Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review - Catch of a Lifetime

Catch of a Lifetime
By Jui Fennell
Sourcebooks Casablanca
January 2010

When Harry the Hammerhead catches Angel Tritone spying on the humans, he figures he’s due a sweet tasting Tritone snack. Angel, on the other hand, isn’t too keen on being shark food so she leaps aboard the nearest boat. Luckily for her, it’s crewed by a cute little boy and his equally cute not-so-little father Logan Hardington.

What she doesn’t realize is that Logan needs a babysitter for his newly arrived son, a boy he didn’t know he had from an old girlfriend who never told him the truth. Michael is a surprise but Logan is ready to be a good father which is why he’s not sure Angel is the best babysitter. She’s a stranger and he finds her naked on his boat. But Michael is dead set on having Angel stick around and that suits her plans perfectly. She’s sure it will enable her to learn more about humans and their culture. And that will help her come up with some way to save the planet’s ecology.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love with the little boy…or his father. She doesn’t plan on having her heart broken when Logan discovers the truth about her, that she’s a Mer and not human. He isn’t able to deal with the shock or the fact that she kept the truth from him. Michael, however, knows what adults fail to recognize…love is all that matters. And in the end, it’s love that saves them all.

In this third book about the Tritone family, Ms Fennell has done a wonderful job of characterization. Angel’s innocence about humans shines through clearly from the very first page as does Logan’s determination to be the kind of father and to create the kind of family that his new son needs. We ache with Angel when Logan tells her to leave but we feel his pain at the same time. And as the story draws to its exciting conclusion, we can’t put the book down. It’s a page turner that’s hooked us right from page one.

Catch of a Lifetime is a fun read but has a deeper message swimming just below the surface. It asks us to be good neighbors to our planetary friends and to live ‘green’ but without hitting us over the head with it. That’s what makes this a wonderful read.

Ms Fennell is also the author of In Over Her Head and Wild Blue Under.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Interviewing The Librarian

I just interviewed The Librarian from Linda Wisdom's Witchy books. Fascinating character if a bit irascible, lol

You can read it here.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Alpha or Beta?

Alpha or Beta has long been a discussion in writers and readers circles. I found myself pondering what kind of man I needed on the way home when my car started to go crazy like it was possesssed.

While I love Alpha's take charge spirit, there is often a huge air of arrogance. Though some writers are talented enough to push the envlope without him being so pompous. But atleast when you're in a pinch, you know your Alpha will be able to handle anything that comes up, or atleast make someone else jump into action.

On the other hand Beta's would think about the issue, reason what the best way to handle it would be and possibly even ask for help. I don't think there's anything wrong with a guy asking for help...especially if it's directions. Sometimes you just have to admit you don't know everything, though mid-crisis might not be the best time to find out your guy isn't "super man".

What do you find more appealing? A man who will whisk you away or one who'll sit and stay a while?

Care to know what I have in my knight in shining armour...aka my hubby? He's definitely Beta. When I made it home, he told me to describe the problem while he nodded knowingly, went out to try to crank the car, grabbed his tools, took the battery out of the car and hooked it up to charge, then went online to search for the cheapest place to find a replacement as Plan B.

Then he turned partially Alpha as he gave me a kiss and nudged me toward the kitchen to cook dinner :0) Sometimes he knows when to take charge, which means I get the best of both types...except when it comes to directions. Thankfully he has a GPS on his phone so I don't have to plead for him to stop wasting time going in circles.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest - Cheryl Brooks

Good morning everyone! Today's guest is Cheryl Brooks who's been with us before so I'll keep my part of this short :-) If you haven't already read it, you can check out my review of her latest book, Fugitive here

Oh, and make sure to read all the way down to the Lynda Again section. Sourcebooks is offering a giveaway of two copies of Fugitive you don't want to miss.

Okay, take it away Cheryl!

Hello! My name is Cheryl Brooks and I’m the author of The Cat Star Chronicles series of erotic science fiction romance. I’m very pleased to be invited to guest blog here on Star-Crossed Romance to promote the latest book in the series, Fugitive. Since this is primarily a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal site, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what it’s like to write that sort of thing.

So how does one write science fiction? The truth is, I don’t. Oh, I come up with some nifty little gadgets, but you won’t get a lot of technobabble from me, so what I write is probably more aptly described as futuristic. Even so, the best part of any sci-fi story really isn’t the technology anyway, it’s the characters. You can have all sorts of cool stuff that enables you to fly from one world to another, but if the characters aren’t interesting, the story won’t engage the reader.

