Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Magic of the New Atlantis Trilogy

Hi everyone, my American Title IV entry, MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS, is due to release sometime soon from Siren-BookStrand. The edits are complete and I'm waiting on cover art, we'll see...and yes, there's a part of me that's all a-tingly, as if I'm soaking in champagne. This story, as some of you know, is a pure labor of love and feels like a matter of destiny. That doesn't mean it will sell like those proverbial hot cakes. Although, an author can always dream ~ which I'm particularly good at, that is, daydreaming about good things.
What is also true, is that there are two more novels in my continuing series, titled the New Atlantis Trilogy. The second one, as yet untitled, is half written with the rest of the story outlined in a haphazard way which allows for me remaining a pantser sort of writer.
The following is a scene I wrote a couple of days past, specifically with a New Year's theme. Zryphus manages to take Kalypso to his homeworld, a tradition of his culture he honors.

Embrace of the Sun... New Year’s Day on Ozympia

A scene from The New Atlantis Trilogy after MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS ~

“If every grain of sand were crystal and pearl,” Kalypso murmured about the expanse of beach below her. Awe rose inside her as the Ozympian sun, a blazing white disc, rose above the oddly rippling ocean. Zryphus had explained leviathan beasts of every shape and size inhabited his homeworld’s seas, causing the great rows of waves.
As if to keep herself stable, Kalypso reached out for the top railing around the immense u-shaped deck. The deck extended beyond the cliff, but began at the main hearth room, as it was called, of Zryphus’ parents home, one of three. Even though she was still furious at his deception in bringing her to Ozympia, the wonders she’d seen and experienced would live inside her forever.
“As you tried to live inside me forever...last night.” She spoke as she heard him near her. Frowning, she crossed her arms, refusing to turn around.
“My wildcat woman,” he praised, using the same tone he’d used during the night after one of their wrestling-fierce lovemaking sessions. She’d been all over him, as fierce as a lioness.
Kalypso shook her loose hair, feeling the long length flow around her bare arms, then lift in the brisk whirling breezes.
“It’s a New Year’s tradition here, living inside you forever, Sheriff Gorgeous.” Enfolding her in his arms from behind, he nuzzled the rim of her ear, sending a frisson of pleasure down to her toes. “The longer we embrace in union, the longer the sun embraces the world with its resurrecting light.”
“Yes, the Embrace of the your parents explained it. No doubt, we’ve saved Ozympia for an eternity,” she drily cut.
“No doubt,” he agreed, hugging her closer.
Kalypso wound her arms around his, then caressed his forearm. How could she help it? The beast lout had made her fall, at least, half in love with him. And with New Atlantis safe, for now, she could sort of forgive him. Besides, he never took ‘no’ for her final answer. Which was why her next words were, most likely, utterly stupidly foolish. “I don’t care what your Zerculeon tradition is, we are not married.”
“Kalypso, my woman.”
She heard his heart pour from his voice, then shine around her, the same way the rising sun spread its diamond heart light, embracing the navy blue ocean, and seeking to embrace the land.
“It is truly beautiful here, your world and your home.” With her next thought, she asked, “Why would you want to leave?”
“More beautiful than New Atlantis?” he teased, rocking her tenderly.
“No. Different. Everything is larger, a greater grandeur.”
“New Atlantis is greener. As if emeralds live everywhere.”
“Mmmm...lovely description. And true. Still, you didn’t answer my question.”
“A world may be one of majestic grandeur, but without a woman it cannot be home to a man. Not a Zerculeon man.”
Kalypso heard him with her soul because he spoke from his soul. She leaned back into an embrace of the sun. Him.

May your most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Kalypso & Zryphus invite you to read their love story ~
MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS ~ 2051 mystery-suspense futuristic ~ American Title IV finalist ~ coming from Siren-BookStrand ~ ~

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Magic of a Winter in Blue


Hi everyone, 2009 is considered to be the Year of Two in the world of numerology. The number TWO is love, companionship ~ this year is about couples coming together to care for each other and to love each other from their hearts and souls. This year is all about romance in all its many-splendored expressions.
This is also a time to join forces with each other to achieve our life dreams, as we are all doing today. Working together, during this year, will bring about the most satisfaction and success.

Since my OtherRealm, erotic romance novella *** ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE *** does not celebrate the holidays as we do here, I thought I’d write a winter courtship scene ten years prior to when the story begins. Yes, it’s all about romance in it’s purest form as Sher and Zag fall in love.

The World of the Blue Pearl Moon–A world of lush erotic decadence, where the fiercest passions between a woman and a man need never be denied. A world of potent seductive arts, where every appetite is served in the salons and the lavish entertainments. A world of wicked and resplendent pleasures, where the love between a man and a woman is a sensual lusty affair, soaring up to the radiant blue vault of sky.

Winter in Blue

The Courtship of Sher and Zag ~
A prequel scene to ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE ~

He rode beside her, Zag, the Baron, astride one of his winter steeds, a silvery gray stallion of majestic stature. Lady Sheridan glowed, a giddy excitement. Her heart winged toward him, the flight of a dove toward its mate. For a moment she closed her eyes, and hoped with all her being that his heart soared toward her. He’d spoken so. Just two days past. Two days of dreaming about him night and day. Of walking on a floor of air as she remembered the emerald smolder of his eyes only for her, as she remembered the fierce passion of his features before he had sealed her lips with a kiss that had been a silken blaze of pleasure over every inch of her flesh.
Goddess of the Blue Flame, she recalled his every word of love.
For two days now, she told herself to stop acting like a lust-wild virgin beneath the full blue pearl moon.
Yet, did she dare hope? Given his stud-formidable reputation with women, lots of women, could she afford to give her heart? His erotic talents and trysts were well-known throughout the kingdom. Still, in truth, she’d heard no woman claim his love as hers.
Shades of pale blue shimmered, a glaze over the deep blanket of snow on the mountain plateau, where she often trained her horses for competition. The cold air of winter only tickled her nose as bluefire raced through her veins. She listened to the snow-crunch of their horses’ hooves echo softly as they sedately traveled the scenic path. Blue-sky wishes, she wished her heart would quit fluttering, a fast-winging bird in her chest.
The frigid stillness around them, seemed as companionable as the silence between them now. She’d swiftly discovered being with him didn’t require the silly art of playing coy, of always engaging his attention.
“Sher.” His purring tone, so like a golden cougar, warmed her skin to honey. Clasping her gloved hand in his, he brought them to a halt. “Mother is throwing one of her extravagant balls for Father’s top business associates. Would you attend with me?”
His formal tone soared her insides, yet shattered her composure. This invitation to the Baroness’s high profile event was a step toward becoming engaged.
“Yes.” The icy mist of her breath met the mist of his.
“Sher, you have become my heart.”
Subtly, he squeezed her hand, his gaze a glisten of fire. Lifting her hand beneath his lips, he caught the edge of her glove with his teeth. Almost fiercely, he tugged, exposing a sliver of bare skin. With one kiss, soft yet completely potent, he seduced the underside of her wrist.
Spinning inside, she leaned toward him. Their lips collided in a searing kiss. As he claimed her mouth with a ferocity that pleased her, she moaned, inviting the play of his tongue. They dueled passionately, the swordplay of pleasure only interrupted when his stallion became impatient.
“I shall teach him better manners.” His grin wickedly teased her.

May your most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Now featured at my blog ~ ~ is HAPPY NEW YEAR... on another Earth ~ a Serial Flash in Two Hundred ~

A Happy New Year of Blue....
Lady Sheridan & Baron Zaggry invite you to read their love story ~
ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE ~ an aristocratic fantasy of fiercest passion ~ *5 Stars* from ReviewYourBook ~ available from Siren Publishing ~ ~
An Author Discovery by Lindsay Townsend ~ ~

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Magic of Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer

"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You could even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names;
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history."

