Friday, May 30, 2008

War on Passwords

I am declaring war on passwords. I mean, really, what the heck is one supposed to do?

We need passwords for our bank accounts - including phone banking, internet banking, cards and everything.

Now I have a password for my video shop. I have two different passwords because I belong to two different video shops. Always a bit embarrassing when you take the wrong DVD back to the wrong video outlet, and you get that phone call...but let's not dwell on that.

If that isn't enough, I also need a password for the different groups I belong to, depending on if it is blogging or yahoo. And clubs - let's not forget clubs!

I also need passwords for different websites - including my own. Let's not forget myspace, too.

I am passworded out. Do you know how long I spent just trying to get onto here today? I kid you not, twenty minutes. Twenty minutes, you say? What kind of clown am I? I'll tell. I'm a passworded out clown. I have different passwords for different places. They say don't use the same password for different places, so I try not to. I add letters and numbers and UPPER CASE and lower case, you name it, I've added it.

I just have trouble remembering all the different passwords for all the different places.

Remember when they reckoned we'd all have a number tattooed on our foreheads or necks? (You don't? Okay, we weren't running around with the same crowd LOL). I remember. It was the time bank cards came out and people started getting paranoid. (Oh, still don't remember. geez, we WERE running with different crowds!).

Well, I must say, it sounds like a damned good idea now!!!!! I would never have to worry about another *&^$#! password again!

My problem would be hoping some desperado wouldn't chop my head off and run my forehead over the scanner. Or come up behind me, slam my forehead down on the scanner at the local ATM machine and then take all my money (and I don't have much to start with anyway).

Okay, maybe passwords do have their place.

I don't care - I HATE PASSWORDS!!!!

Angela *Miss Grouchy* I need a holiday*

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tackle Writer's Block

I’ve been lucky. I’ve only hit a wall once when I was in the middle of ALL I EVER WANTED. And the block came because I’d fought tooth-and-nail against the way the story was supposed to play out. The ah-ha moment for me came when I was running regular, everyday errands and driving in the car. Of course, I ran right back home, fired up my laptop and went back to work. That period of floundering lasted about a week…but it seemed like a month!

I wouldn’t say the period of down time I experienced during Trisk’s bankruptcy battle was writer’s block. I truly hadn’t lost my way, atleast with a book. Though I did feel that I spent months leaping from one wobbly place to another because I had to figure out where I needed to go with my career. That conclusion still isn’t rock solid, but atleast I’ve gotten my act together enough to write!

I’ve heard some people say they fight their blocks, and I think that’s the worst thing you can do. If you dwell on it, the block tends to grow to the size of a skyscraper. So just give yourself permission to let go. Do something that’s not writing related like running errands, doing laundry or even washing the dishes! If you can’t let go completely, have coffee or a meal with writer friends so you can brainstorm about your dilemma. The best way to get over a block is to let your imagination run free. It might not seem like it, but your mind will work the problem out.

Are you wondering what’s a better, hands-on way to tackle your writer’s block?

Turn to craft books for guidance. Reading about how others solve problems can help you determine what’s led you astray and hopefully give you an example of how to get back to where you need to be. Or you can do research! Got an idea for a book you’d like to start next or perhaps two projects that need to be written at the same time? Take a breather and read that non-fiction text as fodder for your next novel. Even if you’re simply reading in your genre, you might stumble across the kernel of an idea to solve your problem. (I’m not talking about stealing someone’s work! I’m talking about being open to inspiration, so it will perk up your gray matter to devise a concept that’s all yours.)

Some writers jumpstart their writing flow by going back and reviewing the GMC of their novel. If you trace the goals of your characters, the motivation that makes them do what they’re doing, as well as the conflicts that keep them apart until the HEA, you will find the spot where your book veered off course. Sometimes it’s something as simple as letting one of the characters take too much control, perhaps you’re in a pickle because you believed a minor goal was the big issue…or maybe you just don’t have enough conflict to start with. You can eyeball these issues with a detailed outline, color coding for characters and doing Deb Dixon’s charts.

If you’ve traced the lines, gone over your W plot, and all your sticky notes seem to be in order, and are still asking what’s wrong you need to take a big step back. Have you fallen out of love with the project or is an outside influence taking you off task? If it’s the first, then start something new. Chances are you’ll soon yearn to be back on the blocked book to tie up the ending or atleast carry on from where you wrote blah, blah, blah. If you have an outside conflict, then you need to be realistic. Is this dilemma something you can resolve, like the time suck of the internet, MySpace, or chatting online? If so, you can give yourself time for those pastimes by using them as a reward for writing. For a bigger issue, you may have to resolve that first, then come back to writing.

No matter how you destress your mind, or make it focus on your book in a positive way, freedom is the medicine to get it to dictate those imaginary details. If your body needs an outlet, then crouch down, rev up and tackle your someone special…preferably on something soft like a bed. Repeat as needed!


When I’m in a slump I turn to my movie collection! With over 500 DVDs and videos ranging from Aeon Flux to X-men, I’m sure to find one that will get me rearing to write.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Writer's Block - Lack of confidence?

