Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Guest for this week: A.J. Williams

I want to welcome AJ Wiliams First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Thanks for having me Barb. There really isn't much to tell you...(laughing) I am a mom first and foremost.  I have been writing since I was about nine or so. When my mom and I moved from Arizona to Missouri the kids in my new school made fun of me for the way I talked. Writing became a release for me as I had to learn to fit in. As I grew, writing helped release a lot of hormonal issues we girls often face as we mature.

Now I am married to a great man with two wonderful kids and my love of writing has intensified. I encourage my six year old to write her own stories. I love TV and record everything as I HATE, really hate commercials, can't stand the things. Also I have super powers as I love telling my kids.

Tell us about your latest release:
 My newest release will be His Final Bounty, which releases in March. It is the final story in the Bounty Series. 

Blurb: Eva Rosenberg hacks a secret file of Jefferson's and discovers the man who shattered her heart and her world has one giant secret. 

Jefferson Anders’ current bounty hunting status has allowed him to hide in the shadows, never forcing him to face the secrets of his past. Having spent five years hiding the truth, he never dreamed the secrets of his past would catch up to him. Secrets which cost him both the love of his life and connection to his family. Now, he must face the mistakes of his past. 
With a confrontation looming with Eva and a possible death threat, they must work as a team to find forgiveness and defeat the enemy that waits in the shadows.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
 Hmm hard question. I don't think I have every really loved a villain. However, I am working on a story where the villain is my main character. So I guess I would have to say him.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
 I love Keylee Anders from Bounty for Hunter. She is in your face, doesn't make any excuses for who she is or how she behaves. This girl has gone to hell and back. The best thing is that she came out better, and stronger than before. She is strong and independent, as well as loyal.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
 I write Contemporary Romance. I chose contemporary because it called to me. As much as I love historical romances, I would rather read then write them

4.)What are you working on now?
 I am currently working on several different books, each about at the half way point. I am working on a sweet romance about a girl who is going  back home for the first time in ten years. Another story I am working on is about a shy girl stepping out into life instead of hiding from it. That story will be spicy. My other story is about a woman stuck doing wrong deeds to save a loved one.

5.) What got you to start writing?
 I starting writing a story in 2007 while I was on  bed rest, pregnant with my first child. I had over hundred thousand words when my computer crashed. I cried for a whole month. Pulling my big girl panties on I decided to sit down and write it all over again.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
 I get ideas from music, my kids, believe it or not, and people watching. We as humans are hilarious in our reactions.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
 I am a very shy person.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
 I can play the flute, not as good as I did, but I can still play.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
 I was told to write everyday, another is don't worry about the mistakes just write.  These have stuck with me because it is important to get what you can on paper. If I can't make it to the computer I have a pen and pad near me at all times just so I can jot down ideas or scenes that play out in my mind.

As to not worry about mistakes I have found that helpful because I worry about any misspelled words or grammar mistakes then it takes away from my time of getting my thoughts out completely.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
 I would have to say Juliet Mariller, her book Daughter of the Forest helped me fall in love with romance books. I would love to ask her about her writing process, the research that goes into each of her stories and what it is like to be a member of a druid order.


And A.J. Has a give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the excerpt from his Final Bounty!


