Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Magic after Winter 2012


First Halloween after Winter 2012

HALLOWEEN DAY, 2013 ~ after Winter 2012 in WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS
"Wicked guano stench, cherub. Thanks for saving us so fast." Sedona smiled.
Volcano swept his arm in a large arc, creating their translucent sphere of protection deep inside the artificially designed cavern, part of an ancient underground travelway. The huge colony of bats, survivors of Montana’s ecological catastrophes, were in the first stage of hibernation. With her enhanced hearing, Sedona listened to their high-pitched frequency conversation about their sudden arrival, and the bats’ group decision to ignore them.
Protectively, she held Aru, their baby dog, in her arms. Even he had been worn out by their brutally long day of avoiding the constant attacks of their shadow-elite enemies. Aru’s eyes squinched closed in a light doze, as Volcano retrieved his sleep pillow from the superspeed cycle’s compartment. He tossed it close to the center of their sphere, his gaze running over them protectively.
Before placing Aru on his pillow, Sedona kissed the top of his silky fur head. Settling quickly, Aru curled up, his eyes blinking shut within moments. Volcano wrapped his arm around her waist, drawing her close, and for a few moments they stood companionably, gazing down at Aru like doting parents.
"How are you?" Volcano’s velvet tone tingled her ear, and sizzled her insides. Seductively, he handled her bottom, causing her mound to throb with sex-hot desires.
"I don’t know," she whispered. Turning inside his embrace, she slid her palms over his chest, caressing. "That smell as we entered, alone, could have given me a Halloween nightmare. Not to mention recalling all those vampire bat scenes. Too bad we can’t loose them on the hordes of evil following us."
"We could, precious woman."
"I know. It’s not divinely kosher." Sedona looped her arms around his neck, luxuriating in the feel of his muscle-carved body. "Mmmm, I love the way my breasts feel against your chest, carnal cherub."
"I’ll make them feel even better once we arrive at the cabin." His promise, spoken in black velvet, seared through her decadently.
"I know you will," she whispered, hearing the moan in her voice.
Volcano nuzzled her lips with his, and they kissed sumptuously, their passions rising as fast as a fueled bonfire.
Once their lips reluctantly parted, and with her breath in short supply, Sedona murmured his angelic name. Yet, she didn’t speak the tiny threads of love smoldering in her heart. She knew he heard them like harp strings, by the way he held her molded against him.
"We’re surrounded by psi spies, my Sedona. I have to remain awake, undistracted."
"Undistracted?" She raised a brow. "What a Halloween disappointment. I was looking forward to pretending you were Dracula in desperate need of my blood essence and my virgin-helpless body."
"I’m much more desperate than the blood-tasting lusts of Dracula, my beautiful one." Slowly, he stroked over the long length of her hair. "Your neck belongs to me," he badly imitated a campy version of Count Dracula.
"Count Chocula." Sedona chuckled.
"Count Chocula?"
"That’s who you sound like. Count Chocula in the old cereal commercial. It was a chocolate-tasting cereal for kids."
"You dare amuse yourself at the expense of the great and masterful Count Chocula, who, even now, bakes himself with superior chocolate flavor, just for you and your delectable-tasting sinful pleasures."
Sedona giggled as his splayed hands enjoyed the roundness of her butt. "Does that mean you’re going to taste like chocolate when I am allowed to ‘sinfully’ lick and ravish your incredibly hard, incredibly sexy body?"
"If you let me taste your naughty wet curls first." His gaze smoldered, flushing her insides to a sweet fierce heat. Only for him.
"Distraction," she murmured.
"Yes," he agreed, and gently released her. Holding her hand, he seated himself next to Aru’s pillow. Tenderly, he drew her down so she sat within the cradle of his body, her back to him.
Sedona vibrated with the strength of his protection for her, as if an ethereal song played inside her body. She should be accustomed to his care by now. Yet, she doubted she ever would be. Wearier than she realized, she leaned her head back on the hunky wall of his chest, and closed her eyes, hoping...
An instant later, her eyes snapped back open, and her adrenalin spiked. "I swear she must be a reincarnation of the Wicked Witch of the West. Even if that was a fictional character."
Immediately, Volcano hugged her closer, and Sedona snuggled more deeply into his embrace. She intimately covered his hands with hers. Still, she shivered violently, remembering her recent encounter with the Nazerazzi woman, a top operative, determined to capture her or destroy her. The fact, that the ‘Wicked Witch’ still possessed some manner of psychic connection with her was more than disturbing.
"I’ll make her vanish like a fake ghost once the immediate danger is passed. Talk with me awhile, precious woman."
"Fake ghost? Do you mean everyone wearing white sheets?"
"No. Pretend ghosts at Halloween parties. Fog machines. Mother talked about them."
"Oh, I guess that does make sense, handsome heavenly one."
"Your first Halloween costume?" He purred the words near her ear.
"You always know how to keep me awake and talking. Hmmm...let me see...spin some gray matter...take a trip back in time..." Sedona settled her head more comfortably against his chest. "It wasn’t the first one, probably. But it is the first one I remember. And it was before kindergarten. Mom made us three girls pajama footie costumes from a pattern."
"Sort of like tights. But these were sewn from flannel. They were winter pajamas."
"Winter pajamas? I don’t understand."
"We wore them to bed after Halloween. It was a more practical time, the middle 50's. But they were also a costume. I was the black cat. I remember loving that costume, especially my tail and my ears, but I was envious of the tiger and lion costumes my other two sisters got."
"Meow," he darkly whispered. "My own black cat woman for Halloween."
"In flannel pajamas?" she drily teased.
"Batman eat your heart out."
"Plenty of bats in here. Batman could be in disguise just waiting to swoop down. Okay, more like a bloodthirsty move Dracula would make."
"I’ve got better wings. Better than Batman or any vampire bat," he reminded, his voice utter passion.
"Ooooh, you do. Black gorgeous sexy wings." Sedona shuddered with desire, remembering their celestial lovemaking.
"I want my black cat woman," he growled possessively.
"Don’t you dare read my mind and create those black cat pajamas. I’m not wearing them for you."
"Yes, you will."
"No, I won’t."
"You’ll be my black cat beauty."
"Hiss and grrrr...I’ll claw you to divine particles, cherub."
"I’ll make you beg and mew for my tricks and my treats," he promised in a dark purr.
"I’m not begging. Or mewing. What? Have you turned from angel to demon for Halloween?"
"Did I forget to tell you?" His voice unmercifully teased. "For this one night, the whole fabric of Earth turns inside out, and, yes, I transform into your demon lover."
Despite herself, Sedona wantonly trembled inside. "More than you already are?" she whispered, her heart rate frenzied and soaring.
"Especially, if you wear black cat flannel pajamas," he sinfully tempted.
"You won’t even let me wear a flannel nightgown, you bad cherub."
"You’ve forgotten the rules, my Sedona. If you wear a flannel nightgown, I get to rip it off. Have my wicked way with you."
Sedona twisted inside with raw passion. "Trick, and no treat for you. Or me. Since we’re here. Deep in bat do-do. It’s closing in on midnight. And the psi spies are still hunting us."
"Before dawn, my queen of the angels, I’ll make you fly. Next Halloween, black cat pajamas, and I’m your demon lover."



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

Volcano’s Angelic Forecast for this week ~ ~

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 ~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Introducing AT finalist Barbara Longley

Today we meet another of this year's American Title finalists, Barbara Longley.

Q. What is your name and where are you from?

A. My name is Barbara Jo Longley, and I was born in Silver Springs, Maryland. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota now.

Q. What is the title of your finaling manuscript? What sub-genre is it?

A. My finaling manuscript is titled TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER, and it’s a time-travel historical romance. Would we call that light paranormal?

Q. Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?

