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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blood On The Feather by Melinda Elmore

       I wanted to share with you today a little about myself and why I write the genre I do. I have lived in Arizona and Tennessee, but Arizona is my home. I have discovered wealth is not measured in how much money you have but in how much love you share. 
      I have been happily married to my wonderful husband, Tom for 24 years, and we have two remarkable children, Shaelee and Erik.
As a young child, I loved reading and writing. Many nights I would wrap up in a blanket, and daydream while I turned the exciting pages of a book. The books would take me to many places, but mostly to the 1800’s where I lived with the American Indian. I loved the idea of going from the normal world in which I lived, then instantly I would be taken to a place far away.
      To my surprise, I started writing and creating my very own world.  A place where I could go and lose myself with just a pen and paper. 
I grew up with the fascination of the American Indian. My love for them grew by leaps and bounds as I read about them from my history book. I wanted to show, in my writings, of the proud people that the American Indians truly are. They show honor and respect for all living things. If I can capture just a small portion of that in my writings then that would be an added bonus for me.
      Native American mystery and romance is my passion. I hope to reveal in my books the uniqueness of the American Indian. I feel truly blessed to try and reveal how special the American Indians truly are.
The love of my family and the love for the American Indian have become focal points in my stories. I will do my best for both of them.
I sincerely pray readers enjoy the characters that I bring to life on each turning page!!!! 
      I have received Cambridge Who’s Who twice, and I have published numerous articles in newspapers. I am a 911 dispatcher, which I truly love. My family is my life and when I am not writing, working, or sleeping, I spend my time with them.
      Well I hope you have learned some things about me and one special commenter will receive an autographed copy of my new book, Blood on the Feather.

Available 9/15/2011

BLOOD ON THE FEATHER by Melinda Elmore quickly pulls you into this Native American mystery. Archeologist DeShay Graywater finds much more than she is looking for on a dig on Lakota Sioux land. When detective TJ Hawke and FBI agent Melina Wolfe team up to investigate the murder of a young Sioux woman, much more than the case, and their shared past, present problems.

Adventure, Native culture, and mystery combine in Blood On The Feather to make this a romantic thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat and your heart pounding.

Contact Melinda:


Friday, July 1, 2011

It's A Balancing Act by Lynn Reynolds

Hello, everyone, and thanks to Rie for having me here today. Rie has asked me to write about balancing real life with online life. That would be a good topic if only I had figured out how to do it!

Just today I decided that I would spend more time doing “real writing” (by which I mean books, articles and the like) and less time goofing off online (by which I mean obsessively commenting on everyone’s status at Facebook). I read about a great new program designed to lock you out of social networking websites for several hours. You set a timer in the program, and until the timer expires, the program won’t let you check your email or Facebook or YouTube or (if you get truly desperate) MySpace. What grand visions I had of how much I would accomplish today!

As you probably can guess, the program didn’t work – or it worked, but not as advertised. Every five minutes without fail, it kept requiring me to re-enter an administrator password. The only way to shut the program timer down once it’s running is to completely shut off the computer. But then it froze, something Macs almost never do, and I couldn’t even get it to shut down. Sigh. When I finally shut it down and restarted, the first thing I did was – you guessed it – delete that brilliant new program. I probably would’ve saved more time if I’d just checked everyone’s status at Facebook like I usually do.

My point here – and I do have one – is that no one can really help you figure out how to separate online from real life. I’m not sure the two things are separate anymore. For example, I rarely talk to anyone on the phone these days. Most friends contact me through Facebook, and business associates contact me via email. For good or ill, we will all have to learn how to integrate our real life with our online life.

For me, the simplest solution has proven to be the best one when it comes to achieving balance. I set myself a modest goal of 1,000 words a day on weekdays. Once I write that many words, I can be done. If I’m on a roll, sometimes I’ll write more; if it’s a rough day, I struggle to get that many on paper – and I make sure not to re-read them, lest I despair and tear them all up. Lately, I’ve had a lot of rough days, but these things go in cycles. The important thing is to keep writing, and to do that first – before going off to check everyone’s status or to visit blogs -- even delightful ones like this one!

I think it’s also important to make time for physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout. A lot of the time, a short walk around the neighborhood can really help clear my mind and re-invigorate me.

It’s probably also a good idea to set a time limit for when to get off. I definitely try to get off the computer by supper time, so that I’m not ignoring my own family in order to dwell in the virtual world. Speaking of which, I have to go now – the family’s calling me to supper and movie night.

