Saturday, March 31, 2007

Some Shameless Beggin'


I found out last nigth that Ravenstar's Bride has finaled in the Best Overall Science Fiction Romance Category in the Fantasm Awards!
The voting goes on until May, so if anyone is so inclined to check out the long list of categories and finalists [you have to scroll down to the end for my category, btw]
There are some brilliant authors on the list and some kick a$$ titles so be sure to go and vote for your favorites!!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bug Guy & Spider Gal: Sexy or Spooky?

Still vacillating between what to talk about in this post, I got a clear and present (though not so dangerous) sign. (I am a big believe in signs, in case you couldn’t tell ). A spider was calling down the inside of my sneaker. As if that wasn’t concrete enough, when I got home I found two hoppy-bugs (mix between a spider and cricket) dead in my bedroom floor.

So with those hints still fresh in my mind, I ask do you think bugs are conceivably sexy?

I had an idea to do a modern day spin on Arachne’s mythological tale. In case you don’t know the fable it goes something like this:

Arachne of Lydia boasted that she was a better weaver than Athena, the goddess of weaving (among other things). Athena appeared as an old crone and asked Arachne to repent her claim. Instead Arachne chose to challenge the old woman to a contest of skill. Athena shrugged off her disguise and wove a portrayal of her defeat of Poseidon, while Arachne’s depiction poked fun at Zeus’ leachery. Enraged by Arachne’s subject, Athena destroyed her competitor’s work and smot her on the head. Realizing the blasphemous way she’d behaved and remorseful for her actions, Arachne hung herself. Sorry for her part in the girl’s death, Athena changed Athena into the first spider, which forever weaves a web to catch its food.

In my version Henath, the mythological being, curses Penelope to find someone who finds her as beautiful as the masterpieces she weaves. Only when a man loves her for herself, will she be released from the curse.


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Enter my "bug-man", Alick Ziven, entomologist and video game addict. Who else could love such a bug? As I sit here watching CSI, with Gil Grissom sitting in front of his wall of bugs, I’m thinking good-looking, super smart, but is an Entomologist too analytical? And by the same token, is a spider heroine likeable? Admittedly I have no idea why I chose a spider for the heroine, since I’m afraid of them. (Perhaps a need to overcome my phobia by doing research?) But they do have a certain elegance that appeals to my artistic nature and convey a mysteriousness that relates to females' secretiveness.

Which of course means there’s a twist. By the curse, Penelope must give Alick a “little death” to keep her human form before the next full moon. The kicker is, if she kills him will she survive alone in a strange, modern world? And if she doesn’t, can Penelope settle for being loved as only a beautifully, rare arachnid?


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What if she’d learned Alick had fallen in love with spiders after watching Charlotte’s Web and that ever since he’d pictured spiders as people? Last weekend, I treated myself to the newly remade children’s movie and found myself touched by Charlotte’s plight (with only a creepy shudder or two). But imagine having Penelope convert from an eight-legged “bug” into human form in front of his eyes. That would be unforgettable, especially since she’d embody the object of Alick’s life-long love…an arachnid come to life. Linked together with a magical web of love, how can he keep from sacrificing himself to save her the pain of losing a normal life?

Is their love merely fanciful imaginings that need to be squashed by the realism of being able to sell the book? Or could readers warm up to this Cinderella, “fish out of water” type tale co-starring a nerdy prince among men?
__________________________________
Talking of princes, check out TIES OF VALOR’s excerpt, which gives you a glimpse of Prince Awyn Shandar. To get an eyeful of how the cover Gods portrayed him, stop by http://maseysplace.com/Futuristic_page.html.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Siren's Call ~ Out Now!


Here's my new futuristic romance, out now at New Concepts Publishing.

Blurb:
United Alliance starships have been sent to evacuate the population of the ocean world, Zalaban, in an attempt to save them from total annihilation by the Loreto Asteroid.

Drawn by the siren's call of the beautiful Alarija, Captain Gerano Lasalle learns she has been left behind as a sacrifice to the Sacred Eye. But he is determined to save the woman he has already joined with in his mind...

Excerpt:

He’s here! Wake up!


Alarija woke, her eyes snapping open in terror as the voice shouted inside her head. Heart pounding, she sat up and looked about her darkened chamber for Marsalir, her bodyguard. In the last weeks he’d slept on a mattress just outside her room and she’d been able to see the outline of his form in the candlelight, a soothing presence. But now the doorway leading to the corridor was dark, the candle-holders unlit and unattended. She remembered that he’d gone the day before, evacuated with the last of the Council in the last shuttle leaving for the Universal Alliance starship. He’d protested all the way, but he’d gone and left her all the same.

She expelled her caught breath and thought about the voice that had woken her. It hadn’t been the usual whispering from The Master. It was distinct and different, a woman’s voice. It may have been Tal’an, the Goddess, only the voice was more familiar than that. For a moment Alarija wondered if it had been a futurecast, a warning from her future self to her present self.
But a futurecast was impossible. For her, there was no future.

Pink fingers of light from the encroaching dawn began to filter into the room. Unable to return to sleep, Alarija rose from her bed and padded across the white marble floors and through the open wood-carved doors to the terrace outside. She leaned her hands on the balustrade and took a deep breath of the crisp morning air. A light breeze lifted her dark hair, drying the sweat at the back of her neck, blowing caressingly over her naked body. She shivered as her nipples sprang to attention.

