Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guest - Sharon Buchbinder

Good morning! Grab a seat, I'm sure there's enough to go around. Today, we have French vanilla coffee and  Double Chocolate Muffins. Help yourself. There are no calories, lol. Our guest, author, Sharon Buchbinder, is going to talk about characters and she has an excerpt for us to enjoy.


Writing Tropes and Archetypal Characters: The Chosen One

Almost every great myth or story involves a hero who has been chosen in some way for the adventure. It is a trope that is practically hardwired into storytellers. Some heroes are ordinary people called upon to perform extraordinary feats. In Moore, Oklahoma, there are many of these heroes. Teachers stayed with their little charges and protected them with their own bodies. Neighbors clawed through the wreckage without thinking of their own welfare to save lives. First responders travelled from all over the United States to perform their every day job, which is not ordinary to most of us. A terrible event brought out the heroic in everyone in that town.

Other heroes are born to the call. In many instances, they or their guardians do not know they are special. They may live and work in lowly occupations, cleaning stables, working as servants, or tending sheep. In these stories, there are often signs and symbols that indicate their greatness, usually overlooked by their families. Often it is a prophet or seer who has a vision and knows the child is the Chosen One.  If you'll recall the story of King David, he was the youngest of the children in his family. While Saul was still king, the Prophet Samuel was told the future king of Israel would be found in a certain family. When Samuel met with the family, and seven of the sons, the father, Jesse, told him all the male children were present. David, out tending sheep on the hillside, was not even considered significant enough to be called in for this visit from an important man. Samuel knew none of the men present were the next king, and asked if there were other children. Scoffing, Jesse said, "Well, there is our shepherd boy." 

The Chosen One theme also arises when times are bad or leaders are failing. Continuing the above story, King Saul was not doing very well. He had nightmares and appeared to be under attack from demons. Only the songs and lyrics from David's harp, which he had practiced everyday on the hillsides with the sheep, soothed the tormented King Saul. To make matters worse, the Philistines were attacking Saul and his people on a regular basis, making daily life unbearable. The worst of these enemies was a giant covered in body armor named Goliath. All of Saul's men, including three of David's brothers, ran when they saw this terrifying creature. Only David held his ground and, using the sling and a rock just as he had protected his sheep from wolves, he slew Goliath. Saul should have been thrilled. Instead, he realized David was gaining popularity. Even his daughter, Michal, fell in love with the young upstart. Saul knew David was the Chosen One and grew angry, fearful, and vengeful. Saul went from being a good king to one who ran David out of the county, consulted witches, conjured up spirits, and searched for ways to rid himself of David.  Saul turned into a villain and died on a field of battle at his own hands. I'm sure you know the rest of the tale. The shepherd poet became the poet King. From David's line came many more great heroes, heroines, and Chosen One Stories.

As a reader and as a writer, I love the idea of the Chosen One. Coming from a humble background, I can relate to the dream of overcoming obstacles and vanquishing villains.  Each story using this trope can have its own twist, restrained only by the writer's imagination. So, tell me, which story (or stories) using the Chosen One trope do you have on your list of favorites?

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive. She's finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney. But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent's worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the "Chosen One."

Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help. Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord's right-hand man. Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover—and falling in love with her.

ISBN Print:          ISBN 978-1-61217-867-7
Digital:       ISBN 978-1-61217-868-4

“Who are you? Who is that giant? What did you say to him?”

The pony-tailed man flashed a grin, the smile reaching his sky-blue colored eyes, giving him an appealing boyish look. “The big guy’s name is Tio. I told Tio to truss Raul up like the pig he is and to bring him to Isabel Ramirez. She’ll know exactly what to do with him.”

“Who are you?”

The movie-star-handsome man stopped, bent down until he was eye-to-eye with Angie.

“I found your passport tossed onto Raul’s desk, Angela Edmonds from the U.S. of A. I like that name. You look like an angel.”

She shook her head and the street twirled. “I’m no angel.” She steadied herself on his well muscled, naked arm. Rather than creeping her out, the skin on skin contact with her rescuer reassured her that he was a real human and not an angel conjured up in fevered religious delusion and desperation.

“You sound like an American. You haven’t answered my question. What’s your name?”

“Torres.” Still holding her ID, he strode to the driver’s side of the car, hopped in and flashed a dazzling grin. “You could call me your hero because I’m taking you to see the woman who can help you find your son. My name is Alejandro Espinosa Santoyo Torres. But most people just call me Alejandro.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Obsession will be available as a FREE DOWNLOAD June 4-8, 2013! Tell your friends!