And speaking of supper, here’s a tasty little sample from my new novel, Love Capri Style. Since it’s set on the Mediterranean island of Capri, there’s lots of delicious Italian food, plus plenty of romantic scenery. Buon appetito!

Amanda Jackson only took the job with Fame magazine to get closer to her estranged father, billionaire publisher Peter Tate. Instead of welcoming her, Dad sends her out of the country, to cover a music festival on the magnificent isle of Capri. There Amanda finds herself up close and personal with her dad’s leading competitor – dashing British playboy Eric Greyford. Can she get an exclusive on Eric’s hectic love life, or will she wind up as just another item on the gossip pages of his newspaper? 
Amanda turned her attention to the array of dishes spread out before them.
"What's this one?" She pointed her fork at some little yellow dumpling shapes.
"That, my dear, is saffron gnocchi with shaved truffles."
Amanda gaped at him, then let loose with a full, throaty laugh. "Wow, you pull out all the stops to impress a woman, don't you?"
"Only some women." He looked away again, at the tablecloth, as if he'd embarrassed himself.
Amanda pretended she hadn't heard him and concentrated her attention on the food. "That sounds decadent. I've got to have it."
The gnocchi melted in her mouth, leaving a savory tang on her tongue. Amanda gave a little shiver, her eyes flickering shut with sheer delight. The food, the starry sky above – even if she went home without a story and got fired, at least she'd always have the memory of this night and this dinner. With this man. When she opened her eyes, Eric's gaze burned into her own, his blue the cold, deep color of the ocean that lay beyond their little haven amongst the fairy lights. He stared at her with an intensity that made her feel naked and defenseless.
Oh, he would be fierce in bed. Maybe even a little rough, domineering. Sometimes being a control freak could be a good thing, though. Amanda struggled to swallow past a lump in her throat.
Eric leaned forward and spoke, his voice low and husky with restrained desire.
"I told you you're a woman of strong appetites. I intend to satisfy all of them."

Author Bio:

Lynn Reynolds is a city girl trapped in Green Acres. She’s a writer, wife and mom – although not necessarily in that order. Her secret ambition is to be a wench at the Renaissance Faire. RT Book Reviews called her romantic suspense novel Thirty-Nine Again “… a first-class mystery . . . and a first-class read.”  Visit her at www.lynnreynolds.com.

Buy links:
There are buy links for my books at my own website, or you can order them from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or The Wild Rose Press.

Lynn Reynolds at The Wild Rose Press

Lynn Reynolds at Barnes & Noble

Lynn Reynolds at Amazon

Visit my website at http://www.lynnreynolds.com

I'm on Facebook way too much of the time. Friend me there at https://www.facebook.com/authorlynnreynolds

I don't blog often, but I am a regular contributor to the PopCultureDivas blog at http://www.thepopculturedivas.com/

My own blog can be found at http://lynnreynolds.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Is Success Measured? by Rhonda Lee Carver

Suffering from years of hopeless romantic notions and sexy, sassy heroines and bad-ass heroes taking up residence in her mind, Rhonda decided to write and bring the stories to life. With baby on hip and laptop on the other--and two years later--Rhonda has published five eBooks with a handful of spicy love stories waiting for the final touches.

When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling-ink novels, you will find her with her children, watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, doing (or trying) yoga, and finding new ways to keep her smile bright.

Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes everyone deserves romance--one page at a time…

This is a conversation I had with an acquaintance a few days ago.

Him: Are you a published writer?
Me: Yes
Him: Do you sell? I mean, are you successful?
Me: I’m not Stephen King or Nora Roberts successful, but I feel successful in my own way.
Him: I’ve never heard of your books. How do you measure success? Is it just the number of books you sell or the amount of money you make?

I found myself feeling angry with this person. I rudely said goodbye. That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. I found myself mulling his words around in my head the rest of the day. Maybe that’s a good question, “How do we measure success?”

Success can be measured in many ways. How much money you have in the bank. How many books you have sold. Do people recognize your name? I guess everyone has their own measuring tool.

I am successful, but maybe not in the way most people view achievement. What means the most to me in life is those who I love and care about. Love is a form of success. It means more than the bank account or the number of sells I’ve made for the month. The more people we love, the more successful. We can never have too much, or never have too many people we care for. Love never runs out. It grows and expands. It is forever giving.