Attention was what they longed for, Alarija thought as she brushed her hand over the hard nubs. Although Marsalir had been gone a day, she thought about him constantly. He had been her bodyguard and had been chosen to protect her, to serve her. He’d done that--and more.

A stabbing heat still sprang between her thighs at the mere thought of his hot tongue between them. How well they’d kept it hidden from The Elders. Marsalir had been considered safe, literally unable to de-flower her, because of the ritual removal of his manhood. They’d never thought of the eunuch’s other attributes and his willingness to use them for her exclusive pleasure.

She closed her eyes and imagined Marsalir’s tongue on her breasts the last time they had been together. It had been here, on this terrace, overlooking the vast ocean of Zalaban. It had been high tide and waves of warm water had leaked through the balustrade and washed over the marble floors, swirling around their ankles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Like A Lamb, Out Like A Lion

March, in Michigan, is a very capricious month. One day there might be snow and freezing rain, the next warm spring air and vibrant blue skies. But we’re not here to talk about Spring. That was last week :D

Today, I want to talk about the changeable qualities of our characters - how they start, how they finish. Generally, we (and, yes, I’m using the royal we since I suspect most authors do this) start with a rather formless character who is little more than a mote in our mind’s eye. I liken this stage to the lamb since he’s ‘young’ in my mind and full of potential. Some of us start giving him physical characteristics, hair color and length, eye color, body type, and perhaps some distinguishing features or marks to set him apart from all the others. If he’s a hero, then we emphasize his physical characteristics to make him, well, worthy of being the hero of a romance novel.



Once we’re satisfied that we’ve made him as drool worthy as realistically possible, we begin to concentrate on his personality. Some traits are fairly standard. The hero must be brave and resourceful. He must exude self-confidence and have an intrinsic sex appeal (apart from his gorgeous physical appeal). He must be honest, loyal and, oh, a thousand other admirable qualities. But he must also have a failing of some sort. Something that he must overcome. Something that makes him...real. By the time I’m done, the hero has become a veritable lion.

I can’t speak for other authors but I generally will take one of these personality factors and strengthen it. After all, you can have too much of a good thing. So that one good quality becomes a thorn in our lion’s paw.

For example, if he’s self-confident, perhaps I’ll make him overly confident. I can make him so very confident that he can handle anything that comes his way that he becomes blind to some circumstances around him. And those will get him into trouble. And that trouble will usually lead to the main conflict in the story. If I’m very lucky, it will also lead to the conflict that can jeopardize his relationship with the heroine.

And, thankfully, she’s the lucky woman who gets to tame the lion.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The future of writing about the future

I've always been fascinated by the ability of science fiction writers to look into the crystal ball of their imaginations and build the world as it may be in some future decade, century or even millenia.

I've often heard people criticize science fiction as a genre because they feel some of the ideas are too "out there", too far fetched. After all, what are the odds we will ever be able to walk through a stable wormhole and emerge in another galaxy, or have our molecules scrambled in a transporter beam? Isn't it highly unlikely we will ever consider a conversation with an alien life form to be as commonplace as one with our next door neighbor?

Some could argue that technology will never advance far enough to allow humans faster-than-light travel or vacations taken on a "holodeck", but having seen how far we've come in a few short years since I've been writing science fiction, I'd like to think the possibilities are as limitless as a writer's imagination.

Just twenty-five years ago, if I had wanted to send a manuscript to a publisher, I would have had to slave away at my electric typewriter to produce the cleanest copy possible and then mail it off to someone who would take months to get back to me. [While I might have had a crude word processor back then, no publisher would have accepted a computer printout of a manuscript]. Today, I still slave over my manuscript to make is as perfect as possible, but in many cases I've had the luxury of transmitting them by e-mail to agents or editors. In several cases I've received replies to query letters in hours or days rather than weeks or months.

A quarter of a century ago, joining a critique group would have meant face to face meetings with other writers in my geographic area [of course, still an option] and handing out carbon copies of my WIP [or paying a printing service to make Xerox copies for me]. Today, I share files with fellow writers who live in California, Nevada and even Australia at the push of a button on my keyboard.

Today I have two websites and a blog through which I communicate with readers and fellow writers. I can purchase books online without even using a credit card thanks to PayPal and I can read those books on my computer or download them to a portable e-reader if I choose. We've come a long way, baby, as they say.

And I wonder where we're going.

If I had my way, twenty five years from now [or maybe a lot sooner] my computer will take dictation or translate my chicken scratch rough drafts into printed words that I can edit. [The programs that already convert speech or hand written script to word processing files that I've tried have turned out to be more frustrating than time saving so far]

Maybe authors will be writing holodeck programs rather than novels, and our fans will be able to walk in the worlds we create and be surrounded by them. Perhaps they will actually play the parts of hero and heroine rather than simply imaginging themselves in the roles.

Maybe a true user interface will allow us to step in to cyber space and hang out with our colleagues all over the globe while we brainstorm our next best selling plots.

Who knows? I can't wait to find out.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring Fling

I was supposed to post on Friday, but had to work and was finishing up on a novella an editor at Red Sage had asked for a full on, and trying to get some sleep before heading out. Yesterday, was a wash. After working all night, I was one tired pup, so I slept for a while and then had to go grocery shopping since Old Mother Hubbard had switched cabinets on me in my sleep. So, now here I am, two days late and wondering what in the heck I'm going to write about that has anything to do with spring.

