Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Whew! For me, it's been nothing but a week filled with drama, much like a daytime soap. It's like a story no one would believe is the truth, because it sounds so farcical. But I can say this week far exceeded the level of drama found in any of my novels ;0) And yes, judges have marked me down for too much drama.

Today I decided to do something low key. I know, I know...guilt assails me since this is one of the hot days for paranormal romance. If you want a great read, check our the Star-Crossed authors novels, especially if it's been a while. They have some great new titles!! And you can also check out all our writer friends on the Star-Crossed Romance MySpace page.

So here we Halloween's coolest thing besides getting to run around in costumes--candy! You know how characters have those eccentricities that make them super unique? Hmm...a candy fetish seems delicious. In fact, I still recall the lady in a serial title that had a Hershey's Kiss tattooed on her upper thigh. The worst part was since she had amnesia, she couldn't remember how it got there or why she got the little piece of chocolate permanently etched on her skin.

Personally I was horrified when I heard Smarties and Tootsie Rolls were on list for things not to hand out or your house/car would get toilet papered or egged. They are two of my favorites, though I've done good resisting the urge to swallow a few. But there was that time in Target when I picked up a super-sized bag of Sweet Tarts and hugged it to me like a long lost friend. But alas, I put it back. (Hmm...I wonder what people coming in the store thought about that?) Since I'm still trying to drop weight, I decided against buying a plethora of candy. Since you know it lingers and lingers and lingers until Thanksgiving. Hopefully my house and car won't be a target since I'm opting for pencils, tattoos and some 3 Musketeers to hand out.

Well how about you? Do you have a sweet tooth for something special? If you do, check out the article below to see what your urge means about your personality courtesy of Contra Costa Times.

MandMs: If you go for double Ms, you tend to separate your socks by color and have abnormally clean hands.

Snickers: Sign of indecisiveness. Do you want chocolate? Do you want nuts? Your don't know. or do you?

Candy Corn: Frustrated farmer. You are a sweet soul who loves to grow sweet peas and make maple syrup.

Nestle's Crunch: You have a well-rounded personality but can be a little snappy.

Kit-Kat bars: You love to build sand castles on the beach, grow herbs and claw up the couch.

Jolly Ranchers: You have a daring side and love adventure. You're also fond of parrots and eye patches.

Butterfinger: You're kind and considerate, but we wouldn't trust you to carry the family china.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: You have hidden talents and are a deep thinker. You like to do things in pairs.

Gummy Bears: Sweet, cuddly and loving, but people often find you sticking to the ceiling, which makes you an inappropriate guest for parties that include a pinata.

Sour Patch: You're bitter and abrasive and good at making people cry.

Hershey: You are loved by most people and live a simple, plain and unassuming life.

Junior Mints: You have a refreshing and zippy personality, but you suffer from an inferiority complex.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Word on Weather and Worlds

Jeez, you know it's going to be bad when you look outside on a morning in late October and there is six inches of snow on the ground and you live no where near the Arctic Circle. I'm just saying.

Did anyone know about the Nor'easter that hit NJ today, or was that a Mother Nature whammy no one saw coming? I swear it was straight out of my novella Solarion Heat. Ironically enough, in that book an advance military team travels to a planet of duel suns in search of a new place to settle their civilization as their current local has become a planet of perpetual winter.

I, too, dream of fleeing when winter hits. Not that I don't find the fluffy white stuff pretty. on the contrary, there is great beauty in the winter time - as long as it does not effect the road surfaces. Which is one of the perks of writing futuristic and sci-fi on ice encrusted planets - I can control the transportation systems. Heated highways, hover cars, jet propulsion engines, catapiller-esque roller vehicles that move like a northern blast off the Great Lakes. All of these marvels of locomotion help futuristic characters to survive without losing their minds in a world covered in a snow menace of gridlock proportions. I mean really, I like conflict ala Man v. Nature as much as the next author, but if I'm creating the world, I'm taking out the petty annoyances like failure of local townships to plow and salt thus creating road hazards that really ought not to be a part of my life in October 2008. *insert big breath here*

The flip side of this is how does the weather effect our writing? I've often noticed that I decide the time of year most of my stories take place in, and they have very little to do with the current season or even the opposite one. I don't concentrate on writing beach scenes in the lonely days of winter and I don't strive to create ski conditions in the middle of the dog days of summer. I try to go with what is right for that particular book. Is it a vampire novel? I might choose the very late winter, early spring when the weather in the Mid-Atlantic states is completely unpredictable. That way I can have an ice storm in one scene and an unseasonably warm day the next and not get it wrong. If you live in the northeast you know of what I speak. I did that in The Host: Shadows. The use of late winter/early spring had more to do with Tristain St. Blaise's redemption against the backdrop of the renewal of spring than mood.

This coming spring will see the release of Kingmaker's Gold from The Wild Rose Press, now this was offically my first holiday themed novella. Since it has to do with sexy Leprechaun kings and the setting of Victorian New York, I decided again to use spring, because of St. Patrick's Day. Also, given my previous example of how the weather in the northeast during that part of the year is so unpredicatable, add to that a time period (1910) devoid of Doppler Radar and the National Weather Service and you have conditions and weather fronts the characters have no hope of preparing for.

Thinking back, I believe I write the majority of my stories during the cold weather. I think because it limits the characters' movements or is just plain miserable. You got to torture your characters - including with the weather.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Warrior Winners

Wow, that sounds like a cool title, doesn't it? LOL At any rate, I just wanted to let everyone know that Wookie pulled the following names out of the box.

Anna Lisa & Michelle

I've contacted Sourcebooks, ladies, and I'm told your free copies of Cheryl Brooks' Warrior will be in the mail today. Enjoy!