A. The heroine is a Native-American violinist, a music geek with no aspirations of becoming a hero. She is sent back in time to save the life of a young deaf boy, although she doesn’t know it’s his life she is to save until the end. She believes she’s meant to save her overbearing self-appointed protector, Malcolm of clan MacKintosh. He believes it too, so he’s always trying to keep her out of trouble, and she’s always trying to throw herself between him and danger. They fall in love, and then they both worry that the fortune teller who sent Alethia back in time will appear at any moment to send Alethia back to her own time. And of course there are some interesting subplots and intrigues.

(Oh, I love time travel stories!)

Q. What was your reaction when you found out you've finaled?

A. I was teaching a group of third graders when my critique partner, Tami Hughes, (also a finalist) called to tell me. I never saw it in my inbox; the message had gone straight to spam!
I squealed like a little girl! Shock and disbelief set in soon after the noise stopped. My students are still talking about it.

(What a fun story about how you found out.)

Q. Is this your first completed book? Fifth?

A. This is my second completed manuscript. The first is fatally flawed and will never see the light of day. I’m working on my third, another paranormal involving immortality, reincarnation, and an impossible quest.

Q. Do you have a Web site?

A. Yes, I do have a Web site, and anyone interested can read the first chapter of my finaling entry there.
Q. What kind of books do you like to read? Who are your auto-buy authors?

A. I love paranormals and historicals and some contemporaries. Julia Quinn is an automatic buy, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is an automatic buy, Charlaine Harris, Christina Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Julie Garwood, Lynn Kurland, so many others I can’t list them all here.

Q. What was your biggest inspiration for the story?

A. I read a book about haunted castles that told the story of the reconciliation feast between the Comyn and MacKintosh clans (sworn enemies). The Comyn Laird’s daughter haunts Castle Rait, once a holding of the Comyn clan. Her own father cut off her hands at the wrists as she tried to escape out a window. She fell to her death and haunts the castle to this day. Long story, but look it up if you’re interested. The event is pivotal to the plot of my book, which took a year of research before a single word appeared on my computer.

(OMG! He cut off her hands!)

Q. What is it you like most and admire about your heroine(s)?

A. My heroine is willing to take on responsibility for a lot of people, and she does so without a second thought. She’s so giving and loving and doesn’t even realize what a hero she truly is. She’s also a very brave and determined individual. She’s got a lot of grit, even though she comes across as shy and often insecure.

Q. What is you like most and admire about your hero(s)?

A. Oh, the hero . . . sigh. If only I could meet a guy like him. He’s so dependable, responsible, protective, and loyal . . . sure he has his faults. He’s a procrastinator when it comes to communicating important information, and he always thinks he’s right. He’s a bit controlling, but you forgive him because of the era he lives in, and because his heart is in the right place. He’d do anything for Alethia. He’d even give up his birthright for her, and he’s the Earl of Fife’s only heir. What a guy.

Q. How did you come up with one of your secondary characters?

A. In the legend of Castle Rait, we learn that the Comyn Laird’s daughter had a lover amongst the MacKintosh. The Comyn clan invited the MacKintosh to a feast of reconciliation, intending to slay them. Someone tipped the MacKintosh off to the nefarious plot, hence the Comyn’s plans failed. The Comyn Laird believed it was his daughter who tipped off her lover’s clan. So, I had to invent her lover, Malcolm’s cousin, Liam. And Alethia had to see that she’s rescued, along with saving Malcolm’s life yet again.

Q. What is the major conflict in your story?

A. There are a few conflicts, internal and external. First, Alethia is determined to do whatever it takes to get back to her own life and time, while Malcolm wants nothing more than to prevent that from happening. Next, Alethia is not an acceptable choice for a young noble to wed, and Malcolm’s father, who would not approve a union between the two, arranges an acceptable union for his heir. And finally, they both fear the being who sent Alethia back in the first place. She could return Alethia to the 21st century at any time, or she could force Alethia to remain in an era that is not hers for the rest of her life. It’s a coil. Plus there’s a bad guy who wants Alethia—not in a good way. He keeps popping up to cause trouble.

Q. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A. Yes. Sometimes when I get stuck, I take a break to plot, and I’m always plotting in my mind, though rarely on paper. TRUE was more plotted because of all the historical information which has be accurate. My new WIP is more by the seat of the pants.

Q. Do you write to silence, or do you prefer a little noise?

A. People think I’m odd. When I write, the TV is on, or the stereo, and I’m doing other things besides. Quiet drives me nuts. I have to have noise. Years and years of teaching noisy children do you think?

Q. Who is your muse?

A. A muse? Don’t have one as far as I know. The job is open if anyone would care to apply. Requirements: at least 6 feet tall, intelligent, a little baggage is acceptable, but if you come with a custom set of luggage, forget it. Must have a great sense of humor, love animals, and have an open mind and broad shoulders.


Q. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A. I read a lot, enjoy movies, dinners out, plus I go on field trips with my critique partners. In fact, just yesterday we visited a past-life regression therapist. How interesting it that? He was fascinating by the way.

(This does sound fascinating!)

Thanks to all of you at Title Magic for making this interview possible and for all of your positive thoughts and support.

Thanks for being with us today, Barbara. And good luck as the competition -- and nail biting -- begin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interview of AT V Finalist Tamara Hughes...

Please join me in welcoming the third of our AT V finalists...Tamara Hughes. I
don't know about you all, but I'm finding the stories fascinating. It makes me
wish I had some reading time right now!

So, with no further ado...

LO: What is your name and where are you from?

TH: My name is Tamara Hughes, and I’m originally from the small town of
Stratford in central Wisconsin, but I now live in the Twin Cities.

LO: What is the title of your finaling manuscript? What sub-genre is it?

TH: Once Upon a Masquerade is a historical romance set in
New York City in 1883.

LO: Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?

TH: Shipping magnate, Christopher Black, meets Rebecca Bailey
at a masquerade ball and is captivated. He’s certain Rebecca
can mend his broken heart until he spies an emerald comb in
her hair—a comb that links her to his friend’s murder.

Rebecca is drawn to Christopher, but fears he’ll discover
her secret: she’s a house maid impersonating an heiress to
attract a wealthy suitor. She’s risking it all to save her
father, a gambler who owes hundreds of dollars to brutal men.
When those men threaten her life, she has no choice but to
trust Christopher. As evidence against her mounts, Christopher
is forced to choose where his loyalties lie.

LO: That sounds intriguing. I think I’m going to have to read all
of the AT V books now that we’re learning so much about them?
What was your reaction when you found out you’ve finaled?

TH: Pessimist that I am, when I first saw the email from the
Romantic Times, I thought, “Oh great. Another rejection.”
Then I read the word congratulations in the subject and could
only say one thing, “No way.” My critique partner and I both had
requests for full manuscripts for this contest,
so as soon as I saw the list of names inside the email I
scanned for hers, and found it. Yes, freaky. I immediately
called Barb and asked if she’d read her email and then spilled,
which is a good thing since the email had gone into her
spam folder, and she would have missed it!

LO: That’s amazing. Whatever you two are doing as critique partners must be working—fantastic! Is this your first completed book? Fifth?

TH: This is my first completed manuscript although I’ve rewritten it so many times, it might as well be my third.

LO: Do you have a website?

TH: I do. Feel free to visit me at

LO: I just did…and I love the fresh approach to your website. And the pictures of
San Francisco—lucky you! So…moving past my jealousy…what kind of books do you
like to read? Who are your auto-buy authors?

TH: I’ve always loved to read historical romance, but in the last few years I’ve
also gotten into paranormal romance. My favorite authors for historical have
been Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Elizabeth Lowell, Christina Dodd, and
Judith McNaught. For paranormal, I’ve enjoyed books by Kresley Cole, Lara
Adrian, and J.R. Ward.

LO: I’ve read every single one of the historical authors you mentioned, and I’m
writing fantasy. So, we have some common ground here. What was your biggest
inspiration for the story?

