Friday, August 29, 2008

Trish Milburn ~ A Firefighter in the Family

Hi everyone, since we don't have a guest blogger for this Friday. I thought I'd post the info and blurb for Title Magic's own Trish Milburn, her debut novel.

A Firefighter in the Family
Harlequin American, September 2008

Miranda "Randi" Cooke left her family and her hometown on the Gulf Coast of Florida behind when a mistake she made as a firefighter led to tragedy. Now her job with the state fire marshal’s office has brought her back to Horizon Beach. Not only will she have to hunt down an arsonist, but she’ll also face the estrangement from her family and have to decide if she wants to give her love for former firefighter Zac Parker a second chance.

For more info about all Trish is up to, including her attendance at Dragoncon check her website at ~

And if anyone has Trish's 4 star review, please post. My latest RT is probably at my PO box.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do you know you have paint in your hair?

It’s been a holiday weekend here in the UK and I’ve spent the time redecorating my kitchen and dining room, which is why I have paint in my hair and was using the washing machine as a breakfast table this morning. I’m childishly proud of the fact that I painted two ceilings – not well, but what the heck – it’s not the Sistine Chapel.

The house I’m living in now is over 100 years old. It was semi derelict when I bought it, but only five minutes away from the ocean – who could resist? While I had all the major work done by professionals, it has more of my blood, sweat and tears in it than any other place I’ve ever lived. Every wall in the house has been painted by me, and I’ve also tiled, gardened and put furniture together.

Poised at the top of a ladder, wondering what I was going to blog about, as well as musing on what we put into the places where we live, made me think about houses in books, and how often they have a pivotal role.

For Jane Austen property was a really big thing, the measure of a man’s worth and his value as husband material, as well as being the setting for the book, so much so that Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey are actually the book’s titles.

I would guess the most famous literary house is probably Manderly. Most people can quote the first line of that book, even if they have never read Rebecca.

I’ve just completed a manuscript for the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s scheme – unpublished writers have to submit a typescript every year, which gets you a crique from a published writer who is an expert in their field. As Mai pointed out the other day, having something you need to work towards focuses the mind and makes you produce your book a year, even for the unpublished. That book, Never Coming Home is a new departure for me – it’s turned out very dark, straying into Lisa Gardner and PJ Tracy territory, so I am wondering what my reviewer will make of it. The first thing that Devlin, the hero, sees about Kaz, my heroine, is her house, a place that I invented in Chelsea, in London, and he uses it as a yardstick to assess what sort of a person she is.

We’ve had so many wonderful historical novelists blog with us recently that it has inspired me to do something totally frivolous (and I hope fast) for a complete change of pace. I’m researching for a gothic style romance set in late Victorian times. It’s set then, so that I have the chance to create a house in the style of Augustus Pugin, who worked on the Houses of Parliament and William Burges, who was responsible for much of the interior of Cardiff Castle, which is gothic fantasy of a high order. The Pre- Raphaelite painters will probably get in there somewhere too. I hope I manage to get away from the research long enough to write the actually book.

I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s favorite fictional houses or places they have set, or would like to set, a book. Have you got a dream house just dying to get built? Doing it on paper is really cheap, and you don’t even get paint in your hair.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Magic of Discovery, or Not...

The magic of discovery, or not. Or, my place as an author on the totem pole of the best seller list.
Aaahh, where to start? Yeah, I know the old the beginning. Nah, I’m not going back that far! It would be tons o’ pages, and this is just a blog.
Okay, deep breath...let me dive in here, and hope I make sense, or I write clearly enough to be understood. While I luv things by the numbers, as in numerology, I’m not nearly so enamored about stats, the down and dirty numbers which supposedly evaluate performance.

Unless...and that’s a big unless...they’re in my favor. For example, if I was a NY Times best selling author, well, part of me would be *squeeing* with utter delight, and I’d probably be jumping up and down like Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch. Then again, another part of me would recognize the grim truth. My novel, or novels (dream on, right!) aren’t really better or that much better than lots of authors who might never have the opportunity to be on the NY Times best-selling list.
So, is that really something to celebrate?
Yep, I’m deeply conflicted over this one.
On the one hand I would be very proud of me and my baby novel. And I would know the blood, sweat, tears and persistence it took to gain that position...not to mention I’d be eternally grateful for every reader’s purchase. On the other hand, there’s that grim truth again. I’m certain the other authors put in tons of time and effort, too. But didn’t make that particular grade. This time around.

Okay, discovering your numbers as an author. Or your stats, and where you rank on the best seller totem pole. No, not me, baby! I'm not hanging around or dancing around that pole.
Of course, I want to know if they’re good numbers. I’m giddy as a kitty knowing that WHEN A GOOD ANGEL hit #3 and then #2 on BookStrand’s top sellers list, these past few days. And, yesterday, ‘angel’ ranked #17 out of 20 for the past fourteen days...yay! But I didn’t go check out the stats. I found out inadvertently from two Google Alerts and then from Lee Silver, BookStrand author of THE TWIST...if yer partial to suspense, erotic romance and the weird twists of life...check her book out...and it did hit the prized #1 spot.
Trouble is ‘Angel’ could reach #1 and I might never know it. Then again, I don’t have the emotional torture of being disappointed if ‘it’ doesn’t perform. And, best of all, I can keep penning away in a state of ignorance is bliss. Without an elephant’s worth of performance anxieties hitting me like poison pygmy darts.
The other thing I know about myself ~ being an Aries I can get into that hyper competitive mode. Great! If you’re playing tackle football like I did when I was a teenager. Not so great if you’re spending your time like an obsessed Cyber Gamer looking for all the stats, all the possible reviews, and tracking them down on the hour, every hour. All the while planning strategies ferociously, and staring at the screen without blinking...with your brain spinning like a quantum top as you consider ways to write that surefire bestseller...all for the possible rush of watching your novel’s meteoric rise to the top.
Nope, can’t go there.
Not if I want to keep writing, which I do.
Truth is, I love writing and being an author much more than I care about discovering the stats, or cat-clawing my way to the top just for the sake of being top dog. Make that a top selling female dog.
On the other paw, I will pay attention to what novels readers are buying. Because, I can use those numbers to write stories that fit those stats. Absolutely, yes, since it gives me the opportunity to write the novel of my heart and soul, while hopefully giving readers the romance books they yearn for. A win-win scenario.
So, each of us an individual would react and respond differently to discovering our performance or author’s stats. What’s your personal works-best-for-you approach for looking at the numbers in your life?
Yesterday, to continue the theme of discovery, I found this from Lindsay Townsend, our Friday guest blogger, in my e-mail. It’s also on the BookStrand blogspot ~ ~
O happy is this author! Excuse me while I kiss the sky...I don’t think Jimi Hendrix will mind if I rip him off here.