I recently went to see the movie, Avatar. The basic plot wasn’t anything new, but the characters were developed enough to make them seem real and the fact that it was one of the most visually stunning films ever made was an added plus. Still, all the special effects in the world won’t carry a story if you don’t care about the characters and visual effects can’t help the author of a book that has no illustrations. You can describe a world so that the reader has an idea of what it looks like, but they have to use their own imagination to visualize it.

There are books that I’ve read many times and never had the benefit of seeing them through a cinematographer’s lens, but I can envision the people and places almost as well as if I’d seen them on the big screen. When I’m writing my own books, I can see those things just as well—the lake house on Barada Seven where my petite auburn-haired heroine, Drusilla, has come to paint the exotic wildfowl. I can picture the ugly amphibious eltran, Zef, who lives in the lake and hear his coarse laughter and his frank observations. And then, there is my hero, Manx. I can see his tall, lean form, know the softness of his long dark hair, and feel the heat emanating from his deeply tanned skin. I know how silently he moves and can hear his voice—even the cadence of his speech.

But no matter how alive my worlds or characters may be in my mind, the trick is to convey them to the reader using only the written word, and there are times when I am reminded that my readers aren’t privy to the inner workings of my brain. For example, when I sent in the manuscript for Fugitive, one comment that came back was about the boat that was there on the lake for Drusilla’s use. In my mind’s eye, it was my friend Suzie’s pontoon boat, and I wrote the scenes accordingly. The trouble was, I never actually described the boat! The editors came back with, “Is this a rowboat?” and “Has Manx really been piloting the boat this whole time?” The answers to those questions were perfectly obvious to me, but looking back, there was no description of the boat anywhere. So I had to go back and add it.

The same holds true for the characters. Everyone knows what humans and the creatures of Earth look like, but aliens are a different story. Without the benefit of illustrations, the writer must paint a picture of them using only words. It also helps to compare alien creatures with animals we humans are familiar with and many of the species of wildlife I create are composites. For example, the srakies of Barada Seven are rat-like monkeys. I could add more characteristics, but just those few words give the reader enough information to picture them.

I could go on forever, but it might be best if I stop here and ask a question or two. What is the most imaginative creation you’ve ever read about in a book? Was it a world, a character, an animal, or an event? What made it come alive for you?


When a Zetithian fugitive meets a beautiful Earth woman, their passion may cost them both their lives...

Manx is a Zetithian fugitive with a feline gene that gives him remarkable sexual powers. He has been in hiding in the remote jungles of Barada Seven ever since being marked for extermination by the violent Nedwuts.

Artist Drusilla arrives on Barada Seven, enticed only by the promise of finding a nature paradise there. But she discovers a wildlife she wasn’t expecting when she encounters Manx. Reckless with desire for the beautiful Earth woman, Manx risks his life to win her as his mate.

It’s only a matter of time until the Nedwuts find them, but it will take all of Manx and Drusilla’s passion, skill, and ingenuity to survive.

About the Author

Cheryl Brooks is an Intensive Care Unit nurse by night and a romance writer by dayt. Previous books in The Cat Star Chronicles series include Slave, Warrior, Rogue and Outcast. Hero, book six, will be in stores August 2010. She is a member of the RWA and lives with her husband and sons in Bloomfield, Indiana. For more information, please visit


-- Lynda Again,
Sourcebooks is offering a copy of Fugitive to two readers of Star-Crossed Romance. To get your name in the drawing, 1) leave a comment for Cheryl and 2) send me your snail mail address with Fugitive in the subject line and the ID you used for your comment. My fluffy cat, Wookie Baby, will help me select the two lucky readers and I'll announce it here on Friday. (She'd do it herself but her English vocabulary is limited to NO and WOE, lol)

Today's word is ORBIT -- the curved path, usually elliptical, described by a planet, satellite, spaceship, etc., around a celestial body, as the sun.

Members of my newsgroup will know what to do with today's word. You can know too by joining us. Members of my newsgroup are eligible to enter drawings when I have great books or other goodies to offer. Many of you have been with me since I published my first short story. This is my way of showing appreciation for you.

Members of my newsgroup are the only persons who can take advantage of my special offers. But don't worry, there isn't any chatter. You'll only get notices from me (once a week with an occasional extra notice when there's something special going on) so it won't fill your mailbox. Directions on how to join are below. Hope to see you there!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review - Fugitive, The Cat Star Chronicles #5

Fugitive, The Cat Star Chronicles #5
Cheryl Brooks
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1402229402
ISBN-13: 978-1402229404

Between the gorgeous purple sky and fine semi-tropical weather, Barada 7 is a paradise for artists who paint birds and Drusilla is one of the best such artists. So when her boyfriend leaves her for another man, her agent sends her to Barada to recoup. The only people there remind Drusilla of short, orange skinned toads and the other indigenous life from, Zef, an eltran, doesn’t like anyone, particularly the orange skinned Baradans.

