Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Something Furry This Way Comes

Don’t you just love old books, especially ones that deal with magic or ancient stories? I’m more of a fairytale nut myself, but I can’t help answering the occasional yearning for something spooky. Hence, my fascination with two books my sister got from our local library’s discards. WITCHES, PUMPKINS, AND GRINNING GHOSTS was orange and the other, MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF WITCHES AND WIZARDS, was rich purple. Both were teeny-tiny hardbacks with their edges taped and their worn covers ripped, but the pages had managed to hold up with minimal wear and tear.

I delved inside and discovered a magical world that breathed life into an idea I was in the midst of concocting. One whose first ingredient had been a tale about Charlemagne shooting an arrow to find the answer to the plague ravaging his lands. A small picture tucked in at the bottom of the page sparked a way for me to sprinkle in my favorite tale, CATSKIN, among the magical goings on.

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The darling, feline image flared to life in my mind’s eye as the newest furry addition to my family. A small ball of fur I’d dubbed Puff. Colored dove gray and calico orange with a hint of white, she had the mannerisms of a person. Not only did she greet me each morning on my way to the bathroom to get ready for work, but she’d also sit and watch me then mew as if she had a secret I ought to know.

She became the Familiar version of my heroine Gwynan Kadin who was born in France and died by accidental circumstance, but got a second chance at life because of her powers. Born to a woman who dabbled in earthly potions and charms, she’d somehow managed to walk unscathed through plague-ravaged cities. Having bowed to life as a thief robbing from the dead, she knew what she’d done carried a heavy price. But she never believed it would come due at the hands of the Ancients—mystics who control the elemental parts of existence including Wind, Water, Fire, Earth, Spirit, Time and Knowledge. As a non-believer herself due to pagan scorn, imagine Gwynan’s surprise when she’s given the daunting task of safe-guarding a man who’s bloodline makes him the sole guardian to defeat Evil—and then discovering that Kendron Valdemar is a practicing witch.

Then boil the mix with an ever-growing flame of love that flickers wildly when Gwynan is given the chance to take human form. JUST ONE LIFE was founded on all things magical but also showcases the importance of love and how far it’s power of belief can take someone. Imagine you’re Kendron teetering on one of the Egyptian pyramids battling a priest hell bent on using your family’s Book of Shadows to destroy the world. Your untrained powers are no match for Evil incarnate, yet when the thing you’ve come to treasure most is taken…you become the person you were destined to be. All because of a life saved...and a new love that defies the bounds of reality.

As a writer I strive to breath new life into old plots, to give them a spit shine until they gleam, and to make my readers see beyond what lies right in front of their eyes. Including far reaching themes that resonate with the common man, no matter how many heebie- jeebies, hair standing on the back of your neck moments they cause. My musings don’t rival the King of Horror (who’s take on life gives me the willies at times) but something profound can be discovered in the smallest of things. As Kendron says, “Never way lay your gifts. The smallest grain of sand can be just as mighty as a fist in battle.” Maybe we both should’ve said creatures that go meow in the night?

As I sit here on the sofa with the wind whooping spookily in the skeleton trees outside, I can see my two beleaguered sources of inspiration safe and snug in a hallowed place—my keeper’s bookcase. And Puff is perched on the armrest to my right, always on the lookout for trouble. Or perhaps she’s hunkered down just close enough to get a scratch behind the ear for her good works. Either way, I’ll give her a treat for summoning such a great trick out from my sleeve.
____________________________________________

The Ancient Ones consider the Cosmos their mystical playground, because they’re not above sticking their noses in other people’s problems. But they’re not the only one’s conjuring to fuzz the line between the here and now. To check out what Kendron, Gwynan and their cohort Kass are doing to get the upperhand against Evil, click here for a special Halloween treat.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Do You Think It's Spooky When...

...things happen unexpectedly? Have you ever been thinking of someone you haven’t heard from in a while and then the phone rings and it’s them?

Have you ever misplaced something and later on [sometimes weeks or even years] found it in a place you KNOW you’ve looked before?

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, today’s post is about strange happenings, those unexplained things that can make your spine tingle or just make you go...hmmm.

I had a small spine tingler just the other day. It might not seem too out there, but it gave me pause. I had a song running through my head all day. Don’t you hate that when you just can’t stop singing something? This time it was “Make it Like a Memory” by Barbra Streisand from her ‘Guilty’ album. [Yes, I have eclectic tastes in music.] The song was driving me nuts [though it was a vast improvement over last week when I couldn’t get the theme to The Odd Couple out of my head. Now that’s spooky.] Anyway, I decided the best way to purge my demon was to grab my iPod and play the song. Of course my iPod battery was dead so I popped it into the charger and went about my business, the song still playing in my head.

A few hours later I sat down at my desk where my charger is, and found that my iPod had turned itself on...and it was playing Barbra Streisand’s Guilty album. [Fortunately it was NOT playing “Make it Like a Memory” because that would have freaked me out way too much.
Stuff like this makes me wonder. Was the universe trying to tell me something other than it might be nice to charge up my iPod battery? I don’t know.

Here’s a spookier one.

The house I live in used to belong to my aunt and uncle. They lived in this house for more than forty years and my aunt sold it to us about two years after my uncle passed away. It was February 14th, and he suffered a heart attack while shoveling snow in the driveway.

When my son was a baby, we were fortunate that he didn’t have much interest in sleeping with us. Unlike my daughter, my son preferred his own bed, so he hardly ever crawled into our bed or needed to sleep with us, even when he was especially cranky. One morning, when he was about 18-months old, though, he did crawl into our bed. He wasn’t much of a talker then, but he knew a few words and one of them was ‘ghost.’

After snuggling up in our bed, he looked up into the corner of the bedroom and pointed and said, “Ghost.” My husband and I didn’t see anything unusual but it gave us the chills anyway. The date was February 14th.

I can’t help thinking that maybe my uncle dropped by for a visit on that day.

Do you have any weird happenings to share?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ravenstar Recommended

I'm posting this here as a test. Blogger won't let me upload this to my own blog for some reason.

I just got this in my e-mail today:

Five Angels! A Recommended Read... , Jennifer Colgan’s, Ravenstar’s Bride is a treat... I could not put it down. Ms. Colgan’s skill keeps readers engaged and delighted throughout the entire story. I am hoping this is not the last story we will see with the Istrians. Truly well done. – Amanda, Fallen Angel Reviews

Friday, October 27, 2006

Superstitions

Growing up in a 'country' family (though we lived in the city for the most part), I learned a lot of superstitions. My lovely daughter, now 25, broke out in chicken pox on Friday the 13th. Now it's become a tradition for her to surround herself with rabbit's feet on that dire day. She ignores me when I mention that the original owners of said feet didn't seem too lucky :D Maybe it's just us country folk who believe in ghosts and spooks and haunts and bad luck but, just in case, I thought I'd share some of the superstitions I've run into over the years.

Once you leave the house, you can't go back inside (because
you've forgotten something) or you'll have bad luck.

Spilling salt is considered bad luck, probably because it
was once so valuable. Superstition has it a person is
doomed to shed as many tears as it takes to dissolve the
spilled salt.

Evil spirits can't harm you when you stand inside a circle.

Suspend a wedding band over the palm of the pregnant girl.
If the ring swings in a circular motion it will be a girl.
If the ring swings in a straight line the baby will be a
boy.

Taking a broom from the old house to a new one brings all
the bad luck with you.

A knife as a gift from a lover means that the love will
soon end.
[Especially if the knife is delivered to your back.]

If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used for
studying for the test, the pencil will remember the answers.

The number of Xs in the palm of your right hand is the
number of children you will have.

You must hold your breath while going past a cemetery or
you will breathe in the spirit of someone who has recently
died.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween Memories

I'm slipping this in here today, because I got really busy yesterday and thought my day to submit was later in the week. I just checked the schedule and wouldn't you know...once again...I've messed up. The blonde genes are engaged and in overactive at that moment.

Anyhoo, Halloween...that scary, fun, creative, favorite holiday of mine. I don't know if it has something to do with growing up in the Midwest where the fall smelled crisp and sugary from the leaves, or if it was the anticipation of dressing up and getting butt loads of candy, I have always loved Halloween.

I remember dressing up as Mother Nature, a witch, an Ace of Diamonds, and that's all I remember. I don't know why I've blocked the others out, or why they're lost to the misama of my memories. I guess I don't remember the costumes as much as the feeling I'd get that time of year. For some reason even my elementary teachers seemed at their most creative around Halloween. One year - I believe it was third grade - the teacher put on a record of Vincent Price reading a rendition of the Tell Tale Heart. I remember vividly sitting at my little desk and drawing pictures of fairy realms and evil sorcerors. Is it any wonder I grew up to be a writer with teachers like that in my past? How wonderful is that? To let kids just sit at the end of the day and listen to a story and let their imgination soar. To me, the fall has always represented possibilities, more so than any other season. Even back then I think the lore of the veils between worlds was strong in me, even if I didn't fully understand the explanations or implications. I never thought of Halloween as an 'evil' holiday - and to hear people say that makes me very angry - I've always thought of it as the last hurrah before the arctic freeze of winter came along and spoiled it all. (Truthfully, as a kid I didn't mind winter. But I do now that I'm grown and have to drive in it. Ugh). -

I noticed over the last few days that I'm at my most creative in a writing sense in the fall. My mind starts whirling and scenarios start flowing, and I can't always write them all down they come at me so fast. Right now I'm doing the preliminaries for a dimensional travel story. I still haven't finished my other books I'm trying to write, and here I am thinking of others. What's wrong with me? If I could just win the lottery, I could sit at my computer and write and not have to worry about the time constraints placed upon me by having to work 3 nights a week.

I'll blame it on the season.

What season helps make your creative juices flow?

-Kat

Finally behaving themselves!

Can you believe the two characters I was ranting about have finally decided to behave themselves? Up to a point anyway. We seem to have reached a cautious understanding. They do what they should, unless they have a perectly good explanation, or I threaten to pull the computer plug and leave them sulking in the dark for awhile. It seems to be working.

Now I have another rant. Tomorrow night I start work, my 4 weeks holiday is over. I fought these characters the WHOLE TIME! And now I have to go back to work, what happens? Oh yes, the ideas are coming thick and fast, no worries. GRRRRR! I don't believe it!

Is it the pressure that makes my mind start to work properly? Maybe I'm not meant to work well under relaxed circumstances. I do seem to accompaish more when I'm under the hammer.

It doesn't make life easy, however!

Do any of you write better when you're really busy, and under a deadline, or do you write better when things are relaxed?

Anela *pondering*

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Aggravatin' Characters

Well, since everyone else is having issues with their aggravatin' characters, I thought I might share some of my pain with you all and let us commisserate together.

I write erotic romance. The stuff I write has a very definite sexual slant to it, and I am fond of using sex as character development--how a character grows sexually is a very important aspect of who that character is overall, and to gloss over that aspect is, I feel, a disservice to the character, especially when their sexual growth is a significant part of their character growth. So my books usually have a lot of sex in them--love scenes, sensual and sexual awareness playing a high-visibility role in the themes of the stories.

My current WIP, however, is causing some aggravation. My female lead suffers from amnesia along with severe cultural conditioning against sex. It takes a lot for her to even acknowledge that she has sexual feelings, much less actually engage with the hero. As a result, this current WIP isn't as chock-full o' nookie as I like to write 'em.

I don't think this will be a problem for my publisher, as they are great about accepting stories that are a little different. But that doesn't mean I don't still worry.

But sometimes the troublesome characters are the most fun to write. Having limits to what you can do with them means having to think creatively and think on your feet. For me as a writer, that lets me stretch my brain into new contortions--the kind that strike you at three AM and you wake up to a dark house thinking, "a-HA! Now I know how I'll get past that scene!" Even though your family is baffled by the dark circles under your eyes the next morning.

Man, I love this job!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Warning: High Heels May be Hazardous to Your Health

I still remember the good ol’ days of my youth when I’d pile in my grandparents’ car with my sister to take that special once a year ride to the local pharmacy to get our Halloween costumes. Back then, there were about ten costumes to choose from that came pre-packaged in little cardboard boxes with a see-through plastic pane to show the mask inside. The rest of the costume consisted of a plastic cape or little plastic apron that tied around the waist overtop of your clothes.

Why did I look forward to that trip? Because for one night I didn’t have to be plain ol’ me. I could be a cowgirl out to roam the range for apples, a superhero suited up to nab chocolate, or a gypsy witch who cast a spell with the words “Trick or treat, Give me something good to eat.” (I still have the latter tucked away, and ready to use.)

I believe this also the reason I love to write. When I am in deep POV I’m no longer channeling my characters, I am them…hopefully just as the reader will be if they get caught up in my words.

And for that one day—Halloween—I can let my imagination run wild and be who I’ve dreamed of being, including characters I created myself to break the stereotypical witch/werewolf/vampire mode. However as an adult, who is a self-diagnosed homebody, I don’t have much chance to party, nor would I feel comfortable trick or treating without kids, so my outlet has become my company’s annual costume contest.

The first year I dressed up as Danielle from Ever After, complete with homemade iridescent wings, and recited her quote from Utopia. (I just found out that I was supposed to have won first place, but there was a botch in the voting.) The next year I dressed as a renaissance woman by reusing the costume I’d bought for our local Renaissance Faire. Next I glamed up with a blonde bombshell wig to be Josie Geller from Never Been Kissed and won first place—a light up pumpkin.

Then the stage for our company shenanigans grew from break room strutting to performing center stage at our mandatory attendance Quarterly Meeting. To say the least I was petrified, because I hate public speaking. (It was only one of two classes I got a C in during college because I get dry mouth and forget my lines!) However I reflected on all the accolades I’d gotten during the years before, and new I had people who believed in me. So I hemmed and hawed between ideas, then one Sunday morning I woke up with the speech zinging through my mind and rushed to get a pen and paper to jot it down. The minute I walked into the meeting everyone was already awash with excitement because of my red billowy shirt, tight black trousers, faux sword, and Jack Sparrowish hairdo. Christina Montacore, an English Regency noblewoman about to be forced unto a loveless marriage turned wayward pirate, became my second contest win worth a $100 gift certificate.

Next, I ran with the idea of a love consultant who is open 24/7 via a 1-800 number. I hung up faux appearance signs outside, gave out heart shaped business cards in hot pink and during my 2 minute long speech I gave a few general pointers for people looking for love. Because I adored Afra Dytte so much, I brainstormed a book built around her, which became my sought after manuscript LOVEMAKER.

Last year I won again as a CSI agent who was an expert in food remains. I came in with a bright red wig, CSI shirt I’d ordered for the theme party I’d thrown my sister on our 30th birthday, and a kit of fake tools including evidence of a crime—the slice of pizza left behind after the company’s common fridge was raided. Of course I had no idea who the real culprit was and didn’t want to point fingers, so I implicated myself in a funny skit.

And this year I decided to take on one of my favorite teenage characters—Jem. So I hunted down the perfect pink wig with blonde highlights and picked out a hot pink suit including a mini-skirt. Then I set my sights on creating the perfect Synergy earrings using a pair my mom had given me that were so 80’s and some creative coloring with a pink highlighter over a tape overlay. I memorized my upbeat speech that had a touch of humor about our jobs, then recited it flawlessly this past Friday morning. Everything went without a hitch until I struck out to track down the Holograms for a truly outrageous concert, and landed wrong on my kitten heel. Needless to say I landed on my backside in front of all 100+ employees with my skirt hiked up almost to my hoo-hoo. Through the embarrassment where I willed myself to keep my legs together, I recovered splendidly enough for most of my co-workers to think my spill was part of the act. I snagged the second place prize of thirty bucks, but ended up sitting in the doctor’s office for almost three hours. Now I’m click-clicking this post with my over-worked right hand while my left hangs inside a sling, bound up tight with an elastic bandage over a bulky splint. And of course my follow-up on Wednesday (when I might get this off or atleast down-sized) can’t come soon enough!

So what do you have planned to wow your town with this Halloween? And more importantly, does it involve heels?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Frakkin’ Frellin’ Goram Felgercarb!

There. I said it. All the intergalactic cussin’ I can think of off the cuff. Today’s post is a tribute to ‘bad words’ – the good kind of bad word though, the ones that some creative writer came up with in order to get past the television sensors.

This is one of the things that makes science fiction so great. Not only can you invent your own worlds and whole universes to play in, you can make up your own swear words and use them with impunity.

I’m not sure, but I think the original Battlestar Galactica started this. It was probably Starbuck [way back when Starbuck was actually, you know, a GUY] that first said Frak! And we all knew what he meant. Being a pre-teen at the time [can you believe that’s how old Battlestar Galactica is?] I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Of course I didn’t have a potty mouth back then. I didn’t need one. After fourteen years of marriage and two kids, I need one.

That being said, I embraced Farscape’s version of frak. They use frell. It means the same thing, but without that hard K at the end it has a little less impact. You can slip it into ordinary conversation and some people don’t even notice it. [If they’re muggles, of course.] Unless you pair it with another Farscape gem, mivvocks. If you tell someone to frell until thier mivvocks fall off, you'd better have a finger on the trigger of your blaster or be able to run really fast.

Joss Whedon found a new way to avoid censors. He taught his Firefly cast to swear in Mandarin. Got to hand it to him for that. Of course some of the phrases he used, inventive as they are, are hard to pronounce and spell, so they don’t get a lot of air time in sci-friendly households like mine.

To further feed my need for largely non-offensive expletives, I decided to make up a few of my own for use in the spacefaring world of the Istrians that I created for my novel Ravenstar’s Bride. The Istrian merchants are nomadic; they live on spaceships and they travel from world to world trading goods with ‘land-bound’ people. They need a salty vocabulary because they have a lot of goram frak to deal with. Since I couldn’t use goram [from Firefly] or frak, I gave the Istrians ‘fark’ which utilizes that hard K sound so there’s no mistaking what it means. If you really think about it, frell sort of sounds like something you do to a ruffle – “Frell that ruffle up before you put that dress on!” Fark leaves no room for ambiguity.

I also let the Istrians use ‘vech’ to describe a person they don’t particularly like. Only a real vech would frell a ruffle, by the way. The rest of us would just say ‘Fark that ruffle. I’m wearing pants.’

What are some pointers for creating your own epithets?

1) Go with short words, four letters preferably, that way they’re easily recognized.

2) Utilize hard sounds if you can. The best earthly expletives end in t, or k or p for emphasis.

3) Italicize your words and put them in context so no one has to wonder what your character is really saying.

4) Don’t overuse them. Like those well known four-letter words ending in k or t or p, once you’ve seen them a few times you begin to become immune and or bored with them. Save them for emphasis, even if you have a character with an intergalactic sized potty mouth.

Follow those guidelines and you should have a frakkin’ good time. Just don’t frell with anyone’s mivvocks and you’ll be fine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Men!

Who among us has never uttered that word? With or without your choice of expletives?

My darling husband is nobody's saint but he's a good guy and I still walk around scowling and muttering MEN!

I swear they're enough to drive a woman to distraction.

You'd think the heroes we write would be easier to handle, yes? After all, we develop their character, create their world, their situation and we give them the heroine of their dreams (not to mention a lot of very satisfying sex!) Still, they set their jaw, plant their size 10-11 boots and cross their arms over their chests and refuse to do what we want them to do.

Just like in real life.

I'm surprised they don't stick their tongues out and go Nyah-nyah-nyah to show their utter disregard for our authorly wisdom.

Sigh.

I suppose half the problem is that we, as authors, don't realize these are complete human beings we've created. Human beings with their own sets of likes, dislikes. Their own foibles. Their own weaknesses.

A lot of time I think some of that weakness is a result of their pride. Men, whether fictional or real, are proud creatures, don't you know, and able to go into a snit at the least provocation. But if we writers created a male character who didn't have pride in himself or his abilities, I doubt our readers would care for them. In fact, a man without pride is probably a wimp and certainly not a heroic character.

I had a devil of a time with Devyn from my upcoming Altered Destiny. A proud man, yes, and with reason for his pride. But his role in the story required him to act the fop, more interested in his clothes than anything else. It was only in his own POV that I was able to let him show his reasons for acting so useless but he chafed because his heroine didn't know.


Eric d'Ebrur

Even in Heartstone, Eric, one of the most heroic characters I've met, thought his past hid shameful acts and his pride wouldn't let him get past that. I had to threaten both Eric and Devyn with a big, BIG stick before they saw reason. In fact, I had to threaten with outting them to their heroines who they thought wouldn't be able to accept their so-called 'shameful' acts.

Men, fictional or otherwise, are so strange.



By the way, my next contest will run from now to the end of December (drawing will take place on January 3, 2007. For this contest, all you need do is be a member of my newsletter group (you can join by sending a blank email to LyndaKScott-Newsgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) AND answer the two following questions:

1. What is the name of the physician who treats Keriam's ex-fiancé Marc Cooper?
2. What insect is suspected of curing Marc of his Gawan Infestation?

Send your answers to me at LyndaK.Scott@gmail.com before December 31, 2006 One random name will be drawn from the correct answers.

The Prize? A variety of my signature items AND a $25.00 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

frustrating characters

Right now, I hate my two characters. Well, no, I don't really HATE them. That's the wrong word.

My current two characters frustrate me. Man, they Frustrate me so MUCH! I want to hit them! Smack them! Tell them to darned well behave or there's going to be TROUBLE!

Readers have asked me many times about these two. I have dreamed of these two characters. They have featured as side characters through different books, they have unfinished business, they are a deadly pair...I have daydreamed their story. I have had darned awesome daydreams, if I do say so myself! So why won't it gel on paper? (or computer screen LOL).

They are both hard characters, cold, calculating, secretive, neither talk much. They are deadly. They have their own agendas. It should all be so easy. But NO, it can't be, can IT? *fuming*

Is it because, as their space ship soars through the galaxy, this couple eyes each other, and there's definite sparks, but...this is the big thing. They can't just fall into each other's arms by pg 50, as that's not their true characters. It's not THEM. I can't write a love scene just because it's a romance book, right? Right. That would not do justice to the story or the characters, and I can't do that to them or my readers...or me.

And there's so much going on behind the scenes. The back story, the side story...I love that. I love side plots. That side plot is going fine. No worries. No sweat.

But this couple - man, this couple are trouble. I swear they're laughing at me! But you know what, they are so intriguing. Yes, that's right, this couple I want to slap silly, intrigue me. They do so because their relationship is so unusual, so different, it has so much potential to be so unique.

And that's the beauty of sci-fi/futuristic romances, you can make the romances so unique. They don't have to meet, fight, kiss and make-up, fall in love and HEA. Oh yeah, I have to have the HEA, but the journey there can be so much fun, frustration and totally awesome on the way.

Okay, now I remember why I started the story for this particular couple. So I can enjoy the ride along the way!

whoo hoo!

Angela LOL

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Long and Short of It

When you first come up with a story idea, how do you know if it's going to be a novel, novella or short story? If you only have a germ of an idea...just barely a spot, how do you know if you'll have enough material to sustain a 90K word project?

For me, the answer is pretty simple. After doing my character sketches, I do a chapter by chapter outline to see if I can pull together more threads of a story, and exactly where that story is taking me. This isn't the only way I work, but the most prominent. After looking over the outline I can usually estimate how long I can run the story for. If I don't have enough for a novel it will go onto the lists for novellas.

I have to admit that I don't always know when I start out if I'll have enough background or sub-plot to pull off a novel. I try to keep all that to a minimum with novellas, but to give enough depth that the story doesn't feel like only a surface telling. Also, I think it's something you have to decide before you start the project, since length- for me at least - can dictate the pace in which I let the plot flow.

How do you determine your story length? Before or after you start? Or when you get the concept?

-Kat

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Got Romance?

On the eve of my seventh anniversary, and hungry for an idea to wet my honey’s appetite, I find myself looking back over our years together…and those little touches I made. Suffice it to say, while my main squeeze is very yummy to look at and oh, so lovable, he isn’t a romantic. Which means of course, being the woman (and writer) that I am, I tend to overdo in this area.

Let’s see. There was that one time when I used my Photoshop skills to make him a racy anime Pookie card, then dressed as that same character he’d pet-named me after. And the hilarious window of opportunity when every one of his co-workers knew I was covering his car with sticky hearts with cute sayings—U R Cute, Hot Stuff—except for him. Plus I’ll never forget when I gave him the City of Angels soundtrack to mark the first time I’d ever seen him cry. (Which of course he promptly lost and I later replaced, being the great gal I am.)

Then there was the card…the one we both picked out in secret, on separate shopping trips and kept hidden away in secret alcoves. Mine was the bedroom closet. His was the trunk of his car. Both had different pictures to portray masculine vs. feminine tastes, but contained the same saying.

“Since I met you, all I can think about is making you happy. I want to see your smile and hear your laughter, I want to kiss away old hurts, and hold you until you know without a doubt, that this is for real. I want to memorize the sound of your voice and the dreams of your heart.”

The second the irony registered was definitely an “Aw, shucks” moment. The kind that every writer must include in their books to forge a deeper connection between the hero and heroine. My books rarely escape without a couple, because I think those defining moments reveal so much about the personality of your character. And I feel they help the reader to connect with the hero and heroine in a personal way, which means that mental snapshot will resonate in their memories.

To see if I was reading more into the moment than what was there, I decided to ask my heroines just what their heroes had done for them to make their hearts melt.

Zara Dior, the kick-ass and takes names later Voyager from TIES OF VALOR hemmed for a bit, while her index finger traced her sword’s scabbard. “It was a gift from him.” She tapped the twines of leather and added, “But not this. He gave me a flower—a zizan—which made my lifeless room fade away.” A smirk twisted her lips. “I knew then that he had a heart beneath that black armor, but not that it was already mine.”

Face-to-face in Fred’s Diner, artist Shanna Karis’ first response was a brilliant smile. “I’ll show you.” Just that fast she swiped a pen from a passing waitress and started to doodle on her napkin like a bored child. “He gave me a handbound sketchbook, then showed me a slice of heaven to wet my failing artistic appetite.” She swiveled the layered paper around for me to see. An impish fairy winked at me, its cherubic face bracketed by fluttering wings. “Ravin opened my eyes to the impossible.”

Dara Carlton forwarded me a snippet of a home-Karaoke recording while co-piloting her nerd-turned-hunk’s National book tour. The simple message she’d tacked on said, “He had my heart for a song, literally.”

No longer a Familiar, but all woman Gwynan Kadin lifted her gaze from her library book and licked her lips. “Kendron bought me my first scoop of chocolate ice cream.” Her fingers delved into her pocket, then routed through a pouch of change to find a gold coin. “I was a stranger and yet he showed me kindness.” Hovering locked between her thumb and forefinger, Gwynan studied the metal dollar bearing a woman and child. “After our treat he gave a homeless man a coin just like this.” She flipped my hand over, dropped the money into my outstretched palm, and curled my fingers overtop. Then she snapped her spell encyclopedia shut with purpose. “My research can wait. Want to join me for a commemorative double at Landry’s?”

“In the beginning, I could’ve pummeled Eric for his extravagant dry cleaning bill. However, it’s now in a place of glory hanging on the wall of our office beside his treasured cocktail napkin. But you said you’re looking for love.” Afra Dytte leaned back in her desk chair, her picture streaming via my computer, and stared into space with the ears of her pink bunny slippers bobbing. “In my professional opinion, the turning point came with his totally, one hundred percent home-cooked meal without any help from me. But the homemade cocoa with mini marshmallows he served up in front of the raging fire,” she cooed in delight as if recalling it’s mmm-mmm goodness, “that was the cherry on top of his sucker sundae. And I guzzled last every drop.”

Go-to-girl Jacqui Valere from BELIEVE IN ME took a minute out from her much needed vacation to e-mail me this rainbow colored message—Rad kept me from forfeiting that To Do Before 50 list I’d started to pen. Now I can add a few miraculous things to master before my pink hair turns gray. Honestly, along our wild ride what meant the most was that he believed in me when I doubted myself. What more basic thing can you ask of a man?

With all these tales as evidence, I know I can brainstorm a timeless souvenir to mark our special day. Maybe it will simply be a night spent snuggling while we watch “his” new season of HIGHLANDER. That might not make my honey cry, but hopefully it won’t make him want to ring my neck. Unless of course we shared another mind meld moment and got each other the same boxed set to complete our collection.

However I do have to wonder—do you think that a romance writer should be a romantic at heart? Or do you think it’s possible to “wing it” or dare I use the words “fake it” by relying on books like 1001 WAYS TO BE ROMANTIC for fodder?
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For more ideas on how to think outside the box romantically skim my ROMANTIC TIDBITS on the About Skylar at www.maseysplace.com.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Forbidden Planets

One of the best SF films ever, Forbidden Planet (1956) introduced us to a mysterious planet where monsters abide - and Robbie the Robot. This classic film touched upon a lot of science fiction themes that still hold our fascination today - man vs machine, incomprehensible monsters of our own making, discovering mysterious new worlds. It's the latter I'm going to touch on today - discovering mysterious new worlds.

I believe we have a fascination with the unknown, the tug to discover new worlds and new civilizations - after all, it's the theme from Star Trek. After the rush of exploration in the 19th century and the sense that our planet had been thoroughly mapped, writers turned their feverish imaginations towards outer space with a rush of stories, comics and movies based on other planets. It's still the new frontier of imagination, still thoroughly unmapped. Open wide to interpretation.

I still feel the thrill of the unknown when viewing the space saucer cruising over the fantastical landscape of Forbidden Planet, or when the crew of the Nostromo answers the distress call from and alien ship in Alien, when Captain Kirk and his crew landed in a new landscape every week as did the Robinson family in Lost in Space. It's not knowing exactly what's out there - and will it hurt us or help us? Most of the time, you know it's going to hurt! Which is why science fiction is sometimes so close to horror as a genre.
The unknown and how we react to the unknown is a source of endless fascination, and a mysterious planet with a culture yet to be discovered kick-starts the explorers thrill.

My heroine Tirana Albaster in A Touch of Magic is a scout for the Universal Alliance Settlement Exploration Unit. Her job consists of making sure newly discovered planets are suitable for colonization. She and a military force land on the planet Samhain, where two previous scouting units had disappeared, as had a starship full of New Wiccan colonists, Lalith's People.

The thrill of writing that story was finding out what the planet had in store for her - I never knew until I wrote it. I discovered it was mainly a choice between love and duty. Yet I barely had time to touch on the edges of Samhain and it's unique culture before the story had to come to an end. I'm sure I'll be returning to the planet Samhain to continue explore it further.

A Touch of Magic will be out in ebook on 31 October, and available as part of Samhain Publishing's first print anthology, Beginnings, on 21 November.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Breaking the Boundaries of Love

As my alter ego, Bernadette Gardner, I’m a hard core sci-fi fan. In Bernadette’s short erotic romances, I explore the steamier side of science fiction and the possibilities of love beyond the confines of the human genome.

Bernadette likes to create human/alien pairings. In her first novella, Hunter’s Moon, a lonely recluse gives more than just her heart to an injured alien. Alliana Cambridge falls for ‘Adam,’ a member of a feline race of shape shifters. Soured on human men after a bad relationship, she has no trouble with ‘Adam’s’ unusual appearance, in fact she revels in the fact that he looks nothing like any man she’s ever known.

In Ken’Ja, Bernadette explores another interracial pairing. Tige is a Thalian warrior, a race known for their mercilessness. Zira, a human woman, fears him based on the rumors that Thalians kill for sport. Tige and Zira overcome their biological differences as well as the social barrier that has made their two races tenuous allies.

In More Than a Fantasy, Bernadette pairs a shape shifting Atlantean prince with a human female, contrary to Atlantean law. Prince Tiran risks everything to explore his desire for Mara Xander and bridge the age old gap between their two species.

I’ve often wondered what the allure is, in mating characters from two vastly different species and I think I’ve come up with a reason why this type of story appeals to so many readers and writers. It pushes the envelope, the boundaries of love, if you will, without trifling with delicate social balance of our own culture. We can explore new ideas and put love to the test without the fear of offending long-held beliefs because, after all, it’s only fiction. While there are certainly many people who believe aliens exist, the idea of mating with one is still in the realm fantasy and therefore a safe place to play.

How will the views of human/alien love will change if an alien race is ever discovered? Will the subject suddenly be taboo? Will it raise the same arguments that gay fiction raises today because it will be all too real a possibility? I wonder.

And so does Bernadette. That’s why she keeps coming up with sexy, alluring aliens for her human heroines to fall in love with.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Review for Heartstone

Folks, I'm sorry I've had such a low profile around here lately. I've had to work OT at the day job, I'm trying to do a rewrite on my book and I'm trying to get my kitchen emptied (it's going to be remodeled in just a few short weeks) and to top it all, I've picked up a nasty bug from my dear husband, affectionately known as Typhoid Husband.

So I'm taking the easy way out on the blog today and will share part of a review I had for Heartstone. Good reviews are like icing on a book (the cake itself is the actual contract) This is especially true for Heartstone because it sat for five years on a publisher's desk 'under consideration'. Let me tell you, that kind of 'consideration' hurts a writer's confidence. Badly.

So a good review really does lift the spirits (particularly when the writer can't breathe and has to take rest breaks between walking from the livingroom to the kitchen (trust me, that isn't a long trip) due to a cold given to her by a generous Typhoid Husband.

You can click here to see the complete review.

"Heartstone is a satisfyingly complex contemporary fantasy novel which will keep the reader involved from paragraph one. 4.5 Stars"
Annie Kudzu, Ecataromance Reviews

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Elves Eat - Out Now!


What Elves Eat, my male/male erotic fantasy story, is out now at Changeling Press. This is my first foray into writing manlove, so if you like m/m with a touch of fantasy, you'll love this one! Here's the blurb:

Blurb

Elorien is the most beautiful elf in Faerie. When his best friend Guntoras returns from the World claiming he has seen someone more beautiful than he, Elorien is incensed. He offends Queen Elucinara, who sends him on a quest to find the human and judge for himself who is the more beautiful of the two.

Dario is a movie star who is starting to feel repulsed by the back-stabbing machinations of Hollywood. When Elorien appears at his fancy dress party, everyone believes him to be a hired look a like. But Elorien and Dario soon overcome their initial shock and give in to a mutual attraction that blazes into a passionate relationship.

Struggling with hordes of paparazzi, an egomaniacal popstar girlfriend, and Elorien’s own quest for Queen Elucinara, can their growing love be anything more than a fleeting affair?

Read an excerpt or Buy Now

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The TBR pile topples!

I've just received a huge box from Amazon this morning after a book-buying spree last week. I bought 12 books but in my defence some of them had been on my wish-list for more than six months while I tried to dutifully go through my TBR pile. So I've been snoozing through a lot of Nora Roberts lately (not because her books are boring but because I only seem to read in bed nowadays) and getting a little twitchy for another genre. And then I realised I hadn't read anyting SF for a really long time. A perfect excuse to dust off my credit card.

I had to justify each and every purchase, so this is why I decided to add the following books to my Amazon shopping cart:

Good Deed for the Year
4 Jack Vance books - Lyonesse I, Lyonesse II, Alastor, and Lurulu (sequel to Ports of Call, which was a fantastic book). Vance is my Dad's favourite author, so these are officially birthday presents for him (December 25 - he was a Christmas baby). But there's nothing wrong with a sneak peek. Three months should be enough time...

Everybody's Talking About
JR Ward. Never heard of her before but as she's the latest buzz I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about. Apparently it's an erotic paranormal, so I call this purchase 'keeping up with market trends'. Dark Lover sits at the top of my TBR pile.

Continuing Series
Beyond Varallan and Endurance by S.L. Viehl. I read StarDoc a few months ago and have been waiting for a chance to get my paws on these. After all, you can't leave off reading a series after just one book, it would be rude to the author.

A Classic
The Saga of the Renunciates by Marion Zimmer Bradley. 'A classic Darkover trilogy' - it says so on the cover. So this falls into the 'educational' category.

Writerly Stuff
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. You can't have too many self-editing books. Also, Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks - his biography which I'm sure is full of sage, writerly advice.

Indulgence
Gabriel's Ghost and Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. After all those 'good-for-me' purchases, one needs a bit of indulgence to take the edge off.

Bought any good books lately?