Friday, September 29, 2006

Juggling Your Multiple Personalities

Juggling seems to be a recurrent theme with me; whether I'm juggling the many projects I'm working on or work and writing time with other obligations. Sometimes, I think I should have become a circus performer. The hours would have been great, I could have traveled to exotic locales like Buffalo and Kalamazoo, and I eventually would have been able to juggle fire! Whoo hoo! Fire good.

However, instead of traveling in the clown car, I get to juggle my mulitple personalities. Now, I'm not talking about a full out textbook case of szchiophrenia, I'm talking about those personalities of mine that write different genres from me and how to keep them straight and their careers on the right track.

Why am I thinking of this now when I'm on the cusp of having both my personas have books coming out at the same time? Well, because I'm adding a third name to my already full table. That's right, I've decided to assign yet another personality for my romantic suspense. Perhaps I can blame the branding workshops I attended at nationals for my increased want of a third name, but it really comes down to anonminity.

I love having people see my name in print. What a thrill it was when I first say my name in a magazine with my own byline. Holy Hannah, I had my name in print!!! I never thought that could happen to me...and a short story even. Something that I had created with my own mind and fingers and imagination. Outside of losing my viriginity and getting married (not that I got married because I lost my viriginity), it was one of the single most important and thrilling moments of my life.

But can one be thrilled when the name they see in print isn't one they were given by their parents, or were married into? Yes, absolutely. For me it's both. I chose personas that have variations of my name and my husband's so there is still a deep personal connection to me. And what about the subject matter they write. If it's so different, how do you keep it straight?

The answer for me is: overlap.

I haven't written a paranormal yet that doesn't have a core of romantic suspense. My erotic romances have that same suspenseful center, though they have a large chunk of action as well. To me, suspense and action are not necessarily the same thing...they can be, but not always. (Ever see the movie Rear Window? That's suspense without much action. Great movie!) But overlapping elements is key to juggling your personalities and making them work for you and not going crazy trying to change voice, and texture of your work.

That's not saying my new persona—who will heretofore be known as Kate Davison—writes dark and moody like MK and Kathleen do. Kate has a tongue-in-cheek approach to her suspense and a bit of off-beat humor, even with the suspense. I think a bit of irreverant humor is sometimes called for. (Though a recent editor hated my voice because she felt it was not what she'd expected from a romantic suspense. Oh well, can't please 'em all.) - In my reality, the more grave the situation the more likely I am to hear someone make a wisecrack, or tell what to some may be considered an inappropriate joke. (If you work in healthcare or law enforcement you know what I mean. Those are two professions where if you don't have a slightly skewed sense of humor you simply won't survive past your first year.) So, dearest Kate will appeal to people who get that side of dark humor - think Fargo or Gun Shy.

I think playing to your strengths no matter your voice, or personality at the time is very important in crafting your work. It will also help in making the personality juggle a world-class performance worthy of Ringling Brothers themselves.

Do you juggle, and if so what is your key to success or secrets?

-Kat

Thursday, September 28, 2006

To the Moon, Alice! Just not the one you think.

So in real life these days, I'm playing the real estate game, trying to sell my house. We're building a new one with more closet space and a workroom of my own. Our present house has been a little cramped for some time now, what with the addition of rugrats and all. But if you've been listening to the news, real estate's in the toilet.

But what about further afield? Apparently, in terms of real estate in our galactic neighborhood, Europa has the best potential for potential habitability.

I've often fantasized about sending various members of my family to the moon at one time or another. I just thought it would be our moon first. Jupiter's moon, though, has lots and lots of water. It's covered in ice, and the thought is that once you get ten kilometers down, it goes liquid, and the first requirement in any extraterrestrial habitation is the ability to get H2O.

Water is the first and most basic need for humans. Our bodies are 75% water, and we'll die of thirst before we starve to death. And of course, without water, there would be no coffee.

Every time I read one of these articles, I'm continuously amazed at the diversity and the exoticness in our own "backyard." And these little tidbits of potential not only give me hope that someday, humanity as a race will grow up and quit fighting with each other in favor of striving for something better, but they also give me a hella good bunch of ideas for more stories. :D

The universe of my upcoming novella, "Hounded" (in Liquid Silver's "A Witch In Time" Anthology, slated for release in October), takes place in a futuristic Solar system, where our nearest planets have been colonized, and humanity's eyes are turned beyond the asteroid belt. But whither goeth humanity, so goeth humanity's myths, both the Gods and the monsters, and it's up to people like my heroine, Lin Itoh, and her lovers Rex and Max, to run interference. And places like Europa will undoubtedly hold many mysteries beneath the smooth surface.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do You Scribble?

“Be careful and color inside the lines.” That often uttered sentiment flitted through my head as I maneuvered my lawnmower row by row, careful to overlap the wheel treads so I wouldn’t miss an errant blade. I’d heard the saying dozens of times over the years, but never needed to be told it myself. I was already prim and properly filling in coloring book pages without extra scribbles outside the heavy black lines. In fact, I thumbed my nose at them, shading right up close along their contours at an early age.

Which goes to show how much of a stick in the mud I was since birth. I’ve always followed the letter, stuck to the “proper” standards of society and been a good girl. Heck when I got my first job after college, I barely wanted to talk on the phone to a stranger, because I couldn’t deal with being unprepared for what they might ask.

But lately, I’ve become bolder…only by a teeny weenie inch in most cases since I’m a stickler at heart. Though I have started speaking up and voicing my opinion. I’d point a finger at aging as the culprit to blame. But maybe I’ve finally gotten tired of toeing the line so close, and want to live a little to nix being the ho hum nobody that everyone never sees unless they need a go-to-girl. Perhaps in my crotchety oldness I’m simply down right tired of Darwin nominee types (as in too stupid to live), and want to smarten them up a little.

So what do you think I said when I was asked—Are your characters like you—by an intrigued friend?

I said, “Heck, no!” I’m as exciting as a Woman’s World magazine among a stack of Cosmos. Who in the world would want to read about someone who schedules everything, makes lists because of her forgetfulness, and always has the same thing going on daily—work, work and more work? No one. Readers want to live vicariously through heroes and heroines make-believe lives, get into the head of someone they’ve dreamed of being (can you say bad girl!) and get torn out of their daily rut by following someone else’s totally outrageous adventures.

So how does boring little me write those people? I say, “What if I wasn’t such a goody-two-shoes?” Plus there is plenty of reality to enforce a little grit right outside your door. Everyone traipses through the muck to get to work, school, the grocery store, etc. Mix it all up and you have the right ingredients to conjure a no-nonsense kick-ass heroine. (I even bought socks with this motto—No Nonsense—on the toes to reiterate my new outlook on life, but ended up taking them back. Call it the penny pincher in me. Atleast that was my excuse. Enough said.)

This new, no-holds-barred kind of woman has become my stock futuristic female. In TIES OF VALOR, Zara Dior said bye-bye to female conformity and followed in her father’s footsteps to serve her government as a security officer. Then later on, after she’d whipped everyone, she decided to help Sartin by forging trading treaties with new allied planets. Even in the face of danger, eye-to-chest with the biggest, hunkiest man she’s ever seen she wants her sword in hand to show him she isn’t going to wilt over in a faint when the going gets tough.