After working in health care delivery for years, Sharon Buchbinder became an association executive, a health care researcher, and an academic in higher education. She had it all--a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it an obsession) kept beckoning her to "come on back" to writing fiction. Thanks to the kindness of family, friends, critique partners, Romance Writers of America, and Maryland Romance Writers, she is now an award-winning author published in contemporary, erotic, paranormal and romantic suspense. When not attempting to make students, colleagues, and babies laugh, she can be found herding cats, waiting on a large gray dog, fishing, dining with good friends, or writing. You can find her at  

Paranormal Romance Guild Winner Best Mystery/Thriller, 2012
Where Sharon Buchbinder and Obsession can be found on the Internet
Book Trailer for Obsession
Twitter @sbuchbinder

-- Lynda Again,
    Very interesting post. I love using archetypes and a Chosen One trope leans itself to a heroic character.

    Have a Blessed Day!

   I'm still subscribing members for my newsletter. If you'd like to join, click on the Newsletter link. For June, I'm giving away an ARC of Sara Humphreys UNDONE (Great read!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Good morning! We have a guest appearance by author Danielle Ackley-McPhail today. Danielle is talking about...the deep, dark subject of love affairs. Okay, love affairs with language ;-) Enjoy! And do check for the details on her giveaway!


Our Tawdry Love Affair With Language
By Danielle Ackley-McPhail
© 2011

Don’t deny it. Don’t pretend. We all of us are in love with words. Sometimes we are transported. Sometimes delighted, and yes, sometimes carried away.

It’s easy to lose control when you are having such fun. The elegance of a phrase can easily blind us to what is and is not good prose. Unfortunately there are times while we are having fun with language the reader just wants to know what the heck is going on.

(Oh, stop pouting!)

There is a time for letting go and a time for reining yourself in. Your job: figure out when is when. Let me help you out. There are several questions you can ask yourself when you are reviewing what you have written:

1)      Does it say what needs to be said? Exercising your vocabulary is all well and good, but you have to keep in mind the objective of a scene and both make sure you chosen the right words for what you want to say and that you don’t lose track of what you want to convey to begin with. (In other words, make sure the words mean what you think they do and don’t forget to get to the point.)

2)      Is it clear? When we get grand with our words there is a danger. We know what we had in mind, but if the flourishes are too grand the reader might not be able to follow. When using words that are likely to be less familiar to the reader make sure that you help define them through contextual references. . If they missed the important point all those pretty words were wasted, as was the scene. For instance kine is a cool word for a cow, but if you don’t make that clear the reader is left wondering what that strange animal on the hill is rather than paying attention to the dragon swooping down to eat it.

3)      Does it distract the reader from what is going on? What is it you are trying to get across? Are you trying to immerse the reader in your world or are you trying to give them information they need to advance the story? When you are just setting a scene or building a character your allotment of frivolous words increases; when a scene has a more specific purpose you want to be a bit more stingy because the more emphasis you put on something the more important the reader thinks it is so they might not pay attention where you want them too if there are too many things going on.

4)      Does it slow down the pacing? Fancy phrasing is not compact…you need time and space to be eloquent. The pace of a scene will slow down significantly the more intricate your prose becomes. Basically you have two choices: relaxed or tense. The more words you use to say something the less hurried the reader feels. So…describing a battlefield after the battle explore every nuance you want; gearing up for the battle itself, keep the pacing—and the wordage—tighter than a miser’s fist. The action has the wrong kind of impact if you don’t build up to it so pacing is a very important part of literary tension. You want the reader to anticipate what is coming and feel the tension the characters do so background details that are not relevant fade away, sentences get short and to the point so that while the reader is reading faster they feel like they are rushing head-on into the action.

5)      Is it appropriate? What type of setting are you writing about? What are the characters like? If you get all fancy with the language when you are writing a story about street kids in East LA the poetry of your words is going to jar against what should be gritty images and settings. Let your vocabulary out to play, but make sure it gets along with your topic, otherwise the tone of your story is going to contradict the content.

Reality Check
After you are done evaluating your work against the above checklist you have one more thing you can do yourself to make sure your piece in harmony with itself and achieving its objective. Read it. Yes, read it…out loud!

(Okay, now you’re just whining…)

The best way to catch conflicts in your own work is to read it out loud because you can hear the language and because it forces you to slow down and actually think about the words. Reading silently doesn’t cut it because everything sounds perfect in your brain and your memory helpfully supplies any details you missed adding to the page. If you read out loud it will emphasize those places where information is missing or where there is some disconnect between the language and the content, particularly in the dialogue. If a character is talking and you feel silly saying the words out loud it is much worse than if the narrative sounds a little hokey.

Summing Up

Words can be wonderful, glorious, and a lot of fun to play with. They can evoke emotion, they can transport imaginations, they can create something out of nothing, but there has to be a synergy between tone, content, pace, and characterization. Play with the language all you want but don’t lose sight of your purpose. For a writer, the language should never become more important than the story. When there is time, loosen your grip on those words and let them out, but be ready to knuckle down and get to the point so that the story flows to its conclusion naturally, rather than in meandering starts and stops.