Author Discovery: When A Good Angel Falls.
I read 'When a Good Angel Falls' by Savanna Kougar and was hooked from the very start, pulled instantly into a mesmerising, original story. The post apocalypse world of 2012, where books are illegal, corpses line the streets, and where even the stars are obscured by ash, is powerfully evoked. The beautiful, red-haired heroine Sedona is a healing, powerful heroine. The cherubic hero - who looks like Tom Cruise and who whimsically uses Old Spice - is wonderfully appealing.
With ultimate high stakes - the fate of the earth itself - Sedona is key to the planet's survival.
There is also powerful, erotic romance in "When a Good Angel Falls", eroticism as a life-giving, life-enhancing force that is vital to the story and the earth. The love-play between Sedona and her younger hero lover is highly charged from the very beginning and is both playful and deliciously sensual. The hero is to die for: considerate, playful, seductive and hot!
This is a fast-paced ride of an adventure, beautifully written, about an older woman who is an incarnated angel discovering her true powers. It is a marvellous, empowering read with a spine-tingling climax. And I love Aru, the sly musical references and the spirit animals, especially the wolves!
By Lindsay Townsend, author of FLAVIA’S SECRET ~ How far dare you trust your lover? Especially when your lover is also your master..... ~ available at BookStrand ~ ~ & author of A KNIGHT’S VOW ~ available at Kensington Books


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~
When a Good Angel Falls ~ 2012 adventure fantasy romance ~ available from BookStrand ~ ~

Monday, August 25, 2008

Guaranteed Way To Finish That Book!

When was the last time you finished a book? Do you find yourself struggling to get words onto the screen? Is the thought of writing a book a year daunting?

Well relax, it doesn’t have to be.

The expectations of readers for authors have changed drastically since the days of the first romance. Now, not only is it harder to get published and the market tighter to get into, reader expectation (combined with publisher expectation) almost always require that you write at least a book a year if you want to maintain readership and keep your name from fading with the dust. No writer worth their salt wants to be known as a one-book wonder. Or worse – a one book writer.

I’ve never been fond of math, but I’ve discovered there’s a secret formula for guaranteeing a book a year no matter how busy you are – and it has nothing to do with being prolific. It is “Dedication + Time Management = Book”.

The first part of the formula, “Dedication”:

This is the key variable. Decide how important it is for you to finish that book. Where is writing in your list of priorities? Is it in the top two of your priorities? Top three? Bottom three? Only you can answer this. Your decision will reflect your will to finish that book.

The second part of the formula, “Time Management”:

You hear it all the time: Less is More. In this instance, the saying is true. What some writers tend to do (myself included) is crash write. Yes, like crash dieting. It’s never safe and never good. You can achieve the desired outcome (page count) within a short period of time, but you wear yourself out fast. Those 55 pages last week turned into 0 pages this week and next week because you’re burned out. You’ve written yourself sick. Just like dieting, it’s a dangerous roller coaster ride.

What you need to do is learn to pace yourself. Work at a speed that is comfortable to you – and doable. Set small goals, such as one hour a day, or one page a day. A small goal is less daunting and easier to accomplish than a large, broad goal, like 50 pages for the week.

Take small steps. Think of it this way: There are roughly 365 days in a year. If you wrote just one page a day, you’ve written a book at the end of the year at 365 pages. Factor in more “Dedication” into the equation and resolve to write 2 pages day. That’s two books in a year!

What was that? You’re too busy? You can’t find time to write? Not even a page?

Let me ask you this. What’s playing tonight? What happened on the last episode of American Idol? Did you see the last Grey’s Anatomy? Who do you think will be next to go on Desperate Housewives or Lost?

If you can answer at least one of these questions, then you’re not too busy. If you can find time to watch TV, you definitely can find time to write. Again, it comes back to “Dedication”. How important is finishing this book to you? Instead of wasting that hour out of your busy life to watch TV, turn the TV off for the evening and put that hour to good use by writing. Time yourself. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in an hour knowing that you have only that hour and you have to make it count.

One hour a day. A page a day. A book a year. How daunting does it sound now?

You probably won’t be able to answer what happened on the last episode of your favorite TV show, but you finally have that book written and ready to be submitted. There’s no contest there. And just think, when that first sale comes around and your readers are demanding more books, you know you can keep up with their demands by giving them a book a year!

Not bad for someone who’s dislikes math, huh?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Lindsay Townsend

Greetings, Title Magicians, today we have a wonderful lady and a most splendid author, Lindsay Townsend, with us who pens remarkable and atmospheric romance novels, the kind of novel you can lose yourself in, and simply be transported to another time and place.
Reading Lindsay Townsend's Flavia's Secret is an opportunity to experience living in Roman times, and to immerse yourself in a love story as it could have occurred in that culture. There is something truly magical about how Lindsay writes, as if she herself is living during the Roman period, observing, then transcribing the story for all of us.

Five Reasons Why I Love the Genre of Historical Romance.

Hello, and thank you to TITLE MAGIC for having me along today! I'm a British writer, living and working in the United Kingdom, mainly in Yorkshire. I'm married and I write full time for Kensington Zebra and Bookstrand of Siren-Bookstrand.

When I was first published, I began as a writer of modern romantic suspense. I still love that genre but writing for Kensington and Bookstrand has given me the chance to return to my first love, historical romance.

"Why do you like it so much, a girl-friend asked me over coffee recently. History is the past. Everyone's dead!" That made me think - WHY do I like historicals and history so much? I suppose in a wider sense we all live always in the past - we are a collection of past memories and experiences that forms us and makes us what we are. My mum, who is 85, has sadly lost most of her short-term memory and is tremendously affected with the loss of that personal 'history'. Even on a one to one basis, history is important.

