Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest - Rowena Cherry

This week's guest is the amazing Rowena Cherry who has an energy level many of us would envy. For those of you who aren't familiar with Rowena, here's a brief bio...

Heroines get more hero than they bargain for....

Rowena Cherry has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances).

She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh's yacht with royalty; been seranaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.


"In space, no one can hear you scream…" That was the byline for ALIENS

On the radio, no one can see your face…all the world can hear your chair creak, but they cannot see you. That can be a very good thing! I am an internet radio talk show host for two irregular shows.

Crazy Tuesday ( )
 is when I blog aloud with guests. It's unrehearsed, live reality radio, warts, bloopers, sniggers and the occasional admonition to guests to stop doing the washing up while the world listens.

The other shows are Cherry-Picking specials, so called because I cherry pick the best Sundays of the year from the Defenders Of Wildlife calendar. They are Bear Awareness, Sea Otter Awareness, Wolf Awareness, Manatee Awareness.

Why do I do a series of shows around animals? In my opinion, it is a great opportunity to show that Romance authors are intelligent, educated, responsible, caring people who think about more than the sort of scenes we're notorious for. With a bit of creativity, we can increase awareness of endangered animals and also promote ourselves and our novels in an entertaining and subtle manner.

On Sunday 28th September, I was scurrying around the internet, pulling the evening show together. The process is very much like a duck gliding across a lake. Above the waterline, everything looks serene.20Beneath the surface, webbed feet are churning.

Yesterday, I had six scheduled guests, including one reader who was going to help me co-host the show. Today four dropped out, but I found one stand-in.

"But, I don't know anything about sea otters…" one of them wailed by email.

"Go here!" I replied, having taken two seconds to google.

Pick a site from the list. Make a make a custom tinyurl of it so it's easy to quote on the radio) "

By the way, here's how to do a tinyurl:
"First go to Amazon (or an otter site, or youtube) highlight and copy the long url you want.
"Go to
"Paste your long url in the long rectangular box.
"Go to the Custom box (smaller) and type in the words you want to use to identify your url for example

Click the button to make things work. Your new url will automatically be on your clipboard. Open a doc and paste what's there. See! Open an email and paste...

"Next," I instructed, "choose four points/facts about otters that you REALLY want to share, and four more that you can share if someone else picks up on the same thing. (If they do.... you chime in with an "Oh, I loved that fact!" and discuss it with the friend who thinks the same way you do)."

Then I shared the three points that I wanted to discuss, and where I might digress into romance .

Otters are WEASEL FAMILY (scent glands)
HOW MUCH HAIR THEY HAVE (Hairy chested heroes discussion).
NO BLUBBER (hero/heroines who carry a little weight).

"We could," I suggested, "all, while we are on the air, go look at an otter image, and show how we each would describe it (competitive describing) to showcase our skills as authors. We can also brainstorm what it would be like to be a human trapped in an otter's body. (Shapeshifting/being cursed 101), and of course, discuss our pet peeves about environmental bad behavior."

If you would like to see how we got along, visit and look for my name. Rowena Cherry

By the way:
On Tuesday October 7th from 10.00 am Eastern Time until noon, Author Marketing Expert Penny Sansevieri and her web designer will share professional promo tips and also analyze what is wrong with Rowena's website on my Crazy Tuesday radio show.

Rowena Cherry

Interactive family tree:
Chat with Rowena on

Knight's Fork is a futuristic romance which combines a traditional quest story (loosely based on the Greek hero Perseus) with a taboo romance around the issue of genetics and the royal need to breed.

It's "Helen of Troy" with morals.

A Princess from a "superior" race was married to an alien Prince as living proof of a political alliance. At the time of the marriage/peace treaty no one thought that the Prince would become King of his people, and that an heir would be necessary. The union is star-crossed. After many fruitless years, the Queen (as she now is) realizes that her only hope of keeping the peace is to find a sperm donor from her own race who has the same eye color as her alien mate's, whom she can trust, and who is not too closely related to her.

When he says "No!" the stakes are too high for her to give up.

Rhett is an ambassador and a knight who has taken vows of chastity and purity. Everyone believes that he is "too good to be true" and that he must have a sordid secret, a chink in his moral armor. His own world gets too hot, so he jumps at the chance to go on a year-long quest to uncover or else lay to rest a buried skeleton in the family closet. Little does he know that there is a stowaway aboard.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008


By Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 13-978-1-4022-1400-4
October, 2008

Tthheeyy’rree back! The entire gang -- Jazz, Nick, Krebs, Irma and Fluff and Puff and they’re joined by some new and interesting friends.

But this time Fluff and Puff are in real trouble. They’ve been accused of eating a were weasel and Jazz is determined to prove their innocence...even though one of the mischievous slippers hacks up very incriminating evidence in front of his accuser. And that’s not all. Jazz, Nick, Krebs and even Irma are having nightmares that Jazz first blames on spicy Thai food but it soon becomes apparent food isn’t the culprit. The question is who is behind the terrifying nightmares? And are they also to blame for framing Fluff and Puff for murder?

HEX APPEAL, Ms Wisdom’s newest witchy tale, is just as sassy and fast moving as 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER. Jazz is still the ‘shop-a-holic’ witch with a penchant for buying sweet bakery scented body lotions. Nick is still, yum, Nick - the vampire you love to love. Krebs is still a cutie and Irma... well, Irma is still irascible but I think she’s starting to mellow a bit. But in addition to this great crew, we now have a new pair of stiletto heels, Croc and Delilah, who can change color to match whatever outfit Jazz is wearing and who are, ahem, just a bit of sluts but they’re lovable sluts.

HEX APPEAL is simply one great read, filled with sensuous characters, laughs, and a bit of wild adventure. If you loved 50 Ways, I know you’ll love this book. In fact, I’m so confident that I’m offering a give away of HEX APPEAL. Here’s how you can get your free copy:

Email me at LyndaK.Scott @ (yes, there is a period after the K in my name but there aren’t any spaces) and put HEX APPEAL DRAWING in the subject line. I’ll put your name into a drawing at the end of the week. Then I’ll let my fluffy buddy, Wookie, select the winner.