Now, if this acquaintance and I would have this conversation again I would tell him, “I am successful in many ways in life. But if you ask me what I’ve accomplished, I can tell you. I am a writer. I have written books that are published. A writer doesn’t sit down and with each word typed he/she ching-chings a dollar amount. In fact, I’d say that for most writers money isn’t even the object or purpose. It’s a feeling of doing what we love. Creating literary art. It’s a talent of mythical pleasure. Just like the surgeon who operates, the teacher who teaches, the construction worker who builds a bridge, a store manager who manages, a trucker who trucks food to the stores, a cab driver who drives…not everyone gets a pat on the back for their hard work or talent. Not everyone’s name is in neon lights. It doesn’t have to be. Our reward is doing what we love to do. And that is how I measure success.”


$5.50  $3.85

Author: Rhonda Lee Carver
Genre: Romance
Digital ISBN: 9781616502836
Length: Novel
Digital Publication Date: June 20, 2011
Cover art by Valerie Tibbs
Formats: .epub, .lit, .pdf, .prc (Kindle and Mobi)

Five years ago, Dee Crawford's engagement to Jacob Delaney ended in death. Jacob's secrets followed him to his grave--and chased Dee from Delaney's Farm, and from his brother Abe's forbidden embrace. Yet when her own secrets send her back to Ohio and right into Abe Delaney's arms, old guilt comes to light, old passions reignite, and Jacob's secrets return to haunt them with more than just his memory. Someone in town wants Dee gone, and will do anything to stop her from uncovering the truth about her fiance's death. If Dee is to survive, she must expose Jacob's long-buried secrets...and expose her heart to Abe. Only by admitting their love can they ease the guilt that has plagued them for years. But will love be enough to save Dee when the next death on Delaney's Farm may be her own?

Dee didn’t look at him. He couldn’t look at her, either. He’d lived with the weight of shame, embarrassment and pain for years. He’d done a good job molding those emotions into something more useful, more productive: anger. The latter was far better than sorrow. Abe had convinced himself of her faults long ago. He wouldn’t allow her to unravel him again.

“You’re not welcome here, Dee.”

She set her bottle on the floor. It fell onto its side. Beer spilled out in a foamy puddle; both ignored it.

Tension enveloped him. What would she say?

“Let’s get past that, Abe. The reality is, Jacob wanted me here. I don’t know why he did, but I trusted him.”

He smirked. “You don’t belong here. Did you change your clothes to prove a point to yourself, or just to impress me?”

One thin brow curved in challenge. “It’d make you happy to think I was trying to impress you.”

“No.” He wrinkled his nose. “No, it wouldn’t.” He dropped his feet to the floor with a thud.

“Oh, forgive me.” Her tone teetered on mockery. “You’re into engaged women, right? I’m only a single girl now.”

Her bitter words hit home, striking as hard as a blow to the gut. He rose so quickly she stumbled back. He stalked toward her. Agitated, the horses kicked at the doors of their stalls as if they shared his tension.

Her lips trembled. “Did I touch a sensitive chord?”

Chord? Hell, she’d unleashed a flood. He caught her wrist in a solid grip. He didn’t want to hurt her, but he dragged her close and bent low to her ear. “You wanna stay?” His voice was dangerously low. “Stay. But don’t cross my path, or I’ll throw your ass off my farm quicker than you can throw Jacob’s name in my face again. Ownership rights or no ownership rights, that’s my word. Got it?”

She tilted her head back and looked up at him. Her face was devoid of emotion, but the damp mist in her eyes made her a liar. “Got it,” she whispered.

He dropped her wrist and pivoted on his heel, heading for the exit.

Her shaky voice stopped him. “I know you, Abe, probably better than Jacob did. If I didn’t already realize you’re a kind man, I’d run as far away from you as I could. You’re angry and you’re feeling guilty. I know, because I feel the same. I’ve dealt with those same emotions since Jacob died. You may hate me and I don’t know if I still...if I like you much either, but we share one thing. We both lost someone we loved.”

He kept his back to her, but as the last word left her lips he nearly fled outside. Sucking in fresh air, he shoved his hands into his pockets. Damn it. Damn her.

She’d leave...eventually.