He does, however, like a wayward Zetithian warrior who is wanted by Nedwut bounty hunters. But Manx has learned to be cautious. It’s what’s kept him alive over the years since his escape from the slavers. That is, until he spies the lake house’s latest inhabitant, a woman he’s inexplicably drawn to. He has to be careful though. He trusts Zef not to give away his presence on Barada but can he trust the beautiful female whose scent drives him crazy?

Drusilla’s first glimpse of Manx as he stands on the edge of the lake near the rental house makes her think her fantasy man has come to life. She learns his name from Zef and discovers that he ‘likes’ her. Well, Drusilla isn’t in the market for another man but as she comes to know him, she decides that Manx is the man for her. She believes he feels the same way.

Until he disappears when the Nedwuts arrive.

Ms Brooks has once again given us a fabulous book with the galaxy’s most enticing heroes. I wager there isn’t a woman alive (or very few of them!) who wouldn’t take one look at these fascinating cat-men and say ‘I want one!’ While they’re handsome and extremely gifted in the sexual arts, Ms Brooks has also given them wonderful personalities. Manx, in particular, exuded a kind of sweet shyness when he first approached Drusilla but, trust me, the shyness went away pretty darn quick leaving a very skilled lover in its place.

Besides creating a lovely alien world, I think one of Ms Brooks talents is the skill she uses to craft lovable characters for her erotic series. Zef, by no means a personable eltran, is somewhat charming in his crudity (his idea of enticing a female is to wave his penis at her…of course, he doesn’t say penis, lol). Then there’s Klog, the droid who serves the renters and the lake house, Dwell. Both Klog and Dwell have their own independent personalities (and I wouldn’t mind having one or both of them for my own either).

Finally, there’s Drusilla, the bird artist, who discovers the love of her life even though she’d given up on men. Once Manx appears, she forgets the birds. Who wouldn’t especially when your lover can purr? Like all the heroines of the Cat-Star Chronicles, woe be unto any stupid Nedwut who tries to come between her and her cat-man,

The Fugitive, book 5 of the Cat Star Chronicles, is CATegorically the best exotic and sensuously erotic science fiction in the market. If you haven’t read them, buy the whole series and give yourself a treat.

Members of my newsgroup are the only persons who can take advantage of my special offers. But don't worry, there isn't any chatter. You'll only get notices from me (once a week with an occasional extra notice when there's something special going on) so it won't fill your mailbox. Directions on how to join are below. Hope to see you there!

To join my newsletter, send a blank email to:
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Molly Harper

Molly Harper has been writing since the young age of 8. With a writing office on the family couch, consisting of her mother's old typewriter and a toy phone she set to work telling the story of her class' trip around the world...and how they lost a kid in each town. To say the least she has a dark sense of humor, which is apparent if you've read her "Nice Girls Don't" series from Pocket.

Thanks to Molly's print journalism major at Western Kentucy University, she garnered a job at her hometown newspaper. For six years she wrote about school board meetings, quilting shows, and even a guy who faked his death by shark attack. While she liked the daily adventures, her schedule coupled with her husband's shifts as a cop didn't lend themselves to a family. So Molly took a church secretarial job and found herself with her nights free.

One evening, while taking solace from life's troubles with a book, nothing sounded good. So she sat down and started writing what she'd want to read...a must do for any author who needs an outlet for their passion. Especially when some of her favorite things are vampire movies and TV shows. Combine that background, and the most embarassing way to end up a vamp and you have the kernel for her series...and the birth of Jane Jameson, who's now the star of three books.

So how did I learn about Molly Harper? The cover of NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER caught my eye on a store shelf and I thought, "Hmmm, I haven't heard of her. Wonder if she'd be interested in doing an interview?" Just like that I sent Molly an e-mail after I got home, and to my surprise she said "Yes." From our correspodance, her humor is evident, as is her gracious personality. Though I've only known her a few short days, I can honestly say that her stick-to-it attitude is a must have in the industry. With her mix of wit, humor and voice she's going to have a lot more writing to do...and not about the people of her hometown, unless they're the basis for citizens of Half-Moon Hallow. Touche'!

How did you come up with the concept for your “Nice Girls Don’t” series centered around Jane Jameson? What prompted you to give the series a Southern feel and target it to adults?

