31 March 2010

Muscle Cars

2010 Camaro

I wasn't born yet when the first muscle cars came out so I missed that craze. Normally, cars don't excite me. If it gets me from point A to point B, I'm good. But I have to admit that these new age muscle cars have me wanting one. Bad.

Oh, to tool around in one of the new Camaros. To show up to soccer practice in this thing would be soooo cool.

Of course I know they're impractical, but a girl can still dream, can't she??

2010 Mustang

When I write, I put a lot of thought into what my characters drive. For me, a car defines a character's personality. For instance, Eric, my hero in my latest work in progress, drives a new model Mustang (like the above photo only black with a gray racing stripe. He's an alpha hero who needed a big car to go with his big personality.

An instense businessman would drive a BMW or a Mercedes.

A playboy would drive a Porsche.

John, the reclusive Sheriff in Redemption, drove a pick-up truck.

Kate, my wild heroine in Deception, drove a Jeep Wrangler.

Hope, my desperate heroine in Redemption, drove a staid compact car.

I bet just by telling you what kind of cars my heroes and heroines drove, you could figure out their personalities.

What do I drive? Well, I'm a busy mom with three kids. I drive a mini-van, of course! My husband, an alpha if I've ever met one, drives a Jeep Wrangler.

What do you drive and how does it reflect your personality?

29 March 2010

For Body and Mind

I've been in a funk.

Not writing-wise, thank you, Jesus, but in all other aspects of my life. Last summer my hubby and I embarked once again on our quest to become physically fit, or as damn close to it as two shlubs can. Well, we bit off a large chunk of P90X. If you have ever seen this infomercial, you know it's like trying to wrestle the bastard love-child of gator and a rabid pit bull. Not for the faint of heart. About a month later, it got too much to even lift our arms or work up the energy to do the workouts. For me, the fact we were doing this at 11:30 at night after he got home put a damper on it. By that time, I'm ready to curl up and read or just veg. The sad part is it did start to work before I gave up. Which is the same as what happened every year for the past 20 when I did the same thing. Start a workout regime and diet plan only to fall off the rails. I get so close to reaching my goals, or I get wonderful results and then I just get lazy about it and stop working out or stop watching what goes down my gullet. Very bad.

As I get older, I've noticed it takes twice as much to fight the battle of the bulge and I'm sad to report the bulge has victory in its sights. It's not pretty. But damn, people, something's got to give. Heart disease and diabetes run in my family and I'm sitting in the cross hairs.

Time to get serious.

Here comes the epiphany.

Yesterday, I woke up early. I had to work, but couldn't sleep so I ate a little protein and waited an hour then went to my living room where I did the 10-minute Workout. (Also a Tony Horton program like p90X but this one is supposed to make it easier to squash in the exercises when you're busy.) - I did the Yoga Flex with warm up and cool down, so it ended up about 14 minutes. Then I did 10 minutes on the exercise bike. Total workout: 24 minutes.

Can I just tell you how good I felt after? I had energy. I drank a protein drink to recover, I had a banana and I was good to go.

I know the program tells you to follow the diet as well as the exercise. Boy are they right! I'm convinced my problem last year was lack of the right calories at the right time. 6 small meals, instead of skipping meals. You know, you hear it all the time, but it's so true. I eat my little nutritious snacks, but I don't snack - if that makes sense. (In other words, I'm not sitting eating chips all day or even while watching tv.) So far. So good.

What are the side benefits? Well, looking better. Having a sharper mind. More energy. Lord knows, I can sure use that. The correlations between healthy body and mind have been written about in medical journals and New Age magazines ad nausem. I've seen patients whose blood sugars have been out of whack act totally spacy or have complete personality changes. Once the glucose is regulated, they are back to normal. It's an odd and complex thing, but also something that if you are unaware can sneak up on you.

Looking at this in a broader spectrum, why is it that I can be bound and determined to succeed in my writing. Be so driven and focused that I can exclude all else from my life just to make time for it, but I have not that same selfish gene that allows me to make time for me? It's very odd.

And therein lies the irony. If I want to write, I have to ensure I'll be around long enough to see the fruits of my labor. I plan to be there.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted.

(Off to do arms and abs today.)


27 March 2010

Interpreting the Gender Divide

Archaeologists recently unearthed a huge cavern in the mountains of Outer Mongolia. Within the chambers loaded with gold, precious gems, silver and goatskins was a cracked and barely readable parchment which had been sealed in a box of hand wrought gold. Such elaborate detail and immense amounts of time had been spent on this small container that scientists knew the scrap of history it contained was one of the most valuable insights the ancient philosophers had sought to preserve and assist them in the afterlife. With months of gentle care and handling this fount of ancient wisdom has now been translated and is bringing enlightenment to the scientific community all across the globe.

