Monday, December 15, 2008

Guest - Toni Sweeney

Good morning everyone! Today's guest is Toni Sweeney. Now, ordinarily, I'd use a short bio to introduce her but I found this so interesting, I thought I'd use her entire bio. Enjoy!


I was born sometimes in the years between the War Between the States and the Gulf War, in the Sovereign State of Georgia. My ethnic extraction is French/Alsatian. One of the first movies I remember seeing was "Dracula's Daughter" and I guess that set me on the road toward the genre I would write. At the age of nine, I received a portable Underwood typewriter and used to write my own novels. It was during this time that I was noticed by a band of Transylvanian vampires who had somehow gotten blown off-course and landed in Georgia. They offered to finance my e4ducation in exchange for my writing "nice" stories about them. Shortly after graduation from college (BA, Fine Art), I worked as secretary to the chairman of the English Department at Mercer University and that's when I began writing "real" novels, but it wasn't until after I was in an auto accident which left me hospitalized and disabled for a total of two years that I began to seriously consider getting my novels published. The years following my accident, finding myself a single mother with a child to support, were extremely lean and often there wasn't much money, and one of the things I had to give up was books. Remembering my promise to my vampire patrons, I began writing my own so I'd have something to read and when a co-worker dared me to try to get one published, I took the challenge. So far now, I've had about nine books published, some of them as ebooks and audio novels. I've been a dancer, a teacher, a medical transcriptionist, and now I'm a writer.

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If there's one thing I hate, it's anachronisms--something inappropriate or not in context of the time in which it is presented. The most famous example is the clock striking in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The Romans didn't have clocks, they had sundials! I've seen it so many times--in settings other than the present, although it can happen in any genre. I suppose it's difficult to remember that people in other time periods didn't always speak the same way we do today. Oh, we have to have a little leeway--otherwise the books is going to get bogged down and go nowhere--but just how difficult is it to remember that modern slang has no place in a story set in medieval England--unless it's a time travel story or it's being played for laughs? There is nothing that makes me cringe quicker than hearing someone clad in a viking costume, lifting his sword to rally his men and shouting out: "Okay, men! Listen up!" (Yes, I swear, it's happened!) Or-- A Spanish conquistador standing on a hilltop, looking around at a valley below him and declaiming, "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world." (A quote from Robert Browning, who lived in the 19th century.) Or-- (my favorite) the weary knight who just went ten rounds with a firebreathing drfagon, as he staggers to his tent: "I'm sleeping in tomorrow. Don't anyone wake me, okay?" As far as I'm concerned, the story came to a skidding halt, right there. When I write a story, I always try to use in a few words or phrases that were used in that period, but ones that will be comprehensible in their context so, even if the reader doesn't know the word, he can infer its meaning. I look for words that can be used in place of "Okay" which is such an integral part of our language today. (Just the other night, on the TV show "Crusoe" I heard Friday say it to Robinson! Groan.) Yes, aye, as you will, it will be as you say, very well, so be it....there are plenty of ways to get the idea of agreement across without using "okay," as with with words or phrases.

The same goes for objects. In Shadow Lord (unpublished), set in 1806, I have my hero and his cousin smoking cigarettes on a terrace during a ball. PROBLEM: How prevalent were cigarettes in 1806? What did they use to light the cigarettes? Research showed that cigarettes were common during that time in Europe but were called cigaritos. Sulphur matches (later called Lucifers) were developed around the same time in England but were extremely volatile and apt to self-ignite if they brushed against each other. My hero solves that problem by carrying them in a small metal case, figuring if they burst into flame, the metal will protect him long enough to toss it away. In my novel Walk the Shadow Trail, the main character sees the young son of a friend chewing something and chastises him for using tobacco. Imagine his surprise when the boy tells him it's something called chewing gum, a present from a drummer (salesman) who came to town. My investigation into chewing gum revealed a wealth of information about this subject--the formula for gum was introduced by none other than Santa Ana, villain (if you were a Texan) of the Alamo. Wrigley, whose name is synonymous with gum, gave sample sticks to his customers when he was a traveling salesman. It was very available throughout the Midwest during the late 19th century. (A history lesson and information at the same time.) Bubblegum, however, didn't come into being until the 20th century so it would've been incorrect for me to have the kid blowing bubbles in that scene.

