31 July 2009

The plan is: Play it Forward.

Recently, I've been reconnecting with old friends. A random email from a friend, Raven Hart, sparked a "wonder what he/she's doing now?" moment and I've set about reconnecting lost threads in my pattern. Old school friends have been a fascinating walk down memory lane, but there's more to it than that.

You know what I've found? We live in a small world, but people never really change. During the email exchange, I realized three things: 1) No matter where we are in our writing careers, we've all experienced similar stories when we were first starting out; 2) You only get one chance to make a first impression; and 3) That brief moment of contact can make a huge difference in someone's life, no matter which side of it you're on.

Talking to Roxanne St. Claire via email last week after that initial email reaffirmed my "play it forward" philosophy. As authors and readers, a brief contact may be all we get in person, but it may last a lifetime.

In the spirit of that, I wanted to celebrate the success of someone I had the priviledge of spending some time with at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta in 2007. Her debut release is August 4th. BEYOND THE RAIN is a Berkley release and available in your local bookstore Tuesday!

Jess Granger is a truly wonderful person. And a gifted author. BEYOND THE RAIN is a must read if you like action-oriented romances that happen to be futuristic. While I haven't read the final version, the original was an absolutely brilliant display of vivid characters, heart-stopping action, and beautiful romance.

Here's a bit of a teaser blurb taken from her website:

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…

After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite — the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten — but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…

Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.

Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?

Go, read this book. You won't be disappointed.

If you've got a moment today, do one more thing: reach out by telephone, email, text, or a more direct hug, and thank someone who has made a difference in your life lately. That small thanks may be just the thing to brighten their day and make them feel loved.

Have a wonderful weekend!

29 July 2009

Back from Vacation

Okay, before I write my post I'd just like to note that I'm excited to see that my cat-shifter romance, Puma, is now on sale in paperback on Amazon! Though it's not officially on sale until August 4. Anne Cain did the lovely lovely cover.


I'm back from vacation and brain dead. There's also a very cute cat stalking the clover in our front yard. These two sentences are not much related.

I actually find it harder to be online during the summer, there are so many distractions! I'm curious if internet use decreases in July and August or not. Or if it's just me. September is the month to hunker down again and focus on the jobs, and I tend to be more online then. (And read less.)

So I did some reading on vacation and that was a lot of fun. Among the books I read were a selkie romance (Sea Lord by Virginia Kantra), historical fiction about slavery (The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, published as Someone Knows My Name outside of Canada), alternate history with dragons in the Napoleonic wars (Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik), fantasy of manners (The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner) and a historical romance (Broken Wing by Julia James).

Often I'll read romance only, but then I'll suddenly want to break out of that reading pattern and pick up quite different sorts of books. What have you been reading this summer?

26 July 2009

On Villains

I've started writing a new book, and so far I love it. Except for one bit, which I hated and already rewrote. Which is usually the way it goes - I have book-love/book-hate. The problem was that I just sat down and wrote, which is okay, but all this backstory came out. Long block of narrative. So I figured out a way to weave it into some character-revealing action and I like it better.

Anyway, not what I wanted to talk about. This book that I'm writing is a Cinderella retelling set in 19th c. Philadelphia. I have all the characters in my head, if not yet on paper, and I was thinking about my villain. It's no secret who the villain will be - the step-mother- but the other day I was considering something that came up in my course on Narration. About the depth of characters. Characters have depth, or dimension, when you 'round' them out. What the heck does that mean? In the case of villains, it means that they can't be all bad. If they're all bad, they become the moustache-twirling cartoon villains that tie girls to railroad tracks. Melodramatic, and flat.

A good villain has personality. Maybe he's got witty comebacks, or does things with unusual flair. The point is that you see him as a person and not just 'the antagonist', or 'the bad guy'. There are reasons for what he or she does, and the reader needs to understand them, even if they don't agree. I don't mean that villains need to be sympathetic, although they certainly can be - that's another issue altogether. But the best villains are those that the reader can look at and say, 'yes, I get it'. There can't just be random meanness. Villains have feelings too, you know.

In most fairy tales, the villain is a little flat, though not always. Snow White's stepmother was jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty. Vain, yes, but it was a reason and one most can relate with, although we would never go to such extremes in order to see our vanity fulfilled. The Sea Witch in the Little Mermaid was a business woman. She wasn't evil, per se, but making a transaction with a tough contract.

You see where I'm going. A good writer will try and see the villain's POV and make is come through. You don't have to like the bad guy, but unless you want the readers to laugh at them, they need to have dimension and substance. Even Voldemort. I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last week, and re-read the book. This was the book where we learned more about Voldy, whom up to that point was just a big meany. But when we find out he was an orphan, and get a glimpse into his life before he turned into Voldemort, well, I don't necessarily feel bad for him, but I can finally kind of get where he was coming from. It didn't play well in the movie, they skipped most of it. So much more the shame for those who haven't read the books, because Voldy is a great villain, even better when you know where he came from.

Back to my WIP. Cinderella's stepmother sometimes gets a bad rap, but I see her POV. She, like Snow White's stepmom, was jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty, but not for herself. She wanted her own daughters to get ahead. To marry the prince. No matter that they were all horrible people, it was a mother's love. I thought about it for awhile, and my stepmother has a whole other backstory that involves 19th c. society, property laws, and all this other stuff. You won't like her, but you will get her. Because I had to in order to make her more than just another cardboard villain. (the stepsister is a whole other story, I've got glorious good plot twists in store for her!)

So, think about the best villains you've ever read, and see if you can't figure out why you like them so much, or rather, like to hate them.

Christine Norris

25 July 2009

What I Learned from HGTV

My husband and I are addicted to HGTV and other home and garden and remodeling type shows, which is kinda strange since we rent. But dreams are free, and we hope to someday buy our own home. I guess that when we do, we’ll be ready to do some serious decorating. Or at least have a nice place to watch our favorite TV shows.

One of our favorite home and garden type shows isn’t on HGTV. It’s A&E’s Sell This House. In case you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s all about a team de-cluttering, painting, rearranging and decorating a house in order to increase the odds of selling it. The show is interesting because you see how much little things matter when you’re trying to sell your house. The thing that blew my mind, however, was that people coming into the pre-decorated homes couldn’t see past the clutter or the color of the walls to visualize the potential. I complained bitterly for a while, until my husband looked at me and said, “Not everybody has your imagination.” Well, duh. And from that I leaned the importance of description in fiction. We writers have to lead the readers into our world and show them around. Which can be fun, actually.

Another thing I’ve learned from this and other home and garden type shows is how different one person’s perception is from another. To one person, a bright red bedroom is the ideal. To another, the red represents lack of sleep and/or a lot of work with primer and paint. Or how one person can see a tiny New York City apartment as large, and another think a five bedroom mansion is small. Different people, different perceptions. Like those who think paranormal is too unrealistic. Those people lack the gene to see beyond the vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and aliens to the human story underneath. We can try to show them the way, but I think that’s likely a waste of time. They just don’t get it. Oh well, more for the rest of us.

Enjoy your weekend!

Cheryel Hutton

22 July 2009

What Authors Do In Between Books

Two weeks ago I finished what I affectionately called the wip-from-hell. It wasn't that it was a badly written story, it was more like pulling teeth to get the story out of my head and onto paper in a coherent way. Many times I found myself bashing my head against the desk in frustration. But when it all came together, I must say it came together beautifully.

Since it took half the summer to finish the last fifty pages (see what I mean? It was the wip-from-hell!) I promised myself that I would take the rest of the summer off before hopping back into another story. After all, my poor kids hadn't been anywhere or done anything fun and exciting. I owed it to them.

Except, as soon as I typed The End, my mind started whirling with possibilities for the next book. Mentally I made lists of books I needed to read for research. I started thinking about my characters, their quirks, their motivations, their conflicts. How could I thrust them together then tear them apart? How could I torture them?

And what about that other story? The one that's written but needs some major/minor overhauling? What can I do to make it better?

Oh, oh and the pirate story? The one that's so close to my heart but needs some tweaking to make it more believable? I think I've figured it out. Maybe.

But wait. I'm supposed to be not writing. I'm supposed to be taking it easy, reading all those books in my TBR pile, cleaning out drawers, cooking the fabulous meals I didn't have the energy for when I was in the throes of the final pages of the last book.

Except, what if I changed my hero's motivation just a little? Oh, how that will make the story more rich, more real...

Sharon Cullen

21 July 2009

It's Promo Time!

Happy Tuesday Paranormal Fans! I thought I would hop on board this Free For All Promo Day and throw out an upcoming event I'm participating in, some "blurbage" and more.
Midnight Revelations (book three) is now available on ebook for your summer reading! Want to hear more about The Watchers series, what's out there now and what's to come? Join me on Samhain Cafe, Friday, July 24th from 8-10pm for their Christmas in July party. We'll chat, have prizes and lots of fun. Author JoAnn S. Ainsworth will also be on board to discuss her reads.

The Watchers Series by D. McEntire

When the sun sets on downtown Louisville, Kentucky, the Watchers take over, patrolling the streets on the hunt for Rogues. Four Watchers operate the Cell. One will be lost, but another gained.