Before we get started on today's article, let me just pause for a moment and remember all our brave men and women who've given so much to serve and protect us.

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We've all heard of Writer's Block, and as writers, we all dread falling prey to it. I have to say that I've never really had it (what I have is a total lack of time to write) but I've friends who have suffered from it.

For them, it's the inability to write, to conceive new ideas, or to believe in themselves.

I think that last one is the key issue. I think a loss of belief in our skill or ability to create a story is the culprit behind Writer's Block. That loss of confidence can often come about by rejections which are commonplace for writers (you can't please all the editors all the time). The only remedy I know is to make a razzberry in the general direction of the rejecting editor and go write another cover letter to include with the next submission.

A loss of confidence can also stem from bad reviews. What we have to remember here is that good, bad or indifferent, a review is publicity. Even bad reviews can spur sales because a lot of readers (me included) will automatically believe the reviewer is wrong, especially if it's an author you've already read. Oh, and just let me remind you, that even a crappy book can get great reviews. Not naming names but I've seen that happen too.

Finally (since I'm getting ready to put the barbecue on), a loss of confidence can arise when a writer goes a long time without a sale. This is particularly true if your support system (ie family and friends) only sees success in terms of dollar signs. The fact that you've completed several mss doesn't mean much to these people. Oh, I'm sure they mean well, but they don't understand what a grand accomplishment it is to actually finish a book.

The solution is to keep writing. If the words won't come for one project, move to another. Or do free associate style writing where you don't have a goal or purpose in mind. All you're trying to do is open the flood gates and let anything fall out. You'd be surprised how often that works even if you're only stuck on a particular scene.

Don't let the naysayers get you down, just keep writing.

-- Lynda

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Kick Arse there another apart from tough?

Kick arse heroines - we see them emerging from authors' computers like the proverbial mist turning to ice. I'm just as guilty!

These heroines will kick your teeth in from twenty paces with one leap just because you were levelling your flame thrower at some innocent. These are the new breed of heroines. They give you the "come here" gesture, proceed to wipe the floor with you, then give you the other famous universal gesture, "the Bird".

But do kick arse heroines have to be tough in body? I beg to differ. There is another kind of kick arse heroine, and she's peeping around the corner. I've used her (well, I mean, in my books *guffaw*).

Katina and Lysie from Love's Sweet Assassin and Love's Bewitching Thief are two plump heroines who love their food and comforts. They aren't tough in body - they'd be lucky to kick the stuffing out of a cushion, never mind fighting their way out of a wet paper bag. But what they lack in the brawn department they make up for with cunning.

Yep, I reckon this other breed of kick arse heroines are cunning. They use their female wiles, know just when to flutter their eyelashes, and can con a big, tough, he-man into thinking they're not a threat. Then they're close enough to kick him in the crotch or stab him.

Think Stephanie Plum (the heroine created by Janet Evanovich) and her off-sider, Lulu. Are they the ideal view of today's kick arse heroines? Not in this lifetime! But they always manage to get their man and leave you screaming with laughter about it the whole time. Yet I class these two as kick arse - they'll go the distance for those they care about (after some chicken from Cluck in a Bucket, of course).

I think the tough kick-arse heroine is overshadowing the smaller, cunning, not-so-brawny-but-quick-thinking little heroine. You need brains and brawn to match each other.

Yep, I reckon even we plump, short women can be kick arse heroines when the need calls for it!

now, there's trouble brewing...where did I put my lipstick and mascara again?

Angela *searching the bathroom cabinet and muttering to self*

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chewing Bubblegum and...

So yeah. It's the era of the "kick-ass heroine" in Romancelandia. From twenty years ago, when I started reading my mom's old Harlequin Presents, the genre has expanded to welcome a more diverse set of characteristics in the female leads. One of which is the aptly-termed "kick-ass heroine."

Writing a kick-ass heroine means walking a fine line between toughness and vulnerability. The kick-ass heroine by nature has her shit together and must be a functional being in order to have the wherewithal to kick the asses that need kicking. But since she is part of a story, and story is character and conflict, she must have room for some sort of character arc.

In spite of the large number of book covers that would suggest otherwise, this heroine does not have to be a supernatural butt-whupper to be kick-ass. Nor does she need to know eight ways to break a man in half using only her right thumb and an emery board picked up from a "Re-elect Our Mayor" booth at a county fair. As a reader, those kinds of heroines are interesting in their own ways, but do not make the sum total of what makes a heroine kick-ass. As a reader, I have a broader definition, and as a writer, I aim to explore the boundaries of that definition.

Her job--or her destiny--does not a kick-ass make. Sure, Chosen Ones are entertaining to read about, because they have all this great power and their lives are still emotional messes. But try finding a kickass heroine who's twenty pounds overweight and drives a minivan with a bad muffler--but who knows exactly how to get the car fixed on time and under budget. Focusing on kick-ass as a function of job or circumstance leaves a great portion of territory unexplored.

Kickass is a state of mind.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kicking Ass & Making it Look Good!

