Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Let's see...
Spider web and spiders is up.
Skeletons are hanging.
Bats are flying.
Spooky music is playing.
Fog is ready to go.
Eerie laughter, check.
Coffin is on the porch.
Mummy is leaning in the corner.
Mmm, what else?

Right. Lightning.

Candy treats for the kidlets tonight and savory treats for the bigger kids, lol. We're having a costume party. I'm a witch-doctor (witch hat with medical scrubs), hubby is a corn-stalker (hockey mask wearing corn cob).

What kind of costumes are you wearing? Or would you wear if you could?


A vampire?


Or a witch?

Whatever you'll be, I hope you have a delightfully frightful Halloween! And when you get pooped out from doing the Monster Mash, rest yourself by playing this very funny Tic Tac Toe game. It has sound (spooky stuff for the holiday) so be sure to turn your speakers up.


Have a great evening!

Coming soon - Heartstone, Mundania Press

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life Gets in the Way

I'm sorry there isn't a long and articulate post today. We've had some bad husband's cousin passed away so we're heading out of town for the funeral. And his best guy friend passed away just yesterday so we need to stop there before we go.

What's really sad is that my husband says he and his friend always talked about getting together soon but both just kept putting it off. Now it's too late.

If you have friends or family you haven't seen in a while, call them. Visit them. Don't let it be too late for you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Linnea Sinclair

Linnea Sinclair is a former news reporter and a retired private detective who yearned for more than a news story to "hold the presses" or case files that served as night time reading. For her, the role of starship captain was a dream long before Captain Kirk boarded the Enterprise, and today she's living her fantasy!

When she's not tinkering with sci-fi mechanics, she can be found plotting award winning novels that have garnered her honors in the FF&P's PRISM, a Paranormal Romance Staff Top Pick, the Best of the Year for Science Fiction Romance, a Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award, and the PEARL for Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you're trying to catch her, she docks seasonally in Florida or Ohio with her dear husband and furchildren.

I don't believe I've had the pleasure of meeting Linnea in person, unless she was one of those blurred faces introduced as a friend of a friend (Colby Hodge) in Atlanta several years ago. And though I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, I'm certain I'd remember meeting this lady if our paths had crossed! Last year, I was mapping a course to CRW in Charlotte to hear one of her legendary seminars. However, those plans were nixed when we got word she'd been nominated for a RITA at the RWA National Convention! Can't blame a woman for kicking butt and taking names in sci-fi, now can we?

Since then, I've delighted in exchanging e-mails and posts with her on Myspace and Facebook. Linnea is truly an awe-inspiring woman who loves to share her passion for sci-fi romance. I will admit when she said yes to this interview I did a little dance. I'm so pleased she was able to share her insights with us today amid deadlines and life's celebrations (birthdays and wedding anniversaries). Linnea has fought her way to the bridge, and is poised among some stellar peers to take us all on a wild romantic ride among the stars! I, for one, can't wait to have my boots knocked off again!

What drove you to write sci-fi action romance when the sub-genres forefathers were mostly men?

The genre of SF’s forefathers were mostly men (or women writing under male aliases), but the SUB-genre of SFR has, as its founders, predominantly women. The Galaxy Express has a terrific listing on the blog’s left side ( Some of the 1980s authors include Jayne Ann Krentz, Janelle Taylor, and Flora Speer. However, the romances written by Flora Speer and Janelle Taylor usually fall under the futuristic label, rather than SFR—the difference being the ratio of romance to SF/Action.

In the 1980s, authors who wrote more SF with a strong romance subplot included Lois McMaster Bujold, Debra Doyle and James Macdonald, Jean Lorrah, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and the writing team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Most of those would be shelved in SF. It really wasn’t until the 1990s when SFR began to be noticed as a sub-genre somewhat different from futuristics and SF, with the advent of authors like Catherine Asaro and Lisanne Norman (on the SF side) and Nancy Cane, Dara Joy, and Tess Mallory on the futuristic romance side.

If this sounds confusing, know that it is. Which is exactly why I began writing it. I couldn’t find in futuristics the SF element or the world building element I wanted. I couldn’t find in SF novels the romance element I wanted. So I wrote the stories I wanted to read but couldn’t find (since shelving was so haphazard and the Internet wasn’t around to guide me), which turn out to be a fairly even split of SF/romance (which is the recipe for SFR).