Guest - Linda Wisdom

Good morning everyone! Today we have my friend, Linda Wisdom, visiting with us. Linda has been one of my favorite authors for...well, a bunch of years now. Linda used to write contemporary romance and she was very good at it but she's really found her calling with her new paranormal romance. Linda's witchy series and her Jazz and crew are lively and amusing and just the sort of, um, witchy people you wouldn't mind having as friends (especially Nick who's just yummy :-D ). You can read my review for Hex Appeal from earlier this month. She lives in California with her husband, mother, a tortoise and Bogie, her cute little puppy pal who has a role in one of her future books.

Linda is offering a prize so read all the way to the end to see what you need to do to be eligible. Enjoy!


A Witchy Recipe

Take one snarky witch, add a cup of sexy vampire, a tablespoon of disgruntled ghost and add a dash of troublesome bunny slippers and you have a recipe for magick disaster. Or maybe not. After all, we are talking Jazz Tremaine, curse eliminator, 700 year young witch and attitude with a capital A.

Jazz is used to multi-tasking. She has a successful curse eliminating business – especially since LA is filled with a variety of curses -- and working as a driver for Dweezil, a creature who can make Scrooge look like a philanthropist.

But her world is shaken up – again. It was bad enough when a past evil intruded into her life again and she had to work hard on getting rid of all it meant. No, this time, it’s struck even closer to home. Namely, Jazz isn’t getting any quality sleep and a sleep-deprived witch is a cranky witch.

It’s not so much that Jazz is missing sleep, she’s have terrorizing nightmares to boot. But then, who wouldn’t be freaked out if the nightmare involved your vampire lover tearing your throat out? Add to that Fluff and Puff accused of eating a Wereweasel carnie and now incarcerated in bunny slipper jail, Irma wanting Jazz to find a way to give her an updated look and Dweezil demanding his share of her time.

The only good thing is Jazz’s latest order of bath products and a pair of sexy crocodile stilettos named Croc and Delilah from fellow witch Thea. It’s just a shame they like to get into her make up.

Jazz is in a stew of magick problems that could easily overflow her cauldron. Especially when a dash of a sexy female vampire who was Nick’s ex is tossed in for some bitter flavoring and Jazz ends up with the worst 48 hours of her life that no witch should endure.

The problem is figuring out what ingredients will work for this witchy stew and which ones are outdated and need to be tossed out.

Who’s behind her nightmares? Who wants to unsettle Nick so badly with nightmares of his own that he might abandon her? Who’s setting up booby traps that go off every time she tries to track down the source and did Fluff and Puff really eat a Wereweasel even if there’s no way the bunny slippers would eat something that disgusting?

It’s all answered in Hex Appeal, which is out now and book two of my Hex series.

Hex Appeal and the first book, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, is out now at Target and major bookstores.

Also, a copy of Hex Appeal will be given out to a lucky commenter!

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

books, books and more books

Forgive me for once again being late with a post! We've had thunder and rain the last few days, which is great, but makes getting on a computer dicey. Today is sunny and here I am!

Books. I love reading books. I love reading books so much that I'm never without one. I even read while the computer is booting up (why waste a few seconds staring at a blank screen, I say, when I could be reading half a page?). Multi-tasking is the go!

But I don't read everything. I do read more genres now than I ever have, but I steer clear of some things. The books I love -

1. Horror. But only a certain kind of horror - the supernatural kind. I'm not into slasher books - and it's the same with horror movies. It has to be supernatural - and I love the zombie and ghost ones the best.

2. Forensic pathologists - Kathy Reich got me hooked. You know the TV show 'Bones'? It was originally based on the books of Dr Temperance Brennan by Kathy Reichs, only the originally Temp Brennan is in her forties, an ex-alcoholic, and a divorcee with a college-aged daughter. Her love interest is a detective, Andrew Ryan, and their relationship grows over many books. I love the books. (I like the show, it's amusing and interesting, but the books are awesome).

So KR got me hooked on forensic pathologist mysteries, but only a few. I don't like them all.

3. Humorous mysteries. I love mystery books with a lot of humour. The top of my list are Gabreilla Hark, Fran Rizer, Gemma Halliday, Lisa Lutz and Janet Evanovich.

4. Urban fantasy. Again not all. The early Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry are awesome (I still read the whole series, though). Rob Thurman is great, and I also love Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, Kat Richardson, Jim Butcher & Yasmine Galenorn.

5. Romance - mostly paranormal romance - Christine Feehan's Dark books & Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters series, and comedy romance.

6. True stories of the unexplained - being ghosts, mysteries, etc.

I will try anything new, but I have my old favs I always fall back on. Nothing is more exciting than finding a new author I love to read!!

I have a TBR (To Be Read pile). But my mood dictates which book I read. I've been known to have thirty or more books in my TBR pile and not find one thing I'm interested in reading. I have to be IN THE MOOD! LOL

Ah books - can't live without 'em!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Kriss Cringe

In my hectic schedule (with a ft job, leading a weight loss group, family must-dos, necessary chores, reading for Star Light interviews) I try to check my e-mail several times a day, especially when I have a Board meeting or chapter newsletter due out. So imagine my surprise when I open my box and saw an announcement that Miriam Kris would be our guest for the November chapter meeting. I thought, when was she added to the program schedule? Then I recalled that I hadn't check the schedule in a month, in fact because of other commitments I haven't been to a meeting in Raleigh for months. Now I have to answer a big question. Can I be ready to pitch to a top agent in two weeks?

I have my reservations. I've been out of the writing loop, except for online communiques, for a little while. Which means I'm not on my A game. I'm so afraid it will show, since I'm not naturally chatty or smooth in stressful situations. Then there's the call of what to pitch. From experience I know to take in atleast 2 projects. I have one I love, but I've gotten some comments from contests and trusted friends that make me think it needs a revision before it goes out again. The other manuscripts I think are my strongest aren't paranormals, which would be a waste of Ms. Kriss' time. All the other paras I have were written for a different market, so even if I got the green light for a submission, I'm about 75% certain she won't see it as salable. Which leaves me in a quandary.

