical lab.

Tell us about your latest release

My latest release is Beautiful Mistake, book 2 of the Royal Pride series. This story centers on saving the twin of a lion shifter cub that is introduced in book 1, Unexpected Find. Both little girls were experimented on and Devin vows to save Molly, the missing twin, before she’s sold to another pride. Devin, however, has been tortured himself and because of what he’s endured, his mind is broken. He suffers from blackouts and must constantly keep his unstable cats under control. He meets his mate under difficult circumstances and their HEA journey is one riddled with mistakes. It’s an intense read full of love, heartache, jealousy, loss and of course, hot sex.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Darth Vader from the Star Wars saga. From prodigy to villain, his story is a complex one. He’s been influenced by the world around him and the disastrous choices he’s made set him down the path of evil. I love a tortured hero (or villain) and I especially love Darth Vader as his final sacrifice redeems him. In fact, I love him so much I named an important secondary character from Beautiful Mistake after him. I can’t wait to write Vader’s story.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Josh. He’s a human introduced in Unexpected Find. He tries to fit into a world he’ll never belong to so he can claim a woman he can never have. His story, Favorite Obsession, releases soon from Ellora’s Cave.

3.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write paranormal romance mostly because I’ve always loved fantasies. I read (and write) for the romanticism and escapism books provide. I love fairytales, knights in shining armor and heroes that bite. I honestly don’t know if I can write a story without a paranormal flare.

4.)What are you working on now?
I’m working on Hunter Betrayed, book 1 of the Wild Hunt for Ellora’s Cave. It’ll release this summer. It’s an erotic paranormal based off the Wild Hunt myth—spectral horsemen and their hounds.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I was challenged. I mentioned to a friend that I wished I could write something hot and was basically laughed at because I’m a scientist, not an author. It’s true, but I’m also stubborn. I had to prove her wrong. Two years later, I have two published novels and a two more releasing in the next few months. Now I’m addicted to writing. I can’t stop.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
I’ve always had an active imagination. Most of my story ideas are ones that have bounced around my head, but many of my characters are inspired by people I know.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Hmm…I’m afraid of ladybugs. I’m a huge coffee addict and have a slight obsession with numbers.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Sadly, no. I’m pretty ordinary.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Write what you love, not what you think will sell. Writing is cyclic. What might be ‘hot’ today might not last. I took this to heart because when I started writing, I was told paranormals had run their course. Maybe they have, maybe not but I love my shifters and wicked Huntsmen. They have stories to tell so I’ll write them.  

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

Nora Roberts. I think every aspiring romance author needs to read her books. She is simply amazing. I’d love to know how she’s stayed inspired and weathered the ups and downs of being an author.

Thanks so much for joining me Nancy - BTW I've need writing for over twenty years and the "powers that be" have been saying that paranormal has run it's course the entire time. I don't think our readers agree.

and I love this cover!

Here's the book blurb for Nancy's latest:

Book 2, Royal Pride
Lena will do anything to protect the shifter child her family takes in, even turn herself into bait. Although she knows better than to fall for a shifter, Devin, the man who captures her, is unlike any she’s ever tangled with. Their desire is unquenchable and the draw to him is undeniable, but their relationship is riddled with mistakes and loving him has the potential to destroy her.
After shouldering his twin’s torture, Devin hovers on the verge of insanity. His life revolves around his family and recovering kidnapped shifter children. He never thought he’d have a mate or kids of his own until a rescue mission turns deadly. The beautiful female caught in the crosshairs stirs his mating instincts and tames his wild nature. Only her confusion over their intense attraction stops him from finishing their bond, but Devin’s persistent. He’ll convince his stubborn female that he’s the man she’s been waiting for—one passionate encounter at a time.
A Romantica® Paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