Here are 5 more reasons why I love the genre:

1. The chance for high stakes and adventure. (This is where history and romantic suspense tend to come close together and perhaps why so writers of romantic suspense such as Mary Stewart tend to write both historicals and moderns.) In a historical romance, I can choose when and where to set the story, so I choose to set my stories in situations of great personal conflict and outer tension. With my ancient historical novel, FLAVIA'S SECRET, set in ancient Roman Britain in AD206, the stakes for Flavia and the hero Marcus are life and death. To save her life and the lives of her fellow slaves, Flavia has forged a vital document, and she does not know if she can trust her new master Marcus, to whom she is also passionately attracted. For his part, Marcus wishes to expose a corrupt and brutal Roman official, the Decurion Lucius Maximus, a man who, if crossed, is quite happy to commit murder.The whole issue of slavery is also explored in FLAVIA'S SECRET - it's many terrors and cruelties. There is also love and tenderness, as there was in the Roman world itself, where we have gravestones showing that masters did free and marry their slave-women companions.

2. Glorious Heroes. In the past, the roles of men have been perhaps more defined by martial qualities, by their roles as warriors. This can lead to unpleasant, brutish individuals but I like to explore its other positive aspect in my historicals - the man as a valiant protector. The ideals of chivalry explored in my medieval historical romances for Kensington did inspire men in the twelfth century to be less crude and consider their womenfolk - at least noble-womenfolk. In my writing, I make this chivalry extend to all women and children, as I feel the ideal was intended. I love the idea of a strong man who can rescue the heroine. So in my Kensington Zebra Debut title, A KNIGHT'S VOW, I have the hero Guillelm care for and protect the heroine Alyson - who also cares for and protects him in turn.

3.Enterprising Heroines. Because women sadly are still oppressed in many parts of the world and were particularly oppressed in the past, writing about my heroines in a past where they were automatically belittled simply because of their sex gives me lots of opportunities for conflict. My heroines must battle for their places in the world and they do so, with their wits and beauty and knowledge. Often in the past women could also be powerful figures - think of Eleanor of Aquitaine - with control of lands and men. I like to explore that in my stories, too and I think it's very empowering for women.

4. Exotic and Exciting Settings. I can show cathedrals and castles when they were new or being built. Living in the United Kingdom, I can explore many part of the medieval and Roman worlds - as I did when I set FLAVIA’S SECRET in Bath, in the Roman baths at Bath. (This is a wonderful, sensual, sexy setting!) For my forthcoming new Kensington Zebra medieval, A KNIGHT’S CAPTIVE, I explore the mysterious fenlands in 1066 and London under Norman occupation.

I can also show the pyramids when they still had their white limestone coverings and Egyptian temples when they were vibrant places of faith, as I do in my forthcoming Bookstrand historical BLUE GOLD. I can also use the setting in a more intimate way, as I do in my forthcoming Bookstrand historical ESCAPE TO LOVE, where the hero and heroine are at the Roman holiday resort of Baiae, infamous even then for its wild boating parties and debauchery.

5. Lovely costumes. I know this is possibly a frivolous reason for enjoying writing about the past, but throughout history there have been some truly spectacular fashions! Read about what Roman and Medieval women really wore in my books and you'll see why I like them so much. And I must admit, I'm a sucker for a man in armour...
Thanks again for having me along, Title Magic! I hope people find this interesting and enjoy it. If people have any questions, please contact me here or on my email at .

Flavia’s Secret
Lindsay Townsend
How far dare you trust your lover? Especially when your lover is also your master.....
Spirited young Celtic scribe Flavia longs for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (which in modern England is the town of Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress's death brings a threat to Flavia's dream: her new master, Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer, toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive, but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her 'family', she has forged a note from her mistress. If the deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.
For his part, torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife, Drusilla, and their child; but how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?
As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.

An exciting mystery set in ancient Italy and Rome. The romance between Flavia and Marcus is strong and passionate and the mystery is intriguing. Very enjoyable. 4.5 red roses. Morna

For my Bookstrand titles, on the Sirenbookstrand blog: as well as at the publisher’s website:

A Knight’s Vow
Lindsay Townsend

Kensington Books

'Sir Guillelm has returned! The son of Lord Robert has come back to us!'.....
Would he remember her? She had been fourteen years old when he had answered the call of his kinsman, Raymond of Poitiers, and gone with him to the Holy Land. He had been in the exotic, dusty lands of Outremer for seven long years and she had despaired of ever seeing him again.


You can read more about my novels, blurbs, extracts and reviews, on my blog:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Emotions and the Characters Who Have Them

I just had myself a good cry the other day. Now, I am not looking for sympathy. In fact, I am getting to the point I can laugh about what happened. I also needed to jump in and blog since I haven’t done so for several weeks (sorry!) and thought I’d kill two birds with one rock.

My story goes back a few years ago (prologues—love ‘em or hate ‘em). I was on my way to work, sitting still in traffic when I heard sirens. Along with the other good citizens, I pulled over to the side. Not enough. The car fleeing pursuit drove through the lanes of traffic, scraping between every car along the way. Turns out said car held a crack dealer who was driving one of his customer’s cars!! I kid you not.

Since then, I have been a magnet. I was returning a rental car in Nashville, sitting still when the people in front of me backed up and totaled my rental car. We got stuck in the ice in Virginia, my father came to help, slid and took out my front light. We had a ripping flat on vacation outside of Williamsburg on the hottest day of the year. We thought it was the Toyota van, bought a Kia. Had about a year’s reprieve. Then, and this is the only one where I actually DID anything, I backed up into my brother-in-law’s SUV when he came to visit and parked in my blind spot.

Last week, I was visiting in Virginia, stopped at railroad tracks, and the man in front of me backed up and hit me. Last Saturday, I’d been running errands and the last thing on my list was to go through the car wash. The machines malfunctioned and smashed in my back windshield. I looked out my rearview mirror, told my daughter the machines were behaving strangely and saw it happen.

So, in the spirit of using what we know, I’m going to analyze my emotions and apply said analysis to writing. When the huge machine hit my window, my daughter and I screamed. The eleven-year old child told me to get us out of there. I was already on my way. The adrenaline pumping, I had tunnel vision, and didn’t see anything but the path to the parking space in front of the store. We got out and went in. I was able to tell the cashier clearly what had happened. I felt dizzy. I could see nothing beyond eight feet.

In Psychology, there is a theory that the physiological reactions happen first and our interpretations of them come after. We don’t even know what we’re feeling at the time, even though our interpretations can come quickly.

I didn’t look at the damage until we were safe at home. My daughter calmed down, and we told Daddy together. He thought it wasn’t any big deal. The insurance would cover it. I went upstairs to cry.

He hadn’t reacted properly. I must have done something to deserve all these bad things happening to me. The rational part of my brain told me nobody had been hurt and luck was luck. The emotional side had taken over and wouldn’t listen, until I cried myself out. The next day, I joked about it with friends.