Only there's a time limit, because interested writers in the chapter have to sign up for the few spots. Which means I can't do my usual hemming and hawing. And then, when do I find the time to perfect my pitch? I hate to pass up the opportunity, but at the moment I think it may be the best option. In this instance I'm leaning toward making a contact, but not a bad impression. As we all know first impressions are crucial, so I really don't want to botch a one-on-one with such a power player!

Do you have any similar situations about pitching? How about stories about disasters or triumphs you want to share? I still recall my first pitch at NJRW PYHIAB conference. I was scared witless and ended on a high I road all the way home to my computer :0)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Habits

I confess, I have really sketchy reading habits. You'd think a writer would read anything and everything, including the backs of cereal boxes. Well, I confess that I do, in fact, read the backs of cereal boxes (and some of that stuff in the "nutrition" block is pretty damn shocking if you ask me). I read the backs of hand soap bottles, and the circulars that come in the mail...but lately, I haven't been reading many books.

Shocker, I know.

Now a big part of that is that I've got two small children who constantly need Mom to come help them with this or that, and that "this or that" often includes reading books themselves, along the lines of Fancy Nancy, Strega Nona, or Hedgie the Hedgehog, and I've become quite the connoisseur of just how Mat and Nat Sat on a Fat Cat. And Walter the Farting Dog will probably live on our family Keeper shelf for many decades to come. So yeah, I guess I do read quite a bit, just not the stuff I pick out.

But even when I get the rare moment to sit down and read something for my own enjoyment, the last thing I end up reaching for is my TBR pile. And it's not just because I want to use my time for writing, either. It's because I know I'll mess up a good thing by trying too hard.

I have this tendency to read like a writer, even when I'm not trying to do so. About the only author I can read without doing so is Terry Pratchett. With every other author, I'm reading the words, feeling the story (sometimes) and at the same time, seeing through to the wireframe of the mechanics underneath. This is great for my own education in learning to be a better writer, but it is lousy for reading just to relax. And when I'm not absolutely excited about reading a story, I'm seeing through to the money I paid for it (which kills me because I used to think I'd never in a million years begrudge money spent on a book. It hurts my principles to do so)

So I've embarked on a campaign. I've noticed that I flinch less when I spend money on ebooks (maybe because the evidence is easier to hide from the family budget gatekeeper?) and I've got some discount coupons rolling in from places like Fictionwise and All Romance Ebooks. So I've set out to start a campaign to Read For Fun. When I shop, I do so and consciously decide to shop as if I'm not a writer. As if I'm a reader, and a not-very-savvy-about-the-industry one at that. Like I used to be before I learned all the ins and outs of the publishing world and marketability versus storytelling mechanics versus hooks, characterization, show-don't-tell and all that framework that helps an author build a good story, and force myself back to that blissfully unaware state where I bought everything I could from the UBS or the discount rack and read 'em all, good bad and ugly.

I've started looking for free reads online (thank you Tor, now get your authors' backlists and frontlists out in e-format too and we'll be happy campers) to introduce my reading self to new authors. And one day soon, when I've scraped up enough change to be able to show my face back at the library without them siccing Dirty Harry on me, I'll be going back there, too.

I've learned a lot and studied hard to get to be where I am as an author and to know my industry, but sometimes you need to leave all of it behind for a few hours, too, in order to remember why you wanted to learn it so badly in the first place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TBR or not to TBR?

That is the question these days.

I ask, because I'm faced with a dilemma this weekend. I'll be attending New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Conference which, in addition to providing a number of exciting workshops and fascinating keynote speakers, always provides a huge Literacy Book Fair featuring tons of authors signing their latest releases.

Last year I signed - my first major signing! And it was great, but this year I decided to take a break when it came to conference time. No editor or agent appointments, no signing, I'm going just to enjoy myself - and that includes shopping for books, which I didn't have much time to do last year because I had to man my table.

So here's my dilemma. I already have a towering TBR pile. What writer doesn't? I just got two more books this week and dutifully shoved them into the pile, hoping that someday I would actually get a chance to read them. They joined books that I probably got at last year's conference and haven't yet had a chance to read. I also know for a fact that Santa Claus is bringing me some books this year, so come the end of December I'll have another handful of new books to read.

You avid book fans out there are blinking your eyes and asking: So what's your point?

I don't really have a point. I know I'll buy more books and manage to shoe-horn them into my 'I can't wait to read this someday this decade' queue, but that doesn't mean I don't fantasize about the day when I'm down to that last book and I can say to myself, 'Oh, no! I'll have nothing to read - I guess I'd better go on a spree!"

Yeah. I know that will never happen, but it's fun to think about.

So my question is, do you have a TBR limit? Ten books, twenty? If the book shelf begins to buckle do you stop buying? Are there unread books in the trunk of your car? Your attic? Stuffed under your bed? Where does it all end? Or will you just keep buying books as long as writers keep writing them, and to heck with the floorboards. If the house collapses under the weight of your unread books, will you reason that at least you'll have something to read while it gets rebuilt?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guest - Cheryl Brooks

Good morning everyone!

Once again, we have Cheryl Brooks, a talented Science Fiction Romance author, visiting us. I've had the pleasure of reading both her books, SLAVE and Warrior (you can see my review of Warrior on yesterday's post) and I can only say Wow! Ms Brooks has created a very real, very fascinating new world.

You'll want to read the review because Sourcebooks, Inc, the publisher has offered two blog readers a free copy of Warrior and I explain how you can be one of those lucky readers :D

Now please join me in welcoming Cheryl Brooks!

