Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest - Resa Nelson

Good morning all! Today's guest is author Resa Nelson. Resa is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.  Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award, the highest honor in science fiction and fantasy. It was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award.  Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was recently published. Book 3 is scheduled for publication in Summer 2012.  


Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."  In real life, Resa is a fan of chocolate, travel, summer, museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals (her favorites are Les Miserables and Wicked).  She lives in Massachusetts.


Resa is offering giveaways which she tells us about in her post. Check them out.


Enjoy!


-- Lynda
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Characters, Transformation, and the Dark Side of Romance
By Resa Nelson

What I love most about writing is creating characters and taking them on a journey that changes them in some way.  I’m a big fan of transformation.  In fact, one of my favorite reality TV shows is The Biggest Loser because it’s all about transformation – not just physical transformation but emotional and psychological transformation that results in people shedding their facades and letting the world see who they really are instead of who they think they should be.  I love that.

A few years ago I saw a news report about a famous singer who was beaten and battered by her equally famous boyfriend.  My heart sank, because when all was said and done, she made excuses for him instead of kicking him out the door.  At the same time, I understand this behavior because I’ve paid a lot of attention to the reasons why battered women stay with their husbands or boyfriends, so I feel a lot of compassion for them.

However, I’m also very concerned because in recent years some popular books have featured characters that strike me as having the same kind of mindset as abused women – and some readers say these books are romantic.  I feel very strongly that love isn’t about feelings.  It isn’t about words.  Love is about action.  For example, if a man tells you he loves you more than anything else in the world but then smacks you across the face, he’s lying.  His words say he loves you, but his action proves that he doesn’t.  And if someone tells you you’re “less than” because you’re a woman, that isn’t love – and I don’t understand what’s romantic about it.

So I began thinking how I wish I could write novels to help women see their own value.  It dawned on me that the novels I’d written so far each have a strong woman as the main character.  Hey! I thought.  What if all of my novels have a strong woman as the main character?

Then I thought, What if I write about a woman trapped in a marriage with an abusive man, and I focus on how she transforms into someone who is no longer willing to stay with him?

This decision excited me.  I was in the middle stages of writing my 4-book Dragonslayer series (set in a world of ghosts, shapeshifters, and dragons) that’s modeled on the Middle Ages.  Women were treated pretty horribly in a lot of cultures during that time, so it felt like a logical fit.
 
But I had to figure out how I was going to take this character through her transformation.  I had to figure out who she was at the beginning of the relationship and who she would grow into.  I also wanted to portray abusive relationships as realistically as possible and show her struggle in going back and forth between wanting to leave and wanting to stay and remembering the happy times she’d had with her husband because it’s common for abused women to think the abuse will stop and the relationship will go back to being a happy one.

First, it helps that I have a degree in sociology, because that means I’m always paying attention to social trends and what causes them.  I’m especially interested in women’s issues, so I’ve been paying attention to abusive relationships for decades.  It seems to me that being in an abusive relationship is a bit like being brainwashed.  An abuser succeeds because he tells a woman she’s stupid or weak or worthless, and if he does this long enough she’s likely to start believing him.  Some women who end up in situations like that can be so starved for love that they reach a point of desperation.  Some don’t have the confidence to live on their own and support themselves and are afraid of becoming homeless.  Others have never had the opportunity to learn that love isn’t violent or hateful.  And then there’s the fact that abusive men are often charming and promise they’ll never do it again – and a lot of women don’t know that actions tell the truth, not words.

So in Book 2 (The Iron Maiden) in my Dragonslayer series, I had to figure out which category my character, Margreet, fits into.  I decided to make her a strong-willed woman.  She has opinions, and she doesn’t hesitate to express them.  She’s a firecracker.  And she’s not the kind of person I’d expect to end up in an abusive relationship, which made her come alive to me.  But I also had to figure out how someone like Margreet ended up in such an unlikely situation.  I asked myself questions like, what kind of loss has she experienced?  How did that loss change her?  Maybe she was at an especially low point in her life when she met her husband, and maybe they genuinely loved each other in the beginning.

What if something happened that acted as a catalyst for her husband to begin to abuse her?  What if he misinterpreted something Margreet did or said?  What if it began a cycle of misunderstanding?  What if he genuinely believed he loved her, all the while not knowing what love is?

And what if Margreet began to notice another man who has truly loved her since the day they met but kept his feelings to himself out of respect to her marriage? 

These are the questions that helped me figure out who Margreet is and how to take her on a journey that she would begin as a woman controlled by her husband to one who gains her freedom, sees herself in a new light, and is ready for true romance and love.

To those who are fans of dangerous romance in novels, I know that everyone is different and if that’s what floats your boat, more power to you.  You are the only person qualified to decide what works for you, and I support that wholeheartedly.  My concern is for those who think that dangerous romance is cool in real life, because it’s not.  It could cost you your safety or even your life, and I don’t wish that upon anyone.

If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/files.  No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering.  I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.  I’m also doing a book giveaway on GoodReads (Books 1 and 2 in my Dragonslayer series), and you can enter to win at http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/19270-the-dragonslayer-s-sword.

Resa Nelson’s links:
Resa’s website:  http://www.resanelson.com                                                                       
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:  http://www.resanelson.com/files
Email:  ContactResa@aol.com
Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at:  http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble:
http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)


The Dragonslayer’s Sword (Book 1)

For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover--the dragonslayer--disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.

Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.

Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?


The Iron Maiden (Book 2)

Astrid is reluctant to travel the winter route beyond the Northlands, even though it’s her duty. She’d rather stay home in her village, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Ignoring the bonds of tradition, she decides to spend the cold winter months in the warmth of her blacksmithing shop. Why should she leave the comfort of her cottage to serve and protect foreigners who might raid and harm her native Northlands?

Everything changes when a traveling merchant steals Starlight, the first dragonslayer’s sword Astrid forged and her last link to her sweetheart DiStephan. Having no time to alert her friends, Astrid races in pursuit of the merchant, determined to reclaim Starlight as her own and return home in time for dinner. Instead, her quest leads her to new lands, unexpected friendships with foreigners, and a harrowing encounter with the damage done by the followers of a new god that considers women as nothing more than servants to men. All the while, she must be ready to face any dragon traveling the winter route.

In Book 2 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn’t a decision she can make just once. It’s a decision she must make every day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Workshop: Professional Manuscript Formatting: Make It Easy For Editors To Say Yes

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

Professional Manuscript Formatting: Make It Easy For Editors To Say Yes -- Presented by Lauri Blasch


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

Have you’ve ever had a submission package rejected and honestly not known why? If your query letter, synopsis, and manuscript were polished and in really excellent shape, the culprit could be your formatting, not your story. Is formatting really that important, you ask. As an editor, I can tell you it is that important. In a normal week, editors and agents get hundreds if not thousands of manuscripts to slog through. Bad formatting makes them harder to read, which means it takes us longer. If the formatting makes your submission package too difficult to read, most editors and agents will simply reject it and move on to the next submission package in line. Many a good story has been rejected, not because it wouldn’t sell, but because the formatting made it too much trouble to read. Don’t let this happen to your story. Learn how to turn in a professional submission package that will showcase your work in the best light. In this class, we will discuss how to interpret a publisher’s submission guidelines, the dos and don’ts of basic formatting as well as the not-so-basic formatting, what you should and shouldn’t include in your submission package, and much more.

When: February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Registration
The cost is $20.00 for FFnP members and $25.00 for non-FFnP members. Payment is due at the time of registration. Refunds / credits are determined on a case by case basis. If a class should be canceled, then participants have a choice of a credit to be applied to a future workshop or a refund.


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Lauri Blasch has been a professional editor for over ten years, first as a freelance editor then as a non-fiction, technical writing editor and now as an acquiring editor for Black Opal Books. She has a BA in special education and taught disabled as well as gifted children for a number of years before switching to a less-stressful career. She loves working with authors, especially with new authors because they are so willing to learn. She’s a single mother of four pre-teen children. When not working or tending her children, she takes night classes at the local community college, working toward her masters in education.

Workshop: Lining Up the Bones - Crafting Your Paranormal

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

Lining Up the Bones: Crafting Your Paranormal -- Presented by Angie Fox


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

What will it take to sell your paranormal? From dynamic hooks, to compelling characters, sizzling sexual tension to creative world building, we'll explore the elements you need to make your paranormal stand out in an increasingly crowded market. This workshop will provide real life examples, as well as exercises, so you can refine your plot, craft your story and take your writing to the next level.

Topics covered:

1: Introduction/Worldbuilding 101
2: Compelling Characters/ Sexual Tension
3: Dynamic Hooks
4: Major Plot Points
5: Truly Dangerous Dark Moments
6: Wrapping it all Up

When: February 6, 2012 through February 19, 2012

Registration:
           
The cost is $15.00 for FFnP members and $20.00 for non-FFnP members. Refunds / credits are determined on a case by case basis. If a class should be canceled, then participants have a choice of a credit to be applied to a future workshop or a refund.


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Angie Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of several books about vampires, werewolves and things that go bump in the night. She claims that researching her stories can be just as much fun as writing them. In the name of fact-finding, Angie has ridden with Harley biker gangs, explored the tunnels underneath Hoover Dam and found an interesting recipe for Mamma Coalpot’s Southern Skunk Surprise (she’s still trying to get her courage up to try it). Angie earned a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri. She worked in television news and then in advertising before beginning her career as an author. Visit Angie at www.angiefox.com.

Workshop: Inside the Criminal Mind

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

Inside the Criminal Mind -- Presented by Lucinda Schroeder


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

This fascinating class shows writers how to mix true crime stories with fiction writing craft. The result is writing that is realistic yet highly engaging. Students will learn how to create criminal characters that live quietly within the common fabric of society until they pull a trigger, grab a knife or concoct a poison. Cases like the one of a Sunday-school teacher who murdered two husbands, illustrate how to develop authentic motivations for their murderous characters. Students will also learn how to write from the POV of a criminal. "Inside the Criminal Mind" covers the childhood backgrounds and the specific mind-set of murderers, rapist, robbers, and serial killers. This information is critical to making criminally inclined characters multi-dimensional and real.

When: February 6, 2012 through March 4, 2012

Registration
The cost is $20.00 for FFnP members and $30.00 for non-FFnP members. Refunds / credits are determined on a case by case basis. If a class should be canceled, then participants have a choice of a credit to be applied to a future workshop or a refund.


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Lucinda Schroeder is a retired federal agent who spent 30 years investigating crimes. She holds a BA in criminology and is the author of "A Hunt for Justice," www.ahuntforjustice --a true crime story that reads like a mystery.