Now that we're in a new century, the opposite is in effect. Stories I wrote in the 20th century have to be updated, what with cellphones, ipods, teleconferencing, DNA, the Internet, all the advanced criminal research techniques, etc--only a few years ago, this was science fiction, nowadays, it's accepted fact, so, whether your story is set in 1008 or 2008, make certain your characters' speech, clothing, and ways of life are set within those boundaries, and you won't set your readers'--and my--teeth on edge!

Here endeth today's lecture.

I currently have two books scheduled for December, and one which was just released. Sinbad's Wife is the second novel in The Adventures of Sinbad series and tells the story of Andi's trials and tribulations when the famous surgeon hired to save her beloved Sin's life refuses to do so unless she becomes his mistress. Most of the story centers on what happens to her as her husband lies in a coma. Blood Curse, the sequel to Bloodseek is set for sometime in December and my futuristic romance Three Moon Station (written as Icy Snow Blackstone) will be coming out as an ebook on December 19 and will be released in March in print. The publisher is The Wild Rose Press. It's the story of a young woman who witnesses her boss' murder, and is on the run from the killer, taking the information for which he was killed with her. Since her uncle, a ruthless businessman is involved, no place on Earth is now safe for her, so she leaves it, hitching a ride on a ship going to a Terran colony. What she doesn't know is that the ship is carrying women convicts to the planet to become wives of the men living there and suddenly she finds herself married to a rancher who not only believes she's a convicted felon but fully expects his "marital rights." How she convinces him to help her while he tries to make her fall in love with him makes up the majority of the story.

When murder witness Katy Rawls escapes to Tritomis-2, a farming planet, and meet reclusive rancher Sarkin Trant, she believes she's going to be his housekeeper. Instead, she's startled to learn she's legally his wife. When she tells him why she came to Tritomis-2, Sar agrees to protect her until it's safe for her to return to Earth. Secretly, however, he's determined to court Katy and make her fall in love with him so she won't want to leave. While Katy is struggling to keep the attraction she feels for Sar from overcoming her determination to bring the killers to justice, the hitmen sent by the man ordering the murder are slowly closing in. Can Sar keep his promise and protect the woman he loves from their deadly weapons?

I have two novelettes also recently released by TWRP: "Love, Vampire Style"

and "Demon in Blue Jeans." These are humorous takes on supernatural amor and have both gotten some very good reviews. "Love, Vampire Style" was also nominated for Book of the Week by Long and Short Reviews. They also have trailers featured on YouTube. I also have three novels contracted with Lyrical Press--Jericho Road (set in Vietnam-era Georgia), Earthman's Bride, and its sequel, When the Condor Returned, which are scheduled for release sometime in 2009. Earthman's Bride recently won First Place in the Maryland romance Writer's "Reveal Your Inner Vixen" contest, paranormal division, for 2008. My science fiction novel Blood Sin has a conditional contract with Leucrota Press.

Former smuggler Sinbad sh’en Singh and his beloved Andrea are married at last, but happily ever after isn't in the cards. Even before the wedding bells have stopped ringing, a young stranger appears claiming to be Sin’s son. While Andi is adjusting to that news, Sin succumbs to the illness that threatens their happiness, and the only surgeon who can save him unscrupulously demands Andi’s body as his fee. Reluctantly paying the price, the little Navajo finds herself on a mid-space liner with her lover-by-force while her husband recuperates in the hospital. When the ship is attacked by Blackbirders Andi and the other women passengers are destined for the Slave Pits of Bel-Ammon. Then the slavers’ leader decides to keep her for himself, and Andi faces an even worse fate than being a slave, for the man who leads the Blackbirders is someone she never expected to see again.

I've got a website at, which also includes information about my pseudonym, Icy Snow Blackstone. There's also information on, Facebook, and I have trailers for several of my novels on


-- That's it for today, everyone. Hope you've enjoyed Toni's visit. Be sure to say hi and let her know Have a great week! Lynda

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1 comment:

Nightingale said...

Toni holds true to history and her novels are absolutely enchanting. I happen to be a fan but my opinion isn't at all biased.