When I began writing, it was because what I wanted to read wasn't out there. There are sci-fi romances available now, but when I first thought about it, trust me, there weren't! I was trying to explain to someone just yesterday why I write what I do, and what I said was: “I loved Star Trek and Star Wars, but always thought they would be so much better with sex!” What I've done with The Cat Star Chronicles series is to let my imagination run wild to create an alien race whose men are the sexiest in the galaxy. These guys are so hot, someone decided to destroy them, and there aren't many of them left—only a few lucky women get to know the joy—and, believe me, it is joy!

When you write science fiction, there are no limits to what you can create—be it a man who can do it better than anyone, or the number of orgasms a woman can experience—and that's the reason I keep coming back to it. I've written a number of contemporary romances, and while they're just as hot as my sci-fi novels, they don't offer the kind of creative freedom that going into the distant future can provide. I dearly love creating new worlds and new kinds of aliens and little tidbits that add color to the story.

I had a lot of fun writing Slave—I didn't mince words or put any limits on where my imagination could take me. I just wrote it. Now, Warrior is out, and in it, I explored my inner “witch.” I've always wanted to be the wise woman of the forest—though there are those who will tell you I'm one of the old wise women of our ICU; I was nicknamed “Yoda” a long, long time ago—so I wrote the character of Tisana, and gave her all the powers and abilities that I would love to possess myself. She can communicate with animals telepathically, can whip up a potion with the best of them, and can start fires with a glance of her witchy green eyes! Her man is Leo, a Zetithian slave with all the ability as a lover and a hero that that distinction implies. Together, they embark on an adventure filled with mystery, danger, and sizzling romance!

So, if you've ever wanted to disintegrate C3PO for interrupting Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, you'll understand why I write, and I invite you to join me on a journey to the limits of imagination!

"The Cat Star Chronicles: Slave"
"The Cat Star Chronicles: Warrior"

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Review - The Cat Star Chronicles: Warrior

The Cat Star Chronicles: Warrior
By Cheryl Brooks
Sourcebooks, INC
October, 2008

When Tisana, a healer/witch, has a nearly dead feline slave dumped on her doorstep by her ex-lover, she isn't prepared for his exotic and erotic sensuality. But as she nurses him back, she wonders if he is The One. There is only one man in all the universe who can impregnate her to father her future daughter. The problem is, she doesn't know who he is.

It's a lonely life for a witch. One man to love but only briefly because whoever the man is, he will leave her. She knows that's the way of it, that's the way it's always been for all the generations of women in her family. And they only have one child, a daughter, to carry on the talent for their family.

But this new man, Leo, surprises her with his willingness to stay. And more, she's surprised when he offers to help find Rafe's kidnapped sons when he could be escaping his slavery. Maybe he really is The One for Tisana.

A while back I had the opportunity to read the first book in this series and thought, hey, this is pretty darn good. Well, let me tell you, the second book, WARRIOR, is even better. Ms. Brooks has created a fabulous world of diverse and interesting customs -- truly, even if the romance aspect wasn't so good, this would be a great read just to see the way she's developed this world. And the plot has some interesting twists as Rafe, the ex-lover, Tisana and Leo track down the missing boys.

Now...I've got some great news for those of you who love good science fiction romance. Sourcebooks has offered a free copy of Warrior to two lucky readers of this blog. All you have to do is email me at LyndaK.Scott @ (no spaces but there is a period after the k in my name). Please put Warrior in the subject line and your snail mail addy in the body of the email.

On Saturday, I'll put the names of everyone who has emailed me into a box and let my fluffy buddy, Wookie, select the winner (she loves to grab the pieces of paper I use). Oh, and make sure you read Cheryl's blog with us tomorrow. It's very interesting!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is an ex-lawyer who decided to turn her sights to books…as a librarian. Not only has she shown her love for texts in her past job, but also in her current full time career as an author. Plus she’s using her cataloging talents to help authors form book groups. (For more read on, below!) Mindy also gives to worthy causes to support literacy as well as helping other professionals and authors by speaking at conferences.

I stumbled across Mindy Klasky, much in the same way her heroine, Jane, came upon her collection of spell books. Maybe there was an invisible bond pulling us together, but what led me to her initial book from Red Dress Ink was surfing the net to find out more about First Book. I bought GIRLS GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT because I loved Mindy’s story concept and the idea that part of the proceeds helped children get books (one of my most memorable joys as a child.)

Mindy and I have stayed connected via periodic e-mails about this and that, since I gushed about having a full manuscript at Red Dress Ink. Next, I was pleased to win the second Jane Madison book for helping her with a typo on her website *grin* While keeping tabs on books coming out, I saw MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL on the list, and knew who I wanted to add to my Interstellar Interview agenda.

Mindy’s wit shines through in her books loud and clear, and I hope one day soon we’ll get to meet in person. In the meantime, I’ll have to gorge on her latest release, which I took time out of my anniversary to nab (since my local Barnes and Noble didn’t have the title in stock!) Then like everyone else, I’m sure I’ll mark off the days on my calendar until her new series hits stands. When my Outlook reminder pops up, I’ll be grabbing my keys and heading for the book store to add one more title to my mini library.

When you started writing did you gravitate toward fantasy or did you try several genres? How did you pinpoint which subgenre you wanted to make your mark in?

The first novel I ever attempted to write was a sequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which I started to create in seventh grade. (Yeah, I never finished it. No, it wasn't very good. At all.) I spent most of junior high and high school reading fantasy novels, so that's where my writing ideas came from; those were the storytelling structures that made the most sense to me. In addition to the five traditional fantasy volumes of the Glasswrights Series and the stand-alone traditional fantasy, SEASON OF SACRIFICE, I've written two category romance novels, one mystery, and some science fiction short stories. All of those non-fantasy works, though, live on 3.5 inch floppy disks and will never see the light of day. *grin*

Where and when did you decide to make the transition from the Glasswrights Series traditional fantasy series to Jane Madison’s witch lit adventures?