TH: Believe it or not, Cinderella. When I first thought up this story, I
envisioned a woman at a low point in her life, someone who was a decent human
being caught in a bad circumstance. Because of events outside of her control,
she’s forced to make choices she wouldn’t ordinarily make and winds up mingling
with high society. I really like that I had a chance to explore what the upper
classes were really like from the view of a person who would be considered an
outsider. While she looks and acts, for the most part, like those around her,
it becomes more and more obvious why she’ll never be one of them.

LO: What is it you like most and admire about your hero(s)?

TH: Christopher is that strong man every girl dreams about. He’s perceptive and
intelligent, but has a huge chip on his shoulder. He’s an honest man torn
between his duty to find the truth of his friend’s murder and the overwhelming
pull of a woman who may lead him down the dark path.

Rebecca is an ordinary person thrust into an odd situation. I really like her
because she’s not perfect. She’s clumsy at times; she’s a horrible liar; and
as the story progresses, she seems to dig herself a deeper hole with everything
she says and does. She doesn’t mean to be funny, but she really is.

LO: How did you come up with one of your secondary characters?

TH: My favorite secondary character just might need his own book. His name is
Spencer Henley, and I created him to be the friend and confidant my hero
needed. While my hero is a serious guy, for a very good reason, Spencer is the
friend who pushes his buttons. Spencer is a high society gentleman who is out
to have a good time. He’s rarely serious and does the most outrageous things
for his own amusement, like dressing up as a drunken Hamlet for a masquerade
ball, quoting odd lines from Hamlet just to see if he can get a rise out of

LO: What is the major conflict in your story?

TH: Christopher believes Rebecca is involved in the murder of his friend. As the
story progresses, the evidence against her mounts, and we discover Rebecca is
indeed a part of the murder, she doesn’t realize it until the end.

LO: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TH: I’m a bit of both. I really try to start my stories with a plot and character
sketches, but what happens is I end up with a solid plan for the first three
chapters, maybe a whammy for the end of Act II, and an idea for the ending
that I’m not quite sure if I can pull off. It’s weird; I’m a very organized,
almost anal person, but when it comes to writing I just can’t think through
the whole story until I start to write and mull things over, learning who the
characters are and building the scenes as I go.

LO: I see my stories as a movie--I have to watch it unfold. Do you write to
silence, or do you prefer a little noise?

TH: I get distracted easily, so silence is best, but sometimes I have to take
what I can get.

LO: Who is your muse?

TH: Initially my muses were my husband and my sister who encouraged me to keep at
it. And while they still are my muses, I also have a critique group that
cheers me on. For my work in progress, I’m also inspired by Evanescence songs
for whatever reason, so I listen to them a lot. That type of muse though seems
to change with every story.

LO: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

TH: When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my husband and two daughters (and our new kitten, Oscar). When I get the chance I also like to read romances, do logic puzzles like Sudoku, and play poker.

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! Thank you so much for joining us here at Title Magic—and best of luck in the voting! --Lexie

Title Magic Welcomes ATV Finalist Qaey Williams

Today is our second interview with a American Title V finalist. I’d like to welcome Qaey Williams to Title Magic to tell us a little about herself and her finaling entry a Romantic Suspense, In A Lover’s Silence.

HST: Thanks for joining us today on Title Magic, Qaey. Can you tell us where you’re from?

QW: I currently live in Raleigh, NC, but I've lived in 4 other states before coming here.

HST: Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?

QW: Wynne Smith is a bill collector in Anchorage, Alaska. Seth Vassar is a Deputy US Marshal in Dallas, Texas. A single phone call triggers an investigation which will uncover a serial killer, put Wynne directly in the murderer's path, and ignite a passion between her and Seth that will shine brighter than the Northern Lights. All Seth has to do is keep one step ahead of the quirky woman and protect her from the suspect she's determined to track down.

HST: What an interesting place to set a romantic suspense. What was your reaction when you found out you've finaled?

QW: OMFG! Sorry, but ironically, I didn't get around to reading the congratulations email until AFTER one of the HCRW members announced I'd made the list on our chapter loop. Once I'd taken it in, it took me a solid week before I actually believed what was happening.

HST: What is the major conflict in your story?

QW: Wynne's determination to find and save the killer's next victim before he can strike, and Seth's equal determination to keep her from putting herself in harm's way.

HST: I know you’ve written a number of books as you have some epublished. When did you finish In A Lover’s Silence?

QW: This is actually a third rewrite of the original story, but the second manuscript I completed. Since finishing IALS (In a Lover's Silence) I've gone on to complete two more full-length manuscripts (one of which was rewritten about 20 times before I finally got it correct--LOL) and two novellas.

HST: What kind of books do you like to read?

QW: It depends on my mood and just how long I've been reading a specific genre. Mostly, I read romance, erotic romance, and romantic suspense. I do like paranormals (vamps and weres, of course) Who are your auto-buy authors? Too many to count. Ebooks: Jennifer Cole, Cameron Dane, Cassandra Gold, Tess McCall, LA Day, Brenda Bryce, Lynn Lorenz, Trista Ann Michaels (see told you there were a lot). Print books: Lora Leigh, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsay, Claudia Dain, Emilie Rose, Marcia Collette, Sabrina Jeffries (again, too many to go through)

HST: You have some of my favorite authors on your list. What was your biggest inspiration for this story?

QW: A credit bureau report that had too many names and different social security numbers. (Seriously.)

HST: What is it you like most and admire about your heroines?

QW: They can take care of themselves and are just as alpha as my heroes.

HST: What type of heroes are your favorite to write?

QW: Alpha males but willing to work in partnership with the women they admire, respect, and love.

HST: How did you come up with the secondary characters in you finaling entry?

QW: I have to admit I actually have a few friends who appear in the book (they know who they are and are okay with it).

HST: I bet your friends will have fun looking for themselves in the excerpts. Writing Romantic Suspense requires a detailed plot. Do you plot your books out in advance or fly by the seat of your pants?

QW: Both. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, but if I run into a block I try to outline the next steps for the story.

HST: Do you write to silence, or are you one of those writers who likes to take her laptop to the local coffee shop for some background noise?

QW: Depends on the scene I'm writing and just how "chatty" my characters are with me.

HST: Who is your muse?

QW: I haven't the foggiest idea! If I did I'd find her weakness and start bribing her with it--lol.

HST: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

QW: Read, watch forensic science programs, and deal with the frustration of my day job. I also spend a great deal of time chatting on-line promoting the two (soon to be three) books I've published through Loose Id, LLC. The ebooks are erotic romances I released under my pen name: Qwillia Rain, and I really enjoy hearing from the readers who've purchased my books.

Thank you so much for telling us about In A Lover’s Silence. Lots of luck in the contest.

If you would like to find out more about Qaey, writing under the pen name Qwillia Rain, please check out the website she shares with fellow writer, Jennifer Cole.

Please join us again tomorrow when Lexie interviews Tamara Hughes

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Title Magic Welcomes ATV Finalist, Edie Ramer!

Happy Monday!

Today marks the start of our much anticipated American Title V (ATV) interviews. As most of you may already know, the American Title Contest is sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine. This will be the fifth year the contest has been running. This year there are only eight finalists versus the usual ten, and the categories have been left open to encompass all categories of romance fiction. For a complete list of the eight American Title V finalists, you can go to the RT blog September archives by clicking HERE. Scroll down until you see September 5, 2008. It’s the second to last blog entry.

As former American Title finalists ourselves, we want to show our support for the current ATV finalists by hosting interviews of them here at Title Magic. Here is the schedule of interviews for this week.

>> Monday (today): Mai interviews Edie Ramer
>> Tuesday: Helen interviews Qaey Williams
>> Wednesday: Lexie interviews Tamara Hughes
>> Thursday: Trish interviews Barbara Longley

The remainder of the ATV finalists interviews will be posted next week – just in time for voting for the first round of the contest which begins the following Monday, November 10th. Round 1 voting will be on the First Line. Please visit often this week and next to get to know your fellow ATV finalists.