Okay, I’ll admit it. As a wittle kid I loved Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer ~ ever since I heard the song, whether it was Gene Autry or Burl Ives singing, I don’t know. I know it was probably before kindergarten. And, gee, was I ever enchanted the first time I saw the animated version. I could hardly wait for the next holiday season of TV. Rudolph, Santa, the North Pole, all of it seemed so real to me, I could hardly believe it wasn’t.
Ah, the pains of growing up. But, we won’t go there. Not the painful part, that is...

But, okay, I did grow up and developed a sex-rated side to my personality.
When I originally wrote the following scene, I had no clue whatsoever it would turn out as it did...I just let my heroine and hero...well, be themselves...

The Naughty Version of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Ever wonder just how sexually naughty a carnal cherub can be?
Be warned, this ain’t one of those adorable little cherubs decorating holiday cards and gift items.
The original order of Cherubim were fierce warriors for the Divine. Carnal cherubs have been created to live in both the celestial and material realms. They serve the Divine as warriors, carrying out missions for the Good of All.

Holiday excerpt from WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS ~

“The diner looks like an early sixties place, even the Christmas decorations. All we need is snowfall.” Sedona dismounted, took off her helmet, and glanced outside. She saw no one.
“Underground walkways,” Volcano explained. ”This way, foxy lady.”
He offered his hand, grinned so adorably his angel woman didn’t refuse. She grasped his hand, trusted his lead. A priceless gift to his heart, his heart for her.
A side panel opened. He lead her down a short flight of stairs, then up a short flight into the diner.
“Looks as advertised,” she whispered to his ear. Only the people, about thirty of them, were eclectic, except for the flannel shirts and the ubiquitous denims. And the smiling faces. Sedona hadn’t seen smiles like that in forever. She couldn’t help smiling inside.
“Volcano!” a distinguished male voice hailed.
“Don’t be surprised. He likes to play Santa.” Volcano held out his hand.
“Eldridge,” he greeted boisterously.
Sure enough, Eldridge was Santa sans the pot belly, and sans the elderly age.
“And what do you want for Christmas, angel Sedona?” Elridge jovial asked, his dark blue eyes gleaming.
“The dismantling and destruction of the New World Order,” she promptly answered.
“On Santa’s list. How about a candy cane in our north pole hot chocolate?”
“Is my name and hot chocolate craving transmitted on some celestial channel?” Sedona smiled only because he was so Santa charming.
“Santa knows all. Sees all. Mostly, Santa isn’t a voyeur,” he happily assured, gave Volcano a knowing wink.
“I don’t get to sit on Santa’s lap, do I?” Sedona naughty swiped at Volcano, squeezed his hand.
“My lap,” he possessed. Sitting down in the booth, he grabbed her onto his lap.
“Oooh, Santa, he’s such a brute with me.” Sedona clung to Volcano’s neck, raised her shoulders, then wiggled, just a little. “My goodness, I wonder if you have a stocking that big,” she crooned, Marilyn Monroe breathless.
Santa Elridge laughed like a bowl full of jelly. “Hot chocolate and merry berry pancakes on the way.” He pivoted from them wisely.
“Want to see ‘how big’?” Volcano whispered lust into his woman’s ear. “I’m glowing like Rudolph the reindeer’s nose, for you.”
“Take it out only if we’re flying through fog, delivering presents to all the good little boys and girls,” Sedona sarcasm whispered.
“Red and glowing, I’m delivering this gift to you later. I’ll create all the fog you want,” Volcano passionate whispered, his lips pressing the delicate lobe of her ear.
Melting, her eyes shut, her heart pounding elation, she whispered, “Naughty, naughty, cherub.”
“Just a peek,” he bad boy enticed. Gently, he placed her next to him.
“Not fair!” she whispered. “What if I like what I see? Want it?”
“I promise an early Christmas present.” His voice was pure wicked invitation.
“Just a peek,” she relented, even as he shifted toward her, undid his pants.
Sedona inhaled sharply, her eyes grew two sizes too big. “Rudolph’s nose!” she whispered, hyperventilating. His tip protruded, bright, bright, glowing red. Enormous.
“Merry Christmas,” he seductively whispered. Gripping her hand, he touched her fingertip to his red engorged tip.
The sweetest sensation of bliss filled her. “My god, Merry Christmas,” she softly moaned.


“Don’t you dare let Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, out to bad cherub,” Sedona scolded, before she dismounted from the flyer cycle.
The instant her boot made contact with the snow-covered ground, she slipped on the ice beneath. Flailing her arms wildly, she managed to tilt her body backwards. Her butt smacked the cement-like floor of the timber forest, the thud seeming to echo between the mountain ranges surrounding them.
“If you laugh,” she irately dared. Rubbing her smarting derriere, she watched him effortlessly dismount, then pivot toward her. “Oh, go ahead. Why not?” She grimaced, tempted to laugh.
Her cherub removed his helmet, his gaze beaming with purply amusement, With a wave of his hand, he removed hers. “No, do not move, my woman,” he mock-warned, then frowned for real when she moved to stand. “I must check for any injury done to your precious bottom.”
Her jaw dropped for a moment, but she stayed put. “No, you will not.”
Before she could blink, he pounced, trapping her beneath him. Manhandling her with an ease she found disconcerting, he flipped her over on her stomach, then straddled her.
“No, Aru,” she gasped out, her hands clutching at his when he took hold of her pants. “What about Aru?”
“He’s asleep, snug and warm in the bag.”
“My butt’s going to freeze...” But he was already pulling down the leather-like pants. “My face is going to freeze. No!”
“A very quick inspection,” he promised, smoothing his hands over the generous curves of her ass.
Seconds later, an amazing warmth spread over her derriere and through her body. “Ooooh, that feels good.”
“This is going to feel even better.”
“What are you doing, you decadent cherub?” Sedona scowled at only whiteness, her face a scant inch above the snow.
“Rudolph enjoys romping in the snow.”
“Rudolph can enjoy the ‘inside’ of the cabin. If he’s...”
He rolled her over swiftly, his hands gripping her butt cheeks. Sedona stared into the white lightning of his eyes. “Rudolph’s nose feels like an inferno,” he growled. His cock struck inside her exposed feminine folds where the cold air had just blasted.
Sedona glowed deliciously. The stabbing blaze of his manhood in contrast to the chill seizing her face and her naked hips, took her like an unexpected storm. Surrendering, she tilted her sex to his rutting thrusts.
“Your mouth,” he commanded. Swooping down, he melded their lips together, his kiss a scorch of passion that touched her soul.
Sedona arched upwards, spiking her fingers into his glorious thick mane of hair. She held tightly kissing him with all the wanton recklessness inside her, the wildness claimed by no other man. He plunged faster inside her, sizzling her sheath with rapture, sending shards of ecstasy up her loins...winging her skyward.
Squeezing her butt like a savage, he lunged deep, shattering her into crystalline bliss, into an orgasm she felt enter him, then explode through him.
“Merry Christmas, my angel woman.”
“Yes, it is.”

Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012 – The end of the Mayan Calendar
What happens when a world weary, worn out incarnated angel, Sedona, who believes she is merely human has three choices after her old van breaks down? Let the Nazerazzi squad of the North American Union capture her and force her into a FEMA concentration camp? Walk out into the Arizona night desert, let the wildlife have a good meal, with the hope her death will be quick? Or does Sedona trust the mysterious stranger suddenly before her? Handsome as sin and all in black, he emerges from the darkness astride a super-speed black motorcycle.
Is he her savior from the brutal hell of end times, or is he a roving cult member of the New World Order, hunting his next blood sacrifice?
Sent from heaven to help her save humanity, Zerr Dann knows the Divine is playing its last card on Earth.
[paranormal erotic romance]



Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anything you've forgotten lately?

Five things that I wish I did, but don't always remember.

1. Check that the towel is within reach, before stepping into the shower.
2. Label stuff in the freezer, so I don't end up serving apple pie with a side dish of mashed potatoes and peas.
3. Look around to see that I have washed up all the plates before I empty the hot soapy water out of the sink.
4. Take the list. A shopping list is a wonderful thing, but not when it's under a magnet on the refrigerator, and I'm in the supermarket trying to remember what was on it. You'd think the magnet with the good-looking hunk that I picked up at the Romantic Times Convention in Pittsburgh would be enough to get my attention.
5. Remember what it was I went upstairs for, without having to go back down again first.

