Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest - Maggie Tideswell

Good morning! We've got South Africa author Maggie Tideswell visiting us today. She's answered some interview questions and I thought you might enjoy reading her answers. Enjoy!

Oh and here's a link to my review of her Dark Moon http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-dark-moon.html

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Interview with Maggie Tideswell

Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?

No Lynda, I think romance is my thing. I don't think I will ever write outside the romance genre. Having said that, my novels all touch on other elements, for instance in Dark Moon there is murder and suspense, and in Moragh, Holly's Ghost there is a family saga and a ghost. The theme that binds each novel together, is romance. I would like to write a murder mystery, but there will have to be an underlying thread of romance in it. Love makes the world go round.

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

An Enormous spider in the mailbox. I was about 3 years old, and it was one of the high points of my day to collect the mail. I could just see into the mailbox. On this day the biggest spider I have ever seen had climed into the mailbox and was sitting on top of the mail. I went hysterical because I couldn't get the mail. My mother came running, thinking something dreadful had happened to me. In the end the maid calmly reached into the mailbox and gently pulled the letters out from under the spider. The next day the spider was gone.
It really was a big spider. Its legs covered the entire bottom of the mailbox. To this day I am not friendly with spiders -0 they have just too many legs. 

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?

For the Dark Moon cover model, I would choose Tom Cruise to portray Jarred. Tom screams military and as Jarred is a navy man, Tom would be a good fit.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer? How would you answer it?

I want them to ask me if being a witer isn't a lonely occupation, so that I can answer that I don't have time to be lonely surrounded by my characters for company all the time. I would also like people to ask me where I get the stories from, so that I can answer it is like watching movies in my head, that the stories really tell themselves.

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?

All my characters are special, but if I have to pick one as a favorite it would have to be Trevor. He is such a creep. I love writing bad boys.

What themes do you like to write?

My most favorite theme is that nothing is as it seems, that there are things that are hidden. People aren't what they pretend to be and situations aren't as one perceive them.

What is the ONE novel you think everyone should read? And why.

I don't think there is one novel that would appeal to every single person on the planet. People are too diverse and their interests too varied. I think that is something that all authors must understand. At best one can hope to reach some people who will enjoy and appreciate one's work.
 
What draws you to write paranormal?

Because it is para- normal, one can make anything happen. I particularly like to include witchcraft into my stories because it has been so erouneously portrayed in the media and books and films. I deal with it in the more serious light it deserves without my novels becoming textbooks on the craft.

How do you spend a typical writing day?

A writer has to write every day. I write first thing, before I even glance at my emails. If I don't the day is gone before I get to it and then more often than not, my mood has changed and I don't want to write. So my typical day looks like this - I work on which ever novel I am currently writing for as long as it takes. I know when it is time to stop, but I have been known to work 18 hours solid, but those are special days. It's normally about 5 hours of writing. Then I will get to emails and facebook and other promotional sites and by then it is time to cook dinner for my husband. I don't like to work at night.



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-- Lynda Again,
    I hope you all have enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Be sure to check out my review of her book, Dark Moon 

    Have a Blessed Day!

Review - Dark Moon


Dark Moon
Maggie Tideswell
All Things That Matter Press
2011



Dark Moon, by Maggie Tideswell, takes the reader on a chilling ride from start to finish.

Elle has gone on a solo camping trip and during the middle of a midnight storm, she is raped and nearly killed. Her escape is emotionally charged and terror filled. When she gets home, she's intent on capturing her rapist who she believes is a serial killer who has stalked the area for a while. Unbelievably, she is contacted by a woman, her birth mother Sybil, who tells her she is a witch and her rapist is her brother. Sybil entreats Elle to join with her in her mystical pursuit of the killer.

Storm Fenton is a psychologist who has been dating Trevor Heardt for a year and hopes to 'seduce' him into proposing marriage. But before she does, she goes to a deserted beach to sunbath in the nude. While there, a mystery man appears and makes love to her. She doesn't know his name or what he does and subconsciously refers to him as the love of her life but she still wants that proposal from Trevor. Until she discovers she's pregnant with mystery man's child.

Trevor is both cold and controlling. He's livid when Storm tells him she's pregnant and storms out. But he soon returns telling her that he's sorry for his reaction and then surprisingly tells her she will never have the child. Storm is adamant that she won't have an abortion.