I spent my "formative accent" years in Mississippi, then my parents moved us to Kentucky when I was 10. Seriously, I don't know what they were trying to do to me. I've spent my whole life in small Southern river towns. You just don't see a lot of romance novels set in contemporary small town Kentucky and I wanted to fix that. Most romance readers aren't from New York or LA, and we want to read a story that takes place in a familiar setting.

I spent a lot of time in libraries over the years. I was the quintessential bookworm growing up. I checked out those non-fiction "mysteries of the paranormal" books so many times that the school librarian sent a concerned note home to my parents. And when I took a reporting job at my hometown newspaper, the public library was right across the street. I took a lot of my lunch breaks over there and got to know the staff, a fantastic group of ladies.

When I started writing, I immediately decided my main character would be a youth librarian. It's a job that requires a lot of love and enthusiasm, but it's also a position that depends on public largesse. It was plausible that uber-competent Jane could lose her job for budget reasons. I picked up some of the lingo, mannerisms and frustrations/joys of a librarian during those misspent lunch hours, so it worked out nicely. In fact, someone forwarded me a copy of a Kentucky librarians list-serve message along the lines of, "OK, this Harper woman knows too much about the library system. Which one of you wrote this book anonymously?" That was humbling and flattering.

Since the first two titles hit shelves in March and August 2009, and NICE GIRLS DON’T LIVE FOREVER just came out this month, did you have all 3 ready to sell at once?

Oh, you're giving me a lot of credit. It took me about a year (2006-07) to write an acceptable draft of NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS, and then three months to find an agent. By the time super-agent Stephany Evans sold the books to Pocket a few weeks later, I had a good portion of the second book written. There were many, many... many drafts of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN. (Shudder) I finished up the third book, NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER in early 2009. I also wrote a non-paranormal romance, AND ONE LAST THING, somewhere in there.

Jane got to tell us about her international vacation, so would you like to tell us about your favorite place to visit? Or perhaps about a dream vacation you have in the works?

The only really outlandish thing we've done since selling the books is take a trip to the Bahamas. I would really like to visit Greece and Italy with my husband, but I think that's a "reward myself when I'm finally able to stop working full-time" sort of trip. I think maybe we're going to be able to visit London this Christmas, which will be great.

My whole family went to the Dominican Republic a few years back and had to rely heavily on my extremely mediocre Spanish, which wasn't a good idea. My husband loves the fact that whenever I study a language, I only excel at using the curse words. Sure, I can call someone a jackass in five dialects, but how helpful is that really?

So I think we're taking English-based baby steps toward European travel.

What does your “writing office” look like now? Have you splurged on anything new to treat yourself for a job well done?

I don't have an office or a desk. I write from my couch. I look forward one day having a soundproof office with a locking door, impervious to tiny fingers.

If you could put any character, not just your own, in the Character Graveyard, who would it be?

If I could put Terri Schuester, Mr. Shuester's crazy wife from Glee, under about six feet of concrete, I'd be a happy girl. I hate her. And not in a "love to hate" sort of way. I honestly loathe her with every fiber of my TV-watching being and can barely watch when she's onscreen. I love Glee.

What vampire or werewolf hunk from a book, movie or TV series would you choose to do a cameo for “Nice Girls Don’t”? Any secondary characters you wish you’d thought of?

I know it's weird, but I'm neither Team Jacob nor Team Edward. I'm Team Emmett all the way. He brought light and humor to a series that took itself very seriously. Also, Kellan Lutz is extremely yummy. I don't think Gabriel and Dick would be very happy about Andrea and Jane's reactions around Emmett. (Vampire drool is very off-putting.)

I'm so fond of my secondary characters, I don't know if I would replace them with anyone. But I do love Lafayette, or the TV version of Lafayette, from True Blood. His character regularly breaks the law and does somewhat shady business, but he's the most honest person in Bon Temps. And he's pretty damn funny.

Do you have any news or appearances fans should know about coming up in 2010?

I have a non-paranormal romance, titled AND ONE LAST THING, coming out in August 2010. AND ONE LAST THING is the story of Lacey, who responds to her husband's office infidelity by hijacking his mailing list and sending out a mass e-mail to his friends, family and clients, outlining his affair in stunning detail. A newly minted media punchline and the defendant in her husband's libel lawsuit, Lacey is exiled to a lakeside in the middle of nowhere. She meets her new neighbor, a grumpy crime writer with an unfortunate buttock-related nickname and a low tolerance for divorcee drama. Random nudity and romantic hijinks ensue.

The book will be released by Pocket Books under the pen name, Aline Harris.

If you'd like to learn more about Molly or her series, please check out! Molly has also graciously donated a signed copy of NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER to "raffle" to one lucky person who posts a question or comment!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest - Cindy Spencer Pape

Good morning everyone! Today's guest is Cindy Spencer Pape, the author of over thirty popular books and novellas in paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance. According to The Romance Studio, her plots are “full of twist and turns that keep the reader poised at the edge of their seat.” Joyfully Reviewed said, her “colorful characters and plot building surprises kept me spellbound,” and Romantic Times Magazine says her “characters are appealing, and passionate sex leads to a satisfying romance.”

Cindy firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two teenage sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household. For more about Cindy and her books, you can find her on her website, or her blog,

Cindy is offering a downloaded copy of one of her books to one lucky reader so read all the way to the Lynda Again section to see how you can be the winner.
Man vs. Monster

Somewhere in the last decade or so, vampires stopped being scary. In fact, sometimes they even sparkle. Modern fiction, particularly paranormal romance and prime-time television, have taken many of the monsters of historical legend and turned them into romantic heroes and heroines. Vampires, werewolves, demons and dragons, you can walk through the romance section in any bookstore and find stories featuring each of these and more. More interesting still, almost each author creates a slightly new spin on the legend, keeping some elements, replacing others. So some vampires burn to death in the sunlight, while others only get sunburnt badly, and others, yes, sparkle. Some kill without a conscience, while others are simply people with a very specialized diet. Heck, some can even eat regular food, while others can get pregnant and have babies. You’ve come a long way, vamp-boy.

Werewolves mythologies, like vampires, go back thousands of years, and many cultures, all over the world, had their own ideas on the subject. Modern authors (including yours truly!) have had a field day with these, too. Do werewolves live in packs, or are they solitary? Are they forced to change only on the full moon, or is their shape-shifting under their conscious control? Can the ability/curse be passed by a bite, or are baby werewolves born to werewolf parents? And what about other were-creatures? Jaguars, lions, tigers, even birds, snakes and dragons. They’re all out there on the bookshelves, just waiting for us to discover them.

Would Bram Stoker roll over in his grave if he read a book by Stephanie Myer or would he smile, knowing his work has become such a component of modern culture that hundreds of new authors are working frantically to create a new spin on these enduring legends? As an author, my preference would be the latter. To come back to Earth after a century and find out that people were still talking about my books? That’s pretty much a writer’s ultimate dream, though I do know other authors who would be upset by having their creations “altered.”

Me? I’m as guilty as any other author of plundering the ancient legends. My favorite thing to do is mix it up. Why just have a werewolf falling for another werewolf, when you can have more fun tossing him together with a hereditary witch or a shy vampire? (Curses and Exploring Ari, respectively.) How about a demon and an elf? Or even two elves? (Three for All) and then there are dragons...happy sigh. Gotta love those dragons. I’ve only just begun to explore all the fun an author can have with those.

So what is it about these former monsters that keep readers coming back for more, even now that they’re not as scary as they were on the Late Late Show? I have a few ideas. To start with, let’s face it, romance novels are about fantasy. Even those with no paranormal elements are a bit idealized, a way to escape from the harsh realities of life. While I firmly believe in happily ever after, even in real life, it’s not exactly ever after, is it? We all know life is short. In paranormal romance, the happily-ever-after can literally be forever. That’s an awfully powerful fantasy. Also, we’re looking at heroes with pretty much unlimited strength, wisdom, and machismo. Sigh. That’s kinda yummy too, isn’t it? In many cases, the heroine is also powerful, if not at the beginning of the book than by the end. So the female reader gets to feel empowered and drool over a hot immortal. That’s just a win-win situation!

So while my most recent release is Awakening Augusta, a straight historical romance at Ellora’s Cave, (link: I’ve by no means given up on my love of all things paranormal. You can watch for Dani’s Demons (female vampire and two hunky demons) coming soon from Ellora’s Cave, and Motor City Fae (yep, elves in Detroit) coming later this year from the brand-new Carina Press. As for what’s after that? Who knows? There’s a lot more mythology left to mess with!


Djinni and the Geek

Geek Love #2

By Cindy Spencer Pape

Available in ebook and print from Ellora’s Cave:

ISBN: 9781419959202

Buy Link:

Review: “Fans of steamy love scenes will not be disappointed in the least since Anissa and David have great chemistry together. Cindy Spencer Pape has written one appealing genie tale that should leave you with a smile on your face knowing that a geek has finally found a wonderful love with a woman both beautiful inside and out.”~~Katie from Romance Junkies

Professor David Garvaglia is nobody’s idea of a hero. Is he? When David opens an antique box and finds a sexy Djinni in his bed, his desire for her is almost as powerful as his determination to set her free. Anissa has spent centuries as a prisoner of the box and has dreamed of the day some handsome master would release her. The scruffy computer geek isn’t what she expected, but everything about him turns her on.