Workshop: Breaking Things Down Into Threes

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

Breaking Things Down Into Threes -- Presented by Beth Daniels


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

You’re a Pantser and you like things that way. And yet, it sure would be handy to have some sort of plan in mind so that you can write faster and more efficiently, right? The trouble is, all the books and articles that tell you how to do that are written by Plotters -- the sort of people who like to work out all the details in advance rather than let them flow. And you’re definitely a go with the flow type. Well, there is a solution...or if not a total solution, at least a way to have both your Pantser's cake and pour it into mini-Plotter cupcake cups. After that, it's all icing. What are these cupcake sized manuscript bits? Well, I call them the act of BREAKING THINGS DOWN INTO THREES. It's easy to do, it doesn’t make you feel like you’ve pitched your tent in the midst of the Plotter camp either. Just bring your current manuscript or a story idea that's bursting to escape onto the written page. This doesn't force you to write 50,000 words in 30 days, although you could. It helps you move ahead at a constant pace with some idea of what to do next, even if the light at the end of the tunnel isn't showing just yet. Or looks a bit like it's a 15-watt bulb rather than a 100-watt. That's all that's necessary to plunge into BREAKING IT DOWN INTO THREES!

When: February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Registration
The cost is $20.00 for FFnP members and $25.00 for non-FFnP members. Payment is due at the time of registration. Refunds / credits are determined on a case by case basis. If a class should be canceled, then participants have a choice of a credit to be applied to a future workshop or a refund.


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Beth Daniels is the author of 26 published novels, a number of articles on writing, and a handful of published or soon-to-be published short stories. She has written -- or is currently writing – under the pseudonyms Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane, Lisa Dane, and Beth Cruise. Diversification is nearly her middle name for she writes historical romance, romantic-suspense, contemporary romantic comedy, has dabbled in YA, writing seven books based on the Saved By The Bell television series, and is currently deep into steampunk/fantasy storylines. Her books have appeared in a dozen languages in over twenty countries, and she's worked with a baker’s dozen worth of editors, two agents, and seven publishing houses since her first book was published in 1990. Beth is also the author of the non-fiction WRITING STEAMPUNK, available through Amazon in trade paperback or Kindle and through Barnes and Noble's Nook. As J.B. Dane, she has a short story, "The Dragon's Tale", in the MOTHER GOOSE IS DEAD anthology from Damnation Press. A past national coordinator of RWA's Golden Heart contest, she has been a member of numerous national or international writing organizations. With a BA in History, a MA in English Composition and Rhetoric, and over a dozen years teaching writing, including Novel writing, at local colleges, she comes to the world of online writing workshops with credentials nearly tripping over each other. Visit her at www.RomanceAndMystery.com for information on titles or forthcoming workshops.

Workshop: BDSM for Writers: Characterization and Scene Analysis

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

BDSM for Writers: Characterization and Scene Analysis -- Presented by Dr. Charley Ferrer


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

Starting with the knowledge you've gained in BDSM FOR WRITERS: BEGINNER and BDSM FOR WRITERS: ADVANCED, this critique-only workshop will address characters and BDSM scenes in your book. You will learn the tricks that lifestyle practitioners use and incorporate them into your writing. We will analyze your scenes and ensure they work! Authors are encouraged to submit scenes from their upcoming novels to work on. As we discuss various WIPs, you’ll learn how to tweak your scenes to make them more realistic. You will also discover various ways to encourage your Muse to help you create new obstacles and erotic scenes which will incorporate the various elements of the Power Exchange. Dr. Charley will provide constructive analysis (feedback) on your scene submission to help you discover what works and what doesn't. Explore in greater depth the aspects of humiliation, punishment, Edge Play and "Mind F**ks" to enhance your stories. Discover the value of using your BDSM FOR WRITERS CHECKLIST to unlock the secrets to your character’s desire, create/overcome internal and relationship conflicts and develop amazing D/s scenes that will have your readers coming back for more. Assignments/homework: * Submit BDSM FOR WRITERS CHECKLIST for your two main characters. If writing a menage submit up to three characters. * Submit one scene, no more than five (5) pages for review. Scenes must be submitted 5 days prior to first class. Once you have registered for the workshop, submit scenes to FF&P Workshop Coordinator Michaela Davidson (davidson_michaela AT yahoo DOT com). Be sure to mention the email address you used to register, if it's different than the one you're using to submit your scene.

When: February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Registration Costs:     
The cost is $20.00 for FFnP members and $25.00 for non-FFnP members. If you attempt to register for this workshop and the website indicates that it's full, you can email FF&P Workshop Coordinator Michaela Davidson (davidson_michaela AT yahoo DOT com) and ask to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellations or future sessions (to be scheduled at FF&P RWA's discretion, depending on student interest).