I've always had an affinity for kick-ass heroines. I think it's because they can do things I can't. Sure there are ramifications (since there wouldn't be conflict if there wasn't) but kick-ass heroine rarely step down from the challenge. I usually shy away, unless I'm caught between a rock and a hard place or have made a promise. Sure I've dealt with painful issues and overcome hurdles like my first full-length heroine, but I wouldn't say I'm the kick-ass type. But man, oh man, do I love to write them! I get to wisecrack, put men in their place and generally rack up a tally of butts kicked. Woohoo!

So here's my list of characteristics a Kick-ass Heroine should have:

1. She has a cute exterior but is hard as nails (and not just her abs).

(Elektra looks like the girl-next door, but she's trained to be lethal. Remember looks can be deceiving and you should play this up!)

2. She's got a soft spot inside which her gruff attitude protects.

Like Aeon Flux, there's got to be a connection with why the heroine is the way she is and why she's doing what she's doing. To provoke her all the hero has to do is tap into that weakness and he'll bypass her traps...atleast until they snap back in place.

3. She uses weapons like it's second nature.

(Whether it's a gun, knife or a hairdryer, your heroine better know how to use deadly force. In Eve's case, she's handy with just about anything. Can you say machete?)

4. She's got a take charge `tude!

(In order to stand up to the guys and any creature kick-ass heroines can't show fear, nor can they be kicked around. Like Jean Grey they should use their leverage to call the shots!)

5. She gives orders but rarely takes them.

(Queen Amidala handed out her share of decrees, but she knew when she couldn't walk the straight and narrow. [Can you say for the love of a bad boy?] Her spirit to say no led her to be the woman thousands looked up to.)

6. She rescues the hero, other or even herself without waiting for backup.

(She's an independent kind of gal who isn't a victim who waits for someone else to do the dirty work. In Underworld, Selene repeatedly had to put herself in harm's way against lycens/vamps to save her man.)

7. She makes the best of any sitch! (It could always be worse, any usually by THE END it is.)

(We've all seen the Matrix trilogy, but did you sit there and wonder how much more can Trinity take? But at every turn she dug down deep and did what she had to do.

Kick-ass heroines like her have to be quick on their feet and handy like MacGyver.)

My favorite version of Cinderella is Ever After with Drew Barrymore. I've seen it over 20 times! What makes it different is that Danielle isn't dainty. She takes action into her own hands. To top that off, she knows how to handle a sword! Her dad taught her well!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No wimps allowed

Kick ass heroines are a popular breed now days. But I've heard some editors and some readers lamenting the fact that these intrepid gals are so...well, blood thirsty.

Um, they may have a point. Our kick ass heroines don't have to off a bad guy or monster every other page (okay, that's an exaggeration but you know what I mean). And they don't have to shed all their femininity to be tough as nails. Think about it. Do we really want our heroines to be guys-in-drag? I don't and I suspect many readers don't. So I'm going to offer a slightly different definition of this character.

What we want is a woman who's ready to 'step up'; one who will take a stand. She might be a protector - a term generally reserved for our heroes - or she might be a crusader. She might be any number of things that aren't typically female.

She will fight fiercely and with a viciousness that can amaze or terrify but no one will ever mistake her for a guy-in-drag because she will always evince that core of femininity that makes all women special. Just like her male counterpart, she is prepared to sacrifice everything, including her own life, to protect what she cherishes or to attain a worthy goal.

A kick ass heroine might go down to the cellar, in the middle of a dark threatening thunderstorm, with a faulty flashlight in one hand...and a Glock in the other. But she won't do it out of morbid curiosity. No, she'll do it to make sure there are no threats hidden down there that could imperil those under her charge. She's tough, smart and loves a challenge.

She isn't foolhardy. She can calculate her odds of winning and weigh them against her goals. She isn't afraid to retreat if it's necessary. And she isn't afraid to show her softer, gentler side to those she loves and trusts. Though she might frequently wear black, a dominant but sexy color, she's just as likely to be seen in scarlet or white or burgundy. She's bold and courageous. Caring. Passionate. Independent.

She's today's woman. And she carries an invisible banner that says 'No Wimps Allowed'.

-- Lynda

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kickin' butt and takin' names

What could be more kick-ass than a cigar-chompin', hard drinkin', tough talkin' fighter pilot who can gamble away a week's pay and win it back with a smile, sweet talk the opposite sex and still blow the bad guys out of the sky without an ounce of remorse?

You remember him, don't you?

Oh, wait a minute - this week's topic is about heroines. Sorry.

Time to switch gears.

There. That's better. Same character. Different chromosomes.

When the producers of the new Battlestar Galactica decided to make Starbuck - the quintessential ladies man, lothario, a dreamy sigh in tight pants fighter pilot - into a woman, science fiction fans all over the universe gasped in horror.

How was that going to work? Could a woman really step into those knee high boots and pull off the swagger and bravado perfected by Dirk Benedict in the '70s?

Pfft. Piece of cake.

It's interesting to see how well the experiment worked. Who would have thought a woman could be as tough - oh, wait a minute - as tough? Have you seen Starbuck in action? She would chew Dirk's character up and spit him out. Let's amend that - who would have thought a woman could ten times tougher than a man??