I’m also a Trek/Star Wars/Battlestar fan. I wrote Trek fan fic for decades and many of those stories had strong romantic elements (as is common in fan fic.) But I wanted the adventure and excitement of other star systems and alien worlds as well.

Today I still read more SF than romance.

When did you imagine the concept for GABRIEL'S GHOST and lay the beginning of the Guthrie men's adventures?

GABRIEL’S GHOST is really the story of Gabriel Ross (“Sully”) Sullivan and Chasidah (“Chaz”) Bergen. Philip Guthrie—Chaz’s ex-husband, has only a minor role to play in GABRIEL’S and a bit larger role in SHADES OF DARK. But neither book—which are books #1 and #2 in the Dock Five universe—can really be considered Guthrie men stories. HOPE’S FOLLY is Admiral Philip Guthrie’s story, and his book grew out of his minor roles in GABRIEL’S and SHADES. REBELS AND LOVERS (March 2010) is Devin Guthrie’s story—he’s a completely new character who doesn’t appear in any previous book.

The rationale behind this was that Bantam wasn’t keen on sequels (same characters/different story line) but related books (same world, new characters). I would be perfectly happy doing five books on Chaz and Sully, but that wouldn’t make my editor happy. So I had to pull in new characters. I am going to try to do one more Chaz and Sully book, though, to wrap up the set, as I really feel the Dock Five universe is Chaz’s and Sully’s story at heart.

Chaz and Sully showed up on my computer screen about ten years ago when—having retired from being a private investigator—I signed up for creative writing classes, just for fun (and to keep my brain from rotting—my degree in journalism notwithstanding). One of the class assignments was to write a few pages based on an emotion: love, hate, jealousy, fear, etc. I chose fear and…

Only fools boast they have no fears. I thought of that as I pulled the blade of my dagger from the Takan guard’s throat, my hand shaking, my heart pounding in my ears. Light from the setting sun filtered down through the tall trees around me. It flickered briefly on the dark gold blood that bubbled from the wound, staining the Taka’s coarse fur. I felt a sliminess between my fingers and saw that same ochre stain on my skin…

…is what came out. If you’re dragging out a copy of the book and note that the above isn’t exactly word-for-word what you see on the page, you’re right. That’s closer to the original that was quickly dashed off back then.

I had about five pages, which sat for, oh, a year or three. Then one day the rest of the story just exploded in my brain. I wrote GABRIEL’S in thirty-four exhausting days. Chaz and Sully wouldn’t leave me alone. It was wonderful.

Because the story happened so quickly, I can’t say I had any particular reason or plot in mind. Or was more that the characters were telling me what was happening. However, that was a point in time when vampire romances were super hot and popular. I didn’t want to do that, yet I wanted a story or plot point that would interest readers of those kinds of romances. I wanted a hero who was tortured by the very things that made him strong but I didn’t want to write a vampire or werewolf. (It’s also not a ghost story, despite the title.) Without getting in to spoilers, I’ll say it has a shape-shifter element but it’s not vampire or werewolf in space. If a reader is also a Deep Space Nine fan, he or she will also likely find GABRIEL’S a worthy read.

GABRIEL’S won the prestigious RITA® award for Best Paranormal Romance, by the way. That was a huge surprise for me but more over, I was glad to see SFR get the recognition.

Why is it important to you to incorporate strong women who can hold their own--Chaz and Rya--in all your novels?

I don’t set out to write strong women per se. I write characters appropriate to their worlds. If you wrote about a female police officer in a contemporary novel, chances are she’d have several stronger elements in her personality because of her “world,” her career. I’m not saying there aren’t timid female cops out there. But in general that career attracts women who are more confident and aggressive.

Chaz Bergren is a former military patrol ship captain. Rya Bennton is a former Imperial Security (think: Secret Service or US Marshall) officer. Captain Trilby Elliot (FINDERS KEEPERS) is a starfreighter captain (think: long-haul trucker). Tasha Sebastian, Gillie Davre and Jorie Mikkalah are also all military. The very nature of their careers defines portions of their personalities. With Chaz especially, she was a military brat, with both parents in the military. Her mindset is different from, say, a librarian whose mother was an insurance agent and whose father was a college professor.

With REBELS AND LOVERS, I broke the mold a bit (and yes, my male characters are often military or law enforcement) as Devin Guthrie is, well, a geek. A corporate executive. In my mind, he’s my reluctant hero. He’s far more comfortable in the boardroom than the battlefield. Kaidee Griggs was his corporate pilot but she has an interesting history that gives her more ‘combat’ skills than he has. It was fun reversing roles like that.