Rhonda's Links:

Other books by Rhonda Lee Carver:

A tumble down the stairs lands Carly back in the arms of her ex-husband.After the loss of a child tears her marriage apart, Carly vows she’ll never speak to her soon-to-be ex-husband Chance again. On the eve of their divorce, however, Carly takes a stroll down memory lane and calls Chance. A passionate one night stand between the two is shattered by cruel light of morning. With reality having set back in, Carly admits to Chance she made a mistake, forcing him to come to grips that there is no hope left for their marriage. Fate has other plans for them. Carly’s fall down some stairs leaves her with amnesia…but that’s only the start of it.Can deception bring a second chance at love or will it forever destroy an already broken marriage? 

Zoe has a problem and his name is Lieutenant Jagmeyer.Zoe Carmichael has one true love—work. But a satisfying career doesn’t sate her desire for steamy Lieutenant Jagmeyer, a career military firefighter. He’s as anti-relationship as she is, if not more. She sees in him the perfect opportunity for companionship without commitment. Things, however, don’t always work out as one plans. When Jag becomes Zoe’s protector after a death threat against her life, unbridled passion pulls at them both. Can Zoe resist falling for Jag who wears his hardcore badge for everyone to see? Will Jag risk losing everything he’s worked for? Content warning: explicit sex, graphic language.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Four Romantic Greek Myths by Erin O’Riordan

In ‘The Smell of Gas,’ diner waitress Athena imparts her wisdom through Greek myths. She tells the story of the birth of Aphrodite, the birth of love. Greek mythology is full of power struggles, violence and gore, but there’s also an element of romance. Here are four of the Greek myths most cherished by romantic souls like Athena.

1. Orpheus and Eurydice
She was a beautiful wood nymph. He was a lonely shepherd who amused himself by playing lovely songs on the lyre, ancient Greece’s version of the acoustic guitar. When he first laid eyes on her, Orpheus composed a song just for Eurydice, and it was love at first listen. One day as she ran through the woods searching for him, Eurydice was bitten by a poisonous snake.

Not content to allow his love to languish in the Underworld, Orpheus went to the land of the dead to bring Eurydice back. His audacious campaign was successful, though Lord Hades and Lady Persephone (won over by his songs) made him agree not to look back to see Eurydice until they reached the land of the living. Unable to keep his eyes off her, Orpheus turned to see Eurydice again, and she had to return to the world of the dead.

2. Cupid and Psyche
Psyche was the youngest and most beautiful of three sisters. Her beauty made the local people neglect their worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Aphrodite appeared to Psyche’s father and demanded the girl be left on a high mountain, where she would be sacrificed. A terrified Psyche made her way to the peak alone. What she found was not death, but the soft breath of the wind, which carried her to a sumptuous palace.

There she married Cupid, the son of Aphrodite, though the bride was never allowed to see the groom. Psyche’s sisters convinced her that if her husband didn’t want to be seen, he must be a terrible monster. Taking their advice, Psyche crept up on Cupid as he slept and held a candle to him. He was the most lovely creature she had ever seen. A drop of hot wax hit his cheek and he woke up, banishing her for breaking the one rule of their union.

Their story does not end tragically, though. A soft-hearted Aphrodite offers Psyche the chance to complete a series of grueling tasks. Psyche rises to the challenge and is rewarded with being made a goddess, reuniting with Cupid. C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful version of this myth in ‘Till We Have Faces.’

3. Persephone and Hades
Hades, the god of the Underworld, judged the dead all night and day and was known for his heart of stone. That heart melted when he saw Persephone, the young daughter of his sister, the powerful earth-goddess Demeter. Like a gentleman, he went to Persephone’s father, Zeus, and asked for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, he forgot to inform either Persephone or Demeter of this Zeus-sanctioned arrangement, and Persephone took their “wedding” as an abduction. Yes, this sounds more cruel than romantic. However, in Nigel Spivey’s excellent account in his ‘Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real,’ Hades treated her with respect. He offered Persephone the gift of a pomegranate, comparing himself to the fruit: tough on the outside, but secretly full of sweetness.

After the initial shock of transitioning to the cool, dark Underworld, Persephone fell in love with the god, who was every bit as handsome as his more amorous brothers Zeus and Poseidon. In later myths like that of Orpheus and Eurydice, the pair is always portrayed ruling side-by-side as equals, Persephone tempering her husband’s harsh judgments and offering humanity hope of reincarnation.

4. Aphrodite and Adonis
Even the goddess of love herself was not immune from having her head turned by a lovely mortal. Good-looking men are still compared to Adonis to this day. Adonis was off-the-charts hot. Although the goddess adored him, the hottie still had to go out and earn his living as a hunter. Sadly, he was gored by one of the boars. In his dying moments, he sought Aphrodite and died in her arms as she bestowed a farewell kiss. Where each of his bloodied footsteps fell, a beautiful red Adonis flower (also known as pheasants’-eye) springs up every year for eternity. 