Oh, well, just about any woman who ever lived. Let's face it, women in general kick ass. Don't we? As the saying goes, we can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. The new [and improved] Starbuck just proves that kick ass heroines are quite common in this and any other universe. I'm sure you know of one or two. Let's hear about them.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Kelley St. John

Kelley St. John’s experience as a senior writer at NASA fueled her interest in writing action-packed suspense, though she also pens steamy romances and quirky women’s fiction. Her list of awards and finals started stacking up way before she got the call. Now that she’s published she hasn’t stopped being noteworthy as evidenced by her Cameo Award, #16 spot on the Barnes and Noble Mass Market Bestseller List, National Reader’s Choice Awards (note that’s plural), and Beacon Award. That’s just for her published works!

I first met Kelley when I took her workshop “Extreme Pitch Makeover” through Carolina Romance Writers. She was a ball to have as a teacher and dispensed several pearls of wisdom to work with. I know I’ll never forget her compliments about how well I phrase a high concept! Karma brought us back together when I sold and she asked to add me to her list of authors who’d received “The Call”. We’ve met in person several times, but still burn up the net conversing by e-mail…usually when I want to pick her brain. I’ve been so proud to see her flourish in the romance market and make a name for herself! Warner Forever and Harlequin, you’ve got yourselves a keeper!

What is your favorite part about being a writer, or the process itself? On the flipside, what do you think is the most challenging part of being an author today?

My favorite part is the flexibility. I can write whenever the characters are ready to talk. Since many of them decide to carry on quite lengthy conversations at 2:00 a.m., it's a good thing I merely have to pad into the next room to work :)

If you could have any special perk at a booksigning, like a band’s list for backstage, what would it be?

A special perk? Hmm...I'd say a hero, or ten ;) My sexy Cajun is always nearby, but he's there for me :) For my readers, I'd love to offer the type of heroes that I base my books on. Let's see...Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp. Yeah, that'd be good for starters -- for the readers, you know :)

You’ve become infamous for your “getaway” contests, but do you secretly have a favorite locale you’ve visited?

Playa del Carmen -- hands down :)

Since I know you’re always dashing about for promotions, have there been any bloopers, travel and otherwise, you’d care to share?

Well, Delta did run over my luggage once...with another plane. Yeah, I was on my way home from a conference, and my luggage fell off the luggage cart near the terminal. Another plane was approaching and ran over it completely. My bag was smoking...literally. Delta made no haste in buying me a new set of luggage. Worked for me -- I needed a new set :)

When you were an unpublished author what gave you the determination to push onward, even after you’d finaled in a slew of contests? Did that inspire “The Call” section of your website?

It's simply that drive to succeed. I don't think I'm special or anything by having it; I think all writers have to have it in this business. It's sometime a long and lengthy process, which is not only about talent, but also about perseverance.

What prompted you to switch gears to Harlequin Blaze and how exactly did The Sexth Sense come to be?

That series of stories had been churning in my head for quite some time. When Brenda Chin called and asked me about writing for Blaze, I tossed the idea out, and she liked it. By the way, Brenda is a fabulous editor, and I also was thrilled at the chance to write for her.

You’ve garnered acclaim and awards since GOOD GIRLS DON’T hit shelves, but were you surprised by the success of KISS AND DWELL?

I was hopeful, and yes, pleasantly surprised :)

Can you tell us more about the next three books in The Sexth Sense series due out this summer? Exactly what kind of paranormal troubles will these sexy men, including Tristan have to face?

Tristan, the sexy firefighter hero of May's FIRE IN THE BLOOD, has to literally fight a ghost to save the woman he loves. Jenee, the youngest of the Vicknair lot, learns that the Vicknairs aren't the only Cajuns with paranormal secrets, when she gets hot and heated with a psychic in BED ON ARRIVAL. And then Nanette finally admits the feelings she'd hidden for so long (yes, feelings for Charles Roussel) in LIVE AND YEARN. The problem for Nanette? Charles isn't exactly in the land of the living anymore!

I see that Harlequin is also offering FIRE IN THE BLOOD as an e-book. Care to comment on this hot trend?

Brenda Chin answered this one -- "The sexy books all sell extremely well, both in print and also in e-books, and Harlequin is definitely staying on top of this tool for providing yet another opportunity for our readers to purchase these steamy stories."

I assume you’ll be at RWA Nationals in San Francisco, but is there anything else readers should know about your plans for the future?

I'll definitely be in San Francisco. I also have several book signings scheduled around the southeast. Stay tuned to the Events section of my site for details --

As a special treat Brenda Chin gave us a sneak peek at Kelley's 6th Sexth Sense novel, LIVE AND YEARN! Don't you just love it?

And as another special treat one winner will be chosen from visitors who post! So if you're interested in what makes Kelley or her characters tick, ask that burning question!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

When The Light Goes On

wow, time has gone so fast! It seems like just yesterday that I wrote my last post!