But wait! Here’s an even better deal!! If you join my newsgroup by Friday, your name will automatically be entered in a drawing for BOTH 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER and HEX APPEAL. Each member of my newsgroup will be eligible to win simply by being in the group. Again, I’ll have Wookie pick the winner at the end of the week. She so loves to play with pieces of paper... especially if I want them back! LOL

To join my newsgroup, send a blank email to:

-- Lynda

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Time traveling

Since my newest release doesn't exactly fall under the categories covered in this blog, how about if I call it a bit of time travel?

Anyone who is familair with my work knows I'm a die hard science-fiction, fantasy and paranormal fan, but you may not know is one of the very first stories I began working on when I started writing for publication was historical romance.

That story, called The Baron's Bride, never made it out of my own private slush pile, but since then, at the back of my mind, I've had a few historical romances floating around, waiting to work their way past the space ships and shapeshifters that populate my forebrain.

This summer I time traveled. I ended up in the early 18th Century on a pirate ship in the Indian Ocean, and there my imagination went a little wild. Here's the first of the two stories I wrote before I came back to the future.

A Rogue's Reward
by Jennifer Colgan
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-364-1 (Electronic)

In 1708, kidnapped and ransomed by the legendary lady pirate, Captain Fallon Robard, Sheppard York finds his only salvation in the kindness of the captain’s beautiful young ward, Rhea Galant. But when negotiations with Sheppard’s wealthy father go sour, Captain Fallon plans to exile him to a deserted island where he will have to fend for himself and face possible death.

After weeks of tending her captain’s handsome prisoner, however, Rhea discovers she can’t bear to part with him, let alone see him abandoned, and plots to help him escape.
What will be her reward for abandoning her shipmates for love?

EXCERPT: [My heroine, Rhea, has offered to shave the hero, Sheppard, who has been held captive in the hold of the Gabrielle for several days.]

He mumbled something incoherent, and she grinned, then brandished the razor. “I’m going to enjoy this.”

He rolled his eyes, but she noticed his muscles relax. He trusted her just enough to permit her to place the blade against his skin.

For a time, the only sound in the cell was the rhythmic scrape of the razor over his flesh. She worked carefully, less fearful of accidentally nicking him than of missing a spot. She tilted his head and skimmed the finer hairs below his ears, then, with precise movements, denuded his upper lip.

He sighed when she dropped the razor into the bowl.

“There. You’ve survived.”

“Yes.” He lifted his hands and rubbed his chin, smearing a bit of lather that remained. “It feels good.”

“And it looks good, too.” It did. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed his face since the stubble had taken over. She dabbed at his naked jaw, searching for minute cuts, but there were none.

“Where did you learn to shave a man?”

“In this room, milord. Sheppard.”

His brows knit, then shot up. “You’ve never…before?”


He clutched his chest. “I’m glad you didn’t tell me that before you began.”

Rhea tipped his chin up and examined her handiwork. “I’m quite good. I believe you’re better looking now than when you came to us.”

He snatched the cloth from her hand and wiped all the remnants of foam from his face and neck. “I wasn’t aware I could get any better looking.”

She laughed. “I’ll bring you a mirror to admire yourself later. If you’d like your hair trimmed, I can do that tomorrow.” Without thinking, she ran her fingers through the silky waves of it, judging the length, imagining how it might look a little longer or shorter. He glanced up, those piercing eyes following her movements, all trace of humor gone from his expression.

The skin of his chest rose to gooseflesh, and she swore he shivered a bit when she trailed her exploring fingers down the side of his face. Lost in his gaze, Rhea stopped thinking. She saw only his face, earnest and still wet from her ministrations, and some unseen force seemed to draw her toward him.

Her lips touched his so briefly she might have denied it happened at all, except he pressed forward, increasing the pressure. Unbidden, she opened her mouth, and his tongue rushed inside to sweep over hers. He tasted salty, with a hint of the breadfruit he’d eaten for breakfast. His scent enveloped her—sweet tallow lather, honey and man.

He delved deeper, and she let him. She put her hands on the now-smooth sides of his throat and held him there. The faint rattle of the chain accompanied his movement as he lifted his wrists and placed one palm flat against her chest. Though her tunic covered her, the very tips of his fingers met naked flesh above her collar, and the heat of that touch seared her. Something inside her seemed to melt, and molten liquid trickled through her to pool in the same spot that had been hot and damp each morning when she awoke from dreams of him.

Rhea gasped and broke the kiss.

Sheppard stared at her. York. Lord York. He didn’t smile or comment. He merely licked his lips and let his hands drop back into his lap.

“You kissed me,” he said, as if she might not have realized what she’d done.

“And you kissed back.”

Silenced stretched between them until Rhea found the courage to speak again. “I’m finished here. I have other duties.”

He cleared his throat, and the moment faded away. He cast around for his shirt and clenched his fingers in the material. “Can I put this back on?”

She nodded, unable to keep from glancing at his chest. His brown nipples had hardened, just as hers had beneath her tunic. Below the buckle of his belt…

* * *
For more information about A Rogue's Reward, visit Amber Heat!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thirteen Things I Know About Writing

Okay, since I missed last week, I had to shuffle around and my list has changed a bit.

1. While you don't absolutely, die-hard need it, having power helps, because you can use electronic devices, and also you write better when you're not distracted by the sure knowledge that everything in your fridge is slowly going bad and will inevitably lead to the need to clean your fridge inside, out, top, and bottom.

2. (Here's where the real list starts) What makes you a writer does not make you an author. Writers write. Good, bad, purple, grammatically incorrect, deathless prose or ad copy, writers write. Authors submit, publish, sell, and promote. You cannot be an author without first being a writer, and you cannot stay an author without going back to being a writer.