Any of that sound familiar?

Something else you might have been meaning to do, but might have slipped your mind, what with Xmas and the winter solstice and all that - voting in American Title V.

You can go there right now on
or simply vote by e-mail -

And of course, I hope you’ll remember to put Never Coming Home in the subject line.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Celestial Magic

Angelic Forecast ~ XVI

“Happy Winter Solstice,” I say to the Heavenly One. He surfs next to me, riding on a stream of stars.
“Good timing, right?” He grins, lighting up my dark bedroom with a golden glow.
“Darn right, since I was about to visit dreamland.”
“The time of the Winter Solstice is always busy,” he explains.
I lift my eyebrows in question while bathing in the sparkling tiny globes of light falling down on me like rain.
“It is a time when people open themselves to hearing our sacred messages, and call upon us.”
“They receive your light as they receive the longer days of light.”
He smiles from ear to ear, waves his hand and a cascade of jewel-colored sparkles float downward.
I smile, feeling utterly blissful. “This year Christmas day breaks down to the number eleven, then two. A day of destiny and love.”
“Yes. Now is the time to gather all those you love as close as possible. The time for community has arrived, a renaissance of community. The more people learn to live and work together for the benefit of all, the brighter their days.”
“I can believe that,” I mutter, wishing it would occur over night, as I watch him surf from my bedroom, the stars forming like an ocean wave.

The following week brings many moments of great highs and great lows...great joys and great sadness on the world stage. Although, this is a week for giving and receiving gifts from each other, a time for celebrating that we are able to give from our hearts to each other, it is also a time of cleansing, for letting go of those old gifts which no longer suit us, as certain styles of clothing may no longer suit us, or suit the direction of our lives.
Indeed, release the old and receive the new gifts Spirit has for you. Smile often at each other. Enjoy what those you love give you. Look at their hearts for you. And let them look at your heart for them. For that is the heart of our holidays.

Happy Holidays & Angelic blessings from Volcano & Sedona




Where angels fear to tread, 2012 Earth ~
Is a stranger on a superspeed motorcycle her savior from the brutal endtimes?

Blurb: Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012 – The end of the Mayan Calendar
What happens when a world weary, worn out incarnated angel, Sedona, who believes she is merely human has three choices after her old van breaks down? ...more

Author Discovery by Lindsay Townsend, BookStrand author of FLAVIA’S SECRET and A SECRET TREASURE ~ ~

WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS ~ adventure fantasy erotic romance ~ available from BookStrand ~ ~ ~

Kiss from Savanna Kougar...

~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Friday, December 19, 2008

Black Cat Beauty ~ Cover Art Magic

In this sacred season of gift-giving, I received an incomparable gift, the cover art for my novella, Black Cat Beauty, coming soon from Liquid Silver Books. Anne Caine, my cover artist, captures the naughty black cat heroine perfectly ~ along with her rising Hollywood star hero. Not only that, Anne’s polished artistic touch is like the wave of a magical wand. The final creation is a shimmering of fantasy and reality fused, which tempts the eye to simply indulge and linger in the enjoyment.
I don’t have a release date yet. But here’s the blurbie ~

A private Halloween party in a gothic mansion hidden in the Hollywood Hills. Add one party crasher, Sable Kiki, a naughty black cat with a sexy wild human side.
Her covert assignment from her devious, always-cunning father: use her seductive wiles to find out the truth from Devon Zant, a movie star on the rise to super stardom.
Posing as the superhero actor, Devon Zant, D’Torr has arrived on Earth seeking revenge for the capture of his younger brother, and to assist in stopping a powerful enemy.
The leviathan warfleet of the Altirrux wants rule of all intergalactic trade routes to Earth, endangering the survival of D’Torr’s race, and all the inhabitants of the rare blue jewel, Earth.
If you’re in the mood, or you simply want to increase you TBR pile, here are two opportunities from my Publishers and my sister authors.

Liquid Silver's Stocking Stuffer Giveaway!

For a peek at the real Santa of your dreams...and a stocking full of Liquid Silver Books for the Grand Gift winner ~ and individual giveaways, too ~ come slide down all the blog chimneys and leave a comment ~ from THURSDAY, the 18th MIDNIGHT to FRIDAY, the 19th at MIDNIGHT.

The blog trail will START at Nina Pierce’s blog and END at Stephanie's blog.

PLUS!!! Saturday, the 20th and on Sunday, the 21st its...ta-da!