About Danielle
Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections. Learn more at

The Redcap's Queen

The Hunt is On!
When strength becomes weakness…
And hope becomes doubt…
As the past collides with the future…hard…
Can Suzanne—Wild Hunt biker chick and one-time member of the fae High Court—stand strong as her world falls apart? She survived an assault by redcaps, an all-out battle with the High King’s armies, and her first encounter with roller derby… but how will she fare against her inner demons? Caught in the midst of a transformation she scarcely realizes and does not understand, her hard-won convictions are tested as never before.
Suzanne is left with only one question—what if they’re wrong?
The truth could mean the difference between saving her sanity and losing her soul…

An Excerpt from The Redcaps’ Queen, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Dark Quest Books, 2013)

She jerked awake, sweat-soaked, her body trembling and her breath fast and shallow in reaction to the raw, brutal memory haunting her dreams. Screams still echoed in her mind. Torturous, agonized, piercing. Lance lay undisturbed beside her, arm draped over her waist, breathing in a slow, relaxed rhythm against the back of her neck. His presence calmed her, again a reminder she’d survived. Most mornings were the same lately. Ever since she had been captured by the Dubh Fae and his redcap minions—coming within seconds of death—her sleep had been a stalking ground.
She growled in frustration as she edged away from Lance’s loose grip. A grey hint of light placed the time somewhere just before dawn. Way too early to be up. She ignored the phantom, jabbing pains as she slipped from the bed. The chill of the morning air made her shiver as she ran her fingers over naked skin that should have borne scars. She caught her unblemished reflection in the bureau mirror across the room and shivered again. Damp tendrils of platinum-blonde hair clung to her face, neck, and breasts. In the low light her blue eyes shone dark and startling against her ashen skin. She scowled at her reflection and quickly shimmied into her clothes, reflexively sliding a well-worn bandana in the front pocket of her jeans, an old habit from her childhood.
Behind her, Lance stirred. His arm reached for her in his sleep. A hint of a frown furrowed his brow. Awake or not, his protective nature seeped through. As the leader of the Wild Hunt M.C. he considered himself responsible for every member, but most particularly for her.
Again, frustration burned along her nerves, causing her to tense as she willed him to remain asleep. She loved Lance, had for over twenty years…even before he turned thirteen and discovered the joy of girls, but he never seemed to get the fact that she needed to stand on her own, not because she had to, but because it was important to her to be able to. She’d even held a job once. For nearly a year she’d manned the drying furnace at the local auto plant, where intense heat baked the fresh paint into a protective shell. A very unfae occupation; that had been part of its charm. With a whole other world of resources to draw on she hadn’t needed to work. What she had needed was to prove she could. That she was strong and capable in all things. Not until she proved that to herself and everyone else, could she and Lance move forward and build the kind of life she had always longed. The life where they were never separate, where family meant love…and children.
That dream seemed even further out of reach now. If only she could conquer this crippling fear. In the military they called it PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder. Suzanne…she called it fucked up. Just seeing the color red froze her up worse than a seized engine. If she did not overcome that fear on her own, she expected she never would. But Lance kept interfering. He just never seemed to know when to stand down and when to step in. When he’d learned about her recent issues, he’d actually gone so far as to try and ban anything red from Delilah’s, the bar that served as club house for the Wild Hunt. Well-intentioned as she recognized the effort to be, she stopped him straight away. Besides being impractical, a solution like that threatened to cripple her for good. Remnants of an older fear rose up at that thought. She would let no one make her weak again. No one.
As she stood there trying to rally for the day, the room around her took on a steadily growing red tinge reflected from the rising sun. Suzanne tensed and refused to close her eyes against the sight. She fought to get control of the panic, resisting the urge to crawl back into Lance’s arms and pretend herself safe. She wouldn’t do it, though; she made a point of never lying, as her father did, even to herself. The faster her heart beat, the more her skin crawled, as if distant eyes watched her, waiting eagerly for the chance to bleed her. Surrounded by the dawn’s haze she relived the attack; the flood of red light swept her back to the blasted crossroads, bound and helpless as the Dubh Fae’s Dragon Tears ate through her skin and flesh, and the redcaps feasted on her free-flowing blood. Suzanne shuddered. The panic gained ground until she nearly crumpled to the floor. Sheer will alone kept her standing tall, her slender frame too rigid now to tremble. An improvement after last night, where she’d been curled nearly fetal in Lance’s arms, but still unacceptable. She reminded herself that those who had harmed her couldn’t get past the shields safeguarding the property, including Delilah’s and the living space above the bar.
It didn’t help. The true demons lived in her head. 