Personally, I love spring. Fall is my favorite season, but there is something so promising and invigorating about springtime. Spring is that one season, that if you had to place a virtue on it, it would be "Hope." All is new and shiny. Flowers bloom and grass turns green. Little nubbins of leaves appear on the trees. We have three Red Maples in our yard, and seeing them come to life and their deep crimson leaves open is so beautiful. We also have an azelea that is more the size of a tree than a bush. It's taller than the house and sits right outside my office window. When it's in full bloom, the big fuzzy bubble bees are all over it, as are the hummingbirds. Gorgeous!

Every year I promise myself I'm actually going to get off my duffer and plant flowers. Every year I don't. This year, I think I'm going to get myself to a garden center and find something to put down in the flower beds that have stood empty at the front of the house since we moved here 7 years ago. Since most of my time is spent in the pursuit of publishing, most other activities have gone by the wayside. However, if I stretch my imagination I can probably justify the gardening as research.

In my novel, Trail of Stars, Kory-Lynn Selkirk, works in the biofarm unit of a spaceship. I hesitated taking the character in that direction, because I have even less knowledge of planting and farming than I do of intersteller travel. Now that's bad. However, I do know plenty of people that do have wonderous gardens that I can pick brains for...but it's not the same as getting one's hands dirty and doing the gardening yourself. Truth is...I used to love to play in the dirt as a child. I spent entire summers submerged in dirt and mud just for the simple fact that it was nice and cool on a hot summer day.

But what to plant? I would love to have lilacs and honeysuckle but I think that is a bigger project than I'm willing to take on at this time. I need baby steps. When we lived in Florida, my father, (who was the world's greatest green thumb) planted moss roses in the front yard. They seemed to need very little in the way of upkeep and thrived. The question is, do they grow well in shade? My front yard is extremely shady, where my back yard is in almost complete sunlight. I think I want to concentrate on the front yard for now, since that is what people see when they first come over. It's like going out in public without makeup on. (The only time I do that is when I'm going to the gym. Otherwise....ugh...never.)

So, any suggestions for flowers that I can plant that are good in shade and low maintenance? Because unlike my WIP's, I doubt the flowers will get as much attention.

-Kat

Friday, March 23, 2007

Boinnngggg!

Spriiiinnnnnggggg!!!

Ever so glorious, thank the gods it's here finally, spring!

I noticed that the Blogger dashboard this morning said, "We're out of beta" and I immediately thought, "Well, someone should send out for more beta, then." And then I realized I wasn't kidding. Blogger beta, new blogger, blogger classic, seems like they've all been giving me fits from the word, "go."

But this post isn't about my woes with Blogger. It's about new beginnings, about Spring, and about the mudpit in my yard. Okay, maybe not too much about the mudpit in my backyard. Let's just leave it at the fact that you can take eight steps and grow eight inches in height, courtesy of the mud that cakes on your shoes, and that the runoff swale has officially surrounded Castle Xandra with a three-sided moat.

Spring is full of new beginning imagery--trees budding, the earth warming, flowers just peeping their heads up above the ground after a long winter's nap. But Spring makes me think of endings. More specifically, happy endings. The ones that come at the end of a good story.

In all the stories I write, there's an underlying theme of rebirth. Discovering who you are, and what you want out of life is a springtime of sorts for my story themes. But as themes go, it doesn't show up in the beginning of the story--it's the culmination of the story's events. To me, a good story ending is a good beginning for What Comes Next for the characters. I've noticed that as I get older, I'm not so enchanted with the "...and they lived happily ever after. The End." I hold more hope for the characters if the end of the story is closer aligned with, "...and this was a good start to their relationship. The End (of the story)."

Spring makes for great endings, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring Into Something New

With Spring now upon us, I paused to consider what the season was about (and also in part because I needed a theme for this post). I concluded--what would be better than talking about my tried-and-true habit of giving my characters a new lease on life?

I hadn’t really taken a deep look into theme until I sat in on a seminar by Claudia Dain. (She is a fabulous speaker and a top-notch business woman. If she offers a talk anywhere, listen!) She said that no matter what smaller plot/motivation/conflict we had using as part of our vehicle to achieve the bigger goal, there was always an over arching theme that all of our books fell into. For writers, it is our core story which we tell over and over in different ways.

When it came time to hastily build my website, I needed something catchy as a tagline. Hence I narrowed my core theme to “Second Chance Romance”. All of my books contain romance, but I realized that all of them were about heroines who were starting over. In essence, transforming their tired, old, down-trodden selves into the women they deserved and wanted to be. In some cases, their heroes in their lives were the trigger to their renewed interest in love.

Zara has always been tied to her duty to Sartin, first as a security officer like her Father and then as a Voyager for her Mother. When her planned course is botched, she finds the man her Father described as her true love. With Awyn she gets a new lease on life with a partner who understands her commitments, but opens her eyes to life outside the TIES OF VALOR.

ALL I EVER WANTED stars Shanna, a woman who is drowning in self-loathing because she’s responsible for her husband’s death. On her own (and with her friends’ help) she couldn’t get outside the hermit bubble she’d sequestered herself in. When Ravin, “the man who can fix anything”, dropped into her foyer and refused to leave her alone, she started a life-altering relationship lush with magical inspiration to breathe life into her art and heart.