Blurb - Love pulp fiction? Just try putting down The Smell of Gas. TSOG is full of saints and sinners you'll love to hate. There's Brigid, the high school basketball player and secret heroin addict. Fred, a Catholic lesbian teen, loves Brigid, but doesn't know about her affair with Edward, a married Evangelical preacher. Sex, ethics, religions and mythologies clash as you dig deeper into their connection to the death of a young couple.

PG-rated Excerpt:
    Athena sat across from him again, reaching behind to place the pot on an unoccupied table. “Let’s start at the beginning,” she said. “The Book of Genesis. It says that in the beginning, God created the light first, and then the sky, the land and the seas. Then the trees and plants, and so on and so forth. Just like that.” She snapped her fingers. “Out of nothing.”
    “That’s what the Bible says,” he agreed. “God split the waters of primordial chaos, creating dry land, and then created the things that live on it. You could say that He created them out of nothing, or that He created them out of His word.”
    “However, it doesn’t say God created the Devil,” she said. “The serpent that tempted Adam and Eve, yes. A serpent is only an animal, though. Do you know what the ancient Greeks used to say, before Christianity?”
    “I read a little mythology in grammar school,” he said. “The Iliad and the Odyssey, I think, but it’s been so many years. I wouldn’t remember…”
    “In the beginning, there was only Father Sky, who called himself Ouranos, and Mother Earth, who was called Gaia. Ouranos saw Gaia, loved her, and made himself one with her.” She brought her hands together to emphasize the point. “The sun, the moon, the ocean– these were all the children of Ouranos and Gaia. They had hundreds more, and they were the grandparents of the gods and of human beings. Ouranos didn’t make any of this out of nothing, and neither did God. There had to be a wife.”
    “Do you really believe that?” Edward asked. “That’s paganism, Athena. You can’t honestly call yourself a Christian and believe that God has a wife.”
    She shrugged. “He had a wife, or She had a husband. Gaia couldn’t do it all by herself either. But do you know what I really think, when I lie in bed at night thinking about it? That God and the Devil were married.”  

Erin's Links:

Other Books by Erin O'Riordan

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Secrets of Character Creation by Mysti Parker

Thanks so much for having me today. I’ve been asked to describe how I write the perfect character in terms of villain, hero, and heroine. While I’m sure you could find book after book on character creation, my short answer is simply: I write them how I like to read them. Years spent reading and watching films and TV have naturally given me preferences on what constitutes a good baddie, a heroic hero, and a heart-stopping heroine.

However, in the spirit of all things list-worthy, I’ll list a few things that are must-haves in my character creation, starting with:

The Villian
1.      He/She must be multi-faceted. This means not 100% evil. I’m sure even Hitler had a good point or two about him. Maybe he liked bunnies. Whatever the case, showing a soft side to the baddie is essential in making them realistic.
2.      The villain must have motivation. As a writer, you have to be the psychiatrist. Put the baddie on the couch and ask him/her why exactly they wanted to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Did his papa blow up his mama when he was a boy? Did her mama blow up her doll house when she was a girl? Give ‘em a reason for the meanness.

3.      The villain must have the upper hand at some point. You can all remember times in famous films and books when all hope seems to be lost. Luke Skywalker is facing off with Darth Vader, and for a moment, you fear that Darth might just kill him after all. That’s good villain writing!

The Hero
1.      He has a genuinely good heart, but he’s not perfect. I love writing flawed characters. My heroes have weaknesses. They’ve done things they regret, but when worst comes to worst, their hearts are in the right place.

2.      He’s not dark and brooding. I’ve liked my share of vampire guys, certainly. But, for me, those guys are hard to acclimate. My heroes like to have fun, and when they find a woman who matches their goofy side, all the better!

3.      He doesn’t always save the heroine. In fact, she just might save him! In “A Ranger’s Tale”, one of my favorite lines is, “I think we saved each other.” Which brings us to…

The Heroine
1.      She’s not a naïve virgin, for goodness sakes! I’ve read so many 80’s era romances about naïve virgins and velvety shafts, that I very rarely write my heroines that way. She may have had a lover or two or been married before. At the very least, she’s had some experiences in life and she’s not fresh off the farm, ready to transform the dark, brooding, promiscuous male into the perfect hero with her innocence.