Crime and Punishment is not a book on many high school reading lists, and for good reason. When I read it, I descended into vicarious madness with the main character. I looked out my school bus window and couldn’t see the sun shining in front of my face.

Now, that’s emotion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A few of my favorite things

I think everyone has a list of favorite things. A few of mine would include dictionaries. I love them! I have over 30 different kinds of dictionaries from American Slang to the Seven Language Dictionary. I also couldn't write without my Thesaurus.

So today, I was wondering what are your favorite things? From books, to perfumes, to that sinfully delicious confection you can't live without, please share!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Magic of 8-08-2008 ~ No, It's Not the Olympics

~ 8 ~
The magic of 8-08-2008? No, it’s not the Olympics. At least, not for me. My apologies to whomever is enamored. However, the Chinese and I now share this auspicious opening date ~ this triple 8 day, with also adds up to an 8 day in numerology. Now, if the money number...translates into sales, I could really believe this was a fantastic date, since my novel, Tangerine Carnal Dreams, was released on this very day.
My date with the very important 8, how did I miss it? Don’t ask and I won’t tell. I’m blaming it partly on pure exhaustion. Partly on my inexperience. I’ve learned a lot so far on the business side of being an author, but with miles and miles to go. And one thing I’ve learned is that publishers operate differently.
So there it is, a major goof on my part. Okay, I admit it, every now and again, my goofball tendencies demonstrate themselves in a manner which leaves me wishing for that hole down to China. And boy, did this happen when I was attempting to promo When a Good Angel Falls on the chat loops a week ago last Monday. I made so many ridiculous mistakes it caused my head to spin. And it was already spinning for other reasons. Gee, I shoulda hired myself out for the next Exorcist movie.
Mel, you are not alone as a Noob. Perhaps, there’s a world somewhere out there which adores us Noobs. Far, far away, another planet-world. Or another dimension, perhaps even a parallel universe. Where Noobs are cherished and treasured, and provided with every wonderful comfort. Where Noobs are always thought to be impossibly and irresistibly adorable. And this land of ultra sexy men and women, is always on the lookout for more Noobs to add to their population. Yes, their mission, roaming the galaxy or entering every dimensional portal for more Noob immigrants.
Hey! Look down here, you Noob lovers. Take me...please! Raising hand here...

Still, the whole truth is, I am proud of my quatre 8 day release. It was a long journey from the time I submitted to the time of publication. Huge thanks to my editor, PJ Wilde, and to Aspen Mountain Press.
And I so love Jinger Heaston. She’s now done three fabulous covers for me. And here’s hoping for many more.

...a fire-shooting fierce woman...a shapeshifting prince of a stallion...and the tangerine aphrodisiac winds on a world far away...
Tangerine Carnal Dreams

Author: Savanna Kougar
Artist: Jinger Heaston

ISBN: 978-1-60168-127-0
Genre: Erotic Fantasy Paranormal
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Publication Date: 08/08/2008
Sexual Content: Erotic


Corporal Kattalonia is a galactic enforcer-agent for her home world. Her father has just been accused of treason. She chases after the villain in an old rickety craft. Recovering her father’s stolen data cube will exonerate him, and halt the sale of top level secrets. The trouble, the villain’s trail leads to Yemisque, a world of tangerine carnal dreams. Great place to hide out. Great place for the erotic adventures of your choice.
Prince Ziocese, Bad Boy Extraordinaire has discovered his one woman. She shoots fire from her palm and is not an equine shifter, a mate his royal parents won’t accept. Renegade from his world, he still honors his sacred tradition, chasing her half-way across the galaxy. He will do anything to help her, to protect her. Whether she lets him or not. Trouble is he can’t catch her to prove himself. Or, to possess her with extreme pleasure.
Hopefully, in your tangerine dreams...
Savanna Kougar
Run on the Wild Side of Romance

Monday, August 18, 2008

Confessions of a Perpetual Noob

n. Slang
One who annoys others with his inexperience. Often used as an insult by members of online gaming communities. Ex. "U R a noob." "Only noobs do that."

This is me. While I am not a stupid person, I have more than my share of stupid moments, especially during events and situations in which I've never been before. Falling out of the bleachers (while seated, no less!) before Morgan's first softball game as coach, for example. Or making a disparaging remark about homecoming queens to a new friend, only to find out moments later that she was one in high school. (She still talks to me, though!) And let's not talk about the things I said in my last job interview. I maintain I was hired for the entertainment value. And, over the years, I haven't let my workplace down.

My mom says I get it honest. I don't know about that, but the two of us together can be pretty dangerous! I used to get embarrassed and stressed out, but that only led to more bumbling. The whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. I've surrendered to it since. I know it's coming, but I don't worry. And when it does happen, I giggle at myself, save the moments for good stories later, and move on.

That doesn't mean I go into new things all willy-nilly, though. Preparation is one of the things that has helped me attain more of a Zen attitude when it comes to habitually making an idiot of myself. So when I began to think about submitting my work, I did lots and lots of research.

There are so many resources! And there are resources to help you filter out those resources. And still more resources to help you translate both the resources and the resource filters. The publishing world seems like a huge tangled mess to a noob like me. I haven't figured out much. But I have found some great publications and websites that are helping me do just that.

Like Ralan's. This website is a comprehensive list of sf/f/h markets that range from the big professional mags like Asimov's, to small press paying markets like Aoife's Kiss, to for the love markets that pay in contributor's copies. Ralan posts his average submission times and updates the market pages regularly.

Writer Beware is an extremely valuable-to-noobs resource provided by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. They report on scams, publishing fraud, give submission tips and a thumbs up/thumbs down submissions list. Predators and Editors is another website working for writers and against scams and less than ethical industry professionals. Or folks who make themselves out to be industry professionals, anyway.

A lot of burgeoning writers can't afford a subscription to Publisher's Weekly, even with an organization discount. But Publisher's Lunch is a free newsletter chock full of industry news. And, although I didn't do this, for a $20 monthly fee, you can subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace for lots more.

For the agent seeker, I found writer Karen Fox's list of agents to be really helpful. The Bookends Literary Agency blog has been particularly helpful lately because, not only does Jessica blog about the industry from the agent's point of view, but she writes about what an author can expect at various stages in the game after she gets The Call. This is something that's always seemed a bit mysterious to me.

This is a partial list of my favorite resources. Help a noob out. What are some of yours?


