28 November 2014

Chaos killed ... and resurrected ... the muse

For the past three months -- or maybe longer -- I've felt as though my head is spinning. Chaos tends to be a great mental-wall builder; not such a good story builder.

That is, until after the chaos subsides. Just a bit. Just enough for me to string more than one thought together at a time. At that point, chaos can help me build characters...even worlds...and everything that happens within. Life inspires me with all its little twists and turns; highs and lows. Putting those emotions evoked and experiences lived into words is what makes me a writer. Practice, as in anything, is what makes me better and better.

Sometimes the chaos also breathes new life into my imagination and my stable of characters. For instance, I am probably the furthest thing from my heroine in One Little Slip. I do not wear sky-high heels and I rarely have the confidence to be bitchy to anyone ... well, except my family. ;) But I learn from frustration. I feel the same sort of pent-up rage at unfairness. I've worn three-inch heels in the past and watch other women as they deftly walk in the amazing shoes so popular today. And then, I manage to create a character so unlike myself that I previously would have thought it impossible. But hopefully she's one to whom others can relate. Throw in a ghost or two and a sexy hero, then you have yourself a nice little novella with a paranormal twist.

Chaos, then, is a good thing. It makes you feel alive. It makes you appreciate the mundane. And it can make you a better human being -- even a better artist.

Need a break from your own holiday chaos? Then join us on a small, secluded island for a little bit of weirdness and a lot of romance.

My contribution to this lovely anthology was both fun and difficult to write. But I really enjoyed the challenge. :)

One Little Slip
(c)2014 Meg Allison
It’s a recipe for disaster…
Combine a haunted house in paradise, one injured warrior, and a woman hell-bent on standing on her own four-inch heels.
Fiona Reid expected to spend her free vacation at a five-star resort, not in a dilapidated plantation house straight out of the nineteenth century. She certainly didn’t expect the forced close company of one handsome and slightly infuriating security agent.
Julio Alvarez needs to let his wounds heal, and get back to his familiar life. The last thing he needs is a prickly brunette in killer shoes and ghosts that do his bidding.
Meg Allison

24 November 2014

Alpha World Building?

It's no secret that I enjoy sharing what I've learned in the past decade and more of being a published author. I speak a few times a year at various conferences and to writers groups about different things. My local chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) asked me to talk again this year, and I happily agreed. I asked what topic they preferred and was hit immediately by one enthusiastic member's response: "World building!"

Okay. I can do that. I've built enough complicated worlds between my different sci fi series and my medieval-ish Dragon Knights epic fantasy world. I'm cool with that. But then the person who puts the programs together seemed to think that topic had too narrow an appeal. It seems the idea was floated that most of the membership isn't writing sci fi or fantasy. (Although world building can apply to EVERY setting, the misconception is that it only applies to SF&F.)

An alternative idea was suggested. They wanted to hear about how I create Alpha heroes. I write lots of paranormal, so many of my Alphas actually have animal traits, but I also tend to create non-magical/non-shifter Alphas, so I'm cool with that topic as well.

But perhaps out of perversity, I wanted to do both. I didn't want to disappoint that highly enthusiastic chapter member who wanted to hear about world building and I definitely want this session to appeal to everyone, so I created a mash-up. How does this sound?:

Building a World with Alpha Hero Archetypes - Presentation by Bianca D'Arc

Whether you’re building an epic fantasy world or a contemporary world where suspension of disbelief is essential to reader enjoyment (yes, that billionaire just happens to live next door), certain considerations are essential. We’ll explore the nuts and bolts of how to bring it all together while also looking at some of the popular Alpha hero traits that seem to dominate (no pun intended) romantic fiction today.

That's the blurb for the talk I'm giving in January to the Long Island Chapter of RWA. I think it worked out pretty well judging by my 3-page outline, but I guess we'll see how it goes when I do it live for the first time. Wish me luck! (And please feel free to offer suggestions in the comments.) ;-)

Meanwhile, I'm working on my next book - the last of my Arcana series - King of Stars, which will release in December.

I've been writing up a storm and a number of things have come out recently, including a new paranormal ménage - Her Warriors - and the prequel to that book - Jacob's Ladder. They came out in November and October, respectively. If you haven't seen them yet, take a look!

23 November 2014

Me, She, He, I

Most fiction is written in third person: he, she, they, etc. The other way to go is first person: I, me, we, etc. Most people like third person, some dislike first, and some won’t even read a story in first person. Personally, it’s the story that interests me. The pronouns are just part of the package.

I’d always written fiction in third person. I never really thought about it. That’s just the way it was done. I wrote short stories, novellas, and novels in third person. I never really gave it a second thought. Until I wrote The Ugly Truth. 

When I started writing The Ugly Truth, I used third person as usual. After months of rewrites,  and hair pulling it just wasn’t coming together. Then I realized the best thing I’d written was my heroine’s journal. So, felling I had nothing to lose, I started writing the book from  Stephie’s point of view. Suddenly everything worked. It wasn’t easy writing a romance from only one point of view, but I sure was fun. In fact, it was so much fun that I wrote a sequel, Secrets of Ugly Creek. There might even be another Ugly Creek book or two. What can I say, Ugly Creek is a fun place to visit.

And Stephie agrees.

Do you read stories written in first person? Write stories in first person? What do you like—or dislike—about first person?

Have a great week!

Twitter: @cheryelhutton

20 November 2014


It's November.  That means it's National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.  This year, I decided to up the ante by volunteering as a Municipal Liaison for my region, Chicago - otherwise known as ChiWriMo.  Here's what I've learned so far:

  1. I have an awesome NaNo ML Mentor (NaNoWriMo Municpal Liaison, in case you don't speak alphabet soup).  Since it's my first year ML-ing, he's my big bruddah and is showing me the ropes.  BIG shout out to Owen!
  2. When speaking to your new NaNo ML, and when deciding off-the-cuff to challenge him and his whole region to a word war, MAKE SURE THAT HIS REGION HASN'T BEEN UNDEFEATED IN EVERY WORD WAR THEY'VE WAGED.  Sun-Tzu would be so disappointed in me.
  3. On the other hand, roundly getting our asses handed to us has helped spur ChiWrimos on to greater and greater heights of wordly prestidigitation.
  4. BTW, Google says prestidigitation means "magic tricks performed as entertainment".
  5. There are a LOT of cats on the internet.  They are cute.  They are distracting.  One must ignore them if one expects to make one's word count.
  6. Facebook is evil and will eat large swaths of your day if you let it.
  7. But, there are cats on Facebook.
  8. And therein lies the problem:  you can have cats, or you can have NaNo.  Making your word count is better than lots of cats but no word count.  So use the cats as a reward for word count.
What about you?  Do you NaNo?  
If so, what are you looking forward to, come December 1st?  
If not, why not?  Jump in, the water's fine!


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

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16 November 2014

Sunday Six: Pictures of World Fantasy Con 2014

It may not look like much, but that little red thumb drive ate my whole summer and much of my fall. My contribution to this year's World Fantasy Con, held November 5-9 at the Hyatt in Crystal City, Virginia, was to format five of the six volumes of Unconventional Fantasy, an anthology celebrating forty years of World Fantasy Conventions contained on that thumb drive. In addition to the catalog of the con's Virgil Finlay art exhibit (which, fortunately, I did NOT have to format) the collection encompassed over two hundred stories and articles by people like Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, Joyce Carol Oates and our writing Guest of Honor Guy Gavriel Kay, plus roughly three hundred paintings and photographs. The complete collection comprised over 900,000 words and 3,200 pages.

The con only produced enough thumb drives to supply one ach to con members. But if the project is nominated for any Major Awards (hint, hint) they plan to make it available to eligible Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award voters. (Buy those memberships now, folks. :-) )

Fortunately, there was alcohol at the end of the formatting tunnel. Lots of it. They don't call it "Bar Con" for nothing. The good times started November 5 with a scotch tasting hosted by WFC 2014 Writer Guest of Honor Guy Gavriel Kay (left) and Toastmaster Mary Robinette Kowal (right). I knew the scotch would be grand. What surprised me was I found an Islay scotch I really liked: Highland Park. It doesn't smell anything like moldy bandages! (User dodges rotten fruit hurled by the scotch fans on the blog.) Well, it's true!

There were also workshops led by some of the most honored names in the business. Jack Dann (right), author of The Memory Cathedral (about DaVinci) and The Rebel (which imagines the life of a James Dean who didn't die on Highway 1), led a November 6 workshop on alternate history featuring (from left to right) Joe Haldeman, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Janeen Webb.

Opening ceremonies November 6 featured World War I re-enactors reading "In Flanders Field" in honor of the centenary of "The War to End All Wars" and mini movie describing the wonders of that little red thumb drive. (I'm trying to persuade the con chairs to put it on You Tube. I'm proud of that blasted drive.)  Mary Robinette Kowal (seen at left dressed in a 1911-style gown) performed with her usual style. Afterwards, the con's honorees gathered for photos. Of the ones I took, I like this one best. From left to right: Mary (Toastmaster), 2014 World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Winners Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Ellen Datlow, and Writer Guest of Honor Guy Gavriel Kay.

What would a con be without panels? Here Michelle Markey Butler (left), Scott H. Andrews, (center) and Elaine Isaak (who also writes as E.C. Ambrose) discuss "Guns, Gears and Wheels: Medieval Technology in Fantasy". I chose this picture to give you an idea of how well the panels were attended. Look at the crowd in that mirror!

For my sixth shot, I decided to give a shout-out to one of my favorite editors, Joshua Palmatier, seen here second from the right. In addition to being a talented writer under his own name and his pseudonym Benjamin Tate, Joshua has co-edited both The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity and Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens. Here he finds himself on a panel entitled "Place Matters: Geography and Fantasy". His fellow panelists are (from left to right): Max Gladstone, Robert V.S. Redick, Marie Brennan, Gregory A. Wilson and Siobhan Carroll.

All told, I had a grand time at the con. I saw good friends. I participated on and attended great panels. I ate well. I drank really well. The only fly in the ointment: guess who lost her thumb drive. Don't it figure. LOL

13 November 2014

Making Believable Fiction Out of Reality

My yard after the freak October snowstorm. That's our swingset under there.
One of the final copy edit notes I received back this month for the upcoming Phoenix Inheritance was that the near-deadly snowstorm that opens the book is wrong.

The copy editor, bless her, thought more snow should be present, especially in the aftermath.

Here's the problem: the snowstorm in the book is an exact replica of one I'd suffered through three years ago, a rare Halloween storm that hit when all the leaves were still on the trees. This led to trees coming down all over the place in New England, including four around my house. Luckily, none on my house but I was awake that whole night listening to cracking and falling branches.

The aftermath was worse. My yard looked like a disaster area. So many branches littered my half-acre lot that we couldn't walk around. Four trees had completely fallen and the top of one was just six inches from the back of my house.

We lost power for eleven days. In New England. In November. It was nightmarish, as the damage was all around.

In Phoenix Inheritance, I'd taken care to point out the problem wasn't the snow. Six inches is not that big a deal. Even in New Jersey, it'll only halt life for half a day. No, the problem was that the weight of the snow brought down the trees.

But, still, the copy editor was right: just because I put something real into my story, it didn't make it believable. As the saying goes, fiction isn't real life. Fiction has to make sense.

Readers can accept all sorts of crazy premises so long as they're believable. The last Phoenix Institute novel, Ghost Phoenix,  contains a Court of Immortals and a woman who can walk through walls.
Not to mention that the hero, Richard Genet, is one of the Lost Princes in the Tower thought killed by Richard III, as in the famous "my kingdom for a horse" Shakespeare play.

I've never had a complaint from a reader or a copy editor about these impossible elements. That's because all readers (myself included) will buy into a premise, just so long as its fictionally supported. My immortals, including Prince Richard, have lived so long because they use an inner telekinetic power to heal their bodies. My heroine, Marian Doyle, walks through walls using a telekinetic ability to confront the molecules of her own body. It's fiction but it makes sense in the story context.

A snowstorm where only six inches of snow caused the damage I described in the book? Not so much.

That's because even in real life, it was a freak storm. I probably wouldn't have believed that amount of snow could have caused that amount of destruction if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

I went back and tweaked those chapters about the snowstorm for those who hadn't been through my experience.

To make sure it made sense. :)

Corrina Lawson (www.corrina-lawson.com) is the author of the Phoenix Institute superhero romance series and the steampunk romantic mystery, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract. She lives in New England. :)

10 November 2014

SEALs of Winter Count Down

Holy hot tamales!

Eight days until the SEALs of Winter Military Superbundle hits the digital stores. I am soooo excited. This is the follow up to the NY Times Bestselling SEALs of Summer.


Nine brand new Navy SEAL romance heroes from NYT and USA Today bestselling authors: Cora Seton, Elle Kennedy, Jennifer Lowery, Elle James, Anne Marsh, S.M. Butler, Delilah Devlin, Zoe York, and ME--Kimberley Troutte. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing group.

For you lovely readers, I am going to give you a sneak peak at my book in the set, UNDER THE RADAR.

First, here's the cover:

Ahh, that Ty Whitehorse is a looker, isn't he?

Here's an excerpt:

A deep rumble started inside Ty’s impossibly muscled chest. The sound made Holly weak and strong at the same time. As if she was the one in charge for the first time in her life. Who knew a kiss could be like this? She pulled back and ran her hands over his stubbled cheeks to his square jaw. He watched her, not moving, letting her experiment, feel him. Goodness, she wished she could take his shirt off. Did she dare? Slowly, she dragged her fingers over his sinewy neck, across his collarbones, around the largest pecs she’d ever seen, and skimmed the best abs on the planet. Oh yeah, she dared.

Taking hold of the edge of his shirt, she lifted. He was far too tall to get the tee over his head. He ducked down so she could get the task done. Then she gaped.

He was beautiful. Rugged. Chiseled. Each muscle was defined as if he was a sculpture of a Native American god. He was not soft anywhere—she looked down. Yep, he was super hard there, too. Ohhh, she wanted to touch. She didn’t dare reach down and take him in her hand, well, by the swell in his camouflage pants, she’d need two hands. The idea thrilled her. She traced a scar beneath his sternum. What caused it? There was another scar near his perfect innie belly button. She pressed her middle finger to it. It reminded her of a bullet wound. It was probably something silly, like a pebble stuck there when he was a kid and fell off his bike.

“Lots of scars.”

“Hazards of the job,” he said.

“Yes, I hear being a SEAL is dangerous,” she joked.


Whatever. She didn’t really care what sort of work he did in real life. It bothered her, though, that he wouldn’t tell her the truth after she’d told him about her scary past. Well, at least some of the details. She couldn’t tell him everything. Ronald was dangerous.

“Your Navy SEAL job. In Alaska?” She prodded, giving him the opportunity to come clean.


Really. How stupid did he think she was? Where was his ship? His team? She trusted him, why didn’t he trust her? What could be so bad about his job he needed to lie about it?

He cared for her, treated her with respect and with kindness. He actually listened to her pitiful history and didn’t judge. He was perfect, except for that tiny flaw. Unfortunately, lying was a deal breaker.

She patted Ty’s exquisite stomach. “Well. I guess that’s that.” She sighed and stepped away from the way too beautiful man. “I want you, Ty. Everything on me, in me, is screaming for you. If things were different, I’d unzip those camo pants and have my way with you. Right here, right now.” She smiled. “Wow, I’ve never said anything like that out loud.”

Why was he staring at her like that? He could say…something.

“You make me feel sexy. Brave. And so free. It’s like I am coming alive.” She squeezed his bicep and felt another zing of arousal. Mistake. No touching. She dropped her hand to her side.

“But…?” he growled.

“But you have to see this will never work. I can’t be with a man like you.” She turned her back on him.

He cupped her elbow and gently pulled her back. That was just another thing she liked about him—he didn’t yank her around.

“A man like me?” His blue eyes were swirling with green and golden confusion.

“Right. You must have your reasons, but I can’t sleep with anyone who isn’t honest with me. I’ve come too far to go right back—”

Static came through his radio followed by a loud voice filled the cabin. “Are you a**holes there? Pick up.”

Ty held perfectly still. There was no answer, only more static on the radio.

The voice boomed, “You SOBs were supposed to radio in. Did you find anything at the crash site, or not? Over.”

Ty released her arm and ran to pick up the radio.

She followed him, walking carefully on her sore toes. “Crash site! I was there. I saw the helicopter go down, Ty. It scared the moose out of the bushes. Do you want me to talk to that guy?”

He gave her a short shake of his head, but his attention was riveted to the radio. He turned the volume up. His nostrils flared and his body seemed to be on full alert. What was going on?

“If I don’t hear from you pronto, I’ll personally hunt you down after the blizzard and put a bullet in your heads. Over.”

One more ripple of static went through the radio, and then it went dead.

Ty was breathing heavily, like a man trying not to hit something. Holly gripped his arm. “Who was that?”

He faced her. The muscles in his jaw were flexing. His nostrils still flared. Wow, he looked p.o.’d. But she didn’t take a step back or go lock herself in the bathroom. Ronald would’ve taken his issues—whatever they were—out on her. Ty was not Ronald.

As if to prove her point, he reached out and touched her hair, letting the long strands run through his fingers. “That was Milton Crow. A terrorist wanted by the Navy. He’s the reason I’m here.”

“A terrorist? That means…” She covered her mouth. “You really are a SEAL?”
Thanks for reading!
Kimberley Troutte
Website: www.kimberleytroutte.com