While David and Anissa explore their explosive passion, he helps her adjust to the twenty-first century. Complicating things is an evil wizard who wants Anissa for his own. Between scorching sex in his faculty office and hacking government computers, David does everything he can to keep her safe—and satisfied.


David shook his head. Today had just been too damn long, and he didn’t want to think about anything any more. He snagged a beer from the selection in the fridge and walked toward the stairs, turning lights out on his way. Good beer was his one indulgence, his one way of admitting to himself that he’d made it in the world. He’d never be a wine connoisseur or a gourmet chef, but he could appreciate the difference between an ale and a lambic.

Finally, he shrugged. Whatever was going on, the gods would reveal it in their own sweet time. He set the bottle on the milk crate beside the bed and picked up the box. With a silent prayer to every god of fools and lunatics, he gently brushed his thumb over the carved flowers on the lower left-hand corner of the box’s top. He moved his callused digits over the delicate inlay and paused when he felt a tiny electrical jolt from the ring. He brushed back against a flower in the upper left-hand corner. Yep, there was the tingle. He could almost feel Anissa’s warm sweet breath and hear her sultry voice in his ear cheering him on.

With just the tip of his thumb, he exerted pressure on each petal, one at a time. With an almost inaudible click, the third petal depressed. A heartbeat later, the box gave another, slightly louder click, and a seam appeared, dividing the box into two uneven halves, following the flow of the pattern rather than a straight line. It resembled a rectangular Easter egg cracking open slowly from the inside.

His hands were big; they almost engulfed the box as he palmed each of the halves gently trying to separate them. He tested a couple of different motions, finally discovering that if he rotated the halves counter-clockwise, the tingle returned to his fingertips. That must be it, then. He twisted slowly, not wanting to accidentally break whatever treasure was inside. When he finally felt the mechanism give, he expected the box to come apart in his hands dropping whatever it contained onto the comforter covering his lap.

Instead, he heard a loud whoosh, as if someone had just launched a missile in the room. The box was hot; it singed his fingertips till he dropped it to the floor beside the bed. Then he coughed as he inhaled a cloud of lavender-colored, licorice-scented smoke. He closed his eyes against the sting of the wispy tendrils. A second later, he opened them again. The burning sensation and the lavender cloud were gone, but the licorice scent remained.

And there was a woman kneeling on the comforter at the foot of David’s bed. Her face was down on her knees in a position of full obeisance, but the curly black hair that fell all around her to puddle on the comforter was a dead giveaway. Dave knew who he’d see when she lifted her gaze. He tried to speak, but couldn’t get the words to leave his throat. He stared in rapt fascination as she spoke without lifting her head.

“How may I serve you, oh master?” Her voice was soft and husky—pure distilled sex. Exactly as it had been in his dreams. Dave’s body throbbed just thinking about the possibilities. Maybe he was still dreaming, because here she was in his bed.

Then she looked up and saw him, and all the color drained from her lovely face. Her tilted violet eyes widened and her hand covered her mouth as she shrieked.

“Who are you and what have you done to my hero?”


-- Lynda Again LOL, Don't you love the last line of that excerpt? Okay, getting back to business.

Cindy has generously offered one lucky reader a free download of their choice of any of her books (can be reviewed at To become eligible to win one of Cindy's books, you must leave a comment and email her with the book of your choice by noon Friday January 22. She'll announce the winner here on Star-Crossed so be sure to check back.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Endurance, Endurance...Endurance

One of the hardest things to do is start with the kernel of an idea. Many times when you're starting a project, you can't seem to narrow down all the great ideas you have swirling around inside your "noodle". Since time doesn't stand still in a vacuum, and you can't really sale something that hasn't been written (unless you're a "big name") that means going with your gut and the marketability of the project.

Then you start out, generally one of two ways. Slowly cause you still have that little niggling voice that maybe you shouldn't be doing this story, or you come out with fingers flying in a rush to get down every details while it's fresh. Either way, get something on the page. Only by pouring out what's on your mind, and building your characters can you truly know if you're going in the right direction. If you're still floundering by chapter 3 then you need to stop an evaluate. Many times, that's when writers really know what their purpose for the book is, and have to dump the first and sometimes second chapters. And if you're a newbie, don't worry even veterans have troubles too!

You can save yourself some backstory trouble by doing the character bios and GMC charts, but in the end knowing too much can also get you into trouble. How can you tell? By writing...a lot! The more you write, the better you know how your mind naturally assess plot points, characters and deals with stressors (say that deadline in 3 months). Writing, even if it's for a practice scene, or re-writes can sync you with your voice...that mythical thing every writer these days better have to sell.