After much danger to life and limb I've managed to obtain a small fragment of the text on this ancient manuscript, text which I can share with you now. And we must all unite against the governments of the world whose greed is attempting to keep all this knowledge locked within its dusty chambers forever.

This collection, from the ancient thinkers of past civilizations comes as a warning to all how confusing it can be when neither of us really understands what the other is thinking. With this handy set of translations we may perhaps avoid calamities, thrown pots and pans, and even nuclear disasters by recognizing a few of the most common mishaps that occur whenever men and women attempt to communicate with each other.

So as you read and assimilate the depths of this ancient philosophy, remember to keep the coffee cup safely on the desk and away from your lips. Unless coffee splatter on your screen and keyboard is the best way to start your day...

One Hundred Commonly Misunderstood Phrases Between Men and Women.

Phrases #1 to #15

1. Let’s have a romantic night home with the TV.
She: Just the two of us, alone, candles, wine, and box of candies and a lovely weepy movie where we can cuddle up together and watch with the lights all dimmed.
He: Ball Game! Hand me the beer and the cheetos. Hey, what happened to my foghorn?

2. Let’s have dinner in.
She: Table set for two, best china and glassware with wine. Candles set in a cut lead glass candelabra. All served with a special home delivery of Bagna cauda, Pollo alla cacciatora and Torta caprese from Roxianno’s upper crust Italian restaurant.
He: What? Where’s the chili dog’s? You mean you didn’t make chili dogs?

3. Let’s go for a walk in the park.
She: Holding hands, watching the clouds, trees and birds. Sitting by the duck pond and talking about life, love and all the other wonderful things that bring us closer together.
He: You mean you weren’t talking about the ball park? “Go Cards! Yeaeeeeeh!”

4. Let’s have a night out on the town.
She: Lavish evening gown, jewelry, exotic perfume. Exclusive dinner club with dancing, maybe a movie after and a night spent in the five star hotel just a little way down the road.
He: Joe’s bar, torn jeans and t-shirt. Tons of beer. Watching the girls dancing to the juke-box. Staggering home drunk after fifty beers, puking in the hedge and collapsing on the bed.

5. I’ve brought you the perfect gift.
She: Oooh, diamond earrings and matching necklace. No wait, a Porsche, a Ferrari. My, there are just so many choices.
He: Here babe, I know you've been wanting a new cookset.

6. I'm getting ready for a date!
She: Shower, freshened up, make up, do hair. Which clothes to wear, which clothes to wear. Ouch, is that a pimple—OhMyGodI’mgoingtodie!
He: Have I brushed my hair? Can’t remember…oh, well.

7. Do you fancy a cuddle in bed?
She: The perfect way to unwind for the day. Warm and safe with his arms wrapped around me, cuddled spoon-like while feeling dozy and dreamy.
He: SEX!

8. Let's cook a special dinner together.
She: Filet mignon, buttered roasted asparagus and al a grecque potatoes with tiramisu. Teasing and laughing together as we putter about in the kitchen and then gazing into each others eyes as we finish the meal with candle, champagne, and moonlight.
He: Charcoal, check! Lighting fluid, check! Baby back ribs and bbq sauce, check! Beer, check! Burgers and buns, check! More beer, check! Having her for desert, check!

9. You wanna go for a drive?
She: Ferrari convertible, top down, warm sun, hair blowing in the breeze while drifting past all the hobbledehoy with my new diamond earrings and matching necklace on show.
He: Well, there’s this new bar on the other side of town. High Def, plasma, fifty-two inch screen TV…

10. Let’s write each other a love letter.
She: Darling it was so wonderful last night with your arms around me as we sat and watched the stars and the sea. My heart leaps for joy at each special memory… And our kiss was so… Hugs and Kisses…
He: Hey Babe! It was fantastic last night. With you naked beneath me as I… and for tomorrow’s position we can try the… And the things we did with the beer…

11. Want to help me shop for lingerie?
She: Oh dear, do you think this bra is a little too tight. And the panties are so uncomfortable when they ride up my butt crack. It’s too expensive for stuff like this.
He: Oh S**T. Look at those tits and butt cheeks! Here’s the cash! Buy! Buy! Buy!

12. Let's read a book together in bed.
She: He can be my sexy werewolf hero seducing me with soft, warms words while I snuggle against him. Hmm I can breathe in his scent and languish in the strength of his arms wrapped around me.
He: Okay how about this one. Number 106 Lotus Blossom Parting for the Royal Prince…

13. Let’s go look at some art and stuff.
She: Holding hands walking through the museum and discussing the merits and downfalls of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Picasso.
He: "Com’n Candy take ‘em off!" What do you mean this isn’t art?

14. Let’s have a romantic dance at home.
She: Soft pop music, dimmed lights and the supple warmth of cheek to chest as we dance gently to the music and float around the floor in an aura of love, togetherness and peaceful happiness.
He: So why did we buy you that dancing pole if you’re not gonna strip?