In a post not too far gone in the mists of time LOL, I wrote about having problems with a book. The saga continues. I have shelved a second book. Yes, a second! I shelved the first book as it was going nowhere, and then into chapter 1 of the next book - same problem!

OMG! What was wrong with me? I have never had this problem - ever! Sixteen books and short stories later, and NOW I have this problem?

Was my writing life over? Had I hit the wall and would never be able to write again?

I know, you're thinking I'm getting carried away, but I tell you I was panicking! For me to have never had writers block and then this to happen - I was panicking and I make no excuses. I WAS PANICKING!

Then it clicked. Right there. bang! I was trying to write one of my more serious, sometimes darker stories, but my heart wasn't in it. My mind wasn't set on it. My mind was all for something lighter. How did I discover that? When I decided to try one of my lighter titles. And it started flowing, the ideas came, I'm constantly thinking of it! Yes, the light went on. I wasn't in the mood for a darker story...I needed some lightness.

I wonder, sometimes, if that's what affects some writers who have problems writing sometimes? is it because we push ourselves to do a certain book or theme, when our heart may not be in it? Is it so wrong to admit that we need to turn our hands to something different, even, maybe, a different genre? Maybe at times we need to inject something different into our writing to spice it up and bring a breath of fresh air to it?

All I know is that it took awhile for the light to go on in my mind as to what my problem was. I know some of my readers will be pleased when they find out who I'm writing about...I've had requests for his story in the past LOL. I'm not saying much more here, not yet, but suffice it to say - things are back to normal on the writing front - at long last!

Angela *heaving a sigh of relief*

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buckling Down

After reading the title of Skylar's previous post, I just couldn't resist playing on the words. Because while she's going up and away, I'm buckling down in the bunker that writers call "revisions" and sometimes call "revision hell." Although to be honest, I think the oppressive claustrophobia of revision hell is a friggin' airplane hangar compared to the even more oppressive claustrophobia that is modern air travel today because at least in my revisions, I'm not presumed to be a criminal just for wanting to get on an airplane.

Now, I wish I could say that these revisions are the result of an editor's suggestions, or that they come with the potential promise of a contract and eventual release, but sadly, no. That's not (yet) the case, although I am ever hopeful of that happening. Alas, this is revision that I have to do to the WIP before I dare send it out for editorial eyes to see.

I'm sure all writers, aspiring or more experienced, have heard this--never send an editor less than your absolutely best work. However, I'm sure that other writers, like me, are tempted to confuse our best work with our most inspired work. But depending on your writing process, your best efforts can be awesome raw material for story, but leave something to be desired in the way of craft.

So my efforts here involve returning to a story I'd left for some time, and re-reading in an effort to see where the inspiration left the craft in the dust. My first pass usually ends up shoring up the beginning--what propels the characters forward into the story.

I've found that I tend to work my story revisions in chunks. Taking the first part of the story, then moving on to the next part, and the next part, and finally reaching the endgame...after which I'm compelled to go back and revise again the start of the story to fit more in line with the end. Making these revisions is time consuming and can be painful, but I end up with a much better story in the end--one that I'm much more comfortable showing an editor.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Up, Up and Away!

This past week I took my first plane ride. Let me tell you I was sweating it…but not because of being cooped up in that sardine can high up in the sky. Security had me quaking in my sneakers. I read all the facts, watched the videos and prayed I wouldn’t get pulled aside for my undergarments. Why? The list prohibits wearing almost any clothing, so there is merit to that TV ad where the woman walks through the scanner in her birthday suit. But I made it through unscathed, though a little flustered.

Then came the lolling for hours at the airport. Who knew people would fight over rocking chairs in the sun? And wouldn’t you know I never got the pleasure since there were never two together? Though I did get to people watch. A businessman wondered by with a medical boot, which made me wonder if he’d packed his other shoe. A little boy wandered by his red, Cars suitcase propped on top of his dad’s. And a barking dog broke through the chatter. Hmm…who knew lapdogs could be considered carry-on?

In the air things were peachy until we hit turbulence and bobbed around like a cork in choppy water. There was the scant serving of complimentary sodas and water with a bit of ice (though on the way back we got our own can!) Let me tell you, getting in and out of that bathroom was a hoot! The first thing I told my bf was, “I don’t see how people have sex in there.” Though I guess if you’re hot and bothered enough you could do it anywhere. Except for all those people watching you go up and down the aisle, while there judging whether they need to make the exodus too.

It’s hot in Arizona. Not like everyone didn’t know that, but I can now give first had experience from trudging in the heat in search of food. And I will say seeing the barren landscape took a little bit of getting used to since I’m used to green grass. I’m just glad all I got to see in the way of wildlife was a bunny, a pair of prairie dogs, a few lizards, and NO snakes! But it did make me think about world-building because of the variation.

Seeing what my peers wore to the Friday session of the insurance conference also reminded me to write that article on how to dress at such an event. Here I was stressing over a pair of dress capris, sandals and a collared women’s polo when half the field showed up in jeans! (Trust me, if I’d known that this Carolina girl would’ve dressed to that code, instead of switching up for the flight home.) But I was there to work, not to play…but it seems part of the 20 and 30 somethings had other plans.