Now, without further ado, let’s get these interviews started! Please join me in welcoming American Title V finalist, Edie Ramer, to Title Magic. Edie’s finaling manuscript is titled DEAD PEOPLE. Her short stories have been published in National magazines and she is also co-creator of an inspirational website for writers,

MT: Thanks for joining us here at TM, Edie, and congratulations on the ATV final! Can you tell us where you’re from?

ER: First I want to thank Mai and the other American Title IV finalists for having us. Mai, you’ve been a huge help to me, right from the beginning when I emailed you about the cover letter. :) Now, back to the question. I live in southeastern Wisconsin. Right now everyone has their Halloween decorations out and leaves of all colors are covering the lawns. It’s beautiful.

MT: I hear the weather’s been rather warm up there for this time of year. What category does your finaling manuscript, DEAD PEOPLE, fall under?

ER: It was warm, but not today! Like I said, it’s nearing Halloween, time for DEAD PEOPLE to come out and beg for candy. (That’s awful, but I couldn’t resist.) DEAD PEOPLE is a light paranormal.

MT: Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?

ER: When Cassie Taylor talks, ghosts listen. She wants to heal their souls so they can leave earth. Brooding songwriter Luke Rivers wants to give his newly found daughter a normal home, but he discovers his new house in small town Wisconsin is haunted by a ghost with an attitude. His ghost whisperer has an attitude too – even before someone tries to kill her. So why does he have the hots for her? And why does she lust after him? He wants conventional. She wants acceptance. No wonder she thinks men are hard and DEAD PEOPLE are easy.

MT: That sounds like a great story. Very fun and with just the right touch of kickass attitude. What was your reaction when you first found out you finaled?

ER: When I found out I’d finaled, I felt pure happiness. I wanted it so badly -- or something else wonderful. Though I didn’t expect it, I hoped for it. To me, the American Title is the romance writer’s version of American Idol. Getting a request for the full was the “You’re going to Hollywood!” call. Getting the news that I was a finalist was moving into the top ten. Only in this case, the top eight. That’s even better!

MT: This is better than the “You’re going to Hollywood” stage. You passed that when they requested the full. This is the Top 10 – or in this case, Top 8!! Do you have a website?

ER: Absolutely! I hope people will check it out and visit my blog. I also belong to the Magical Musings group blog,, and the American Title V group blog, And I’m a new convert to Facebook! I need friends, so look me up and friend me. :)

MT: I’m a new convert to Facebook too, and love it! Not only is it a great marketing tool, but you get to meet new people who are interested in what you write and strengthen relationships and friendships you already have. What kind of books do you like to read?

ER: I feel like Sarah Palin, saying “I read them all.” I read everything from mystery to YA, and especially romance in all the genres. I read non-fiction too. Right now I’m reading a book on life between lives.

MT: I’ll refrain from making any kind of comments regarding Sarah Palin, lol. The life between lives concept sounds interesting. Who are your auto-buy authors?

ER: I can put names down here! My auto buys are Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie, Amy Knupp, Jan Kenny, and many more. I recently ordered Karin Tabke’s HAVE YOURSELF A NAUGHTY LITTLE SANTA and Liz Kreger’s PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. I have Cynthia Eden’s MIDNIGHT SINS on pre-order. I’m looking forward to buying Helen Scott Taylor’s THE MAGIC KNOT in February.

MT: Sounds like your average reader then. :) What is it you like most and admire about the heroine in DEAD PEOPLE?

ER: I admire Cassie’s bravery, the way she goes on with her life and doesn’t feel sorry for herself, despite her unloving childhood. No self-pity allowed. And she hasn’t allowed her childhood to harden her heart – against dead people. Live people ... well, that’s another story. I also like her snarky tongue. In real life I’d love to have her as my friend.

MT: She sounds like an interesting person, and a strong character. What is you like most and admire about the hero in DEAD PEOPLE?

ER: My songwriter hero, Luke, was the only child of a free-living and loving parent. He didn’t know his father, and his childhood was unstable. He wants to do a better job for his newly found eleven-year-old daughter. He wants to do the right thing. I love that about him. Plus he writes really good songs.

MT: Who wouldn’t love a man who loves music and is dedicated to his child? Can you tell us more about the conflict in your story, DEAD PEOPLE?

ER: It would be easy to say the major conflict was finding the person who killed the woman who’s haunting Luke’s house. But the major conflict is Cassie’s and Luke’s gaping wounds. They’ve been used and abused. Neither of them believes in happily ever after. Neither of them trusts that another person will love them without reserve, without wanting anything except to be loved by them in return. Even Luke’s daughter has been hurt by her drug-addicted mother. Although there is humor in DEAD PEOPLE (there is! Really, there is!), their lives haven’t been easy. In one way or another, they’re all damaged.

MT: So it’s a character-driven book, versus a plot-driven book. I’ve always found that most romances are character-driven. It enamors the reader more to the book, in my opinion. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

ER: I agree with your so much about characters! It’s the people that linger with me after I’ve read a really good book. I recently took a right brain/left brain test and I came out in the middle, leaning toward the right brain. That’s how my plotting is too. I know the basics about my characters (subject to change). I know the premise, their GMC, their primal needs (I got “primal needs” from Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT!), an idea of the ending, and a few things that will happen along the way. That’s usually it. As I write I get insights and revelations. It keeps the story interesting for me. If I’m surprising and delighting myself, I hope I’m doing the same thing for the reader.
MT: Well, we can safely say that you’ve done the same thing for the editors at Dorchester! What do you like to do when you're not writing?

ER: I read books. The local librarians know me well. I watch favorite TV shows. (Is anyone else drooling over the lead actor in The Mentalist?) I spend time with my family. I walk my dog and pet my cat. I did a research road trip the other day with a friend, and had a blast – and a great lunch at a Turkish restaurant. I’m addicted to my email and spend too much times on blogs. I’m a serial dieter, and one day I will finally lose those last five pounds.

MT: You and me both, Edie!

Thank you so much for taking time out today to join us here at Title Magic. It was a pleasure learning more about you and hearing about Cassie and Luke. Best of luck with DEAD PEOPLE in the contest!

ER: Thanks, Mai! You and the other American Title IV finalists are awesome for doing this!

If you want to learn more about Edie and her writing, you can find her at:

Stay tuned tomorrow for our next American Title V finalist!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Three Magical Good Things

There’s so much in an author and aspiring authors’ life which can be really tough to deal with...ya know, that latest rejection. Or, a Muse who goes on strike when a deadline is looming. Not to dare mention life interruptus, itself...hey, kick me through the goal posts of life...isn’t that an old country western tune?
Anyhoo, I thought I’d share three magical good things, which have happened recently, in my life as an author.
The first ~ which made my day magical! Lindsay Townsend, a former guest blogger, and the fantabulous author of FLAVIA’S SECRET & A SECRET TREASURE, wrote a review for ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE.