So how can I relate to this larger-than-life heroine? Because her heart is grounded. The evidence is shown in her totally selfless motto—“Family and friends come before all else. Even your own life.” We share a love for those close to us, and a need to follow through with duty no matter how hard the task. And like Zara when I break my ingrained codes of conduct, I always have a darn good reason. Hopefully someday before I go to the grave I’ll get ballsy enough to chart a new course off my much-traced path and shirk any consequences with a toot-a-loo wave.

Would you say you’re a color-inside-the-lines conformist or a rule-breaking doodler extraordinaire? Some people say author’s characters showcase their subconscious wishes and desires, so tell us—how do your heroes and heroines reflect you?
____________________________
For more examples of my “outside the box” heroines check out the blurbs and excerpts
on my website—www.maseysplace.com.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

If Wishes Came True


This is the title of my latest release, a paranormal romance that's out now with Samhain Publishing. Here's the blurb to tickle your tastebuds...

Blurb:
Maddy Langton has been in lust with fellow undercover detective, Rafe West, for two years. Although they enjoyed a brief sexual encounter during an undercover surveillance, Maddy ran from Rafe before her lust for him jeopardized her career…and because bad boy Rafe loves his women blonde and gorgeous--everything she’s not.

When Maddy helps a couple of Buddhist monks, the grateful monks give Maddy a ring and ask her to make a wish. Maddy wishes to be the blonde with Rafe. And when she puts on the ring, that’s what she suddenly becomes.

Willing to do anything to spend a night with him, Maddy lets Rafe believe she’s his beautiful companion. But does Rafe really want her or the beautiful blonde she’s become?

Read an Excerpt or Buy Here

Monday, September 25, 2006

We Interupt this Blog to Bring You an Important Message

I know it's not my day to post, but I just had to share... Kathleen Scott just got a rockin' review for her novella FATAL ERROR, which will be available Dec. 06 from Red Sage Publishing.

Here's the story blurb from www.MysticKat.com (Kathleen and MK's website) with the review following it:

Jesse Storm must make amends to humanity by destroying the computer program he helped design that has taken the government hostage while protecting the woman he's loved in secret for nearly a decade.

Soran Roberts is an accountant who has become annoyed by the government's strong-arm control of the citizenry. Though the secret crush she had on Jesse in college was unrequited, she will never forget his intensity. When their paths cross again, the passion that always simmered below the surface ignites and threatens to burn them alive, even as they attempt to save the country.

Now the review...

Rating 4.5

FATAL ERROR is packed full of action, adventure and danger around every corner. Kathleen Scott is sensational at spinning a web of suspense that readers will find themselves trapped in. Jesse Storm is confident, sexy and hell bent on fixing his wrong doings. Soran is caught in the middle of it all, but has the courage to do what it takes to help the man she has fallen for. FATAL ERROR is an exciting tale that kept my mind whirling at all the possibilities of what the future might hold. I will certainly by on the lookout for the next adventure that Kathleen Scott pens.

The review is by Angel Brewer at Romance Junkies.

Thanks Angel for making the day into a total celebration!!!

Rock On.

-Kat

Buns of Steel - Who's Your Super Hero?



In October, my first Super Hero story releases with Amber Quill Press. The Adventures of Molten Man (No. 1) is somewhat satirical erotic romance. It’s quirky and (I hope) funny and it pokes a little fun at the super hero genre. [Since my husband is addicted to City of Heroes I felt I was somewhat entitled.]

Here’s a question that plagues me – how does one classify super hero fiction? Is it strictly fantasy? You will believe a man can fly – or so they said about Superman. Does the fact that Kal-El is an alien make it science fiction? If a super hero is part ghost, or gets his or her powers from some ancient cursed or blessed artifact, are we then talking paranormal?

Super heroes on the IN list these days, probably due to the popularity of shows like Smallville and the success of the X-Men movies. I think this is great news – since traditionally super hero fans love to read and will happily spend their last buck on the next installment of their favorite comic book. [Source: DH again.] Super hero fans are loyal, intelligent and notoriously well versed in every aspect of their chosen genre. [Ever get in the middle of an argument about the effects of green versus red kryptonite? Best advice, just nod, smile and back away slowly.]

No matter what sub-genre it actually falls under, add a little romance, some steamy encounters and you’ve got, in my opinion, a winning combination.

Who’s your favorite super hero?

For a short excerpt from The Adventures of Molten Man No. 1, pop over to my blog at Two Voices.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cover Me!

Here is my cover for TIES OF VALOR! Thought I'd share the super-sized version so you wouldn't have to squint at the thumbnail on the right bar. (Thanks for putting that up Lynda!)

I don't think it's bad for a first cover, though if you read the book I'm sure you'll notice (as I did right off) that some of the pretty picture's attributes aren't identical to the story inside.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Awyn Shandar spots a ship plummeting toward his home world and races to the rescue. Little does he realize how feisty a woman he’ll save or the war that will ensue after Voyager Zara Dior wakes to discover she’s a prisoner awaiting trial.

With her freedom subject to a foreign Queen’s mercy, Zara becomes the maurauding Vahezhno's linchpin in a devious plot to overthrow Aquilar's government. Honorably bound by his station, Awyn must protect her to safeguard his people’s future…and fulfill the yearnings of his heart. Though their warrior wills clash, they must ultimately band together for a common goal—to keep Zara alive.

Will duty be Zara's homing beacon back to Sartin? Or can the love her father foretold truly overpower the ties of her valor? And at the moment of truth, will Zara’s torn heart be strong enough to blend both opposing forces to save Awyn's people?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Day Late, A Mind Short

Oops. Real life often has a way of getting in your face and it smacked my upside the head yesterday, LOL My lovely daughter just bought her first home and is moving in (of course, the weather is so NOT cooperating!)and the day job was just a little harrowing so even with my reminder, I simply forgot.

Today, aside from normal housewifely chores, I have several writers tasks to accomplish. Catching up on email, doing some promo work...REWRITING MY CURRENT WIP for an interested agent who wants the finished product in two weeks! Yikes!!!

I remember a time when I pictured the writing life as a lot less hectic.

I saw myself rising in the morning, getting a cup of flavored coffee, reading the paper, maybe catching the morning news. I'd let the dog out, pet the cat, get dressed, let the dog in, then with another cup of coffee, sit at my computer and begin work on my latest masterpiece.

Yeah. Right. LOL

Dreams can be good things and maybe the above dream (or fantasy) will eventually come true. In the meantime, my typical morning goes something like this.

Rise, shower, get dressed. Turn the computer on. Run downstairs, let the dog out, grab my cereal and juice, let the dog in (why isn't she at the door waiting????), take my cereal and juice upstairs, eat the food while I'm going through email (reading only the most urgent), checking my calendar for whatever online or in-person events I MUST attend, then IF I have time, opening my WIP and maybe get 5 minutes into it before the timer (yes, I must use a timer or I'd be late for the day job) goes off. I then turn the computer off, gather up my breakfast dishes and my jump drive, run downstairs. Wash the dishes. Put my lunch in my bag (I always make it the night before), pour a cup of coffee in my travel mug and assure my Zuzu (dog) and cat (Wookie) that I'll see them in the evening and I rush out the door.