2.      She may be a diva, a damsel, or somewhere in between, but she’s going to learn just how strong she really can be during the course of the story. My girls may thirst for adventure or long or a quiet life in a small town, but they’re going to have to work for their goals. They don’t completely depend on the hero to save them.

3.      Speaking of goals, her only goal isn’t to land the hero. Caliphany in A Ranger’s Tale set off to live on her own and leave everyone else behind. She just happened to fall in love along the way. I think it brings us back to the multi-faceted trait. She’s got to have some aspirations in life other than living happily ever after with her man.

I    I hope this has given you some idea of how this writer forms her characters. This isn’t the only way, and I’m still learning what makes the people in my stories tick. It’s rather fun to get to know them over the course of the story, and I truly miss them when the tale comes to an end. I hope my readers feel the same!
    Now grab a good book and a hot cup of coffee and enjoy meeting some new characters!

Blurb: Set in the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf Caliphany Aranea longs to explore the world and escape from her controlling father. Her dreams are fulfilled when she meets ranger and ship captain Galadin Trudeaux. But, when secrets from the past bring tragedy to those she loves, Caliphany must fight to hold on to the life she's always wanted.

Excerpt from Chapter 18:


Cali stood and flung her bow over her shoulder.
I waved my hands at her. “Cali, I think you should stay here in the camp.”
“I will do no such thing.”
“The goblins aren’t to be taken lightly. They can swarm on you in an instant.”
“Which is all the more reason I should go along to help.”
There was no arguing with her, not with that stubborn set of her chin and those flashing blue eyes. Damn, she was beautiful when she set her mind to do something.
“All right, then, let’s go, but we have to be careful.”
We climbed the narrow path up the cliff side to the ancient temple. Bastivar was a crumbling, pillared fortress carved into the mountainside in honor of the goddess Innessa. Worshippers had long since vanished, and as long as anyone could remember, the only current inhabitants were goblins.
“Hidari mi compli,” we chanted, and sneaked inside. Our eyes adjusted to the dim light in the entryway.
“I’ll draw some of them out,” I whispered. “Stay concealed, and when you see one coming, shoot it.”
Down one corridor, a group of three goblins came toward me. I aimed and shot one, then ran back when the other two charged. Cali’s first arrow barely missed my head, but she got one. I shot the last one as she readied another arrow.
“Nicely done,” I whispered. “Now, we—”
“Achoo!” Cali couldn’t stop her sneeze in time. She whispered, “I’m sorry.”
A great snarling ensued from within the main corridor.
A horde of beady, yellow eyes came toward us.
“Cali, run!”
She fled, and we ran down the cliff side as fast as we could without falling off. We reached the forest floor, and I looked back. Goblins streamed out of the ruins, so many that some fell off the cliff. There had never been this many before. It must have been a long while since anyone had cleared them out. We sped through the underbrush. Thorns scratched our skin and snagged our leathers, but they were gaining on us.
We reached the main path, and I grabbed Cali. “Give me my father’s sword.”
She unsheathed it and handed it to me. “Galadin, there’s too many. We’ll never fight them off.”
“Conceal yourself and run. Now!”
She clutched my sleeve. “I won’t leave you here!”
For the brief moment while the goblins closed in, I met her panic-stricken eyes. I’d never met a woman I would die for, until then. “Go!”
I pushed her on, and she turned to run. Goblins burst through the bush, and I readied my sword. Right and left, I swung, impaling and kicking them off the blade, chopping off spindly gray limbs, a head when I could aim just right. Piles of jerking bodies began to pile at my feet. The onslaught lessened, but before I could catch my breath, another wave of them burst forth.
One of them latched onto my arm, its jagged teeth sinking in through the leather. I cried out. Then, an arrow sank into its ugly body. Cali had come back, her next arrow nocked and ready. I shook the goblin off my arm. Still, they came, yet another wave.
She threw down her bow and ran to my side. “Galadin, get back!”
“What? No, I told you to run!”
“No time.”
She pulled me back, stepped in front of me, and held out her hands. Blue fire burst from her palms, like flaming blasts of lightning, but continuous, and dreadfully hot. I had to back away from the intensity of the heat. The inferno charred the goblins, turning them from gray, to black, to piles of ashes before my eyes. The fire consumed every bush and weed, everything in its path, until the goblins in the rear decided they were outmatched. Shrieking, they turned and hightailed it back up the cliff and into Bastivar.
Cali stared at her smoking hands. I ran to her, relieved to see that she wasn’t burned. But, she was weakened. I embraced her, letting her catch her breath, her head on my shoulder. I ran my fingers along her braid.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” I said.
She raised her head and peered into my eyes. “I didn’t either.”
Then, our lips met, and nothing else mattered.
* * * * *                 