Sometimes we just can't get going, sometimes we lack that spark, especially when we have a family, a full time job, or other must-dos. Which means a writer has to use all their writing time to its fullest. Maybe it's 30 minutes while you're waiting to pick your kids up from school, a lunch hour, or some stolen moments you've set aside due to being the family scheduler. Whether you feel like it or not, get your mind in writing gear, your fingers moving, and even if you're not working on a project...write like you don't have a choice! Not only will it give you a "get out of jail free"card in those I should've/could've/would've times, but it also lets you see where you need work and how you can endure when the going gets tough.

Say just after the halfway mark, when those ideas that plagued you at the beginning come back to play with your sub-conscious and characters start talking to you in the shower. That's when you need to batten down the hatches, and focus like an Olympian. Use your own award for your writing, a picture that looks like a character, or an e-mail reminder to keep you on track. You can't finish the @*&% book if you don't press on through the hard times. Sure we all get stuck, and usually have to evaluate if a component really works, but knowing those triggers that can get you back on course (due to experience) can be your saving grace!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Guest - Linda Robertson

Good morning, everyone! Today's guest is Linda Robertson who writes about a problem many of us authors have - word.

In addition to writing, Linda is the mother of four wonderful boys and owns three electric guitars. She was at one time the lead guitarist in a heavy metal cover band, but now works as Art Director for Strictly 7 Guitars (, owned by her beau, Jim. She's been chasing this writing dream for over twenty years.

Also, Linda will be offering a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader. Read to the Lynda Again section to see how you could win.


In prepping for this blog, I considered various options of things I could blather on about. My ability to give instruction feels wimpy. I’d rather tell you about something I found amusing and helpful. So, I’d like to share a couple examples of what working with my editor was like.

I consider myself a word geek sometimes. In the “I-keep-a-giant-unabridged-dictionary-right-on-my-desk-and-I-look-in-it-often” way. But that does NOT mean that my dictionary-on-steroids will keep me abreast of all the slang that’s out there. I recently discovered a word, scatty, (scatter brained) as I flipped around my biggie-size dictionary and, though it was primarily British Informal usage from a century ago, I thought it fit a certain character well.

My editor suggested I change it, possibly to “scattered” or “scatterbrained.”
I resisted the editor’s snubbing of this word. I thought even though some readers might see it as a reference to jazz singers that scat out lyrics or as a crotchety senior who shoos cats away constantly, it was kind of cute and funny. Then my editor pointed out that “scat” is also a slang term used to refer to heroin. (Forehead, meet palm. whack!) Oh, the embarrassment I suffer being a writer who’s never had a drug problem!

Then she pointed out other meanings, including that it was also a reference to the dark things cats leave in their litter pans. As in cat-scat. Eww. I didn’t know. In my defense, I reminded her that I have dogs, not cats. To which she replied, “I don't want to be a grind, but ‘scat’ is any kind of animal dropping. Scatology (or coprology) is a science. Heck, owl scat was part of the fifth grade visit to the Nature Realm. You even study dinosaur scat...and yes, dog poop is scat.” I have to admit, I do love having these kind of conversations with her.

Bottom line, her basic editorial protest was that the character was not British and had no Britishisms in established speech patterns, particularly archaic ones.
The word came out of the text.

It is stuff like this that my editor catches, information that has not permeated the shuttered world in which I live. I’ve been “mommy” to an increasing number of boys for nearly twenty years so there are many facets of modern culture—primarily the “bad for kids” stuff—that I have made myself ignorant of, willingly. My editor, though also a mother, has accumulated a wide base of knowledge because she is far better read than I, and she has studied more subjects more broadly and read a little bit of everything since she learned to read. (And likely editing various horror and urban fantasy authors has afforded her a basic knowledge on a variety of, shall we say, unusual topics. She’s also been known to edit erotica.)

Another example would be fodder shock.

Apparently most copy editors in New York don’t have a rural upbringing that teaches them the terminology of some of the harvesting practices in the Midwest. This is completely understandable. (And my copy editor did a fabulous job, BTW.) However, fodder shock stymied her. I have to admit, this term isn’t even included in my gargantuan dictionary—which makes me doubt the thoroughness of this usually awesome hardback. (Gads, don’t tell me 2000+ pages isn’t enough words, or that I’ll have to go update it with an even larger, heavier one.)

My editor, bless her, never batted an eyelash over the word; she knew it was an armful of cornstalks gathered and bound. Around these parts, you see them in the fall decorating folks’ porch posts. On this one, my editor went to bat for me. The Midwestern character Persephone would, after all, know and use the term.

So, all in all, I get the feeling that my editor is a person who never stopped asking, “Why?” or digging for answers. I’m glad she’s not an archaeologist. I’m glad she’s my erudite editor.

Or maybe she’s a cyborg with a 500+ GIG memory sent here to collect data on our culture for some alien race...

Either way, I think she’s pretty damn cool. But coolness aside, that’s her job. Part of it anyway. It’s my job to tell a good story and polish it until it sparkles, then turn in that manuscript with a miniscule amount of errors and goofs. She’s good at her job, so she’s taught me a lot but I’m sure I’ll be learning scads more from her.

NEWBIE POLISH TIP: Back in the olden days of typewriters, authors would have to search each page for over-usage of words. Now we have the handy dandy ability to Control-F and FIND those little boogers en masse. Words like: really, very, eyes, hands, smiled, laughed, looked, said. The list is endless. Really. Truly. These are words I often used after/before dialogue to specify which character is speaking or to put across the tone of what they said.

He laughed very hard, eyes rolling and hands holding his stomach. “Are you serious?”

See, they aren’t always necessary to say what you mean succinctly. Learn to recognize your own over-used words, and learn ways to say what you truly mean with more polish.



Persephone Alcmedi has been persuaded to compete for the position of High Priestess of the Cleveland, Ohio, coven -- now that the former priestess, Vivian Diamond, has strangely gone missing. Unfortunately, there are a few small problems with the idea. Not only does Seph know rather more about Vivian's disappearance than the other witches realize, but the epic struggle she's just survived has left her with some highly unusual powers -- ones that could be dangerous to reveal. Despite her reluctance, she agrees to participate, if only to prevent snooty Hunter Hopewell, an obnoxious but talented witch, from ending up in the winner's circle. Can Seph hide her secrets -- including her connection to the master vampire-wizard Menessos -- from the terrifyingly wise judges? Plus, there's her rock 'n' roll werewolf boyfriend, Johnny, and some angry fairies to deal with....


VICIOUS CIRCLE the first in the Persephone Alcmedi series came out last year, and the third installment, FATAL CIRCLE will be available this summer. The fourth ARCANE CIRCLE will be released in January 2011. All are available from Pocket/Juno Books.

Linda's website (soon to be redone) has an excerpt of HALLOWED CIRCLE on the home page. (scroll down) On twitter you can find her as: authorlinda

-- Lynda Again
Linda will pick one name from the commentors so make sure you leave a comment by noon Friday then check back to see whose name she pulled. Good luck!

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Get Goals!

The first of the year are always a time for reflection on the woulda couldas of the past year, and usually prompt some form of goal. Or perhaps they stem from something that piqued your interest, say a show or something from the magazine/paper. Whatever it is that has you moving on instead of dwelling with the past means that you've got some type of goal.

I know the attendance at my local gym has just jumped up, and that lots of people are hitting the stores for Wii Fit and it's spin offs. So it seems getting healthy is another biggie this year.

Some people are on the hunt for jobs, and others just want to hold onto what they have, and perhaps pay off debts. Again, it's a smart move and one I'm trying to incorporate myself.

In other news, my life is about to get more interesting...and in those simple words read lots more insider stuff to write about...since the hubby and I are talking kids after my 1/2 marathon the day before Valentine's. Plus we're trying to find a house to take advantage of the extended tax break. So needless to say, things are hopping in our house :0)

In writing terms, I have started to think about what I "want" to do instead of what I need to do. And that means getting back to writing. With so much on my plate, I haven't made the time. But now, it's time to get back to my keyboard for more than these posts and interviews. Which means I may have to give some things up, like it or not...since there isn't more I can cram into my day. And I'm sure there are a lot of other writers out there who can sympathize. In fact, they're hopefully thinking of page counts per day or month, and how many books they want to finish this year. Or ways they can inventively market their work, or get a foot in the door.

Over the holidays I actually made time to read a book! In the craziness called my life, the only thing I had time for was magazines. It was divine to snuggle up with that book! I started a second, but as of yet haven't gotten half way. Not the author's fault, but life intervined. Anyhow, as readers do you set a goal for yourself? A book a month, two perhpas? Do you blog about them to keep yourself accountable a la Julie & Julia?

Whatever the new year holds for you have fun doing it, because life is too short to be miserable! One of my new favorite mottos comes from my Life is Good t-shirt--Do what you like. Like what you do. Also, make sure to take (not make) time for family and friends, because you can't get those special moments back...or from a Hallmark movie!

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