I also write strong women because I think women today are stronger. When I was doing my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Criminology, I was one of the few females in the class (I’m talking 1970s). Even when I had my PI agency (1990-2000), I was one of the few female investigators. Today things are different. So I write female characters that (I hope) younger women can aspire to and older women can admire, if not relate to.

Out of all your travels, which has been your most memorable? What other sci-fi/fantasy romance writers do you rub elbows with when you're swapping industry info at conference?

By travels, if you mean writer/reader conferences, probably every RT (Romantic Times BOOKlovers’ Convention) is the most fun one can have with one’s clothes on. There are still a lot of cons I’ve yet to attend, especially in the SF genre (though I did do ARCHON the year it was the NASFIC.) I’d love to do DragonCon. The problem is that when I’m at cons, I’m not writing. I generally teach workshops and/or host parties at the cons, and that takes up a lot of time—not just when there but in prep time. I’m already prepping for the 2010 RT in Columbus OH, and that’s not until next April.

At cons, I love to hang with Robin D Owens and Susan Grant. Both are terrific gals who, like me, are owned by cats. We talk writing. We talk cats. Isabo Kelly is a dear friend and one I spend time with at every RT. And Stacey Kade is not only my crit partner but one of my closest friends, even though I’m older enough to be her mom. Stacey and her husband often visit me and my husband in Florida, so we’re friends outside of the con circuit. You’ll also find me in the bar with J.C. Wilder, Jade Lee, Janet Miller, Catherine Asaro, Liddy Midnight, and Colby Hodge. Susan Kearney and I both live in Florida and run into each a lot a fair bit. Same with Nancy Cohen/Nancy Cane and Lucienne Diver.

Two of my biggest fan-girl moments came at ARCHON, though, when author Barbara Hambly (genuflect, genuflect) asked me to share lunch with her, and author Jacqueline Lichtenberg (genuflect, genuflect) had me join her and author Jean Lorrah at dinner. I’ve read Barbara Hambly for years—she’s arguably one of my favorite fantasy authors. And Jacqueline Lichtenberg is one of the most brilliant women I’ve ever met.

At the RT bookfairs I often get to sit next to author Pat Simmons (the tables are alphabetical). She writes multi-cultural inspirationals. We get along fabulously and I look forward to funning-around with her each year. I also enjoy her books—I read outside of my genre a lot—and I just picked up her crit partner’s—Lisa Y. Watson’s—debut novel, WATCH YOUR BACK. I know Lisa from RT because she always comes by our section in the bookfair to make sure Pat and I are being sufficiently naughty.

I’ve also had great times sitting next to author Nalini Singh at bookfairs. She’s a fabulous person with a wicked sense of humor.

How would you describe a perfect writing day? Do you have a favorite "furchild" keeping you company or a perfect snack that keeps you energized?

Lately, I’ve had no perfect writing days—life has become rather complicated in the past few years with family illnesses and other things that, when the phone rings, you have to deal with. I try to write daily—it’s my day job, so to speak—but more realistically I get three to four good writing days a week. In both our Florida and Ohio homes I have my own office (though in Florida I share the office with my husband).

We currently have four furchildren: Miss Doozy, Jimmy-James, Chester, and his brother, Brady. We lost my beloved Daq-cat (Tank the Furzel in GAMES OF COMMAND) this past June. That devastated me, as he died young and from cancer. As I type this, Jimmy-James (he’s a ten year old Maine Coon we rescued in July, after Daq passed) is sprawled on his window perch. Chester just left my lap (I was typing and not petting him enough—bad mommy!). Brady is sleeping in a cat bed in the corner of the office. Miss Doozy is probably under the bed because my housekeeper is here today and I can hear the vacuum cleaner running downstairs. Photos of all my felines are on my site:

My favorite snack right now is a nice bottle of South African Pinotage, though I’m also partial to Paso Robles (CA) red wines. Oh, and Kim Crawford (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc.

What's on your horizon for the near future? Any signings, appearances or other info fans need to know?

I’m teaching a writing workshop and then participating in a multi-author booksigning in the Orlando (FL) area on November 7th. The workshop is for the Central Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA. Details are on my site in NEWS:

The direct link to the booksigning at the Altamonte Mall is here:

The signing is an annual event and proceeds are donated to charity. Authors attending include Bonnie Vanak, Nancy Cohen, Lucienne Diver, Gennita Low and more!