3. There will always be somebody better than you. S/he'll be luckier/more clever/get a better deal/write faster, submit your great idea first/find just the right word more often/win more contests or contracts/and climb higher on the charts than you. Deal with it and don't write for her or him.

4. Writing is not a spectator sport. Writing isn't something that happens to you. It is something you do, and you must treat it like something to be done and not something done to you.

5. Consequently, like anything else you do, you will need to learn how to do it if you want to do it well or safely. If you want to continue doing, you must continue learning.

6. Story is Character, except when it's not. Sometimes Story is Plot, but never forget that Plot happens to Character to bring about changes. Story is rarely ever just words or the way you string 'em together.

7. Story is Not You. Very rarely does any sane reviewer or reader loathe the author even if they loathe the story. If you take it personally, you will spend more time bandaging up your bruised ego than nurturing your fertile imagination.

8. Understand that the nature of the beast means you can't help but take it personally. Make time to grieve and develop coping skills--healthy coping skills that don't include internet tantrums--for when you inevitably run up against someone who did not like your story.

9. Feed Your Head. Rome wasn't built in a vacuum, and neither are good stories. Stories--all stories--speak to the human experience and the human condition at their heart. You can't speak to the human condition if you aren't living it.

10. Embrace the Concept of Revision. Revision is not evil, and there is no shame in understanding that your work can only improve with a critical eye and an editing pencil. Put your inner diva away and welcome that editor with open arms.

11. Become Adept at Pseudo-Schizophrenia. There are certain important times when that editor from #10 above will need to be stuffed in the closet, bound and gagged and rendered unconscious for good measure while the creative part of you plays. You have to find ways of doing this without costly psychiatric treatment, psychotropic drugs, or shock therapy. Manage the different parts of yourself and make sure, for Pete's sake, that the right part is working at the right time.

12. Writing Isn't Everything. You do have to take time off, even when writing is both productive employment and guilty pleasure. Accept this, plan for it, and let the guilt go, or else spend half your time dodging the warning signs of major burnout. There are writers who don't take breaks and don't let it go, and most of them seem to have cycles where burnout strikes on a semi-regular basis. Personally, I can't see how the rest of my life wouldn't explode into toxic goop if I let that become part of my routine.

13. Accept that some days, the writing won't come. Not to say give up at the first sign of challenge, but there are just some days where life intrudes and you'll find more productivity in letting go of the guilt and putting the writing on hold for a few hours or days in order to set other things straight. And you'll be happier and more eager to get back to it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

13 Things I know About Writing By A Silken Thread

Since I have a release today, I'm going to combine my release day with this week's theme.

1. Your first book your write isn't necessarily the one you sell. - I wrote this one in 1993 when I had no clue what I was doing. I put it in a drawer until 2004 when I pulled it out and started overhauling it - majorly. It's much, much improved.

2. Your spouse/S.O. can be your biggest cheerleader or greatest obstacle. - I'm very, very lucky. My husband is the greatest cheerleader in the world when it comes to my books. He encouraged me, pushed me, and bought me a really cool present when I finished the book.

3. A great idea doesn't a best-seller make. - It also takes plotting, character depth, action, dialogue and heart. (I'm still waiting to hit the perfect combo for best-seller status. sigh)

4. Waiting for the right publisher to come along is a good thing - This book had orginally sold to another pub who went bust. It took a while for it to come back from the netherworld of bankruptcy court and see the light of day. I'm so thankful Samhain picked it up. It's been a very long road.

5. Why did I write that? - This is the question I asked myself a few times as I'm reading over edits and realize the stupid typos and misusage that got by me on several read-throughs. Oy!

6. Characters can and do talk to me. - As a matter of fact this is the book where a very minor character mentioned who had great impact on the heroine's life stepped into the shower with me to tell his story. I have yet to write it, but it is outlined and ready to go.

7. Don't be afraid to have your heroes cry. - It doesn't make them weak. It makes them human. If the situation warrents it, misty eyes and tight throat can be very sexy. It shows they have a heart.

8. Don't be afraid to let your heroines keep some secrets or turn away from a confrontation rather than being kick-ass at all times. - It's all right for women to show strength by not fighting back. Shoulders back and stiff spine can be a sign of great dignity in a heartbreaking situation.

9. No matter how tricky the premise or plot, you can write your way out of that paper bag, eventually. - This is probably the hardest plot I've had to date - other than the ghost story I'm currently writing. The fact it was my first book and rather ambitious notwithstanding. That's why it took me so long - nine years - to figure out what I did wrong and then make it work.

10. Behold the power of the rewrite! - I don't think I really need to explain this one. If you've read my rambling so far, you know what I mean.

11. Don't be afraid to kill off characters. - Sometimes, it's just got to happen in suspense. But think of all the sequels you can get from it. *rubs hands together greedily*

12. Don't be afraid to make up cities and towns. - This is where I first found the joy in setting a contemporary story in a fictious town. It frees you up so much when you're in control of not only the way the town is laid out, but the local government.

13. Do your research - I read for years about NDE's and interviewed police about procedures and other aspects of their job. But I'm a backward researcher. I write the book, make things the way I think they should be, then know exactly what questions I need to ask the interviewee later. It's a much more concise and targeted bit of research.

And now a little blurbage:

The line between life and death is as elusive as a silken thread.

Two women…linked by one deadly memory.

On an ice-encrusted road in New Jersey, Tara Johanan loses control of her car and drives off an embankment. At the same moment in Palmetto Springs, Florida, in an unwitnessed attack, Charlotte Durand is shot in the head and left for dead.

Both women die. Both return. But near-death experiences are not always straightforward. Tara woke up with the voice and memories of a comatose woman in her head. And she can remember a shooting she never witnessed.

Telling the family a loved one is the victim of a violent crime is the worst part of the job for Detective Marcus Danforth. When his stepsister is the victim, and the loved ones his family and best friend, it’s crippling. He’ll do anything to uncover the mystery of Charlotte’s shooting.