Jarred Walters, a Navy Captain, can't forget the beautiful woman he discovered on the beach. Even though she didn't object to his lovemaking, the fact that he seduced a virgin makes him want to find her and beg her forgiveness…as well as her hand in marriage. He's determined to locate her and when he does, he won't let her go. Ever.

I enjoyed this story with its twisty plot and edge of the seat danger for the protagonists. The paranormal elements were well done which is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. However, the use of multiple points of view (each character had a POV scene or two) was a trifle confusing. Since the story opens with Elle, I thought she was the principle protagonist only to discover later that it was Storm. But once I got into the rhythm of the story, this many points of view was less distracting than I first expected.

I was a little less enamored with Storm and Elle. Storm, as a psychologist, seemed far too fragile to deal with other people's emotional problems but that isn't my main complaint. She was too wishy washy when it came to choosing between Trevor and Jarred. I can see how she might want to be true to Trevor but, in my opinion, she allowed him to continue his cruel and punishing behavior, refusing to see how disturbed he really was. Some of that was due to a 'spell' cast on her but I don't want to spoil the plot by giving too many details. Jarred, her self-termed stalker, was a more romantic hero but also very controlling. Oddly, I didn't seem to mind his dominance since it centered on protecting Storm but perhaps that was because he was a far more sympathetic character (certainly more sympathetic than Trevor). Then there was Elle, who I liked for her bravery and determination to find and jail her rapist but her devious single-minded pursuit of Jarred when he had firmly announced his love of Storm…Well, that lost my sympathy very fast.

Obviously, I liked Jarred best of all the characters. Not surprising since I am a romance author and I almost always like the hero best. But he also seemed the most honest, with himself and with the reader, and that's a trait I value highly. For the same reason, I liked Sybil (Elle's mother). Sybil seemed to be a strong, honest character, the kind of person I would like to know. 

All in all, I liked Dark Moon very much but it isn't a romance as traditionally defined. There are a few instances where hearts race and blood pounds but all the ,action, is off stage. That's okay but that isn't why I say it's not a traditional romance...at least as we define it here in the USA. While the romantic elements are strong, the main point of the story was the action/mystery plot (save the girl, capture the villain) and not the romance itself.

If you like plots that center on the action/adventure, that have a seat-of-your-pants edge of danger and a very good mystery, then I recommend Dark Moon. You'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest - Nancy Lee Badger

Good morning all! Today's guest is author . Nancy has a fascinating post for us today AND she's got a very generous 'Christmas' giveaway so make sure to check below to see how you can enter the drawing.


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Moonstones, Herbs, and Magic, Oh My!

Writing a time travel paranormal romance requires one big decision: how do I make my characters travel through time? Since my latest books take part partially in New England, I could not use walking through a portal at the Scottish standing stones. (think Stonehenge) I could use a magical amulet, which I do use as a prop, but neither my heroine in My Honorable Highlander nor My Banished Highlander own the magical gem. My heroines are modern day witches who barely practice their craft for anything besides healing. In fact, they are both into herbs, potions, and the power of stones. In their quest for more knowledge, they meet an old crone who just happens to sell such items in her vendor tent at the New England Highland games.


In order to facilitate my characters’ journeys, I researched the properties of stones and plants found in both Scotland and New England. Many exist, and I give them to my characters to help them travel in time. Accidently, it seems.

In the first book in the series, Haven MacKay uses a potion suggested by the old crone that consists of mint, apple buds, and yarrow root. Haven has used yarrow root to staunch the flow of blood on injured friends, and is concerned to see the old witch use it in something meant to be swallowed! Haven stashes it in her pocket along with pieces of opal and quartz for attraction. You see, she plans to conjure a man to love. She has failed in that department, recently. When she adds a hunk of amber for luck, strength, and love, she hopes for the best.

Research was the key. I used several books, the internet, and a fascinating folded map of Scotland that included plants native to the huge island. I have included a few helpful book titles and internet sites at the end of my article.

An ancient book of spells is in Haven’s tent at the Highland games, where she is helping her friend Iona by pretending to be a Scottish villager. I had fun creating spells. I am also a fan of the TV series Charmed and simply followed their example of a simple three-line rhyme. Here is an example:

Rain and fire, trees and grass;
I wish to be in my lover’s grasp.
Hear my plea so mote it be.