What’s a girl to do when she’s become a pick pocket of the dead? In JUST ONE LIFE, Gwynan discovers all things magical, including sexy wizards, aren’t Evil. And by the time Evil came knocking, she’d learned sacrificing her life for love was a far greater deed than she’d done before, especially since Kendron’s the world’s one chance to survive. And it always pays to have friends in high places.

Ever broken up with a boyfriend, but longed for a second chance? Enter Dara from PERFECTION NOT REQUIRED, who opened her big mouth and got “Bonding at the Beach”, an intimate couples seminar series, for her girl’s getaway. When desperation to escape her mom sets in, she stumbles across hunky lifeguard Ken Sexton. Except he’s hiding his true intention of nabbing a guinea pig for a tell-all expose. After many lessons and laments (including a karaoke song) both students of love begin a new chapter in life as co-conspirators to keep her ex at arm’s length!

Underdog: (Adj.) See Afra from LOVEMAKER. She’s been choice fodder for the gossipmongers in Swansea, GA all her life, and now she has to wow a hotel full of New Yorkers while taming her hillbilly accent to achieve her life’s goal. (This apple didn’t fall far from the tree.) That iconic event wasn’t smacking into Eric, her stiff competition for the Golden Arrow. Thanks to his side bet, she has to work doubly hard, though she also ends up snagging his bruised heart. When love is the name of the game, these matchmakers have a perfect score no matter who’s doing the tabulating! And together, they can play defense suited up with plenty of know-how to divide and conquer their naysayers’.

So whether you’re springing into a new relationship or a new book, remember that there’s always a bigger picture. Find out what you do best and keep hopping forward! To see the light at the end of the tunnel you may have to sacrifice a little, but when you reach “THE END” it’ll be fabulous!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wandering thoughts on Spring


Anyone who’s known me for more than a year probably also knows that Spring is my favorite season. I start a countdown shortly after New Year’s Day every year just to mark the arrival of Spring.


Spring starts tonight at 8:07 PM. Hooray!

Right now, I have daffodils and hyacinths poking their shoots above ground (and we’re still cold and snowy here in Michigan) But they don’t mind cold weather so I don’t fear for their safety.

But thinking about Spring...our theme for this week...makes me wonder how the seasons play out in our fictional worlds. Most of the books I’ve read, the season chosen for the story tends to be a fairly non-descript ‘summer’. It certainly makes it easier for us writers and our characters (don’t have to worry about heavy outdoorsy gear or inclement weather) but I do remember one book by Kathleen Nance, Jigsaw, which was set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the dead of winter. Icy cold, blinding sun on crystalline snow...it evoked quite a picture. But I digress (as I’m so often wont to do).

Spring is usually the time of rebirth or new growth. It’s a gentle season with plants easing out of a cold winter’s sleep. With animals giving birth to their offspring so they might mature during the richer, more abundant summer months and thus have a greater chance of survival.

At least, that’s what we think about spring here on Earth with our more evenly spaced seasonal cycles.

Suppose though the planet’s axial tilt (that’s the thing that actually causes our seasons) came faster for whatever reason. How would that affect the cycles? How might it affect Spring?

I’m wondering this because we recently had a day that was bright and sunny. It went from the mid-30’s early that morning to the low 70’s by afternoon. Then a different weather pattern moved in. Rapidly. We had sudden heavy rain. The temperature dropped and continued dropping. By the next morning, we had a couple inches of snow. (Who says you can’t have three seasons in one day? LOL)

On a planet with a rapid axial tilt, the seasonal change could occur just as rapidly. I can imagine, just like a desert after a rainfall, a sudden burst of growth, of a vast green carpet arising before one’s wondering eyes. I can see alien life forms feasting greedily on this new growth or perhaps savagely feasting on unwary grazers. Plants would develop defensive mechanisms to increase their chances of re-seeding (biological imperatives exist in all species, true?). Survival of the fittest would reign supreme and the only law would be eat or be eaten.

Spring on such a planet might not be something to look forward to as I do to spring on our planet. In fact, I doubt very much that I’d want to visit that planet...and that gives me ideas for a story :D

Spring. The season of rebirth and growth...and the season of new ideas.

By the way, I’ll be guest blogging on the Witchy Chicks Blog tomorrow (the first full day of Spring). I’ll be discussing how I write cross-genre paranormal. Please stop by and, if you care to, ask a few questions.

Monday, March 19, 2007

So they call this spring?

Happy Spring Week at Star Crossed Romance!

'Tis the season to think of gentle breezes, new flowers and the blush of love...somewhere in the universe, but certainly not in Northern NJ.


Buried somewhere out front under an inch and a half of solid ice, are my daffodils and tulips. Hopefully they're in suspended animation until the temperature catches up to the calendar. After spending most of the weekend alternately watching it sleet and chipping ice off the cars and the walkways I'm sure of two things:

I'm looking forward to hot weather this year and

I'm in no way ready for spring cleaning.

With salty snow boots piled by the front door and gloves and mittens still dripping onto the bathmat, I just can't muster the energy to begin the all important yearly mega-cleaning.

Why bother? Once all the snow actually does melt, the kids and the dog will be tracking mud in the house anyway, and the basement will develop a few puddles. It's too cold to open up all the windows and let in the outside air, even if it is unusually crisp and fresh.

For now I'll have to settle for for the writer's version of spring cleaning. I'll scour my hard drive, weed my in boxes, and prune my TBR pile. I'll dust off my desk, sharpen my pencils and put a fresh stack of paper in the printer.