Believing the story of a beautiful accident victim may be too much for him—even in the face of overwhelming desire. Even as the shadows of death grow darker.

By A Silken Thread by MK Mancos, Available Now from Samhain Publishing

13 Things I've Learned About Writing

1. Neatness counts – sloppy formatting and creative spelling don’t endear you to editors or publishers

2. Commas ARE arbitrary. Wait – don’t freak out. Where one publisher insists there should be a comma, another will insist there shouldn’t be. Everyone has style sheets to back up their decisions, so use comma(n) sense and be consistent.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t go to bat over a small change suggested by an editor, save your arguments for the big changes. Campaigning to keep a passive verb or a set of ellipses won’t endear you to your publisher.

4. The story is what’s important. All the creative phrases in the world won’t save a boring story. Make it all about the tale you’re telling, not the words you use to tell it.

5. Write it first. Worry about promo, book trailers, and tweaking your website AFTER you’ve finished and submitted your manuscript, not before.

6. Read it out loud. What looks good on paper doesn’t always sound good. Do your words flow easily?

7. Submit and move on. Once a manuscript leaves your hands, don’t obsess over it. It’s gone and you should be writing something new.

8. Rejections are necessary. Don’t fret over them. Everyone gets them and they’re not personal.

9. One contract doesn’t necessarily beget another. Selling a story isn’t the key to instant success – in fact there’s really no such thing as instant success. Even people who appear to be overnight sensations worked long and hard for that ‘overnight’ to happen.

10. Don’t throw down with anyone – public arguments with readers, publishers, editors, or reviewers are bad form with a capital B. You won’t regret taking the high road when someone shreds your work.

11. Look for objective critiques. Friends and family may stroke your ego. You need someone who can tell it to you like it is.

12. Be strong. This is a tough business, expect snafus, deal with them and move on.

13. Remember why you started writing. If it’s because you love it, don’t ever give up. If it’s because you wanted to make a buck, you’re in the wrong business.

Monday, September 22, 2008

13 Things I Learned About Writing

Ooohhh - thought provoking and headache inducing ROTFLMAO!!!

here goes...

1. Writing that million dollar best seller doesn't happen overnight. Five years later, I'm still trying.

2. Many writers, whether they write for the small or big publishers, still have to work for a living as well. Yes, writing is work as well as pleasure, but writing for a living is something we all strive for. Some get there, some don't, but the journey is still awesome.

3. Even writers, no matter how dedicated, need a break. I learned to be kind to myself and have a day off now and again where I could just read and veg out.

4. Cats like to help you type. They also like to lie across the laptop because it's warm.

5. Music inspires me. So does the shower when I'm stuck on a scene, or a drive in the car with the music on. Don't ask me why, but it works for me.

6. Writing is solitary - for me, anyway. I write alone with my music and cats. Having people around when I'm writing distracts me and makes me self conscious. I have my little room and squirrel myself away in there.

7. I've learned not to brush off compliments. I write to give pleasure, and if people find pleasure in my writing and give me a compliment, I accept it. If they can give it, I can accept it. (and deep down, it makes me feel so good)

8. My fantasy worlds help balance the reality of life. I live my fantasy worlds when I'm writing, and hey! I enjoy it! Then when I finish I face reality. Nothing wrong in loving my fantasy.

9. I've made great friends on the internet, both readers and other authors. The internet has opened up a whole new world, and if it wasn't for my writing and love of reading, I'd never have found those wonderful people and new worlds.

10. True friends understand when I disappear from view while writing and working. We catch up when we can and have fun. A little fun is important in life. Equally important is don't forget your friends and family - they're a part of your life.

11. Writing can flow, or it can stick. Keep pushing onwards. Have a break if need be, but always come back.

12. Everyone has their opinions on stories, good and bad. Take the good with gratitude, and the bad ... well, take it, like it, lump it, or leave it, but don't dwell on it. Life is too short, and everyone is entitled to say what they think, as long as it's not mean or hurtful.

13. Obvious plot flaws in movies and films become glaringly obvious *sheepish grin*. That's what plotting your own books does for you!

14. okay, I know there's no 14 in this list, but hey, I'm too far away for anyone to smack me! So here goes - PERSEVERE, SMILE, SOLDIER ON AND KEEP WRITING AND READING!


13 Things I've learned from no particular order

1. The worst line you’ve ever written is better than the one you didn’t write at all.
This is a quote (though it may not be exact and I don’t remember who said it – the Fabulous Nora, I think but I’m not sure) and I’m forced to agree with it. Due to pressures from the day job, I’m left with very little spare time which often leaves me whining that I just don’t have time. Ahem. Can we spell ‘cop out’? Yeah, it’s time I got off that wagon.

2. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Mark Twain
Okay, so this is another quote (at least I remember who to attribute it to, LOL). But it’s so true and it’s the reason a lot of us glare hopelessly at our computer screens as we try to haul that ‘right word’ up out of our sub-conscious.

3. The key to writing is discipline
I suppose this goes hand in hand with #1. You have to be disciplined enough to park your derriere in front of the computer so you can write. I’ve been doing 15 minute writing intervals just to keep writing. It’s not much but it’s a lot more than nothing.

4. Good plots can come from iffy ideas
Some of the most interesting stories I’ve written have started out as half baked ideas. One book was a collection of everything I could toss into it (the book was actually a ‘in your face’ retaliation for a string of endless rejections I had on another book that was actually very good. The funny thing is…once I got going, the characters took over and we all ended up with a very interesting plot.

5. Everyone thinks they could be a writer
This is so true. I have co-workers who think they can write…or that think their story ideas are so good, that I should be willing to write them. Ahem. I also have had doctors and teachers express the wish to write. I always encourage them to go ahead but mostly they don’t and it remains a dream.

6. The same idea does not equal the same plot
Two writers can have the same basic idea for a story but when they write it, they’ll end up with very different tales. I actually proved this out in a basic writing class I was teaching when I gave the class of 20 students the ‘idea’ and told them to plot out a story. While some elements were similar, the end result was 20 unique plots.