15. Let’s have a romantic bath together.
She: Hmm, snuggled down in warm, sudsy water his arms wrapped around me while sharing thoughts and dreams. How wonderful!

Make sure you remember these phrases guys, for the sake of world peace, love and the prevention of bumps on heads from flying skillets.

Creator of PIACT and the PIACT undercover agent series.

When I was young I wanted to grow up--instead I became a Writer!
Whatever life may take from me, I'll always have my words and smile.
Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

Web Page : www.sjwilling.com

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26 March 2010

Much ado about nothing...

I'm struggling through book two of my paranormal series at the moment. Besides my own lack of confidence, life issues and plot-knots, there are other difficulties making it hard to write. One problem being that the hero of book three plays a small part in book two. He's a secondary now--one with major attitude--yet, while I'm working on this book, he's trying to dictate his story instead. I have a hard time writing two different projects at once. :\

(Men can be so difficult.)

My other problem is I have to figure out all the nuances of his character--and his talents/abilities, etc--so that they carry through from one story to the next. Personalities I can handle fairly well. Making up my own mythology isn't quite as easy. Plus, I have to make sure that whatever I write now is something I can live with for the long haul.

One particularly tricky aspect seems a bit...well, silly. But since the hero of book three is a shape-shifter, it is of utmost consequence to both him and the story itself. My conundrum is this: What to do with his clothes when he shifts?

The mere question brings to mind the old Incredible Hulk television show where the hero went through several shirts per episode. (Morphing muscles are hell on poly-cotton blends.)

Is that what I want for my hero? No, I can safely say I'd rather he have a modicum of control over his shifting. Much easier on the clothing budget--not to mention it adds to his innate heroic bent. Heroes must be in control. At least in some respects.

So then I have the option of him undressing every time he wants to morph. That could work. However, it also makes for other tricky and perhaps, funny, situations. Hmmmm, he really doesn't have a great sense of humor. Do I dare try it? Not sure. Also, he doesn't seem the type of man to take a moment and neatly fold everything into a small pile to be retrieved for future use.

I can also use another, less popular plot-device and have the clothing become part of his animal-persona. Yeah, I kind of like that one, except I wonder if it comes off as a cop-out?

I might even try the 'magical wardrobe' idea. However, that concept has been used by at least one of the more popular para-romance writers around. Would I seem like a copycat? :\

What to do? Any ideas? At the moment he's quite naked...and more than a little cold. ;)

25 March 2010

More than 13 RITA Winners

Each year the Romance Writers of America hold a contest to choose the "best" romances of the previous year in a number of categories. "Best" gets the air-quotes because RWA's judges don't choose the best from all books but from among the books that actually get entered. Regardless, the nominees are usually great examples of their subgenre.

The 2010 RITA calls are going out today, right now. As part of the excitement, I thought it would be fun to list past RITA winners from the Paranormal category, or whatever name it had at the time. Also, in other categories, I noticed books with paranormal elements. It was interesting to see how, as the years went by, paranormal offerings became more and more prevalent. The books that won, moreover, became more cross-genre. Some of the earlier paranormal winners had less involved worldbuilding and were certainly not the beginnings of series! With this small retrospective, we can kind of see a snapshot of how our paranormal reading material has changed through the years.

If you happen to know I missed a book with paranormal elements or included one that didn't have them, please let me know in the comments.

Best Paranormal Romance: Seducing Mr. Darcy by Gwyn Cready
Best Young Adult Romance: Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Best First Book: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Best First Book: Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey
Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Best Paranormal Romance: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Best Young Adult Romance: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Best Paranormal Romance: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

Best Paranormal Romance: Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

Best Paranormal Romance: Blue Moon by Lori Handeland
Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements: A.K.A. Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn

Best Paranormal Romance: Shades of Midnight by Linda Fallon

Best Paranormal Romance: Contact by Susan Grant

Best Paranormal Romance: Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens

Best Paranormal Romance: The Highlander's Touch by Karen Marie Moning

Best Paranormal Romance: Nell by Jeanette Baker

Best Paranormal Romance: The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll

Best Paranormal Romance: FireHawk by Justine Dare

Best Paranormal Romance: Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn Kurland (also best first book)

Best Paranormal Romance: The Covenant by Modean Moon

Best Paranormal Romance: Lord of the Storm by Justine Davis

Best Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance: Falling Angel by Anne Stuart

Best Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance: Emily’s Ghost by Antoinette Stokenberg

Best Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance: Angel for Hire by Justine Davis


Congratulations to all nominees and winners from the past and double congrats to this year's slate. Let me know if you need help picking a dress for the ceremony!