My appearances and workshops are always listed on that page. I also have a full slate of on-line workshops starting in January 2010. Most of the workshops are open to anyone—I love helping readers become writers!

Want to win some cool "swag"? Post a comment or question for Linnea and you could win a HOPE'S FOLLY tote bag or a multi-book tote emblazoned with all Linnea's covers since FINDERS KEEPERS!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Guest - Frances Pauli

Good morning everyone! I hope you're all set to have a great week on this fine Monday morning. Today we have guest author Frances Pauli visiting us. Ms Pauli has a very interesting article about creating one of the most important characters for our books -- the hero. I, myself, really like the idea of the 'man board'. What do you think?


On Creating Heroes:

Not superheroes, mind you, though those can be fun as well, but what I’m referring to is creating the hero—the hero in your tale, manuscript, masterpiece. How do you make certain that your hero becomes your readers’ hero as well? Preferably quickly.

Specifically in Romance writing, the hero has a daunting task. You might call it heroic. His is the business of quickening pulses, evoking sighs, and entrancing your target audience. He must be charismatic, charming, sexy, strong and sensitive, right? He must become all things wanted—the man every woman searches for.

Is it possible? Of course. He’s a hero, after all.

A writing professor once told me that, when we are at our most individual, then we become the most universal. (I think she was quoting someone else) It sounds a bit contradictory, but the point she was making is that our personal experience is our greatest tool for reaching the widest audience. The human condition, the specific, individual human condition, is what connects us and allows us to relate the closest to one another.

So rather than contemplate what might make our readers swoon, perhaps we should consider what makes us tremble in anticipation. Or, as I’ve heard other Romance writers proclaim, if he turns you on, he’ll turn your reader on as well. At least, the odds are stacked in his favor.

I’ve found that, while I’m not immune to the charms of the classic hero, my personal desires yearn for something a touch less formulaic. I imagine that my readers’ do as well. I have a soft spot (okay, it’s a gaping chasm of weakness) for the underdog. I like “un-heroes,” quirky characters, wounded souls and heroes that show their strength by overcoming enormous obstacles—not always physical ones.

I confess that I like muscles as well. Hey, I’m human. Good looks go a long way in my fictional fantasies, but they aren’t always the same old, tall-dark-and-handsome good looks. Give me a feature that makes a man stand out—an unusual nose, a scar, an accent—and good luck holding me back. I’m also quite fond of Storm Trooper armor, but that is a story for another blog. ;-)

The point is I know what I like. Maybe because I’m plenty old enough to have figured it out by now, maybe through diligent research, I’m not telling. I will tell you about an exercise I did back when I was young and single and prone to doing crazy things. It’s a fun exercise, so if you feel inclined, give it a try.

I had a supply of Men’s Health magazines on hand thanks to a fitness conscious male roommate. I also snagged a few celebrity geared periodicals, some glue, cardstock or board and other assorted art supplies. Because I was single, and shortly out of a not-so-nice relationship, I gave myself permission to be shallow for the duration of the art project. Really, really shallow. Don’t judge me.

What I then began to create was a collage of all things I found desirable in a man. Read that hero. I cut, pasted and arranged a miasma of: arms, chests, hairstyles, jaw lines and other features. (Don’t go there—I didn’t) In the end, I had a lovely painting of my ideal man. Granted, he wasn’t all in one piece, and I’d left out such minor details as personality. But you get the idea. If you’re creative enough, and you employ the use of snappy magazine text (which I did) you might be able to pin down more elusive traits than just appearance.

I loved that collage. If I’d been smart enough I would have designated it as literary reference and kept it, but then I wasn’t writing in earnest yet. I did hang it up for awhile, and it did inspire many of the heroes in my future manuscripts. But in the end I got rid of it. My next ex-boyfriend didn’t care for it. (I can’t imagine why) He called it my, “Man Board.” You can guess at the tone of voice implemented. Sigh.

I still think there was something to the act of consciously sorting out all the things I found attractive. I don’t just mean physically...really. In fact, I think the “man board” would have been more useful if I’d included symbols or words to create a more well-rounded person--my un-hero. Try it out and see what you end up with. You might surprise yourself.