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Dr. Charley Ferrer is a Clinical Sexologist and Psychotherapist with over 15 years experience. She produces and hosts a TV Talk Show called PLEASURE on relationships and sexuality. She's an award winning author with eight books on sexuality and self-empowerment. Her new books BDSM FOR WRITERS and BDSM THE NAKED TRUTH are being released June 17, 2011. Dr. Charley teaches Psychology & Human Sexuality courses at Rutgers University and lectures throughout the US and Latin America on various topics dealing with sexuality. She's the Sex Expert for various TV/Radio shows. She writes for various newspapers & magazines, including Fox News Latino where her first Live interview was providing relationship advice to the Royal couple. In her spare time, Dr. Charley enjoys traveling and exploring ancient ruins and conducting research. She has created a Yahoo Group for BDSM writers to share their knowledge and learn from each other. For 2012, she’s hosting a BDSM FOR WRITERS Conference in New York City where authors will not only receive information but gain a little hands-on experience. Plus she’s hosting a BDSM Writers Contest for published and unpublished authors starting September. Please feel free to visit her site www.bdsmforwriters.com or for general information about sexuality www.instituteofpleasure.org.

Workshop: Agents and Editors: We Don't Bite...Much

\\***** Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged *****//

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA Presents

Agents and Editors: We Don't Bite...Much -- Presented by Lynn Price


In order to ensure proper credit when paying for a workshop registration fee by PayPal, you must indicate what the payment is for in the message portion of the PayPal transaction at the time you pay. Thank you.

Filling a gap that exists in today's writing reference manuals and writer's conferences, this two-week online course offers a unique look at the publishing business and the submission process from the agent's/editor's viewpoint. This one-stop-shopping class also will provide a thorough breakdown of the elements that go into a cover letter, synopsis, biography, and promotion plan. You will learn about: * Differences in publishers and what is a Print On Demand publisher versus print on demand printing technology? * What is a vanity press, and can they get my books on store shelves? * What's the advantage to going e-book? * Should I care about distribution? Added to the mix will be Lynn Price's own special collection of common writing mistakes that often result in a rejection letter - point of view switches, comma misplacement, bad transitions between new paragraphs. This fast-paced, two-week look at the publishing world will cover the whole enchilada so writers can become better at their craft and understand how the industry works.

When: February 13, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Registration
The cost is $15.00 for FFnP members and $20.00 for non-FFnP members. Refunds / credits are determined on a case by case basis. If a class should be canceled, then participants have a choice of a credit to be applied to a future workshop or a refund.


This workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo! email loop. Email invitations will be sent 48 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop. Just register for the workshop and complete the payment process via PayPal.


Speaker Information:          
Along with being the editorial director for Behler Publications, Lynn Price is the award-winning author of the novel, Donovan's Paradigm, and of the writing reference book, The Writer's Essential Tackle Box: Getting a Hook on the Publishing Industry. Debuting last year as part of the Get It Write series, this second work provides "an insider's view geared to inform and educate writers as to how we work, why we work, and the pitfalls to avoid." Since 2003, Behler Publications has been publishing best selling and critically acclaimed works chronicling personal journeys with socially relevant themes: stories that deal with how people are influenced and changed by their experiences and how they deal with those repercussions. The books invite introspection: "I'm a better/more thoughtful/ smarter person for having read this book." In addition to extensive speaking engagements at writer's conferences all over the country, Lynn also assumes a lighthearted and somewhat irreverent tone in addressing the many issues facing today's writers on the Behler Publications blog:http://behlerblog.com/

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review - The Lure of Song and Magic

The Lure of Song and Magic
Patricia Rice
Sourcebooks, Casablanca Inc
January, 2012

Dylan "Oz" Oswin is a man with a mission. His son was kidnapped, twice. Once by his late wife and then when Oz had the boy back, by the nanny. He’s used his considerable knowledge and connections to find Donal but to no avail. Donal has been gone for a year and it’s breaking Oz’s heart. Now he has a mysterious entity known as the Librarian who is sending him text messages and emails that he hopes will lead him to Donal. The messages have led him to Pippa James, formerly known as Syrene, a teen singing sensation.

But Pippa, practically a hermit, is now a successful children's author and wants nothing to do with Oz or the music industry. She is convinced her unique vocal talents are responsible for the death of her first husband and fears it can lead others to their deaths or destruction. She wants to be left alone to write and to interact with her small group of friends.


Oz is persistent and eventually gets Pippa to accept him…to an extent. When she challenges him to find her non-existent family, Oz knows she’s using the challenge as another way to keep everyone at a distance. He’s intrigued with her as she goes from a calm Zen-like state to an emotional tornado full of sass and wit. He prefers the emotional tornado because it’s real. Slowly, the two discover a strong attraction and admiration for the other. Neither is looking for love. Pippa is mainly seeking human contact since she’d cut herself off from just about everything. Oz is seeking comfort to ease his shattered heart. But though Pippa thought Oz would never be able to find her family, the Librarian gives him leads and they discover Pippa’s mother as well as other information about her missing family and the unusual disappearances involved.

Kudo’s to Ms Rice on this book. There were so many twists and so much pain in both Oz and Pippa that I worried that they’d never find a happy ending. But Ms Rice has the ability to grab and keep a reader’s attention. I went from wondering if Pippa’s ‘siren’ like voice was real or a figment of her imagination to knowing how powerful her voice really was so gradually I can’t say precisely where the change occurred. It was the same with Oz, the arrogant, persistent ‘bastard’ who, by his own words, bullied Pippa into helping him then, as he grew to know her, became conflicted over what he had done. And I went from thinking Pippa was simply a psycho diva to realizing she was so full of pain and loneliness it was a miracle she was still sane.