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

24 March 2010

Parenthood - There is no cheap Matinee

If anyone told me three years ago I'd be walking a tightrope with one of my children, I never would have believed them. I have a daughter who is now mere months away from her 20th birthday. She is an intelligent (A/B student in high school), sweet girl with a heart of gold. Everyone jokingly called her "smiley" or "giggles" but I don't see that in her very often these days. The cause? A relationship with a guy that worries me. Why couldn't she have gone to college or find a job with benefits and stability (starting a career) instead of the local pizza joint?

As adults, we've made our mistakes and have experienced things we wished we had the ability to go back in time and change. I have many. But, how do you get your kids to listen? Immature, controlling and a future that holds very little are traits this boy posses, and it scares the hell out of me they will go from "engaged" to "married". I find myself holding my tongue to keep from alienating my daughter.

On the other hand, there is my thirteen year old boy. He's the typical boy hooked on Xbox and plays online with his friends more than I agree with, but we're working on that. I give him slack because he does very well in school. In fact, he gets calls daily from friends about homework, which he plays off by complaining about in a gruff manner. I call him a "closet nerd" because he is so bright. Unfortunately, he lands himself on lunch detention daily because of his mouth. He claims freedom of speech, but I'm trying to get him to understand there is a time and place for his opinion. The classroom is not it. Of course my words go in one ear and out the other. He's portraying a typical teenage boy showing his plume of feathers.

My son has five more years of school ahead of him, and it worries me what the future will hold. Will he continue to keep the part of him, though small, that is considerate and helpful (at least when asked) or will he migrate fully to the dark side?

Ah, the perils of parenthood. Keeps life interesting, but I'd like not have so much entertainment.

20 March 2010

Spring Fever!

Just occurred to me – oh crap! It’s Saturday, I’m supposed to blog! Heh.

Blame it on spring fever.

Ah, spring. The time when bulbs are sprouting, young love is blooming, and the air is filled with the sweet perfume of...exhaust.

My husband is bringing the Harley home from its maintenance checkup this afternoon, and I can’t WAIT to get out and get some bugs in my teeth! Okay, not so much the bugs. I usually wear a bandanna over my lower face to keep my sensitive skin from turning beet red from windburn.

There’s something very Zen about being the Hot Babe On The Back. Um, okay. Just the Babe On The Back. All right, all right! Just On The Back!

We have a cruiser-type bike, which means the rear seat is cushy and wraps around my hips and lower back, so it’s easy to relax without fear of falling off. The only thing to worry about is smacking my helmeted head against the back of DH’s if he hits the brakes without warning. Yep, it’s happened.

The steady roar of the engine (okay, a hum – I wear ear plugs), the scenery rolling by, the sun warming my winter-cold carcass, classic rock on the radio. It takes a few minutes, but soon I feel myself draw a nice, deep breath as if I’m easing into meditation.

It’s amazing how many knotted-plot solutions come to me when I’m on the bike. Invariably I return refreshed and eager to get back to the keyboard.

I’m only one of many authors who’ve found a way to wrap a story around the shiny chrome of a motorcycle—and its bad-boy rider. Wildish Things combines two things I love dearly—Ireland and a Harley. Topped with a bad boy with a heart of gold, the story pretty much wrote itself.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I have a sexy man in black leather calling my name. Happy spring!

19 March 2010

Where Have All the Punks Gone?

The closing of CBCG signaled the end of an era for the modern punk. In a bitter irony, the old club space has been taken over by men’s fashion designer John Varvatos. Ouch.

But the spirit of the punk lives on, and not just in music. Punk was always about people making their own way, not depending on anyone to do it for them, and a rejection of the commercial. Sometimes that freedom expressed itself in violent, self-destructively anarchic ways, but some of the art and attitudes that sprang from the movement were also mind-blowingly inventive, displaying the DIY ethic that ran deep in Punk's veins.

Two current trends in genre fiction use the ‘punk’ suffix, but they couldn’t be further away from each other in many ways.

Cyberpunk hit the books long before Steampunk, so we’ll start there.

Cyberpunk is dark. There’s no getting around it. It’s the way the Punks of the 20th century – marginalized, alienated, dismissed and rejected – viewed the future. A future often run by corporations, rather than democratically elected governments. A future where we were in the final stages of killing off the Earth, where technology was power.

There’s no beautiful utopian vision of peace and prosperity in cyberpunk, where everyone is equal and no one needs money to get what they need.

No. Cyberpunk is deeply and insidiously dystopian. A future that is grim and gray and violent, ruled by rapacious greed. The protagonists of cyberpunk stories written by Philip K. Dick or William Gibson aren’t what we usually call “heroic” in romance terms, and the endings are rarely happy.

The unfortunately short-lived Shomi line from Kensington (Edit: Jeannie Lin says it was from Dorchester) featured futuristic, cyberpunk plots and settings, but it was difficult to pull off the HEA when each story started in such a dark place. Not that it couldn’t be done, but they weren’t often traditionally feel-good romances. In fact, the HEA element wasn’t even a requirement of the line, which displayed, in my opinion, a real understanding of how cyberpunk worked.