The Halfling Court

      Get Your Bad-Ass On!

The rumble of a Harley...

The gleam of black leather...

The shine of polished chrome...

The freedom of the open road....

Motorcycles meet magic and mayhem as Lance Cosain, the halfling leader of The Wild Hunt MC, protects his turf and his people from attacks ordered by Dair na Scath, the high king of the fae.

Holding his own against rogue fae, redcaps, and pissed-off road gremlins, all Lance wants to do is settle down with his lady. Instead he goes toe-to-toe with the high king’s champion over an ancient dagger and the claim to a throne.

Who will triumph? The king of the road or the king of the realm? Either way, the Hunt is on!

Based on the stories “At the Crossroads” and “Within the Guardian Bell” from the award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries Anthology Series.

The latest from Ackley-McPhail features an intriguing mix of bikers and elves.

—Publisher’s Weekly

The Halfling Court is a well crafted and thought out book. The characters are immensely likable, and I found myself growing quite fond of them [...] a definite must read.

—5 Tombstones, Bitten By Books Review


-- Lynda Again,

  Those sound like two great books, don't they? Danielle is asking SCR readers to check out the giveaways that she has in progress. Here's the 911

To win an autographed copy of the novel, come up with your own, original derby name.
 For ideas and to see if your name is already taken, visit Please only post original names that are not in use.
 To enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway, click here
 We also have a GoodReads giveaway going on: 

Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review - Undone by Sara Humphreys

Sara Humphreys
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
May 2013

Marianna Coltari wants to avoid declaring allegiance to the Purists or the Loyalists in the erupting Amoveo Civil war. With the Purists attempting to force undeclared pure-bloods to their side, her brother, Dante, sends his human friend, Pete Castro, to keep a protective eye on her. Marianna is furious at this interference but she is equally startled to feel an undeniable attraction to the handsome ex-cop.

Pete knew Marianna was a party girl. He knew she would be attractive. He didn't know she would be spectacularly beautiful. Or that all his instincts would want her more than any other woman he'd ever met. The problem, though, was that she was his buddy's sister and the unbreakable guy rule said he had to stay clear of her. But with the Purists after her, Pete would have to stay close enough to protect her…even if she could shapeshift into a Kodiak bear.

Then Marianna begins dreaming about Pete, an unfailing sign that he was her destined mate and things start to heat up to inferno temperatures.

I've got to say, I liked the first three Amoveo books but this one…it surpasses the others by leaps and bounds. As a note, though, if you haven't read the other books, you may want to do so before starting this one. It doesn't quite stand alone even if it is an excellent read.

I enjoyed the fact that Ms Humphreys went out of the box by pairing a paranormal female with a human male. And she did so without emasculating Pete. He stayed true to his character (a strong alpha male sort) throughout the story. Not only that but the characters, all of them, practically walk off the page. And the action plot is riveting from the very beginning. But the real draw is the romance which is handled splendidly by a talented author. 

If I gave stars or comets or some such, this book would garner them all with a few extra for emphasis. You'll definitely want to read this one.

Guest - Sara Humphreys

Good morning! Come on in and sit a spell. We've got Hawaiian Hazelnut coffee in the pot and luscious cranberry and orange muffins on the table. Make yourselves comfortable and help me welcome author Sara Humphreys for a little chat. If I missed any questions you wanted answered, please ask in the comments. By the way, Sourcebooks is offering a giveaway to one lucky commenter so check out how to enter the drawing later in the post.

 Welcome Sara! Thanks for visiting us today.

What draws you to romance?
I love the idea that there is one perfect person out there for everyone and I’m a sucker for a happily ever after.  The world is full of enough rotten stuff, so writing and reading romance is a great way to escape from everyday stuff.

I think we can all agree with that. Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?
I actually just sold a contemporary romance series to Sourcebooks. It’s called Holding Out for a Hero and features men in uniform. I’m really excited to branch out into this new genre and hope readers will come along for the ride.

I bet they will If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?
That’s a toss up. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several cover models since being published but I’d have to go with Harvey Stables. He’s not only handsome but a super sweet guy and I adore his wife. He also fits the description of the hero in VAMPIRE TROUBLE, which is the second Dead in the City novel.

I'll have to look for VAMPIRE TROUBLE. What would constitute your own personal happily ever after?
Honestly? I’m living it. I’m married to a wonderful man who treats me like a queen, we have four beautiful boys and I get to write romance for a living. Life is good.

That's great! How do you spend a typical writing day?
After the boys get off to school, I bop between writing, social media and laundry. It’s not glamorous but I love it.