7. Writing can vent frustrations
Sometimes I feel like Bruce Banner, of Incredible Hulk fame, and think I ought to give out the warning ‘Don’t make me angry. I’m a writer. You won’t like me when I’m angry.’ Of course, I don’t warn anyone, I just go ahead and make them into a sniveling, weasely, no-good bum who would be entirely recognizable IF…I left it there. Since I’m no into being sued, I go back and change physical descriptions and mannerisms so that the character is not recognizable. But, for that little time when they are, I feel GOOD :D

8. Editors can be wrong
Most often we writers feel that editors are always right. And most times they are (especially if they’re offering or have bought your mss). But occasionally, they’ll reject that mss and they’ll sometimes give a reason or two for their rejection. We writers will take those reasons to heart and rend and tear our mss up trying to correct the problem…when there may not have been a problem there at all. Accepting or rejection a mss is purely based on subjective opinions. Be sure you agree with the reasons for the rejection before you start ripping your mss up.

9. There is no substitute for good grammar
You’re writing to communicate. If your grammar is poor, you won’t be able to communicate effectively. Period.

10. There is no substitute for good spelling
There is a difference between their, they’re and there. There is a difference between than and then. Learn the language. Don’t rely on a spell checker.

11. Cats do not like to be ignored (while you’re writing)
At least my cat doesn’t like to be ignored and she perceives me to be ignoring her while I’m writing (any time I’m not petting or coo’ing at her is ignoring her to her way of thinking). So she’ll either a) pet my leg and utter a plaintive meow or b) eye the most breakable object in which and stretch those long legs and dexterous paws until she can reach it with the intent of yanking it off the table. I, of course, know her nefarious schemes so I generally stop her before something is broken. But sometimes….

12. The more intricate the scene, the greater the chance that your child/husband will need to talk to you right now
It never fails. The minute I’m totally immersed in what I’m writing due to its complexity or depth of emotion, some member of my family (besides the cat) will stroll into my office, sit down and start chatting. They totally break my concentration and they do it with no malice aforethought. They. Just. Don’t. Realize. How freaking hard it is to get into the right frame of mind to craft the difficult scenes. Luckily, murder is against the law but #7 above is legal and, in this case, you don’t have to disguise the characters too much…bwah ha ha ha ha ha

13. No matter how ‘smart, pretty or successful’ you are, there will always be someone who is smarter, prettier, more successful and you will hate them passionately. That’s the downside of human nature.
But you’ll get over it. We all do. Jealousy is a sneaky little bastard but we’re the masters here. We can control it. That isn’t to say that we don’t let it run rampant for a few minutes (especially if we’ve just received a rejection or a bad review) but if we let it set up house, well, it will suck the life out of our writing and ourselves. What we need to keep in mind is that there are other writers out there who look at us and ‘hate us passionately’ for being where they haven’t quite made it.
The upside of human nature is that we can extend our hands to them with an offer to help them catch up to us by teaching them some of the lessons that we’ve learned along the way. It’s a form of payback because, unless you’ve lived in a bubble, someone at sometime offered you a hand. Writers do that. Romance writers do it more often than any other group.
So hold your head up with pride as you say I’m an author. Be true to yourself and your abilities and take joy in your writing.

-- Lynda

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The winner of HELL'S BELLES is....

Wookie, my fluffy buddy, loves to play with paper so when I wrote the names of the commmentors onto scraps, her green eyes lit up like lanterns. She knew what I was going to ask her to do....of course, then I had to chase her down to get the name of the lucky winner (I think Wookie would like to have her own copy of the book but, ahem, I've seen what she does to paper so we will not let her have a copy :D ) With no further delay, the winner is Sandy!

Sandy congrats! You're the winner of Jackie's HELL'S BELLES.

Please email me at so we can arrange for deliver of your prize.

Thanks to Jackie for guesting with us and thanks to you all for stopping by to comment.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Jennifer Estep

By night, Jennifer Estep prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next super idea. No wonder her Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillians, as well as smart and sassy gals on the hunt for love.

During the day, Jennifer is an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper. She’s also a certifiable fangirl and an authority on fantasy literature and culture.

KARMA GIRL, HOT MAMA & JINX have been featured in Cosmo, Entertainment Weeky, Southern Living (since Jennifer’s a Southern gal) and other publications! Where does Jennifer go to check out her hard publicity work? The library! Her love of literature transferred into the dream of being published, and along the way Jennifer found that journalism was a real world way to write for a living. Now, after many years of toil, Jennifer has finally achieved her dream of being a bona fide published, fiction author. What’s next? She’s going to keep on writing, dreaming, making up stories in her head…and getting herself into trouble!

Though I also think libraries are one of the greatest inventions ever, I ran into Jennifer at Moonlight & Magnolias in Georgia. In a storyboarding collage workshop, I saw a lady stroll by. She stopped and said she liked my efforts. I thought, “Where do I know her from?” After class I rushed back upstairs, with the kernel of an idea, and ripped open my suitcase. I flipped to the back of KARMA GIRL, and eeked, “Oh my gosh!” I’d just met one of the author’s I’d wanted to run into, and been such a dweeb! Needless to say, I think I redeemed myself at the booksigning.

The first time I saw KARMA GIRL’s book jacket blurb and cover I knew I had to get the book. Eventhough I rarely buy trade paperbacks. Not only was it about comic book type superheroes, but it also had a quirky set-up that seemed so similar to my own style. Yay! It was another kernel of hope for me and so many others who don’t write inside the box. I’ve read about Jennifer’s struggle to get published, and was renewed with hope. All I can say is thank you Jennifer for having such tenacity. To Berkley I’ll give a shout out for taking a big time chance! I think I speak for all Jennifer’s readers when I say, “We haven’t been disappointed. Bring on more biff, bam and pows!”