Call me crazy, but I just don't feel like spring until it looks like this outside:

introducing new genres

You know, once upon a time (sounds like the start of a fairy tale LOL) I used to only read historical romances, the odd contemporary romance, and horror. Nothing else.

I know the very first sci-fi romance I read - Johanna Lindsey's Warrior Woman. I thought it was so AWESOME (and still do). Then my next sci-fi romance venture was a Catherine Spangler book, and then an Anne Maxwell. I was hooked.

However, there weren't that many sci-fi romances that I could find, and at that time, the internet was something I had no idea of. Yes, sad truth, I only discovered the wide world of the net in 2000. But it has opened up so many horizons!

So many sci-fi authors, so many fantasy authors, so many paranormal authors. Romance, adventure - all in the realms of paranormal. I love it! I check out the websites, the authors, the books, read excerpts...I do the lot LOL.

And joining yahoo groups such as paranormalromance, romance with a bite, etc, has opened me up to authors I once would never have even thought of buying - Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Saje Williams - just to name a few.

Cyberspace- it often hates me enough to cut me off, misplace my emails, make me go AWOL on here a couple of times - but my reading field has widened way beyond belief! What can I say - God bless the internet - even when I want to scream at it!

Try something different to read today - you'll be surprised - you just might be adding the next one to your automatic To Buy list!

Angela

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Me Too!! Immorati now available


Finally, after months of waiting and nail biting, Immorati is now available on ebook from Triskelion Publishing.


Jumping up and down like a mad woman here. Come out and show your love for a fellow Star-Crossed and pick up a copy, or ask to see it in print. *wink*


Here's the blurb:


When the corpse of an unidentified species is found in the woods near Pine Haven, New Jersey along with a human female, anthropologist Edie Campbell is called in by local law enforcement and the medical examiner to help identify the strange humanoid male. The discovery of a heretofore unknown species is thrilling for Edie, up until she realizes the creature has recently mated with the human female.

Questions form with no apparent answers until Aidan LaMont arrives in Pine Haven to identify his cousin’s body. But the secretive Aidan hides as much of the mystery surrounding the strange creature as he explains. And Edie has no doubt that behind his simmering sexuality, and amber eyes, he knows much more than he’s willing to tell.
-Kat



New Release - Altered Destiny

My newest release from Triskelion Publishing is now available! I had great fun writing Altered Destiny, a SF Fantasy filled with elf-like aliens, dragons and a sexy Scottish hero who’s not only good with a cuirsach but a master of disguise.

ALTERED DESTINY
Stranded on an alternate Earth, architect and Jill-of-all-trades, Liane Gautier-MacGregor must find her way back to her homeworld before she's enslaved...or falls in love with a man who is the exact duplicate of her ex-husband. Devyn MacGregor's alter ego as the Reiver Lord is the only way he can fight the Qui'arel and their nefarious Bride Bounty, a tax paid with human females...until he meets the oddly familiar woman who claims he is her husband. And who sets in motion the rebellion that will either free his countrymen or destroy them.

Available Now at Triskelion Publishing

Hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day! Feel free to check out the excerpt on my website. Lynda K. Scott

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Need a Hero...ine

I've got the seeds for a WIP for another anthology traveling around in my head. One of the minor characters I got somewhat attached to in the story "Hounded" is the character of Sonny Solaverde. Sonny is an engineer and the lead on the HELIOS solar array project that allows the LEO (Low Earth Orbit) ring-cities to attain their independence from Earth. Sonny is also the human avatar for the god Apollo, who sometimes walks around in Sonny's skin.

Now Sonny's a tough guy--he's strong, cares about the people working on his project, and serves the sun god as best as he can. And it has its perks--when Apollo's riding him, he has the Touch--the ability to touch someone and experience a n empathic memory of theirs. The Touch includes the ability to invoke reactions in the person being touched--he can take away pain, or give it if he needs to. He can also give pleasure. As with any fringe benefits, though, there comes a price. It's physically exhausting, it's addictive, and it eats him from the inside. It's also bug-all hard to have any privacy.

My only question about him is--what kind of a heroine is out there for poor ol' Sonny? Most of the time, having a hero pop up in my mind or in free writing usually means that a heroine isn't far behind (or another hero, for that matter). This time around, though...Sonny's still floating in space with no potential ladylove in sight. So I'm looking for ideas. What kind of a woman could potentially snag his attention? What kind of woman would eventually come 'round to sometimes having a god along for the ride? ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Read It And Weep

I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I can break into tears over something I’m reading. What makes it even worse? When the words I’m reading are my own! And no I’m not lamenting how much the words suck, but am just so moved by the emotion of the scene. And no, this particular girly reaction doesn’t fall under PMS symptoms. To date with ten manuscripts under my belt this has happened with only two books—TIES OF VALOR and BELIEVE IN ME.

Just before I sent in TIES OF VALOR to Triskelion I gave it the one last good old read through to make it perfect. When I got to the Epilogue (which is no longer the Epilogue) I found tears rolling down my cheeks while I read the very happy ending. If memory serves correctly, I recall thinking how crazy I was for crying over something I wrote.

Then to top it off, it happened again when I was doing edits. Okay, I was stressed and PMS still wasn’t a factor, plus I wasn’t anywhere near the end this time! In fact, when I teared up I was smack dab in the middle at one of the big turning points, reading over Queen Sercie’s decision. Maybe it was because I knew Awyn and Zara wouldn’t be able to love each other openly unless things went their way. But I stress again, I wrote the words, so I knew what was going to happen. By this point in the process I had read the chapter atleast half a dozen times!