Okay. Now the important questions. What’s the sexiest feature on a man to you? And on a woman? Why?
Kindness and a sense of humor are tied for sexiest feature in both men and women. If you’re a jerk, it doesn’t matter how good looking you are. NO amount of physical beauty can overcome being unkind.

Great answer! What’s your own sexiest feature?
I don’t there’s anything sexy about me at all but my husband would probably say that my smile is sexy.

I think a smile tells a lot about a person. What draws you to write paranormal?
I love the idea that there are things out there that we can’t explain. The strange, unusual and exotic are fascinating and I like to believe that anything is possible.

Dream on…


She's Far From Human...
With her secret race of shapeshifteres embroiled in civil war, all Marianna Coltari wants is to stay far from controversy. Even so, when her overprotective brother insists on hiring his human friend Pete as her bodyguard, Marianna is furious.

Does She Dare to Love One?
Like most retired cops, Pete Castro resents his new job as a bodyguard. It's even worse because he'll be babysitting a party girl like Marianna. But that's before he meets her for the first time and discovers his instincts on red alert. Would he kill to protect her?

Praise for Undone:
“Humphreys’ skillful storytelling is so intriguing, you’ll have a hard time putting this book down. 4 ½ Stars, Top Pick of the Month!” —RT Book Reviews

” Spellbinding... This fast-paced, jam-packed thrill ride will delight paranormal romance fans.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sara Humphreys has truly created her own world.” —Under the Covers

Sara Humphreys has been attracted to the fantasies of science fiction, paranormal, and romance since her adolescence when she had a mad crush on Captain Kirk. An actress and public speaker, Sara lives in Bronxville, NY, with her husband, who is very considerate of her double life, and four amazing boys. Look for a brand new paranormal romance series, Dead in the City, starting with Tall, Dark and Vampire this August, and the next Amoveo Legend book, Unclaimed, in December 2013! For more information about her books and to join her street team, please visit or follow her on Twitter, @HYPERLINK ""AuthorSara.

To purchase Undone:

-- Lynda here,
    To enter the drawing for the free book, please leave a comment AND your email addy or leave a comment and send me an email at And please check out the review for UNDONE here.

     The drawing will remain open until Friday, May 24. At that point, I'll put all the names in the prize box
and ask my alien kitten, Wookie, to pick the winner. Good luck!

     Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guest - Rowan Malloy

Good morning! I'm traveling to Kentucky today but I'm leaving you with author Rowan Malloy, who will be talking about magic, the different kinds of it and his lifelong fascination with it. He's got a giveaway too, for two Star-Crossed readers, so make sure to follow his directions. Enjoy!


The Return of Magic

Starting with legends and fairy tales that date back to the earliest days of our culture, magic has always been an important part of our stories. In more recent times stories involving magic have come to be called fantasy, while stories involving technical wizardry are classified as sci-fi. It’s all magic to me.

Either way, a vast range of stories featuring unusual powers or capacities, and the people who seek to wield those powers and capacities are an inextricable part of our culture. It seems magic fell out of literary fashion for a while, but I think it's back now, stronger than ever.

When I was a boy we had a book of fairy tales full of magic. There were quests, curses, talismans, kidnappings, fools playing with forces they didn't understand (and weren't worthy of) and of course evil sorcerers and witches.

I remember one story in particular where the wicked witch’s house stood on chicken legs, and the only way to get into the house was to know the magical phrase that made the chicken legs bend to bring the door to ground level. That same idea, of course, is what made Ali Baba such an interesting story.

As I began writing my own stories I discovered there were rules to using magic, and as an author I had to honor those rules if the story was going to satisfy a thoughtful reader.

I didn't have to go deep into the mechanics of magic or spell-work—after all, how much do you really need to know about the way your cable recorder works, allowing you to watch one show while recording another? If your story is about an electronics technician maybe that level of technical detail is important, but if your story is about a person who simply records favorite tv shows, maybe not so much.

The first rule is that the power of magic must be respected. This is the entire message of the story the Sorcerer's Apprentice featured in the old Disney movie Fantasia. If magic is disrespected or violated, there is a price to pay. (As an aside, this would be an interesting premise, it seems to me, for a story about respect for the magic of nature and the environmental price paid by those who disrespect it.)

The second rule is that the power of magic must have limitations. If magic can accomplish anything at any time, under any circumstances, there is no story because there is no challenge. If a story features an omnipotent hero, there had better be an equally omnipotent villain waiting for him in that castle up ahead!

There are all kinds of ways that magic is limited in popular stories, and the limitations are as interesting as the magic itself.

Shifter stories might use the phases of the moon to limit the power of magic that appears in them. Further, it might be that the shifter character only has magical attributes while in his or her alternate form.

Wiccan tradition is full of practices specific to the phases of the moon, seasons, and activities. Both logically and energetically, it would be foolish to perform a ceremony of harvest at a time when the seeds are not yet planted. As they say in stand-up comedy, timing is everything.