I can’t count the number of time I told my bf this is nothing like a romance conference. But in one way I was glad. I’d finally gotten to experience that think called jet-lag I’d read about in umpteen Harlequin Presents. When I was supposed to be awake, I wanted to sleep and when I wanted to call home I had to could out the hours. And of course, just when I’d gotten about done with the change to MDT, it was time to head back to EST. So if you’re headed to the west coast for Nationals, take this advice:

Get there a day ahead if you can afford it. (Two if you’re usually semi-comatose from travel.)

Drink plenty of water! (The heat will sap it out of you faster that a mosquito zapper.)

Get rest before you go (Your body clock and the craziness of conference won’t offer much.)

Do know the time difference back home. (And call your mom even if you wake her up. Trust me, it’ll save you a tongue-lashing.)

Chew gum like it’s going out of style on the plane (Just remember not to smack it like Oprah hates.)

Check-in ahead of time if you can. (This will save you a long wait, especially if you don’t have to check your luggage.)

Check your bag if it’s huge! (Everyone will like you for not hitting them when you try to stuff it in to the overhead compartment, and for not holding up the boarding process.)

Never leave your bag unattended or who-knows-what could end up inside. (Thank you for that repetitive reminder Charlotte-Douglas and SkyHarbor!)

Never try to hoodwink security. (Especially when you’re running through the gate and don’t have ID or a boarding pass. Hmm…I wonder what happened to that girl?)

If you have an option other than black luggage use it. (Though having aqua can attract the TSA, but it saves time sorting through a turnstile full of matching suitcases!)

Remember where you parked your car. (Walking around the airport lots at night can be creepy. Thanks to Jenna’s vamps and Kelley’s spirits for giving me that shiver as I pondered the possibilities of attack. Thankfully I had a big, strong man to protect me.)


A late Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there on the net! I know my grandmother and mom’s best gift was getting me home safe and sound. Their hugs told me so.

-- Skylar

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The Lure of Bounty Hunters

Let me start by wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you have a good one.
In addition to playing with my Mother’s Day present [the Endless Ocean game for the Wii] I’ll be hopping around cyberspace talking about my newest release from Amber Heat which is available today!

Thieves in Paradise is part of Amber Quill’s Alien Nation Pax. It features the hero, Kol A’Kosu, an Antarean bounty hunter on the trail of human Selenite thief Charity Foster.

Antareans are an offshoot race evolved from human colonists who settled in the Antare system. Aside from being bigger and stronger than humans they’ve bred several traits into their warrior-like stock, including psychic visions and a dormant retrovirus designed to enhance mating. When a planet-wide pollen fall triggers Kol’s mating retrovirus, he discovers a much deeper connection with the woman who was assigned to capture.

Why a bounty hunter hero? I’ve always found the idea of bounty hunters fascinating. Though in real life I’m sure it’s not as glamorous a job as TV and movies [and books of course] might make it seem, but this is, after all, about fantasy. Charity Foster gets to live the fantasy of being pursued by a big, hot, dangerous man and finds herself not at all adverse to being his prisoner.

Here’s a short excerpt from Thieves in Paradise. To learn more, visit Amber Quill Press/Amber Heat and check out all the exciting stories in the Alien Nation Pax!

Thieves In Paradise by Bernadette Gardner
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-270-5 (Electronic)

[Adult excerpt!]

Kol’s body wanted to obey the female’s command, but his mind rebelled. She was a prisoner, enticing and more than willing, but a prisoner nevertheless. His cock protested painfully when he drew himself away from her. He wanted nothing more than to accept her invitation and push her to her knees on the deck.

Where her firm backside had been pressed against him a minute ago, his flesh burned, and the memory of his erotic vision clouded his mind’s eye. He’d seen himself fucking her, had practically felt the intoxicating heat of her sex enveloping his cock. His visions had never been wrong before.

She stood before him, dark lashes lowered over her tawny eyes, her hips thrust forward. “I need it,” she said. “I need it right now.”

He needed it, too. He felt it beneath his skin, the relentless desire crawling around, making him ache to tear his clothes off and hers as well. Each moment took him further away from reason and closer to destruction. If he gave in, he’d be lost.

He turned away and gripped the back of the nearest flight chair so hard that his nails indented the material. “You’ll do anything to escape, won’t you?”

The stunner he’d given her clattered to the floor, and he cursed silently for forgetting to disarm her before turning his back.

“Leave the cuffs on then,” she purred the words, but there was a desperate edge to her voice that mirrored the emotion roiling in his gut. “Tie me up again before you do it, just do it!”

The heat of her body warmed his back. She stood behind him now, close enough that if he turned around he’d knock her over.

“I want you.”

What man could be expected to resist this? Antarean’s prided themselves on their stoicism, their strength of character, but under all the posturing, they were after all still mostly human.
Kol took another deep breath, which did little to calm his lust. In fact, the breath of humid night air, laced with the ever-present scent of the infernal pollen, ignited something primal in him beyond his control.