Once at work, I use my laptop during my breaks and lunch to work on my WIP (this is more productive than it may sound since I don't have a cat demanding adoration, a husband demanding attention or other distracting visitors or sounds).

After I return home, I fix dinner (have I mentioned I LOVE my crockpot? And my microwave? What did we do without those wonderful devices?). My husband, who works midnights, is asleep but the dog still needs to be let out, the cat still needs adoration (and she never gets quite enough :D ) So I take my dinner, eat it while once again checking email and calendar. Do the dishes and any other pressing household chores (Wookie is a wonderful cat but, ahem, cleaning her litterbox is NOT my favorite chore :P )then and only then can I return to the WIP.

By that time, I'm half asleep but I do manage to get an hour, sometimes two, of work done. And I'm never sure it's any good.

Weekends aren't much better since I'm usually on call if an emergency arises at the day job and they do arise...usually when I've found a burst of creative energy and am deep into the story. If an emergency doesn't arise, there's Wookie again, wanting to be petted. And my husband, who I've only seen about two and a half hours all week, is wondering if I have a secret online lover...to which I ask "Who has time?" LOL

I admit that I still have the dream I described above and maybe it will happen once I can quit the day job. Or maybe not. In the meantime, I have the utmost admiration for other writers, ones with children (who are even more hard pressed for time!) and/or day jobs, who manage to produce book after book, sell them and promote them.

Kudos to you all...and what's your secret?

Friday, September 22, 2006

films vs books

Ever watched a good movie, only to cringe at some of the things done by the characters? I've sat there and thought "No! I would have done something much different!" The hero and heroine would/would not have done such-and-such, etc.

That's the beauty of writing my own stories. I can and do make my characters do/not do such-and-such! They go out and do things I want them to do. They say the right things, do the rights things...not necessarily the right thing in my eyes, but it's what I want them to do.

So what happens when they won't do as I want them to do? Some people tell me they're my characters, I can make them do whatever I want, but it's not that simple.

There I am, writing away, when suddenly I realize the characters aren't doing what I was planning. Somehwere along the way I lost control and the characters are running with the story. Their own way.

Does this sound nutty? Believe me, before I started writing, I would have thought so! But now I know how cunning characters can be, how devious, how they can be good little people doing what I want them to do, and as I immerse myself further and further into the story, I suddenly realize that my good little people have taken on a life of their own. The plot is suddenly not so straightforward, that shouldn't have happened, good gravy - did she really say that...and the best? Who the heck are you and where did you come from? How did another character get into my story?

This happens because as I write, I live my story. I see it all unfolding, I feel the emotions, I've even had a good blubber when writing a heart-wrenching scene, finished it at 6 in the morning because I couldn't stop writing I was so involved, wiped my eyes, hiccuped and said "Damn good scene!"

LOL

So writing, for me, is a bit of an adventure, because even though I have my basic plot outline, I know anything can happen along the way to change that plot a little. I always wonder what unplanned character is going to be created with just a few key strokes, and how my original charaters are going to react to the whole thing.

Reading is an adventure, but so is writing! And I love it...even though it does drive me up the wall sometimes LOL.

hoo roo for now!
Angela

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arrggh!

Avast! And...stuff.

It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day! So shivvy up, ye scurvy dawgs, and show some love for your favorite pirates. Allow me to start...

Han Solo, What-a-man Solo! What exactly is it about everyone's favorite smuggler? Is it the cocky attitude? The brash daring? Or is it the ches hairt? :D

There's something about outlaw bad boys that's just so damn...appealing. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's that they live by a code of honor that's not synchronous with what society expects. But they do live by a code. Half the fun is ferreting it out. What values do they hold, and why? Why would they thumb their noses at the government by smuggling some things, but not others?

In my current WIP, my hero is a former gentleman who's now an outcast because he was on the wrong side of the political spectrum when the revolution happened. His honor code hasn't changed, but the values that society puts on it has. He's turned to living outside the law out of a desire to bring back what was once good about the world in which he lives.

And of course, who can forget our Favorite Pirate...Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. A few ropes short of a whole rigging outfit, but so full of attitude that what he lacks in sobriety, he makes up for in chutzpah.

But as much as he may exist in an altered state of consciousness, he's got his goal firmly fixed in his mind, and the creative capacity to find new and amusing ways to do it.

One of the central characters of my current WIP (though not the main character on my current WIP, she is slated for a story of her own in the future) has just these traits. She's not exactly a pirate (she's a pilot, though), but she knows what she wants, and can be very...creative...in getting it. And given where she ends up at the end of the first book, she'll have to be. ;)

Pirates, smugglers, revolutionaries, and just plain old rebels. Why do we love them so? You tell me, me hearties.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ever Felt Like A Character in the Play of Life?

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. Not only did I draw pictures to illustrate them, my sister and I also set about recording our very own werewolf story at age eight complete with sound effects. Further on down the road in high school, my favorite English assignments were an imaginative drill. Every Friday the class had to analyze a random picture in our text books, then write a story to describe it. I think I was the only participant who embraced the challenge readily. To me the task wasn’t work. Sure I had to write, but my imagination got to run wild within boundaries, which spelt F-U-N.

Today I still do that. I see everyday occurrences and wonder what happened before or what would happen after I turned my eyes away. In a way I think all writers use these little snippets as building blocks to create identifiable events in their work. In effect we become characters in the scenery around us. And as a member of the ever-moving sea of people we provide the cause and effect that makes life kinetic (including the cross-sectioned semi-chaos of publishing).

But have you ever thought of yourself that way—as someone at the mercy of a higher force? I ask because I got a rejection letter as a belated birthday gift. At the ripe old age of thirty-two I should’ve learned by now to roll with life’s punches to the gut (especially with the stack shoved in a cubby of my desk). But after six months of praying, hoping, and imagining what I could do with the chance to write in both sub-genres I loved for a NY publisher, I got those dreams dashed. Maybe I built myself up too high. Perhaps I should’ve tempered my grandiose designs for the future. But I’d simply followed the motto of visualizing what I wanted in order to get to that X-marked destination. I had to believe in myself, or who else would?

Right now, my personal foundations have been rocked. But I still see the gleam in my prose that marks their merit from my hard work. As they say, “I’ve come a long way, baby.” It was ten years ago when I staggered in, whooped from my full-time job, and sat down in front of a hand-me-down DOS PC to start TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART. If I’d known then how hard I’d have to fight, the turmoil I’d have to endure, I likely would’ve quit. Heck, I almost did…twice. In 2004 my saving grace came as a call out of the blue one night while I was doing laundry. The British woman on the other end told me something that reduced me to tears, yet had me pumped up enough to consider crawling onto my roof to shout out my fabulous news. TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART had been chosen as a finalist in NJ’s Put Your Heart in A Book contest, my first final ever. I settled for phoning/e-mailing every single person I could think of.

You live and learn, even when you don’t want to. And Life certainly has plenty of blind turns in store. But when you meet a roadblock head on, you simply have to whip into a three-point turn and detour to get back on your chosen path. That’s the only way to end up where you want to be. Perhaps we’re even headed for the same spot—a place that’ll give readers the chance to love our characters, including the quirky ones who reflect the world around us.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

World Series of Sequels...

I am a sequel junkie.

When I read a really good book I always wonder if there are others that will come later in the series, will there be a series, and if I can hang around with the characters just a little bit longer. I'm the same way with my own characters.

In the true spirit of a fantasy writer, I try not to think in terms of stand alone books. Most of my novels are designed to inspire spin-offs, sequels, series, t-shirts, lunchboxes, trading cards...well, maybe not those last three, but you get the idea. Sometimes I begin a series knowing that there will be X number of books to tell the complete story arc, other times I'm prepared to write one book when other characters intrigue me and I feel compelled to tell their stories as well.

The problem with the series fetish is that while I'm busily writing down the ideas for the other books in the series, I'm neglecting the other books I've started writing, but as yet finished. So, I currently have several series I'm juggling at once. Then there is the fear of writing a kick-butt first book and letting the readers down on the next one...or making it too much like the first one because you don't want to mess with success. But I don't like writing the same book all the time...I don't even like writing the same genre all the time. (That explains the two pen names and the fact I'm expanding to a third. Hard to brand your career when you switch genres so often.)

But sequels and series aren't always fun. I've come to realize that when taking secondary characters from a novel and giving them their own forum, it is sometimes hard to come up with fresh ideas and conflicts that can sustain them throughout an entire 90-100K novel. Especially if the original book was not orginally conceived as the opening of a series. Take my novel By A Silken Thread for example, I didn't think of it in terms of a series but now it's three books long. Not a true series in that you have to read the first book to understand the other two, but there is some overlapping of characters and situations that would make it helpful, but not necessary. I think I've made good starts as to the follow up books, but we'll see once I start to get from the outline stage to the actual writing stage. (It should be within the next six months or so.) -- and what about those series I've read that I've been so excited about the first book only to be bitterly disappointed in the rest of the series.

There have been a few series in the sci-fi/fantasy genre that I've not finished because I got so disgusted with the repetition or the fact the series took off into a direction I just didn't like. I think it's important if you are writing a series that readers have already embraced the characters, to not violate what it is that makes your characters so appealing. That's not saying they shouldn't grow and change. No, I have specific reasons for not finishing a series, and if you want to know those reasons, please email me and I'll give you a list. : )


There is one series I just finished reading. It's actually a historical romance series, set in Victorian England. The series was fun, lively, and engaging, but one of the characters is so self rightous and argumentative that I found it hard to like her...and she had her own book. Granted, I skipped around that book in the series and moved on to the next one..but still...I think if you're going to make a series, you should at least have a heroine that is likeable if she's to carry her own book.

I think it is possible to take secondary characters that are not necessarily 'good' and give them their own book and maybe show how they are misunderstood, or how circumstances may have pushed them into doing something desperate that they wouldn't normally have done. A book is after all just a snapshot in the life of the characters. With secondary characters is so much easier to only see them from the hero or heroine's point of view and therefore the motivations are not always clear. That's where the sequel or series comes in handy. It's a perfect opportunity to interview that possibly unsavory character and find out exactly what makes them tick. How they got to that pass, and how they are trying to turn it around...or they meet the hero or heroine that changes them.

No matter the path taken to series writing it can get very labor intensive. Just to show you what I mean. The sequels I'm working on so far are:

By A Silken Thread* (Triskelion TBA)
Charlatan
Man of Uncertain Virtue

Immorati* (Triskelion March 07)
Corpesetti

Fatal Error* (Red Sage Dec. 06)
Mind Games

The Last Keeper*
A War of Saints
A Season of Vengence

Prophet's Promise*
Prophet's Gift
Prophet's Secret
Prophet's Triumph

* denotes novel is already finished and/or under contract.

What are your thoughts on, or approaches to, writing sequels and series. Do you plan the story arc from the beginning or write a novel and see where it takes you then plan a series later on?

-Kat

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Flip a coin

What a terrific bunch of posts about villains! And if the books are as good as the excerpts, (I’m sure they are!) I’m going to have some great reading ahead of me.

One thing I’ve noticed is that more and more writers are giving a tiny bit of background to their villains (at least to the human ones) that gives an insight into the psyche of the villain, the ‘what made him go bad’ factor. I was watching a movie the other day and one of the villains, a woman, inadvertently showed her scars from being beaten over the years by her boyfriends/husbands. She wanted money so she could be powerful enough to protect herself. Another villain grew up ignored by his father while his brother was the apple of his father’s eye. He turned to villainy just for the attention, a way to shout to the world that he was indeed here. His reasoning wasn’t as profound, to me, as the woman’s because...well, he grew up. Act like a man for pete’s sake and get over it.

The woman, on the other hand, was far more sympathetic in her reasoning. And, in her own way, far more cruel than the male villain. She was, after all, fighting for a more important reason–to stay alive.

While we may not agree with her methods, I think we can all understand her to an extent.

Someone mentioned Darth Vader. Vader was an extremely strong, powerful villain but it’s not until Episode III that we see how he became that way. He was trying to protect the life of his love but his methods, his choices if you will, are the very things that caused her death. Sadly tragic, isn’t it?

Of course, he redeems himself at the end of Episode VI by turning on the Emperor to save Luke’s life but one has to wonder...what path would he have taken had he never realized that Luke was his son? Would he have continued being the Emperor’s henchman? Or would he have eventually usurped the Emperor and become the Evil Overlord himself?

Personally, I believe he would have become the Evil Overlord. Why? Because he’d set himself on that path by believing the Emperor’s lies. And I think he knew they were lies somewhere deep inside him. It was just an easier path to take. Easier and less emotionally traumatic. In other words, it was a way to make sure the galaxy and everyone in it couldn’t hurt him again.

How close is Darth Vader to our heroes who fight them? Pretty close. Most often we see the hero as fighting for freedom, justice and the pursuit of happiness. In reality, I think they’re fighting–just like Darth Vader–to protect their emotional and physical selves, to keep from being hurt by forces outside themselves.

In romance, that fight often reflects itself in trying to avoid the heroine because she can make him vulnerable (bad thing) and yet, it’s her love/acceptance/whatever that often gives him the strength to avoid that downward slide into villainy.

Darth lost his princess and became evil. But, if in the following years, he had found another love--someone who accepted him and who could make him a better person--would he have become a hero?

Star-Crossed Romance

Star-Crossed Romance

Villains

I love villains. Face it, they make the story go forward, for without the villain plotting the downfall of thehero/heroine/universe, where would we be? Every story has a villain - I honestly don't know what story doesn't have one lurking behind the space shield.

One of my fav villains was Darcus, from Soul of a Hunter. A space pirate with a vicious streak, he abducted the heorine when she was a child and abused her before bounty hunters saved her. Her thirst for vengeance had her growing up amongst the bounty hunters and eventually facing her nemesis...with bad results (that's partway trhough the book ). To give you a little taste of what a truly evil person Darcus was, here's a piece from Soul of a Hunter:

SOUL OF A HUNTER EXCERPT

“Well, well. Bounty hunters. Looking for me?”
Terribly wrong. She looked straight up the staircase and into mocking green eyes. The handsome face was sardonic, framed by waving chestnut hair that brushed the billowing-sleeved white shirt. The lean body was encased in tight black pants and knee-high boots. A laser was aimed straight at her heart.
“Darcus,” she whispered.
“Don’t anybody move!” He barked out when the hunters started for their weapons. “My crew have you all covered. Just look around if you don’t believe me.”
They did, seeing the pirates appear from behind the bar, through the side door, and above them on the balcony. The bar patrons pulled out daggers, proof that they were pirates dressed in plain clothes.
“So it’s true. You missed me, my little Sabra.” His smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. “If I’d known you’d grown into such a pretty bit, I would have come looking for you.”
“Come down and face me.” Hatred boiled inside her, the longing to slice his smile clean off his sneering face making her palms quiver in anticipation.
“After all the trouble you went to searching for me, I’m surprised that you don’t appear happy to see me.”
Cormac moved up beside her. “Our business is with you only, Darcus.”
He laughed. “Is it now? And why is that? Let me guess.” He pursed his lips. “Oh, I know! I killed your father!”
Her heart started to thunder. “This is between you and me. Send your men away and the hunters will leave, too. Face me alone, you bastard.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” He smiled at Miklar as she drew level with him. “I’d advise you to seek your room, my darling. Things are going to get a little messy around here.”
Sabra looked at Cormac. Reflected in his eyes was the knowledge she’d already concluded. Darcus did not mean to let them go alive.
“So, pirate.” Cormac returned his attention to the man leaning gracefully against the banister. “Is this a showdown?”
“A showdown?” He burst out laughing and his crew echoed him.
The bounty hunters watched warily, their nerves strung taut yet steady. Waiting.
“Such a sense of humor!” Darcus wiped his eyes. “I could have done with you in my crew, hunter. No, this isn’t a showdown.”
“Then what is it?” Sabra grated.
“It’s a slaughter.”
“With lasers? Stupid, don’t you think, knowing that the blasts go straight through one person and into another? You’ll kill as many of your own men as you will us.”
“Nobody said it was lasers, my pretty. We fight much better with machetes and daggers, and all sorts of lovely little things. Don’t we, lads?”
A rumble sounded from the pirates and more seemed to pour into the room. With dismay Sabra saw that the hunters were outnumbered by at least six to one. It was indeed going to be a slaughter.
“There seems to be no point in killing the others, Darcus. Take me only. They are no threat--”
“Oh, come on! Even I know that these hunters will be back if something happens to you. No, my dear, I’m afraid negotiations aren’t going to work here. You have, to state it clearly, reached the end of the line.”
“Then I see no point in waiting any longer,” Cormac said calmly and in one lightening move, drew his laser.
The room exploded, pirates swarming towards the hunters. Belmos managed to pull his laser in time, but the other hunters only had time to fend off the first of the pirates.
Sabra drew her own laser and fired straight up at Darcus, but he wasn’t there. Looking up, she saw that he’d disappeared back into the shadows, and she started towards the stairs. Her way was blocked by several leering pirates and she cut them down quickly, but no sooner had she done so than more appeared to take their place.
A beefy hand came from the side, grabbing her wrist in a crushing hold, and forcing her to drop the laser. A fist connected with her jaw, then the sensation of something sharp and cold across her shoulder, followed by a wet sensation. Blood. She’d been cut.
Furiously she rallied, swinging deadly chopping motions through the air, catching one pirate in the throat with the side of her palm, another in the eye. A third pirate’s nose she slammed up, breaking it and forcing bone to jar up into his brain. Drawing a dagger from her boot top, she slashed from side to side, cutting flesh, hearing curses and shrieks.
The room seemed to seethe with bodies. Tables broke, chairs were flung. The laser fire stopped abruptly, but the fighting didn’t.
Seeing Cormac go down beneath three thugs, Sabra whirled around and tried to slash a path through to him. With fleeting fear she realized that she couldn’t see the other hunters, nor hear them. But she couldn’t worry about that now, she had to get to Cormac, had to fight beside him--
Suddenly her arms were grabbed on each side and she was rushed backwards. Twisting, she was unable to break the brutal holds, and glancing back over her shoulder, saw where they were aiming to take her. The huge front barroom window loomed closer and closer and suddenly she was hoisted up and thrown backwards through it.
It exploded around her but she was protected from the shards by the thick jacket. Hitting the sidewalk, she ploughed down into the snow. No sooner did she come to a stop than she sprang to her feet, swaying and slightly disorientated, but determined to hurtle back into the fight.
“Don’t try it.”
She looked up to see Darcus standing on the sidewalk, laser in hand.
“Your friends are dead, Sabra.”
“Nay--”
“They are. Dentil, throw them out into the snow. Let her see.”
Numbly she watched as bodies were thrown haphazardly out of the window to lie in broken heaps on the sidewalk. The blood running down the bodies was already slowing, soaked up by the thick clothes and cooling in the chill breeze.
Harld, Belmos. The others. And there--oh God. There was Cormac at the bottom of the heap, his face covered in blood. Gaping cuts showed through the torn jackets and shirts. Part of Belmos’s face was cleaved in.
Her stomach lurched, agony gripping her heart. She looked up to meet mocking green eyes.
“Oh, does poor little Sabra cry? I like little girls that cry.”
A cold hand clutched her heart. Those words, the same he’d spoken to her all those years ago. After he’d killed Mother and Father... “You bastard.” The words came out an agonized whisper.
Snow fluttered around her, the cold gray light heavy with doom. Her breath came out in cold puffs. And then she moved fast.






Four
She hadn’t taken two leaps before the laser crackled and her knee gave out beneath her, burning pain exploding from the shattered kneecap. The cold snow puffed beneath her as she fell into it, landing on her hands to brace herself. Gasping with the pain, the stench of her own burnt flesh seared through her.
“Giving up so soon, hunter? Do you kneel before me then, admitting that I have beaten you?”
The words echoed in her mind, pushing past the barrier of pain to the discipline she’d learned from the bounty hunters. Her dead friends. Time had taught her to never give up while she still breathed, to never show the enemy you were down--or afraid. To do so was to give them satisfaction. The jeers of the pirates resounded in her ears.
Taking a deep breath, and gritting her teeth, she pushed upward awkwardly, hobbling on one leg, gaining balance with her arms outstretched until she stood again to face him. Sweat ran icily down the side of her face at the agonized effort. “You haven’t beaten me, scum. You will never beat me.”
Darcus looked down at her. Regardless of the pain from her wounded knee, she stood proud and full of hatred. It angered him. Where was the fear? “Beg for your life, Daamen.”
“Screw you, you bastard!”
“Nasty. Let’s see just how tough you are, Sabra.”
The laser crackled once more and unable to move quickly enough, she felt the burning in her side as the beam seared through her jacket and shirt to gouge a sizzling trench across her lower ribs. Flinching and staggering slightly, she desperately kept her attention focused on him as she felt the blood welling against the inside of her jacket.
“Tough enough to take you on, Darcus,” she rasped.
Several pirates hooted, but most of them were eyeing her speculatively. Bloodied and wounded, she was nevertheless a force to be reckoned with. It was being proven already. She still stood, where others would be lying on the ground.
“Is that so?” Darcus raised the laser and took slow, deliberate aim. “How about matching sides?”
Even before the laser crackled, she knew what he meant to do, the burning on her other side merely confirmation. Now she wavered and swayed, but iron will kept her upright. She wouldn’t fall. Wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Blood was flowing now from her sides and knee. How long she’d be able to remain standing was debatable. Not long, if she was to continue to bleed like this.
“I’m going to kill you. I should have done it a long time ago.”
“That’s what your mates said when I led them to the gallows.” She swallowed against the nausea rising in her throat, and the agony beating at her senses.
“That I should have killed you?”
“Some. Mostly they just begged like the scum they are. Like you are.” Her eyes narrowed painfully. “Like you will when you face the gallows.”
A muscle ticked in his jaw. “No gallows for me, girlie. You’ll not live to see me swing.”
“Says who? I’ll be watching, wherever I am. Never doubt that somewhere, somehow, I’ll get you, Darcus. Even death won’t stop me.”
A murmur swept through the pirates. Superstition ran through their veins, a legacy of strange things they’d seen in their wanderings, especially in the middle of the Outlaw Sector, and a jumble of beliefs brought by each of them to their ships and crew-mates.
Hearing the uneasiness, Darcus’s eyes narrowed. He’d teach this lot of superstitious fools that no one--especially a bounty hunter and ex-victim of his--threatened him and lived to tell of it. “We’ll see about that, Sabra.”
The laser blast caught her in the chest, flinging her backwards several feet before dropping her into the snow. Lying on her back, gasping, she stared up at the sky. A face filled her vision, dark in the waning light.
“You’ll die soon, Sabra,” Darcus said conversationally. “Loss of blood combined with cold are a good mix. I’m going inside to enjoy a warm brew, then I’m off home. I’m afraid you’re going to have to do this dying business alone.” Leaning down, he pressed a hand to her chest and ground the heel of his palm against the wound cruelly.
She nearly blacked out as excruciating pain clawed at her.
He laughed. “Any last wishes? Not that I promise to grant them. Probably won’t, in fact.”
“How did you know we were coming?”
“Surprised you, did we?”
“We scanned the tavern before leaving the ship. You weren’t there when we arrived.” She bit her lip against a wave of pain.
“We entered the settlement in time to see you disappear into the tavern. Miklar, dear heart that she is, sent a message several hours ago that you were coming. A lovely friend of hers from Kyros notified her of your intent to seek me out. I just had to come and greet you.”
“How did you get in?” She coughed, a trickle of blood staining one corner of her lips. “We did not see you.”
There was no threat in the woman knowing. Darcus eyed her easily. She was dying. Let her die knowing he’d bested her. Again. “We came under the tavern in a hidden tunnel, entered through the cellar door, went up the back stairs, and came out on the balcony. Several of my crew waited outside.”
“The patrons...”
“Were pirates, too. They were already in the settlement awaiting my arrival for a very big assignment I have planned, and agreed to await yours as well. So nice of them, don’t you think?”
Black dots danced before her eyes and she blinked them away rapidly. “I will see you dead yet, Darcus. I swear it.”
He shrugged carelessly. “Goodbye, little girl. I’ll remember you most fondly. We did have a good time together, didn’t we? But I won.” His face sobered. “I always win, Sabra.”
Then he was gone. The sound of boots on the sidewalk, the slamming of a door. Silence. The pirates were gone, retreating into the tavern. Leaving her here to die.
After a vain attempt to lift her head, she raised her hand gingerly to the wound in her chest, feeling the charred skin and blood bubbling out hotly. She was going to die. This wound was more serious than the others. This wound would kill her. Snow fluttered down, seeming to tenderly caress her face before melting almost immediately to run down her cheeks like tears. Wearily, her hand dropped to her side. Strength was fading fast, disappearing with her life.

***************
truly an evil villain, but a good one...if a villain can be good

Angela

Sunday, September 10, 2006

7 Degrees of Separate Villians

I have to say, I really love to write villians. There is a certain freedom in writing them that I don't necessarily feel with my heroines and heroes. In my fantasy opus, Prophet's Promise there is a character who is a tavern whore...I only intended her to be in one scene, maybe a few...the bitch has continued to thrive throughout all four books. Having a lack of scruples and no morals made it so incredibly easy to write for her. There were no filters, no worry about if people were going to like her or be sympathetic to her plight. I just didn't care either way. And yet...she is not the typical 'evil overlord' type villian. Her motivations and actions are very human with flaws a mile wide. Her direction changes faster than a weathervane in a whirlwind. And she feels perfectly justified by switching sides as often as she does. Her path to villiany started by simply loving the wrong man, a man she could never keep. There are at least three villians in that story and none of them have exactly the same reasons for turning...please forgive me for this...to the Dark Side.

In Immorati (available from Triskelion March 07 & Oct. 07) my villian is the Jersey Devil (beings I call the Corpesetti) ...however, instead of only one lone devil haunting New Jersey's Pine Barrens there is an entire lair of them. But sometimes villians aren't always straightforward. I prefer to have villians that are questionable...a little more subtle than your average Darth Vadar or Ming the Merciless. I like the one's that all the way through the book you're thinking "Ok, this guy or gal can go either way." That's the way I've presented my Corpestti. They are definately of two different mindsets.

My novel By A Silken Thread (Triskelion release date TBA) I went more toward the mystery angle and have several 'suspects' that could be the villian and don't reveal the real one until the end of the book. That was a real fun and challenging book to write. I needed to weave in enough red herrings and suspicions for the characters who are not the villian in order to make them look as if they could be guilty and also be able to write in plausible explanations for their actions that the reader could go back and say..."Oh, yeah...now, I see it was staring me right in the face."

In my novella Fatal Error (available in Red Sage: Secrets Dec. 06) my villian is a sentient computer that has taken over the government. In that case there are no motivations, only programming codes to overcome. It's definately a man against machine conflict. And not just the machinery of the computer, but a metaphorical one of government involvement of citizens daily lives. I went for an Orwellian feel and hope I managed to pull it off.

From a creative standpoint the inner conflicts of our heroes and heroines can sometimes read like a villian's dissertation. My hero in Fangdango: Dance of Death, a vampire novel, is a hitman. He gets paid to kill people, but his own moral code will only allow him to kill those who prey on the innocent. All other people are safe from him. He even uses his money to help put underpriveleged kids through college and gives regularly to charities. At the core Tristain St. Blaise is a good man, a tortured man, but having the heart of a killer is definately getting into the relm of being a darker hero than the standard good guy in the white hat. But the real villian in the story believes he is doing everything out of love. Very twisted psychologically speaking.

Then there are the villians who turn into good guys. What, you haven't heard of this? Let me explain. I think I posted this story once before, but I'll post it again to illustrate what I mean. In By A Silken Thread there is a background character...so background in fact that he's only mentioned in passing, but he is the catalyst for feelings of inadequacy and inner conflict of the heroine. One day, I'm in the shower and this quasi-villian steps in with me and says, "Kat, you gotta tell my story. There's more to it than you could ever believe." I'm thinking, he's good looking, he's invaded my shower, the least he could do is scrub my back. But no, I get the guy who wants to tell me his life story. So....I had to hurry and dry off and run to the computer to dictate his story..and what a whopper it is. It's a story of redemption and self-realization. (I'm still outlining it so I won't give any details here as to how my character gets out of the pickle of his horrible reputation with the ladies.)

-- Sci-fi and Fantasy novels and movies are filled with villians who see the light and fight for the side of good. It's fun to explore the other side of villians and turn them into good guys. Or for good guys to tread the slippery slope of right and wrong.

And what about the good guys who turn into villians? The one's who are nice and normal throughout the book but then turn out to be the bad guy or the victim of very bad circumstances that push them into villiany? I'm exploring that possibility with my current WIP, Idolatry. Though I'm not too subtle about the turning of one of the good guys, I did want to see what happens sometimes when push comes to shove and push wins.

I guess for me, using the same type of villian every time is not something I like to do. I never really realized that until writing this blog how all over the map my villians are. I guess that's a good thing. It illustrates that villians and heroes can be found in all different forms and in varying degrees. I think the key element is how they mirror each other. How do your villians and heroes fit together? How well do they oppose each other? And how far removed are they from one another's personality? Are they diametrically opposed, or is your villian willing to take that one extra step over the line that your hero isn't?

-Kat

Friday, September 08, 2006

Eeee-Vil

What makes a truly evil character? What makes an engaging villain? Who are the ones you love to hate, and why?

This is a question that plagues writers almost as much as what makes a good protagonist. It's really connected to the first question. One of the elements that defines a good protagonist is the adversary s/he faces. It's a question I ask myself while I'm writing or plotting a story, and indeed, whenever I've just read a book or watched a movie with a really good plotline to it.

I've narrowed it down to two kinds of villains that really pull at me. The first kind is the deliciously eeeeee-vil villain who's just skanky, sleazy, and vicious. They're evil for evil's sake, and everyone buys their "face." Or they're so powerful, they have no need to put up a front.

Now this is not the villain who flies into fits of rage--the deliciously evil villain is more secure in his own power than that, and doesn't feel the need to blow up henchmen for simple sass. This is the villain who will adopt your children and raise them in his image, just because he can. He's a real rat bastard, but his followers are loyal, and those who loathe him can't do anything to stop him.

The second kind of villainy that I aspire to is the sympathetic villain. This is the villain who's so thoroughly convinced that he's the hero of his own story that you can't help but wonder if maybe it's you who's got things wrong. Not quite a zealot, he's got the motivations that make his actions perfectly logical. You look at him and think, "In his shoes, I'd have done the same damn thing."

Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars is an excellent example of both these types of villains. In the original trilogy, he's powerful and evil, and the very thought of him aboard the second Death Star invokes triple shifts and double time. In the prequel trilogy, we see he's not just evil and powerful, he's smart, too. He arranges things to do the best for himself, and according to his beliefs, he's absolutely in the right.

Who's your favorite villain, and why?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fable Me Evil

Mwahaha!

That maniacal laugh would be the call to arms (or final gloat over your dying body) from Rumius, villain-superb from TIES OF VALOR. As the leader of the Vahezhno, a band of outcasts from Aquilar, he’s a major evil dude who doesn’t “come in peace” where hi-tech Voyagers are concerned.

Wondering why he and the rest of his less than merry men (and women) got booted out of my hero’s city?

His Fable-like tale took a turn to the dark side, instead of continuing to cruise along the path of good. Most would convict him as guilty for plotting against the throne at all, but in truth he could’ve backed out and taken the higher road. Alas, he stormed Mostyn, the royal castle, tried to destroy the historic landmark and assassinated the best King Aquilar had ever been graced with. What made the act dreadfully damning was the fact that Rumius had been a loyal, even beloved comrade, of King Weyde Shandar up to that point in time.

So why the rift between chums?

Technology. There are those who embrace inventions in every form for the benefit of all and those that see them as a scourge on society. If you guessed Rumius banded with the latter then you deserve a gold star. He along with his band of followers were ousted from Aquilar and all the creature comforts of life it afforded. Living off the land, the Vahezhno became muck-ridden marauders who take from others what they can’t make for themselves. In that vein, Aquilar still remains Rumius’ ultimate prize, the gleaming trophy he yearns for.

One problem stands in his way—Awyn, Prince Regent of Aquilar—who vowed over his father’s lifeless body, that he would avenge Rumius’ deceit.

If Rumius can’t outlast a man who’s half his age, and he can’t outplay a hero who’s got a garrison of warriors, then last but not least, he must outwit him. Which means hitting Awyn where it hurts—the Valaxanos, Zara—a visitor he’s sworn to protect.

Plant a few rumors that she’ll cause Aquilar’s ruin, brainwash her into a Vahezhno wantabe and everything should be peachy for Rumius’ plan. Except in the case of underestimated quarry accidents can happen, since not all women play nicely when backed up against a wall.
____________________________
To find out if Rumius manages his coup nab a copy of TIES OF VALOR, due out November 2006 from Triskelion Publishing.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What Makes A Good Villain Tick?

To continue our discussion of villains, let me ask this. Is the best villain someone who personifies the ultimate evil, who has no redeeming qualities and exists as the complete antithesis of the hero/heroine? Or is it more interesting to put forth a villain that may at times be almost sympathetic? Do you love to hate your villains or prefer to try to get inside their heads and figure out what makes them do the things they do?

Science fiction and fantasy especially are filled with ‘ultimate’ evil villains, the big baddies who just cannot play well with others. I’ve noticed an interesting trend though – these ultimate bad guys, if they’re around for a while, tend to soften up a little over time. As the layers of their bad-ness get peeled back, we see that maybe they weren’t always so bad. Look at Darth Vader for instance – now there’s an ultimate bad guy – or there was, until we learned where he came from, who he really was. Anakin Skywalker was a kid from the wrong side of the galaxy with a tough beginning. Being born into slavery on some backwater planet, or no-watere planet, in this case, takes a toll. Similarly, look at Star Trek’s Borg – they were evil incarnate. Resistance is futile. Souless cyborgs whose only goal was to assimilate everyone into their emotionless world of robotic efficiency. Yet there were Borg who were rehabilitated, given new lives, who yearned for the individuality the Collective took away.

Part of the fun of a good villain is that moment when, despite rooting for the hero and heroine, you almost feel sorry for the bad guy. A good villain – maybe a great villain – has a heart buried somewhere under their black cloak and mask and when we get a glimpse of that heart, even if it is a little bit shriveled, we’re drawn deeper into the story.

Of the villains I’ve created, my favorite so far is the sorceress Graciela from Conjured in Flames. She’s wicked, self serving and a little bit desperate. She calls forth Gillian, my heroine, from another world to take her place in the dungeon of Lord Rodan so that she may escape persecution by the villagers who fear her power. In this scene, Gillian and Graciela have both ended up in chains and we see a glimpse of the woman beneath the evil legend.

* * *


Varrick's men had chained Graciela to the wall at one end of the dank, stone cell, and Madran had manacled Gillian to the opposite wall. The length of their chains didn't allow them to reach each other. With the darkness complete around them, they could locate each other only by the sound of their voices.

"Rest assured, sister, my thoughts were only to saving my own skin. The fact that you have suffered is regrettable, but unavoidable."

Gillian understood by the woman's cold, emotionless tone exactly what she was dealing with. "You're everything Rodan thought you were. How did you do it anyway? How did you bring me here?"

"A spell to draw a suitable body from another dimension. It took years to perfect, and I must say, having seen you groomed and sparkling as Rodan's concubine, it worked far better than I'd anticipated."

Gillian struggled against her chains. She wasn't sure who she wanted to hurt more, Graciela for using her, or Madran for his obvious enjoyment at manhandling her. He'd relished throwing her in the cell, probably thinking she should have never been set free in the first place. He'd never trusted her, and now that Graciela's lie made it seem like they were in cahoots, he never would. Neither would Rodan, ever again.

"I'm no one's concubine!"

"I'm sorry if he forced you, sister. Rodan is a rutting pig, as are all men. But I expected a modicum of honor from him."

"He didn't force me." The thought of it choked Gillian. Rodan may not have offered her many choices, but he hadn't assaulted her.

"Ah. You were willing? I can understand. He's a strapping specimen. Time was, I might have wanted him to sate my urges as well. But any interest in men as bed partners has been beaten out of me over the years." A tinge of regret laced the voice that sounded so much like her own.

"Don't try to make me feel sorry for you. You're a murderer."

"I've killed in self defense, and I've killed for vengeance. What I am is a survivor, though none would believe it. These vile creatures have destroyed every one who cared for me all because of my power. I want only to give back in kind."

"So it's all about revenge?"

"Yes. It is."

Gillian remained silent for a while, her thoughts in turmoil. What would Graciela have done to Rodan if he had captured her on the road that night? Would she have accepted his offer, then turned against him at her first opportunity? Probably.

"Rodan wanted to help you," she said, working her way down the cold, slick wall behind her and sitting on the floor. She heard chains clanking and figured Graciela had done the same. "He was going to offer you a chance for a life."

"Is that what he told you to lure you into his bed?" Graciela gave a harsh laugh. "Are all the women from your world so naïve? Do they all lie down for any man who makes them foolish promises? You'd deserve more respect if he forced you. At least then you could boast of some integrity."

Gillian's cheeks felt hot. "He wanted to give you a chance to redeem yourself. He wanted you to help him defeat the Saracen in exchange for his protection."

"And you jumped at the offer, I presume?"

"What choice did I have? I don't even know where I am. I was at work, minding my own business, and the next thing I know, I wake up with Rodan threatening to toss me to an angry mob unless I help him."

"Then he did force you. You did what you had to do to stay alive, sister. I admire that."
The words stung. She'd put aside the idea that she gave herself to Rodan because she had to and decided it was because she wanted to. She wanted him even now, and that realization made her cheeks burn with shame.


"It doesn't matter any more, does it? You've ruined it. He thinks I'm one of your kind and that I planned all along to betray him. What are you anyway? How come you're so powerful?"
"I am Andar, a dying breed. We came to Cazastan looking for sanctuary, and in turn, we were hunted like animals."


"So you're aliens?"

"I suppose you could say that. Yet after six thousand years on this planet, are we really alien any more?"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Villains! You got to have them!


Starting today, we're having a two week period to discuss our book's villains and I get to lead off :D

As you all know, the hero/heroine have to have something to fight against, whether it be a natural force, a social custom or a person who opposes their goals or, as they're sometimes referred to...a villain.

What we need to remember is that in the villain's mind, he (or she) IS the Hero. That other guy or gal the author spends so much time with is their personal enemy and the foil of all their plans. Sounds sort of schizo, huh? But it isn't. Our villains don't wake up, finger stroke their long, oily mustache and chortle about the mayhem they're going to cause the good guys. No, they have their own goals and aspirations (and depending on what they are, those goals and aspirations may be entirely admirable--it's often the villain's method of reaching them that we find objectionable.)

Take for example, the 'villain' in Heartstone. The Gawan is one mind controlling many bodies through its physical manifestation as an internal parasite. That physical manifestation is rather weak--no arms, no legs, no independent mind--and can easily be destroyed. The Gawan knows this and it knows that its strength lies in how many 'bodies' it has. That's why it goes on a conquest to conquer all the galaxy--to ensure its survival. And that's why, when it learns of the Heartstone and the Stonebearer, it concentrates on either acquiring them or killing them.

Survival is an entirely understandable motive even if we disagree with the methods.

In Altered Destiny, available in March 2007, the villain appears to be a race of people come to an alternate Earth. And while this is technically true, the real villain of the book is just one of those people. This time I chose a female as the villain. Cuini is a half-breed and the only fertile female of the Qui'arel. Her goal is power, not just over the Earthish people but over her own Qui'arel race. Her methods border on madness, in our eye, but are logical to her.

While we might sympathize with the Gawan in its quest to survive, we're never going to sympathize with Cuini. And that's okay. Villains give our heros, and us, someone to fight. Without them, our books would be...well, boring.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Celebrating Heartstone

To celebrate the release of Heartstone, I'm offering a prize drawing for members of my newsgroup (to be chosen at random). The prize: A box of See's Dark Chocolates, a handmade crystal heart suitable to be worn as a necklace or used as a suncatcher, a 2007 Date Book, and other assorted items. You can see a picture of everything (except the See's which I'll have shipped direct to the winner) on my website Lynda K. Scott

Drawing: September 30, 2006

To join, simply send a blank email to

LyndaKScott-Newsgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

sci-fi/futuristic romance Food musings

well, isn't this just ducky! I'm supposed to be doing a post (and late again - someone smack me with a wet noodle!)...and my mind is everywhere. As usual.

Okay, so this is normal for me LOL.

While cooking tea, I wondered about our food. I wondered what kind of food would be OUT THERE. You know, in our fantasy worlds. I know I for one tend to have them eating the usual food. Meat, fruit, veges. Nothing exotic. No Bhartifnan fruit or Khannfoaerr vegetable, or even a Hiethalkletfoe which isn't any of these. And don't aks me what they are because I don't know - I just made them up right now . But most fantasy/sci-fi/futuristic/paranormal romances have the basic food groups. And drinks. Water, ale, wine. I even have una, a futuristic verison of a good hot cup of coffee. So instead of saying 'want a cuppa coffee?' mine is 'want a cuppa una?'

So what makes us stick to the basic foods for our universes? Is it because we'd have to spend too much time giving details on this new food group we've introduced? Who knows. I mean, think about it, maybe the food OUT THERE is really gross. Bitter. Yucky. Or maybe it's the yummiest stuff in the galaxy!

Maybe it comes in TUBES! *gag* That's a horrible thought - unless it's the sweetened condensed milk, cause I could go for that! mmmmmmmmmmm Love the taste!!!

Unless I'm mistaken, there hasn't been mention of food tubes or food tablets in place of food in most of the romances that are based OUT THERE. You know why? 'Cause I think, if you're like me, you enjoy a darned good meal, and face it, where would we be without the hero getting all hot and excited over the heroine licking peach juice off her lips? Or the heroine tasting like strawberries when he kisses her?

'Cause food can be sexy! It satisfies us on several levels - full tummy, yummy taste, and sexually tantalizing our heroes .

LOL
Angela