I love your Just the Facts, Ma’am and Stats columns. Can you give us some insight into you or your world of Bigtime?

Well, I’ve always loved to read. My mom used to take me to the library every Saturday so I could check out new books for the week.

I like fun, action-adventure and fantasy stories the best, whether it’s books or television shows or movies that I’m watching. When I was in college, I realized that I could write my own fun, sexy fantasy books – and tell the stories I wanted to tell. That’s when the writing bug bit me. It took me a while to find my writing groove, but I did, and eventually the Bigtime series was born.

From the press, I’ve learned you’ve been a journalist since college. Was that the spark that birthed KARMA GIRL and your Bigtime series?

Partially. They always say to write what you know, and, well, I know journalism. Which is why I always wondered why Lois Lane never figures out that Clark Kent is Superman. Glasses are not a great disguise, and Lois is supposed to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. And it’s not just Lois Lane. Lots of superhero wives/girlfriends/love interests just never seem to realize their boyfriends, etc. are really superheroes.

So one day, I started thinking about what would happen if a reporter discovered her fiancĂ© was cheating on her – and that he was a superhero to boot. What would she do? Why expose his secret identity to the world, of course! That “what-if” idea took off from there and eventually blossomed into the zany world of Bigtime.

Since your series has superheroes galore, can you tell us who’s your favorite superhero? If you could meet one up close and personal who would he/she be?

Karma Girl (aka Carmen Cole) was the first superhero that I wrote about. She starred in my first published book, so she’ll always have a special place in my heart. But outside of my own Bigtime world, my favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. I’d love to meet her – and convince her to let me try on her super-cool tiara.

Where and when did your break into the “big time” with Berkley seem real? Can you give us a glimpse into your first social occasion as a published author?

I think the first time it felt real to me was when my publisher mailed me the first finished copy of Karma Girl. I just stood there in my kitchen for a few minutes, holding it in my hands and staring at it. Finally, finally, after all those years of writing and all those manuscripts and all those rejection letters, I finally had a copy of my book in my hand. It truly was a dream-come-true moment – one I’ll always remember and cherish.

My first book signing was at my local library. Members of the library’s friends group brought food, and most of them bought copies of my book too. They were really supportive and wonderful and enthusiastic. It was a great first book signing and a very lovely time. One that I’ll always remember.

If you could build your own team of heroes or villains to command on your every whim, who would you choose from Bigtime’s population?

Well, if I could just pick three heroes, I’d settle on Karma Girl (because she’s an empath who can tap into anyone’s power); Fiera (because she’s super-strong and can control fire); and Swifte (because he’s super-fast). Between the three of them, I think they could handle just about anything!

Just as superheroes struggle to maintain a balance between real life and a superheroic existence, how do you battle the wear of donning two hats? What was your biggest hurdle to gaining your bonafide success?

Well, I still have a day job so the biggest hurdle for me is just making time to write and do all the other author-related things that need doing (mailing out promo packets, designing bookmarks, setting up signings, etc). But I’ve come up with my own system to handle it.

When I’m writing my first initial rough draft, I almost exclusively focus on doing that after work and on the weekends. Then, when that’s done, when I’ve at least got the initial story on paper, I can slow down my pace a bit, catch up on anything I put off, and do all the other things I mentioned before while still writing/revising/editing a little each day. So far, it’s worked well for me.

The September release of JINX marks a milestone for you. Do you have any plans to celebrate or other events we should know about looming in the foreseeable future?

I’m just going to take time to remember that each book is a wonderful, special achievement and hope that readers like Jinx even more than they did Karma Girl and Hot Mama. Fingers crossed on that one!

As for the future, I’m working on a new urban fantasy series. It’s called the Elemental Assassin series and focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin who can control the elements of ice and stone when she’s not busy running her barbecue restaurant, the Pork Pit. It’s a little darker than my Bigtime books, but still a fun, sexy, action-packed fantasy. It’s also got a definite Southern vibe. The first book is tentatively titled Gin on the Rocks.

And as always, folks can get updates on me at my Web site,, or e-mail me anytime at Thanks for having me on the blog today, and happy reading, everyone!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Catching up with a new release

I've been a bit lax in my promo efforts lately, so I thought I'd try to catch up a bit. My latest release from Ellora's Cave debuted in August. Here's the blurb...

Rogue Heart By Bernadette Gardner

A Chi-series-enhanced human, Onika can seduce any man, but the fatal flaw in her biological programming is that she falls in love with her targets. When Zed, the enigmatic scientist who created her, wants to see her, she chances a reunion, determined to convince him to change her biological programming and free her from her enslavement to chemical lust.When she finds Zed has been brutally murdered, she feels relief and terror. No one can save her now, least of all Aidan Fynn, the attorney assigned by Central Command to represent her. Given into Fynn's mercurial care, Onika faces the greatest challenge of her life to not fall hopelessly in love and lust with the former soldier once he learns the only way to gain her trust is to take her to his bed.


For a racy excerpt, click here


To find out more, or to order Rogue Heart, visit Ellora's Cave!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Guest - Jackie Kessler

Good morning everyone! This week's guest is Jackie Kessler, who will be discussing characters with us. Jackie is the author of the Hell on Earth series, which is about a succubus who runs away from Hell, hides on Earth as an exotic dancer, and learns the hard way about true love. Jackie is also the coauthor, with Caitlin Kittredge, of the upcoming superhero novel BLACK & WHITE (Bantam, summer 2009).

Oh! And Jackie is giving away a copy of HELL'S BELLES to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment to her post by Friday night. I'll put all the names into a box and let my Wookie Baby pick the winner (she's very good at that :D) So check back on Saturday for the announcement!


It’s Getting Them To Shut Up That’s the Trick

Characters. Give them an inch, and next thing you know, they think they’re in control of your freaking book.