Steampunk, on the other hand, got its name from a play on words by author K.W. Jeter, who thought the Victorian fantasies that he and a few others were writing should have a name that focused on the use of technology, much as cyberpunk focused on it. Hence, the term “Steampunk” was born.

Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that many of the Punk attitudes and philosophies that inspired Cyberpunk weren’t truly evident in its historical counterpart.

And yet… and yet… The Victorian-inspired fantasies and science fiction often make commentary on history’s politics and policies. Slavery, imperialism, the power of the haves over the have-nots, religious, cultural and sexual attitudes are all touched on in Steampunk.

Putting a heroine in a bustle doesn’t make a story Steampunk any more than dressing a hero in a long leather duster makes him a Cyberpunk Neo.

The punk in both movements is deeply embedded in the world that writers build. The Punk ethos of tinkering and DIY is inherent in the way that Victorian technology progressed.

I think where the two sets diverge is primarily in their view of what comes next. The Victorians in general looked forward to a future of great technological advancement and upward mobility of all socio-economic classes, so their “futuristic” fiction was largely optimistic, much in the way that many of our current non-Punk futuristic writers envision the time to come. Not all fluffy bunnies and cotton candy clouds, of course, but a future in which we’re making our world better. Steampunk, then, is more readily optimistic, despite some of the grim literary offerings from William Gibson and others.

Steampunk literature also often tends to branch into the fantastic more easily than Cyberpunk. Victorian science wasn’t strictly opposed to the idea of alchemy or occultism, so adding magical elements to the technology of the day is less far-fetched than might otherwise be thought. After all, Clarke’s 3rd law states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

It’s my personal view that Steampunk is most moving, though, when it’s set in a fully realized world that has the same problems that the protagonists in Cyberpunk face. Political and commercial greed, abuse of power, marginalization of segments of society – problems that are sadly eternal, part of the human condition. When we face those issues, even in our feel-good literature, we can move people to forward progress.

The Ramones are dead, CBCG is gone, but the things that made Punk so powerful live on.

17 March 2010

Éire go Brách

Ireland Forever!
There's something special about Ireland. What is it about this island just off the northwest coast of Europe that makes so many hearts sing, so many souls dance?

It could be the whiskey; it has certainly been "inspiration" for generations.

Or is it the beauty of the island itself?

The richness of Ireland's history?

(Dunguaire Irish Castle)

It could be the Irish people themselves that fascinate us, with their reputation for a quick temper and a quicker laugh. It makes them fierce enemies, and passionate artists.

"I am a drinker with a writing problem."- Brendan Behan

Ireland sits at the very top of my "someday I'll visit there" list. I'm more than a bit envious of my baby sister; she's in the middle of her second trip there now. Lucky for me she'll have many fabulous stories (and hopefully pictures) to share when she gets home.

One day a year, on St. Patrick's Day, most of the world finds a reason to be Irish. Maybe it's an excuse to go out drinking (please, as a former bartender, I beg you to avoid the green beer). Maybe an excuse to get kissed? And who really needs an excuse for that.

As much as anything, I love that the Irish have a saying for everything. One of my favorites -

"A toast to your coffin. May it be made of 100 year old oak. And may we plant the tree together, tomorrow."

Whether you love the country for its beer, its beauty, its art, or its history, Happy St. Patrick's Day to you! I hope you are wearing a bit of the green today, even if only in your heart.


15 March 2010

Pardon the Repetition

(This was originally posted at the Samhain Blog two weeks ago or so. I'm reposting here because not all of our BtV readers read the the SB and because more and more of my friends on LJ and FB have fallen into the same boat the last few weeks. I wanted to offer this as a reminder to Make the Most With the Time You Have)

February 27th I clocked in, I worked my shift, I signed the confidentiality papers, I clocked out and—it was over. My company officially closed its doors the next day and I became a statistic of the recession. Everyone who heard about the company closing quickly offered their condolences and support. I felt touched, grateful and…guilty.

The first few hours of learning I would no long have a day job, (evil or otherwise), were rough. I had long term plans, including transferring out of state within the network next year. To go on a mini-vacation with not a care in the world on day and come back to know it was all gone five days later, well there are no words and too many of you don’t need words because you’ve lived some variation of it. Knowing the hardship others are experiencing is what makes me feel guilty.

After the first few hours I thought about all my works-in-progress and the sense of loss slowly transformed to a sense of excitement. The current average I’ve been quoted is three months to find a new job in the non-profit sector, for a town this size maybe six. Things will be tight, but doable and that means three to six months of writing full time while I search.