He had her in his arms in an instant. She gasped when he pushed her bound hands above her head with one hand and thrust his other into the waistband of her flight pants. “Do you know what you’re asking me?”

She nodded between shuddering breaths and spread her legs for him.

Blinded by carnal thoughts, Kol accepted her invitation. In two steps he had her up against the nearest bulkhead, her bound hands draped around his neck to steady her. Ravenous, he pushed her flight pants down over her hips and together they struggled to get the mud-spattered material free of her long, slender legs. When she was naked from the waist down, he shoved her shirt up, exposing her taut-nippled breasts to his inspection.

Her moan of pleasure when he closed his hungry hands over the mounds of flesh drove him mad. He had no time for the games of love making, the gentle play or the tender kisses. He squeezed her nipples between rough fingers, pinching tender flesh while he ground his hips against her.
She arched back, eyes closed, and bit her lower lip.

“You like that?” he asked, not really caring what answer she gave. She merely nodded and hung from him, panting, while he shed his own pants.

“Spread wider,” he commanded when he’d freed his cock. Just like his vision, the rigid flesh lay dark against his palm, thick and hot. The scent of her arousal beckoned and he guided himself toward her.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Time to Write

I've been struggling with revisions to one of my favorite books (well, to be honest, whichever book I'm currently writing IS my favorite but that's another blog post). And struggling to find the time, and energy, to work on it due to mega hours of over time on the dreaded day job.

With the number of people losing their jobs, I suppose I have to be grateful that I'm working (and since my DH's hours have been cut back due to the economy, the extra money comes in handy). But having to go to bed before it's completely dark outside and getting up long before sunrise takes its toll on my creativity and on my ability to get the work done. Add to that, the time it takes to do normal living chores like housework (which I'd gladly give up if the Health Department wouldn't condemn my house, lol) or meal preparation (my DH would be hard pressed to boil water) or spending time with the DH or my 'girls' Wookie and Zuzu who demand some attention.

Still, I do try to spend some time every day writing. It just doesn't seem to be much time. And I think many writers have this same problem. Many of us have dreaded day jobs and family and pets and homes to keep up in addition to our writing. It's a chore and, for those who haven't been bitten by the writing bug, it would seem easy to just not write.

I can't do that. I have to write. When I don't, I get twitchy. My poor characters start feeling ignored. They complain or whine or demand attention just as surely as Wookie and Zuzu and my DH do.

I've tried staying up later to write but I find that I do need sleep after all. My efforts to write when I'm half comatose from lack of sleep are pretty much futile. I end up cutting as much as I've written. The result is for every hundred words written, about ten will remain. This is not progress, not really.

So I'm trying to cut back on other activities. Email is one. I've already gone no-mail on many of my lists (so if you try to contact me, do send an individual email not through a group).

I'm open to other suggestions if you have any.

Lynda, who is now heading off to work before she's late, lol

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Writing in an ever expanding universe

It often amazes me just how much space there is inside my head. [That didn't come out exactly right...] What I mean is - the universes I create to play in seem to be infinite, just like our own universe, even when all I can see at certain times is just a small part of the whole.

What am I talking about? I'm rambling as usual. This little monologue stems from a request from one of my publishers recently to expand a story I submitted. Granted, the story was short-not even a novella length, but in my mind it was complete. I had a love story, an adventure, a villain and a little hook at the end that I hoped might leave readers wishing to read more about these characters in the future.

All bases covered, right?

Well, my editor wanted more. She asked me to expand the story, give the hero a little more depth and consider a series based on the premise I'd introduced.

Yow! My first reaction, as always, was: OMG! More work! Sheesh. I never catch a break around here. I thought this story was done. It was so done I stuck a fork in it months ago when I first sent it out into the cold cruel world as a submission.

But it's not done. There's more to be told. In fact, I've opened a door on a whole new universe of characters and situations. I have deeper to dig, farther to fly and longer to walk.

Today I completed more than 3000 words on expanding the story, and I'm still not sure it's done. I could add more and probably will before I send it back to my editor and it occured to me how vast the universe of the imagination is. Our stories are truly never completely finished. There's always more to say, some forgotten nook or cranny to explore.

Hmm. And Roddenberry said space was the final frontier.

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keep on writing - musings....

Yeppers, that's right! Love's Winsome Warrior is being released next month, on the 1st of June, in ebook and trade paperback. But of course I'm excited, I'm always excited with every new release!

I think that's the thing with writing -at least for me. Even with 16 books and several short stories in anthologies, I still get excited with every contract that comes, and every new release.

It's not always easy writing. It can be frustrating, hard, nail-biting, as well as rewarding, easy and fun, depending on the mood of the writer (me) and the tone of the story. Many are the times I've wanted to kill off the characters because we're fighting (yet again) or the story just isn't flowing. And just as equally, many are the time I've laughed and felt sooooo good because it's all working so well!

But you know what keeps me going? It's several things.

1. My readers - knowing they love the stories and are waiting for the next installment (huge reward for me in terms of warm feelings and satisfaction of a job done well)

2. I genuinely do love my characters, both the good and the bad!

3. I love watching the worlds unfold and enlarge with each story.

4. Writing keeps me off the street and out of trouble. Well, off the street, anyway. The trouble part is debatable LOL

So no matter how hard it gets, I keep forging on. For me and for all of you.