Eva wasn’t sure when it happened, but her body called to her in a way that she hadn’t felt in years. After all this time, he still wore Ralph Lauren Polo Black. She loved that smell. Her reaction to him spurred her body closer to his, lightly brushing her nipples against his side. Every sensation from Jefferson rubbing her back, to her tracing circles on his chest increased her breathing. Her nipples tightened and the dampness increased between her legs.
Jefferson.” Her voice was soft as she moved her finger to his nipple in a sensual circle.
“Eva,” his growl pressed her to continue. There was something about the way he growled her name that caused her to stop circling and started to use her fingers to rub his nipple with her thumb and finger.
“You have to stop.”
Lifting her head up from his chest, she kept rubbing his nipple as she looked into his eyes.
“Tonight, please just give me this one night. After that, we will go our separate ways. I just need to feel you.”
“There will never be ‘just one night’ with us, Eva. If we do this, it’s for keeps. Do you understand? I could never let you walk away, nor would I allow myself to walk away from you again.”
His word slammed over her. His eyes danced in the light. She could see that he too needed tonight. As much as she wanted more nights, she didn’t think she could ever give him more. Then again, maybe she could, but it all depended on him. She had the truth, but it didn’t really ease the hurt she still felt in her heart.
She didn’t respond at first, as her thoughts rolled through her mind.
“Tonight please, Jefferson. Just tonight.”
“I’ll give you tonight, but we will talk,” he declared.
She didn’t want to talk. She wanted all or nothing and tonight it was all. If she couldn’t have tonight, then she could go back to having nothing in her life. She’d had five years of practice. What was another fifty? She nodded edging closer to his body.
“I mean it, Eva.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Random Thoughts: Is Paranormal Romance dead?

I was going to pull another handout to write about then someone said something to me that made me start thinking. I've been writing for a long time. I Joined RWA in 1993 and published in 2001 and since I joined RWA I have heard that Paranormal stories were dead. That publishers weren't buying them anymore. Twenty years later and many books later I still hear it.

There's only one problem - I don't believe it.

First I want to explain my definition of a paranormal. It is anything out of the ordinary. From shapeshifters and vampires, to science fiction and futuristic stories, to stories about psychic abilities and ghosts.

Since I started writing I've seen the run of vampire books saturate the market, and werewolf/shapeshifter books have been making the rounds recently. Time travel was big for a while. I love reading them and have written two of my own. There's been books about witches, physics, superheros. Then there's the movies and TV shows.

I thought paranormal was dead.

I've been writing in the paranormal field since I started writing. I don't write it because it sells but because it's what moves me. It's the way my mind works. Most writers who write what I write are the same way. We have that weird what if question that pops up every time we start a story.

I wrote paranormal when they said the market was dead. It's one of the reasons I went the electronic publishing route. I didn't want to write what the big pubs said was hot, I wanted to write what was in my heart. Electronic publishers are willing to publish a good story. It doesn't have to fit what they thought would sell.

I just find it funny that "they" keep saying the same thing year after year yet it seems to be what people want to read.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meet My Guest Nancy Corrigan #rhacafe

It's saturday again and time for another guest! Today I have Nancy Corrigan! A fellow author of Red Hot Author's Cafe. She has been kind enough to answer my crazy questions.

First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’m a geek turned erotic author who believes in unending love and fairytales. I love weaving tales that transcend the boundaries of reality to take my readers on an erotic, emotional and romantic journey. Currently, I write the Royal Pride series for Ellora’s Cave­, but I’ll soon be unveiling another series, the Wild Hunt. That one will also go to Ellora’s.

On a personal note, I’m married to my college sweetheart and have three wonderful children. When I’m not writing, I work as a chemist in a pharmaceutical lab.

Tell us about your latest release

My latest release is Beautiful Mistake, book 2 of the Royal Pride series. This story centers on saving the twin of a lion shifter cub that is introduced in book 1, Unexpected Find. Both little girls were experimented on and Devin vows to save Molly, the missing twin, before she’s sold to another pride. Devin, however, has been tortured himself and because of what he’s endured, his mind is broken. He suffers from blackouts and must constantly keep his unstable cats under control. He meets his mate under difficult circumstances and their HEA journey is one riddled with mistakes. It’s an intense read full of love, heartache, jealousy, loss and of course, hot sex.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Darth Vader from the Star Wars saga. From prodigy to villain, his story is a complex one. He’s been influenced by the world around him and the disastrous choices he’s made set him down the path of evil. I love a tortured hero (or villain) and I especially love Darth Vader as his final sacrifice redeems him. In fact, I love him so much I named an important secondary character from Beautiful Mistake after him. I can’t wait to write Vader’s story.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Josh. He’s a human introduced in Unexpected Find. He tries to fit into a world he’ll never belong to so he can claim a woman he can never have. His story, Favorite Obsession, releases soon from Ellora’s Cave.