I was among the countless writers that lamented the writing hours lost to the Evil Day Job, (which by default is any job, not matter how rewarding, that is not writing full time). “Oh, if only I could spend the ten hours of work and travel-time writing I could get each WIP done and truly devote myself to my writing.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard and said some variation of numerous times. When we said it I’m sure we were all dreaming of lotto numbers and big advances that let us retire to write, but what we got was a struggling economy and the consequences of living in such. But time is time.

I spent a day writing up a new budget and figuring out ways to tighten our belt. I’ve spent weeks organizing open call deadlines, prioritizing WsIP, (or is WIP its own plural?), and clearing out my writing space. As January became February I was beside myself waiting for the end of the month. By February 23rd I was all but bouncing up and down as the days ticked by. Everyone around me grumbled, railed, ranted or wailed about the coming end while it took everything in me not to clap and holler the final week.

I wouldn’t have chosen this path to much needed writing time, but it’s the one laid out before me and so I’m going to walk it with a smile and enjoyment. We all have to make the most of the time we have while we have it. Goodness knows we need the money I was bringing in, but being depressed and angsty won’t put me back in the workforce a single day sooner. On the other hand, accepting this as exactly what I asked for—a chance to write full time—will get me well ahead on my project list and get more submissions out there for consideration where they belong.

If you’re a writer, every bit of time you get that you complain about is time you could be writing. Waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, during gridlock, picking kids up from practice, waiting to be called for jury duty, and even sudden “redistribution of personnel resources” are all chances to finish what you started or start what you’ve been talking about.

If you’re a reader I don’t have to tell you how to make the most of those times. What I will tell you is that every opportunity to pursue what you love is the right opportunity, even if it’s a stunning one you would have never chosen.

For those of you like me, I wish you the best, and I hope this change is one that reveals a chance for all you’ve ever dreamed about. For those of you still caught in the EDJ, congrats on the steady income, and good luck on taking advantage of every nook and cranny to pursue the dreams we often lose to the daily grind.

To everyone who’s ever wanted anything but thought there wasn’t time, there is. Good Hunting.



11 March 2010

Pinch me...

BLOOD AND DESTINY has launched on the world!

It's been a crazy week. The feedback has been kind, generous even. And I keep saying, "Pinch me."

Years ago, I swore I wouldn't write a book featuring a vampire as a primary character. I meant it with every fiber of my being. And when I introduced Marcus into the storyline, he wasn't intended to become the hero of the story. In fact, there wasn't a hero to the story at all.

He had other ideas. When I shared the opening chapter with my critique group, the Cookie Monsters, the general question was, "Does he know he's not a primary character?"

Marcus foiled every attempt I made to phase him into the background. He stubbornly refused to go away! After several revamps of the outline of the story to carry him forward a little bit further, I finally gave up and threw it out. If the blasted vampire wanted to be the hero of the story, then I was just going to have to let him.

Of course, it didn't help that Destiny was in love with the blasted blood-sucking playboy. Not that there isn't a lot to love about him, but it definitely interfered with my plans! And I couldn't be happier.

BLOOD AND DESTINY is close to my heart, not because it's my newest release, but because it is a story that wrote itself. I hope the readers enjoy it as much as I do.

Ohoh, before I skip off to share the blurb and buy link, let me metion that I am celebrating Destiny's release with a contest. The grand prize is a Sony Pocket Reader to be awarded on June 21st. Details can be found on the contest page of my website.

Now for the blurb: When the past bites, bite back.

Ladies of St. George, Book 1

For Destiny St. George, shapeshifting lioness and private investigator, her best friend’s looming wedding is little more than a reminder of her failed relationship with vampire king Marcus Smythe. Tired of being only one of many mistresses—and dinner entrees—she’s stayed away from the vampire scene altogether. Until a missing-person case forces her to seek his help.

Knowing that pressing Destiny is not the way to convince her to give their relationship another try, Marcus has been waiting her out—and his patience is rewarded when she steps into his nightclub. Now is his chance to lure her back into his arms. This time, he plans to keep her there.

Destiny’s not sure which is worse: working with Marcus, or trying to remember all the reasons she called it off with him. And when it becomes clear the case is an elaborate trap to avenge a millennia-old grudge, she finds herself caught between love and instinct—while the clock ticks down on an innocent victim’s life…

Product Warnings

Vampires determined to take more than a bite out of the heroine. A lioness sure that she’s going to have the last word.

Click HERE for the Buy Link.

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Great Fantasy Creatures

The great thing about writing Fantasy Art Templates, my new book from Barron’s Educational Series, is that it turned out to be more than just another how-to art book. By the time artist Rafi Adrian Zulkarnain and I were done, it had become a 21st century bestiary, a resource for writers and gamers and people who write for games, and (for me, at least) a research project to love.
So in honor of both the release and Thursday, here are thirteen of my new favorite creatures and a few samples of the book’s luscious artwork—not to mention the house I want to live in when I grow up.