Portraying what you like best might not engage every reader, but what can it hurt? At the very least, it’s more fun that guessing what someone else wants. I’m betting that, if you love your hero, the reader will hear it in your words and fall in love right alongside you.




When Xenobiologist, Dr. Murray, receives yet another phony wedding invitation from her galaxy hopping sister, she does what any good sibling would do. She drops her research and hops the first flight to some obscure planet at the edge of the civilized universe.

But Zora's weddings never manage to go off as planned, and before the cake is served, Murray finds herself imprisoned with the unapologetic bride. With the
assistance of a mysterious android and the universe's last living space slug, the two find themselves on the run in a stolen space ship with half the galaxy in hot pursuit. Thanks to Zora, it's the least desirable half.

Maybe Murray will get lucky, and the crash landing will kill her.


Murray screamed. She started kicking again, only to be hoisted further from the ground. They hauled her forward, down the center of the archaic dungeon to the last stall. Sitting in this one, perched on top of a heap of straw and rubble, sat her sister.

Zora posed, legs crossed and leaning on one elbow, with a lit cigarette burning in her free hand. She wore a miniscule white skirt, a low cut vest and a veil. As they approached, she flicked a length of ash into a metal bowl beside her and slid gracefully to her feet.

"Bride's quarters," Lizard man left sniggered. They dumped Murray to the ground, and she staggered to her feet.

"Mur?" Zora said. She lifted the veil and tossed it over her red hair.

"Zora!" Murray pulled away from the scaly hands still clamped around her forearms. "Ouch." One of the guards moved to unlock the cell. Zora dumped her smoke into the bowl and stuck out her left hip.

"Hey guys," she drawled. "Play nice and let me out?"

"Sorry," the guard at the cell said.

"Orders." His buddy shoved Murray forward. They passed her, stumbling, into the cell and swung the bars shut.

"Oh, come on!" Zora stuck her bottom lip into full pout mode, but the Reptilian duo turned and headed back toward the stairs. Murray's hands found her hips. She tapped one foot against the soggy floor and stared at her sister. Zora ignored her, leapt to the cell front and craned to watch the guards' retreat. "Damn," she said.

"I'm going to kill you," Murray snarled.


Frances Pauli, author of speculative fiction and romance, lives in Washington state with her husband and two children. Her first three novels will be released in e-book and trade paperback in 2010. Her short story, The Alien Embrace, appeared in the Spring and Fall 2009 issues of Alternative Coordinates magazine.

Frances blogs about writing at:
She also writes a free serial Space Opera, Space Slugs, at:

More information about Frances, her upcoming releases and free fiction
can be found on her website:

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview

We will welcome multi-award winning author Linnea Sinclair next Friday the 23rd due to my nuptials! And yes, I did take a moment out from my honeymoon to post this :0) I wanted to keep you in the loop so you can mark your calendars to come back and visit with Linnea, who also celebrated her wedding anniversary in October!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Review - Hex In High Heels

Hex In High Heels
by Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks Casablanca

Irrepressible witch, Blair Fitzpatrick has had her eye on sexy carpenter and all round handyman Jake Harrison for quite a while. And who can blame her? A man with a tool belt can make a girl's heart flutter real fast. But being a good looking guy who's handy to have around isn't Jake's only skill. He's also a shape-shifter but not your run-of-the-mill wolf shape-shifter. No, Jake is a throwback to a past ancestor...a border collie!

Just as Blair and Jake begin a nice, hot relationship, his wolfy relatives move in. They want him back in the pack but Jake doesn't want any part of them. So they set about trying to entice him back.

While Blair is working on her relationship with Jake, she's also trying to ride herd on a bunch of not-so-Christmasy elves come to Moonstone Lake to provide 'color' for the winter festival, help a friend whose ex-boyfriend absconded with most of her savings, and figure out what the new wolf pack who bought the ski lodge wants. When she discovers they want Jake and that they've declared war on her, she's ready to battle for what she wants. No one messes with her town or her boyfriend!

This book, like all of Ms Wisdom's books, is a fast, fun and imaginative read. Her heroines are always smart, sexy women with plenty of courage and a 'not in my town' attitude. And her heroes are always handsome virile hunks the reader just falls in love with. Jake is even more than that. Maybe it's the tool belt (remember what I said about handy to have around guys) or maybe it's his lovable personality when he's in his border collie form. I think Jake is one of the best heroes Ms Wisdom has created yet.