I made up several spells throughout both books, and the results are fun. In the second book, Iona is prevented from speaking the spell all the way through, with disastrous results!

Elsewhere in both books, Haven and Iona need to treat their headaches. When Iona is stuck in 1598 Scotland without aspirin, she seeks out willow bark, the original source of aspirin. When Iona treats a woman’s burned arm, she resorts to items she has brought with her such as confervae, known to the locals as linarich. She also uses the popular ragwort. The only problem is that some of the people who witness her healing powers cry witch!

Minerals and gemstones have been thought to contain power, which is why my third book’s heroine, Skye Gunn, wears a moonstone around her neck. Skye is a bit wild, and as the daughter of the Laird of Clan Gunn in sixteenth century Scotland, she knows she has a certain power over men. I chose the moonstone because, besides its power to protect a traveler, it is balancing, reflective, promotes well being and joy, and alleviates emotional tension. When she meets a present-day blacksmith and must gain his help, things heat up and no magic amulet is going to keep them apart!

The back covers of my books show a necklace made up of a hunk of amber. Amber was created millennia ago from the petrified sap of long-dead trees. Amber is related to the fire element and the sun, which might be one reason my villainous sorcerer is after it! Old Dorcas wears it to bring wisdom and balance to her life. As she tells all who will listen, she is as old as dirt and her amber necklace keeps her going. When it is stolen, things turn upside down.

I have lists of reference materials that gave me the ideas of which stones or herbs to include in my romantic story. The research was fun and very enlightening. As I write, I keep a purplish hunk of amethyst by my computer, along with a lovely green piece of malachite. My research tells me that malachite is a powerful healing stone that can also be used for money, love, and for centering and balance. Amethyst, a more commonly found stone, calms fears, is healing, and good for peace, happiness, and love. Since it also is known to provide protection from negativity, keeping it close while I write prevents me from making my villains TOO evil. Ha!

If you feel a story is enhanced by the use of herbs, stones, and spells, I would like you to read my latest release in my Highland Games Through Time series, My Banished Highlander

Here are some links that could help:
www.babynology.com (yes, some people name their kids after gems)

And some research books I love are:
The Scots Herbal by Tess Darwin
Crystal Therapy by Doreen Virtue
Wicca & Witchcraft for Dummies by Diane smith
MAP: Clans & Tartans of Scotland/Collins/2008

My Banished Highlander

When his clan convicts Cameron Robeson of treason in 1598 Scotland, the last thing he thought his cousin the Laird would do was banish him to the future. With a certain woman on his mind, he plans revenge while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the modern day New England Highland Games. His plans go awry when a comely redheaded lass wearing the Mackenzie plaid lands at his feet.

Iona Mackenzie is worried about her friend, Haven, and searches for answers among the tents at the games. Whom can she trust to help? Her father? The handsome blacksmith? Or, the tall, golden-haired Highlander? Romance takes a back seat because saving her friend is her priority, no matter how great Cameron can kiss.

When a magical amulet and an angry sorcerer send this unlikely couple back through time, more than one heart will be broken. Danger, intrigue, and threats surround them, and feelings between Iona and Cameron grow hot and steamy. They fight the sorcerer and search for Iona’s friend, the woman he vowed to steal from his cousin. Will the strong-willed Highlander and the present day witch stop fighting long enough to listen to their hearts?

With a letter in her hand and a Highlander at her back, what could go wrong?

A little Bit About my latest series:

My Banished Highlander is the second book in the Highland games Through Time series which started with My Honorable Highlander. Though fine to read as a stand-alone novel, I highly recommend you do not miss the first story. I am working on Book #3, My Reluctant Highlander. Both the first book and the second are available everywhere digitally, and are also available on-line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print.


FIVE (5) lucky people will be chosen to win a digital copy of their choice of My Honorable Highlander or My Banished Highlander. Simply answer this question when you leave a comment:

What SCOTTISH ITEM or PERSON would you like to see under the Christmas Tree?

Also, either leave your contact info, book choice, and format with your comment OR email it to me with ‘STAR’ in the header to 01953nancyl@gmail.com

About the author: Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread and wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, the Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and is a proud Army Mom. 