*** Siren-Bookstrand Christmas Party ***

~~~ For a weekend of erotic sizzle and holly jolly lust join the authors of Siren-BookStrand this weekend. ~~~

Here’s the invitation from Lindsay Townsend, one of the original planners for this event ~
Hi! Join us for a full weekend on December 20 and 21st when we party away for Christmas!
It's all happening next weekend on the Siren-Bookstrand Group:
Christmas Crackers - Contests. Prizes. Hunks. Christmas Stocking Fillers. (Need a last minute gift? Our Stocking Fillers could give you that perfect present - especially to yourself. There will be excerpts galore to savour, from Christmas -themed stories and from other stories.)
All welcome! Tell your friends. Come as and when you can - it's all weekend on December 20-21st, right here: ~

Best wishes, Lindsay

Lindsay Townsend
For those who enjoy a sizzle-rated seasonal love story, I will be posting my Serial Flash ~
Santa Baby, waitin’ just for you... HOLIDAY FLASH IN FIVE HUNDRED ~ Part One through Part Thirteen will be featured at the SIREN-BOOKSTRAND HOLIDAY PARTY ~ Dare to find out what Three French Hens really means...

Volcano, my carnal cherub hero in WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS, will be there with celestial bells on, giving his angelic readings for all who ask ~


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Looking forward to 2009

2009 is just around the corner, so I've been in planning/goal-setting mode this week. I printed out my blank monthly calendars and filled in the dates with all my writing-related activities -- daily page counts, deadlines, RWA chapter meetings, book signings/author events, travel and blog posts. Since the American Title contest that brought us Title Magicians together focused on paranormal stories, we're going to continue our paranormal theme here. For my part, I'm going to be starting two new series of blogs here next year.

Once a month, I'll be reviewing a book from the paranormal shelf on my brand new bookcase.

Hopefully, this will prompt me to start reading the books faster than I can accumulate them. I don't have room for any more bookcases. There are four in my office already!

And once a month, I'll be blogging about a paranormal/sci-fi movie or TV show. These are among my absolute favorites, so we'll be exploring both old and new stories here -- everything from my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD collection to the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine that is set to hit theaters May 1. Here's the awesome trailer, including Hugh Jackman in all his Wolvy goodness. :)

So, I hope you make a point to check the Title Magic blog each Monday-Friday to see what paranormal fun we have in store.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Learning To Let Go

I've been working on a single project for over two years. It's a novel, and I love it. I love the hero and heroine, Tom and Emma. I love the rural setting. I love the fantasy and the magic. But, despite how I feel, I just can't seem to make the stupid book work. Tom and Emma and I have been through draft after draft after draft together. We've plotted. We've journaled. We've argued and struggled. We've taken short breaks while it made the beta reader and crit partner rounds or while I worked on other things. I've always come back to it. But with each rewrite, each change I made seemed to cause new problems, expose new flaws.

I know that, at this point, it's counterproductive for me to continue to work on it. There isn't anything in my apprentice writer's toolbox right now that I can use to fix it. So I have decided to put it away.

I have quite a few trunk novels, but all of them are partials - ideas that didn't work. Practice chapters. This is the first one I've ever finished, but had to give up on. It wasn't all wasted time, though. I learned a lot about writing. I've learned a lot about how I write and what works and doesn't work for me. I feel that I'm a better writer because of this book.

Even though I'm still mourning, I'm not going to include it in any of my goals for 2009. It's time to let go - to move on to other projects and use what it taught me to write something better.

Writers, how do you let go? Or do you ever? Is there a trunk novel out there that still compels you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

American Title Round Two

Yes - it's time to vote again. Already round two is here.

This time you get to chose your favourite description of hero and heroine.

Check out the contest at the Romantic Times site or go direct to

Voting is from 15 to 28 December

Please take some time from your busy Xmas schedule to take a look and to vote. It's the easiest Xmas present you'll give anyone this year.

Of course if the words Never Coming Home should float through your mind when your fingers are hovering over that keyboard ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Magical and Mighty Pen of Lindsay Townsend

Welcome, once again, to one of my favorite people and one of my favorite romance authors, Lindsay Townsend ~

Many thanks to Savanna and to the Title Magic authors for allowing me this chance to blog about historical romance. Specifically, heat levels in historical romances.
I've written sweet, sensual and sizzling historical romances and have really enjoyed writing them. To me, each kind of heat level has its own charm and challenges. What does not change for me is that whatever heat level I choose, the love and development of a committed relationship between my hero and heroine are what matters.
'Sweet' does not mean sexless. Awareness and chemistry are as present in a sweet novel as in an erotic novel. The whole sublime 'chase' sequence between man and woman: the first locked glances, the significant notice of the other as being different this time and special; the anticipation by each of their every meeting; the glorious 'getting to know you'; the deepening commitment and attraction - all these are fully and subtlety explored in a sweet romance.
I write sweet where I feel it is appropriate to the characters, the time period, the culture and setting and what is appropriate to the rest of the storyline. In my 1930s romantic suspense, A Secret Treasure, I kept in mind that during that period 'courting' was meant to be chaste. Eve and Julio are embroiled in heavy emotional issues - the fact they are falling in love but possible enemies in a tense, pre-war setting; the fact that her brother is missing; the whole significance of the treasure itself. It seemed enough for me, given the length of the story, that their own relationship 'arc' should be that of discovery of mutual love. In a sequel I might write of their joyous discovery of each other in a more sexual way, when they have time to savour the whole journey.
For 'sweet' to be realistic to me, I often put my people through many external threats and interruptions, so there is a good reason why they do not act on their attraction.
I use the same devices in my more sensual novels such as Flavia's Secret and A Knight's Vow: the trick of interrupting, external threats, misunderstandings and delayed gratification. This allows me to show the development of the lovers' relationships on all levels as well as the physical. The deferment hopefully adds to a growing tension, so that when the couples do come together in sexual union, I hope it is a fully integrated emotional and physical experience for my people and for readers. (I aim at satisfaction!)
Often in historical romances there are strong practical reasons why a young woman will not rush into a physical relationship. Pregnancy and being shunned by society were very real fears. I am considering writing a novel about an ancient Roman tumbler who works in the Flavian amphitheatre (the Coliseum). She will be virgin, because for her, it would be too great a risk to have a sexual relationship and become pregnant. She and her baby might starve as she would not be able to work for months.
Working in mainstream romance there is a wide heat range, to suit all comfort levels. My novels tend to be naturally sensual because I am a tactile person myself and I like to show tenderness and first moments - first kiss, first cuddle, first love-making. I also enjoy showing a greater, deepening relationship, as expressed through their love-making and their own growing confidence in each other as revealed by their willingness to sexually experiment. Issues of trust can be shown and explored in these scenes - something I had great fun with in my forthcoming mainstream romance, 'A Knight's Captive.' Often in my mainstreams I have a couple making love by surrendering to their passion in the midst of a dispute, or as a question is left hanging between them. After love they trust each other, but how far? The question may still be there, and the added sensuality now between the couple can both clarify or fog the issues.
This is all wonderful conflict to write and hopefully to read.
With my latest novella, Escape to Love, I have increased my heat level a little more. This is a novella, so the tale is compressed and the feelings are heightened. There is not the space to indulge in a long 'chase and interest' sequence. Instead I write of a powerful, instant attraction: heady stuff to experience and delicious to write about! I accelerated the couple coming together by the device of their being put together by outsiders in order to 'breed'. This could have been a ghastly scenario, but for Lydia and Severus, who recognise each other as lovers, it is a blissful, happy, luxurious wallow in sensuality and sex. Their sexual journey is fierce and sweet and consenting - to me the essence of an erotic novel. The growth of their love is shown through each of their varied sexual unions.
I do not use the delayed gratification device in this erotic novella but explore each love making very fully and frankly, using very frank language. The language is not something I would use in my mainstream romances: not at all in a sweet romance, and in a more sensual romance, I would perhaps only put it into the mouth of a minor character. In all romance, mood is everything, and the mood I wish to create in my mainstream is delicious soft-focus.