All of these hexy books are a treat to read. Ms. Wisdom creates fun, magical worlds peopled with unique characters you love or love to hate. Better still, she creates love stories that warm the heart and make the reader glad to read them.

Ms Wisdom's other books are 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, Hex Appeal, and Wicked By Any Other Name. Try them all. You'll be glad you did.

Guest - Linda Wisdom

Good morning, everyone! Today we have one of our favorite guest authors, Linda Wisdom. She's a prolific writer with many, many books to her credit and lives with her darling husband, wise mother and two gorgeous little boy-puppies, Bogie and Barney, a parrot and a tortoise out in sunny California (LOL, okay maybe it isn't always sunny). Linda's newest book, HEX IN HIGH HEELS, is available at most stores but she's offering a special giveaway so read all the way to the Lynda Again section to see how you can win.

A Witch’s World

Many thanks to Lynda and Star-Crossed Romance for having me here today to talk about my hexy world building.

‘I live in a world of my own, but that’s okay, they know me there.’

What can I say? It’s me.

My witchy world may reside in my imagination, but there are times when I think it hovers just on the edge of my vision. That if I turn my head fast enough (total ow there since we would be talking whiplash), that I’d actually see that magickal world.

The underground clubs would hold all sorts of preternatural creatures. You’d brush shoulders with witches at the grocery store. That dog sniffing after your poodle might show up as a gorgeous guy the next day. Bunny slippers might show up in your front yard and not just to eat the grass either. Trust me, they don’t carry plastic bags with them. You could walk into a dressing room and find a gargoyle in there unless he’s out somewhere creating his own form of chaos.

I love the idea of living in a world of wonder. Where anything can happen when you least expect.

A house could boast a hidden cupboard that holds magickal supplies. A basement that’s been well enforced for vampires or in Nick’s case, a former bomb shelter. An herb garden that boasts a lot more than the usual herbs for cooking.

It’s a world filled with rich color, sights, and scents. Not like Harry Potter’s world or even Samantha Stevens. One where magick is not all that unusual. Where you can hire Jazz to banish a curse a co-worker cast on you and/or maybe a revenge spell from Blair for that same co-worker. Perhaps seek out Stasi for a love spell.

If you’re willing to walk on the wild side, you could visit Klub Konfuzion where vampires, shifters, witches and who knows what else might be there. Hire a limo through Dweezil, although I warn you not all of his drivers are as pleasant as Jazz. And the Full Moon CafĂ© isn’t for anyone who isn’t of the furry persuasion.

I told you – it’s a world of my own where anything can happen. And the first four books are only the beginning as I weave more spells, create more characters that would have fangs, horns, and , although Fluff and Puff are convinced they are the true stars.

There are no fairy tale castles, no caves where the dragons dwell, (they just might have a comfy penthouse), no gothic looking houses. Although, there just might be those too. Because, as I said, this is my world.

That’s the fun part of creating your own world. You can let it be anything you want it to be.

What about you? What do you want to see in your world?


Ms Wisdon's other hexy books include 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, Hex Appeal, and Wicked By Any Other Name.

Visit her website at

-- Lynda Again

Ms Wisdom is offering a copy of Hex In High Heels to one lucky reader. All you have to do to win is leave a comment AND send an email to her at (Put Star-Crossed Romance in the subject line)

On Friday, she'll draw the name of one lucky reader to win. Good luck!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Closing in on The End

As a writer do you know that feeling when you hit the final chapters and you get that little pang of regret? That feeling that you'll be sad to move on to new characters and a new place? I know I've had several times that I didn't want the journey to end because of some favorite characters.

Readers can also identify with this when they hit that last couple of chapters and they anxiously eye the number of pages until they reach the back cover. They try to space out their reading time to hang on to the least if the story is really good!

That's where I'm at in the wedding process. Sometimes I wish I could go back and revisit moments along the way. Hopefully I'll get that chance when my stepmom scrapbooks those parts :0) There are some moments I'd rather not revisit, like all the things that went wrong along the way. Unfortunately it seemed like I was too busy putting out fires or concentrating on things that were going on in other aspects of my life to really enjoy being engaged. And now I'm coming up fast on the last chapter. I feel like I've been thumbing the corner of that page for a while, and waiting for the day I'd reach it.

In some ways I'm like that writer (including myself) who's ready to be done with the BBM, going full steam ahead and planning that brilliant final sentence. Or that writer who's ready to finish that neverending round of edits before sliding the submission into the envelope or hitting send on the e-mail to an editor. They're so ready to get to that time after The End which means a much needed break..and many times a new adventure to refresh lagging imaginations.