For BELIEVE IN ME the tears came during one of the final battle scenes. In it Jacqui realizes how much she has lost in her short life and uses that pain against the tyrant who threatens her life. When she cried, I was right there with her. But again I say, I wrote these words, so why did it affect me so?

I have to believe it is because I get so deeply invested in my characters that somewhere deep inside me I am living their tale via my imagination. And whether I wrote the words, what is going on in the scene…with my hero and heroine…makes me forget the fact that I crafted this piece of fiction that seems so real, atleast to me.

Have you ever had a moment when you were reading your own work, or that of someone else’s, where you caught yourself weeping? If so, share with the group and we’ll give you some cyber Kleenex!
_____________________
By the same token, I often read scenes and think, “Darn that’s good!” I don’t guess this is anything new since I used to walk into the art studio in college, see a sculpture and think, “Gosh, that’s beautiful.” Then it would hit me that the piece was mine! Needless to say in those days sleep didn’t come in large quantities (nor does it now).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Babysitting

Hi Everyone,

(This post should have come through yesterday but I had 'issues' with Blogger. Normally, I'd just skip my turn but I did want to test it to see if the 'issues' are on-going.)


Squeak, or, as she's also known, Bitty, Bitamo, Bittles or Squeak. She's my first grandchild...sort of :D Bitty is my daughter's cat, a 9 pound piece of sleek black fur and enormous yellow-green eyes. She's a small, delicate cat full of feline grace and temper. Right now, she's highly incensed to be at 'grandma's' house. In her opinion, she is the Queen and belongs in her own castle. A castle free of other feline sorts. Yes, Squeak is arrogant when it comes to her own kind. She's the best of the best and all others are, well, not even as good as dogs :D

So why am I talking about Squeak? Other than the fact she's adorable? It's simple, really. I've used her, in a very small fashion, as a walk-in character in my book Altered Destiny. In AD, as I call it, she provides the hero, Devyn, the opportunity to show his gentler side as well as his protective side. And because of Squeak, when I was writing my current wip, Rider, I used facets of her personality and facets of my Wookie's personality to create the character of Zie, the heroine's life long and dearest companion.


Zie isn't a cat, she's an alien life form. So as I was creating her, I tried to imbue her with her own wants and needs and personality. If you've ever lived with a cat, you know these are furry little aliens in imperious bodies. That sort of personality is what I wanted for Zie so I watched Squeak (when she lived here) and I watched Wookie (who exasperatingly stays upstairs because she's afraid of the new kitchen ceiling fan, sigh). I watched them eat, demand attention, play, fight, sleep. I watched them do stupid things (like fall off the window ledge) and try to hide their embarrassment for the rare moment of clumsiness. I watched them chase a stray spark of light, a shiny reflection from a suncatcher. I watched them run helter skelter when something startled them (we're not talking about big, brave cats here :D) I watched them utterly enjoy their food or nap or their hunt and killing of the many (toy) mice we've provided for them. They know what they want and they know when they want it. Zie is an amalgam of both Squeak and Wookie.

And it occurs to me that many writers probably do the same thing when they're creating their characters (though they may not use their cats to create a principle character like some of us do, lol). I know if I'm at the mall or grocery store or even at work, part of my attention is on those around me--picking up nuances, sorting impressions, storing snippets of conversation. Being a writer is a fascinating occupation.

Plus it gives you a chance to use your furbles as a blog subject when you have absolutely no idea what to write :D

Friday, March 09, 2007

Smurfish, Mother-Smurfer...Do You Smurf It?

So this week's special topic here at Star-Crossed is Alien Languages. I understand that Tolkien wrote the entire Lord of the Rings body of work just so he could create the languages around it. Umm...yeah. Not so much right here. I'd write the story to write the story. The languages would just have to come as a side thing. Having said that, I did create some small kernels of language for my novel Alien Communion. Not because I wanted to make up a whole "secret code" for my aliens to speak to highlight the fact that yeah, they're aliens, but for the exact opposite reason--to underscore their humanity (for lack of a better term). In their native tongue, a group of Alcaini men make penis jokes, because males joke about sex organs no matter where they come from (and we love them for it, don't we?) :D

The Alcaini use a modifier on the end of a proper name to denote gender--although actually, it's more of a title of respect--the Alcaini call my heroine "Rayne'iri" to afford her the respect similar to calling her "Ms. Rayne," although it's not a one-to-one correlation--there's respect, but the formality one would usually associate with a "Ms." Males are appended with " 'en " and females " 'iri " and the appellation ends up being part of the person's name.

But while I sprinkled a few made-up-language words here and there, I still focused on conveying the sense of difference in their culture through their manner of speech and the cadence of their words. It's a trick I'm not alone in using. Many historical authors do it, too, and as a modern reader, I am grateful that they do. Reading authentic Scots highland brogue isn't nearly as much fun as reading it, and it ends up detracting from the story, rather than enhancing the experience. To have to mentally "sound out" too many words can intrude heavily on the enjoyment of a story.

The language barrier can be a wonderful point of conflict, if only for the fact that the resolution of said conflict is such a profound moment of connection that it lends its own level of gravity to a story.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Once Upon A Time in Winzles

Once upon a futuristic time in Winzles there lived super-saviors. It’s a town pretty much like any other, where the old was overtaken by the new (AKA innovative breakthroughs). The brickstones and cobbled streets at the heart of its downtown give way to slick metalloid towers and miles of slick-track for hovercars. At the center lies an open grassy knoll called Cybavenu, the hot spot for the bustling city.