I have one caveat for this otherwise fantastic book. I was not impressed with the ending. It seemed rushed and somewhat clich├ęd compared to the preceding parts of the book. Nevertheless, this is a book the reader will want to read several times just to pick up all the nuances in the characters and plot. I know I will.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest - Kristin Battestella

 Good morning all! We have a great guest for today. Kristin Battestella is discussing human and vampires today. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Human versus Vampire- It’s Not A Contest!
By Kristin Battestella

“The surgeons wrapped Samantha in a canopy of blue sheets and hooked her up to machines.
“Scalpel,” The masked doctor ordered.
The shiny silver glinted in his hand, then it dove in. Blood soaked the sheets and dyed them purple. Through some of our lost magic still remaining, I spaced out of the operating room. Memories not my own, thoughts and recollections of my Father I still held. From his dying breath to his most treasured moment, I saw my Mother. I saw my mother giving birth to me.
Antonio had been there, and there I was small and bloody and screaming. The vision was black and white, but red blood was everywhere. My mother’s eyes were fading, yet she was lovely, angry, happy, and sad all at the same time. She gasped her last breath, and I heard my own baby cry…”

That’s Gaston, star of Fate and Fangs: Tales from Vampire Family Book 6 Humanity, having a shared memory of his human birth.  More and more in vampire fiction, it seems the brood or romance of the vampire is so wham bam glitter and cool.  This dark underbelly hip power almost always happens at the expense of real world reality and discussion. Humans are simply stupid, paranormal clueless, or just simply not as cool.

Think outside the coffin people!  Vampires originally rose up as myths and legends to explain the unexplained or mirror the dark fears and evil tendencies of humanity’s past.  Why are these parallels not being used in today’s paranormals?  Go there, go deep, get to the soul of the races to tell your tale in multi layered dimensions and relations. Can a vampire born of such a vile exchange ever be anything good? What makes a human of such righteous potential go so bad?

So many of us work the 9 to 5 monotony, addicted to coffee, stressed, depressed, a drone in the routine for the man.  The Vitamin D deficient cubicle workers are indeed vampires, getting their souls and zest for life sucked from them in exchange for finances to curb the minimum existence and continue the vicious cycle over and over again.  Likewise, today’s confused youth listen to emo, go wild, fml, and where’s the meaning while the recent sappy boy vamps of fiction yearn for high school and sunlight and the freedom of their lost youth.  Suffice to say, art and life seem a little backwards.  Use this to your advantage!

In my Fate and Fangs series with Muse It Up, there are seven books to explore these issues beyond vampire coven wars, teen dreams, or vampire cool.  We have some very ugly and unlikeable folks, like Victoria in Tale 4, Debauchery. Some of it is solid, healthy romance, too, Book 1 Love for example.  In Humanity, however, the Welshires have to face the music. …

Welshire brother Gaston is trying to move on with his life now that the Vampire Family is human again for Professor James’ sixth chronicle.  Unfortunately, Gaston’s sister Victoria cannot cope with the change and turns to her former fledgling Caine for unfulfilling excess and access.  Should their pregnant sister Samantha risk the journey to London- and the lives of her unborn children- to save what’s left of The Vampire Family?

How’s a vampire who’s a human again going to deal? What would - or wouldn’t - you do to be a vampire again?  Would you be happy to be rid of the predatory vampire cravings and night time bindings? Or would you become a different kind of soulless person- one who leeches energy, time, money, and materials off others? Our final Fate and Fangs title, Resurrection, asks a very simple question- which would you choose if you had the chance to do it all over again?

Former Lilithan vampire and newly divorced scientist Stephanie can’t get over how much she misses being a vampire in this final tale from Professor James. After a harrowing car accident, Stephanie meets Mestiphles, the giver and taker of vampire power on both sides of the coven wars.  His charm and seductive powers sweeten the demonic offer he extends, but will Stephanie accept his dark opportunities? 

Go for the jugular by all means, but also snare the soul, askew the lines between the living and the dead, and warp the mind!  Be unique in the supposed human or vampire game, turn it on its vein, and tell your story as it needs to be told. Don’t waste the opportunity of examination the vampire mythos naturally brings for some fleeting and trending thin-skinned vampy cool. Really, how mundane is that?

Fate and Fangs: Tales from The Vampire Family

Feel Love, experience Punishment, know Struggle, indulge the Debauchery, crave Lust, learn Humanity, face Resurrection, and choose: Fate or Fangs?

No Blood necessary for the participation in any Vampire Family events.

Yet!


Bio:
Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder in New Jersey and has been writing non fiction speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for fifteen years. She enjoys being at home with her family, collecting records, and creating web pages in her spare time. Along with numerous sports articles, online reviews (Her review of the film 300 earned 11,000 hits and crashed the Fire Fox News server!), the South Jersey Books Column at Examiner, and fiction work; Kristin's first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of EPIC, the Friends of the Mount Laurel Library, and has her eyes set on joining the Online Film Critics Society. Kristin's first full-length work The Vampire Family has been re-released with Eternal Press; and in addition to numerous reviews, interviews, chats, and blog appearances, Kristin recently attended the Philadelphia and Collingswood Book Festivals.


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-- Lynda Again
    Very interesting post! I'm intrigued by the idea of a vampire-turned-human with the potential to return to a vampiric existence. What do you, our Star-Crossed Romance readers think? Let's discuss it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dreaming of Spring

Good morning everyone!

I’m not a winter person.

I don’t like the short days. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like ice. I don’t like snow that has to be shoveled. I don’t like having to wear heavy winter coats and boots just to stay warm and upright.