Kelpie—Traveling along the rivers and lakes of Scotland, should you ever meet a handsome, tame, but unbridled black horse with water dripping from its mane, do not touch it! Chances are that it is a Kelpie, a carnivorous water horse with an adhesive hide. If you pet the Kelpie or, worse yet, try to ride it, you will be unable to tear yourself free when it plunges into the depths of its watery home.

Strigoi—Strigoi are shapeshifting revenants who rise from the dead to plague their former relatives, and commit mischief in the form of cats, bats, owls and other nocturnal animals. (The neat fact we had to cut for length: if a Strigoi manages to evade detection and destruction for seven years he or she can regain their humanity and have children, though they'll all become Strigoi when they die.)

Empusa—The daughter of Hecate, the goddess of sorcery, Empusa is by turns a vampiric seductress, a guardian of crossroads, and the devourer of travelers on the road after dark.

Gyges—Despite his fearsome appearance and fire-spewing belt, Gyges and his fellow Hecatonchires (“hundred-handed ones” in ancient Greek) helped humankind’s protector Zeus in his battle against the Titans.

Throne—Wheels within wheels ringed with eyes all around, the angels who supported the chariot in the prophet Ezekiel’s visions were Thrones, the engines of divine justice, which grinds slow but fine.

Kanya—A guardian of wells and streams, this princess of the Naga snake kingdom bestows material and spiritual wealth on those she favors.

Takshaka—Takshaka, the most feared of the three Naga snake kings, embodies all that is dangerous about snakes. He is the sworn enemy of Garuda, the mighty mythical bird upon who the Hindu god Vishnu rides.

Garuda—part man, part eagle, Garuda serves as the Hindu god Vishnu’s mount. This symbol of irresistible force is so large that a grown man could hide between its feathers.

Fenghuang—The Fenghuang was to the empress of China what the dragon was to the emperor –a symbol of strength, virtue and prosperity. Although called the Chinese phoenix, it had nothing to do with fire. Instead, its shape and plumage reflected the most beautiful characteristics of golden pheasants, mandarin ducks, cranes, parrots and peacocks. Ironically, most of these attributes belong to the male of the species, while the Fenghuang is usually considered female.

Leyak—In the folklore of Bali, Leyak is a midwife by day, but after darkness falls, she detaches her head and internal organs from her body to prey on new mothers and infants.

Yuki Onna—The pale, inhumanly beautiful Yuki Onna most often appears in snowstorms. She kills with her freezing breath and floats away without a trace, leaving not even a footprint in the snow.

Kitsune—Kitsune are magical foxes that enjoy human company and often assume our shape—like the Native American shapeshifting shaman Coyote. However, they don’t always remember to hide their bushy tails. In fox form, the relative strength of their elemental power is shown by the number of their tails, with nine tails signifying almost godlike power for good or ill.

Rokurokubi— At night, the seemingly human Rokurokubi gain the ability to stretch their necks and alter their faces. They use these tricks to frighten sleepers, drunks and other “unreliable” witnesses.

Jean Marie Ward

Images (c)Barron's Educational Series, 2010, reproduced with permission.

10 March 2010

Absent minded

Okay, so it's 9:30 am and I just now remembered I'm supposed to blog here today. Which is becoming a more frequent occurrance. Me forgetting things, not blogging here. A few weeks ago I finished copy edits on a freelance job (post-rewriting it). I finished it way before deadline, but then I completely FORGOT to turn it in! The person dropped me a reminder email, thank goodness, or else I probably never would have remembered.

I am increasingly absent minded, and I think it's just because there's more stuff crowded in there. Boy's schedule, vacation, WIP, work, appearance schedules, and the myriad of grad school projects I have to finish. Thank goodness we haven't started editing my next book yet too, or my brain might explode.

Is this a sign of getting older or just busier? I used to be able to remember EVERYTHING. Now, if I don't write it down, it's just as likely to fall into the Bottomless Pit of my brain, from which Nothing Shall Ever Return. I'm lucky I have extensive notes on my WIP, or else in Chapter 13 aliens might land in the middle of 19th century Philadelphia.

I could seriously use an assistant, but I'm terrified I might lose them.

Maybe this is a side effect of the internet. Or some viscious plot by my cats, whereby I eventually lose the ability to remember anything except to feed them. I don't know. I just know that if it continues in this way, eventually I'm going to forget something really important, like...what's that thing you do, where you put food in your mouth? Yeah, that, for my son. Fortunately he's old enough that he can do that himself, so I don't worry too much.

For now, I'm going back to writing...wait, what am I doing here? Who are you people?

08 March 2010

Happy Samhain Birthday to Me

This month marks the one year anniversary of my first book release: SOUL STEALER.

So I brought cake! Help yourself to a virtual slice.

Thinking back on that day gives me happy chills...