It’s an Author Discovery on the Siren-BookStrand Authors Blog ~ and yep, here it is ~

Author discovery: All Shades of Blue Paradise by Savanna Kougar
Blurb ~ Destiny and love can be denied for only so long...
Except for her daring equestrienne competitions, Lady Sheridan lives a quiet life caring for her family's estate, staving off financial ruin and keeping her brother's misdeeds from ruining his marriage and the life of her beloved nieces. Despite all his desperate efforts, Baron Zaggry has never discovered why his Sherfantasy broke their engagement. Now, his ruse successful, Sheridan is finally his, his slave lover. He has ten years worth of denied pleasures to make up for, to savor however he erotic chooses.
I savoured every delicious word of Savanna Kougar's ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE. Kougar is a powerful, sensual writer, a poet of language, and the world she creates is richly textured, sensual and voluptuous, with its own language, beliefs and symbols. Blue is the colour of life, of love and of so much more in this alternate world of warring, sensual aristocrats. The pleasures and pains of slavery and of mastery are fearlessly and seductively explored and I was enchanted throughout. Sheridan is a beautiful, complex, caring woman of great dignity, compassion and courage. She is always graceful under pressure - and what seductive pressure Baron Zaggry tempts and teases her with! This is a kind of war between the sexes where all desires are admitted to and expressed but where the 'victor' of each encounter is always magnanimous. Their powerful relationship kept me guessing throughout and utterly enthralled. To be slave-dressed by a man like Zaggry ...
what a wicked, delicious fantasy!
This is the revelation of a decadent, disturbing world, a world of high politics and high stakes, where the fates of many are discussed at elegant yet deeply erotic soirees. In the midst of this sensual, abandoned world, the love between Zaggry and Sheridan remains absolute, although the cruel misunderstanding that has been deliberately engineered between them by their enemies remains until almost the very end of the novel, offering a satisfying conclusion of one of many threads. The end of All Shades of Blue Paradise is also a beginning as another contest has been arranged, with Sheridan about to compete with an enemy and Zaggry determined to protect her.
I await the next book in this intoxicating series with keen anticipation.

Lindsay Townsend ~

Needless to say, Lindsay, has a very special place in my heart. Not merely because of her splendid review, but just because she’s a great lady, with a great heart.

Okay, the second magical good thing ~ Black Cat Beauty, my Halloween-theme novella, coming soon from Liquid Silver Books, is currently in edits. Yeah, there’s a trademark issue over ‘Superman’, and the usage of superhero terms to be resolved. Truthfully, I would never have written the story, using these terms, except that I’d seen other romance authors using them first. Other than that little issue, the edits are going well. Yay! And big relief.
Bet you just can’t wait for my, actually, I’m hoping you can’t...
Blurb: 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.

Now, the third magical good thing ~ just the pure fun of being an author at this spooky paranormal time of year. On their blog, the Seven Wicked Writers are holding a flash fiction contest. So, if this is your kinda scary creepy story, read the entries, and leave your comments for your faves. And some of the entries are Horror-Scary!
I have no shot at winning this one...but, still, I entered just for my own chills and thrills. To me, that is one of the most magical things about being an author, this kind of let’s-have-a-good-time-together writing opportunity. With prizes for whoever does win.
If you’re intrigued, the info for the contest is below. And, of course, here’s my entry ~

From my WIP ~ Don’t Bite the Fortune Teller

Woo-woo feelings a whirlwind inside her, Solitaire gathered up her cards, listening to the still small voice of intuition. "Oh," she whispered, seeing him. Zhayme.
The whirlwinds increased inside her. Edgy, restless, Solitaire shuffled her cards more swiftly than usual. Not that the man didn’t drive her insides gooey with all sorts of forbidden desires. Forbidden, the key word. He was out of her league. He had an ex something? who probably had the fangs to fight for him. And she didn’t need any man complications in her life. Not one who could obviously devastate her heart.
And here he came. Incomparable. Potent. Charismatic. The description jangled in her mind like a phone during a 60’s suspense movie scene.
Stop. Down. She ordered her yearning rebellious sex juices, already starting to boil over for him.
"Wooh, hot in here," she muttered as he stepped up on the dais. Her hands shook, a true rarity for her.
"Why do you need a fortune teller?" She faced the birthday lion in his den, or her temporary den. Vigorously, she shook back her own long mane.
"My beautiful fortune teller, I have many abilities. However, not your gift." He sat before her, not just sitting, aristocratic, the latent power of a lion-at-ease sitting.
His voice, a melding of brandy and velvet, soaked into her. Add a match, she’d be flambe’ in his arms. In his bed. Oh God, I’m not thinking about his bed.
Her hands still shaking slightly, she fanned the cards. And desperately wished she didn’t look like an unprofessional klutz. "Choose a card, Birthday Man."
"You should know, my Solitaire, I have the ability to choose whichever card I desire."
Ohmygawd, his hand, impossibly beautiful and powerful, with tapered fingers. Solitaire swallowed down her passion, now threatening to steam out her ears.
"Prove it." Ridiculously breathless, she’d murmured the challenge.
"King of hearts," he low purred. Selecting one card with the grace of a magician, he presented it to her.
The King of Hearts.
The card’s face seized her entire being.
Tearing her gaze away from the betraying card, she inanely asked, "Is that a statement?"
"Soon to be ‘truth’." His voice grazed over every inch of her flesh.
"Is that so?" Having knife-flung the question at him, she flung up her chin.
He smiled, trip-tripping her heart.
"I do have a question for the fortune teller who can see our newest project beneath the ocean."
"What? The manner of my disappearance?"
"We will have to ‘disappear’ for a short time, to view the city."
"View the city...?"
"My question..." The dark intensity of his gaze honed in on her eyes like a laser. "Who seeks to destroy me? By sabotaging our restoration?"
The crucial importance of her answer shone in his eyes.
"The invisible man," she blurted out, the words pulled from her, unbidden.
"Make him visible, my your mind’s eye."
His command was hypnotic. Not to be refused. She wondered at her compliance as the image quickly formed.

Here’s the info for any who dare to check out the entries ~ for the complete contest info click over to ~ ~
The Seven Wicked Writers will be hosting a Flash Fiction contest starting October 1st. You have until Oct. 30th at Midnight to send them in. The email address for all entries is: . The contest winner will be chosen by Tina Haveman, the publisher of eXtasy Books. The top three will each receive a prize by The Seven Wicked Writers. ALL ENTRIES WILL BE NO LONGER THAN 500 WORDS AND MUST HAVE A HALLOWEEN THEME...

Note: Thank you to ~ for the Halloween pics

Now, it’s your turn, what are your magical good things?


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is It More Important to Be Right?

Is it more important to be right?

We’ve been so good on this blog not to mention politics…but I’m going to break the taboo. Wait! Don’t run away in terror—or polite fury. I’m only going to refer to politics in reference to the villains in our books.

The candidate, or even just your neighbor, is often vilified. The individual is suddenly without redeemable characteristics. My cousin (yes, my cousin!) sent me an email at some point during this campaign season (aren’t I being good, you shouldn’t be able to tell which side I’m on if I’m doing this right) in which the writer called my candidate a whore. Now, I might disagree with someone’s viewpoint, I might not even like them as a person, but shouldn’t there at least be some evidence to support the insult?

How does this apply to our writing you might ask? Ah, yes, the villain. Let us continue with my political metaphor. The other side sees themselves as correct for the most part. They truly believe in what they’re saying and doing. Or at least they see what they’re doing as the best course for them at the time. To them, the hero is the villain. The truly best villain also has to be at least as smart as the hero or heroine. If the villain is weak, then the conflict is also weakened.

The villain also needs to have layers. If you can’t respect your villain in the morning, then the resolution won’t be as satisfying. Give the villain a life. The villain has a past. The villain has or at least had a Mama. Opportunity, or lack thereof, can lead to someone becoming a villain. The reader should know at some point why the villain is what he or she is. I have to say so many of the books I’ve read lately have very thin (as in characterization, not as in weight) villains—if I know very little about the villain, then I’m not thrilled when he loses. He’s a stranger to me, and I don’t care that much about strangers other than in a vague humanitarian sort of way.

If the villain actually sees himself as the villain, then they deserve a reward—redemption before they die. Oops, I lost my political metaphor. Maybe because I understand the villains in my books better than I understand my political opposition? I hope not…

By the way, I have an ending thought…does anyone else think the insistence by the writing gurus that every scene has to be relevant to the main plot makes it too easy to figure out the ending? I’m finding this in my reading, haven’t the guts to apply it to my writing yet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Official. I'm Unique!

American Title V.

This is an unashamed plug from Evonne for her American Title V entry Never Coming Home. Those of a nervous disposition should look away now.

Right -- we have the voting schedule. The roller coaster starts on 10 November, when all eight finalists will be out for your vote. But why am I unique? Because no one else has ever been in the final of American Title for a second time.