But…it’s part of Nature’s cycle in this part of the world so I’ve resigned myself to it. Luckily, we only have a few months of winter followed by…Yay, Spring! At this time of year, I start the Spring count down. As the numbers of days till Spring gets smaller, the days get longer, the air warms and the snow…well, the snow tends to turn to rain. If it isn’t warm enough outside, the rain and snow mix into a nasty, dangerous icy combo that causes accidents and falls and downed lines and, sometimes even, roof damage.

Yeah, I definitely don’t like winter, lol.

So I trick myself into anticipating Sping, glorious Spring! I count down the days. I study the spring catalogues with all the newest plants. I plan my garden. My plans are always more grand than the actual project turns out but I live in a dreamer’s world. I believe in the right to dream.



Dreams are great things. Dreams help us visualize our plans (like my garden or my books). They can show us how we can get there. I’ve been known to use my dreams to come up with book plots and sometimes entire stories.







Some of those dreams turned into scenes in my novel, Heartstone (yep, the scarier scenes—I have a scary mind, lol, but the hero is to die for) and some went into 





scenes in Altered Destiny (okay, there are scary scenes there too but some of those scenes were with the hunky hero, Devyn who makes it worthwhile). Some dreams turned into complete stories, like my novella, Heart Of A Dragon (a lonely dragon is robbed of his greatest treasure and sets about retrieving it). Though Heart Of A Dragon is more fantasy, there is a very sweet romance in it. One day I may expand it into a novel size or build on it for a different book altogether.

I’ll have to dream on it to decide ;-)

Do you have any mid-winter rituals to get you through the cold, dreary months? Share them with us. If you include your email addy in your comment, I’ll have my alien kitten, Wookie, pick one person to win a e-copy of either Heartstone or Altered Destiny (winner’s choice). Leave your comment by January 27.

Oh, as of today, Monday January 23, there are 57 days till Spring! I can barely wait.

                     Amazon             http://www.amazon.com/Heartstone-Lynda-K-Scott/dp/1606592335/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307896585&sr=8-1

     Heartstone is available in print and ebook format

Altered Destiny,
  


Heart Of A Dragon,
Kindle

Sunday, January 22, 2012

FF&P February Workshops

BDSM for Writers: Characterization and Scene Analysis -- Presented by Dr. Charley Ferrer
Starting with the knowledge you've gained in BDSM FOR WRITERS: BEGINNER and BDSM FOR WRITERS: ADVANCED, this critique-only workshop will address characters and BDSM scenes in your book


When:  February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Breaking Things Down Into Threes -- Presented by Beth Daniels
You’re a Pantser and you like things that way. And yet, it sure would be handy to have some sort of plan in mind so that you can write faster and more efficiently, right?


When:  February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Inside the Criminal Mind -- Presented by Lucinda Schroeder
This fascinating class shows writers how to mix true crime stories with fiction writing craft. The result is writing that is realistic yet highly engaging. Students will learn how to create criminal characters that live quietly within the common fabric of society until they pull a trigger, grab a knife or concoct a poison.


When:  February 6, 2012 through March 4, 2012

Lining Up the Bones: Crafting Your Paranormal -- Presented by Angie Fox
What will it take to sell your paranormal? From dynamic hooks, to compelling characters, sizzling sexual tension to creative world building, we'll explore the elements you need to make your paranormal stand out in an increasingly crowded market.


When: February 6, 2012 through February 19, 2012

Professional Manuscript Formatting: Make It Easy For Editors To Say Yes -- Presented by Lauri Blasch
Have you’ve ever had a submission package rejected and honestly not known why? If your query letter, synopsis, and manuscript were polished and in really excellent shape, the culprit could be your formatting, not your story.


When:  February 6, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Scene CPR: Breathing Life into Ailing Scenes with Scene Goals, Disasters & Sequels – Presented by Laurin Wittig
This class will show you a simple but powerful way to turn your ailing scene into a robust part of your story with scene goals and disasters. She will also teach you the power of the four stage sequel and how to combine it with your scenes to create a story that keeps your readers turning the pages long into the night.


When:  February 6, 2012 through March 4, 2012

Agents and Editors: We Don't Bite...Much -- Presented by Lynn Price
Filling a gap that exists in today's writing reference manuals and writer's conferences, this two-week online course offers a unique look at the publishing business and the submission process from the agent's/editor's viewpoint. This one-stop-shopping class also will provide a thorough breakdown of the elements that go into a cover letter, synopsis, biography, and promotion plan.


When:  February 13, 2012 through February 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest - Stephanie Rowe

Good morning all! We have Stephanie Rowe visiting today. Stephanie will be talking about living your dream. Her publisher is offering one copy of her latest, Hold Me If You Can, to one lucky Star-Crossed commenter. You'll want to read my review here and, seriously, we have to keep Wookie, my alien kitten, happy. She likes lots of entries to choose from ;-) Check out how to enter down below.

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Finding Space to Live Your Dream

I have a dream, a big dream, of a way I want my life to be, or of something I want to do with my life, but the reality of my day-to-day responsibilities suck all my free time from me. Every night I go to bed, I think "Tomorrow, I'll start to work on it. Tomorrow I'll make time." And then tomorrow comes, and time for me never appears. I don't know what to do. I can't make it happen. Tell me your secret.

I receive emails with that question, I get tapped on the shoulder at book signings, I get asked that by friends and family. It's not always phrased that way. Sometimes it is simply, "I want to write, but I don't have time. How do you make time?"

It's not only aspiring writers who have dreams. Many people, most people, have secret dreams of things they want to do, be, accomplish, but sometimes it's really to find a way to fit it in! So we sit there, hoping for a break, for a window to act, and yet time slips away.

The truth is, there's no easy way to find time. There's no Magic Time Fairy who will wave her sparkly wand over your head and make time stop for three hours a day so you can go do your thing and not have the world waiting on you. I sure wish there was!

For me, the first thing I did to make time to write was to decide that it was of top importance to me. At the time, I had a full-time job with a high level of responsibility. I was exhausted at the end of every day, so I knew I had to work in the morning. I started getting up before work to write, and as time went on, I kept getting up earlier and earlier, so excited by the idea of writing. Eventually I was getting to the computer at 3:30 in the morning and working for almost five hours before the day had even started! To do that, however, I had to make choices. I stopped playing tennis for four years, I gave up television, I stop going out at night (hard to do that when you're getting up at 3:30) and really streamlined my life. The elimination of those other activities was gradual: I started simply by getting up a half-hour earlier and making time for my writing. We can all manage to get up a half hour earlier, right? Sure we can. There's your half-hour, there's your start. That half hour when the rest of the house is asleep is all yours. Love it, embrace it, and dance it in guilt free… and DON'T use it for ANYTHING but pursuing your dream, whether it's writing, getting fit, knitting, building furniture, baking desserts, or whatever it is.

The second step, and this is a biggie, is realizing that you can make steps toward your dream in little increments. For example, I write in seven minute increments. If I have seven minutes, I will write. There are so many snippets of time in a day that are just waiting for you to grab them. What about when you're cooking dinner and waiting for the water to boil? Or when you're waiting for your kids to finish getting ready for school in the morning. Or when you're waiting in line at the doctor's office. Or if you get to lunch a few minutes early—whip out your laptop and get to work. Even if your dream is to build cabinets, you can still accomplish things in those seven minute increments in the parking lot: look at your designs, study photographs of your work-in- progress to figure out next steps or changes you want to make, make phone calls to find out what store has the wood you want, slap some stain on some samples and see what you like, or simply whip out your notebook and start making a list of things you can do in your seven minute snippets of time.

It takes creativity, determination and a peaceful, strategic mind to carve out space for your dream, but you can do it. The first step is to make that decision, the next step is to figure out those little openings you have, and the third step is to seize those openings for yourself with great excitement, no guilt and a sparkle in your eye. One you pry open that door, you will discover more and more opportunities to pursue your dream will open up. Little by little, it will happen. Be patient, be kind to yourself if it seems to take a while, and tell yourself that you deserve to take those little moments for your dream.

Each step might be small, but when you put enough of them together, you can make it all the way to the moon.

What is your dream? What steps are you taking to get there? And if you haven't taken any steps, what is going to be your first one? Did you ever have to make it through tough odds to get what you wanted? Share your story in the comments, and a winner will be randomly selected to win a copy of HOLD ME IF YOU CAN.



BIO: Four-time RITA® Award nominee and Golden Heart® Award winner Stephanie Rowe is the nationally bestselling author of more than twenty published books with major New York publishers, including HarperCollins, Grand Central and Harlequin. Stephanie has received starred reviews from Booklist and high praise from Publisher's Weekly. Stephanie writes romance (paranormal, contemporary and suspense), teen fiction, middle grade fiction and inspirational non-fiction. A former attorney, Stephanie lives in Boston where she is actively working on her next projects, which include a re-release of her sexy Alaska Heat romantic suspense ICE, as well as the dark paranormal series The Order of the Blade, which will be launching in February and March with a trilogy.  For more information on Stephanie, visit www.stephanierowe.com.

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-- Lynda Again
    To enter the drawing,
     1) Leave a Comment for Stephanie
     2) Send an email to me at Lynda@LyndaKScott.com with 'Hold Me If You Can' in the subject line and your snail mail addy in the body
    3) On Friday, January 20 I'll let Wookie select the winner. We'll announce that lucky person here :-)

    Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review - Hold Me If You Can

Hold Me If You Can
Stephanie Rowe
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
January 2012


In this third installment of the Stephanie Rowe’s paranormal romance series, Nigel Aquarian, warrior-artist, meets Natalie Fleming, chocolatier. Natalie is a Sweet and the Sweets are irresistible to demonic deedubs. Natalie knows that only too well—her entire family has been killed by poisonous deedub bites. Natalie managed to thwart the poison (set up in Touch If You Dare) but apparently the deedub is back. And he’s wanting to sink his teeth in her. Again.

Nigel comes to the rescue. He’s been interested in Natalie for a while but, with his baggage, seriously doubted that he was good enough for her. However, when he can’t convince Natalie to take off for her own safety, he realizes he’s the only one who can keep her safe.

At least, that’s what he thinks until a problem with his art puts him and his warrior brothers in jeopardy. And if he can’t use his art, he won’t be able to protect Natalie.

Even though this is the third book in the series, Hold Me If You Can stands alone quite well. The references to characters or plot lines in the earlier books are explained easily and with no fuss. The plot, like both the other books in this series, is fast-paced and action packed. It has amusing moments, a few which are downright laugh out loud moments.