When I finished the Glasswrights Series, I wanted to do something new, something big, something different. I wrote another traditional fantasy novel, one that had lots of magic (there is very little, almost none in the Glasswrights Series.) The new novel had dragons. It had cryptography. It had murderous villains who enjoyed kinky sex. And it was very, very, very dark. Alas, that novel did not sell. When I realized that it was not going to succeed in the marketplace, I decided that I was tired of traditional fantasy, and I was way beyond tired with dark. I wanted to try something completely new-to-me – and the Jane Madison series was born!

What do you think is Jane’s secret something that makes readers adore (and maybe even mourn the ending of) the series?

Jane is a smart woman who has realistic problems with men, with the woman who raised her (her grandmother), and with other family members (her mother.) She is struggling to find her way in a job that she loves, in an environment where she could flourish, if her employer let her. She has done all of the "right" things (going to school, getting a job), but she's still not perfectly fulfilled.

Most of us have had experiences that are similar to Jane's. We've fallen for the wrong guy. We've held onto the wrong job. We've shared life's disasters with our best friends.
The Jane Madison Series builds on those common experiences, and then it lets readers imagine what a world would be like where magic is real. The books are a sort of wish fulfillment, even as those wishes are anchored in a reality that we all share.

With the end of your Jane Madison series, what will you focus on now? Have you ever thought about writing a series stemming from your plethora of 28 first dates?

My next book will be out in October 2009. It's called THERE'S THE RUB, and it's the first volume in the As You Wish Series. RUB is about a stage manager who discovers a magic lantern with a wish-granting genie inside. My 28 first dates (all in one year, before I gave up on dating forever) work their way into many of my books. (They're the basis for each of Melissa's first dates, in the Jane Madison Series.) I hope to draw on them for years to come!

When did you first get involved with First Book? To date, what have you done personally to raise money to give free books to kids that need them?

I became involved with First Book, a non-profit organization, with the mission of giving underprivileged children their first books to read and own, when I sold GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT. I knew that I wanted to "adopt" a charity for the book (10% of my profits on GIRL'S GUIDE and SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL go to First Book), and I knew that I wanted the charity to address illiteracy. When I conducted my research for a suitable organization, I was thrilled to find First Book, which regularly ranks among the best in charities, due to their efficient use of donations and their high level of effectiveness. In addition to tithing from the first two Jane Madison books, I am creating some special First Book events to coincide with the launch of MAGIC. On October 31, I will sponsor an auction of a hand-crafted necklace and earring set. The jewelry was created by a talented artisan, Donna Cavallini, who just happens to be a reference librarian. Donna donated the beads and her time to create the necklace and earrings, which are based on the peacock symbol that is so important in Jane Madison's life. (You can read more about the auction and see pictures of the jewelry on my website – I will also sponsor a Cake Walk Recipe Calendar later this fall, with recipes from Melissa's bakery, which is featured in the Jane Madison Series. The recipes in the calendar were created by numerous authors. All proceeds from the jewelry auction and the calendar will go to First Book.

Who was responsible for your favorite book group to date? What tragedy befell the book group that you might recall as the most memorable?

I belonged to a book group comprised of partners, associates, and staff at the law firm where I practiced law for seven years, and where I worked my first library job for another seven years. When I joined the group, meetings were haphazard, and the choice of books was a … challenge, due to some people wanting to go out of their way to please the partners in the group. After some rather spectacular fireworks when one meeting was rescheduled four times to meet the needs of a partner who still did not show up, I took over organizing the group. I set new rules: We consistently met on the first Tuesday of the month, we chose books on a rotating basis going by members' last names, and we were allowed – even encouraged – to discuss the endings of books at meetings, even if everyone in attendance had not finished the book.

The group met for about five years under the new rules. I stopped attending when I changed jobs, but I was pleased by the way we came together. (OK, the earlier failure to come together wasn't a tragedy, but sometimes it felt like one! *grin*)

Did you decide to create Book Groups Wiki (a fabulous resource) because of your librarian ways? Can you give us an overview?

I decided to create the Book Groups Wiki because I have loved being a member of a book group, and I have truly enjoyed every time that I have been invited to speak to a book group, when they have chosen one of my books. Using a few simple templates, book group organizers can indicate their meeting times (along with special interests) and authors can indicate where they'll go to meet readers.

The wiki is on the Internet - Anyone who can cut and paste can use the wiki to add entries. The resource works best when a lot of people participate, so I hope that people will spread the word!

Do you have any other upcoming events besides Capclave and the Virginia Association of Teachers of English Conference fans need to know about?

Those are the only 2008 events open to the public (although for each, a membership is necessary to attend.) In 2009, I'll attend the national Romance Writers of America conference in Washington, D.C., but I don't have other specific events scheduled yet. My website ( has a list of my current planned events for this year, and I'll add those for next year shortly.

I've enjoyed the chance to answer your questions! If anyone has any additional questions or thoughts, please place them in the comments at the end of this post. The day after this post goes live, we'll choose one person from all the commenters to receive a signed copy of one of the Jane Madison novels!

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Oops - late as always - though in the US it's still, maybe not. *biting lip*

Better late than never, though, right?

I see we're discussing the ol' villain. Poor things, they get SUCH a bashing, and why, I ask? They drive the story-line, they provide the meanie, the baddie, the Big Boo for us to rant and rave at, throw at the pretty heroine and give the hero cause to save the said pretty heroine and live happily ever after.