"The Call" from my editor was really an email from Deborah Nemeth. I must have read that letter three times before the news actually sunk in--my first book was going to be published!

I squealed, clutched my heart, and hit my knees. As I thanked God for this amazing miracle, I sobbed. Sobbed, not cried. I had been a caterpillar stuck inside my cocoon for so long, learning, growing, trying my darndest to become a published butterfly. And now it was finally going to happen!

I called my husband. His phone was busy, so I called my parents. Dad answered and, realizing that I had not just been shot, or robbed, or molested, but was in fact crying happy tears, handed the phone to Mom. Mom, of course, cried too. After sharing my news with thrilled hubby, sister, and friends, I wondered what to do next. I stepped outside and to my utter surprise, found one of those big helium balloons stuck in my front lawn. Turning it over, I smiled. It was a Happy Birthday balloon, dropped from the heavens.

Happy birthday, indeed.

How about you? Do you have any good first-time-published stories to share?

Kimberley Troutte

06 March 2010

Family: The Good, the Bad, and the Chosen

Families can be wonderful. Members of your family can come to your rescue in a crisis, or hold your hand when there’s a loss. Maybe you count on your sister to cheer you up when you’re down, or your brother to help you move. Again. Or your cousin to help when your sink explodes water all over your bathroom. Maybe your family is wonderful, close, warm, there for you whenever you want or need them — or even if you don’t.

Mine isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong I love my biological family, but there are only a few I can count on and truly enjoy spending time with. On the other hand, I recently realized I’d been calling a male friend “my brother” and a close female friend I was calling “my sister” and it hit me: I was creating my own family.

The benefit of a chosen family is that, well, they’re chosen. You pick people with whom you feel comfortable, people who understand your quirks, your days of madness, your obsession with creatures of myth and legend. Chosen family members have things in common with you beyond DNA (or adoption papers). These people can be whoever you want in your life. And the terms of relationship is between you and the chosen one.

Let me make clear that having a chosen family doesn’t lessen the position of your “real” one. One of my daughters and I are very close, and my grandchildren are the sunshine that peeks through the dark curtains of a busy life and the depression that sometimes comes with it.

Besides, even if you like and get along with your family, you still might like an extra cousin — in case of bathroom flooding.

Have a great weekend!


05 March 2010

Paranormal Experiences of Overactive Imagination?

Not too long ago, I was at my desk tooling around Facebook when I heard the screen door open. I expected someone to open the main door or knock...nothing.

I got out of my chair and opened the door. No one stood on the other side, so I stepped out onto the deck and checked the driveway. No car was parked, nor was one in the process of traveling down my driveway.

Figuring my imagination was playing tricks on me, I return to the house and chatted with friends on the internet.

About five minutes later, the door handle to the side door rattled.

Again, I expected someone to open that door. And, once again, no one emerged. I opened the door. Nothing greeted me but the cold. I even walked through the garage and checked the checked the driveway again.

More than just a little freaked, I hightailed it back into the house.


One night my husband and I were watching television when the answering machine suddenly voicing the day and time when normally pressing a certain button is required to activate the function.

To make the event even more interesting was the fact the evening had followed a visit from my brother and his girlfriend. They'd told us of several recent happenings in their apartment.

To this day I believe they'd brought whomever or whatever with them.

This is but two of many strange happenings I could tell. I'm sure many of you out there had similar stories. Have you experienced things you can't explain?


04 March 2010

New In Print from BtV Authors!

Click on the images to find out more! Congratulations, ladies! (And hey, did you guys consult with each other on the one-word titles? [grin])

03 March 2010

Obsession Now Available in Paperback!

Happy March, everyone! I'm very excited to announce that Obsession, my romantic suspense, is now available in paperback.

eCataromance gave Obsession 5 stars, stating, "Another great book in Ms. Cullen's Love on the Edge series." The Long and the Short Reviews called it, "a winner on all counts".


A killer’s obsession could destroy their second chance for love.

Only a year ago, Officer Alex Juran and his wife Tess had it all. Love, a solid marriage and a baby on the way. Then in one heartbeat they lost everything.

Now, Tess is doing her best to move on. She has a thriving business and while she may be lonely at times, she’s proud of the new life she’s built without Alex.

Two days before their divorce is final, Alex is shot in the line of duty and left for dead. He faces a difficult recovery so Tess finds herself postponing the divorce and offering to care for him until he can live alone again.

At first, cohabitation is little more than combat. Alex’s incapacitating injuries, the looming divorce, and his inability to remember who shot him have him lashing out at the nearest target: Tess. When someone begins stalking her, he suspects his shooter has returned. Convinced that Tess is in danger, Alex becomes desperate to recover his strength.

Because no matter how much she’s hurt him in the past, they’ve been given a second chance—and he’ll do anything to protect his wife.

Read more