I enjoyed watching the warrior and the chocolatier fall in love and I loved the way Stephanie created these characters, giving them unique personalities and problems. I particularly liked the way these two wounded characters fought to overcome their fears in order to find their strengths.

The secondary characters, Pascal and Christian, and Ella and Maggie are well crafted and probably (I hope) in search of their own books.  

Uniquely imaginative and well written, Hold Me If You Can will keep you entertained on these long, cold, mid-winter nights.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest - Linda Wisdom

Good morning all! We have the talented and lovely Linda Wisdom visiting us today. I decided it was time Linda did one of my mini-interviews. She gave some really fun answers. So enjoy!

Oh, before I forget, Linda is offering a giveaway of one copy of her newest 'A Demon Does It Better' to one lucky commenter. You can see my review here. All you have to do is email me at Lynda@LyndaKScott.com. Put 'A Demon Does It Better' in the subject line and your snail mail address in the body. Friday, I'll ask Wookie, my alien kitten, to select the winner. She likes lots of entries (to play with) so be sure to enter!


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What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer? How would you answer it? If they asked me why I write. And that answer is easy. I’m convinced it’s in my blood. The need to write is as strong as my need for coffee and chocolate. There’s days I’m so frustrated with my work I dramatically declare never again. The next day I’m back at it.

If you were doomed to spend the rest of your life on an island with only one book, one person, one food (coconuts and fish aside), and one object from the modern world (computer, deodorant, etc.), what would they be? Oh boy, talk about tough! Only one food? I guess I’ll blend the two and say chocolate flavored coffee. A Nook that never runs out of books. It’s electronic. Heh heh heh. And that covers the book part. One person. Captain Jack Sparrow. I’m sure he’d demand rum.

What’s the sexiest feature on a man to you?  Why? That’s easy, his smile. Especially when the smile reaches his eyes. A man’s smile is like a nice warm blanket.

What’s your own sexiest feature? LOL! I think I’m past that. Although I get a lot of compliments about my smile.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written? If so, who is it and why is s/he your favorite? I guess I’d have to say Fluff and Puff, Jazz’s magick bunny slippers. They have their own power, are great footwear, and you’re never bored when they’re around. Just make sure to keep plenty of licorice root and chocolate around.

Who is your favorite character in ALL the books you've written? Why? LOL! See above. I honestly didn’t think they would take off the way they did. Those critters even get their own fan mail! I have bunny flip flops and there’s times I’m positive they’re not where I originally put them.

What is the ONE novel you think everyone should read?  I honestly can’t say one book. The best part of so many books out there is that we have a wide variety of choices. What I might think everyone should read might be something others wouldn’t care for. All I ask is that everyone read at least one book and if that one book happens to have been written by me, so much the better. :}

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-- Lynda Again
   Don't forget my review of Linda's 'A Demon Does It Better'. You can see it here. And don't forget to enter the drawing. We don't want to disappoint Wookie, now do we? ;-)

Available Now

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review - A Demon Does It Better


A Demon Does It Better
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
January 2012


A vulture perched outside the Crying Souls Hospital screeches, "You're all going to die!" But Dr. Liliana Carter, witch-healer extraordinaire, just sneers, "You wish."

This second book, in Linda Wisdom's Demon series, is just as witty and fun as all Linda's books. But it does have a darker edge threading through the plot. Dr. Lili hasn't admitted that her return to the hospital where she'd worked years earlier is a desperate search for a missing friend. This friend had worked at Crying Souls but simply vanished one day while working in the hospital.  

While most of the hospital is shiny and modern, when Lili enters the psychiatric ward (in the dungeon like lower level), she is shocked by the poor physical conditions and the cruel care of the staff. But the treatment given to Patient 1172 is even more unsettling. The ward physician, Dr. Mortimer, who committed Patient 1172, has medieval ideas on how to treat mental problems. Dr Lili is aghast but knows that the ego-driven Mortimer must be handled carefully.

Lili's shock is even greater when she discovers that Patient 1172 is Jared, a devastatingly handsome demon she'd met while shopping with her feline cohort, Cleo. How he could be incarcerated in the hospital, chained with iron shackles, and still wander free in the witchy community arouses every bit of curiosity and healing compassion she holds. 

It soon becomes clear that her missing friend and the medieval treatment in the psychiatric dungeon are somehow related. Lili and Jared set out to discover the secrets hidden in the dungeon but the dangers of discovery begin to mount. While Jared visits her outside the hospital, they uncover more than they expect when they discover their mutual attraction turning into a smoldering love affair. But will they be able to solve the mystery before it's too late? And will Lili be able to help Jared return to a normal life?

In my opinion, Jared is one of the best characters Wisdom has created. Chained in the dungeon, the reader can empathize with his fear and rage but when he's free? Whoa, Mama! Charming doesn't half describe him and the reader will certainly agree with me. Then there's Lili who as a healer and a witch doesn't give up on her patients – or her lover. She even tries to help a lost ghostling child find its mother...and the fact that the reader will probably get damp eyes when the little ghost finally is reunited with her mother shows that even the minor characters in this book are superbly well-drawn.

Linda Wisdom has a real winner in A Demon Does It Better. This book has it all – humor, wit, romance, danger and mystery. Fast paced, it draws you in from the first screech of the vulture to the last humorous screech. The reader will want to go through it a second and third time just to savor the plot, the characters and the romance. I certainly did.