And what does the villain get? A big fat nothing. No "Thanks for being part of the plot." No "Thanks for letting me get lucky with the heroine." No "Thanks for letting me get lucky with the hero." No "Thanks for letting us get everything in the end."

Poor old villain. He/she is reviled, ranted at, hated, disliked - list all the words meaning the same thing. And yet...what would be a good story without the dastardly villain, be it a man or a woman, pretty or ugly, mean or spiteful or plain murderous? We're so lucky they don't have Character Villains Union. Talk about unfair!

We love to hate them. Love to imagine getting our own revenge on them (in quite nasty ways). And yet...

And yet....

And yet I've written a villain in the past who will, hopefully, be a main character in the future. Is that even possible? Let's see - I'm going to find out in the future!

Because my villain has grown on me...oh woe is me...I like my villain!!!

Angela *in thoughtful mode*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guest - Sheryl Brennan

Good morning everyone! Today we have guest Sheryl Brennan who will be talking about one of the great SF type characters - The Geek.

Sheryl Brennan brings the past to awe-inspiring light with her debut book Celtic Sacrifice. Sheryl is not only an author, but also a mother, has a degree in business, and volunteers her time and expertise. Sheryl's writing experience ranges from journalism and corporate communications for non-profit organizations to Web content editing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Kentucky Romance Writers, and Louisville Romance Writers. She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her three beautiful daughters.

To start the day off with a bang... Sheryl Brennan is offering a Free Desktop Image for all those that Signup for Sheryl's News Letter for the rest of October.


Those that Sign up today get an extra special treat. You will receive an e-gift basket filled with a few nice things just for you and be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of Celtic Sacrifice!

Score one for the geeks!

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only pick one personality type to be stranded with, who would it be? The hunky, six pack ab, chiseled chin, toe-headed blond who makes your mouth water just looking at him? That whole Blue Lagoon dream would probably end after 24 hours if you were more butch than Butch himself, now wouldn’t it? And every girl wants a guy to rescue her, doesn’t she?

Although the other hero character types are most certainly manly and appealing to our damsels in distress, my personal favorite is the one you can count on to make a radio out of a coconut and some spare parts he found washed up on the beach: the professor.

The professor is the guy who is coolly analytical. He knows every answer when you play trivial pursuit. He’s logical, introverted, and inflexible, but once the heroine turns his head he is genuine about his feelings. No mind games here.

By day, he may be a computer engineer, accountant, or lab rat. He likes cold, hard facts, and statistics, so if you go toe to toe with him, you’d better have the data to back it up. The up side to this guy? He's honest and faithful, and won’t let you down. Not only will he have calculated the exact longitude and latitude of your position to broadcast on that homemade coconut radio, but he will have a plan B and C in case it doesn’t work.

The professor is one of the most underestimated character types. He can be extremely calculating, highly intelligent, rational and an excellent strategist. However, this can also make him extremely arrogant. After all, he knows his IQ score is higher than 90 percent of the population.

The pursuit of knowledge and the usage and implementation thereof are favorite activities of professors. This can range from the inconsequential, to the extensive inner workings of political culture, computer design, or magic lore.

Of course, like the rest of the archetypes, he comes in many forms. Usually the stereotypical academic spends 10 years in obscurity studying his chosen craft. He wears thick BC (birth control) glasses, but may have upgraded to tortoise shell, aviator style frames too. He may have a slightly balding head with wildly unmanageable tufts or have fantastically thick locks cut in military style.

He prefers plain and unassuming clothes because they are more comfortable to read and research in, but if he is a high-powered financier, he may be just as comfortable in an Armani three-piece suit. He may live on the edge of financial existence, or have the best of everything and want to share it with his special someone. The possibilities are endless with this archetype!

Character growth for this guy is fairly simple. He learns that other people have good ideas too, becomes more tolerant of the “little people”, and realizes that he underestimated the heroine. Why, he may even discover that she is SMARTER than he is. He, he, he.

So chalk one up as won by the “geeks” of the world. Without them, we would have no inventions, medical breakthroughs, or space programs. There would be no need for Star Trek conventions or Dungeons and Dragons tournaments and the sports trivia from the other archetypes would never stop.

Now it’s your turn. Can you think of any books or movies where this archetype plays a starring role?


To Contact Sheryl: Simply log on to or . While your there, send me an email so I can add you to my newsletter distribution list. I love to hear from readers.

UnderDog Press
Sheryl Brennan


Hope you've enjoyed meeting Sherryl. Don't forget to follow her directions to enter her contest!


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Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Hot Day In Heaven by Kathleen Scott

This released yesterday, but due to work and other things I didn't get a chance to post until today.

This is my first novella from The Wild Rose Press/Scarlet Rose. I'm very excited about it as it opens the saga of my wicked, sexy fallen angels.

Here's some blurbage:

Bad things always seem to come in threes, or so Sonia St. Marie discovers as she is kicked out of her apartment during a blizzard, her job teaching art classes at an adult center gets cut and she catches her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. Needless to say, it’s not been the best of days. That is, until Archer DeAngelo shows up in his black SUV, smelling of exotic spices and evoking a head full of sensual fantasies.
For years, Archer has been the distraction in the back of Sonia’s mind, tempting her to wonder about his decadent lifestyle and the women he’s pleasured. Just looking at him makes her dream of all the things she wants to do with him, and now that she’s free from her philandering boyfriend, Gabriel, there’s nothing to stand in her way.

Seeing Sonia’s distress at her homeless state, Archer offers her a place to stay--his condo overlooking Central Park. Having nowhere else to go in such inclement weather, Sonia takes him up on his offer for shelter and much more. The sexual tension that always simmered between them goes into overdrive under such close proximity. The fact Archer has made it his mission to help her put her life back together has its own advantages. But then again, Archer is only doing his job.


Friday, October 10, 2008


I'd never heard the utterance above until I met my bf. In AIM, I typed, "What's that supposed to mean?" He said, "It's an evil laugh." Duh! I'd just heard it come out of every villain's mouth in one way or another! Though I don't always sit here when I'm trying to write mean and dirty going, "Mwahaha! Mwahaha! I'm going to get you, my pretty." Usually I have to do a one-eighty on my "perfect" world, since as you know every great book should only spiral down into a vortex of hurt/pain/ the end is fabulously heroic and love triumphs all!

We each have our ways to villainize characters, even when they're based on ourselves. I mean aren't I a villain for saying no to my bf's suggestion of a restaurant if it's his night to choose, or if I cut someone off? Wouldn't I be a villain if I don't donate money to charity, or if I found money but didn't return it? Okay, so none of this is way root of evil stuff. But it can be the building blocks. For instance if I wanted to show what a rat my villain was why not use all that stuff? Of course, somewhere there it'll have to get physical, and I've seen my share of low blows on WWE wrestling. (Though I still say, "What happened to a fair fight and morals?")

I think the most important thing for a villain to be is SUPER bad. Sure you can have a baddy, but he generally will only be labeled a henchman. bad guy kidnapped a kid and held it for ransom! Not that's a bad guy, but what if he kidnapped a kid knowing it had an illness, then put the meds out of reach, and in affect tortured the kid while goading the police and parents that they wouldn't be able to save the child? Now go farther and think about this if the villain was a woman. See the stereotypical twist? The big difference overall is that the villain can't just do bad stuff, he or she must have some inherent tick that makes them think that their way is right, though it's not by society/moral standards.

I will tell you that my villains are a grade C, but I'm working to make them an A! I think my best villain to date was Kacela Theron with his henchwoman Judith, who also played an important role among my group of heroes. By showing Kacela extolling his power, and how he treated those he felt were beneath him (including children) I started to layer his evilness. Yet even when I was writing I didn't know until the end what made him so demented. Let's just say I was shocked myself by what came out. How things ended up sure didn't appear in my outline!!

The best way to make your readers really hate (or empathize with) your villain is to make his stakes personal, and to show an insight into him/her that will make the readers' perception concrete. As an example, think of Sylar from HEROES. We all knew he was a baddy from the beginning, going around slicing people's heads open to steal their powers. But we really didn't know anything about the man. Then we got to see him with his mother, to see why he became what he did. And this season, which is devoted all to Villains (see they're super popular) the writers gave us a couple twists I sure didn't see coming. Though each new secret added another layer, and changed the dynamic Sylar has with the heroes. So now we wonder is he friend or foe? This is a dichotomy that should be played with. The not knowing in itself can add to the tension, and hints that things may go from bad to so much worse in 60 seconds or less will keep readers flipping those pages.

In short, don't make your villain vanilla. Do something different, though not necessarily complex or you may be wishing you didn't have so many ends to tie up. Be sure to drop clues, but not so many that you give it all away! Readers need the villain to be mysterious, yet like a place to start to figure out the puzzle of his/her mind. Mwahaha!!

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Doing the Nasty

Villains are a fun bunch. Every writer I talk to thinks so. I find them devilishly hard (pardon the pun), because my tendency goes to taking the villains I create and turning them into heroes in their own stories. It's actually very good advice from wonderful writers to make a villain a hero, because really, who exists to be evil just for evil's sake? Certainly not any characters I really want to invest in, yanno?

On the other hand, I love reading about villains turned around. Reformed rakes, former screw-ups, cowards who find courage, and cheapskates who loosen their coinpurses. I'm always the one asking why the bad guy thinks the way he does, and more importantly, if the love of a good wo/man is enough to straighten him out. I am continually half-hoping for sequels to books with good, complex, meaty villains just so I can see them change into potentially great human beings, or at least redeemed ones.

Something I don't care for is the tendency to use the shorthand of sex to make villains villainous. You know what I'm talking about--the villain is the one who's got a non-vanilla sex life, and there's always at least one episode of skanky villain sex to create the stark contrast between the down and dirty nastiness versus the oh-so-pure-unicorn-farts sex that the good guys are having. Now, if there's a reason for villains to be having "on-screen" sex, then fine, build it into your story. But if there's just sex in there to up the skank factor, you're probably better off skipping it, because I sure will as a reader. Sometimes less is more.

As a writer, I try hard to make my characters--all of my characters--believable and sympathetic in the sense that even if you hate them, you can still sorta see where they're coming from, and how someone could end up in that position, however unenviable it is.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Guest - Dahlia Rose

Good morning everyone!

This week we're discussing 'The Dark Side' and we're fortunate to have with us, guest Dahlia Rose, an author who will be discussing how the 'Dark Side' meshes with the creation of the Collette Sisters. I'm sure you'll find it as interesting as I did.

A best selling author of contemporary and paranormal romance with a hint of Caribbean spice, Dahlia Rose was born and raised on a Caribbean island and now currently lives in Charlotte, NC with her four kids who she affectionately nicknamed "The children of the corn” and her biggest supporter/long time love. She has a love of erotica, dark fantasy, Sci-fi and the things that go bump in the night. Books and writing are her biggest passion and she hopes to open your imagination to the unknown between the pages of her books

Oh, and make sure you leave a comment. Dahlia will be selecting one lucky reader to win a free autographed copy of The Collettes Trilogy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Creation of the Collette Sisters.

Three vampire sisters born of blood! The idea shot through my head and I rushed out of the shower covered in soap to get a pen before the idea begun to fade. That happens a lot, Shower ideas. Maybe it’s the hot steamy water or the smell of passion fruit and shea bath gel that opens my senses but some of my best ideas come in the middle of my shower.