The first two books in the Hell on Earth series were all about Jezebel. They were written in first person, and Jesse’s voice was pretty easy for me to find. Heck, if I were a demon, and Jesse were Jewish, we’d probably be the same person. Okay, well, you’d never catch me stripping on stage, but I digress. Point is, I didn’t have much trouble channeling Jesse for those books.

But then came the third book, HOTTER THAN HELL, one that wasn’t in Jesse’s point of view. Actually, it’s in the incubus Daunuan’s POV. (Daunuan is pronounced “Don Juan.” Sort of.) So I had to write in first person male demon POV, a dude with sex on the brain. And he’s the **good** guy. Talk about writing outside of my comfort zone. It took me a while to get all the Jesse out and let Daun in before I, pardon me, nailed it. Soon Daun was talking to me, and the words just flew.

The problem with really letting characters speak to you, though, is they don’t respect any boundaries. At least, mine don’t. Maybe it’s because I write about demons. I mean, when I’m working my day job, I know that after specific hours I’m off the clock. Not so when I’m writing. Example: One morning, when I was about two-thirds of the way through the draft of HOT, I was in the kitchen making my kids breakfast when bam! suddenly I knew how the book needed to end. The final scene just played before my eyes — I hadn’t planned it, I hadn’t outlined something that said “Final Scene Pending.” It just happened. So I raced upstairs and banged out the last scene. Five minutes later, I finished making my kids breakfast. Happily, they didn’t mind their bagels being extra toasted that morning.

And then, there was the start of this one chapter, when it was supposed to open with Daun talking to Jesse. He needed to get information from her, so the chapter was supposed to begin with him already with her in a private room at the club where Jesse stripped. But as I started the scene, Daun said to me, “I want to watch her dance.”

Now, I swear, I’m not schizophrenic. But Daun told me that he wanted to watch Jesse dance before he spoke to her.

“No,” I said. “We’ve had two books where the reader saw Jesse dance. Enough with Jesse dancing — who cares already?”

He pushed back. I called him a dumb demon. And he said, “I watch her dance, or I ain’t working.” And boom: writer’s block.

So a few days later, I caved. I wrote the scene where first he watches Jesse dance on stage. And wow — it not only worked well, it also revealed important character information about Daun and Jesse to the reader. (Not to Daun, though; like I said, he’s a dumb demon.) Daun still smirks over how he knew best.

Freaking characters. It’s not finding their voices that’s the hard part. It’s getting them to shut up that’s the trick.

HELL’S BELLES (mass market reissue)

Jezebel’s not your average exotic dancer. For one thing, she’s a 4,000-year-old succubus. For another, she’s on the run from Hell (which is a bitch to do in high heels). Hiding on the mortal coil as a human doesn’t protect her from muggers, lactose intolerance…or having feelings for Paul, a man haunted by his past. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it’s her love for Paul that’s going to have deadly consequences. (Humans, she laments, really should come with instruction manuals.)

HELL’S BELLES (mass market reissue, Kensington Zebra, September 2008)
THE ROAD TO HELL (trade paperback, Kensington Zebra, November 2007)
A HELL OF A TIME, in the ETERNAL LOVER anthology (trade paperback, Kensington, April 2008)

HOTTER THAN HELL (trade paperback, Kensington Zebra, August 2008)
“When Hell Comes Calling,” in the LILITH UNBOUND anthology (Popcorn Press, September 2008)

HELL IS WHERE THE HEART IS, in A RED HOT VALENTINE’S DAY anthology (Avon Red, January 2009)

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Where's That Little Voice Coming From?

From inside gossip girls at the National Conference in San Francisco, I heard voice is the X-factor responsible for selling manuscripts these days. One publisher even said no matter whether they had an open hole in a subgenre, if the voice was strong enough, they’d work it into the line-up. Which makes the way those words come out of your head and onto the paper super special. That is if you want to hit pay dirt for your hard work.

Ever noticed how most of the bestselling authors have their own little something? That’s their voice. The way they tell a story like no one else can, just like a verbal storyteller who entrances listeners with their spoken words. Authors do it with every written word, working the letters into something magical. For instance, do you think Susan Elizabeth Phillips could pull off a J.R. Ward paranormal? How about Mary Janice Davidson penning a straight suspense like Lisa Jackson? See how each has their own kind of story and way of telling it compared to the other? That’s the difference voice can make while it’s power sets you apart from the romance crowd.

This is also an inherent problem if you write in one sub-genre, especially when your editor wants you to write according to the hot new trend (since you’re an established author). It can mean the decision to write something you never thought you would, or having to walk away from your publisher. Some see it as a newly open window that can stretch their boundaries. Others writers can be crippled by the pressure to conform in a subgenre they don’t understand. For example, visualize writing a scene that involves sacrificing a chicken for a graphic spell, when your style prompts you to replace that squawking fowl with a plastic chicken so no animals are harmed in the spell casting…or to save your designer shoes. See how those could be tough shoes to fill? Imagine the pressure you might be under if you were called to do the impossible at your best level.

I write in several sub-genres, yet I still have a similar voice across my manuscripts. I never really thought about creating it. For me it flows as I concentrate on the characters. My voice has matured over the years, because I’ve gotten better at the mechanics of writing. However, alters slightly depending on the sub-genre I’m writing in. After all the tone can change the cadence of the language I use between comedies and hard hitting paranormals.

Think of the way a historical is very different than a romantic comedy. If your novel is set in colonial America the language and tone of society will be far different. So the voice should be amended while remaining true to the author’s way of writing. Also, there are a variety of Regencies. For instance Sabrina Jeffries’ humorous historicals are as accurate in detail as Amanda Quick’s, but the way the two authors write vary extremely.

So what’s the moral of this story? Write how you write, curb your flow only when necessary and for gosh sakes don’t edit out your voice in revisions!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's Not What You Say...

Authorial Voice. What is it? What does it mean to you?

It's that guy you hear in commercials all the time, "A hard-headed cop on the edge with an addiction to Snickers Bars. A tap-dancing Nun with a prosthetic arm made of nougat. Together...THEY FIGHT CRIME!"