Other limitations might be that power resides in a ring or other talisman, and must be worn by the caster. Or certain spells can only be worked in particular geographical places, or under certain temporary planetary alignments.

In Blood Royal, I imagined a parallel world where magic was the principal technology that made everything work. The limitation I devised was that this world was ruled by a genetic strain of people who were impervious to magic.

In the story, even the most powerful and ambitious magicians could remember the political chaos created by unchecked magic, and therefore accepted the harsh governance of this race who could not be magically manipulated. (This also helped set up the central conflict, because love between a magician and a member of the ruling class was forbidden in order to maintain the genetic purity of the royal resistance to magic.)

Finally, and this is not a rule universally acknowledged, I believe that magic must have significance to the story besides being a cool way to have things happen. What is the magic for? Is it the luxury of an effete ruling class, or is it the secret power of a simple agrarian culture? What social force does the use of magic represent? I could go on, but I'd better not!

These rules don't limit an author’s creativity in any way, as far as I can see, but rather pose important puzzles for the author to solve before he or she can successfully call on the power of magic. The solution then says something about the author's creativity and world view.

So why use magic in a romance at all? That's an easy question for me to answer: love is the ultimate magic. Love is capable of overcoming impossible odds, enduring unbearable catastrophe, and holding true through the most painful separation. My belief is that we understand magic precisely because we experience love.

Without belaboring the point, we can apply these same ruled to love. Love must be respected. It has limitations, and it certainly has significance to any story beyond being a way to explain why people behave as they do.

If an author handles love and magic with understanding and respect, I believe the story that she or he writes will be powerful, nourishing and downright fun to open-hearted readers.

What do you think? Does this make sense to you? I’d love it if you left a comment (please leave your email addy so Rowan can contact you), and I’ll be giving away electronic copies of Blood Royal to two commenters selected on May 20th by my randomizer.

- An unwilling princess caught between feuding clans
- A ruthless queen's deadly web
- Forbidden love in a world built on magic and murder

Struggling artist Eva Milaras resented getting stuffed into a magic limo by a wizard who calls her names like “Serenissima” and “Highness,” even if he was heart-stopping handsome. Never mind that he’d just saved her life in the bomb blast at Budget Foods. Even though Talak claimed she would be safer in his world of magic, it looked like staying alive was going to be a challenge.

Prisoner of an aristocratic destiny she didn’t know about and doesn't want, Eva must survive the deadly ambitions of her new-found relatives—as well as all their enemies—as they maneuver for advantage in a murderous royal court.

Talak knows the rules—Eva must marry a man from the royal bloodline in spite of his love for her. Together they battle intrigue and betrayal, but finally are forced to choose between letting go of each other…or certain death for treason. That's a choice Eva refuses to make...


Blood Royal is a finalist in the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal category of the 2013 Abalone Awards, sponsored by the Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of RWA.


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About Rowan Malloy
Rowan Malloy can't help what he writes – stories rising from the between places, the mystical overlapping of the worlds of matter and spirit, and the eldritch beauty that dwells there. He's in love with adventure and magic, loves plunging into stories full of both, and wants to take you along. Mostly he's in love with love, and believes deeply in the power of love to overcome any challenge. He’s known it in his own life, and seen it in the lives of many others.
In addition to his written work which includes novels, essays, poetry and short stories, he's served since 2008 as one of the final round judges in the Queer Foundation’s annual National High School Seniors Essay Contest. Its goal is to promote effective writing by queer youth, where finalists are selected from schools across the United States by members of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Happily ensorcelled by music, subtle energy healing, and the wonders of nature, he lives with his very patient husband in southern Florida, surrounded by friends and family, orchids and giant hibiscus that take his breath away every morning.
-- Dear Readers,
    Fascinating post from Rowan, no? And his book sounds very interesting. Make sure you leave a comment with your email addy so he can contact you if your name if drawn for the prize.

    Good luck and have a Blessed Day!

PS - I've started a new newsletter group and I'd love it if you subscribed. Just click on the link below to go straight to the form. 
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Review - A Highland Werewolf Wedding by Terry Spear

A Highland Werewolf Wedding
Terry Spear
Soucrcebooks, Casablanca
May 2013

Cearnach MacNeill, second in command of the MacNeill wolf clan, always wondered what happened to the pretty she-wolf he tried to help back in 1785 after she disappeared.

Elaine Hawthorn an American Alpha she-wolf returns to Scotland after receiving a message from a distant cousin regarding finding a lost treasure her pirate uncles had hidden centuries ago. The problem is, she doesn't know what shape or form the treasure takes. All she knows is that it's hidden somewhere in the castle that now belongs to her sworn enemies.