I'm ready to reach the HEA where my fiance and I walk across the drawbridge and get to the honeymoon. I'm tired of the sleepless nights from stress, the back and forth to keep the peace, having to play "mom" to make sure everyone did their assignments, and filling in when people didn't do as they'd promised. I want to enjoy these last memorable moments, but I know for a while longer I'll be the go-to person who has to make the plans. I just hope that when I go back and look over these times, I can smile and say thanks to all our hard work things turned out just right. I've given up on perfection!

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Guest - Melanie Nilles

Good morning everyone! Today we have a great article by author Melanie Nilles. Melanie grew up on a western North Dakota cattle ranch and farm. Along with her interest in horses, she always had a fascination with science fiction and fantasy. After high school, she graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. She currently resides in central North Dakota with her family, which includes her husband and kids, and two cats. Her published works include STARFIRE ANGELS, DRAGON PROPHECY and the continuing LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON epic, which is available as a free e-serial at her website. Besides writing, she also trains and shows her horse. For updates, visit her website at

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Hope you all enjoy Melanie's article today!

When I started thinking about what to write on the topic of romance in science fiction and fantasy, I knew there was something there but it wouldn't quite materialize for me. Not until some time later did it hit me, and as I tend to prefer the classic science fiction that uses extraordinary circumstances to explore the limits of who we are, I realized that romance is just one more ingredient in the whole of being human.

Science fiction and fantasy often take us into incredible worlds and situations that explore our humanity from the outside, examining every facet of human existence under a microscope. Some stories may tackle specific aspects while others take a broader view. Romance, driven by love, is part of our humanity, it is an expression of the need for companionship, because we are social beings. Romance is a part of the human existence. Adding it into science fiction and fantasy imbues those genres with a touch of grace where there is often a critical view of what it means to be human. It grants a reprieve from the challenges and hardships the characters endure.

We all have a deep-rooted need within us that yearns to feel desired and sheltered but also to nurture and protect others. That doesn't stop when you're splattering alien body parts across a battlefield or fighting a dragon. In fact, a character may be doing the dirty work to protect those they love, to save a lover from danger or stand by them facing the danger. Romance may be the motivation behind a character's actions.

I will never forget attending a lecture by a popular science fiction author that I attended at a convention. He said that of the emails he receives from fans, the majority wanted to know if a particular two characters were ever going to get together in a series he wrote, which was heavy science fiction. He had added a touch of romantic tension that kept his readers wanting more. When a writer composes, they can touch those desires within readers through their characters, and he had.

As a woman who prefers reading science fiction and fantasy, I have to agree that I tend to favor stories with a touch of romance to stories without any (although I have enjoyed stories without it but not as much). And there better be some satisfaction in it, because we want to know that in a crazy world, whether our own or something completely imaginary, two people can find a spark of peace within each other's arms.

Melanie Nilles


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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Book Review - Mr. Darcy, Vampire

Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange
ISBN: 13-978-1-4022-3697-6

"My dearest Jane,

My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognize me...."

This book begins with the wedding between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy and continues as he takes her on an impromptu wedding tour in Europe. Elizabeth is quite perplexed when her beloved Darcy does not come to her on their wedding night nor on the nights to follow as they journey to Paris. With a respite in the war, Mr. Darcy is intent on showing his new bride to his...friends. Elizabeth, a confident young woman, is somewhat surprised but enjoys meeting Darcy's friends in Paris. Though some of them seem to be quite worldly to her, some are a delight. But underneath the city and the people's charm, Elizabeth senses a darker 'something'. Then when Darcy's cousin and friend, Colonel Fitzwilliam, arrives and demands to know what Darcy intends to do, Elizabeth's confidence falters. Perhaps the differences between her station and Darcy's is too much to overcome? But no, she decides, their marriage is based on love. Their social standing will not stand in the was of their happiness.

But Darcy still doesn't come to her at night and after his cousin's visit, he announces they will proceed to the Alps to visit his uncle. For advice, he says, and Elizabeth again wonders if he regrets their marriage. Though the journey is pleasant, Elizabeth is at a loss on how to entice her husband to her bed. Advice from a kindly, older Englishwoman they happen upon at an inn makes Elizabeth determined. Early one morning she sees Darcy swimming in the nearby pond and decides to join him. His expression of absolute longing delights Elizabeth and she is convinced that this will be the end to his self-imposed exile from her bed. But their moment is lost when his aunt Lady Catherine arrives to lambast Darcy for marrying Elizabeth. His fierce defense of his marriage sends Lady Catherine on her way. Elizabeth finds herself alone once again as they continue on to the mountains.