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Monday, May 05, 2008

Guest - Kendra Leigh Castle

This week we've invited author Kendra Leigh Castle to visit Star-Crossed. I had the opportunity to read and review her new book, CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON (hope you'll read the review posted today :D) and gave it a recommended rating.

Kendra Leigh Castle, a Northern New York native, started out stealing her mother's novels and finally progressed to writing her own. She now lives in California with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets. Visit her at

In the haunting Scottish Highlands, one werewolf destined to be his clan's next Alpha decides to chance fate and run away to Upstate New York. Running into trouble and wounded in his wolf form, he never expects to find his soul mate so far from home. Can their love survive against impossible odds? Only the full moon will tell...


My taste in romance has always run to the paranormal, spanning everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (“I have crossed oceans of time to find you”) to The Princess Bride (“As you wish!”). So when I set out to write my debut novel, Call of the Highland Moon, my goal was to write a story that blended classic creatures of the night some of the magic and humor I’m drawn to. The only question, really, was what sort of creature my hero would be. Werewolf? Vampire? Flesh-eating zombie? Um, okay, maybe not that last one. Though I did once write a love scene while trying to ignore the fact that my husband was watching City of the Dead with the volume up really high. Anyway, fortunately for me, the choice was taken out of my hands when my hero showed up of his own accord in my somewhat overheated imagination. And even luckier, he bore a strong resemblance to some choice pictures of Gerard Butler, minus his shirt, that I may or may not have admired a few (hundred) times.

Shapeshifters have always fascinated me. I’m certainly not one to turn my nose up at vampires…they have their own dark, elegant appeal, to which I’ve never been immune. But the guy impatiently tapping his foot and looking at his watch in my mind’s eye was definitely not a vampire. What he was was a big, muscular, slightly shaggy Scotsman with a slashing scar across one eye, a man who carried himself with raw power and animal grace. A man who kept looking at me like, “Aren’t you going to get going on this sometime in the next millennium?” The sexy Scot, of course, turned out to be Gideon MacInnes, future Alpha of the MacInnes Pack. And as any writer will tell you, once a hero arrives and starts with the glaring and foot tapping, he tends not to leave until you’ve given him his story. As much fun as Gideon was to look at, the dirty looks finally wore me down, and I got to work.

The plot of Call of the Highland Moon, in the end, was all thanks to Gideon. Well, his last name, specifically. The MacInneses have a wonderful history, as all the Scottish clans do. This particular history, though, involves the Western Highlands, a remote coastal region that worked perfectly for the location of my pack’s estate. It also involves the Stone of Destiny, which was something I couldn’t resist investigating, and which turned out to be the center of the MacInnes Pack’s existence…and the gateway to a past they can’t possibly imagine. I added my own fantasy twist to a legendary relic, and the MacInnes Wolves, Guardians of the Stone, were born. Right on time, Carly Silver showed up with a romance novel in one hand and a takeout menu in the other, pointing at Gideon and all but begging to be his heroine, and the rest of the story of how Gideon and she find their happily ever after against seemingly insurmountable odds is, should you choose to open the book and accompany them on their journey, yours to enjoy.

Thanks to Lynda for inviting me to be a guest here today! I’ll be in to chat and answer questions, so please leave me a comment. Tomorrow I’ll randomly choose one commenter to receive a signed copy of Call of the Highland Moon, so if you like free stuff (this is me, raising my hand), I hope you say hello. Thanks for stopping by!


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by Kendra Leigh Castle
ISBN: 13 978-1-4022-1158-4
373 pages

I had the opportunity to review Ms Castle's book, CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON. What a pleasure to read! Just about everyone loves a good shapeshifter (me included :D) and Gideon MacInnes is a wonderful, sexy werewolf shapeshifter. He doesn't want to be the alpha of his clan, not yet, so he takes a vacation and ends up in the U.S. But, on the eve of his return to Scotland, he's savagely attacked by other werewolves. Barely surviving, he manages to make his way, following a sweet alluring scent, to the rear door of Carly Silver's bookstore. Carly, with a tender heart for all things four-legged, takes the injured animal home intending to adopt him as her own. If he lives. She isn't prepared to wake up beside a devastatingly handsome, and entirely naked man, the next morning.

At this point, one thinks one is going to read the same old, same old shapeshifter romance where the hero knows he's met his one true mate and fights his attraction to a mate who really isn't suitable. But there are enough twists and turns and big bad villains to make this story a real nail biter at times. Gideon is a remarkable hero with just enough sweetness of personality to make him as adorable as he is sexy. Carly is just as distinct with an overall inner strength that combats the standard female gentility of most heroines. And the villain? I won't reveal his identity but suffice it to say he's fairly typically villain-crazy with delusions of grandeur but his strings are pulled by at least two other individuals, one who dies and one who lives and who will be, I suspect, a prominent figure in future books.

All in all, I highly recommend CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

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