Hot, humid and ready to explode that’s where Jacqui Valere first realizes she’s a NoVice. Not only is she a newbie out of her sorts in a strange new world, but she realizes her life force fuels the Cypertron—an elite force of cyborgs controlled by a corrupt mayor. A man served by the police known to her super-saviors as SPUDS—Spatial Protection Unit Downtown. To her, they equate bounty hunters determined to rid their fair city of her brand of scum. With their new-age technology, she’s nothing but a glowing green blip to be snatched up and sucked dry.

Enter Cadmus, a genetically-altered team made to save NoVice’s from death. Because of Rad Eadoin’s mistaken identity, Jacqui becomes a temporary Dragon until a NoVice batch is returned home. Taking a tour of their duties, her eyes get opened wide more than once. Take for example the Carcerates, who are prisoners put out on city-wide work detail controlled by drug injections from a gaudy necklace. Add to that automated ads with deterrent reinforcers that zap you it you dare rip them down. Plus tattoos that glow like rainbows under Infared light. Then there’s the heart of Theron’s empire, his pantheon of pain called The Crux.

High atop a mountain it resides in elegance with ionic columns and a pristine marble fa├žade. Underneath it houses a network of tunnels brimming with captives that will end up in the Hive, a warehouse depository of bio-preserved bodies separated from their energy. The only way to revive a lost soul is to merge the fleshy shell with its psychogon crystal vended out during its trip to Theron’s machine.

Since Rad’s become the bane of Theron’s existence, Jacqui has reason to pray her hots for the Dragon leader won’t garner her eternal sleep in the honey-combed hideaway. She’d much rather spend her nights cooped up with her man of steel in his scan-shielding cot.

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Who knew? Novice also means “a person admitted to probationary membership in a religious community”, which ties in nicely with BELIEVE IN ME’s undertones.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Alien Language for Writers 101

This week our theme is Alien Languages.

I’m going to confess right now the only alien language I’ve ever heard is what’s babbled out of a one and a half year old’s mouth especially when they’re trying to tell you they want their favorite meal of ‘sketty’ :D Interestingly, when it’s your own 18 month old talking, you pick up on the nuances of their language very quickly...and you try to get them to learn yours mostly by repetition and enunciation.

But the worlds of our characters, well, they’re a little different, aren’t they? We can’t just create an entire phonetical/grammatical system. Mmm, I suppose we could but what would be the point? You’d have to include a primer with every book and, even then, your reader would quickly grow bored and disgruntled. Likely your book, no matter how good it was, would hit the wall or, worse, get relegated to the dusty, dark corner of your bookshelves ‘until you had the proper amount of time to spend on it’. Neither scenario is what an author wants.

No, what we want is to create a ‘flavor’, an otherworldliness, to help provide characterization or contribute to world-building. How do we do that with language? There’s a couple of ways.

First, one character will listen to the alien words or if not actual words, she or he will listen to the sounds and the cadence and remark on it, somehow, even if to themselves.

For example, in Heartstone, Keriam has been learning the names of objects they encounter on their travels and thinks:

With his very round and broad, soft and smooth accent, his voice alone could inspire her hormones into a heady rush.

In Altered Destiny, Liane hears Devyn’s accent (and accents are both easier and more difficult to use effectively) and thinks:

“‘Tis flattered I am you approve of my clothing.” His burr deepened and sent shivers licking over her skin. She'd always loved accents and the Scots accent was the sexiest of them all.

In neither case am I using actual foreign words because I want the reader to a) understand what’s going on and b) get a feel for what the non-foreign speaker is feeling or sensing.

Second, use of created words. I used several in Heartstone and in Altered Destiny when I had to deal with a subject not-of-this-Earth. (Just as an aside -- an author has to be particularly cautious about creating 47 character/ten syllable words that have one or maybe two vowels. Why? Because no one can either pronounce it or really wants to try. Back in the old days, you'd see characters named XFETJCTHYRWQFTPKLMWRTY. Try saying that name passionately. I dare you.)

Heartstone had Gawan (used as the proper name and species identification of the bad guy/villain/arch enemy of all that is good and proper), linlie (for the small dragon-like creatures one of which adopts Eric) and oorgh, the monstrous creature inhabiting the waterways on Neraldi. Broad sounds? Soft consonants? Yes to both.
In Altered Destiny, I used ‘Qui’arel’ to indicate the elf-like race dominating the Earth and, later, I have a scientist explaining the Qui’arel science/ magic to Liane by mentioning the following:

“Osholomai. It means...belief.”

So I give an utterly created word and follow it immediately with the definition since it’s something that can’t be seen or felt. Abstract concepts are just a bit harder to use in an alien language without a translation :D

So, rather like teaching our precocious 18 month old, I give bits and pieces, demonstrate similarities in sound, show variations in cadence and provide a sense of function or form to help provide a glimpse of an alien language. I want the flavor of the ‘sketty’, not the actual dish.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wowza is the same in any language

Okay, I was supposed to come up with a post on alien languages today and I admit it, I dropped the ball.