In my Escape to Love the focus is sharper and hotter. So the language is 'hotter' and the graphics both more startling and more detailed. I try to make each sex scene a banquet of all the senses.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing, Escape to Love. However, I think the heat level I will most naturally gravitate to is mainstream. I enjoy writing adventure in my novels, and putting my heroine and hero in dangerous situations where they are fighting literally for their lives. I like to hint that later, after the danger has died away and my hero takes his heroine into his arms, they will have their own banquet.

Best wishes, Lindsay
Lindsay Townsend

Holiday greetings, everyone. Looking for sun and warmth about now? How about basking beneath the sun in ancient Rome? From the magical and mighty pen of romance author, Lindsay Townsend, comes a sizzling novella guaranteed to heat up your cold cockles. How do I know this? Because I read it, then wrote my little review.

Escape to Love
by Lindsay Townsend

Categories: EROTIC Romance Historical
Word Count: 15,753
Heat Level: SIZZLING

Blurb ~
Severus is a slave, dragged from the fields to an uncertain future. Warned to expect no mercy from a mysterious young woman who comes to him in the night, he learns that his natural father is his owner, Calvus, and that he has a half-brother, Thallus.

Thallus has no sexual interest in women but he is desperate for an heir. Severus and Thallus' sexy young wife Lydia, whom Severus recognizes as the mystery woman who warned him, are sent to the family palace at Baiae and expected to breed.

Lydia, used to an unconsummated, loveless marriage, is intrigued by the handsome Severus and appalled by her husband's and father-in-law's treatment of him. She finds herself anticipating their lovemaking. She also wants to help Severus to escape because she knows that once he has served his purpose, Thallus and Calvus will never let him live.

They have just a month to escape.

Excerpt ~ ~

Author Discovery: Escape to Love

Author Review by Savanna Kougar

Lindsay Townsend’s ESCAPE TO LOVE is a delicious and exciting escape into another time. I adored all the different historical aspects that was the Roman world during *AD 125 * ~ especially how they were used to create the story and the growing love between Lydia and Severus.
As honorable as the handsome, strong Severus was in his caring treatment of Lydia it was the heroine, Lydia, who truly won my heart with her intelligence and cleverness in bringing about their opportunity to escape the horrors waiting for them both.
However, like the true hero he is, Severus defends his Lydia when it matters most, winning my heart for him as well.
On a personal note, I wouldn’t mind resurrecting some of those erotic practices supposedly designed to bring about a woman’s fertility. My goodness, did Lydia and Severus enjoy themselves during their breeding sessions.


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Lindsay Townsend is an English novelist who is currently writing historical romances for the American publishing company, Kensington Books. Her latest novel, A KNIGHT’S VOW, is her first historical romance and is now available, both in the U.S.A. and in the U.K. The book is set in twelfth-century England, against the romantic, but dangerous, backdrop of the Crusades. Lindsay has a first class honours degree in history from Bangor University, part of the University of Wales, where she specialised in the Middle Ages.

Lindsay’s next Kensington book doesn't appear until the spring, but here’s the cover. [note: I stole it because that’s an irresistible knight with a mighty large blade.]
The story is set in 1066 and I'll tell you more later about the Breton warrior Marc de Sens and his young lady Sunniva, their pilgrimage to Durham, a set of juggler's knives and a little matter of the Norman invasion of England.
Right now I'll just say that A KNIGHT’S CAPTIVE is due from Kensington Zebra in April 2009
BookStrand Titles by Lindsay Townsend
~ ~
Romantic Thrillers by Lindsay Townsend
Julia Rochfort visits Florence to sing in opera, but finds World War II secrets catching up with her Italian family.
The death of her lover in the Greek islands sends photographer, Melissa Haye, in pursuit of a wildlife smuggling gang.
When Rachel Falconer's father calls her to run his scientific research institute on Dartmoor, she steps in willingly - but then the fires begin...
Romance and heartbreak in wartime Rhodes.
Val Baker finds her dreams haunted by memories of Hilary, a young friend murdered on Corfu ten years ago. When she returns to Corfu, it becomes clear that Hilary's unknown killer is now on her trail.

Visit Lindsay Townsend at ~ ~
Her blog is at ~ ~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Magic of Mistletoe...unrealized...

Okay, after an intense in-the-cave editing of Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis ~ coming from Siren-BookStrand ~ I was in the mood to pen a light-hearted piece in celebration of the holiday season. A scene popped into my mind immediately, one that was partially inspired by Eartha Kitt singing Santa, I thought I’d give the gift that keeps on giving to me as I write it, one 500 word flash at a time.
Warning: Rated Sizzle so far...


Santa Baby, Waitin’ Just for You...

Part One ~

Rarely reckless, Kaily flung off the negligee she’d first thought to wear. It landed in a red ephemeral heap beside the tastefully trimmed Christmas tree. So what if she’d just broken into his house...well, she hadn’t exactly broken in...more like she spied on him until she found out where he hid the extra key...lodged in a crack of the frame above the door of the Victorian mansion he’d resurrected, and obviously treasured.
The only thing amiss in the traditional holiday atmosphere he’d created with the help of the town’s local historical club, had been a long waving sash of garish red ribbon with a simple bow attached to one end. It certainly didn’t belong on the floor as a decoration, and she couldn’t see anywhere else it did belong...except wrapped around her. Since she was giving herself to him as a gift for Christmas...well, why not?
Wildly inspired, she arranged the ribbon around her naked body...naked except for a gold ankle bracelet, her *I want to seduce you earrings* and a whimsical pair of faux-fur trimmed santa boots. If he was gay he might just chuckle *ho ho ho*, and turn it all into a joke. If he wasn’t gay, but didn’t want to take what she was offering, he could have a holly jolly laugh at her expense, and politely show her the door.
It was too true, her curiosity raged out of control, even causing her sleepless nights. He’d sauntered into her small town last December, paid cash for the dilapidated but proud old Victorian, then set about restoring with a vengeance, while gaining the good will of everyone in town...well, almost everyone. Nessie Jones, the town’s librarian, didn’t like him. Of course, Nessie didn’t like anyone for any reason she could find. The love of her life was books and a mystery man she claimed to be married to, that no one ever saw.
Nessie always curled her lip and wrinkled her nose behind Dillon’s back, as if his deodorant had failed in its job...which might be case, since he always smelled smoky and impossibly virile to her. Which was often, since they were always running into each other, even though she did try to avoid him, because of her obsession with knowing more about him. Why make herself look like a prize-trussed fool in front of everyone by groping him with questions.
Although, she did look rather trussed up, the way the length of red ribbon was wound around her least, by what she could see from a slice of her reflection in the tall narrow mirror near the fireplace mantle.
The bow dangling from one hand, Kaily wondered if she should place it over her well-furred pussy...or maybe between the swells of ber breasts...or maybe at the top of her ample-enough cleavage.
“Ooooh...Santa baby, waitin’ just for you,” she crooned like the song, then pursed her lips in an attempt to look sexy.


Part Two ~

Kaily hung the bow between her breasts, for now. Thinking her freshly washed hair could use more of a *take me to the bedroom* look, she shook her head vigorously, then swiped her fingers through the long strands several times. “Tousled enough,” she murmured. Of course, who knew whether he liked tousled or not. He hadn’t dated any of the single women in town, four of them. He hadn’t put the moves on any of the married women, or the gossip would have burned her ears off, by now, like a flamethrower. But then, he hadn’t dated any of the men, either. The bragging would have been as flamboyant as the town’s holiday-decorated square, a blend of old-fashioned, the kid’s favorite ornaments and ostentatious purchases from the nearest Wal-Mart.
No secret affairs she could discover, either. She’d waded through the bushes several times around midnight, peeking in more than a few windows, only witnessing polite scenes centered around fixing up the Victorian, or learning more about it’s history.
His charm impeccable, Dillon had been the guest of nearly everyone in town, even her parents, who knew about the last occupants of the Victorian, having grown up with them. Kaily had swiftly made up an excuse about helping Davie with his reading lessons, then had offered to take care of Davie, so her sister and her husband could take in a movie that was labeled ‘adult’, not just pg-13 Disney. Knowing she had no further information to offer him, she’d chickened out *squawk, squawk* big time. She could just see herself, staring at him ridiculously while trying to ask leading questions like a TV prosecutor. Hell, if she’d been as talented as Alan Shore on Boston Legal, she would have given it a shot. Or, if she’d had any talent at all with subtly seducing men, which she didn’t, she would have put on her tightest, bosom-exposing cashmere sweater and her shortest decent skirt...well, that chance was long gone. No, she’d shown up just as her parents were glad-handing him on his way out the door...and as they all chuckled over ‘what’ she never knew. Giving him a bright smile, she’d nervously fiddled with her necklace, made up something about Davie’s progress, then wished him a ‘good evening’. He’d settled his gaze on her face, his unusually colored an expensive brandy she’d once sipped...had seemed interested in penetrating through her defenses. He’d asked about her latest painting. She’d blurted out it was close to being finished, and the logo company was eager to start printing up t-shirts. Somehow she found herself walking beside him to his stunning reproduction roadster. To her shame she knew the sound of his engine better than her own. He’d hesitated as if he were about to ask her something, before sliding onto the seat. His powerful grace had reminded her of an African lion on the hunt...
Hearing the distinct purr of his roadster turning onto the drive, Kaily froze.


Part Three ~

Hearing another car pull up behind him, Kaily shrieked inside. Oh no! Her heart on speed dial she moved as fast as the ribbon’s constriction would allow, then plucked the drape aside, just enough to peek out the side window. Oh, that so figured. Barbie Nelson, dressed in her skimpy elf’s costume had him held hostage against the roadster’s door. A plate of her holiday banana bread pressed into the white fur trim of his santa suit. She was probably envisioning his hard-muscled stomach as she blabbed doubt inviting herself in for a taste of him. Omygawd...I need a place to hide if Barbie makes it inside. Where? Twisting around, she glanced around the front parlor. Damn, the only place was behind the Christmas tree, itself...and knowing her, she’d knock it over, then be standing their in the buff, gift-wrapped, in front of them both with the exquisitely decorated tree in shambles. She would have tried for another room, but he’d probably catch her as he came in, since she’d have to go through the hallway.
Trapped, Kaily shivered, peering outside again. Barbie still babbled, her face practically beneath his. Given she was a petite thing, her neck was practically at a right angle. But then, if Barbie did keep up the flirtatious chatter, maybe she could sneak inside another room...oops, too late. Dillon took hold of the plate, and made a strong move to escape, simultaneously lowering his fake beard. He gentlemanly lifted her hand to his lips and pecked a kiss. Whatever he said to her must have worked. Barbie tittered, then sashayed away. He waited until she had started her engine and pulled away before heading for the door.
Her heart threatening to leap out of her chest and her palms sweating suddenly, Kaily toddled toward the illumined tree. The faux candle flames provided a mellow golden radiance as she struggled to lie down, then arrange herself in what she hoped was a seductive pose. Feeling the bow between her breasts, she grabbed at it, her nerves skittering crazily. Not really thinking, she planted it over her pussy...maybe it was her subconscious’s last ditch effort at decency...but then, maybe he would bypass the parlor, go into another room, head up the stairs. And she would be stuck down here trying to figure out a way to leave. Omygawd, oh no, had she forgotten to lock the door...maybe he would think a burglar had robbed the place...although, that was such a rarity, no one could recall when it last occurred.
His footsteps bounded upward toward the door, as if he were impatient to get inside. Kaily’s rapid breaths stuck in her throat. Omygawd...omygawd, what was she doing?
And too bad she couldn’t say something whispery sexy like Marilyn Monroe...Happy Holidays, Mr. Santa Claus...give him that pouty look of you see anything under the tree you want to unwrap?
The door swung open. He entered...


Baby, it’s cold outside...

Part Four ~

“Baby, it’s cold outside,” she whispered. The cold drift of air from the open door shivered her body momentarily. Feeling her nipples pucker and harden, Kaily glanced down. Maybe, he would think she was real glad to see him, since her nipples stood at attention like toy soldiers. Damnit, she hated being cold. But, it wasn’t like she could reach for her down comforter. Heckfire, the tree skirt was nothing more than shimmery white gauze.
Closing the door firmly, he stomped the crust of snow off his santa boots onto the entry rug. He’d cleared his driveway immaculately, but the park where he’d played Santa for the town’s children would have meant tromping through the six inches of snow that had fallen the day before. The drifting fat snowflakes had been a picture perfect scene for a white Christmas. Drinking cocoa, Kaily enjoyed it immensely while plotting out her daring escapade...certainly daring for her.
In the following silence, Kaily swore, it felt like a bowling ball landed on her mid-section. What was he doing? Did he somehow realize she was here? She’d been sneaky enough to walk most of the way as if out for a bracing wake-me-up stroll, which she often did when working on a long art project. Then she’d snuck between several houses, staying in the twilight shadows until she reached his back door. Only after making certain no one’s lights were on, did she make her way to the front door.
She swallowed, her mouth and throat drier than if she’d been wandering lost in the desert. What? Had she left a telltale strand of hair. Or left a mark from her own winter boot...
His steps so quiet, she barely heard them, he finally approached the arched opening into the parlor. Her eyelids squeezed together so hard she knew she couldn’t open them, unless by a Christmas miracle. If it was censure in his gaze, she didn’t want to see it, especially since he was dressed as Santa Clause. Even Nessie had directed him in what books and movies to watch as preparation, so he could portray jolly St. Nick himself.
Oh God, why didn’t he speak? Say ‘get dressed and get out’? Or...
“Is this a holiday tradition I’m not aware of?” The deep timbre of his voice covered her like velvet, but did little to warm her, she was so frightened...much more than she bargained for.
Her eyes popped open as if she’d just received her Christmas miracle. He leaned, not casually, against the archway frame, his arms folded like some damn arrogant king who observed her from afar. It struck her odd in the next instant that he actually expected a real answer to his question.
Where it came from she’d never know...but in the following moment she heard herself croon... “Santa baby, waitin’ just for you.”
Something flashed in his eyes, white-hot as lightning. His gaze covered her body like his voice, making her insides icy fire.


Part Five ~

She watched him snatch down a generous sprig of mistletoe, a smooth fluid motion that made her gasp. As he walked toward her with that powerful languid stride that always held her attention, she sucked in a ginormous breath, clutching her belly. Okay, he wasn’t gay, if the size in his santa suit wasn’t his bag of goodies stuffed down his pants...of course, maybe it was goodie-filled. Kaily felt her eyes widen like the O-rings she used in her craft projects, before her gaze flew back up to his face. The golden flare in his eyes immobilized her like a deer in headlights...yep, his gaze looked like brandy set on fire, flambe’ style. Frightened, she quivered and felt the edges of the wide ribbon cut into her skin. Halting, he stared down at her. Kaily swore his gaze feasted on her like she was his personal holiday banquet. Before she shut her eyes, that is. Omygawd...the image of his manhood didn’t dance like sugarplums in her head. No, it towered like a damn chimney.
“Gift-wrapped,” he rasped. “This is definitely a worthy holiday.”
Kaily popped one eye open at his unusual statement. Not to mention the strange lilt to his voice, a masculine sound that reminded her of a Scottish bur.
“Worthy holiday,” she murmured. She should grill him like a steak at a backyard cookout, and shake on the spice rub if he didn’t cooperate. She’d even rehearsed the questions while pretending to be a super-powered lawyer on Boston Legal. But her body hadn’t been tingly deliciously aware of him then, nor naked.
He lowered himself beside her, his virile scent overriding the moth-balled santa suit. Lying down parallel to her with the latent power of a big cat, he propped himself up, dangling the fresh mistletoe above her head.
He’s going to kiss me, she thought. Her senses reeled as if drunk on too much egg nog, while her body tensed in anticipation and panic. It was now or never. “Where are you from?” she whispered, her voice like Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot.
“The North Pole.” He didn’t miss a beat, and his roughened tone rubbed directly on her nipples.
Kaily gave a tiny moan as her head tipped back.
“Let’s see if the magic of mistletoe works?” he growled softly.
“Magic of mistletoe...” God help her, she did want the magic of mistletoe. Who knew he could be so utterly seductive? The only face he’d presented to everyone was one of friendliness and an avid interest in whatever anyone spoke about. She’d never seen him really truly flirt.
“Kaily.” Her name flowed from his lips in a way she’d never heard, thick and warm as honey, yet potent with his sexuality.
“I guess you’re not gay,” she inanely murmured, and immediately wished she hadn’t. Why ruin this moment?
The even strength of his breaths paused. “Gay as in the holiday spirit? Or gay as in a preference for my own gender?”


For the rest of the story as it pops down the chimney of my imagination check out ~ ~


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cardiff in the Frame

It's strange to see the streets where you live and work appearing on TV, but it's a regular occurrence now that so many cult series are being filmed around the Cardiff area. It's become quite normal to run into film crews and to find buildings that you know well appearing on the small screen. I've had aliens landing in the middle of the night, yards from my bedroom windows, and murder being done in the docks behind the house. Not to mention the zombies on the roof of the place where I work.

Anyone who doesn't know about Dr Who and Torchwood will be puzzled by all that. Fans will understand what I'm talking about. For anyone who follows the series, the picture above will be very familiar.

Cardiff is a city of contrasts. It rose to prominence in the late 1880s and 1890s purely through the export of coal. Most of the city's magnificent public buildings date from that time. Now the coal trade is over and the docks have a new life as Cardiff Bay - setting for trendy shops and restaurants, the new Welsh Parliament and the spectacular Millennium Centre, opened in 2004, home to the Welsh National Opera. That's it above. and on the left.

Fans of Dr Who and Torchwood will recognise the site of the Rift, which is meant to run through Cardiff, as well as the site of the Torchwood bunker.
And below is the 'Water Tower' Fountain - the invisible lift that gives entrance to the Torchwood hub. Such is its fame that it is guaranteed to have at least six different people taking photographs of it at any given time.
I remember when the water was turned on for the first time for a test run- it was a very hot day in high summer and I was working across the street. We couldn't understand how it appeared to be raining, just over this one patch of Roald Dhal Plas.
The other modern building in the area houses the Senedd - the Welsh parliament, opened in 2006.

Alongside the Senedd is the beautiful Pierhead Building - built in 1897 as the HQ of the Cardiff Railway Company. French-Gothic Renaissance style, apparently, and constructed of brick and terracotta. That's on the left below.
Both of these buildings appear regularly in background shots in Dr Who and Torchwood. If you're trying to place them, The Senedd was featured particularly in The Lazarus Experiment, the Pierhead in Last of the Time Lords.

The building on the right is an example of the Victorian architecture of the area that used to be the docks. It's going to be in the third series of Torchwood, which is currently filming. I know this, because I came round the corner one morning on the way to work and almost fell over the film crew. I don't know what it's meant to be in the series, but there were a lot of heavily armed actors running around and looking menacing.
Away from the Bay much of Cardiff shows up it's Victorian heritage in ironwork and glass and Portland stone.
The Museum, built in 1907, houses a famous collection of Impressionist paintings, and the restaurant is good for food sourced from Welsh ingredients. Oh - and it was also the location for filming The Lazarus Experiment and Random Shoes, which included the museum's dinosaur in the shots.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the city is the network of Victorian arcades which cris-cross the shopping areas, glass roofed and lined with small specialist shops.
The Market, dating from 1891 is in a similar style. (And you might recognise it from The Doctor episode Small Worlds.)
That's the Title Magic whistle stop tour of Cardiff.
Old, new, and on a TV near you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Animals as Secondary Characters

Hi! It's Lexie, and I can only apologize for not being around more lately. I've had a death in the family, Thanksgiving, and final exams. I can start to see the end of the tunnel now, though, so I plan on being back here almost every day:)

A month ago, I was privileged to attend the LowCountry Romance Writer's Association Beach Retreat and Master Class. I felt like I learned as much in that one week as I had in the previous year's worth of programs! One of the fantastic teachers was Robin Owens. After I plied her with homemade crepes filled with homemade custard (any lurking agents/editors out there, did I mention I'm known far and wide for my cheesecakes? bribes anyone:), I asked Robin if she'd mind blogging with us. Of course, the fact that she's a wonderful and gracious lady had nothing to do with it...

Please join me in welcoming Robin Owens...

Hi, I'm Robin D. Owens and I write fantasy romance for Berkley (the "Heart" Series – 7 going on 10) and epic fantasy for women for Luna (the "Summoning" series of 5 books, the last, Echoes in the Dark, is out in January). The latest thing in my career that has made me dance around bored cats is Heart Fate being named by the editors of Amazon as one of the Best Romances of 2008...and the Top Pick for Echoes in the Dark by Romantic Times.

I'm known for my animal or Familiar companions, and I'm quite sure that Zanth, the telepathic cat with attitude (redundant), sold my first book, HeartMate. Since then, in the Heart books, I've had kittens, cats, dogs, and a fox as my Fams – along with a wandering mole, etc.

In my Summoning series I have some magical beings who shapeshift into various animals. Miniature greyhounds and warhawks are the most common, though occasionally they have their catlike moments. I also have flying horses.

These characters are in the books for several reasons: mentors, friends, comic relief and occasionally under threat (they can get into trouble and some go to war). In the Summoning books, they also play a mysterious part in shaping the worlds' events.

You might call them archetypical characters. Mentors who advise (and may have their own agendas which also make them tricksters). Friends who are there to listen or nudge or nag (so, that's still a horse word but at least it wasn't badger...). Comic relief: this I use quite a bit, I like my tension built, released and built again.

Things to watch for when you're writing animals. First, my cats are pretty much cats, except they are slightly more intelligent and can speak telepathically. They are self-centered, they live in the moment, they have contradictions in whatever philosophy they have but it has meaning to them at the time. They're vain. They call all cats "Cats," capitalized and all dogs "dogs," NEVER capitalized. They look down on dogs. And they negotiate payment for favors.

I try to keep my animals close to what they are here on earth, and with those limitations. My puppy in Heart Thief adores her FamWoman...and piddles on the rug. My crippled and starving Noble Hound in Heart Fate (most recent book) resents having to eat leftovers that a hunting cat "generously" gives him. He looks down on cats because they aren't as loyal as dogs.

For research...I have cats and my ex-roomie had a puppy. I observed. There is a strategically vital place in my house and each and every one of my cats has found it and held it.

I read a lot of books on foxes and there are some in the neighborhood. Another thing, THE expert on foxes call a noise they make "chortling." Maybe the sound is closer to chortling than the standard, well-known "barking." If I used "chortling," it would pull my reader from the story to think about the word which is not something associated with foxes....

The mole came in handy in a couple of the stories and a fan who liked moles and stuck the idea in my head provided critique and tips.

I have friends who have horses and I studied "natural" horsemanship, went to a horse camp (I live in the city) given by another writer who has Lipizzaners.

So, from my point of view, don't make them too cute, or too smart, and keep them lifelike. People will love them anyway.

May all your writing dreams come true.

On Writing & Publishing
2002 RITA(c) Winner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My First Contest Up At Fresh Fiction!

In the holiday spirit, I've joined the wonderful people over on Fresh Fiction to be part of their holiday contest. If you'd like the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card check out my contest page. There is also a link to my website where you can read the first two chapters of The Magic Knot--the book that won American Title IV.

Helen's Contest Page

To enter, look for the ENTER button at the bottom of the contest page.

The Scary Blank Page

After a hectic day, I’ve paused long enough to remember I am scheduled to blog today. So I’ve poured myself a glass of wine (it’s 7.30pm here) and sat down to face a blank computer screen with no idea what to write.

I rarely experience writer’s block, but nothing of interest has come to mind, so I’m going to examine the subject. Although I make up my stories as I write and often sit down at the computer with nothing specific planned, I always know my characters well before I start a new book. For me, the plot and progress of the story spring from the actions of the characters. By writing this way, I hope my characters always behave ‘in character’.

One of my personal bugbears is when I read a book where a character acts in a way I know they wouldn’t because the character needs to do a certain thing to fit the plot. I may be wrong, but this suggests to me the author had the plot worked out in advance and followed the plan even when the characters grew into people who wouldn’t act in that way.

I have heard other writer’s say they need a plot outline to free their minds to write the story, and that if they sit down to write with no plan their mind seizes up. My process works the other way around. Writing an outline ties me down and kills my creativity. I’ve written a detailed outline only once. My brain found the process of sticking to the outline so restricting, I had to write a second book at the same time with no pre-planning at all so I didn’t go mad.

Perhaps it all comes down to personality. I am fairly organised (I’ve run my own business for 20 years, so I have to be) but when it comes to writing, my mind switches gear, or more correctly, shifts out of gear and free wheels.

What about you? Do you face your blank page with a plan in hand, or wait for your characters to tell you what to write?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Looking for Lightning

Looking for Lightning

By Pat Cunningham

Inspiration and I have a love/hate relationship. I’d love to have more of it and hate that I don’t. It’s especially tough when you’re slogging through a story and you hit a wall and you call on your muse for a little help and she’s sprawled on the couch watching game shows and you’re left to fend for yourself. This tends to happen right before a deadline. Makes day jobs seem like heaven by comparison.
When the lightning strikes, it’s magic. I once had a character’s entire backstory come to me while I was vacuuming. Full-blown story ideas have hit while I’m driving without making me swerve off the road. On those days everything works and everything’s golden. You sit at the keyboard, or take up the pen, and the words just pour out by themselves. That’s when the muse redeems herself.
The rest of the time … well, you know how it is. I can go for weeks without a hit. I fly my kite and key through my thoughts and wait for the lightning to strike, but the skies remain clear and cloudless and the muse is off working on her tan. The words dribble out of the pen and lie on the paper like sludge and glower up at me and go, "What?"
I wonder how many writers live like this? Or with its opposite? Stephen King goes to the grocery store, imagines dinosaurs in the aisles, goes home and writes The Mist. He must live in an inspirational strike zone. Me … too often I find myself in Death Valley, where rainfall can be measured in drops and lightning strikes are rare.
Not much you can do in a case like that except fire up the generator and start cranking, and generate your own lightning.
Over the years I’ve discovered I get the bulk of my ideas while I’m already working on something. The act of writing itself becomes the key that draws the lightning down. A character’s offhand remark can spark a sequel, or even a series. Since I’m a pantser, I write myself into a lot of corners, yet somehow, if I keep at it, I find I can write myself out of them. If I work at creating the sparks, the lightning hits on its own.
Just recently I was working on a werewolf story. Out of nowhere the lupine protag starts telling this anecdote about some relative who entered herself in a dog show as a joke, and won. "Hey," I thought, "that sounds like a story by itself. What do you think?" I asked my muse.
"Whatever," she said, and went back to watching Wheel of Fortune.
Nice work if you can get it. For me, it’s back to the keyboard.

Pat’s short story the ‘SNAKE IN THE GLASS’ will be featured in the #7 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, NEW YEAR’S DAY edition.
How wintery cool is that for all those hibernating serpents? And kewl for all the humans who want to curl up with a great story this winter.

Note: Pat, wonderful insights about inspiration and similar to my own. Yep, you're driving along and a key piece you need for the next chapter hits right between the eyes. And no, thank goodness, I’ve never run off the road or caused an accident...yet.
And, boy oh boy, do I know about those corners!
Pat, I love that dog show werewolf idea!!!

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dr Who ... Undressed

That got your attention, didn't it? Of course I mean set dressing, although I have seen David Tennant …. But that is a completely different story.

Regulars on the blog will know that I live in the area of South Wales where Doctor Who and Torchwood are filmed. I walk past some of the locations every day. The idea of sharing my view of some of them on Title Magic came to me when I was watching a DVD of Doctor Who with a friend. One shot came up and we both turned to each other. 'Isn't that --'

The picture changed to an exterior shot, and it was -- the National Museum of Wales, where we regularly have lunch together when she comes over to Cardiff. When I thought about it, I remembered seeing the film company trucks outside the building one evening, but there was nothing happening at the time. On the screen it didn’t look quite like it usually does. Part of the fun of watching the show is spotting places you recognize, like the main shopping street or the Victorian Market. It’s even more of a challenge when you recognize somewhere but you can’t quite place it.

The whole thing got me thinking about the locations around the city and the way they look in real life. I've been passing the site of the Torchwood hub every day for weeks now, on my way to work. I've never seen Captain Jack. I could have done on the first morning, if I'd investigated what was going on down by the water in Cardiff Bay, because they were filming for the next series, and apparently John Barrowman was much in evidence. But it was a new job and I didn't want to be late on my first day.

Residents of Cardiff have got quite used to seeing the convoys of vehicles that accompany filming, as there is so much of it going on in the city these days. What appears on the screen is a triumph of the filmmaker’s art. In the case of Torchwood in particular, Cardiff comes across as dark and glamorous and cool. It can be all three, but in daylight, the reality is sometimes a little different. So -- next time I blog, it will be the Title Magic tour of a few places that might look a little bit familiar. If you’re into Dr Who and Torchwood, I hope it will be fun. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I hope you’ll still enjoy a tour of the landmarks of Cardiff – Europe’s youngest capital city.

P.S. You might like to take a trip over to Sylvia Day's site today, where I'm talking about Never Coming Home, my entry for American Title V. Then on Thursday I'll be talking to Suzanne, my heroine's mother, about her past as a model in London the Swinging Sixties. Sylvia has a prize draw for those who comment. As Suzanne would say - It's Fab!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Incredible Magical Dream...

Thanksgiving Day, 2013 ~ after Winter 2012 in WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS
Her gaze riveted by the serene beauty, Sedona stood in front of the rustic lodge’s old-fashioned pane window. Blankets of snow covered most of the high elevation terrain, rising and falling majestically around them. The white frosting of snow had already melted from the trees, the stubbornly clinging leaves fluttering a dance in the brisk winds. Where the sun shone directly, piles of leaves and dried stems looked like the autumn she remembered from living in the midwest.
Feeling the touch of Aru’s wet nose on the back of her calf, she turned, looking down at her doggie baby, almost grown up now. His dark eyes asked, yet were bright with expectation. "Come on," she sang lovingly to him, and offered her open arms. Instantly, Aru leapt straight up, and landed perfectly in her arms. "Do you want to see? Or do you just want a cuddle?"
Sedona hugged him to her bosom, nuzzling the slick silky fur of his neck as he snuggled against her. After she pressed a smooch on the elegant curve of his neck, he settled in her embrace, and pricked his ears watching the tiny brown birds flit and forage for food.
"It doesn’t feel totally real, does it?" she murmured. "Being here now. After everything I’ve been through in my life."
Aru answered with a little whine.
"Last year I was cold and hungry and so horribly desperate I couldn’t even describe it. You were probably just born." Sedona brushed her lips on the top of Aru’s head. "How did you survive? Yes, I know you had angelic help too."
As she remembered the previous year’s Thanksgiving day, a tide of emotions overwhelmed her, and tears pricked at her eyes. She’d been able to stay in the rundown isolated house for longer than she’d anticipated, before intuitively knowing she had to leave or be captured by the Nazerazzi forces. That, and her food supply had dwindled down to a few raw shriveled potatoes.
Rocking Aru, she listened to the tiny flames crackling in the cozy fireplace behind her. Volcano had just started it with a point of his finger. Then he had possessively swept her against him, gazed into her eyes with an intensity that always made her become molten desire for him. "Rest," he had ordered, his lips a breath away from her own. "I’ll whip up our Thanksgiving day dinner."
"You’ll put too much cloud in it," she’d teased him.
"How can there be too much cloud?" His eyes had glittered like a thousand purple jewels, while his hands passionately roved over her body.
"But I want to cook," she’d protested, feeling the need to do what she hadn’t been able to enjoy doing for several years. And to make up for what she’d lost, even though she knew it wasn’t possible. It would never be possible.
"I’ll make egg nog with so much cloud in it, you’ll be intoxicated enough to kiss me wherever I want."
"I already kiss you wherever you want, you bad decadent cherub."
"Not the way you’ll kiss me after extra helpings of cloud in your pumpkin pie and whipped cream."
Before she could protest again, he had claimed her mouth, kissing her senseless. Ultimately, he had embraced her tightly against him, and fused their mouths, then brought them both to a heady bliss. Their prolonged pleasure had swirled around them like fiery golden sequins.
Once they both descended, and she could understand his words, he’d whispered in her ear that it was time for him to leave briefly. He’d already told her he’d been divinely instructed to meet another carnal cherub, arriving direct from the heavenly ethers. Kissing the tip of her nose, he’d gradually changed his body to smoke and mist, then vanished.
"Warm," she murmured down to Aru, feeling the hearth’s flames on her back. "I never thought I’d be this warm again during winter." Just as her emotions had surged remembering the year before, now the strength of her gratitude soared beyond the thin layer of clouds stretched over the distant mountaintops.
In truth, Sedona was fearful about knowing the depth of her gratitude. What if it was all a dream...and she woke up surrounded by the horror of her past existence? What if she lost everyone and everything again? She squeezed her eyelids closed for a moment, then squeezed Aru tenderly. She’d come a long way toward healing...still, it wasn’t long enough.
Opening her eyes, she nearly let go of Aru. A small puffy cloud scudded toward her in the part of the hazy blue sky she could see. It’s underside gleamed with a rosy pink color. Feeling like an enchanted princess, she watched the fairytale cloud sail closer and closer, and slowly lower to the tree tops.
"Oh, Aru, how could I forget?"
"You were supposed to forget, my angel woman."
She whirled around. At the same time Aru leapt from her arms to greet Volcano.
"That was you." She moved toward him, her feet cushioned by air, or so it felt. She glanced downward, seeing only the floor. "I thought it was just an incredible magical dream."
Scooping Aru up, Volcano woggled him for a few moments, his face radiant with love and affection. Then he set him down, and gazed at her, his expression more radiant. The love glowing in his eyes seared her down to her soul.
She ached to touch him. Yet, she didn’t reach out, but merely waited for him to come to her.
"I look good in rosefire light, don’t I?" A grin tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"Mr. Cocky Cherub, what don’t you look good in?"
His eyes darkened to utter passion entrancing her as he stepped closer and closer. He didn’t touch her. His gaze touched her. Sedona’s breath deserted her and her heart thumped wildly. She let her head drop back, her face beneath his.
"I look best in you...Sedona, my woman."
WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS ~ Where angels fear to tread, 2012 Earth...Is a stranger on a superspeed motorcycle her savior from the brutal endtimes? ~ available from BookStrand ~ ~ ~ An Author Discovery by Lindsay Townsend ~

MIDNIGHT SEDUCTIONS **Endless Romance Writing Contest** ~
For my entry ~ WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS ~ and all the entries ~ ~


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~