Sorry I'm late. Weekends happen. But the winner of Thursdays AtTBRP contest is Terry! Send an e-mail to melhiers at to redeem your prize. Slunfuxz, Terry!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Magically, The NewCovey Cover Awards are back...

From the cool tame prairie, greetings and salutations. I found out a few days ago that the cover art for Red Lioness Tamed, Liquid Silver Books ~ ~ was still in contention at the NewCovey Cover Awards blog site.
If you’re in a voting sort of mood, vote for your fave cover art at ~

Title: Red Lioness Tamed
Author: Savanna Kougar
Cover Artist: David Burton

Genre: Molten Silver, Futuristic, Sci Fi, Shifter Romance
Websites / Blogs:
If yer partial to a futuristic adventurous romp of lust and love on the high celestial seas of space...if you have yen for those cat shifter types, lament no longer...
Year 3051, the Earth calendar used on Terra-Mars, a terra-formed moon orbiting Mars, and home of the heroine, Sun Rocket.
What does a lioness shifter do when she's suddenly trapped in an unknown space cruiser's cargo hold? Then, despite her ability to savagely defend herself, she's trapped beneath the handsome human Captain. And next, cat-scratching ridiculously, she finds herself carnal-trapped, and meow yowl! bound by leather straps in his bed?
Answer: She fights tooth and claw. Problem: The loner Captain is nova-hot at seducing her.

Friday, August 15, 2008

American Title V

It's almost that time of year again.

In the next few weeks Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times magazine will be announcing the names of the ten unpublished writers who will be finalists in the fifth American Title contest.

Those ten will embark on a crazy journey that will end in April next year, at the Romantic Times Booklovers convention in Orlando, when the winner, and brand new Dorchester author, will be revealed.

The contest is all about votes, and every single one counts.

To help the fun along Title Magic is hoping to interview the finalists when voting begins.

Stay with us for the brand new contest roller coaster.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Abusing the TBR Pile

Earlier this month, Mai wrote a post about the end of summer being a time for reflection and goal setting. That's always been true for me! Between the end of the busy season, a birthday, and the beginning of the school year, I usually have a lot to brood about.

As I filtered through September's releases, I've discovered that lots of authors whose debut books are languishing on my ever-growing TBR shelf have new installments coming out soon. My reading goal for fall, then, is to take on these series starters. I'm sure I'll find more than a few gems!

I'm particularly looking forward to starting Anne Aguirre's series. Grimspace is the first and Wanderlust comes out next month.

I have heard nothing but raves from the blogosphere and my patrons about Chelsea Cain. I have Heartsick in my locker, waiting for break time. Sweetheart is her new release.

Caitlin Kitteridge is a new member at the League of Reluctant Adults, and I've been chomping at the bit to start the Nocturne City series! The first is Night Life, and Pure Blood comes out next month.

I guess C.E. Murphy's Negotiator series doesn't count, as I've read, and enjoyed, Heart of Stone. House of Cards is #2 in the series, and Hands of Flame is the new release. Good stuff there!

Yesterday we got to celebrate Savanna's release day for When a Good Angel Falls. (Woot!) And next month, we'll squee with Trish when her Harlequin American, A Firefighter in the Family, comes out! Ladies, welcome to my TBR pile!

So what are you guys reading? What's in your TBR pile or on your to-buy list? Talk to me in comments before 10 a.m. central tomorrow, and you'll be in the drawing to win a book of your choice!*

*The book must be in print or available in e-format. In the case of e-books, a distributor or publisher gift cert will be awarded.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Angel Magical Release Day

August 13, My Release Day ~
When a Good Angel Falls
Hi everyone, I’m thrilled and dancing on the clouds. Today is definitely a magical day for me and a dream come true, since When a Good Angel Falls is a story straight from my heart and soul. The book was also a whole lot of fun to write because of the adventure scenes and the passionate love scenes.
Blurb: When a Good Angel Falls
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]

PG-rated Excerpt:

"Have a holly jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year," Sedona badly sang, just to dryly entertain herself. "Especially if you’re seasonally depressed and have no vitamin D," she sarcastically stretched. "Oh by golly, 2012‘s not Christmas holly, oh by golly, the endtimes aren’t jolly. Is our salvation just unholy folly?"
Sedona drove along the old one-lane highway southwest of what used to be Flagstaff, Arizona. Once the catastrophes lined up like the breadlines, it had become a FEMA /military base of operation. She had been fortunate to bypass the checkpoints without being stopped, and hauled off to the closest camp, then forced into some ungodly way of existence. Death was always preferable. And few her age cared anymore. No reason, no reason, at all.
As usual she wondered about the great mystery. Why? Why am I still alive? In these unbelievably ugly times, with evil alive and well everywhere. Is it the grace of Goddess? It could only be grace. Only some strange miraculous grace that she still lived. The why of it? Sedona possessed no earthly clue.
True, she could summon psychic abilities as naturally as she breathed, in certain crucial instances, especially healing. Whenever the soft glow of ‘knowing’ occurred inside her, she could simply touch a person or an animal, and the healing would instantly take place. Yet, she couldn’t just heal anyone who needed it. And certainly, her abilities didn’t compare to other well-known Psychic/Healers.
Still, she’d never fit in, not anywhere. And talk about choosing the ‘road less traveled’, she could be the iconic poster person on that book cover. Not that real books were available these days, except on the dangerous black market.
Briefly, Sedona shook her head, wanting to get rid of the angst over her survival. In truth, she envied all those who died, their spirits traveling to the other side. Human or animal, it didn’t matter. Sedona envied them. Especially when she saw all the corpses, common now, and literally piled up the world over. She blessed them all to heaven and desperately wished, aching-wished she could join them.
But she never had. Not yet.
Sighing, Sedona watched the impressive light show in the night sky. All around her asteroids arced constantly, some flashing out before they struck. Most of the stars couldn’t be seen, hidden by the ash haze of Mexico’s erupting volcanoes, hellish explosions she’d watched on an illegal TV feed. While hard on her lungs and eyes, the ash made the spy satellites useless, a victory in her book, since it impeded the net tight control of Homeland Security.
The steady rain of asteroids for the last thirty-five days had been strangely beautiful, yet deadly to large land areas on Earth, and sometimes to remaining population centers. Yet, it also prevented the Homeland Hordes from rounding up the desired or eliminating the undesired. Slowly enough not to trigger the watch beams, her old early ‘90s van clumped along. Five years ago Sedona had eliminated every electronic device, and replaced the engine with an antique which had been converted to use water as fuel, although now, clean water was scarce in most places.
No electronics, no herd-control implanted chips, and a lot less chance of being caught, then charged with a crime against the state. Any crime, it didn’t matter anymore. Jaywalking could be considered a crime against the state, even a possible terrorist act. Recently a man had been convicted as a terrorist for halting the progress of an enforcement vehicle, and sent away to the most grueling work station, simply because he jaywalked. That was life inside what some now called and accepted as the North American Union.
Sedona didn’t accept it. Had never accepted it. She had neutralized every chip. But she couldn’t fight as a New Rebel either, even though she had trained the last five years to a high fitness level.
Sixty-one years of age, she no longer had the stamina needed for that noble sacrifice. The New Rebels were always on the run, or attacking. Nor did she have the tech expertise, the brilliance to manipulate the big brother chips and the Darth Vader web systems
Having no family left, and not much of anything left, with her land stolen by the police state since it still produced crops, Sedona helped out wherever she could. And merely existed. Now she drove to a friend’s hidden sanctuary, invited when they’d managed to talk over a shortwave radio.
Sedona grimaced at the irony of driving through Sedona, her namesake. Now deserted, the new age haven had been brutally wiped out by the New World Order’s bio-terrorism. Yep, the message had been cruelly delivered to all those who believed in sacred-creating an enlightened global order.
In 2012 fear reigned. For most everyone.
Seeing no one, she drove in silence. Even having an old radio on, if a signal could be snagged, upped her chances of being caught. "Run silent, run deep," she quoted, ignoring the eery chill in her gut.
"Fear rules everything. Okay, maybe not for those lucky enough to be at Maya Toga Days," she mumbled, half-elated, half-repulsed by the idea. "Maybe a big fat miracle or two. The great solar flare of enlightenment courtesy of sun cycle 24." She took a breath, musing. "I don’t suppose they have Christmas tree lights on the pyramid. Serpent lights, yeah, that’s the ticket. The ticket to paradise. The tree of life. Let’s all jump for joy. It’s a new kind of holly jolly Christmas. The garden of Eden returned, where the feathered serpents are Santas, delivering toys."
"Oh no." Despair settled in her stomach like a rock. Her van slowed, clunking offensive loud noises. "It’s a good day to die. Good night to die."
Her own whisper knifed her insides, as she guided the rolling van toward the crumbling edge of the neglected highway. "Maybe the coyotes will get me first. Rather feed the wildlife," she muttered.
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~ ~
When a Good Angel Falls ~ 2012 adventure fantasy romance ~ available August 13 ~ ~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A suitable job for a woman?