I went food shopping, ranted to a friend of mine on the phone for a an hour [don't get me started!], ate lunch, did some writing which resulted in a bunch of pages that will probably be X'd out and thrown away [it's crap I tell ye', just crap!], then I took my son to the eye doctor, came home, threw dinner together, cleaned up, and waded through 444 messages in my inbox - somebody had an author chat day on one of my yahoo lists and bless her heart, she was busy.


Now I'm beat and my brain is fried, so rather than try to think in another langauge or about another language, I figured I'd just leave you with this:


Things that make you say: Ay carumba!!


[Coming soon from Amber Quill/Amber Heat - Bernadette breaks into print]





How do you say Holy Toledo in Klingon?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Calculated Risk


Available today from Amber Heat!

A Calculated Risk by Bernadette Gardner
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-000-8 (Electronic)

Tarrant Kane was bred for one thing: military command. When the war ends, his forced retirement leaves him with more money and free time than any man should have. His new objective becomes learning how to be a civilian.

Kane's self-imposed mission gets a little easier when he meets exotically beautiful Nola Rule at the exclusive resort on Sensuron. Nola offers him intense carnal pleasures and something he craves even more than sex: a challenge.

But Kane’s dalliance with Nola comes with a steep price. When she disappears after a night of unbridled passion, he realizes that falling in love is a risk he isn’t prepared to take.

Genres: Science Fiction / Futuristic
Heat Level: 2 Length:
Novella (21k words)
Click here for a steamy excerpt!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sale!

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to announce that Linda Wisdom and I have sold our second erotic paranormal novella to Triskelion Publishing. No other details yet but the title will be Great Escapes: Cilla & Quentin.

In other breaking news :D, the release date for Altered Destiny will be March 15!

Procrastination

Procrastination. I'm good at it. Here I am, I should have started book 14 in my Heart & Soul series. A Love's title. Deadline of June. Yes, three months, so I'm now under the hammer. Again.

Why do I do this to myself? I swear, I must be into self punishment! I could have started this last month, but noooooo...that'd be too easy, right?

In fact, I had lots to do in my 'break' from writing. I was mucking around with a side story, organizing my website, doing some short stories...hmm, actually I was being constructive, I just didn't realize it .

So now it's book 14. A Love's title. I know the hero, I'm just not sure about the heroine. Is it going to work? What about the plot? Is it believable (as much as a sci-fi/futuristic plot can be believable). Does it suit the characters? Will it not really suit the heroine?

So many questions, so few answers until I seriously look at it. Which I've been doing for several days. I've actually got his descrption down, and hers. Easy considering they're both side characters from previous books. But will they WORK together? Can it work?

Maybe that's the beauty of it. Two characters with such diverse beliefs...no, not beliefs...POVs. From different tones. The Love's tone is sexy and fun, the H & S tones are more serious. Would it work? Opposites attract, so they say.

Or do I stay as the series stands now?

It may be time for me to check my emails and paint my toe nails while I debate this...yet again...

Procrastinate? Who, me?

Angela *slurping Diet Coke and contemplating the Universe*

Thursday, March 01, 2007

When Technology Runs Amok

Or just plain doesn't want to cooperate with us. Take my phone for instance. Now, it's not my secondary line which has the DSL running through it, but my primary line. The number all my publishers and potential publishers have...it just stopped working. When my huband called the phone company via the cell to make an appointment for someone to look at the line, they asked if Monday would be ok...when he said no, they hung up on him. Now, how rude is that, I asked you?

In the Age of Technology, phones and computer lines are paramount. Staying connected in this businesses is essential. Both Dave and I have work out there that may - if the Gods of Publication smile on us -could be bought by someone. How does the phone company know that that primary line isn't being used by a family with severe medical problems who needs access to 911? Totally unacceptable response from them. But I should feel somewhat lucky in the knowledge that I at least have my internet access.

Which brings me to the topic at hand...

Technology running amok in your sci-fi worlds...

In my novella "Fatal Error" a supercomputer takes over the US government and holds her citizens in a state of Orwellian fear. The computer even goes so far as to create a mechanical police force and fighter jets to protect its interests.

In my novella "Falling Stars" nanobots created by a conquering race mimic not only the power sources in electronic and mechanical devices, but can also take on the shape, look and action of blood cells.

I don't know where these ideas of mine come from sometimes. Usually dreams , sometimes - like the nanobots mimicking blood - they just crop up as I'm writing. I love mixing fantasy and sci-fi technology as well. I think there is something interesting about having a cross-genre clash of technology vs. mysticism.

In a WIP titled The Ward, practitioners of an elemental manipulation, live in a world where intergalatic travelers mix with a race of subterranen dwellers. So far its a very urban story, that though the civilizations involved can and do travel the stars, the majority of the story is underground. The Ward practitioners (of which there are several levels) are at a crossroads with technology. Some feel their ways are outdated, others see them as a threat. It is up to the Ward to find their relevance in a world that is fastly outdating them.

In Trail of Stars, another novel WIP, pits a young inexperienced farm girl against her decision to join the army to protect the planet's interests in an intergalactic war. This is not only a woman vs. machine story, but how even if you live side by side with technology it can still be far outside your experience if you live in relative isolation. How far does one have to go to make their life matter to others?

How do you like to use technology to up the ante in your stories? Are your hero and heroine in peril from the gadgets that are supposed to make their lives easier? Or is some baddy trying to use it to their own advantage?

Whichever way you slice it, technology is here to stay. And we have to take it with all the lumps and bumps if we want to stay in touch.

-Kat