Midnight Reborn - The Watchers, Book One
Robyn lay still, as if she were asleep, one arm pillowing her head on the mattress and her hand close to her head, concealing the knife she had sneaked from the kitchen yesterday evening after cleaning up the dinner dishes.
The smell of whiskey was strong coming off his hot breath as he knelt beside her. Robyn fought down the panic rising in her chest. Her throat threatened to close and she wanted to scream, but she kept her control and lay as still as possible.
She waited and watched through partly closed lids until his face was close to hers. At that moment, Robyn swung her arm up and plunged the knife into the side of Jake's throat. Then she brought her foot to his chest and kicked as hard as she could, sending him backwards into the cement wall with a hard thud.
Breathing heavily with the adrenaline rush at what she had done, Robyn scuttled backwards off the thin mattress and towards the door, then stopped. When she peered hard into the darkness shrouding the body that slumped in the corner, she realized that the man wasn't Jake, but one of his men.

Midnight Rose - The Watchers, Book Two
Rosa couldn't take her gaze off Vane as he walked around the front of the car. The way he moved—slow and graceful with biceps, pecs and every other muscle she didn't know the name of bunching and moving underneath his silk shirt—was like watching the flow of water.
While she was wondering about the play of his muscles of his lower half, the driver's side door opened. Rosa could feel the heat on her face and knew her cheeks were reddening, but before she could remove the evidence of where her thoughts had traveled, Vane slid behind the steering wheel and gave her a saucy wink as he started the engine.

Midnight Revelations - The Watchers, Book Three
After washing the dishes, Suma returned to his side and let her gaze take in every inch of him. His skin was smooth and tanned like her own. Long, silky black hair spread out around his shoulders. Thin fingers jutted out from large, strong hands.
A raised vein ran down one muscular arm to his hand, a display of strength and power, which made her breath quicken. She found herself wanting to run her fingers along the line to feel the pulse of his blood under her fingertips. Suma almost did, but snatched her hand back quickly.
Looking up, she saw Rayne watching her from under lowered lashes. She had thought he was deep in sleep. The coffee shop scene came to mind and her face heated with embarrassment. Once again, she had been caught ogling this man.
"Like what you see?"
His voice was velvet and a slight smile played at his lips.
Midnight Revelations received 4 nymphs from Literary Nymphs Reviews.

19 July 2009

Think you can be a Undercover Agent?

Ever wanted to be one of those kick-ass heroes or heroines that takes on a million bad guys and still come out with their hair pristine and shiny?

Well, I can't do that for you.

But what I can do is give you a nice looking card, a secret code name, access to the files and vaults at Fort Knox...

Uhm, let's backtrack on that a little bit.

Take a peek at this little fella:

PIACT Undiescover Agent Card

What would you think about one of these little dickies with your secret code name splattered right across it.

And, posted on my forum, a 1000 to 3000 word detailed account of your namesake's latest, uhm, trip to mother's. *shhh, we won't tell if you don't.*

All you have to do is read the free fiction of some earlier willing victims, I mean applicants, make a comment on this thread and you'll be put into this month's free draw.

Stories range from serious to funny, sensual to sex free, just let me know if you have a preference--or two. :)

CTR’s Angels and the Perilous Porn Stars
Sensual rating -- HOT!
comedy rating -- Drop Dead Laughter

Prologue – The Arrival

“You’re probably all wondering why I brought you here.” Ferocious Furball said.

And he was right. I, Warrior Wolf, was dead curious to know why all four of us had been brought to Jeffersonville, Indiana to sit on a comfortable semi-circular couch in a dark room to look at a blank backlit screen. A screen with the silhouette of what, presumably, was the Supreme One on Top of the PIACT department. Another silhouette, I assumed was Shimmering Dragon--the First Under the Supreme One on Top, stood beside him.

I had just traveled thirty-six hours lounging in a spa inside a stretch limousine complete with wine bar, satellite TV and four very well muscled male masseuses. Each one having a particularly well endowed muscle that I’d enjoyed to great extent and one reason why the journey took thirty-six hours instead of the usual eighteen—since the two chauffeurs had to take turns too. Sharing the spa, that is.

Lightning Lynx and Formidable Fox must have fared worse. I’d heard reports that their private jets had been almost shot down several times while circling over the white house, no one being able to reach any of the flight staff by radio. But then, having fourteen hunky and able stewards, two pilots and a bartender would have kept them well busy for the flight.

As for Omniscient Otter, she’d walked into the building with a glazed look on her face and a smile wide enough to split the empire state building in two.

“I know I’ve put you all through a lot of trouble…”

“Oh no, no trouble.” I murmured, echoing Fox and Lynx, Otter just grinned wider.

“…but it has come to our attention that several ruthless terrorists have entered the United States of America with the sole purpose of blowing up the world.”

I felt my blood chill, well cool off a bit. Just as well too, I’d started fantasizing about my recent journey, and my journey home, rather than concentrating on the work bit.

“We’ll stop them sir.” Fox snapped the words out. I could imagine her quite as easily leaping onto a plane with fourteen handsome strangers and taking off…

Hold on, I was drifting again.

“…every faith in you.” Furball was saying. “I have chosen you four because each of you has certain…attributes…which will aid in their capture and incarceration.” The coffee table in front of the couch beeped, flipped over and shot four manila envelopes out, one to each of us. Before flopping back and returning to normal. “The history and notes on your respective targets is in your files. Study them well, and be prepared for your missions by 00:01 hours on Friday.” The light behind the screen winked out and the one over our heads lit up dimly. The briefing was over.

“Oh, man, not Friday, that’s my drinking night.” Lynx moaned, fortunately not loud enough for Furball to hear.

“Only three days,” I said. “This one is going to be tough.” I’d been called out of early retirement for this mission and it loomed rather large at the moment.

“We can do it,” Lynx reassured me. “We’ll work as a team, all four of us taking out one terrorist at a time, what do you reckon girls?”

“I’m in,” I said gratefully.

“Me too,” Fox added.

Otter just grinned.

Chapter One, The Fox finds her Den

“This is the place?” I asked, rather dubiously. This beaten down old warehouse in the middle of Louisville’s industrial district didn’t look like an upmarket porn movie studio.

“Well, it’s the latest sighting they have of him,” Fox answered. She didn’t sound too sure herself. “It’s supposed to be on the top floor anyway, and the rest of the building has been abandoned for ages. Let’s see Dennis McLaid, star of sixteen prime rate sex movies and nicknamed ‘The Battering Ram.’”

“Maybe we should go in and take a look.” Lynx suggested.

“Oh, yes,” Otter agreed, licking her lips. “We should definitely take a look.”

We all knew exactly what Otter was thinking. The snapshot Fox had been given, taken from one of his later movies, left no doubt as to how well-endowed this fellow was. If it was less than fifteen inches then I wasn’t a superspy. Of course, that might be true…

“He’s mine,” Fox snapped angrily. “You’ve got your own to go for.”

“Well, if you don’t get a move on with it,” Otter challenged her. “Then I might have to finish your job for you.”

“Right, that does it.” Fox tapped sharply on her left ear, activating the almost invisible headset she wore. We all did the same. “I’m going up.”

It was strange to hear Fox’s voice in delayed stereo, but these devices were useful. Just like the gun, small and lightweight it fired small darts laden with fast acting sedatives. Anyone hit with one of these babies was normally unconscious within seconds. That could be a very big plus on a mission like this.

Fox pulled some gloves and overshoes from the small pack she carried and put them on. The, “Clingers” (patent pending for the PIACT supersecret laboratory), would help her climb almost any vertical surface.

And climb she did, her hands and toes making strange sucking sounds as she stealthily moved up the siding of the warehouse, peeking in the first floor windows as she went.

“All clear on the first floor and the main area,” she told us, her voice tinny in the earpiece. “It looks really abandoned. Move on in. There are three stairways up to the second floor section. See if you can take one each and clear the route for an easy exit. I’m going to move around to the other side and see what’s on the top floor.”

Personally I thought any route from a deserted building would be an easy exit, but who am I to say.

Regardless, the three of us left on the ground made our way silently into the building and, without conscious discussion, split up between the three stairways. The warehouse, for the main part was just one floor. Huge shelving systems lined it from one end to the other reaching all the way up to the ceiling, all of them empty now except for the nests of a few desperate birds. The left side though, the way Fox was climbing, had a series of offices and rooms which acted somewhat like a second floor. Three metal stairs led up to this area, one at each end and one almost in the middle. There was still no immediate sign of life.

Cautious though, I headed for the stairs furthest back.

“Oh my god!” Fox’s startled exclamation threw me. I went on instant alert. “It’s him, it’s huge! Like I mean huge! I’m going in.”

“Hang on a second, Fox,” I said. “How many of them are there?”

“It’s a bondage scene,” Fox panted. “They have him handcuffed to a bed, naked. It’s the perfect opportunity.”

“Fox,” I called, urging her to caution. “Wait for us.”

I heard nothing more except panting, and the soft pshhing sound of her gun as it fired five, maybe six times.

Then there was an agonizing silence. I hurried up the stairs, no longer concerned about how much noise I made. The others too, rushed ahead to their entrance doors.

“Locked!” Lynx said.

Damn the luck. Mine was locked too.

“And mine,” added Otter.

“Okay, do your best girls. We gotta go help Fox.” I told them.

“What are you doing here?” A male voice came through the earpiece that made even my frigid stomach melt.