What is the right job for a heroine, or hero for that matter?

Compared with getting 50,000 – 100,000 words plus on to the page to make a book, that one sounds easy – just chose something and go for it.

Hmmm. Yes.

But …

Something that they can do without it interfering with the plot, that sounds interesting and they can do well? Plus that poor harassed author doesn’t have to go hunting too hard in the local library to find out exactly what a particle physicist does to earn a crust?

Maybe not quite so easy.

I remember attending a hilarious talk by saga writer Jessica Stirling, loosely entitled Ten Things I Hate About You, which dealt with some of the petty gripes that drag you out of a story. One of them was the heroine (or hero) who has a job, but never seems to do it. The air stewardess who never has to grapple with jet lag or work rotas and the lawyer who never opens a book. This one stuck in my mind, when I have forgotten the other nine, as it is one of my favorite petty gripes too.

Jane Austen didn’t have this problem as love, romance and husband hunting was the job for a woman when she was writing. The rest of us have to juggle with keeping the protagonists solvent while making sure they never miss the chance for that romantic tryst, search for buried treasure, hunt for serial killer, hot clinch on the beach, etc.

Self employment is an option, or the long suffering assistant who runs everything while hero/heroine is doing something far more interesting. (I think it’s time we had a book about how the long suffering assistant finally gets a love life.)

It’s easier if your hero/heroine is a policeman/doctor/private investigator where the job is an integral part of the story, but it doesn’t take much to keep me happy, and it can be done in subtle ways – maybe the heroine can be found reading the trade journal of her chosen profession, or someone calls the hero for some professional advice.

On the practical side, as a writer, including long chunks of description of a job is probably as much of a turn off as no mention at all. Unless the story demands it I tend to chose jobs that centre around things I like to do, like cooking or gardening or things to do with the arts, where I might have to research how a professional does the job, but I do know how to cook a steak or plant a pansy.

So – a suitable job for a heroine? Is there something perfect – and inheriting a fortune from Great Aunt Ethel doesn’t count. Actually don’t get me started on that one, as that is another of my pet gripes, the sudden inheritance/lottery win, right at the crucial moment. Life ain’t like that, or mine isn’t anyway.

As a reader is there a book where you have really loved the job that the hero or heroine does and learned something from it? As a writer is there a job you have chosen for your leading player that has worked really well, or turned out to be a real pain?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Jami Davenport ~ From the Horse’s Mouth

Hi Title Magicians, I just couldn't resist asking Jami to blog about how she used animal character POVs. It's been a huge fascination of mine and Jami is the perfect person to blog on the subject. You'll understand once you read on and discover her background.
Hint: Not only is Jami an accomplished author, she is also an accomplished horsewoman.
Without further adieu...

From the Horse’s Mouth--Using a Horse’s Point of View

First, I’d like to thank Savanna for inviting me to blog today. I’m a Siren author with two books published in print and ebook format, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? and The Dance.
I’m an animal lover. I have 2 dogs, a cat, and a horse. All of my books have at least one animal as a secondary character. For a long time, I’ve been experimenting with scenes from the animal’s point of view (POV).

When I first started using animal POVs, an agent told me to remove those scenes or write children’s books. So I dutifully, yet reluctantly, I removed all of the animal POVs in my first two books, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? and The Dance. The Dance had a mystical scene in which the hero, a cynical former pop singer, encounters Orca whales in the San Juan Islands. That magical moment is a turning point in his life. Originally, this scene was in the Orca’s point of view. In Who’s, I have a three-legged rat dog who is a voyeur. He also attempts to save the heroine from the villain. Again, I wrote his POV out of the book. Regardless, my animal characters still retained their personalities and played important parts in each book.

Lately, I’ve been hearing buzz that editors are looking for books that include an animal’s point of view based on the popularity of recent books. Regardless, I’d already decided to follow my heart with my next book.