And here's the Blurb:
Several minutes passed before the doorknob turned and the scent of evergreen and moss swept into the room. The soft click of the bedroom door sounded overly loud in her ears. She froze, suddenly very aware of her racing pulse. Nerves or anticipation? She sighed. With the way her body reacted to him, probably both.
The bed dipped as he crawled toward her. His slow approach made her heart knock hard against her ribcage. She hated how much she yearned for him.
He skimmed his fingers across her shoulder, down her arm to linger at her wrist. “Morning, baby. How are you feeling?”
His rumbly voice made her stomach flutter. She clenched her hands until her nails dug into her palms. The bite of pain distracted her from thinking about the man she should fear but couldn’t help desiring.
“Better.” She swallowed hard. “I…umm, want to…” Strong hands lifted hers and the slight contact zapped her thoughts. The unexplainable lust returned and mixed with the longing. She couldn’t get her mind to work. “Talk. I want to talk.”
“Me too. We have a lot to talk about.”
Instead of asking any of the questions she knew he had, he gently pulled back her fingers, kissing each one before pressing his mouth to her palm. His touch branded her and filled her with warmth. Her breathing quickened. An answering groan spilled from his throat.
“My sisters…I called them.”
“Are they safe?”
His question and the emotion laced into it eased some of her tension. She nodded. “They’re safe.”
A long moment passed while Devin brushed his cheek back and forth over her inner wrist. “You’re not going to tell me where they are yet, are you?”
She shook her head.
“Look at me, Lena.”
Unable to resist him, she opened her eyes and his breathtaking feline ones stared back at her. Strands of patchwork hair framed the face that had occupied her dreams all night. Harshly cut cheekbones, up-tilted eyes and the wider, flatter nose made it unique, a mixture of beauty and power. Devin was the type of man you never forgot. One glimpse and you were hooked.
He knelt next to her on the wrinkled sheets, looking deliciously hot with his disheveled hair, bare chest and loose sweats. She let her gaze travel over him from the bulge in his pants up to the lips she wanted on hers. One corner of his mouth lifted. Her heart skipped a beat. Dear god, if she wasn’t careful, he could own her.
“You can trust me.”
She wanted to. “I need to make sure.”
He stretched out on the bed next to her and pulled her into his arms. He didn’t say anything. He simply held her. The tension in her limbs drained and she relaxed in his embrace exactly as she’d done in the hotel. She didn’t know how long they snuggled but he finally shifted closer and placed his palm over her heart.
“The answer is here, Lena. Do you feel it?”


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Random Thoughts: Data Dumping

We've all been told that data dumping is bad. Drags your reader right out of the story. But you do need to give your reader the information needed? I have always felt I did a good job of relying what I felt my readers needed without boring them with too much info.

I'm working on the next book in the series where my hero and heroine are battling timelines. Someone wants them apart, yet they keep finding each other, which makes the person trying to change things redo the timeline time and again. Secondary characters happened to be in a temporal ship so were aware of the change. After each change things reset and they find they have to explain things over and over.

It made me think. When is it too much? You have information you want to give your reader but how do you do it? If you just dump it on the page in one scene without a whole lot of anything else you could loose your reader. And what if you're like me where you working on the rough draft where they have to repeat the same info over and over? How do you make it creative? For now I'll dump it because my goal is words on the page. I can always fix it in my edits.

What I have learned from my past wroks is to weave it in. Sometimes you have to give some information right up front, but I love it when I can give a little of ther information through out the story. Each story is going to be different and some time you will have to give the information needed right up front, but always try to figure out the best way for your characters to give the information without boring your reader.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Welcome Cynthia Sax!

I want to welcome Cynthia Sax! First I’d love you to introduce yourself, Cynthia.
  
Hi! (waves) I’m Cynthia Sax. I write contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances for Avon, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Changeling. I write shorter works ranging from 40 page short stories to 200 page novellas. They often contain humor because life and sex is hilarious. I’m happily married to a wonderful man. My muse runs on Nutella and I’m a collector of VERY bad puns (which my editors delete from my stories)
Author Website: http://cynthiasax.com/

Tell us about your latest release

Flashes of Me is a modern sexy twist on Beauty and the Beast. Henley, the hero, is the huge, scarred head of cybersecurity at Blaine Technologies. Employees are scared of him, avoiding him in the hallways, leaving the elevator when he enters. Kat, a new intern, is more frightened of Henley learning her deepest, darkest secret, than she is frightened of the man himself.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Cynthia Sax: Many of my villains become heroes of their own stories. Tolui, the hero of Warlord’s Mercy, is the villain of the first three stories in the series (Warlord’s Bounty, Warlord Unarmed, Warlord Reunited). I tried to kill him off but he simply wouldn’t die and I’m glad that he didn’t. I ended up loving him. The reasons why he did what he did broke my heart.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Cynthia Sax: I love Camille, the heroine of Breaking All The Rules (releasing in April from Avon). This green-haired Goth girl causes trouble in The Seen Trilogy (He Watches Me, He Touches Me, He Claims Me) and Flashes Of Me. Many readers have requested her story and early reviewers tell me they won’t be disappointed. She’s absolutely nuts, the best friend any girl could have, and she’s perfect for Nate, the hero.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Cynthia Sax:  I write contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romance. I started writing non-erotic and was frustrated because it felt as though I was only telling half of the story. So much of an adult romantic relationship happens in bed. When I switched to erotic romance, it felt right. I love the purism of contemporary, the ability to focus on the relationship. I love the world building of SciFi and paranormal. Alternating the genres gives me a great balance.