But anyway back to the vampires. I wanted the sisters to be different that any vampires out there. And I wanted them to be dark. I have a good author friend who coined the phrase “If you are going to be a vampire, be a bloody vampire.” That was the premise of my girls. Triplets born of undead parents who have known nothing else but being a vampire. Even though they had the task of saving the world from an untold evil, they were going to be predators and yes they drink blood!! (Laugh). Each of these books came out in e-book with Phaze Publishing and now they will be in one complete print volume from September 29th 2008. Each of these characters had to deal with situation that was outside normal for them.

Sola Collette, the first sister was patterned to be the ultimate predator. She knows how to fight, to kill and how to find her super. Her night job, a stripper where she can get a pint or two from unsuspecting men in the VIP room. Until it gets raided by the police. That is how she met her mate a cop named Gideon Godspeed. He had to be just as dominant as her for the parks to fly. This combination made for some explosive sexual scenes especially when Sola gets irritated. She bites…

Luna Collette, the second sister in the trilogy has a spunky attitude. She is also a lesbian and proud of it now. Well now she is, after being hunted because of her sexual nature. In book one, a nemesis was eliminated. Now his daughter a vampire hunter is on the prowl for revenge. Who knew that she would be the second person in a bigger piece of a puzzle? I wanted Luna’s character to be outside the norm, to explore the ultimate sexuality that we know vampires have in their personalities. She was persecuted for her sexual orientation and it caused her to be jaded about love in the present day. I thought it would be difficult to write female, female love scenes but the characters took on a life of their own and they basically told me where they needed to go. Book 2 received excellent reviews including a five star review from Rainbow Reviews who deal with GLBT themed romance.

Willa Collette, The last sister and the final part of this trilogy. The betrayal has been found out and they are all worn torn and battle weary. They all think they must stick together at all cost but Willa knows she must leave. Willa’s character was by far the tamest of all three sisters. But yet she was the most powerful. I gave the personality that matched the old saying about lions lying with lambs. There was more to her than anyone realized. She was the glue that kept everyone together and in the process she found her strength and her mate in one fell swoop. The final battle between the sisters and their nemesis I placed Willa in charge…Plot twist huh? Yes no one would expect the quiet demure sister to the battle general and lead them into a war of good against evil. But she pulls it off and does it marvelously.

Now you have seen in depth the sisters that I created and fell in love with myself. I look at them as if they were family and I felt so proud when I saw them develop in each step of these stories. So I hope you find them intriguing and pick up the full volume today from Phaze!

To win a free copy of The Collettes Trilogy, I will make a drawing from the people who comment to this blog.

Hugs and Cheesecake!
Dahlia Rose

The Collettes Trilogy

'Three sisters, one amulet. To save mankind they must do the unthinkable
Together in one print volume: the exciting sage of the Collette sisters - Sola, Luna, and Willa - and their quest for the amulet and mystical spells that allows vampires to live in the sunlight.

Three sisters born of undead parents, they exist in the shadows of humanity. Now as their three hundredth birthday looms so does their destiny. Divided they find love and fate are twisted in one strand of their undead lives. Together they face betrayal and a fight for survival, not only for themselves but for mankind.

Look for Sands Of Passion (Print Volume) in October also from Phaze Publishing (

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Review - Dark Highland Fire

First, let me apologize. I meant to post this yesterday but I've been plagued by ISP problems for the past week and a nasty head cold to boot. But here it is now and, if you see this book in the stores, you need to get it :D

By Kendra Leigh Castle
Sourcebooks, Casablanca

Gabriel MacInnes, a charming, handsome Scottish werewolf, is adrift after the marriage of his twin brother, Gideon. Not that he minds Gideon being married. He likes his new sister-in-law a lot. And he doesn't begrudge Gideon the responsibility that comes with being the Clan heir. It's just that even though Gabriel owns a successful pub, he doesn't quite know what he wants to do with himself.

Then, with one shriek of the Stone of Destiny, everything changes. A mysterious man dumps an exotically beautiful woman, a woman who looks like a stripper, in his arms and extracts a promise that Gabriel will take care of her before he disappears.

But Rowan an Morgaine isn't just any stripper. She's the future leader of her people, if any are left, and she's a fiery tempered demi-goddess who can cut holes in a man's ego with her sharp tongue. Unfortunately, she can't rid herself of one very ardent pursuer who wants to take her back to her world as his bride. Add that she exists on blood, and you can see that she and Gabriel are going to be at odds until they realize how much they need and love each other.

DARK HIGHLAND FIRE continues the story of the MacInnes werewolves who we first met in CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON. If you read my review of that book, you'll remember that I thought it was a very good story. But this one, DARK HIGHLAND FIRE, goes beyond the handsome werewolf shapeshifter that we all know and love to introduce us to a whole new world.

There are some similarities between our world and Rowan's but it's different enough to make one sit up and take notice. There are factions competing for power, there are ancient tales that come to life. There are characters we fall in love with and villains we hope get their just rewards.

Let's start with the heroine, Rowan. How many romance heroines start out as strippers? Darn few. I'm not saying that all romance heroines should be strippers but, in this case, it highlights some of the unique differences in Rowan. Gabriel, too, is rather unique among romance heroes. Yes, he's handsome and charming. But when Rowan must stand up for herself and her people, he doesn't get all macho and insist that he do the fighting. No, he stands at her side and treats her as the utterly capable and strong heroine that she is.

It's not often that I find a book that resonates so strongly that I'll read it twice, back to back. But that's what I did with DARK HIGHLAND FIRE. I fell in love with the world, the characters – even the not-so-bad guy, Lucien, had my sympathy. This book is definitely a keeper and Ms Castle is a writer I'll be watching for from now on.