In The Gift Horse, the horse’s POV was integral to the book. For once I wrote my book, my way and include an equine POV. Gabbie is an opinionated show horse who witnesses suspicious behavior in her barn on more than one occasion. She wants to tell the hero and heroine about it, but they don’t speak her language, and she doesn’t speak theirs.

So how does a horse actually communicate and think? As humans, we’ll probably never know how they really think, though I’ve read some interesting articles and books by horse psychics. According to them, horses communicate in images not words. You have to picture an image and relay it to the horse. The horse relays an image back to you.

Horses are also attuned to body language. As herd animals, they utilize their bodies to express their emotions and intentions in subtle and complex ways. Horses apply this knowledge to other animals and humans, too. Most of us are oblivious to the messages we send and receive via posture and other physical clues. Horses read us better than we often read ourselves and other humans. They reflect their riders’ and handlers’ feelings in an honest and thorough way. For example, if you’re afraid of horses, a sensitive horse will sense that fear and assume there is a predator lurking in the woods and react accordingly with the two weapons a horse has—fight or flight. It doesn’t occur to him that he’s the source, not an unknown predator. The rider assumes the horse is misbehaving when actually the animal is reacting to the rider’s emotions.

When writing from a horse’s POV, I had to decide whether to portray how a horse views the world or to give the horse human qualities. I chose to do a combination of both. My horses usually have horse goals, such as staying safe, looking for food, or finding the path of least resistance. Here’s a paragraph from a scene in The Gift Horse. Gabbie has just witnessed the hero (Carson) and heroine (Sam) in one of their many arguments:

Gabbie nickered after Carson as he strode out of the barn, his back stiff and his shoulders tight. The two humans had been battling for herd supremacy since they’d met. Sam needed some education. Any good lead mare would grab the offending horse by the scruff of his neck and give him a good shake, followed by a disciplinary nip to the butt. That kept the herd in line. Didn’t she understand that mares ruled the herd, not stallions?
The motives for such an argument were beyond her. They weren’t fighting over a prime piece of grazing area or a better spot under a shady tree or the first drink in a stream. Instead, it had something to do with those ribbons that humans seemed to find so valuable. Their pursuit of these ribbons mystified her. After all, you couldn’t eat the things. They didn’t scare away predators. They were too small to offer shelter. So who cared whether you got one or not to hang on your stall door or what color it was? It made as much sense as being asked to trot in endless circles that never went anywhere.
Humans. Gabbie snorted. Poor dumb creatures.

Gabbie has several human qualities, too. She has her opinions and isn’t afraid to express them. She also falls in love with the hero, who’s scared of horses. In the paragraph below, she’s observing the hero and heroine together. She knows they’re attracted to each other long before they admit to it.

Gabbie watched as the two humans engaged in some odd courting ritual. She tossed her head and offered a disapproving snort. Too bad humans didn’t have tails. All a mare had to do was swish her tail in a stallion’s face. He got the point. After which, a couple well-placed kicks kept him in line. Horses didn’t have to do all that groping, moaning, and slobbering on each other.
The Gift Horse is contracted with Siren/Bookstrand and will be available in 2009. It is part of a series of books about the Reynolds siblings. The next and possibly last book in the series features an animal communicator as a heroine and a skeptical hero who is hell-bent on proving she’s a fraud.
Available Now From Siren Publishing: Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?
What happens when reformed bad boy Jake Reynolds discovers a racy Goldilocks sleeping in his bed on a dark and stormy night?
Goldilocks never had it this good. The characters are superbly written. Romance, suspense, and passion fill this book."—Review Your Book (4 Stars)
Fun, whimsical, and full of romance. I can’t wait to check out more books by Jami Davenport.--Fallen Angel Reviews (5 Angels)
Available Now From Siren Publishing: The Dance
What's a girl to do when her former fiancé declares that she's frigid? Take a jaunt on her wild side with the scruffy Puerto Rican next door?
Bio ~ Jami Davenport has been writing since she was old enough to know the alphabet. An advocate of happy endings, Jami writes sexy romance, sizzling suspense, and equestrian fiction. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her husband, a former Green Beret turned plumber, a chocolate Lab with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare. In her spare time, Jami rides and shows her dressage horse and grows roses. An avid boater, Jami has spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, the setting for her first two books.
Saddle Up for a Sizzling Ride into the Sunset
Subscribe to my newsletter:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jami Davenport ~ Guest Blogger

Please join us tomorrow for an interview with Siren author, Jami Davenport. She will be blogging about the POV of animal characters.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Time for Reflection

This will be a short post because it’s Friday!!

Looks like we’re nearing the end of summer. That means no more children at home and getting back to work. To me, it seems like there are usually two times during the year when people start making goals and re-analyzing their schedules: New Year’s and at in early to mid-August when the school year starts back up again.

This time of the year is perfect for goal’s setting (in my opinion) because it falls right after the end of RWA Nationals. Those that attended usually return with renewed motivation, excitement, and a better understanding of where they are at in their writing career, where they want to go, and what they have to do to obtain that goal. What better time for reflection than now, especially since (for the majority of us) there will be more time opening up in our daily schedule?

Some things are sure to have changed since the beginning of the year. Regardless whether you attended Nationals or not – and regardless if it doesn’t look like there’ll be any extra hours opening up for you in the near future – take a moment to reflect, recharge, and redirect your efforts if need be. Don’t waste your time working aimlessly toward something you’re not certain of. Find out if your goals have changed since the beginning of the year, regroup, and replan.

Happy goal setting!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Un-Magical Faux Paw ~ Baby Aru

Oh, the embarrassing shame of it all...*shakes head sadly at herself*. I missed him, Baby Aru peeking through the ‘S’ at the end of ‘Falls’ on my cover art for When a Good Angel Falls.
Bekki Lynn, Siren author of Psychic Hitch and A Last Glass of Wine, found my pup character with her blessedly sharp eyesight, and mentioned him on the Siren-BookStrand Loop.
Otherwise, I would still be blissfully gazing at my passionately embracing heroine and my hero’s black transparent cherub wings...and at the amazing font Jinger Heaston used for the title. Yes, blissfully gazing does describe it.
Take a look for yourself. You’ll see Baby Aru’s tiny dark eyes and his little black nose. My hero, Volcano, discovers the homeless pup while on an angelic mission to New York City. Rescuing him after a massive explosion, which Volcano’s sparks to save the city and stop another interfering angel, he brings the ‘baby’ back to Sedona, knowing the pup is just what she needs.
Honestly, when I began writing this story I had no plan for a pup character, or any specific animal character. I certainly had no idea Baby Aru would show up. It was one of those happy, happy writing surprises. There he was, the little guy, suddenly alive on my written page. And then, alive in Sedona’s arms.
I’d by lying if I didn’t admit a tear or two fell on my cheeks at that point in the story. Some of you know – try to keep writing while the tears are dripping on your keyboard, and you’re sniffling.
Yeah, sappy about my own story. And, you know what, it still gets to me.