There are some ladies on Title Magic who have said, in the kindest possible way, that I'm a couple of letters short of a keyboard to want to go through all that again. I prefer to think of it as true Welsh grit. Then I remember those Monday mornings, either waiting to see what the judges have said about your precious baby, or worse, finding out who didn't make it. Then I think I might agree with them. But it's too late now.

To get into the final twice, I must be doing something right, mustn't I? And don't you want to read a book by a two times American Title finalist?

Well – the answer to that one is to vote for Never Coming Home and keep voting. I'm counting on you.

All the contestants are desperate for your vote, but the competition is about fun too. All the finalists are appearing on Sylvia Day's blog, for the next few weeks, talking about their book and interviewing one of their characters. There will be prizes for comments, donated by some fabulous authors. A new finalists’ blog, Love Conquers, has just been launched at And here on Title Magic we will be interviewing each of the candidates about their writing life, and their entries, kicking off on 27 October. Be here to find out who is first up.

As there are only eight finalists this year, Fridays will still be guest days on TM.

On Friday the 31 of October, what will we be doing to celebrate Halloween? Keep guessing as at the moment we don’t know either.

On Friday 7 November, we have a guest who could give you a new twist on your writing habits, when Giselle Green, winner of the UK's prestigious New Writer’s Award 2008 for her novel Pandora's Box, will be blogging with us about the book that first saw her in print -- The Writer's Guide to the Zodiac. Want to know if your Aries hero will get it together with your Pisces heroine? The solution could be right here.

And don’t forget -- voting on American Title V starts on 10 November and goes through to November 23. You could mark it on your calendar. And you could write Never Coming Home underneath it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Praise of Pen and Paper

In Praise of Pen and Paper

By Pat Cunningham

Don’t get me wrong. I love computers. Rewrites and edits are a breeze now, and whole novels can be emailed to publishers without requiring a trip to the post office.
However …
Call me old school, but I haven’t dropped the pen and paper habit just yet. I still get a thrill of anticipation when I open a notebook and see all those blank, lined pages. I have half a dozen pens in my purse at any given time. I look forward to August, when school supplies go on sale. My idea of an ideal writing session is to sit in bed in my jammies with a cup of tea and the radio on and fill up all those lines with black ink. The public school system went to a lot of time and trouble to teach me penmanship; I might as well put it to good use.
I like to do my first drafts longhand. Scribble it all down in bed, on the sofa, on the deck when it’s nice out, during commercials on TV, or during the show if it’s lousy. The second draft is when I type it into the computer. From there all work is done on screen. If I need to add a scene or chapter, I tend to rough it out on paper first. I can and have written right on the computer (or on the typewriter, back in the Dark Ages), but once it’s printed out it seems so … permanent. Longhand is me talking to myself, working out all the kinks and clunkers before I commit to the final version.
There are pros and cons to both methods. You don’t want to know how many notebooks I’ve got piled up in the closet, filled with stalled stories, snippets of inspiration, ideas I never got back to and books that went nowhere. Sometimes the pen can’t keep up with my brain; that’s when a keyboard comes in handy. Unfortunately, you can’t chew on the end of a keyboard (at least not easily) while you’re waiting for the right words to come, or doodle in the margins of a computer screen. Pens tend to run out of ink just when you’re on a hot streak, and I can’t always remember which notebook holds the chapters I want to get back to, or which room of the house I left it in. On the other hand, I’ve never had a pen go corrupt on me in the middle of a project, and notebooks don’t crash. If nothing else, longhand ensures me a backup version in case technology fails. As long as I can read my own handwriting.
I suppose at some point I’ll just get a laptop and stop slaughtering trees. Until then, it’s off to the dollar store for a packet of pens and a five-subject spiral. I’ve got a book to thrash out.


I received my first online issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies...and only wish I could get over to read the two featured stories.
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.

Personal Note ~ yeah, I got the notebooks full, too. And there is definitely something magical about penning longhand. However, all my trees must be casting their spell over me...only use the computer...they whisper over and over with the fluttering dance of their least, until winter sets in.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Paranormal Book Sales

Welcome to Liz Jasper, paranormal mystery author, who's second book in her wonderful mystery series, Underdead In Denial, has just been realeased by Cerridwen as an ebook.

It's always interesting to see who is buying what books. I'm not talking about getting a secret wide-eyed giggle with a friend because you've seen, say, a guy who looks as staid as Alan Greenspan grin, say "ooh, awesome!" and trot delightedly off to the sales counter with a couple of fat Regency romances tucked under his arm. I'm talking particulars, as in who buys my books. My cozy vampire mysteries. (For those who haven't heard that term before, because I made it up, that means I write the sort of cozy romantic mystery you curl up with on a rainy day with a plate of warm cookies at your side – only it has vampires in it, for comic relief. Yes, I watched waaaay too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer in graduate school. But I had to counterbalance the real-life horror of five-page math problems, didn't I?)

However, as interesting as it might be for me to see who's buying my books, it's not as if anyone tracks demographics of my book sales or anyone else's. How could they? It's not like the guy at the bookstore checkout counter makes a little tick mark by "Man who looks like Alan Greenspan" under sales for Love in the Deep Blue Sea and Love Me Now, Mermaid Girl (horrific titles, the real reason I don't write romance) and shoots the info off to the publisher so authors like me can go "Oooh, owners of one-legged parrots read my books. How intereessssting."

Most people have a frustrated writer in them. I am a writer, so I have a little analyst inside me that sits around and wants to quantify things. Not all the time -- my inner number cruncher seems curiously absent around tax time when there's actual numbers that need calculating -- but enough that I find it endlessly fascinating to try and figure out things like who my readers really are.

Because the truth is, it's not necessarily who I'd expect. I knew from the occasional piece of fan mail that my writing appeals to adult readers in the baby boomer range who think a mystery about a science teacher who is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes Underdead is a hoot. Which jives with a statistic I've heard that baby boomers, who buy a pretty fair hunk of all fiction sold, have really gotten into reading paranormals. On the other hand, maybe why I hear from them is they are more likely to write notes to authors.

Because I've discovered increasingly from recent book signings and reviews that plenty of Gen Xers read Underdead too. Maybe they were just slower on getting around to it. You know, those Gen X-ers don't have a reputation as slackers for nothing.

But the real surprise was that my books also really appeals to YA readers. The bee line of teens to my book was a dead giveaway. (As were reports from reviewers that their kids keep stealing my book and passing them to their friends, which makes the review late and…. And yes, I'm so flattered I can barely stand it even if it means my royalties are in the toilet because I have one book in circulation through an entire town.) At first I thought teens picked up my books because Stephenie Meyer isn't writing Twilight books fast enough and YA readers are sucking down anything vampire (pun intended. Yeah, that's why I stay away from them in books. But blogging is fair game) they can get their sticky fingers on. And this is probably true. I base this on the fact that people keep telling me their Underdead-thieving son/daughter/wanna-be-vampire-in-the-making also loved the Twilight books.

But, like most explanations attached to numbery things, it isn't doesn't tell the whole story. Another piece of the story (and this probably isn't even close to becoming a full explanation, either) was made clear to me yesterday when I guest lectured to fifth graders about how to tell a story. (Aside: they were awesome. Note to would-be eighth grade teachers--switch to fifth grade. Trust me.) Anyway, as we pulled together a story at the conclusion of the lecture, a (clearly non-fiction) tale about a girl turning into a cat at night, whose parents turned into dogs, with appearances by koalas, wizards, magic books, and a cranky history teacher with 15 slavering Dobermans in his yard, one thing was abundantly clear: even kids looove paranormal stories. I took a poll. Every single one of them had read the Harry Potter books.