“Just shut up and do as you’re told.” Fox’s voice, thank God she was still alive.

Then I heard the sounds of a struggle, Fox panting as she fought for her life. I fumbled with the lock pick, dropped it and it fell through the holes in the steps. Frustrated I started kicking at the door.

“Oh God, I’m going to die!” Fox!

“Fox, Hold on.” I yelled.

I heard the angry roar of a victorious man.

All had fallen silent by the time I’d managed to kick the door open. Gun in hand I made my way quickly through the small array of offices. Otter and Lynx joined me as we made our way to the final room. Bursting through the door, guns at the ready.

“Oh, hi guys, glad you could make it.” Fox said, primping her hair and checking her make up.

A bunch of civilian camera crew were lying unconscious around the bed, obviously the main scene of the movie. Dennis McLaid sat on the edge of the bed, handcuffed with his hands behind his back. He was bare-chested, wearing only loose sweat pants and long black hair that was slicked in waves across his damp chest. He was staring at Fox with a silly grin on his face.

“I’m being arrested,” he said when he saw me, as if it was the best thing in the world to happen to him.

Reluctantly I put my gun away. Not too sure the danger was over. “Take him to the car.” I waved to Lynx and Otter.

The two agents dragged Dennis away. I walked over to Fox, just to make sure she was alright.

“Everything go okay?” I asked. “We kept trying to contact you.”

“Oh, this thing?” Fox asked tossing the broken headset to the floor. “It kind of gave up in the struggle. Still doesn’t matter, Mission is accumplished.” She walked briskly to the door with an unseen, until now, spring in her stride.

I shook my head, puzzled over the whole affair. “Mission is accomplished, I guess.” I followed her out.

Chapter Two, Otter Gets Wet

It was a bit of a shock to find myself in the newspaper headlines.

“Female groupie kidnaps famous porn star.” I read to the others. And, yep, there I was. My face as plain as my name written in pee in the snow. “How did they get this?” I wanted to know.

“Uhm, I guess one of the cameras must have been running.” Otter said. “I didn’t think to check those things.”

“Well, why me, and not Fox?”

“Perhaps they want to market the footage of Fox’s position?” Otter muttered.

“What was that, Otter?” I asked.

“Ah. Shouldn’t we be starting with the next mission?” she said.

“Oh, I guess.” I said, throwing the paper into the nearest trash can. “It can’t get any worse than this.”


“Wow, lookit this place,” Fox stood up and leaned out of the sunroof as we drove over a Virginian hillside. The whole vista, all three hundred and seventy-five acres of mansion, forest and farmland belonged to our next target, Richard Humper. Fox and Otter had already nicknamed him Big Dick.

“Seems like being a porn star with a big cock makes you rich.” Lynx commented, carefully trying to keep the car on the road while dodging the low branches. No one wanted to see Fox taking the tree branch route out of the car.

“Actually he inherited the mansion and lands from his parents,” Otter told us. “He only went into porn movies because he found out how big his prick was and wanted to show it off to the world.”

“First class exhibitionist as well as terrorist,” I said dryly. “Nice mix.”

“We’ll I’ll soon be taking him in hand, uh, arresting him,” Otter reassured us. “Oh, pull over here.”

Lynx did a brake turn at seventy miles an hour that spun us a nice one-eighty degrees and left us parked, perfectly, in a small dirt siding set aside for moonlight trysts or a quartet of superspies on a covert mission.

It also left me feeling rather breathless and looking desperately for somewhere to pee.

“Better than the A-team,” Lynx said proudly.

“Right,” I said.

“Okay, Ladies,” Otter stripped down to her bikini and strapped on her jet pack. “According to our sources, Big Dick, is down in the pool area filming a steamy pool scene. I’ll go in and take out the local pack. I’ll need you guys to neutralize the perimeter and keep anyone from interfering.”

“Okay,” I said dubiously. “Are you sure you can handle a two foot erection. Uhm, I mean a six-foot-five guy and his cronies all by yourself.”

“Trust me,” Otter tapped her ear and switched on her headset. “I can handle it, oh yes.”

With that she triggered the pack and took off like an otter in heat. Well, like a human in a jet pack, at least.

“I’m off,” Lynx leaped into the car and started for the other side of the mansion. “I’ll start over that side. You guys work your way in here and circle round. We’ll meet up in the pool area.”

“Roger that,” I agreed.

“Yeah,” Fox nodded, studying Big Dick’s photo. “Wouldn’t you just love to?”

I tried to ignore the wistfulness in her voice.

First port of call, after finding a suitable tree to relieve myself behind, was checking my gun and making sure the stun darts were loaded. It wouldn’t do, after all, to accidentally kill half the population of rural Virginia. Though I admit, after dodging three dozen crazy drivers on the way here, it was a tempting thought.

Once that was done Fox went ahead so she could come around from the back of the house, I moved into the trees a way and traveled parallel to the road. The swimming pool, cameras and movie cast were on this side of the house. It would be interesting to see what a pool porn shoot was like.

“Okay, have landed,” Otter’s heavy whisper came over the earpiece. “Looks like the cast are on break, the only one near the pool is the target. Whoa, those photos weren’t lying.”

“Sounds good Otter. Let us clear the background before you move in.”

“Negative. Negative.” Otter sounded almost desperate. “I have to immobilize him before the crew get back. Moving in, over.”

“Otter, wait!”

It was too late. Rushing forward I got my top tangled in a nearby bramble, scratching my fingers I tried to rip it free.

“Hey, who are you? How did you get in here?” The male voice came over the earpiece.

“I’m your fate and your destiny.” Otter’s voice sounded strange as she neared the man. Grief, he probably had some kind of subliminal electronics working around the house and she was already hypnotized and under his control.

“Fox, Lynx? How are you guys doing?”

“Tough,” Fox said, panting. I’ve run into some of the male cast. Got to toss them…throw them off my tail.”

“Dogs,” Lynx muttered. “I end up with the stinking guard dogs.”

I heard a canine whimper or two as Lynx began stunning her adversary.

“You’re going down,” I heard the man’s commanding voice. “I’m going make you… Argh!”

“Hang on Otter,” I told her, finally ripping half my top off and exposing my right breast to the world. Sheesh the things a superspy has to go through. “I’m coming as quick as I can.”

“Not as fast as me!” Fox squealed.

“All I get is dogs,” Lynx grumbled.

“Mhpph, meel phulup.” Otter said.

“Oh my God, he’s choking her! Hurry up everyone.”

I ran, tripping over tree roots and bracken. I had to save her. The poor girl was probably out of her wits by now.

“Yes, good, good.” He growled. “Now let’s just see how deep you can go.”

“Now he’s going to drown her! Fox, Lynx are you coming?”

“Yes!” Said Fox.

“I wish,” Lynx grouched.

A sound of splashing water came through the headset. From the grunts and groans I could tell that Otter was fighting for her life. But I could see the house at last. The pool was just a few hundred yards away. I ran, straight into a tree.

“Ouch,” I said, picking myself up and holding some of my torn top to my bleeding nose. So what if both my breasts were now exposed to the squirrels and birds? Bloody nose or no bloody nose, no one was going to harm my fellow spy.

Through the branches and bushes ahead I could hear Otter’s screaming. I felt cold. Had my stumbling stupidity made me too late. Then everything was silent. Too silent.

I ran, carefully, for the last few yards until I burst into the pool area. Otter was sitting in a lounger, looking like she’d just had the best vacation in the world and sipping what must have been Big Dick’s cocktail. Big Dick was lying on the side of the pool in a state of semi-conscious. Water marks everywhere on the patio gave an indication of what a terrific struggle it must have been.

Fox stumbled out of the bushes wearing a t-shirt three sizes too large with “Who’s your Sugar Daddy?” on the front. Was she wearing that on the way here? I couldn’t remember.

Lynx, looking almost as tattered and torn as I was came from around the house.

“Fifteen bleeding guard dogs,” she moaned. “Can you believe it, fifteen?”

“Told you I could handle it.” Otter preened, licking her lips as she looked at our defenseless target.

From my angle I could see his limp cock, and felt myself flush. It nearly reached his knees!

“Okay, I’m calling in the bird.” I told them. “Get ready to move out.”

Lynx pulled out a hoisting strap and the three of them fastened it around Big Dick while I radioed for the airlift. Five minutes later Richard Humper, showing off his privates to the entire world, was carried away to a local PIACT holding cell.

“Let’s get out of here. Before they figure out what’s happened.” I said.

“Right,” the others agreed.

Chapter Three, The Lynx Nibbles

“Look at that!” I threw the newspaper on the coffee table, disgusted. “They slapped my boobs all over the front page.”

Lynx picked up the paper studying the headline. “Second famous porn star abducted from home by topless porno groupie.” She read. “Hmm, no mention of terrorist or blowing up the world.”

“Furball is probably keeping that secret until we catch all four.” Otter said. “Wouldn’t do to have the whole world go into a panic.”

“True,” I agreed. “But why the photo of me and not of you guys, and how did you miss the photographer Lynx? You came from that direction.”

“Maybe it was on account of over three hundred guard dogs…”

“Oh Mi God guys, can you believe this?” Fox waved a six by four photo at us. Presumably Stewart Caine, nicknamed Candy Cane, because of his stiff rod.

“Hey, that’s mine.” Lynx tried to grab the picture, but missed by an inch as Otter snatched it first.

“Oh, man. Could it really be real?” She shoved the picture under my nose and I managed a quick glimpse before Lynx snuck it back.

The man’s penis, flaccid, looked like it was three feet long.

“It says here,” Fox was reading from Lynx’s portfolio now. “That his most popular party trick is to stand on the bar and stir the cocktails—without bending his knees or using his hands!”

Dear Lord…!

“Hey, you’re playing with my man, uh, target,” Lynx protested.

“Well, if he’s your target missy,” Fox challenged. “Why are we still here?”

Lynx swallowed. “Well, it’s quite a big…job,” she admitted.

“Nothing we can’t deal with,” I told her firmly, we had to get on with the missions soon. Preferably before I became public figure number one and everyone could recognize me. “Where is Mr. Cane located now?”

“Well, intelligence suggests he’s taking a break from working and is at home in his penthouse apartment, Washington, DC.”

“Great,” I said, picking up the phone and dialing headquarters. “Four tickets for Reagan National coming up.”


“Nice digs,” Otter cooed as we deactivated the rear security door and made our way into the apartment building. “Bet these places go for nothing less than five thousand bucks a month.”

“Eight thousand a month for the efficiency,” Lynx corrected. “Twenty-five for the penthouse.”

“So what’s the plan of action?” I asked as we tried, inconspicuously as possible, to look like the local cleaning crew coming in for the late evening shift. We had roughly sixty minutes before the real cleaning crew arrived.

“Fox and I are heading for the roof. She’ll be standing watch up there and making sure the abseiling rope doesn’t break while I force open the bathroom window. Otter will need to hang around in the foyer outside the penthouse to stop anyone coming in. You’ll need to busy yourself in the entrance foyer. If you see the guards heading for the express elevator, stun ‘em. Once the target has been neutralized, we all convene on the roof for the extraction.”

“Sounds good to me.” I nodded. “Why aren’t you using the Clingers?”

“Of course I’m using the Clingers,” Lynx rolled her eyes at me. “But they’re not too strong against high winds, and sixteen floors up it doesn’t hurt to have a safety line.”

Well, duh! Idiot me for not knowing about stuff that came out after I’d retired. These young ones were too high tech for me.

Lynx stopped in front of a utility closet and jimmied it open. Handing out mops, buckets and brooms to Otter and me, before continuing on.

“Okay everyone, here’s where we part ways. Good luck!” She tapped her ear and set her headset working.

“You too!” We all tapped our ears back.

Pushing the tiny cleaning cart ahead of me through a small door I found myself in the foyer with the two guards. They glanced at me suspiciously a few times but finally ignored me when I started sweeping and mopping, all the while trying my best to look like I knew what I was doing. Geesh, I had my manservant, butler and boys from the cleaning crew do this for me at home. Well, at least when they weren’t looking after me in other ways. I mean a girl has to eat you know…

Trying not to blush as I remembered a particularly interesting quartet, I swept a pile of dust behind a flowerpot when I heard the first positive news through the earpiece.

“Heading for the bathroom window now,” Lynx said. “Wind’s a bit rough, but the Clingers are holding.”

Everything looked good so far. The two guards looked bored as they sat behind the counter. One was tossing pistachios in his mouth, cracking them with his teeth and spitting out the shells. The other was reading a newspaper while every now and then glancing at the changing views on the security CCTV.

“What’s this? Light is on in the bathroom.”

“Lynx,” I whispered. “Pull back.”

“He’s in the shower. Oh man. Oh man. That’s not a cock, that’s a walking stick!”

“Lynx, abort, I repeat, abort. You’ve got to be careful.” The guard with the newspaper looked at me oddly as I began frantically sweeping the corners, driven half crazy by my anxiety for Lynx.

“Oh, I’ll be careful,” Lynx said. “I’ve brought condoms… Ah, cuffs, brought cuffs with me. Okay, going in!”


The guards must have thought I was some kind of lunatic, squeaking like that. Fortunately they didn’t seem to be paying too much mind. Probably because a small crowd of something seemed to be building up outside the entrance. Pistachio Guard was going to have a look.

“Hey, how did you get in here?”

I heard Candy Cane growl. Lynx’s response was drowned by the sound of running water. Cane had probably opened the shower door to grab for her.

“It doesn’t fit. You’re too big.” Lynx wailed.

Dammit, she couldn’t get the cuffs on him. “Girls, get in there, help her.” I inched my way a little closer to the door, what the hell was going on out there? Had somebody cottoned on to us?

Lynx’s screams mixed with the man’s curses and yells. They were having a real battle in there, and I felt frustrated and useless. What could I do?

“I’m going to toss you off!” He yelled.

Oh no! He was going to throw her off the building! That must be why all the photographers and people were gathered outside. Police? Pistachio Guard was opening the door to let in the police? Second Guard still paid no attention to anything and folded over the paper.

Lynx’s screams suddenly fell silent. What should I do?

“Wolf,” Otter’s voice. “It’s okay, target is subdued. I’m sending down the elevator for you.”

“And Lynx?”

“Looks like she got the cream,” Otter seemed to be chuckling. “And plenty of it.”

Dear God, Thank you! Lynx was safe. I turned, began to sweep my way towards the elevator as the entrance doors opened. Second Guard looked at the newspaper, looked at me, then looked at the newspaper again.

“It’s her!” He yelled. “It’s the topless porn star kidnapping groupie!”

Panicked I glanced behind me. Too slow. It gave Pistachio Guard enough time to grab the neck of my top and the waist of my pants. Cameras were flashing everywhere.

I had to do it. Why, oh why, did I decide not to wear my undies today? I made a quick dash for the elevator, the doors just beginning to open. The special “tear before wear” fabric ripped apart as I ran. The innovative PIACT material was a good expedient to prevent being caught by your clothing but it left me running for the elevator in nothing but my practical and very unsexy loafers. My bare fanny and all, wiggling for everyone to see.

It seemed like the camera flashes tripled.

Safety! I leaped into the elevator and slammed the penthouse button.

“Oh no you don’t,” Second Guard tried to grab me, jamming himself into the doorway.

I did a quick arabesque penchée. While he paused to gape at my full feminine glory I span into a fast pirouette, stopped, tapped his gaping mouth shut with my right hand, kissed his lips ever so lightly, and grabbed his crotch with my left hand. Not too tightly, since he was really an innocent in all this. One quick squeeze and a twist, and Second Guard wasn’t too interested in catching me anymore since he was lying, whimpering, on the floor.

The elevator doors closed in a flood of flashing lights.

Up on the roof I could hear the police sirens closing in. Our four “parcels” had been placed on the roof by PIACT base and Lynx already had her target strapped, face up, on the small motorbike looking thing.

“Isn’t he supposed to be face down?” I asked.

Lynx and the others looked at me with varying expressions of surprise and curiosity.

“You do things your way, I do things my way.” Lynx countered giving me an obvious once over before laying herself on top of the semi-conscious man. Was she wearing panties under that skirt of hers? “Okay let’s get out of here before it gets much hotter than it is,’ she said.

With that she gunned her machine to life and shot over the edge of the building. Tight metal wings snapped out of the side of the craft and within moments Lynx was disappearing up into the night sky.

Hearing all the commotion on the street below, the three of us quickly followed suit.

Damn, these missions were harder than I remembered.

Much harder.

Chapter Four – The Wolf Howls.

“Naked ballet dancing kidnapping groupie takes porn star number three,” Fox dutifully read to me for the fifth time this morning. Like, maybe, I hadn’t already read it ten times. And they got the most awful pictures of me too.

“It was kind of unlucky that Hugh Jackman was visiting the building at the time we did the mission. All those photographers…” Otter faded out when she saw my glare.

Dear God! As if being seen buck naked wasn’t bad enough, but being seen buck naked by Hugh Jackman? Especially since it wasn’t reciprocal…

“We need to get on with the last mission,” I reminded them, pulling out my files on Rodney Dickman a.k.a. Randy Rod. After this one I could sink back into my fully clothed anonymity and forget about the world and its super large penises.

“Well, I suppose he’s alright,” Otter said scowling at the photograph. “He’s rather tiny though.”

“Doubt if he’s much more than twelve inches,” Fox agreed.

“Tsk, fourteen inches and five sixteenths,” I chided them. “Besides size doesn’t matter. I’m only going to arrest him.”

“Uhuh,” Otter grinned. “So where’s Randy at?”

I checked my files for his itinerary that research had put in there and compared it to the date on the newspaper.

“At the moment he’s…Oh God!” I shook my head.

“What?” Fox asked. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s currently attending a five day conference in California for the porn movie industry.” I groaned. This was the last thing I needed lots of people around—lots of naked people around.

“Cool,” Lynx said, licking her lips and rubbing her hands together.

“This is going to be fun!” Fox giggled.

“Let’s do it!” said Otter.


Heels clicking like the savvy businesswoman I was trying to be, I led my trio of “wannabe’s” over to the reception desk of the conference hotel. Our disguise where I was posing as the agent for three sumptuous porn movie models seemed to be working well—each of them had at least three offers for the casting couch before we even got there.

“I could just do this for a living,” Fox sighed.

“You are doing it for a living,” I reminded her to stay in character. Geesh, young ‘uns. “I believe we have reservations for room 1214.” I told the young man behind the desk, hoping that his eyes didn’t pop out from staring at my colleagues. At least until after he’d given me the keycards.

“Uh, here we are,” he fiddled with the computers and passed me various bits and pieces. “You’re in the room next to Randy Rod.”

Of course we were, that was how our PIACT contact had arranged things. I signed something, picked up some keycards. Otter leaned across the desk and stroked a long red fingernail down his chin. He flushed as a mega woody forced a pavilion sized tent in his pants.

“With one as big as that I could have you starring in your own movie in a week,” I told him. Then walked away, leaving the girls giggling and flirting with the flustered lad.

Up in the room I had the bellhop drop the dozen or so suitcases on the floor and stand then gathered the girls round.

“Right,” I tapped my ear to set the headpiece working. “Lynx you and Fox go guard the corridor to stop anyone coming in while I subdue the guy. And you go out on the balcony Otter to make sure no one tries to come in that way.”

“What? Who’s gonna come…?” Otter complained.

“Just humor me,” I told her, taking out a small silent motor drill and drilling a hole in the wall adjoining Rod’s room and ours.

Sticking an optiscope through the hole I could tell the room was, so far, empty. More fortunately the section of wall I’d chosen had nothing against it. Good.

Taking out the silent rip saw I started cutting a door sized hole in the wall, I’ll show these youngsters a thing or two about covert operations. All three of them gawked at me in total admiration.

“What are you waiting for?” I told them. “Get to your stations.”

They wandered off with mutters like, “She’s ripping the place apart.” “Totally crazy, crazy I say.”

Finishing the last cut I pushed the inner shape forward and the cut part of the wall fell away with a flumph. So what if the light fixture had snagged my sleeve and ripped my top off. Makes mental note to self to wear undies on future missions. There, I had gained undetectable access to the target’s room.

I stepped through the newly made doorway and prepared to await the arrival of Mr. Randy Rod. I’ll show this sexual terrorist a thing or too about security measures.

I turned and stopped, stunned, Mr. Rod was standing there wearing nothing but a bath towel and a shocked gape on his face.

“Uhm, Hi! I think they have termites,” I waved my arm at the hole, then noticed his gaze swinging back and forth with my breasts. “Uhm, Hi?”

“I’ve gotta have them,” he said, reaching for me. My tummy started doing wonderful butterfly kisses.

“Now, ah, let’s talk about this.” I stuttered, turning I tripped over the debris from the door and landed on my back on the bed.

“Looks good,” he grinned, then tripped over the same debris to land beside me, his mouth, magically, fastening around my nipple.

“Ooooh!” His tongue and lips sent a telegraph to my clit and instantly set me to boiling point.

“Oh my god, he’s killing her.” I heard Otter yell. “We’ve gotta go in.”

I found my hand had somehow made its way beneath the towel and had grabbed his fourteen and five sixteenths and was gently massaging the head. Going by his heated growls I gathered I was a pretty good job.

“It’s hard,” I gasped to the girls. “But I think I can take it.”

“Fourteen and three quarter inches?” Rod asked, amazed. “Let me give it to you.”

So I was only one sixteenth out. Outside I heard Fox and Lynx banging on the door, but that wasn’t the kind of banging I was currently interested in so I ignored it.

“He’s beating her up!” Lynx said. “Otter get in there.”

“I can’t get in, the balcony door locked behind me.”

“Bring it on big boy,” I gave his cock an extra hard squeeze. “I can take all you’ve got.”

The hungry look on his face told me he’d accepted the challenge as he ripped off my pants. Maybe it was a good thing I wasn’t wearing any panties.

“You’d better get ready, because here it comes.”

His mouth kissed a hot trail from my breast up to my neck as something hard and even more welcome slipped up the inside of my thigh, coming to rest between the lips of my sex.

“Oh yes.” I gripped his head and mashed my lips against his, wrapping my legs around him and trying to force him into me.

He obliged.

I screamed.

It was like being impaled by a parking bollard, it felt fantastic.

“See, you can’t take it,” he boasted.

The yells and frantic beating on the door grew louder. I wriggled and jiggled my bottom until Rod’s rod was firmly implanted to the hilt. Just for extra punishment I gave him one of my special PIACT trained squeezes. It made him double cross his eyes.

“That does it,” he grunted. “I’m going to finish this off.”

“Please do,” I whimpered as he began to pound into me. Damn, I was almost already there.

The girls, the yells, even the fact I was a PIACT agent in the process of arresting this guy slipped my mind as my body built up to the most mindblowing orgasm I’d ever had.

Tossing and turning beneath him I screamed as wave after wave of sheer mind numbing pleasure blasted through me. I felt him twitch and jerk as he filled me with his love juice, and then collapsed, exhausted, on top of me.

Catching my breath I ran my fingers through his hair, gazing into his crystal green eyes before kissing him, hard.

“Uhm, I need to go pee,” I said.

“Oh, okay.”

He rolled off the bed and I sat up, quickly snatching my gun as he grabbed his.

“PIACT, you’re under arrest!”

“PIACT, you’re under arrest!”

We both shouted together.



The door burst open and Otter, Lynx and Fox dashed in. Three tiny darts embedded themselves into Randy Rod’s yummy flesh, and he collapsed on the bed. His rod still deliciously hard.

“Quickly,” Otter said. “The police are on their way.”

As Fox and Lynx carried Rod out onto our balcony Otter took the rocket bolt crossbow from a suitcase along with a three hundred foot rope. One shot and she’d attached the rope to a streetlamp just above a plain white van parked on the street below. The other end she fastened to a second bolt shot into the wall just above our heads.

Getting the five harnesses out of another suitcase Lynx helped us get the unconscious Rod onto the zip line, then set her harness up first.

“I’ll go down and get her started. Fox you take care of Randy here, Otter follow her up. You’re last I’m afraid Wolf.” Lynx grinned. “But then you do like the publicity.”

Before I could respond the others were already zipping their way down the zip line. Not wanting to be left too far behind I leaped into the harness and followed. Watching as Lynx fell through the fake roof of the van and crawled quickly into the driver’s seat. Swinging wildly down the rope heading for escape and freedom, my delicate treasures on view for the entire world to see, I noticed the small gathering of newspaper cameramen—and the local TV station’s camera crew…

Epilog – Coming to an end.

“Starkers trapeze artist ballet dancing porn star groupie stages daring kidnap of porn star number four.” I threw the newspaper aside in disgust. Noting, especially, the Playboy style photo they had of me on the front page. “You can’t trust tabloids.”

“Well, you’re a smash on YouTube, last I saw you had over five million hits,” Fox tried to encourage me.

“Twitter’s gone crazy too, you’ve got the number one spot there.” Otter added.

Geesh, all this and I’d just spent a long hard night, uhm, interrogating my prisoner.

“You are a celebrity,” Lynx grinned.

The grin didn’t last long though. We were all sitting in the “couch” room as Fox so quaintly named it. It was difficult to wait for Furball and Dragon to appear behind the screen and everyone was more than a little subdued.

“Just look at it this way,” Otter tried to cheer me up. “At least no one was looking at your face…”

Fortunately the lights went off and the screen lit up before I could clonk her one.

“Ladies, ladies. Fantastic job.” Furball praised us. “You have done excellent work and eliminated four very deadly enemies from our nation’s shores.”

Behind him Dragon clapped her praise.

“Yes, but what were they doing?” Fox asked.

“They were going to blow up the world.” Furball replied with a cocked wave of his hand. “Simple as that.”

“But how?” Lynx pushed. “I didn’t see any minions, secret labs, bombs—“

“Oh, don’t worry about those little details,” Furball reassured us. “They’ve all been taken care of.”

“But are they really terrorists?” I asked.

The atmosphere on the other side of the screen was beginning to feel very frosty.

“Of course they are, what else would they be?” Furball demanded.

“Maybe they had a special attribute.” Otter suggested.

“Like a penis bigger than fourteen and five sixteenths of an inch?” Fox added.

“Bigger than yours, maybe?” I asked.

Furball stood up, showing his anger, Dragon fidgeted nervously.

“How dare you suggest—“ Furball began and was stopped by the door opening suddenly and Randy Rod, uhm Rodney Dickman and half a dozen PIACT Special Security guards stormed through the door.

Two of the guards ran forward and tore the screen down, while Rodney turned on the overhead lights.

“I knew it!” I said, instantly recognizing Evil Octuplet Number One. “You have done something with Furball and Dragon and took their place so you could kidnap all the porn stars with bigger dicks than yours. You wanted to get them out of circulation.”

Evil Octuplet Number Eight--the gay one, dressed in a tight fitting skirt suit and red wig looked shocked, then angry.

“You lied!” he screamed pulling out something from behind Number One’s chair. “You said you were keeping them safe for me.”

With a sound akin to a barrage of machine gun fire Number Eight--the Gay One, started up his machine.

“Oh no!” Number One yelled. “He’s got Henry!”

All the men in the room suddenly covered their privates with their hands.

“Girls!” I snapped the order and Otter did a quick two step forward roll and belched, incredibly loudly, in Number Eight’s face. He staggered around, looking confused.

Fox did a quick flip and ended up behind him, she started whacking him on the head with a frozen beer jug while talking nine to the dozen in his ear. Eight struggled for breath, unable to move.

Lynx kicked Henry out of his hands, knocked him to the floor and sat on his head.

“Target immobilized,” she reported.

With Henry--the chainsaw--happily chewing his way through the priceless Chesterfield antique furniture Rodney and his men moved in to handcuff and arrest the two evil octuplets.

“Very well done,” Rodney came over to me and touched my cheek. The combination of his voice and fingers suddenly sapping my strength.

“I couldn’t have brought it off without you,” I told him.

“Of course not,” he answered with a wicked grin.

“Hey, Wolf, in here.”

Walking over to Lynx I could hear sounds of struggling from behind the door next to her. Opening it carefully we could see Furball and Dragon tied up and gagged on the bed.

I quickly untied Furball’s gag.

“Wow, thanks a lot,” he smiled. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind untying us, we’ll be out in a couple of hours or so.”

Dragon smiled coyly and blushed.

Leaving the couple happily ensconced on their bed I shut the door behind me.

“Well, ladies,” I told the gang. “Looks like we were all mislead a bit there. I suggest you all go back to your targets and find some way to make an apology to them. We wouldn’t want any paternit…lawsuits against us now would we?’

“Yes, sir!” They all saluted in unison, then fell over each other in their rush to get out of the door.

“And you, sir,” I plucked Rodney’s lip just testing its plumpness prior to nibbling it. “I believe I might need to apologize a little more to you.”

“Hmm, for maybe a year or two at least,” he nuzzled my ear, making me wonder if we’d be able to make it back to my place in time.

“I believe they have a spare bedroom through there,” he said, gently squeezing my nipple and leading me to the back of the penthouse.

Nope, we wouldn’t be getting back—


17 July 2009

If you could see my favorites...

Or my recent searches, it just might freak you out a bit. Then again, you are reading a paranormal authors' blog, so maybe not. But I've often wondered what "Big Brother" would think if they would bother hacking into my computer and browsing the history?

Would I become the subject of an FBI watch list? A psychological intervention? Or merely a shake of the head? I'm really not one to judge.

For my last novel -- now sitting in my editor's inbox -- I found I had to look up details regarding a rather gory death. Since I don't have a medical professional in the family, it wasn't a question I felt comfortable just calling up a stranger and asking about. These days with zero tolerance run rampant, you have to be careful. However, I felt rather like a ghoul while trying to find out exactly how long someone could live after having their throat cut.

I told it was gory.

Yes, I've spent hours researching such mundane topics as the type of shoes worn by peasant women in 1700's Ireland. But other topics interest me now that my feet are firmly planted in the present and otherworldly realm of writing. These include the names of predominant demons, for example... and the best way to kill said demons -- or other preternatural creatures. Everyone knows they don't die easily. What would be the fun in that?

I've also searched for werewolf legends; ancient warriors with swords; ghosts; haunted houses; mediums; tarot readers; and dragons... all of them trouping through my computer like a Halloween parade in the making. Now I'm moving on to other gifted individuals and deciding who gets to be immortal and who must die.

A bit god-like? Writing always is. But mostly I'm feeding the imagination. Because where would we be without it?

Meg Allison

15 July 2009

13 Useful Things About Coordinating RWA Contests

For the past several years, I've volunteered to coordinate the romance novel contest for my local RWA chapter, the Music City Romance Writers. During my reign, we've taken the Melody of Love from a contest that had trouble filling the categories to an e-submission friendly tight ship that maxes out every year. Granted, the whole maxing out thing is probably due more to the e-subs than my clever coordinating, but since the contest is our chapter's only income besides dues, we're all glad that it's working out for us!

In my experience, coordinating my chapter contest is interesting, entertaining, rewarding and sometimes crazy-making. Here are 13 reasons you may want to volunteer to coordinate YOUR RWA Chapter contest, provided you're in an RWA Chapter.

1) If you coordinate the contest, you don't have to judge in the contest.

2) You get to be the bearer of good news when it comes time to contact the finalists.

3) You get to be the bearer of even better news when it comes time to contact the winners.

4) You feel very popular with the huge increase in your inbox of emails that aren't spam. That doesn't mean none of them mention male genitalia--this is a romance novel contest--but they're not spam.

5) You correspond with the final round judges, editors and agents, in a professional venue that has nothing to do with you being in their slush pile. At the bottom. For months.

6) If you're short on reading material, there's about 25,000 pages with your name on them, literally, since all the contest entries came addressed to you.

7) Leading the judge training workshop gives you experience in front of a crowd of your peers. This could, some day, translate into being a Keynote Speaker at the RWA National Conference. No, really!

8) When you skim the critiques your judges send back, it can give you great insight into how perfectly sane readers can view the same manuscript in diametrically opposite ways.

9) When you skim the critiques your judges send back, it can give you great insight into things you will never again say to your critique partners, OMG.

10) Sometimes the entrants send YOU little thank you notes when it's all said and done.

11) Corresponding with the entrants, sending out contest updates and announcements, and writing blog entrires about your experience gets your name out there, at least a teeny bit.

12) Coordinating a contest gives you a deeper appreciation for volunteerism in RWA and what it entails--especially when it comes time to find enough judges.

13) Coordinating your chapter's contest gives you an excuse not to volunteer for anything ELSE in your chapter, or to clean your house, because you're so busy with the contest. It is so hectic at times you might also require infusions of dark chocolate. I'm just saying.

Jody Wallace
Author and 2009 Melody of Love Coordinator
www.mcrw.com * www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

13 July 2009

Better Late Than Never

Woops! I almost missed my opportunity to blog today. Sorry! I was traveling and plans changed mid-stream. But I'm here now... with some news...

First, INFERNO is out now, so if you haven't gotten your copy yet, check it out at MBAM, ARe, or wherever ebooks are sold! INFERNO is a great adventure tale that has some incredibly naughty bits with menage and lots of sexy vampire/werewolf action.

Also, I just got the cover for my upcoming anthology from Kensington Brava. The anthology is called HALF PAST DEAD and my story within it is titled, SIMON SAYS. Here's the blurb:

Special Forces soldier Simon Blackwell ended his affair with Mariana Daniels three years ago, but he hasn’t stopped protecting her. Mariana has no knowledge of the dark, deadly creatures that lurk in the forest surrounding her clinic, or of the mysterious powers that make Simon the only one who can defeat them. But soon he’ll have no choice but to reveal the truth, and urge her to trust in an explosive passion that never faded….

To get a peek at the most awesome cover ever, check out my blog.

11 July 2009

All The Best Things Come From Writing...

For me at least. While researching Deaf Culture for a secondary character I came across the state Relay program. Whenever a deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired individual needs to place a phone call, they use TTY (TeleTYpewriter) or TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) devices that to connect them to a communications assistance and from there to their party. The communications assistance or CA is a transparent agent that types everything heard and speaks everything typed, allowing the speech impaired and those in the deaf community the same effortless information exchange the rest of us enjoy by just picking up the phone.

Looking further into the program I found out that my state Relay was hiring and jumped in with both feet. It was an opportunity to leave a typical EDJ (evil day job) and pursue something that was fulfilling, non-profit, and writer-friendly. More importantly, it was the chance to learn more about Deaf Culture and move my secondary character to a primary with confidence.

See all the best things really do come from writing and the research involved. I not only got a new job, but a new story and an atmosphere to do it right. And it all brings to mind a few questions.

For the writers: Have you ever considered writing your hero (or one of your heroes, you know I love the multiples) with a disability, or who was differently-abled? If so, did you feel confident in your choice to do so? If not, do you think it is because the concept of “hero” and “impairment” don’t go together easily?

For the readers: What’s the last book you read with a main character that was impaired, but the book was not about the impairment? Did you feel the impairment was fairly portrayed and dealt with in the course of the story?

For everyone: Do you think that in paranormal fiction preternatural handicaps have replaced mortal impairments? What would you like to see explored in more depth when it comes to character diversity? Do mundane impairments make it difficult for you to see a character as a full “alpha male”?

Answering one of my own questions; the last prominent character with a mundane physical impairment I remember (and deeply love) is Nick Andros from The Stand by Stephen King. In that same story is a central character with a mundane mental impairment, Tom Cullen. Without ever thinking about them in terms of the impairments, The Stand has been and will likely always be my favorite book because the characters were people before they were anything else. The way it should be.

(M-O-O-N, that spells favorite. All of you who get the reference are my new best friends. Call me)

09 July 2009

Art Story

Mr. DeMille, I’m ready to get my brain back…

Seriously, I just finished the technique section of Fantasy Art Templates (Barron’s, January 2010), my next nonfiction project, and it’s like the first day well after a long illness. The house is a wreck. The living room is stacked with boxes from the 78s the spouse person ordered while I was “in the zone”. The path from the so-called writing desk to the sofa where I actually do most of my writing is strewn with papers and reference materials. Hastily kicked-off shoes carpet the kitchen. And I. Am. Not. Cooking. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Until I started the tech section (the portion of the book where readers learn how to emulate the art contained in the main portion of the book) writing was a breeze. The editor shipped me a batch of illustrations, and I wrote captions, usually on the sofa watching TV.

But the artist was ill earlier this year and still playing catch-up. So our editor suggested I get to work on the “Backgrounds and Technique” chapter. I stared her email in horror. The way I understood it, the final chapter wasn’t my problem. The artist would provide ten landscapes to be used with the figures depicted elsewhere in the book. The rest of the chapter would consist of standard instruction pages drawn from other books in the publisher’s series.

There was just one problem. Our book wasn’t like any other book in the series. Remember that “templates” part of the title? The figures in the main section of the book--wizards, warrior women, dragons, unicorns, elves--were designed for copying in traditional media or digitally, or redrawn and adapted as needed. There wasn’t anything quite like it in the catalogue.

Which meant not all the standard instruction pages worked.

Which meant I had to write pages that would.


I’m the classic case of those who can’t teach critique. I studied art until I realized my talent for drawing lay somewhere on the poor side if mediocre. In college, I switched to writing, politics and art history, and never looked back. To presume to instruct other people in skills I hadn’t used since high school… I repeat, gulp.

So I fell back on the other skills that never let me down: reporting and fiction. The reporting part was fairly straightforward. I wrote the artist and asked a few questions. That told me his process, which I knew would interest the reader, but I couldn't exactly drill him on the basics. That would be like asking another writer where they get their ideas. Seriously. This is where my inner fiction writer took over.

Instead of telling people how to create art, I focused on the stories the art could tell. Fantasy paintings, I wrote, have characters and settings like books and movies, but instead of words, the artist uses scale, perspective, lighting and color to get his or her point across. I organized my instruction pages around that theme, but it wasn’t easy. It required as much time and focus as writing fiction. But it worked.

Er, I think it worked. I won’t know until my editor gets back to me.

It's like that in fiction too.

Speaking of which, if you’re going to be in the Washington DC area for the Romance Writers of America National Conference, feel free to give me a shout-out. I plan to drop in for the Samhain party and a few of the other non-RWA events, and I’d love to say hi.


08 July 2009

Smallville Addiction

Finding family together time that makes both a 7 year old girly-girl and a 15 year old too-cool-for-his-sister happy is a challenge. There's not much they have in common, other than their gene pool, and even there they seem to be swimming in opposite ends. One is over in the deep end doing dolphin flips and the other is spiking the volleyball over the net and yelling "Eye of the Tiger!" when no one can return it. I'll let you guess which is doing which.

But a month or so ago we stumbled on something that has kept all three of us entertained for an hour a day. Smallville, the television series that tells the story of Clark Kent's teenage years, has given us a happy meeting place.

The violence level is mild enough that my daughter can watch without me worrying about nightmares. Most of the sexual tension is kept to heated looks and the occasional kiss, although there was a Clark-gone-bad episode that my son and I saved for a day it was just the two of us watching.

My son can completely relate to the high school angst and drama. He's old enough to catch some of the nice asides in the dialoge (Clark: If aliens came to Earth, don't you think they'd find someplace a little more exciting than Smallville?)that show up a few times each episode.

My daughter is totally caught up in the Lana / Clark / Chloe love triangle (we're only up to season 2). She doesn't "get" a lot of the inside humor and points, but the relationships are the hook for her.

I'm enjoying the series, even while I'm sitting there laughing at some of the stories. We all laugh together about how many people Clark has saved from car accidents / explosions, and how many episodes in a row someone has said some version of "Clark, it's not your fault." There is little that is subtle about this series. But it has turned into a bit of a character development class, and my son and I especially have had some great conversations about how both script and book authors use some of the same devices - foreshadowing, character development, cliff hangers, plot moving grand revelations.

We're watching the episodes in order(yay Netflix!), and I've resisted the temptation to peek ahead online or watch the current season that is in repeats Mostly I'm just glad I've found something that for an hour a day lets us all do something together, each getting their own bit of enjoyment out of the time.

If you've seen Smallville, what do you think of it? Melodramatic good vs evil, or an entertaining view into the past of one of our favorite superheroes?

07 July 2009

Hot off the presses!

Contrary to my previous info, the print edition of DREAM WALK is available beginning today!

You can order it at your favorite on-line bookseller, or try any of these links: My Bookstore and More; BooksAMillion.com; Powells.com; Amazon.com.

If you'd rather, you can also ask your local brick-and-mortar store to order a copy. :)

“Dream Walk” by Meg Allison

Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 978-1-60504-317-3
Length: 288 Pages

Some nightmares are deadly real.

The Sentinels, Book 1

Camille Bryant is a gifted medium being slowly driven insane by terrifying dreams. When she is forced to accept help from a Sentinel—a mysterious warrior of her race—her comfort zone is quickly invaded. Try as she might, she can’t seem to stop the erotic visions that fill her mind when her rescuer is near.

Ian Spain is a dream walker who’s been assigned to banish the dream demon from Camille’s restless nights. But complications quickly ensue. This is no ordinary demon and Camille is no ordinary woman: both are far stronger than anyone realizes. So strong, Ian suddenly isn’t sure he has the power to vanquish her demon—not when his own hound his every step.

Their passion ignites even as the body count rises and their courage is put to the test in a battle as old as time. Winner takes all.

Warning: Scenes of leather-clad hero may induce spontaneous drooling, erotic fantasies, and unfair comparisons to spouse or significant other.


A glimpse of a hero:

Chapter One

Present day

Camille jerked awake, her breath coming in short, shallow gasps. Images from the nightmare hovered like nebulous ghosts in her mind. Long damp strands of hair stuck to her face, the thin cotton nightshirt clung to her skin. Kicking off the sheet, she swung her feet to the floor and took a deep breath.

Nightmare. More like night terror. She’d had them as a young girl—moments of absolute horror that had her seeing things crawling up the dark, empty walls. Camille remembered little except the transparent images superimposed on the real world, and her mother’s soothing voice.

She clicked on the bedside lamp. Her shoulders drooped with defeat as she glanced at the clock. Five in the morning. She hadn’t gone to bed until two. With a heavy sigh, she rose and crossed to the adjoining bathroom. She stripped off the sweat-soaked garment and climbed into the shower.

Over the past four months, she had relived the same terrifying visions with the same conclusion. Camille had all but lost her ability to sleep. Lack of sleep made it hard to think, let alone write. Work suffered, not to mention her sanity which hung by a thread.

“He’s coming.”

She jerked her head up from beneath the hot drizzle and glanced around at the swirling steam. With a sigh of relief, she shook her head.

“Don’t scare me like that,” she whispered.

“No worries, child.”

She closed her eyes as a warm, peaceful wave filled her from head to toe. Her guide, her spirit mentor, was the only man she trusted. The only man she’d let close since her nineteenth birthday over ten years ago.

As she allowed the blank screen in her mind to change, colors swirled like a kaleidoscope. An image formed of shoulder-length dark hair pulled back from a bronzed face. The features sharpened to reveal eyes as dark as pitch, a straight nose, heavy brow and full mouth. Camille’s breath caught. He was beautiful and frightening all at once. This man would help her overcome evil? He looked like a warrior or a fallen angel, not a savior.


Also enjoy another great print story now available from BTV author, MK Mancos:

“By A Silken Thread”

You can never have too many great paranormal reads. :)


Indulge your senses...

04 July 2009

A Butt Kickin' Friend is Good to Find

Dungeonmistress's Note: Due to circumstances beyond her control (she's still looking for her brain, at last report) Jean Marie Ward was unable to post today. [grin] I hope you'll enjoy a piece cross-posted from The Romance Studio blog.
Friend: noun
1. Someone who knows when to offer her shoulder
2. Someone who knows when to kick your ass (q.v. true friend)


I’ll get right down to the nitty gritty. I lost my father about a month ago. Actually I’d been in the process of losing him for at least the last ten years; May 23 was simply the final chapter in a death-cheating odyssey that confounded the best specialists in central North Carolina. I mean, Dad would show up for an appointment and his doctors would say half-seriously, “Dude, are you still alive?”

I had this idea that when his end finally came, I’d be ready for it. Shake it off, secure in the knowledge that Dad’s was a life well lived, and move on to do likewise.

When I’d share this with my best friend J.C. Wilder, she’d nod and smile. She’d been down this road. She knew better.

Last December, my most recent title hit the virtual bookshelves right about the same time I visited my parents for the holidays. One look at Dad, and my Mom and I exchanged glances that said we knew it wouldn’t be much longer for him. He always went to great pains to sound hale and hearty on the phone, when in reality he couldn’t walk more than a few steps.

I took a deep breath and told myself I was okay. I wasn’t. I went back to Ohio ready to dive into book three of my Legends series — and found myself staring hopelessly at the screen, my mind as empty as the rest of my life looked without my Dad in it.

J.C. and my editor, Lindsey, were patient. They were kind and supportive through the final ordeal that ended May 23 as Dad passed peacefully into the next life. They bided their time over the next two weeks, waiting for me to turn back to the writing that has been a huge healing force in my life.

By early June, they lost patience. They knew better than I did that if I wallowed in my funk much longer, there might be no getting out again. There was only one way to get me back on task. Spring a carefully planned trap.

I knew something was up when I observed the two of them huddled over martinis in a dark corner of the bar at the Lori Foster conference. And how they’d stop talking whenever I came within hearing range. They even waited to strike until I was driving home.

My cell phone rang.

“Okay, here’s the plan,” said J.C. without preamble. (She always assumes I know it’s her.) “Starting tomorrow, you are going to start writing a novella. We don’t care what it’s about. You will write for two hours a day for six days a week. At the end of that two hours, you will email me the file, and I will forward it to Lindsey. Neither one of us will read it, you just have to send it.”

“Um, okay.” I knew there had to be more. She didn’t disappoint.

“Here’s the catch. You will immediately delete the file from your hard drive. The next day, pick up where you left off and keep going.”

My heart nearly stopped. My crippling Internal Editor was already screaming bloody murder. Write without the possibility of going back to fix mistakes? Yikes!

“You may not have the files back for editing until you hit 10k words,” she continued as if she had a perfect right to boss me around.

“I think I’m going to throw up,” I croaked.

“Trust me, this is going to work,” she said with a confidence I didn’t feel. At. All.

I hemmed and hawed for a few days. Then I opened a new document and started typing with only the vaguest idea of what the story was. Two hours later, I emailed the file to J.C., swallowed hard, and hit DELETE.

Then I went to bed, curled up in a fetal position and bawled like a baby.

Next day: Lather, rinse, repeat.

By day three, I found myself tentatively looking forward to my two hours of seat-of-the-pants writing time, even knowing that by the end I’d be a basket case. By day seven, I was writing on my laptop in the car, hauling it with me everywhere to cram in a few minutes here and there. And I have a first draft half-way finished. This has to be some kind of record for me, folks.

My talisman is a picture on my computer's destop of my Dad. He’s sitting in a boat, grinning and holding up a miniscule fish that’s not much bigger than the bait he caught it with. Even he understood that if you catch enough little fish, eventually you have a “mess”, which in Tarheel-speak means enough for a meal.

In other words, even baby steps eventually get you to your goal. So, step by painful baby step, I’m emerging from the numbness.

And it’s all due to the friends who have my back. Everyone should be so lucky.

Carolan Ivey
Romance that will haunt you…

Web site ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Myspace

03 July 2009

Independence, Benchmarks, and Other Things That Make You Go WOW!

Today is a holiday for a lot of people in America. It's a chance to get ready for tomorrow's 4th of July Independence Day cookouts, fireworks, and other celebrations. Tomorrow, we'll mark the freedom from tyranny, the liberty of personal choices, and the joy of free speech.

So why wait? Today's a banker's holiday launching it all, so let's start now.

On a personal front, I've passed a benchmark in my career in the last couple of weeks and been welcomed as a professional published author in the RWA circles. It's a humbling and exciting moment for me, but it brought me back to a question I've asked before: When does an author decide they've really "made it?" What validates your writing career?

Is it selling the book of your heart? Last month, Samhain Publishing contracted the book of my heart, ANGELIC AVENGER, for an October release. I'm very excited to go through the process of getting it transformed from a promising manuscript into a book.

Or maybe it's seeing your book leading the Best Seller list? My friend, Vivi Andrews, had her Sexy Shifter release, SERENGETI HEAT, do just that over at the My Bookstore and More. I've enjoyed sharing that benchmark with her. Since I'm a fan of shifter books, I'd like to take a moment to recommend Vivi's release and Kinsey Holley's Sexy Shifter book, KISS AND KIN. They are great reads if you're shopping for a novella to get you through the holiday weekend.

However we, as writers, validate our chosen profession, one thing is true. Independence Day celebrations are doubly important for us. Freedom to write whatever we want without censure is one of the greatest gifts of being an American. Though I doubt the Founding Fathers realized they were blazing a path that would ultimately lead to the choices we enjoy today, I'm certainly glad they marked Free Speech in the Constitution.

So, in the spirit of Independence Day, what are you doing this weekend?

Kaye Chambers

02 July 2009

Thanks For The Memories

Passenger, how far will this plane take us?
Ron White: All the way to the scene of the crash.

Walk outside, even early in the morning to pick up the paper from the end of the driveway (the paperboys never hit the porch) and you’ll get hammered by the summer heat. That is if you live in the south, where the main commodities are heat and mosquitoes and fire ants. But this summer of discontent doesn’t come from sizzling like hot boudin in the nearest Cajun bistro. And it’s worse than being bombed by mosquitoes the size of F14’s, or even stepping into a nest of fire ants on your way out to work. It’s even worse than the so called pandemic of H1N1—more affectionately known as the ‘Swine flu’—that paralyzed us all with fear a few weeks back. No, this summer is more than that. Its become a sad summer. A summer of losing our 70’s and80’s icons. A summer of our discontent. A summer reminding us that nothing lasts forever.

Michael Jackson’s sudden demise leads the pack by eclipsing everyone else who passed this last month, including Ed McMahon. But I have to talk about Ed first. Dear old Ed, who was Johnny Carson’s sidekick for as long as I can remember, and that’s quite a ways back, the man who launched the first of what would later become cheesy talent shows (Star Search, which btw, I did like) such as the dreaded American Idol (I pronounce it American Eyeball just because I want to) and of course who could forget all of those Publisher’s Clearinghouse contests. (Did anyone actually win any of those things?) I loved his voice, I loved his calmness and his affability. I loved the jokes and jibes between him and Johnny. Although there was charisma between Jay Leno and his band leader Kevin Eubanks, there just wasn’t that same spark of wit and love that came with the Carson McMahon duo. But that was as it should be. And although I liked the Tonight Show with Leno, the torch has been passed once again, and I just can’t seem to care much about the newest incarnation of the show. It’s just not the same any more. Besides, there’s Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network.

Now back to Michael. It always creeps me out to find out someone who’s the same age as I die suddenly. But there it is. He’s gone. It’s heartbreakingly sad, as he was such a brilliant talent, and I did love watching him perform, especially in the 80’s when his talent seemed to bear the most and best fruit. He was a sad soul, I think. Sad and confused and lonely in a way that probably none of us could ever understand. And now, he’s gone in as much spectacle as anything done in life. He’s gone, but will never be forgotten. In fact we’ll probably hear more about him in the months—and dare I say—years to come. The King of Pop is about to become indelibly marked on our cultural conscious as the King of Rock—which is of course—Elvis. Somewhere in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder if some dork is going to make a religion out of him, much like those who founded the “church of Elvis.” I’m sure, someone will, and I’m certain his poor mother will be mortified.
My “niece” (Southernese for my BFF’s daughter) was just a few years old when the Thriller video was launched. My bff and I wanted to see it. Her daughter sat between us when Michael performed. We of course, enjoyed the video, however the transformations scared little Nikki silly .We had no idea it’d have such an effect on her. For weeks afterwards she’d come up to me and point at the TV and say “dat wolf, Aunt Patty, dat wolf!”
Another dear friend of mine, Renee Witterstaetter, artist agent and owner of Little Eva Ink., once met him on the set of Red Dragon. Here on her facebook wall, Renee Reminisces:

Renee Witterstaetter On the set of "Red Dragon" one day to meet with the director, Ratner. Limo, entourage, umbrella on sunny day..We were setting a house on fire, so the crew wore smoke masks! The first thing MJ did was ask if we were making fun (he use to wear a mask, you see). Brett of course told him that was not the case, and that all as well, and then Michael was fine. I liked him. Nothing negative. Just a memory...

When I was a kid back in the 70’s, Farrah Fawcette’s famous pin up poster was the solution for every teenage boy’s case of morning wood, and every girl wanted that incredible smile and feathered locks. Among other things….I liked “Charlie’s Angels, not because of Farrah (she did only one season) but because it depicted women as detectives, something that was virtually unheard of back in the stone age of women’s rights. Oh yeah there was that obscure series back in the Sixties called Honey West, and in some ways I think it’s a better show, but still, Charlie’s Angels brought to the screen three capable women who could not only catch the bad guy but look good doing it.
And of course I spent months trying to get my thick heavy main of red-gold hair to look like Farrah’s. I begged my mom for ‘the cut’ which put her out about twenty five bucks (I was stunned when she agreed to it) and bought the super big rollers with insanely mutated bobby pins. I bought a magazine where Farrah had described in an interview, then went to work forcing my hair to cooperate. I even slept in those rollers, although in retrospect I can’t see how I managed it. I guess I slept upright. But the effects afterwards, after weeks and weeks of rolling and brushing and spraying, I got the style just right. So on the night of our Senior banquet (The school board were members of the Church of Christ and some very strict Baptists so we didn’t have an official prom due to the ‘sin’ of dancing) myself and two of my friends attended the banquet stag, yet glamorously dressed and beautiful as Charlie’s Angels. That night, we actually were applauded when we entered the gym where the banquet was held. It was truly a night to remember.
Billy Mays, the loud, fast talking hawker of all things crapolicious also passed from public view last week. He died suddenly, peacefully from what I understand, in his sleep after suffering a heart attack. I have no special memories of him, but his commercials are still playing, and it saddens me to know that soon those commercials will end and we’ll never hear him hawk another cheesy product again.
Last night, of course is the last, thus far of a long and sad line of celebrity passings. Although I adored Karl Malden, especially in great films like “On the Waterfront,” “Patton” and “Streetcar Named Desire” (I am after all, a vintage film junkie) I think Karl could best be remembered as Lt. Detective Mike Stone in the television series “Streets of San Francisco.” Karl had a very long and successful film and television career. He died at the tender age of 97. 97. I should be so lucky.
Even though I no longer drink alcohol, I raise my glass of ice water to the five of you, who made the seventies and beyond great with your genius and say, in the immortal words of my long time hero Humphrey Bogart, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Patricia Snodgrass