4.)What are you working on now?
Cynthia Sax:  I’m currently writing Sinful Rewards, a 12 novella contemporary erotic romance serial for Avon. The premise for this story is crazy exciting (and could only be told in serial or installments). I’ve completed the first 4 stories and I can’t wait to write the rest. I love the heroine and the love interests.

5.) What got you to start writing?
Cynthia Sax:  I’ve always written. I wrote daily in a diary as a child. I progressed to writing for newspapers (a daily and a weekly) and blogs. Writing keeps me sane. I am now fortunate to write full time (thanks to my wonderful hubby – he pays the bills, allowing me to pursue my dreams).

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Cynthia Sax:  I have a list of my top 100 ideas. Every time I add an idea, I have to bump an idea off the list. This happens daily. Even if I live to be 200 years old, I’ll never write all of the stories I want.

The idea for Flashes Of Me originated from my personal reaction to bad news. I try my darnedest to pretend the unhappy events have never happened. Kat, the heroine, moves across the country to maintain this illusion. No one knows her in LA. They don’t know whether or not she’s telling the truth. And as the story is told from Kat’s point of view, readers don’t know the truth either.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Cynthia Sax:  They’d probably be surprised that often the love interest in the story isn’t the first person I’ve paired the character with. Just like in real life, it can take a few tries before I find the right person. Henley, the hero of Flashes Of Me, went on a couple of dates before he met Kat. I didn’t show these ‘dates’ because they didn’t work out.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Cynthia Sax: I like to think I can write a little. (grins) I have a terrible memory which doesn’t seem like a talent yet it is. I don’t hold grudges. I’m never sad for long. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be sad about.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Cynthia Sax: A best selling writer once told me that if I could do anything other than write, I should. It forced me to really think about whether or not I wanted to become a published writer. I realized I had no choice. I HAD to be a writer. Quitting was then no longer an option. When the going got tough (and it DOES get very tough), I had no choice but to work through the challenges. 

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Cynthia Sax: I’ve heard that Nora Roberts is an absolute blast to talk with. I’d love to sit down and shoot the shaving cream, chatting about writing and working hard and characters. There are quite a few writers I’d love to talk with—Loretta Chase, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lisa Kleypas, etc. (grins sheepishly) Yeah, I have to get out of the writing cave once in a while and attend some conferences.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I loved your answers!