How to Contact Nancy Lee Badger
Website        http://www.nancyleebadger.com
Blog              http://www.nancyleebadger.blogspot.com
Twitter         https://twitter.com/NLBadger

Where to Buy My Banished Highlander
Amazon Buy link        http://amzn.to/PAYBbX       
Barnes & Noble           http://bit.ly/OREYO7
AllRomanceEBooks    http://bit.ly/Qgdymm
Smashwords                http://bit.ly/OIbim4
KOBO                          http://bit.ly/QbuM3F

ALSO AVAILABLE IN PRINT!  http://amzn.to/Su5a1G

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-- Lynda Again,
    I told you it was a fascinating post, didn't I? Don't forget to enter her drawing, those books sound terrific!

    Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vampire Trivia

We had a bit of a scheduling problem so I don't have a guest today BUT I have some interesting Vampire trivia if you're interested.

Ready?

Many scholars argue the word "vampire" is either from the Hungarian vampir or from the Turkish upior, upper, upyr meaning "witch." Other scholars argue the term derived from the Greek word "to drink" or from the Greek nosophoros meaning "plague carrier." It may also derive from the Serbian Bamiiup or the Serbo-Crotian pirati. 




The Muppet vampire, Count von Count from Sesame Street, is based on actual vampire myth. One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds (usually mustard) outside a door or place fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds or the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.







One of the most famous "true vampires" was Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) who was accused of biting the flesh of girls while torturing them and bathing in their blood to retain her youthful beauty.






Vampire hysteria and corpse mutilations to "kill" suspected vampires were so pervasive in Europe during the mid-eighteenth century that some rulers created laws to prevent the unearthing of bodies. In some areas, mass hysteria led to public executions of people believed to be vampires.

Thresholds have historically held significant symbolic value, and a vampire cannot cross a threshold unless invited. The connection between threshold and vampires seems to be a concept of complicity or allowance. Once a commitment is made to allow evil, evil can re-enter at any time.




Prehistoric stone monuments called “dolmens” have been found over the graves of the dead in northwest Europe. Anthropologists speculate they have been placed over graves to keep vampires from rising.





The legend that vampires must sleep in coffins probably arose from reports of gravediggers and morticians who described corpses suddenly sitting up in their graves or coffins. This eerie phenomenon could be caused by the decomposing process.


I'd heard of a lot of this but hadn't heard the bit about dolmen before. Kind of interesting, huh?

Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Guest - Diane Burton


Good morning! We've had a busy two weeks at the Scott household. A roof leak caused plaster damage that had to be repaired and that necessitated a paint job for the living room, stairwell and upper hallway. Then my washer died! So in between cleaning the house for the big Thanksgiving dinner, then moving things out of the living room, confining my very upset alien kitten to my office for three days, then moving things back into the living room and now re-organizing the basement laundry room so a new washer can be brought in...I think I need a vacation! But then I read the excerpt from The Pilot by our guest, Diane Burton. Loved it! Enjoy!

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Sidekicks, Buddies and BFFs

Do you have a best friend? Someone who knows you better than anyone—maybe even better than your spouse. Someone you’d want on your side in a fight. Someone who will try to talk you out of doing something foolish, dangerous or both and when they can’t will cover your back, like Trevarr’s buddy in my new sci-fi romance, The Pilot.

The heroes in many novels have sidekicks, buddies and/or best friends. I love sidekicks in stories, especially adventure stories. Forget the lone hero. Give me a guy (or gal) with a buddy any day. Show me the hero and her BFF and I can tell you a lot about her. Their interaction can be fun and also very interesting.

According to Joseph Campbell, the tales people have enjoyed for centuries follow a basic pattern. The hero sets out on a quest, a journey. Science fiction movies and books easily use this structure with Star Wars as a great example. The hero (Luke) sets off on a quest to find Leia, the owner of the droids. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s quest is to destroy the ring. In The Pilot, Celara must find her brother to save him from a gangster’s clutches while Trevarr is obsessed with finding his wife’s murderer. Though Trevarr starts out as Celara’s nemesis, their quests merge and they join forces.

Along the way, or even before the start, the hero generally acquires a sidekick, a buddy or a best friend. Think Han Solo, R2D2 and C3PO or Samwise Gamgee. In science fiction romance, that BFF could be the hero or heroine—depending on who the “hero” is. (To keep from writing his/her or s/he, I’m going to make the sidekick in this article a male. Sexist, I know, but it’s easier.)