Author Bio:
Mysti Parker is a full-time wife, mom of three, and a writer. Born and raised in Kentucky, writing has always been her first love. After many years of pursuing other things, she began her writing career in earnest in 2009. Look for more romantic tales from her fantasy world of Tallenmere, where magic, passion, murder, and mayhem are a part of everyday life.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Creating Worlds by Judy Nickles

Hogwarts, Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom, Star Wars, Narnia, and so many other popular worlds exist because their characters inhabit them. Creating worlds is a challenge beyond anything I can imagine. However, my characters live in the past, often the near-past, and rather than creating their world, I must go back and try to walk through it as it existed, despite the fences of time.

Because I write mostly ‘vintage’ stories, one of my passions is researching settings, in particular the houses of the time period. In a time when old homes are being snapped up for renovation, seeing these houses as originally constructed (not as they’ve evolved over years of changing ownership and necessary repairs and modernization) is always fascinating.

Whenever I travel, I always make it a point to tour any available older home open to the public, especially antebellum houses. I recently visited the McCollum-Chidester House in Camden, Arkansas, which dates from the 1850s and was used as Union headquarters during the nearby battle of Poison Springs.

While researching a setting for a story set between the present and Civil War eras, I happened on Plantation Houses and Mansions of the Old South (J. Frazier Smith, reprinted in 1993 from the original 1941 version, Dover Publications). The discussion of the homes, complete with sketches of grounds and outbuildings, explanatory text, and floor plans, fascinated me and eventually led me to the absolute ‘right’ model for my story.

Sadly, many of these grand structures were victimized by looters both during and after the Civil War and later fell into disrepair beyond reclamation. Those that remain are rich sources of ideas for writers. And, perhaps stories lurk even among the silent columns and disembodied steps of those structures no longer whole.

We tend to take for granted many of our modern conveniences, but did you know that outhouses were in common usage until at least 1920? Larger, more expensive homes of the 1880s had indoor plumbing, including flush toilets. Some bathrooms even had showers in that decade, and there were smaller bathtubs built for children.

Kitchens, originally detached buildings due to fire risk during the antebellum period when cooking was done on an open hearth, moved inside. Wood burning and coal and stoves evolved into gas and electric appliances.  During the later 1880s, women left outdoor wash pots for deep sinks that even came equipped with wringers. “Slop sinks” served for the messier jobs like rinsing floor mops.

Between 1879 and 1889, electricity and stamped metal ceilings (still to be seen in many older business establishments) appeared. Most houses were two-story with the requisite parlor and front ‘lobby’. 

From about 1908 t0 1940, Sears Roebuck sold homebuilding kits delivered to your lot (hopefully with basement and foundation ready) by train or truck. Montgomery Ward and other companies provided their versions of the product and service. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Colonial Revival styles became popular. Enclosed porches, basement furnaces, steam radiators, and sheet rocked walls marked newer homes in this time period. Also popular were attic dormers.

Houses known as ‘bungalows’ were fashionable in the next decade. The latest in electric appliances, as well as the candlestick telephone, took up residence with the families who occupied these homes. Residents might even add a sleeping porch or a fireproof steel garage for their car.

In the 1920s, people became interested in European style homes. Glass doorknobs, highly prized by some collectors today, opened inside doors. Built-ins included Murphy beds and ironing boards.

The came the Great Depression. Forced from their homes, people migrated to shanty towns, living in any shelter available to them. Still, those who could, built stylish homes with stucco exteriors, slate roofs, sunken living rooms, and all the latest conveniences, including air-conditioning. Tile and linoleum flourished, and those who had cars parked them in detached garages.

In 1940, my parents built and were married in the living room of their first home. I lived there until the age of four, so I have some memories of the house. Still, it was exciting to find a picture of the exact house in The Vintage House Book: Classic American Homes 1880-1980 (Tad Burness, Krause Publications 2003). The credit for much of the previously-shared information goes to Mr. Burness and his well-researched, heavily-illustrated volume which I would recommend to writers of tales from by-gone days. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a ‘must’ on your writing bookshelf.