Blurb: When a Good Angel Falls ~ Release date: August 13, 2008 ~
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.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Renee Knowles ~ Taking It All In

Renee, Happy Release Day!
And welcome back to Title Magic.

Renee Knowles’ latest verra sexy novel, Guilty Pleasures, from Siren Publishing is being officially released today. I tell ya, I can feel the heat and the hawt excitement from here... Sizzle... Szzzzzzzztt!
And I know her fans are already lining up to click on the buy button.
Was this blog planned or was it the fascinating magic of synchronicity?
At my invitation, Renee did want to blog around this time since she knew Guilty Pleasures would be coming out. However, I can tell you when we scheduled this blog, she didn’t know her release date.
The magic of synchronicity strikes again! And today is just for you, Renee. Enjoy!

Taking It All In
By Renee Knowles

I was recently asked in an author interview what I wish I’d known about publishing before I sold my first book. As I read the question, many thoughts ran through my mind. There were lots of tidbits on promotion I wish I’d realized beforehand. There was also a lot of general advice I could have used. And if someone had told me that I wouldn’t feel much different as a published author than an aspiring one, I never would have believed it.
But what really went through my head—and what ultimately became my answer—was that I think you never really have a chance to take it all in. Once you sell, you’re besieged with things you need to get done before the book comes out, not to mention working on the next book.
Publishing is such a fast-paced business, and there is always something new needing attention: a new book contract, edits, promotion, blogging, press releases, and, um, actual writing. I know when I sold, there was never a moment to just relish the feeling. To just take a short time for yourself and say, "Wow, I’ve done it!"
And with new contracts comes more responsibility. How will this book sell? What can I do to make it better, deeper, more emotional and more high concept? Why does the hero on my cover have brown hair while the character in my book is blond?
Even though writing is a "hurry up and wait" business, there always seems to be something that has to be done. So, when are you supposed to pop the champagne and a box of Godiva chocolates?
I’ve discovered you have to make the time for that. You have to enjoy every moment as it happens. Every reader e-mail, every great review, every new addition to your newsletter list. It’s the small victories we need to savor. It’s the small triumphs that we remember long after the initial thrill of signing the first contract is over.

Sensual, Sassy and Slightly Sinful
Going Topless--"A must read."--Euro- Reviews Out Now! Siren Publishing

For more information on Renee and her books, please visit

Coming August 4th—A New Series! An erotic romance series that will set your heart ablaze.
Pleasures, Inc.
A male escort service where the hottest men fulfill your steamiest fantasies, and they are there for your pleasure only…

Pleasures, Inc. Book 1: Guilty Pleasures
[Erotic Contemporary Romance] Diana Grady has stayed away from love, pouring her energy into making her escort service, Pleasures, Inc., a success. Until she hires sexy, intelligent Nick Duvane. She can't resist Nick's sensual words and steamy caresses. Then she discovers Nick is an undercover reporter who could destroy her company—and her heart.

JUST RELEASED from The Wild Rose Press!!
A sensual historical romance novella of love, lust and overwhelming passion…
In the world of Regency England, a lord and a lady play a dangerous game of desire. But will the price of pleasure be the most ultimate sacrifice of all—their hearts?

P.S. Renee interviewed me a while back for Authors and Books ~ ~ ~

Friday, August 1, 2008

Setting As Character

I'm delighted to welcome Allison Chase to Title Magic today. Under the name of Lisa Manuel, she's written four wonderful historical romances. This time she's added a touch of paranormal to her story and set Dark Obsession (what a fantastic bookcover!), the first book in her new Blackheath Moor series, in a place dear to my heart! Read on for her insights on how to use setting as character.

I LOVE setting, to the point that often I’ll pick up a book based primarily on where and when it’s set. The richer and more detailed the setting, the better.

Which is NOT to say that setting should ever bog a story down. On the contrary, setting details should always help move the story forward by increasing tension, mirroring conflict, establishing mood and tone, and “interacting” with the characters both emotionally and physically. Your setting should be as alive as your characters.

For example, I recently read two paranormal romances, both set New Orleans, which is without a doubt one of the most atmospheric cities in the world. Think of the French Quarter with its courtyards, balconies and alleys, its foggy nights, its history and traditions. As a setting, it’s seductive and edgy, sultry and dangerous, and once the reader is drawn in, it isn’t much of a stretch to believe that sexy vampires or demon lovers might be lurking in the shadows.

For the setting of my Blackheath Moor books, I chose 19th century Cornwall for its rugged, windswept, isolated countryside, along with a history rich in pirate tales and ancient magic. Where better to set ghost stories? During the course of the plot, my characters’ conflicts and emotional turmoil are mirrored by the wild landscape and stormy weather. Like them, the setting is in a constant state of change and sometimes becomes downright villainous, thwarting their intentions, or frightening and confusing them.

In creating the “character” of your setting, the first step of course is to decide what kind of setting best reflects the tone of your story. For a romantic suspense, you might choose a slick, urban location like Miami, London or New York; for homey, family-oriented stories, the South or Midwest; for romantic comedy, maybe a fun, sunny setting, like in one of my favorite movies, Fifty First Dates, which is set in Hawaii.

After becoming intimate with your setting by either visiting there, if you’re lucky enough, or through the wealth of information to be found in books, the internet, and even through acquaintances, the next step is to begin your world building. This can seem a little daunting, but I like to refer to what I call “The Matrix Method.”

In the movie, when Neo first enters the Matrix, there’s nothing but white emptiness, two chairs and a TV. Not very realistic, and Neo’s sense of awkwardness is apparent. Little by little, details are layered in until Neo finds himself walking down a crowded city street, beguiled by “the woman in the red dress.” At that point, setting begins “interacting” with Neo, affecting his thinking and behavior; the Matrix felt very real to him, very much alive, and he experiences an emotional reaction to it. In a similar way, you can begin with the basics of your setting in your first draft, layering in details as you revise and rewrite, always keeping in mind the five senses and emphasizing the details that will enhance the action and emotional impact of any particular scene. That way, your setting will come alive for your characters, and for your readers.

For more information on Allison and her books, please visit