Okay, no surprise there. But the point is, paranormal books pretty much appeal to every age group. And it can't be, as was reported in the study about baby boomers, that it's because they all realize they're getting older and fear death.
I think paranormals appeal precisely because they are a little outside of normal. I mean, if you're going to take a frigate (book) to lands far away, you can count on getting somewhere new and different if you read a paranormal.
Which is a very nice conclusion to make, except, after all that, I still have no way of knowing if the Alan Greenspan doppelganger walked out of the bookstore with that copy of Underdead I sold—or if it was the Twilight-toting teen behind him. Or the Grandmother of six behind her. Or the secret agent spy in the suit behind her. Or…

Liz Jasper is the award-winning author of Underdead and Underdead In Denial. She loves email from people of all ages. (Feel free to lie outrageously about your age to mess with her head.) You can read excerpts of her books at her website

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ten things you didn't know about Pirates.

Following on our recent ten reasons not to ...

Ten things you never knew about pirates. Or maybe you did?

1. Very little physical evidence survives about piracy. Pirates weren’t big on diaries and record-keeping. Most of what we know, or think we know, comes from storytellers -- in other words, they made it up.

2. The line between a pirate and privateer was a fine one. The privateer had Letters of Marque from the monarch that licensed pillage of ships considered to belong to a hostile power. The king or queen took a cut of the booty and often members of the aristocracy were financial backers who also took their share.
But if the political wind changed while you were away …

3. The golden age of piracy was from 1680 until 1730 - when treasure was being transferred from the New World to the Old.

4. The popular image of a free fighting man under the leadership of a daring captain might not have been a total myth – crews would probably have been multiracial, a leader could have been elected on the basis of his seagoing skills, and there was probably a system in place for profit sharing of the cargo -- but it wasn’t exactly the equality and democracy that is often portrayed in books and films.

5. Piracy wasn't just a game for the boys. There were notable women pirates. Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connaught, came from a well-to-do family who were involved in coastal shipping in Ireland. When she met with Queen Elizabeth I in 1593 it is said that the two women conversed in Latin, their only common language.

6. Blackbeard is a multipurpose villain of most pirate tales. He did exist. His name was Edward Teach, captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He was a Brit who raided the American coast and was responsible, amongst other things, for blockading Charleston.

7. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the famous pirate trappings – eye-patches, wooden legs, hooks, parrots, buried treasure with a convenient map, where X -marks the spot, ever existed. That's all down to writers like …

8. Raphael Sabatini, who wrote adventure novels, and what would be classed these days as romantic suspense, including the pirate tales of The Black Swan, Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk.

9. But before Sabatini, Conrad, protagonist of Byron's wildly successful poem The Corsair, may have been the prototype of the chivalrous, handsome, adventurous anti-hero - noble, brooding, with a hint of mystery in his past …
The poem, published in 1814, sold 10,000 copies on first day of publication.

10. And then, of course, there’s Hollywood, responsible for most of our pirate imagery, with the likes of Errol Flynn swashbuckling amongst the rigging. The heyday of the pirate adventure was probably the 1930s, 40s and 50s – when the cinema served up escapism from financial depression, war and post war austerity.

And that makes ten - and I never mentioned Johnny Depp once – oops!

With acknowledgement of the wit and wisdom of Juliette Wood and Dimitra Fimi in all things piratical, and thanks for a fun day on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Researching For Your Genre

When I wrote my Regencies, I had an entire bookcase (not just a bookshelf, but a bookcase) dedicated to my time period. You'll find notebooks upon notebooks of notes and printouts on the time period. I have books on the Napoleonic Wars, on the English monarchy, on culture, villages, music, clothes -- you name it, I have it.

I enjoy the research. However, now that I'm no longer writing in that time period, I haven't been making much use of that particular bookcase.

I tried my hand at writing a contemporary once, thinking it'll be a breeze because I won't have to do so much research. Boy was I wrong! I can honestly say without a doubt that writing a contemporary is harder than writing a historical because of the research involved.

You're looking at a sub-genre where things are more easily recognized by readers. Don't know a thing about yachts? You better do more than just the usual book and internet search. You need to take a trip to see one in person and talk to some people who specialize in it because you bet some reader will read your book and KNOW that you didn't do your research correctly.

What I find most difficult about researching 21st century things is that there isn't much written about it in books and on the internet. Not like there is when dealing with historical facts. Information isn't readily available because it's automatically assumed that people are already familiar with the subject, and if not, then they can have easy access to see it in person and ask questions.

My hats off to contemporary writers!

Hate research? Then I suggest trying your hand at writing fantasy. Sure, there is some world-building involved, but EVERYTHING can be made up. Give it a shot! You might be surprised at how much fun it is to really and truly make everything up.

Whatever your take on research, we can agree that researching is an important part of writing.

Happy researching!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tidbits for Today

I'm sorry this blog was is so late! I have no excuse except that I had a day-long staff in-service at the day job that threw my whole schedule out of whack.

I did learn a lot, though! Like, when working with an irate, potentially violent customer, it's a good idea to stand with your body at an angle to appear smaller and less threatening. Oh, and then I learned that the Dewey Decimal number for cats is 636.8 and that the D in "D-day" is actually an abbreviation for the word "Day." I didn't have a clue about that one!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've also been learning about my writing limits. I have discovered that there aren't any other than the ones I create for myself. If you ever have a chance to take a Fast Draft class with Candace Haven, I highly recommend you take it. The pace is grueling, but I have never been this productive. Not even during NaNoWriMo. If I don't have an entire rough draft done by Halloween, I won't be very shy of one.

So tell me - what have you been learning lately?

In the meantime, I'm sneaking off for some butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Excerpt From Knight's Fork!

Following on from Rowena Cherry's fun list yesterday on Eleven Reasons Not To Pick Up Knight's Fork, here is an excerpt for your enjoyment.

A Knight, a quest, a sexy stowaway, and a right royal scandal.

All she wanted was 'Rhett's baby. It wasn't so much to ask. But 'Rhett said no. She was caught fleeing from his bedroom. The Worlds –and more to the point, her high and mighty brother—assumed the worst. Now, she's trapped with 'Rhett, bound on a quest to Earth, and too far on their way to turn back.

Worse yet, 'Rhett's chatty lieutenant burst in on her while she was taking a bath in her chastity belt. (Her brother packed her off with nothing but the clothes she was in, unknowingly, he kept the keys to her chastity belt.)

Chapter Seventeen

The Trajant
The Royal Suite's bathroom closets
Fourth Watch

Wishing that 'Rhett would return was incomprehensible foolishness.

The suave, deadly 'Rhett was a very frightening young god. The thought of him made her tremble. The sight of him made her mouth go dry with terror. When he spoke, her very bones quaked, her insides went tight, and her nipples pinched warnings.

She was so afraid of him, she even perspired between her legs when he was close.

How did she dare to search through his clothes? What would he think if he caught her wearing one of his peculiar, stretchy, white male-garments with an ingenious flap front?
She held up the hem of the sloppy upper-body garment and looked down at herself in her borrowed male-underwear. It certainly was practical.

Suddenly, she heard a slight sound. Her heart banged like a frantic, caged thing. An intruder was in her room. She dropped the hem to hide the more embarrassing theft.

"I should be more careful." 'Rhett's harsh whisper interrupted her before she could do more covering up. He'd propped his shoulder against the frame of the open door. The "wrong" hand –his left– rested lightly on the hilt of his sword. It wasn't an overtly threatening pose, but her stomach felt like it was trying to wring itself out.

Electra looked up into his dark green eyes and her irrational heart leaped to welcome him.

Nervous, guilt stricken, and afraid all at once, she studied first his mouth, then his groin, then the rest of him for signs that he was about to attack. One of his hands was bent behind his back. He glared as if he'd never seen her before. His ambiguously reddish aura warned of rampant sensuality. Probably. One could rule out any foolish notion of 'Rhett being violently in love. The only other strong possibility was that he was in a state of noble indignation.