Each step of her journey becomes darker and more fraught with nightmare images. Darcy's uncle is kindly but when the arrive at his castle, an ax falls close to Darcy. The servants claim it to be a portent of his coming death and that she, Elizabeth, will cause it. The count is likable if a bit threadbare. Elizabeth is startled to discover there are no mirrors in the castle. But when the castle is attacked, he tells Darcy 'they will not stand for her' and Darcy rushes her out through a secret bolt hole. They cross the mountains and finally end their journey in Venice. However, the mystery of their marriage and the loneliness of her marriage bed continues to depress Elizabeth until it all comes to a head. Darcy and Elizabeth must fight both for their lives and their future. But will the portent that Elizabeth will cause Darcy's death come true?

If Jane Austen had written a book about a vampire, this would be it. Amanda Grange has created a true feeling of the old masterpiece. The language, the texture, the entire essence of the book stands true to what Ms. Austen would have accomplished. Ms. Grange brings Elizabeth and Darcy to life and explores their inmost feelings as they journey toward the end of the book. I believe even the staunchest Pride and Prejudice devotees would find this as fascinating as I did and well worth a second and third reading.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cause for Reflection

Sorry that this is late! I was out of town most of yesterday doing final meetings with wedding personnel, and then stayed over night in a neighboring city to participate in a 5K. No, not just any 5K. This one was a Women's Only race for breast cancer, specifically a mammography fund to pay for mammograms for women who can't afford one (unemployed, financially strapped) or their insurance won't cover the test (those darn exclusions).
This was my second year doing the race, and though I knew I'd be in the thick of final wedding planning, I knew I had to go back. Seeing that sea of pink t-shirts winding down the street for a common cause, not to mention hearing everyones' stories, and see their bibs of support were unforgettable. In fact, in last year's race I injured my hip, and earlier this year was forced into therapy. When I told my doctor where I was when the injury happened she kind of skewed her lips, made a disgruntled noise, then asked, "Would you do it again?" I thought back to that day...of my own bib full of names, the rush of emotion being among those ladies, then the months of pain before I had to give in eventhough I was still racing, and I said, "Yes...but I'd train for those hills."

Now doesn't that sound like something one of our kick-ass heroines would say? I wasn't trying to be flippant, but in hindsight it does seem that way. I believe that going through such experiences, and having my life changed by such events, including seeing friends battle cancer has shaped my character. Thus backstory is created. In many ways such events can cripple a character, make them turn to the dark side like those troubled heroes that are all the rage today. But it can also make a woman who was at one time docile become more than she though she could be, because she has taken up a cause, a flag if you will, to champion something larger than herself. Heck, I can see her now as a one woman task force called out to eradicate a mutagen released onto an unsuspecting world. And of course her signature color would be pink :0)

We all have a story, and I think that background can often be found in our work. We give our characters little bits of ourselves, but meld them with a current cause (saving the planet, discovering what's out there among the stars, battling evil) to up the conflict and tension. At the heart, that first grain of an idea comes from us. That's the reason we tell the give a little of ourselves, to immortalize those we love, to show that having a cause can make a difference!

I'd say $76,000 is a lot of difference, at least to the women who were helped from last year's race. With what seemed like double the amount of runners/walker this year, just imagine that good fortune two fold. That is what lending a little of your time and money can do...give hope and possibly save a life!
I think I would be amiss if I didn't mention my sadness in hearing about the loss to our industry with the death of Kate Duffy. I had the pleasure of meeting her in Atlanta at Moonlight and Magnolias (which is also in full swing as I write this).

Instantly I was struck by her enthusiasm, not to mention her love of books and authors. She was plucky, a real go-getter who'd been among us in the trenches as an editor who wasn't afraid to get her boots dirty, for what seemed like forever. I looked forward to seeing her again, of getting more one-on-one time, and now I won't get the chance.

I think we have all gained from her work and will remember her for what she did for us (even indirectly) for a long time to come. She may be gone, but I don't think she'll ever be forgotten. Such is the way of greatness.

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