On her way to a meeting with the cousin who has information she needs, Elaine has a near collision with Cearnach MacNeil. In fact, she runs him off the road. She recognizes Cearnach from that long ago encounter but he doesn't seem to recognize her which is all to the good as far as she's concerned because Elaine is a member of the Kilpatrick Clan, rivals to the MacNeill's.

But both Cearnach and his wolf side are intrigued by Elaine. When he  realizes she's a member of a rival clan, he takes her home to the castle that may have once belonged to her family but is now his (the MacNeill's). He'll protect and guard the lovely Elaine no matter what. He doesn't expect that her presence at a family wedding will re-ignite a feud that has simmered since the 1700's.

With Elaine at the wedding, the feud begins a slow boil with stealthy attacks and black-hearted foes. Since she is inside the castle, she tries to find the treasure without being obvious - after all, she's a guest and doesn't want to be caught snooping. Pack feud or not, the romance between Cearnach and Elaine is encouraged by none other than his mother, Lady MacNeill, and, oddly, by the spirit of a long deceased relative, Flynn. With those kinds of allies, romance is bound to be victorious.

I have to admit - I'm a Terry Spear fan. I love her shifter books (wolf or jaguar) and I love the characters she creates for these amazing stories. A Highland Werewolf Wedding has everything I've come to expect in a Terry Spear book: Captivating romance combined with a fast paced, action packed story. Add the Highlanders in Kilts? SWOON.

You'll definitely want to get this one. Read it a couple of times because, well, hunks in kilts, hello?

Guest - Terry Spear

Good morning! There's Mayan Chocolate coffee in the pots and Orangesicle muffins on the plates. Make yourselves comfortable. Today, the uber-talented author, Terry Spear, will be joining us for a bit of chit chat. Terry is answering a few questions I thought you might be interested in. We've also got a copy of her book to give to one lucky reader. Details below!

Chatting with Terry Spear

Hi Terry. Come in and have a seat. Would you like some Mayan Chocolate coffee? Tasty, isn't it? First, thanks for being with us. It's always a pleasure having you visit. Now...What draws you to romance?
TS: I love a happily-ever-after—even in books that aren’t romance. But I love experiencing the ups and downs of relationships and how a man and a woman finally come to realize that they are meant to be together forever and ever.

Oh, I agree. The journey is just as good as the arrival, isn't it? Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?
TS: I have written several nonfiction stories. Some actually had happily ever afters. I used to write for genealogy magazines and a teen magazine.

Wow, interesting! You're obviously a multi-talented author. What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing?
TS: It would be a toss-up between creating teddy bears and gardening and photography!!!! I love creating teddy bears. Every one of them has a unique personality, just like the characters in a book. I love gardening and creating an oasis of green and colorful flowering plants in the middle of a cornfield. I love taking photos of wildlife and sharing them with my fans.

Gardening is always good for the soul. I'll have to make a note and ask you about the teddy bears the next time you visit.  I've seen some of your photos. They're gorgeous! I'm amazed you have time to write which shows how disciplined you must be. How do you spend a typical writing day?
TS: I write blogs, answer emails and work on student lessons first thing (I teach online writing classes), and critique partner’s chapters. Then I start working on the project with the most current deadline. When I wrote this, I was working on A SEAL Wolf Christmas, May blogs for the blog tour for A Highlander Werewolf Wedding, and Jaguar Heat, third book in the series. But all can be put on hold if something else needs to be done right away.

 A HIghlander Werewolf Wedding is a terrific read (but then I think all your books are terrific reads). And I'm definitely looking forward to Jaguar Heat. You write such great paranormals. Have you ever experienced a paranormal event in your life?
TS: Absolutely. I don’t go looking for them, or even believe I’ve experienced something paranormal, until I can find no reasonable explanation or I discover corroboration that what I’ve experienced, others have also.

You’ve heard that renovations on a house can stir up unusual happenings, and that’s what occurred when I started painting my kids’ rooms before I sold the house. A letter C—about a foot square and thick lettered, appeared on my son’s wall. After painting over the wall several times, then using Kilz on the wall that is supposed to cover stains, it still remained.

I had painted that whole section of wall about 14 times, and it was still there. It was a white letter on a white wall. I could see it in sunlight and at night with the lights on. It hadn’t been there when I took down all my son’s posters and puttied all the pinprick holes. It just…appeared, once I began painting. My mother saw it. My college age son and daughter saw it. I saw it. About a week later, I decided to hang a picture over it, though I had wanted to keep the walls free and freshly painted. My daughter found a picture for me to hang over it and set it on the floor below it. Every day I would look in there, still see it, and think I needed to find my hammer and a nail, and I’d hang the picture. So finally one morning, I looked in the room, C is bright and bold as ever, and I went in search of a nail and hammer. I returned ready to hang the picture. The C was gone. I turned on the lights, even though the sun was streaming in the window. Looked that night with just the lights on. It was gone. Vanished. As if it had never been there.

Ooo, spooky. I wonder if the spirit world was trying to send you a message? And what the message might have been. Do you ever use current events to help create plots? 
TS: Oh, absolutely. When I came up with the idea of the Highland clan losing so much of their money for both A Howl for a Highlander and Heart of the Highland Wolf, I based it on a couple of men who at the time were in the news for having scammed investors across the globe. My co-worker actually wanted me to write about a poor werewolf. So that gave me the incentive to have a Highland clan that was hurting for money and could lose their ancestral home.

In Wolf Fever, the World Health Organization had put out an alert that we were bound for the worst flu epidemic in years. It didn’t come about, but it gave me the idea—what if (which is always a neat way to come up with a plot) a werewolf pack were hit by a flu strain and it did something unusual to them.

Because I have written so many in the series, I really try to make each book as different as possible from all the others—except all  in the same world. For my current release, my editor, Deb Werksman had the idea for a different story—why not call it A Highland Werewolf Wedding? But I had no Highland wedding in the story. And I thought, I would write a book that starts and ends with a Highland wedding. The best part of that? Readers get to enjoy tons of Highlanders in kilts! J

You're so right J  Highlanders in kilts are one of my favorite things. Add a little wolf shapeshifting to it? Heaven! Besides the hunky Highlander wolf shifters and the hunk jaguar shifters, what drew you to write paranormal? 
TS: I think it’s the notion that people are more exceptional in some way. They are different and accepted by others even with being different.

Even if you weren't a terrific and talented author, that would be a good philosophy. What one thing would you want your readers to remember from your book?
TS: More than anything, I hope my readers have fun!!! But what I really hope to do is to write scenes that are so memorable, readers will remember them for many years. I took a picture of a waterfall in a rainforest at Moody Gardens and asked readers if they had read Savage Hunger, did they remember the waterfall scene? It’s a unanimous yes!!!

But what I think is even more fun—if the reader sees a waterfall, and instantly thinks of Connor with Kat washing behind that stream of warm water. J That’s the power of the pen. It’s like when I’ve been in the shower and the electricity has gone off—what do I think of??? Psycho!

LOL, yes, I can see where Psycho might jump to mind under that circumstance. Last question - Your book is being made into a movie, regardless of cost, where should it be filmed?
TS: For A Highland Werewolf Wedding—in Scotland at one of their gorgeous castles. And I want to stay in one of the rooms, and watch all the fight scenes where the Highlanders are bare chested, only wearing their kilts on a windy day and swinging their swords…I’ll have my camera ready!

 I volunteer to carry your luggage J

On The Run...
After werewolves Elaine Hawthorn and Cearnach MacNeill almost have a head-on collision on a foggy Highland road, they're pretty well stuck with each other. It'll be hours before anyone can get there to pull his car out of the ditch and they both have better places to be.

And Nowhere to Hide From Each Other...
The sexy little American brings out all of Cearnach's big bad protective instincts. If she thought she was in trouble before, Elaine has no idea what kind of complications a hot Scot can cause...

Delightful, steamy, and devilishly funny, join the hundreds of thousands of readers who already discovered that USA Today bestseller Terry Spear delivers a sizzle worth howling about.

Praise for A Highland Werewolf Wedding:
“The two protagonists are well matched in intelligence, and their snappy dialogue will have readers chuckling from the first chapter on.” —Booklist

“The hills of Scotland make a dramatic backdrop for this novel, and the characters are pleasing and well written.” —RT Book Reviews

“A Highland Werewolf Wedding is another shining example of exactly why Terry Spear is the Queen of the shifter romance.”—Night Owl Reviews, 5 Stars, Reviewer Top Pick

USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over two dozen paranormal romance novels and medieval Highland historical romances. She has received incredible praise for her romances, including Heart of the Wolf named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next paranormal romances! For more information, please visit

To purchase A Highland Werewolf Wedding:

-- Dear Readers,
    Terry is a terrific guest, isn't she? And she's an even better writer, lol. Her publicist is offering a copy of Terry's A Highland Werewolf Wedding to one lucky Star-Crossed Romance reader. All you have to do is 

    1) Leave a comment with your email addy (so I can contact you) OR

    2) Leave a comment and send me an email with A Highland Werewolf Wedding in the subject line and your name and address in the body.

    3) Do either of those by Friday, May 17 and I'll put your names in the prize box and ask my alien kitten, Wookie, to pick the winner.

Good Luck and Have a Blessed Day!

PS - I've started a new newsletter group and I'd love if you subscribed. Just click on the link below to go straight to the form. 

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