No doubt he was furious that he'd discovered her wearing his undergarments. Caught stealing, there were few diplomatic options. Given the time of her cycle, and that it was 'Rhett who had caught her—and he might turn sexually violent at any moment—she chose to apologize right away.

"I'm sorry.…" she began.

"So am I!" She had hardly registered that a Great Djinn had almost apologized, when, with an expression of shame, he brought his hidden hand into sight and she saw the damage.

He held a fistful of broken-off legume flowers. They were as delicate, as colorful, and as inedible as insect wings. Impulsively, she moved toward him.

"Oh, what a shame! What happened?" she blurted out, before it occurred to her that perhaps in some wild, jealous, or frustrated rage he'd deliberately destroyed her future rations. Had the growing tips not been severed from the body of the plants, in time there would have been enough temper-suppressing legume fruits to provide three healthy side dishes, at least.

"We should put them in water," he said remorsefully.

Electra shook her head. "It's too late. They can't recover. They're flowering. They won't have the energy to take root." Ignoring her warning, he crossed the main room, swept up an empty wine container, filled it from the water dispenser, and plunged the broken stalks into it. "But never mind. I should take liquids. If I remain in a state of near-fasting, I shall be less"—she hesitated to mention the rut-rage by name, since he hadn't done so—"inconvenient."

He gave her an enigmatic half smile.

"How, Your Majesty, could you possibly be less inconvenient?" His husky voice deepened. He sounded sexually playful. She marveled at his self control.

When had he started calling her Your Majesty? Perhaps it was only her imagination, but it seemed that he'd addressed her—correctly—as Princess, which was the higher title, until he'd discovered that she was in his power and available for his pleasure.

"Is it uncomfortable?" he asked, sounding concerned. "Are you trying to diet your way out of it?"

"Yes, as much as I can," she admitted. "Although, it won't be very far."

He looked puzzled, as if he hadn't considered that there were different degrees of severity with the rut-rage.

"The Volnoths have developed an ability that we have not," she said, hoping to distract him. Her tongue felt clumsy. She tried to will her fluttering heart not to signal her distress and bring out the carnal predator in him. "If a pregnancy is inappropriate, the fetus can be voluntarily reabsorbed. During times of famine, the body will reabsorb nutrient rich fluids, recycle blood, and so forth. I've no proof that I could stop myself ovulating if I didn't eat, but it is worth the attempt."

'Rhett made a tigerish whuffing noise through his nose.

"Rabbits," he swore.

"Fewmet!" she swore back, although she wasn't clear why they were suddenly cursing at each other. No sooner was the common expletive out of her mouth than she wished she'd been more selective. She hadn't intended to accuse him of smelling bad.

"No, rabbits can do that. Rabbits are a prey species on Earth. They're famous for being sexually active and prolific. They have eyes on the sides of their faces, and their butts flash a white scut of alarm when they're frightened."

Oh, By the Lechers! He'd detected her fear.

Electra could not envisage such creatures as these "rabbits." She followed him to the table and helped herself to a handful of puckering, several-Watch-old twin legumes. They were rumored to be an anaphrodisiac…inhibiting sexual appetite. 'Rhett took some fruits as well, split the pods, and ate standing up where he was. She took more legumes to encourage him to also eat more, though she seriously doubted that they would have a timely effect.

For several heartbeats, they crunched companionably.

"We're in trouble, you know that," 'Rhett said.

Her heart thudded. She trembled inside. Now, he'll tell me very calmly and politely why he has to have his way with me.

"What are we going to do?" Nervously, she began to tear the fibrous veins from a pod.

"I think we need to start with an honest assessment of how bad our situation is." He poured two goblets of purple An'Koori wine, and held one out to her. She took it, and drank recklessly. "For instance, if you could be pregnant and are locked into a chastity belt, we have to face the fact that anorexia is not the answer."

"What makes you think I could be pregnant?"

"So, you truly are wearing a chastity belt?"

Oh, Stars! I was focused on how extraordinarily well he is restraining himself, and maybe congratulating myself just a little bit on the success of my untested starvation theory. I didn't register his sneaky mention of my protection.

"Your Majesty, if you don't mind my asking, how the devil did you think I was going to get you pregnant?"

"You aren't being fair, 'Rhett. I had everything under control, until Tarrant-Arragon interfered!" She glared back into his implacable, green-diamond eyes. His aura signaled volatility and cornered-tiger danger, but there was nowhere to hide. "I never said I wanted sex. All I wanted was…"

"My seed. I know. You did say. It was arrogant wishful thinking on my part. I assumed that I could make you want me to plant it."

Abruptly he fell back, propping his hip against the long communal dining table. He was indescribably elegant and quite beautiful in a masculine way. He shook his head, and a long, wavy lock of hair fell over his face. "I feel stupid. I'm absolutely mortified. Oh, bloody hell!"

Using his long fingers as a comb, he raked his stray lock back over the top of his glossy head. Her scalp tingled. She imagined how it would feel to have his fingers in her hair.

Since he now knew something about her that was so private that only Viz-Igerd knew it, Electra permitted herself to grimace and adjust the slack-damned thing. 'Rhett watched her do it.

"Houston, we have a problem!" he murmured, staring at her in a strange and disquieting manner.

She assumed that Houston was an exceptionally strong, alien swear word since he'd never used it before, and she could not blame him. In fact, she rather liked it.

"Houston, indeed!" she agreed daringly.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Eleven Reasons Not To Pick Up Knight's Fork!

I'm delighted to welcome Rowena Cherry to join us on Title Magic to tell us about her latest sci fi romance in the series about her ALIEN DJINN royal family.

My thanks to Helen Scott Taylor for inviting me to write a guest blog about Knight's Fork, and also to Savanna (your chocolates are in the mail) for the warm welcome, and also for the inspiration to do my own version of a Don't Buy list.


11. Disrespectful words such as tallywacker and joystick are used with reference to male body parts

10. It's long. (Not the tallywacker—well, it is, but you don't wish to know that—I meant the book.) Knight's Fork has 340 pages, and most new Chapters do not begin on a fresh page.

9. It has a Prologue and an Epilogue. That's two beginnings, and two endings!

8. It's going to take about eight hours to read.

7. The hero is a 28-year old virgin and proud of it.

6. The heroine is locked in a chastity belt, and she doesn't have a key

5. The family tree is so complicated they needed to spread it over two pages.

4. If you read in bed, your significant other might be disturbed by your giggles and snorts.

3. The F- word is used, but only by villains, and only in conversation

2. If you read it in public, someone may ask why the naked man on the cover is lying in a puddle

1. If you don't read every paragraph, you may ask yourself why the naked man is lying in a puddle.

IMHO, my "Eleven Reasons…" is the perfect companion piece to my Mission Statement.

I write to entertain… myself and others. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, something to think about when the book is finished, a thoroughly satisfying happy ending, and possibly some useful information.

For a start, the list is more amusing, but makes substantially the same points about what I write, and what my weaknesses (or strengths) are. Secondly, I seem to have been officially saddled with "wacky" as a one of the twenty most important words describing Knight's Fork.

I don't think a seriously humorous futuristic romance about a Knight on a quest, a Queen in search of a sperm donor, and a right royal scandal is … that… so I should very much like to condition booksellers and librarians to read "wacky" and think "tallywacker".

Do you think it is doable?
Do you think that is wise?

From the heroine's point of view:

Knight's Fork is about a Queen whose life depends upon giving her King an heir. (Very Ann Boleyn!!!) The problem is that she is an alien on his world, and they are genetically incompatible. She cannot fake a pregnancy and adopt, because these hairless aliens don't wear clothes.

She needs a sperm donor! One who doesn't advertise. One who is the soul of discretion. Only one green-eyed god-Prince has the right stuff.

From 'Rhett's point of view, the last thing he wants is to become entangled in any sense of the word with an Imperial Princess who is not only an enemy King's consort, but Tarrant-Arragon's sister. He has no desire to play a latter day Prince Paris to her Helen of Troy.