It’s not enough to ‘set’ a story in a previous time. Readers must be able to ‘see’ places through interspersed (though not belabored) description. They want to feel a part of the time and place, as if they, too, were living in that Dutch Colonial or English cottage. If I soak up the atmosphere of these long-ago homes, either by visits or vicariously through books, I’m better able to create it for my readers. 

For a list of resources for information on various aspects of the past (characters, settings, etc.) visit the Resources for Writers page at my website I try to update it as I get new ideas, and I’d love for you to share your own resources to be posted there. Use the ‘contact me’ box on the home page.

Blurb: Despite over thirty years in a faithless marriage to wealthy investment broker Rand Kingston, Jean is  shocked when he asks for a divorce. Encouraged by her former housekeeper-turned-best-friend, she determines to rediscover herself as an independent woman and move on with her life. Nick Cameron, prominent attorney and long-time widower, would like to figure in her plans. The opposition of their adult children surprises them. Then, a series of chilling near misses makes them wonder who really is determined to keep them apart—and why. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Can You Hear Your Characters Speaking? by Joanne Troppello

When I first started writing, I was terrible at keeping true to one character’s point of view at a time.  I was a head hopper.  Yes, I can admit that—now I feel so much better. 

All kidding aside, my lack of discipline when it came to POV totally ruined my efforts in creating a smooth flowing story.  After working with some wonderful editors, I realized my problem.  It was not easy to change my bad habits, but once I actually saw what I was doing wrong, it definitely made a difference. 

There are so many facets of writing well with regard to POV and as long as you start at the beginning, you’ll keep getting better at it.  Don’t allow discouragement to take over.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; although as my Italian husband always likes to joke, it sure fell in a day.  Back to POV…it takes time to develop good writing habits.  I can say this because I’ve been down the road to recovery when it comes to changing bad habits. 

I’m currently working on the edits for my fourth book.  I still have to remind myself that I need to get into character, just like an actor when acting out a scene.  Get into your character’s head and see what she or he is seeing.  Hear what she’s hearing.  Smell what he smells.  Touch what she touches.  Feel what he feels.  That is the only way that you’re going to get it right. 

You need to jump into the scene with your character and almost imagine that you are that character—at least for the moment, until you finish that scene and get into the head of another character.  Don’t just tell us what this character is feeling, but show the readers.  Telling won’t draw the readers fully into the story.  Showing will fully engage them and they’ll love your story.

What is the character thinking?  What’s on his or her mind?  The readers want to know that.  Here’s an example: 

          She cried out in pain and lurched forward as her foot got caught in the meandering roots of an old oak tree.  Landing on the ground, her hand smashed down on a rock and pain seared up her arm.  Great, twisted ankle and sprained wrist in the same day—pulling through the pain, she stood up and leaned on the tree for support.  She thought about Peter again.  The love of her life, he was also the man who broke her heart when he chose the agency over her.  Don’t think about him, just keep moving. 
What do we learn from this paragraph about the character?  Well, she’s obviously running somewhere and trips and gets hurt.  We get a glimpse into her thoughts when she shares about her lost love.  “Don’t think about him, just keep moving,” is a line that shows narration of the story from the character’s POV.  To write effectively, we need to get into the mind of our characters and write from their senses.

BLURB: Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents' deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her.

Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective.

When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.

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AUTHOR BIO: A romantic suspense and inspirational romance author writing contemporary romance with a classic feel, Ms. Troppello is also a freelance writer / marketing consultant, located in Pennsylvania.  She has two books published.  Shadowed Remembrances is a mystery novel and Mr. Shipley's Governess is an inspirational romance novel, published through Wild Horse Press.  She is contracted to work for several different companies, to write non-fiction, how-to articles each week.  She also works as a freelance marketing consultant for a local medical organization and manages facebook and twitter accounts for different clients.  Ms. Troppello loves to write and read and spend time with her family.

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Also from Joanne Troppello:

Shadowed Remembrances is a story about a young woman who has walked away from her past and her small town and started her life over in the city. On a visit back home, she is confronted with the hurts of her past, the rekindling of an old flame, and a murder. Torianna Silverman is a crime scene investigator, specializing in fingerprint identification. She is a NYC detective who is on vacation in a small Pennsylvania town. She encounters God in a special way and has to come face to face with her fears and find a way to move forward and solve the crime.

Joanne's Links: