29 April 2009

Susan Boyle

I think by now we've all seen the video of Susan Boyle and heard her beautiful voice. We've all seen the doubt in the judges and the crowd's faces when she walked on stage and we've seen the doubt turn to incredulity when she started singing. The video still gives me goosebumps.

But what does it all really mean?

Its far more significant than a popular television show finding outstanding talent.

Susan Boyle represents all of us. The little people. The people who work hard, who lead normal lives in small villages. Who return each night to their humble home to eat dinner and prepare for the next day.

Susan Boyle represents hope.

Because if she can do it. If she can harbor such untapped talent for over forty years and suddenly be "discovered" then maybe it can happen to one of us too.

As a writer I was more touched by that story then by the fact that she has a voice that would make angels weep. Its her life I'm more interested in. What makes her tick, what does she do everyday? Why did she decide now, after so many years, to reach for the stars?

And if she can reach for the stars then by golly so can the rest of us.

I've tried to imbed the video into this post but the imbedding option has been taken down by request. But if you'd like to watch it again, click here and while you're watching, pay particular attention to her expressions, especially when Simon asks her who she wants to be like. Its like an inner fire has been lit inside her. And especially watch her face right before she starts singing. She has confidence in herself, you can see it in her expression. She's reaching for the stars and she knows they're within her reach.

Yes, Susan Boyle gives us all hope.

27 April 2009

Stirring the Pot


I'm not much of a pot stirrer when it comes to my online life. Generally, I sit back and watch the controversies pass by like miles on the highway of life. In my real life, I'd say it runs about 50/50, depending on the issue and if I feel strongly enough about it.

In my books - Katie bar the door!

I've been writing a lot of romantic suspense lately - not my normal genre, but I'm having a good time at it. This week alone I shot the hero's dog, gave the heroine a debiliating leg injury, and sent a porno dealer off the rails. I'm mean to my characters that way. And I did it all with a satisfied smile on my face.

Enter another manuscript (for those of you who don't know, I write multiple books at a time.)

This one I'm outlining longhand while sitting in my living room watching various documentaries on the History Channel. Now, this is a second book in a series. The first book had lots of gun fights, the third that I'm outlining at the same time, also has action, adventure and "Look out!!!" moments for my characters. Book two...not so much. For some reason that one- even in the outline - is turning into a more cerebral book. This is causing me moments of great frustration. I want there to be more action - unfortunately, the situation as it stands is not lending itself to the action I'm wanting in the book. Ughhhh.... this is a pot that wants to refuse to be stirred and I'm determined to work it with an egg beater if I have to.

Now, in my paranormals and the erotic-futuristic-fantasy romance I'm working on, I'm not really having that trouble. It's more like the same thing but in reverse. I'm stirring the pot too much. Giving my characters more to do than they can possibly accomplish in the word count alotted. I'm afraid the plot will run off the page. (I'm already siphoning the overflow into files for sequels.) It makes it hard to rein in the action when your heroes and heroines are hell-bent to kick some major villain ass.

I've considered that perhaps it's the different genres that is complicating matters. But then, no...that's not it. I haven't had trouble with kicking up dust in other books...just this one in particular. I've even plotted on a sheet of paper all the conflicts I have. There are at least six. So, it's not a lack of conflict or "the usual suspects" - so what is it? Have I not explored the villain enough and gotten quite far enough into his motivation? Hmmm...perhaps. Maybe I should give him the spoon for a while and see how much he can stir.

How do you like to stir things up in your books?

-Kat

23 April 2009

A little bit of para...


One thing I really enjoy about writing paranormal romance is creating my own little worlds within the world. I enjoy the challenge of making my characters and the situations seem almost plausible...that is if you believe in ghosts, vampires, shape-shifters and the like.

I also appreciate a bit of mystery, which is partly how the story APRIL'S CRUSH came about. We were asked to volunteer to create short free stories revolving around the new season, spring. Of course, it had to be a romance. Of course I had to make it paranormal. Just a little.

AND wouldn't you know it ... I fell in love with April and her crush, Tate. Not to mention Charlie. So here's another story added to the 'must be written' pile. Although I'll probably have to change the title. Hey, at least I'm keeping busy!

Go ahead and download APRIL'S CRUSH and let me know what you think. Would you like to see more of April and Tate? Um, definitely more of Tate. ;)

21 April 2009

Going to RavenCon

My 2009 conference season starts off with a bang this Friday at Richmond’s RavenCon. If you’re in the neighborhood of the Crowne Plaza West, drop by and say hello--and hang around for the festivities. Mary Shelley’s going to be making a return engagement, and this time I think I can get the hair right. As for the rest, I think they’re going to get their money’s worth...

Friday

5 p.m.: Twice-Told Tales
Some of the most popular adult and young adult fantasy in today’s market are retellings of classic fairy tales and myths. What’s the allure? How do writers find something new to say about the stories we all know?

Panelists: Marcia Collette, Edmund Schubert (moderator), Jean Marie Ward, John C. Wright


7 p.m.: Writing 411: (Not Necessarily) The Usual Suspects (90-minute literary workshop)

Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Jack Bauer, Reno—chances are the thing you like best and remember longest about your favorite stories are the characters. This session will discuss the importance of characters in the creation of plot.

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Allen Wold (moderator), John C. Wright


10 p.m.: Urban Fantasy 101

Werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters—these used to be classic “horror” elements. What defines Urban Fantasy and how does it differ from classic horror?

Panelists: Danny Birt, Marcia Colette, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Hildy Silverman, Jean Marie Ward (moderator)


Saturday

3 p.m.: Dead Authors Society

Four authors channel the spirits of their favorite dead authors for the duration. Talk to William Morris, David Gemmel, Louie L’Amour and Mary Shelley live…sort of.
Panelists: Lyn Gardner, Laurel Anne Hill, Peter Prellwitz, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Jean Marie Ward


6 p.m.: Books on TV

Several new series are popping up on TV based on popular novels--TrueBlood and Legend of the Seeker, for example. How closely do these TV shows follow their inspiration and will book fans follow them to television?

Panelists: James Fulbright, Jean Marie Ward


10 p.m.: Love at First Bite

What is it about vampires? From TrueBlood to Twilight, vampires seem to be taking over. What makes them fun to read and watch? Oh… and do they deserve “human rights” or are they “monsters”?

Panelists: Paul Bibeau, Marcia Collette, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Jean Marie Ward


Sunday


Noon: Does Blood Smell?

A panel about some of the more “icky” aspects of writing and research.

Panelists: Laurel Anne Hill, Gail Martin, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Maggie Stiefvater, Jean Marie Ward

20 April 2009

New Releases & New Sales

Since you're reading this, I'm already on my way to RT. For those of you who are attending the convention, look for me in Club RT, at the ebook fair and the booksigning, where I'll have goodies to give out. I'm also moderating the Demons Unplugged panel on Thursday morning and will have special goodies to give away at that.

For those of you who aren't going to RT, you can be part of the event in a way... I plan to collect some goodies at the conference and make up little prize packages that I'll give away on my blog after I get home. So remember to take a look the last week in April for your chance to win.

Other than convention plans, I've have a few news items to report. First, FireDrake is now in pint! Here's a taste:

Drake faces his estranged family and the dragon he left behind. He finds more than even he bargains for when a young prince is kidnapped and it's up to Drake, his childhood friend and rival, Mace, a warrior woman named Krysta, and two young dragons to track him down. Saving the prince will restore Drake's family honor, but it could also bond him with the dragoness, her mate, and the lovely Jinn warrior woman who loves them all. Dare he take the chance?

Second, Phantom Desires was just released in ebook formats. It's the third in my vampire novella series and all three of the stories, One & Only, Rare Vintage and Phantom Desires, will go into a single print volume sometime early next year. Here's the tagline for Phantom Desires:

This time, the creature under the basement is real. And dead sexy.

Cool, huh? ;-) Yet, it sums up the book really, really well! LOL!

Now for new sales - I just signed the contract for Grady's Awakening, book 4 in my Resonance Mates series. It'll be out in ebook later this summer and in print next year. I also got a verbal okay on a new series of military/psychic/menage (m/f/m) stories I'm calling the Gemini Project. More news on that as it becomes available.

For now, I'm looking forward to getting the cover art for my next release, Inferno. The sequel to Lords of the Were will release in ebook on June 30th (next year in print). Here's the blurb for it:

A forbidden union forged in love-and tempered in hellfire.

One last task and Megan will be free of the debt of honor owed by her family. Spying on Dante, a powerful vampire with questionable friends, sounds simple enough. But her mission is complicated by the fact she's got something every vampire wants-tangy, powerful, werewolf blood.

It's easy to capture his attention. The hard part will be getting out with her heart -- and soul -- intact. Not to mention her life, thanks to a crazed bomber.

Dante isn't the kind to forgive or forget easily, especially the grudge he holds against werewolves. Still, he is instantly drawn to the injured lone wolf in his care. When he and his friend Duncan treat her wounds, they discover something that marks her as much more than she seems.

The mark is a neon sign warning to be careful, but Dante can't help himself. He wants her and nothing will stand in his way. Not her species. Not his. Not the strange woman who keeps trying to kill him.

Not even the magical poison in Megan's blood...

Until next time,
Bianca
Come over to The D'Arc Side... http://www.biancadarc.com/

18 April 2009

The Snake Pit

Kukulcan

In Cancun, you see this word everywhere. On a sign for a cheesy souvenir shop. On a shiny, modern shopping mall. Even given to the boulevard that winds like a serpent's path through the Zona Hoteles.

What is the Kukulcan? A word made up to tangle up tourists' tongues? Being a word-oriented person who loves looking for deeper meaning behind seemingly innocuous place names, I went looking for the face lurking behind the Kukulcan...and found a legend.

The Kukulcan, like in many early cultures, is a supreme god that is represented in the form of a snake. Master of the four elements, possessor of all wisdom and knowledge, creator of the universe, guide through the labyrinth of death, resurrection, and reincarnation.

Originating from Toltec myth, the Kukulcan brought to his people the gifts of fishing, healing, the calendar, and agriculture. His name means "feathered serpent", and part of his name can be found in the very name of "Cancun", which translates literally into "snake pit."

As little as 50 years ago, the area we now know as the vacation destination of Cancun was a tangled jungle, a few Mayan huts along the shore...and dozens and dozens of species of snakes. Even that recently, if an outsider set foot on those shores, if the suspicious Mayan villagers didn't kill him on the spot, the snakes would eventually take care of him!

It's a myth, as well, that the Mayan people are extinct. They are as alive and thriving as the ancient culture they are determined to hold onto. If you're staying in Cancun, Mayans are cooking your food, cleaning your hotel rooms, owning and managing the shops where you buy handcrafts.

Generally small in stature (even the men are 5 feet tall or less), they wear the proud, strong facial features of ancestors that may stretch back to Asian lands, and carry themselves with a quiet dignity that is humbling to anyone who meets them.

Once they as a people were enslaved by Europeans who tried their best to stamp out the Mayan way of life and its revered serpent god as evil; now, like the snake god who can twist and turn on a dime, they have adapted to a new economy for survival - the tourist trade.

It is said the Kukulcan disappeared into the sea, never to be seen again. I beg to differ. The vibrant life force of the Feathered Snake still thrums like a heartbeat right under your feet - if you're brave enough to look and listen for it.


(Photo 2009 at Chichen Itza, Carolan Ivey)

17 April 2009

If Not Amazon, Then Where?

On Tuesday, Ember mentioned the #amazonfail debacle that occurred over the Easter weekend. (Link goes to the Dear Author ‘amazon’ tag, which lists all the articles they ran regarding the issue.)


Amazon had been stripping titles of their ranking according to metadata that often included the terms ‘gay & lesbian’ and ‘erotic.’ It wasn’t an across the board deranking, but it did affect nearly 58,000 titles. To this point, I still have no idea whether it was a software glitch, some French programmer with a language problem, or the work of an insidious hacker. Amazon is sure as heck not spilling the beans. The upshot was that authors of gay and lesbian literature, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as authors of heterosexual erotic fiction, had their titles virtually buried for at least two full days, if not longer.

One of the most telling things about the entire 48 hour orgy of idiocy – from my perspective, at least – was that Amazon decided that the authors who were targeted by this issue didn’t deserve a direct and sincere mea culpa. Yes, there was the “embarrassing and ham-fisted” statement, but it did skirt the whole issue of ghettoizing, however inadvertently, an already marginalized category of literature.

The upshot is that I don’t shop at Amazon anymore. I’ve never been comfortable with the way they do business. I don’t like the mega-corp model, even though I get the economics of them. Instead, I’m choosing to do my book-buying from other independent stores. My online shop of choice is Powells, a bricks and mortar store in Portland, OR that also has a pretty extensive online catalog. I’ve also looked into Alibris and Borders, B&N and Books*A*Million are also options. I understand that some UK buyers have moved to BookDepository, as well.

If you’ve recently made the decision to spend your book dollars elsewhere, what’s your shop of choice?

15 April 2009

Stormy Weather

It’s been Stormy Weather days around here lately, both literally and metaphorically speaking.  Here, take a look :

stormy-weather

That’s the tree that used to be in my backyard.  Now, most of it is on my neighbor’s roof – except for the part that is crushing my fence.  All of this thanks to a wind storm that swept through town yesterday, part of a streak of rain, tornados, and hail that has harassed much of the south east this week.  You can imagine the past 24 hours have been more eventful than I like, as we deal with insurance, tree removal companies, and the like.

Stormy weather indeed.  If this is what spring is going to be like, please take me back to my cold and rainy winter.  Or jump me ahead to summer.  Have you seen the sun lately?  Or are the skies just as dark in your corner of the world?

There have been storms in the book world this week as well.  Amazon had a “glitch” (as they are calling it), and a large number of books were removed from their search and best seller lists.  A large number of authors were impacted by this, as their books could no longer be found on Amazon.  That it happened over Easter weekend fed the conspiracy theorists, as well as slowing response times, and it was late Monday before Amazon was ready to release an explanation and begin returning the books to their listings.  I spent a lot of time (too much, really) following along some of the hundreds – thousands? – of online conversations about what was happening.  And came out of it with nothing more than a lot of dissatisfaction at how it was handled, a lot of lost hours, and a feeling that mega-corporations that have too much influence on any part of a market are a bad, bad thing.

And hey – it’s tax day in the US!  Stormy weather indeed, as many people are having a tough time paying for food and a home, never mind sending a check to the government for taxes owed.  If you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, please remember – even if you can’t pay them, you’re doing yourself a favor by filing before deadline.  Putting this particular paperwork off can result in some particularly dark skies on your horizon.

~~

I know that these stormy days will pass, and we’ll soon have bright skies and fairer days.  But until they do, I think I’m going to snitch a piece of candy from the kids Easter basket and bury myself in the Christmas story I’m nearing the end on.  If there are going to be bad days, at least I’ve got chocolate and writing.

13 April 2009

Fan Inspiration


Just a quick thought before getting back to working toward deadline.


I got my first fan letter for SHIFTING PASSIONS from a self-identified straight male reader a few weeks ago and I’m still floating on the high from it!

He read it on his wife’s computer out of curiosity and quote: “absolutely loved it”. He was concerned about the male-male elements but said that the three characters blended and flowed in a way that the male-male issue wasn’t an issue at all.

Knowing that in just 15k words I was able to bring him far enough into my world that he was more concerned about the characters and their relationship rather than any gender involved…It was just what I needed going into books two and three of the larger series. :)

To my fellow writers, what fan feedback have you had that just lifted your spirits or inspired you in your writing?

To our readers, what kind of feedback have you given your favorite authors after they’ve brought you into their worlds?


~X

11 April 2009

It's the most wonderful (chocolate) time of the year

Or it will be on Monday—Easter Monday, my favorite day of the year. That’s the day Easter candy goes on sale for half price—marshmallow Peeps, crystal sugar diorama eggs and my personal favorite, dark chocolate bunnies. I’m getting all gooey just thinking about it.

Which is entirely appropriate considering chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac. As with most edible sex aids, nobody’s quite sure how the connection between chocolate and sex arose, but it seems to have been there from the beginning. Both the Aztec goddess and Mayan god of fertility were associated with the cocoa tree and the beverage known as xocolatl.

The conquistadors who brought the drink home to Europe didn’t care about that. The beverage’s stimulating qualities (both in terms of its energizing effects and its ability to lubricate polite conversation) and its profit-making potential struck them far more important—not to mention allowed them to distance it from all that nasty human sacrifice stuff. Then came the glorious inventions of Joseph S. Fry (the first true chocolate bar) and Rodolphe Lindt (the process which transformed gritty chocolate into the luscious, lubricious Newtonian fluid it is today).

Modern scientists talk about the way the various compounds in chocolate affect mood and blood pressure. Personally, I think the answer’s a lot simpler, at least for those of us living in the chocolate paradise otherwise known as the 21st century. The stuff’s a feast for the senses.

It’s beautiful. Consider the divine darkness of semi-sweet, the friendly brown of milk chocolate and the glossy creaminess of the white. Consider the aroma. I think heaven must smell like the wind blowing just the right way through Hershey, PA. Then there’s the taste—complex, rich and oh so decadent—and its divine viscosity. So creamy. So begging for the faint tang of salt that comes from licking it off your lover’s skin. Chocolate-covered pretzels can’t even come close.

Then there’s Johnny Depp in Chocolat… That deserves a blog all to itself. ;-) But until I get to it, happy eating!

10 April 2009

I NEED A HERO!

*cues Shrek music*


Seriously, don’t we all? But the question is: What makes a hero? Must he be tall? Have claws, paws, and teeth? Be darkly handsome and edgy? Is he the strong, supportive compliment to that spunky heroine or the take-charge alpha that steps in and sets the world to rights?

Or, here’s a twist – is he the geeky Charlie from Numbers with his own unique twist on how to use his attributes to win the day?

As a writer, the heroic elements of human nature fascinate me. We each bring something new to the discussion, but the truth is…while heroic archetypal elements remain the same, our own personal version of our hero filters into our work.

This is an ongoing discussion among me and my Cookie Monster friends. When I was single, I actually had a list of requirements – written and publicly debated by my friends – about what the perfect man was. But doesn’t every single woman?

One of my friends has a height requirement and freely admits that while she has dated men shorter than her ideal and liked them well enough, it’s hard for her to see an “ever after.” For her, it’s a deal breaker. Being a writer herself, she also admits that while she doesn’t necessarily base her heroes on her personal ideal, they always seem to come out tall.

It made me start thinking…

As writers, how many of us do that? Those few elements of our personal ideal that we just can’t shake? One of the things that is consistent in my own fictional heroes is that yes, they are tall (and no, my husband is not) and they all have the strong supportive streaks. My heroes take charge when it’s needed, but they generally compliment the heroine.

Does that make me a control freak? Do I cast myself as the heroine in my books? Well, maybe if it means I get to fantasize about the hero a little…

What about you? What makes YOUR personal hero?

09 April 2009

Spring Training

"Anyone who thinks they can't make a difference because they're small has never tried to sleep in a room with a mosquito."
~ HH. The Dalai Lama

I don’t know of many women who like baseball, but I am a fan. Not a rabid fan, but I do like to sit in the evenings with my husband and watch the Cubs or Sox play. I used to be an Astros fan but after last year’s dismal performance I’ve started rooting along with my husband’s favorite two teams.

Now that spring training for them is nearly over and the preseason games have begun (i.e. the Cubs vs. the Astro’s this past week) it has occurred to me that as a writer and a woman who has steadily increased her girth over the past two years, it was time for spring training for myself as well.

Of course it’s not all about the vanity. Now that Mercer’s Bayou is about to go into print, and I already have at least one bookstore wanting me to do a book signing, and the fact that the girls at our insurance company were so thrilled about the book coming out that they treated me like a virtual rock star (much to my embarrassment) and I have a writer’s conference to attend at the end of this month, it was time for me to spruce up a bit. After all, I have to make a good impression. Not only am I appearing for my sake but I’ll be representing Samhain as well.

For appearances sake, I’ll put on some damned make up.

So I’ve begun spring training. Not just with the body, the new food regimen, the yoga and walking the dog twice a day (she’s getting out of shape too) but with my writing and promoting as well.

In order to get my name out as well as to try new writing venues, I’ve been entering various writing contests. In February I entered three, in March, four, and I am currently writing a mystery novella for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Contest. It’s been a challenge, but a fun one, trying to see how far I can go with my work. I’m trying different genres, trying new things with language and probably most importantly, spending more time with my art. Instead of goofing off online, I am actually writing, working up to seven or eight hours a day trying to improve my art.

As for promoting, I am working on new venues for that as well. One of the things I have planned is a CafĂ© Press store where you can buy cups and t shirts, stationary and greeting cards. I’m blogging more and in more places, and of course, there’ll be real time book signings and readings.

So I think my spring training is well underway. And because of the preparations I’m making now, I look forward to a great summer season.

What are you doing for spring training?

08 April 2009

Dabwaha

If anyone has been following Dabwaha recently, you'll know that Patricia Briggs's Iron Crossed beat out Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady to win, though not by a lot.

I actually voted to have Patricia Briggs's Cry Wolf win, just fyi. But I happen to be a big fan of both finalists.

Briggs has been writing fantastic urban fantasy for a while. Her world has werewolves and coyote shifters (the main female protag) and vampires and witches and many other beings. Each type of person is fully realized and well-thought-out. No type is wholly bad, or wholly good. The Mercy Thompson series allows Briggs to explore these different parts of her world because Mercy is a coyote, not really a part of any one society, though she has close ties to werewolves because she was raised by their leader. (Cry Wolf is part of Briggs's Charles and Anna series and is more closely focused on werewolves. Since I love werewolves, that's great too.)

Brigg's books have romantic elements, but they're not romance.

The Spymaster's Lady is certainly romance. It's fantastically written with close attention paid to detail, as well as language. There are some clever twists and I completely fell for the heroine and her ingeniuty. I don't read a lot of historical romance, but when I do and I love it, I really love it.

Anyway, there were a lot of good books listed for Dabwaha and I'm going to try to read a few more of them than I have, especially Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas and The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman. Both Dear Author and Smart Bitches ran Dabwaha, and they'll probably run it next year. I'll be keeping an eye out for it. It was a lot of fun!

05 April 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Last month when I was here I talked about my good luck in landing a temporary job at an elementary school library. I just finished my first full week, and I LOVE IT. I mean, I get to read to children AND help introduce them to books they might not have read before. The fact that I know so many of the newer authors helps too :).

It's gotten me thinking. I know a lot of romance authors talk about the romance writers they read when they were younger that inspired them to write romance. I'm not a big romance reader, but I did read a lot when I was younger, and when I look back, it's not really surprising that many of my favorite books were of a fantasy bend. So I thought I'd list a few of my favorite childhood books :

The Witches, Roald Dahl: I think I took this book out of the library about a million times when I was in elementary school. Even better than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I adored this book. I mean, what's not to love about a group of bald women with no toes who turn children into rats? This is classic children's entertainment!

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle: My copy, which is probably in a box in my father's attic, is yellowed and dog-eared. Actually I love the whole series, but the first was the best, and not just because the first book begins, "It was a dark and stormy night". I identified with Meg in a big way, although I had something in common with Charles Wallace too. I rooted for her through the whole series. As an adult, I cherish the fact the book was rejected something like 23 times, often for being "too sci-fi" for the children's market.

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin: Another that I took home many times from my school library, this little novel has such great plot twists that it never got old. I actually have a copy here in my home library and I read it from time to time to remind myself how great it is. It's a mystery, not a fantasy, but if you've read any of the Library of Athena books, you know how I love a good mystery.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg: Not strictly fantasy, also more of a mystery, but a fabulous adventure story. Who wouldn't want to hide out in a museum? I was so happy when I discovered this was being re-issued last year in a new edition that I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon. It totally deserved the Newberry Award that it won.

These are just four that I think of fondly, but there were SO many more - books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and other authors I can't think of, but when I see the covers I get a warm feeling of happiness. Books were a big part of my childhood, and I'm so glad that I get the chance not only to write books that they love, but to help them (at least for a little while) discover new worlds to explore.

I'd like to give a quick shout-out to my fellow inkslingers over at The Enchanted Inkpot. It's a new community of children's and young adult fantasy writers. Stop by and say hi!

(and just one month until The Ankh of Isis comes out in paperback! I've submitted the third book in the series to my fantabulous Samhain editor - just waiting to hear now!)

03 April 2009

Do Your Part!

I’m a writer, but I was a reader first—and I still am. To me books are wondrous things. I love the feel, the smell, the look of a paper book. But I have to admit those sleek ebook readers kinda turn me on too. Paper or screen, books are magic.

My first novel, Shadows of Evil, was released in electronic format in May of last year. The print edition was released last Tuesday, March 31, giving everyone the ability to buy the book in their preferred format. In honor of this release I’d like to encourage everyone to buy a book this week—and not even necessarily mine!

I would like to point out that when you buy a book:

You help the economy. It’s not a big expense, as expenses go. Support the road to recovery—and enjoy yourself while you do. After all, books are cheaper than a movie—and give you many more hours of pleasure.

You support publishing. Don’t want to support a big company? Buy from a small press. Either way, you’re doing your part for the future of books and reading.

You help support literacy. Because there are so many things today to take the place of reading for pleasure—movies, the Internet, games, cell phones, etc. It’s easy to downplay the importance of books. Every time we buy a book, and read it, we support the idea that books and reading are important.

You support your favorite authors. Authors are feeling the economic crunch just like you are. If you don’t feel the big names need your money, then buy a newer or less well-known author’s works. Very few of us manage to live on our writing income. Or buy the big name because you love them. Keep Steve and James and Nora in business so they’ll keep writing.

To get you started on this buy-a-book effort, allow me to point out that there are some very interesting covers to the right of this post. Feel free to check out any (or all) of them. Of course, there is one I feel especially connected to—Shadows of Evil by…me! I’ll give you the blurb—just as a public service, you understand.

Blurb:
For Kia Wolfe, moving to an isolated mountaintop is an act of independence from her demanding family and ex-fiancĂ©. She’s literally dreamed about the regal old house for years, and for the first time in her life she feels at home. She’s here to stay, even though the house’s history of violent deaths is enough to scare off most people.

Garrett McKnight, owner of the contracting firm Kia has hired to renovate her house, is wary of the new resident. Emotionally bruised and battered by a self-centered ex-wife, he can’t get around the fact that there’s something about Kia that both attracts him and sets him on edge. And when Kia dabbles in a bit of Wicca, accidentally unleashing a hidden evil, it’s tempting to walk away and leave her to her to her fate.

But he can’t. Not when four people have died in that house.


Shadows of Evil
© 2008 by Cheryel Hutton
Available from Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1-59998-949-2 (electronic edition)
ISBN: 978-1605041537 (print edition)
Buy links:
My Bookstore and More eboook print
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound.org

Have a great weekend!

Life in the Fast Lane

I am going to rant this lovely Friday, so please forgive me, though many of you will probably agree with me on this.

Driving 101. Left is for the fast line. Right is for the slower traffic. Now, repeat after me“ Left. Fast. Right. Slow.” Again, “Left. Fast. Right. Slow.” It seems some people never got that message.

When you are on a road with two lanes or more going in the same direction, and you find someone behind you that wishes to drive faster than you are going, be courteous and get over into the right lane, especially when you notice a line of cars behind you.

Every day there is someone not even reaching the speed limit on the highway or even state roads and yes, they are hogging up the left lane. It just boils my blood to be behind a line of cars on the highway…in the fast lane…going 50mph.

Are people really that clueless or are they just being jerks?

There is also the subject of those who like to ride the bumper of the car in front of them. What happened to 1 ½ car lengths between you and the car in front of you? Guess some people never learned that, either, thus the reason for so many wrecks. But, that is a topic for another day.

I would love to hear your opinion.

Diane McEntire

Midnight Reborn now avail in print from major bookstores. Barnesandnoble.com is offering a 20% discount. Email me at diane@dmcentire.com for another 10% discount opportunity. Also available in ebook at www.mybookstoreandmore.com.

Midnight Rose, the second novel of The Watchers series is available for ebook download at www.mybookstoreandmore.com
Midnight Revelations, the third book in the series will be available for ebook download on June 2, 2009.

01 April 2009

12 Things I Don't Like to See in a Romance

A while ago I ran across a writing article that got me to thinking. I don't even remember the title of the article or where I found it but I do remember it had something to do with knowing what you like to read in a romance.

I thought I could focus my own writing a little better if I wrote down what I didn't like to read. The assignment was interesting and a little eye opening and I thought I'd share it with you. Of course this isn't all inclusive and just because I list something it doesn't mean I'll put the book down. Sometimes, if things are well written and done right, I find that what I normally don't like, I don't mind so much. So, here goes:

1. Bad writing - This is very general and of course completely subjective. But seriously, if something is badly written I can't get past page 10 even if the plot is really compelling.

2. Hero and heroine that are movie stars - I'm not sure why this bothers me but it does. There's just something about a hero or heroine movie star that turns me off.

3. Too many subplots - I read romance for the romance. I don't want other subplots that take away from the romance or the hero and heroine's journey. Generally I don't even like a secondary romance. Just give me the main story and I'm happy.

4. Too many secondary characters - This is much like too many subplots. In my opinion, secondary characters take away from the main characters and the main plot. Not to mention that it confuses me. I can never remember who they all are and how they all fit together.

5. Too much sexual tension that it overshadows the plot and becomes unreal - I read romance for the romance, like I said. But it has to be realistic. I get tired of hearing about how good looking the hero is or how sexy the heroine or how they just want to fall into bed together. Give me a good story. Show me the emotion and some plot.

6. Hero too beta - I like my heroes alpha. A gentle side is okay but I definitely don't like a hero who stands back and lets things happen to him.

7. Heroine too brat-ish - I find these types of heroine's mainly in historicals for some reason. I picked up a Suzanne Enoch book (and let me note here that I love Suzanne Enoch books, especially the Sam and Rick series). The heroine was such a brat and so horrible to the hero that I was actually rooting for the hero to walk away from her. It was awful.

8. Sexual tension way too soon - Let the sexual tension build. The best romances are when the hero and heroine slowly discover each other. I don't like when you're hit with the sexual tension from page one because by page 100 you're sick of it. Let it build.

9. Hero's too tortured and unredeamable - Sometimes there is such a thing as too tortured. Some things people just can't overcome. For instance a lot of Anne Stuart's books I find the hero's are too tortured and when they're redeemed, it just doesn't seem real. Sometimes I think romance and maybe fiction altogether, plays serious issues too lightly. Sexual abuse is one of them. Yes, it makes for a great conflict but its a very serious issue that can't be resolved in 300 pages and neither should it be.

10. Hero and heroine are apart for too much of the story - Again, this is a romance. How are they supposed to get together in the end when they're apart for most of the story? Not too long ago I put a book down because I was well past page 100 and the hero and heroine had only been together in the first few scenes. They can't fall in love if they're not together.

11. A story that's all about sex - Some people like this and that's why erotic romance and erotica are so hot right now. I don't. And unfortunately there are a lot of romances that in my opinion should be labeled erotic romance because its all about the sex. Let your characters interact and, say, talk to each other every now and then!

12. Contrived emotion that makes me roll my eyes because its in an inappropriate place - This gets me every time. The hero and heroine are in a dangerous situation. The bad guy is after them. They don't know if they're going to get out alive. And yet they feel every touch and they're aroused by every breath. Come on! Let's be realistic here. If you're in a life and death situation you're not thinking about sex. You're thinking about getting out alive. That's all. You've got adrenaline pumping through your system and your body is definitely not feeling like having sex.

So there you have it, the top 12 things I don't like to see in the romances I read. What would you add?