(You done playing with that website yet?) Okay, not really. But it might as well be, for all the evidence you see of its presence. I mean, you wouldn't know that guy if he walked down the street or bagged your groceries every week, would you? Not unless he spoke and he USED THE VOICE. Authorial voice really ought to be the same way. You're not supposed to see the voiceover dude, or recognize him for himself. He's the Voice, simply the body in which the Voice is held, and he is not important. The Voice is.

It's kinda the same way with Authorial Voice. It's not something specific, obvious, or point-outable. It's just there, the same way air is there. If you notice it enough to be able to pinpoint the elements of it, you're doing it wrong. Which is why it's so damn elusive. Hard to teach, hard to learn, and hard to describe. And much like porn, you only know it when you see it. ;)

The only real advice I can give, after about fifteen years of writing with the intent to publish (and no, I'm not counting the teenage self-insert fan fiction I wrote about hot rock bands, Pern, or Star Trek) is that Voice comes with practice. And it can go just as easily with practice. For a long while, I was writing one thing, and one thing consistently, and really started to "feel" the voice coming out--I was comfortable in my subgenre enough to have gotten a handle on the mechanics and could afford to put the heart into it. But then, that market dried up, and one too many "close but no cigar" messages left me really wanting to branch out and try something new.

In that time, I was saved from having to do some gut-wrenching soul-searching about my identity as a writer by the new appointment of my identity as a mother. And wouldn't ya know it, getting back to the writing with kid-in-tow changed my voice about as much as the attempt to find the next big thing that would stir my passions.

I've since discovered that there are some really random things that can throw off my authorial voice, and it's gotten to the point where I've worked out a system for rediscovering it, or coaxing it back out. But that's a blog for another day. For now, let me close with a request for all you writers out there--do not fail to notice that finding your authorial voice is also a journey in addition to being a quality of your storytelling. Finding your voice is an exercise in some very subtle self-discovery that not only allows you to grow as a writer, but allows you to grow as a person, too.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Elusive Author Voice

There are a lot of things about the publishing world that make me cringe, and the word 'voice' is one of them.

While not as scary as 'high concept', 'voice' is another one of those catch words that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads. Every author wants a unique and distinct 'voice' that editors will recognize, fall in love with and want to publish, but how do you get 'voice'?

I don't think voice is something that can be actively created. Like a physical voice, it can be honed and trained, but only with years of practice. Voice is something we do all have to varying degrees, but teasing it out to where its recognizable can be tricky.

I've had editors tell me they loved my voice. Usually they say this in rejection letters, which leaves me perplexed. I've had a reader tell me, 'When I read your stories, I hear you talking. I know you wrote this because it sounds like you.' Also - perplexed but I suppose flattered.

I've glimpsed author voice now and then - especially when reading contest entries. I received a blind contest entry once and I knew who had written it. It screamed the author's voice - not in a bad way. This person had a very distinct style I'd read before and immediately I knew who I was reading by the way she put words together. Do I think she planned it that way, that she had cultivated a particular 'sound' to her writing? No. I think she simple wrote in her own unique style and that happened to translate to a very recognizable 'sound' to her narrative.

The bottom line with voice, in my opinion, is - you've got it. You may not know you do, you may not be actively trying to develop it, but you have it and if you write enough your style and 'sound' will take on unique characteristics. Over time, I believe, just as your friends and family can recognize you on the phone, your readers will reconize you in your writing.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Unmistakable Sound of it All

Huh? What's she talking about today? Well, this week we're talking about Voice. Writers Voice to be exact. Now...a lot of writers will define it in terms of word choice or the way a writer puts her/his words together. Sometimes they'll throw in themes the writer prefers to talk about. I'll confess. Until recently, most of that made me scratch my head and go 'Yeah. Right. Okay.' Don't get me wrong. I can see the logic in their definitions. They make sense. But I couldn't reconcile them to my world.

That is until I happened to be listening to the radio one morning on my way to work. Now the past several months I've been heading to work at ungodly hours when most sensible people are still rolling over and catching a few winks before that dastardly alarm clock goes off. Normally, I listen to country but one morning my favorite dj was on vacation and I just wasn't that enamored with his fill-in so I started station hopping (thank god for the Seek button, huh?) when suddenly I heard one of my favorite pieces -- Eroica by Beethoven. Let me digress here a bit.

My musical tastes run the gamut from country to metal to classical to New Age to soft rock. And it's not so much the 'music' I like as it is the music of a particular artist/composer. In other words, it's the way a particular artist/composer puts that piece together, the sound of it, that speaks to me. And that got me to thinking.

So I started an experiment over the next few weeks. I listened to classical stations on my work laptop. I lucked out and found one that had no talking, just music, and even better, it showed the composer and the name of the piece on a scrolling banner). As I listened, I discovered that whenever a Beethoven piece was aired, I recognized it as one of his before I clicked over to confirm it. That made me think some more.

We all recognize a favorite singer's voice. That's easy. And we recognize the sounds of our children's laughter, that musical bubbling sound that brings joy to your heart. Or maybe our lover;s voice, smooth and seductive and compelling. We could pick those voices out in a crowd of similar voices.

When we read, we're not just seeing those words. We're hearing them. We're feeling the cadence of the words as they flow through our minds. We're absorbing all the emotional impact those words can bring to life. Word choice may play a part, there's no doubt of that, but it goes deeper. We may not be able to give a concrete definition, at least I can't, but we do recognize a favorite writer just as I recognized Beethoven on the radio before I knew it was his music I was hearing.

The next question is how do we make our voices memorable? How do we make them a Beethoven? Or, in writerly terms, a Kenyon or a Roberts or (fill in your favorite author here)? I don't think we can consciously do that. I believe, as writers, we have to be open and honest and that we have to bring everything we possess to the writers table. And when a reader connects with us, they'll recognize us.

It's that connection that creates that unmistakable sound or voice.

-- Lynda

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