Just what is the role of the sidekick? Sometimes he’s a sounding board. Other times he reveals backstory. Not in an info dump that bores the reader. (I am so guilty of this in my first drafts.) The friend’s subtle references give the reader insight into the hero’s life. The hero can tell her secrets to her BFF, knowing he will never reveal them.

Another role of the sidekick is to help the hero accomplish his task. One of my favorite moments in the Return of the King is when Frodo refuses to let Sam carry the ring (because of the darkness the ring brings to the soul). So Sam says maybe he can’t carry the ring but he can carry Frodo . . . and he does right up to the fires of Mount Doom. Now that’s friendship.

Sidekicks can also be a source of comic relief. They can say or do outrageous things. In my Switched series, my favorite is Drakus, an alien who is enamored of Terran television. His sometimes mangled expressions often bring needed relief to a dramatic moment. In my newest release The Pilot, my hero’s sidekick, Arjay, is her AI—extremely intelligent but somewhat naive.

Sometimes, the buddy has such strength and appeal, he will get his own story—either because readers demand it or because the writer has fallen in a little in love with him.

Villains can have sidekicks, too—only they’re called henchmen. An interesting henchman (henchwoman?) is May Day (Grace Jones) in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. A satisfying twist is when the henchman “sees the light” and joins the hero. Examples would be May Day and Captain Renault (played by Claude Rains) in Casablanca. “. . . this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Who is your favorite sidekick, buddy or BFF (movies or books)?


The Pilot:

There's no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d'Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster.

Excerpt

     Arjay extracted needle and thread from his uniform pocket and went to work on the back of the dress. Finally, he stood back.
     “This will have to do. I dare not make permanent alterations to the garment which Merchant Namil appears to value. If you do not make any sudden moves when you meet with Administrator Jovano, the stitching will hold. Now, please walk over to the window so I can see how you look.”
     “I look ridiculous.” Even though she groused, Celara did what he asked since the window was only three strides away.
     “Footwear.”
     When he reached for the door handle, she had to stop him.
     “No. No borrowing anything else from Namil. From the length of this dress, his partner had to be a lot taller.” Most fems were taller. “She would have had bigger feet. My boots will have to do.”
     To prove her point, she began to pull on her boots.
     “Uh, I must admonish you not to bend over in the presence of the Administrator. Unless, of course, you wish to entice him with your mammary organs. I understand human males are easily aroused by—”
     She glanced down. Sure enough, she could see straight down her undertunic, her puny little breasts in plain sight. Quickly, she straightened. “Okay, no bending over, no quick moves. Anything else?” Putting her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot.
     “You must adjust your attitude if you wish him to release your ship. I have noted that human males respond more readily to a pleasant demeanor, a soft voice and gentle words. Also, an apology.”
     She walked to the end of the narrow bed and plopped down on it. “I am not groveling.”
     “No, no, no. You must not clomp around like that. You need to walk lightly. Glide.” He demonstrated from the door to the window.
     “That does it,” she proclaimed, flopping back on the bed. “I am not swishing my way into his office.”
     Undeterred, Arjay continued, “I believe you should swish as you walk away from him. Human males are also attracted to the sway of a female’s—”
     With a groan, she threw her arm over her eyes. Then, she bolted upright, ignoring the sound of popping stitches. “Maybe you’ve got the right idea after all, Arjay. Why don’t I just strip off my clothes and jump his bones? Then he’ll be sure to give me back my ship. In fact, I should go and see him right now and get this over with.”
     The thought of mating with the very proper Admin Man made her shiver.
     “Awk.” Giving her a panicked look, Arjay ran to the door and blocked it much the same way she had tried to block Jovano from entering her ship. “It would be best to wait until morning. We still need to work on your speech. And your hair. And . . . and cosmetics to enhance your eyes and mouth.”
     “Isn’t it time you shut down for the night?”

The Pilot is available at Amazon http://amzn.com/B00AE6OH4K
See Diane’s website www.dianeburton.com for other retailers for The Pilot and Diane’s other books.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Diane can be found around the Internet at:
Goodreads: DianeBurton Author