Excerpt (PG)
            No one in this coffee shop knows who I am. I stand in the line, waiting to place my order. They don’t know about my past. They don’t know my last name. I tap my lavender heels against the floor, drumming an up-tempo tune into the tan-colored tile. They won’t remind me why I shouldn’t be happy.
I need to be happy. I need to laugh, to have fun, to focus on this fresh start. If I don’t, I’ll cry, and I promised my father I wouldn’t cry. I plaster a silly smile across my face and I tap my heels harder against the floor. These two actions lighten my mood, allowing me to cope with my emotions.
The bleary-eyed woman swaying in front of me yawns, adding vocals to my beat. For LA locals, it’s six in the morning. For a recently displaced New York native such as myself, it feels like nine o’clock. I’m eager to start my new job and my new life on the West Coast.
I’m two hours early. The internship orientation session at Blaine Technologies is scheduled for eight o’clock sharp, not one minute before and not one minute after. Although caffeine is the last thing I need, standing in line at this coffee shop gives me something to do and someone to watch.
I slide my gaze to the fascinating someone waiting at the front counter. The biggest man I’ve ever seen in my entire life looms over the cash register, his feet braced apart as though he’s preparing for battle. His ebony hair is cropped close to his head, hiding nothing, and he’s dressed completely in black like a villain from a 1970s spy movie.
I survey my behemoth’s broad shoulders. It’s all him under his jacket, not a hint of padding disturbing the cut. His suit is bespoke, custom made especially for his big body, and I suspect the designer was English. My mystery man is wearing Barker Blacks, his leather shoes as large as the rest of him. Even his matching dress shirt is well made, the collar and cuffs stiff and crisp.
He glances over his right shoulder, meets my gaze, and I inhale sharply. His eyes are as dark as his ensemble, his nose flattened and his chin square. Everything about him screams power, strength, vitality, and the woman in me responds, my nipples tightening, my breasts pressing against the blazer of my favorite lavender suit.
My behemoth returns his gaze to the frazzled barista and I exhale, my head spinning. It has been years since I’ve allowed myself to notice a man, to think about what I want, what I need. My fingers tremble as I smooth my flared skirt. I want this stranger desperately, more than I’ve ever wanted anyone in my life.
This is a problem, as I have no idea how to snag his attention. My last date took place when I was seventeen, and I suspect flashing my breasts at a pep rally won’t land me this sophisticated man. I chew on the inside of my cheek, having no other clever ideas.
I ponder my next steps, and my stranger moves away from the front counter, clasping a cup of coffee with his thick fingers. He ordered plain black coffee, no cream, no sugar, no whipped cream, and hell no to the chocolate sprinkles. My father likes his coffee the same way.
My mystery man stops at the lid and stir stick island and a stout man wearing mismatched jacket and pants rushes to the counter, barking his order at the disheveled barista. The rest of us shuffle forward in line. The tall skinny brunette behind me pleads into her sparkly pink phone, begging her boyfriend to give her one more chance. She’ll be the girl he needs, she promises. She’ll lose those last five pounds.
I don’t know where she’ll lose those five pounds. She’s already as thin as a yard of fine silk ribbon. I look down at my more ample bosom, my breasts wrapped snugly in the blazer.
“No, please.” The brunette sobs. “Derek! Derek!” She glances at her phone’s small screen and her face crumples. My heart aches for her. She doesn’t know how to hide her sorrow, not like I do. I can help her with this.
I touch the girl’s bare arm, diverting her attention away from her phone. “Who did your pedicure?” I feign an interest in her perfect pink toes. Although her beige sandals are adorably strappy, my goal is to distract her from her grief. “I have to know,” I insist.
The brunette wipes away her tears with the back of her hand. “I—I—I—”
I glance around us fervently as though I’m afraid someone will overhear us. The behemoth is watching me, his dark eyes glinting with intelligence. Some people think big men are dumb. Some people also think blond women are stupid and no one should wear pink at a funeral. I learned long ago to ignore some people.
“Look at what happened to me on the flight here.” I slip my right foot out of my lavender pumps and wiggle my big toe. A huge chip of coral polish has flaked off, revealing raw nail. “I rushed for a flight, banged into a baggage cart, and that was it. My pedicure was ruined.”
The brunette’s red-rimmed eyes widen. “That’s terrible.”
“It’s a disaster.” I ignore the behemoth’s shaking shoulders. He doesn’t understand. My mystery man has the strength to deal with loss directly. He doesn’t need to pretend, to use trivial distractions as a means to cope. He would never travel across an entire country seeking to escape his sadness.
“I’m in a strange city,” I explain. “I have so many cute sandals and I can’t wear them.” I shove my foot back into my shoe, hiding the offending toe.
As we exchange information and bad salon stories, the behemoth leaves. I watch his broad shoulders disappear into the LA sunshine and feel as though I’ve lost a piece of my soul, a part of my future.
***

Blurb

Henley, the head of cyber security at Blaine Technologies, is a man no one crosses. He watches employees constantly using his network of cameras and enforces his rules by any means possible. Rumors of his violent past, his scarred hands and huge size have resulted in him being feared by everyone… almost everyone.
Katalina, the new intern, worries about the revelation of her most painful secret much more than she fears her sexy boss’s wrath. She sees the loneliness in his dark eyes, feels the gentleness in his marred fingers, tastes the need in his kisses, and she knows he watches her. His silly rules about not stripping for the cameras and no sex at the office are destined to be broken.
Kat likes to be watched. Henley can’t look away. Will this beauty be able to tame her beastly boss?
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Flashes-Me-Novella-Cynthia-Sax-ebook/dp/B00F2I2GXO
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-flashesofme-1411711-149.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flashes-of-me-cynthia-sax/1117322925