3.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write paranormal romance mostly because I’ve always loved fantasies. I read (and write) for the romanticism and escapism books provide. I love fairytales, knights in shining armor and heroes that bite. I honestly don’t know if I can write a story without a paranormal flare.

4.)What are you working on now?
I’m working on Hunter Betrayed, book 1 of the Wild Hunt for Ellora’s Cave. It’ll release this summer. It’s an erotic paranormal based off the Wild Hunt myth—spectral horsemen and their hounds.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I was challenged. I mentioned to a friend that I wished I could write something hot and was basically laughed at because I’m a scientist, not an author. It’s true, but I’m also stubborn. I had to prove her wrong. Two years later, I have two published novels and a two more releasing in the next few months. Now I’m addicted to writing. I can’t stop.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
I’ve always had an active imagination. Most of my story ideas are ones that have bounced around my head, but many of my characters are inspired by people I know.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Hmm…I’m afraid of ladybugs. I’m a huge coffee addict and have a slight obsession with numbers.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Sadly, no. I’m pretty ordinary.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Write what you love, not what you think will sell. Writing is cyclic. What might be ‘hot’ today might not last. I took this to heart because when I started writing, I was told paranormals had run their course. Maybe they have, maybe not but I love my shifters and wicked Huntsmen. They have stories to tell so I’ll write them.  

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

Nora Roberts. I think every aspiring romance author needs to read her books. She is simply amazing. I’d love to know how she’s stayed inspired and weathered the ups and downs of being an author.

Thanks so much for joining me Nancy - BTW I've need writing for over twenty years and the "powers that be" have been saying that paranormal has run it's course the entire time. I don't think our readers agree.

and I love this cover!

Here's the book blurb for Nancy's latest:

Book 2, Royal Pride
Lena will do anything to protect the shifter child her family takes in, even turn herself into bait. Although she knows better than to fall for a shifter, Devin, the man who captures her, is unlike any she’s ever tangled with. Their desire is unquenchable and the draw to him is undeniable, but their relationship is riddled with mistakes and loving him has the potential to destroy her.
After shouldering his twin’s torture, Devin hovers on the verge of insanity. His life revolves around his family and recovering kidnapped shifter children. He never thought he’d have a mate or kids of his own until a rescue mission turns deadly. The beautiful female caught in the crosshairs stirs his mating instincts and tames his wild nature. Only her confusion over their intense attraction stops him from finishing their bond, but Devin’s persistent. He’ll convince his stubborn female that he’s the man she’s been waiting for—one passionate encounter at a time.
A Romantica® Paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

And here's the Blurb:
Several minutes passed before the doorknob turned and the scent of evergreen and moss swept into the room. The soft click of the bedroom door sounded overly loud in her ears. She froze, suddenly very aware of her racing pulse. Nerves or anticipation? She sighed. With the way her body reacted to him, probably both.
The bed dipped as he crawled toward her. His slow approach made her heart knock hard against her ribcage. She hated how much she yearned for him.
He skimmed his fingers across her shoulder, down her arm to linger at her wrist. “Morning, baby. How are you feeling?”
His rumbly voice made her stomach flutter. She clenched her hands until her nails dug into her palms. The bite of pain distracted her from thinking about the man she should fear but couldn’t help desiring.
“Better.” She swallowed hard. “I…umm, want to…” Strong hands lifted hers and the slight contact zapped her thoughts. The unexplainable lust returned and mixed with the longing. She couldn’t get her mind to work. “Talk. I want to talk.”
“Me too. We have a lot to talk about.”
Instead of asking any of the questions she knew he had, he gently pulled back her fingers, kissing each one before pressing his mouth to her palm. His touch branded her and filled her with warmth. Her breathing quickened. An answering groan spilled from his throat.
“My sisters…I called them.”
“Are they safe?”
His question and the emotion laced into it eased some of her tension. She nodded. “They’re safe.”
A long moment passed while Devin brushed his cheek back and forth over her inner wrist. “You’re not going to tell me where they are yet, are you?”
She shook her head.
“Look at me, Lena.”
Unable to resist him, she opened her eyes and his breathtaking feline ones stared back at her. Strands of patchwork hair framed the face that had occupied her dreams all night. Harshly cut cheekbones, up-tilted eyes and the wider, flatter nose made it unique, a mixture of beauty and power. Devin was the type of man you never forgot. One glimpse and you were hooked.
He knelt next to her on the wrinkled sheets, looking deliciously hot with his disheveled hair, bare chest and loose sweats. She let her gaze travel over him from the bulge in his pants up to the lips she wanted on hers. One corner of his mouth lifted. Her heart skipped a beat. Dear god, if she wasn’t careful, he could own her.
“You can trust me.”
She wanted to. “I need to make sure.”
He stretched out on the bed next to her and pulled her into his arms. He didn’t say anything. He simply held her. The tension in her limbs drained and she relaxed in his embrace exactly as she’d done in the hotel. She didn’t know how long they snuggled but he finally shifted closer and placed his palm over her heart.
“The answer is here, Lena. Do you feel it?”


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Random Thoughts: Data Dumping

We've all been told that data dumping is bad. Drags your reader right out of the story. But you do need to give your reader the information needed? I have always felt I did a good job of relying what I felt my readers needed without boring them with too much info.

I'm working on the next book in the series where my hero and heroine are battling timelines. Someone wants them apart, yet they keep finding each other, which makes the person trying to change things redo the timeline time and again. Secondary characters happened to be in a temporal ship so were aware of the change. After each change things reset and they find they have to explain things over and over.

It made me think. When is it too much? You have information you want to give your reader but how do you do it? If you just dump it on the page in one scene without a whole lot of anything else you could loose your reader. And what if you're like me where you working on the rough draft where they have to repeat the same info over and over? How do you make it creative? For now I'll dump it because my goal is words on the page. I can always fix it in my edits.

What I have learned from my past wroks is to weave it in. Sometimes you have to give some information right up front, but I love it when I can give a little of ther information through out the story. Each story is going to be different and some time you will have to give the information needed right up front, but always try to figure out the best way for your characters to give the information without boring your reader.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Welcome Cynthia Sax!

I want to welcome Cynthia Sax! First I’d love you to introduce yourself, Cynthia.
  
Hi! (waves) I’m Cynthia Sax. I write contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances for Avon, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Changeling. I write shorter works ranging from 40 page short stories to 200 page novellas. They often contain humor because life and sex is hilarious. I’m happily married to a wonderful man. My muse runs on Nutella and I’m a collector of VERY bad puns (which my editors delete from my stories)
Author Website: http://cynthiasax.com/

Tell us about your latest release

Flashes of Me is a modern sexy twist on Beauty and the Beast. Henley, the hero, is the huge, scarred head of cybersecurity at Blaine Technologies. Employees are scared of him, avoiding him in the hallways, leaving the elevator when he enters. Kat, a new intern, is more frightened of Henley learning her deepest, darkest secret, than she is frightened of the man himself.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Cynthia Sax: Many of my villains become heroes of their own stories. Tolui, the hero of Warlord’s Mercy, is the villain of the first three stories in the series (Warlord’s Bounty, Warlord Unarmed, Warlord Reunited). I tried to kill him off but he simply wouldn’t die and I’m glad that he didn’t. I ended up loving him. The reasons why he did what he did broke my heart.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Cynthia Sax: I love Camille, the heroine of Breaking All The Rules (releasing in April from Avon). This green-haired Goth girl causes trouble in The Seen Trilogy (He Watches Me, He Touches Me, He Claims Me) and Flashes Of Me. Many readers have requested her story and early reviewers tell me they won’t be disappointed. She’s absolutely nuts, the best friend any girl could have, and she’s perfect for Nate, the hero.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Cynthia Sax:  I write contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romance. I started writing non-erotic and was frustrated because it felt as though I was only telling half of the story. So much of an adult romantic relationship happens in bed. When I switched to erotic romance, it felt right. I love the purism of contemporary, the ability to focus on the relationship. I love the world building of SciFi and paranormal. Alternating the genres gives me a great balance.

4.)What are you working on now?
Cynthia Sax:  I’m currently writing Sinful Rewards, a 12 novella contemporary erotic romance serial for Avon. The premise for this story is crazy exciting (and could only be told in serial or installments). I’ve completed the first 4 stories and I can’t wait to write the rest. I love the heroine and the love interests.

5.) What got you to start writing?
Cynthia Sax:  I’ve always written. I wrote daily in a diary as a child. I progressed to writing for newspapers (a daily and a weekly) and blogs. Writing keeps me sane. I am now fortunate to write full time (thanks to my wonderful hubby – he pays the bills, allowing me to pursue my dreams).

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Cynthia Sax:  I have a list of my top 100 ideas. Every time I add an idea, I have to bump an idea off the list. This happens daily. Even if I live to be 200 years old, I’ll never write all of the stories I want.

The idea for Flashes Of Me originated from my personal reaction to bad news. I try my darnedest to pretend the unhappy events have never happened. Kat, the heroine, moves across the country to maintain this illusion. No one knows her in LA. They don’t know whether or not she’s telling the truth. And as the story is told from Kat’s point of view, readers don’t know the truth either.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Cynthia Sax:  They’d probably be surprised that often the love interest in the story isn’t the first person I’ve paired the character with. Just like in real life, it can take a few tries before I find the right person. Henley, the hero of Flashes Of Me, went on a couple of dates before he met Kat. I didn’t show these ‘dates’ because they didn’t work out.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Cynthia Sax: I like to think I can write a little. (grins) I have a terrible memory which doesn’t seem like a talent yet it is. I don’t hold grudges. I’m never sad for long. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be sad about.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Cynthia Sax: A best selling writer once told me that if I could do anything other than write, I should. It forced me to really think about whether or not I wanted to become a published writer. I realized I had no choice. I HAD to be a writer. Quitting was then no longer an option. When the going got tough (and it DOES get very tough), I had no choice but to work through the challenges. 

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Cynthia Sax: I’ve heard that Nora Roberts is an absolute blast to talk with. I’d love to sit down and shoot the shaving cream, chatting about writing and working hard and characters. There are quite a few writers I’d love to talk with—Loretta Chase, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lisa Kleypas, etc. (grins sheepishly) Yeah, I have to get out of the writing cave once in a while and attend some conferences.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I loved your answers!


Excerpt (PG)
            No one in this coffee shop knows who I am. I stand in the line, waiting to place my order. They don’t know about my past. They don’t know my last name. I tap my lavender heels against the floor, drumming an up-tempo tune into the tan-colored tile. They won’t remind me why I shouldn’t be happy.
I need to be happy. I need to laugh, to have fun, to focus on this fresh start. If I don’t, I’ll cry, and I promised my father I wouldn’t cry. I plaster a silly smile across my face and I tap my heels harder against the floor. These two actions lighten my mood, allowing me to cope with my emotions.
The bleary-eyed woman swaying in front of me yawns, adding vocals to my beat. For LA locals, it’s six in the morning. For a recently displaced New York native such as myself, it feels like nine o’clock. I’m eager to start my new job and my new life on the West Coast.
I’m two hours early. The internship orientation session at Blaine Technologies is scheduled for eight o’clock sharp, not one minute before and not one minute after. Although caffeine is the last thing I need, standing in line at this coffee shop gives me something to do and someone to watch.
I slide my gaze to the fascinating someone waiting at the front counter. The biggest man I’ve ever seen in my entire life looms over the cash register, his feet braced apart as though he’s preparing for battle. His ebony hair is cropped close to his head, hiding nothing, and he’s dressed completely in black like a villain from a 1970s spy movie.
I survey my behemoth’s broad shoulders. It’s all him under his jacket, not a hint of padding disturbing the cut. His suit is bespoke, custom made especially for his big body, and I suspect the designer was English. My mystery man is wearing Barker Blacks, his leather shoes as large as the rest of him. Even his matching dress shirt is well made, the collar and cuffs stiff and crisp.
He glances over his right shoulder, meets my gaze, and I inhale sharply. His eyes are as dark as his ensemble, his nose flattened and his chin square. Everything about him screams power, strength, vitality, and the woman in me responds, my nipples tightening, my breasts pressing against the blazer of my favorite lavender suit.
My behemoth returns his gaze to the frazzled barista and I exhale, my head spinning. It has been years since I’ve allowed myself to notice a man, to think about what I want, what I need. My fingers tremble as I smooth my flared skirt. I want this stranger desperately, more than I’ve ever wanted anyone in my life.
This is a problem, as I have no idea how to snag his attention. My last date took place when I was seventeen, and I suspect flashing my breasts at a pep rally won’t land me this sophisticated man. I chew on the inside of my cheek, having no other clever ideas.
I ponder my next steps, and my stranger moves away from the front counter, clasping a cup of coffee with his thick fingers. He ordered plain black coffee, no cream, no sugar, no whipped cream, and hell no to the chocolate sprinkles. My father likes his coffee the same way.
My mystery man stops at the lid and stir stick island and a stout man wearing mismatched jacket and pants rushes to the counter, barking his order at the disheveled barista. The rest of us shuffle forward in line. The tall skinny brunette behind me pleads into her sparkly pink phone, begging her boyfriend to give her one more chance. She’ll be the girl he needs, she promises. She’ll lose those last five pounds.
I don’t know where she’ll lose those five pounds. She’s already as thin as a yard of fine silk ribbon. I look down at my more ample bosom, my breasts wrapped snugly in the blazer.
“No, please.” The brunette sobs. “Derek! Derek!” She glances at her phone’s small screen and her face crumples. My heart aches for her. She doesn’t know how to hide her sorrow, not like I do. I can help her with this.
I touch the girl’s bare arm, diverting her attention away from her phone. “Who did your pedicure?” I feign an interest in her perfect pink toes. Although her beige sandals are adorably strappy, my goal is to distract her from her grief. “I have to know,” I insist.
The brunette wipes away her tears with the back of her hand. “I—I—I—”
I glance around us fervently as though I’m afraid someone will overhear us. The behemoth is watching me, his dark eyes glinting with intelligence. Some people think big men are dumb. Some people also think blond women are stupid and no one should wear pink at a funeral. I learned long ago to ignore some people.
“Look at what happened to me on the flight here.” I slip my right foot out of my lavender pumps and wiggle my big toe. A huge chip of coral polish has flaked off, revealing raw nail. “I rushed for a flight, banged into a baggage cart, and that was it. My pedicure was ruined.”
The brunette’s red-rimmed eyes widen. “That’s terrible.”
“It’s a disaster.” I ignore the behemoth’s shaking shoulders. He doesn’t understand. My mystery man has the strength to deal with loss directly. He doesn’t need to pretend, to use trivial distractions as a means to cope. He would never travel across an entire country seeking to escape his sadness.
“I’m in a strange city,” I explain. “I have so many cute sandals and I can’t wear them.” I shove my foot back into my shoe, hiding the offending toe.
As we exchange information and bad salon stories, the behemoth leaves. I watch his broad shoulders disappear into the LA sunshine and feel as though I’ve lost a piece of my soul, a part of my future.
***

Blurb

Henley, the head of cyber security at Blaine Technologies, is a man no one crosses. He watches employees constantly using his network of cameras and enforces his rules by any means possible. Rumors of his violent past, his scarred hands and huge size have resulted in him being feared by everyone… almost everyone.
Katalina, the new intern, worries about the revelation of her most painful secret much more than she fears her sexy boss’s wrath. She sees the loneliness in his dark eyes, feels the gentleness in his marred fingers, tastes the need in his kisses, and she knows he watches her. His silly rules about not stripping for the cameras and no sex at the office are destined to be broken.
Kat likes to be watched. Henley can’t look away. Will this beauty be able to tame her beastly boss?
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Flashes-Me-Novella-Cynthia-Sax-ebook/dp/B00F2I2GXO
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-flashesofme-1411711-149.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flashes-of-me-cynthia-sax/1117322925


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Building Believable Characters

Another wonderful handout for you guys to hear about. This one was done by Leila Davis. The hand out was done in 1994 so some of her examples are a bit outdated but the message is still there. Here's my twist on it.

Give Your Character a Tag: one word or phrase that describes your character. Are they lonely? Clutzy? Too tall? Can you work it into your description of your character? Or into dialogue? In the books I write for melange I wrote a short mermaid story where my heroine was klutzy. She did things like trip and spill coffee on her boss, bang her head when she went to climb into her car - then she meets a man who has never walked on legs before making her klutziness look like childs play.

Give Your Character Emotional Baggage: This is something from their past. You don't want to do data dump but you can weave it through your story to give you character more depth. In my current SF/Futuristic erotic romance series The Vespian Way, Heather was an orphan and raised by the government. She was smarter, and faster than everyone else. She also had a devise in her back that doctors couldn't explain. I start hinting early by calling her an ice princess, and explain slowly as she meets Storm, the hero.

Give your characters a secret: Now understand I weave humor into my stories. I don't write the deep dark hero who has something in his past he doesn't want the rest of the world to know, but in my current series Heather has a talent that her and Storm keep hidden from the rest of the planet. And it doesn't have to be something awful. Your hero could be the class clown because of the way the kids used to mercilessly tease him when he was a child. Your heroine, the successful business woman. could keep the fact that she spent some of her childhood bouncing from one foster home to another and swore that would never happen to her children which is why she pushes so hard to be successful.

Make Your Character Care Deeply About Something: This is normally something pretty easy to do. Normally you can tie it to the theme of the story. Like in my series there is a problem with the birthrate, something they are trying hard to fix. It is the reason Heather and Storm meet and one of the reasons she is hunted in the series. She will have the cure through a child and people want to control that child. An example you can Taking those two secrets in the previous paragraph you can have your hero stand up against bullying, your heroine work with making sure foster kids get a good education. There's all kinds of things you can do here.

Describe Your Character in Interesting Ways: We all have been taught that we need to describe our characters, but does it always need to be just physical attributes. Sometimes it is that personality quirk that will grab your reader.

I hope these help a little. I love finding these handouts and reading them. Some are gold and stand the test of time. This one is one of them. This gives you another way to help make that character more three dimensional.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Meet My Guest Katya Armock!

I have another wonderful author for you guys to meet! I want to welcome Katya Armock. First I’d love you to introduce yourself, Kayla.

Sure thing! I like books that are funny and fun to read (and hot!) but also make me think or look at the world in a new way. These days you’ll find me writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as my home’s domestic goddess. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my husband, dog and cats. Alas, I have, as of yet, been unable to teach my husband how to purr.


Tell us about your latest release
To Growl or to Groan
Her gift could save a missing girl…or destroy her relationship forever.

After receiving a troubling Tarot reading, Chloe just knows something big and bad is about to happen. Her ability to communicate with animals and shape-shifters is going awry, and her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. Despite her unease, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to spend the holidays with her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Jorge is everything she’s always wanted, and the fire between Chloe and the passionate panther-shifter burns hot. But meeting his family has her nerves in knots.

When Jorge’s sister goes missing, Chloe’s psychic abilities might be the only thing that can help them find her. But things don’t go as planned, and with confusing psychic visions clouding her judgment, Chloe makes a mistake and an animal is injured. And Chloe fears she might hurt Jorge as well…

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
I have a soft spot for Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In general, that show had great villains because they were funny. Spike stands out because of the complexity of his story arc and that in the end he found a measure of redemption.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s a hard question. Authors tend to love all their characters. One that I really enjoy writing though is Ringo. He’s a dog (my heroine is an animal psychic) who has a huge heart, a goofy personality, and a penchant for getting into trouble.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Erotic paranormal romance. The erotic part was originally dictated by the characters. As I write and read more love scenes, I find that there can be such beautiful character development in the way people make love to each other. As for paranormal, I just enjoy it and find it fascinating.

4.)What are you working on now?
I recently submitted the third book in my Hidden Lines series, so hopefully that means I’ll be working on edits soon. I recently sent a novella to one of my beta readers that involves four friends who navigate the complicated path to becoming a family. I just started a contemporary that might end up falling in the New Adult realm. It’s too soon to tell.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I’ve written on and off all my life. I even minored in Creative Writing the first time I went to college—I say “first time” because I have three degrees and a problem with commitment. J Most recently, my second career was derailed due to a physical injury. A friend challenged me to write a romance novel. And now I’ve got two published, another written, and more in the works. Life is funny that way.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Dreams, research, people and animals in my life, etc. Basically whenever the muse strikes, I strive to be ready.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I only have one dog. I do, however, have four cats, so maybe that small number of dogs doesn’t really count…

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Not that I’m willing to share.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Write what’s in your heart and believe in it. I went into writing this time around intending to have fun, and I can’t do that if I don’t believe in what I’m working on. It’s a lot of work to write a story and in some ways even more to market it. If I remember to enjoy the ride, I’m a much more pleasant person.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I have no idea how I would even begin to whittle down a list. No matter who I ended up talking with, I’d want to hear stories about their life.

Thanks so much for joining me Katya! I loved your answers - and if you learn to teach your husband to purr you'll have to tell the rest of us how you did it,,,

Here's an excerpt from To Growl or to Groan - enjoy!



Chapter One

“Which deck are you drawn to, Chloe?” The tarot reader lays out three decks before me and waves her hands over the decks. “Feel free to pick them up, look at the artwork.”
Her booth is toward the back of a new-age shop called The Abacus, not far from where I used to work. She wears jeans and a T-shirt that reads, “Tarot isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s more important than that.” I’d place her at about forty, wisps of gray intermingling in her near-black hair.
I look over the decks of cards. The first has Renaissance-type drawings. Boring. The second is purple and features whimsical faery creatures. It’s pretty and ethereal. The third is dark. On the back of each card, two serpents eating their own tails are entwined on a black background. I flip the deck, thumb through the cards. The pictures are raw and vivid; they suck me in.
“This one.” I hand the third deck back to her.
She nods. “Very good. What is your question? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want.”
There is no reason for me not to tell her; she of all people should understand. “I want to know about my gift.”
There’s not an ounce of judgment or question in her eyes before she holds the cards to her chest for a moment and closes her eyes for a few deep breaths. I watch the rise and fall of her chest, trying to claim her calmness, but I remain fidgety and anxious.
She opens her eyes, looks at my hands tapping on the table. “It’s OK to be nervous, but there is nothing to fear. All is as it will be.”
Oh, platitudes. If I ever become a Zen master, hallelujah. In the meantime, I try to quell my inner cynic and smile at the card reader.
She laughs, as if she can read my mind. Perhaps she can. “I’m going to do a three-card reading for you. The first represents the past, the second the present, and the third the future.” She shuffles the deck, then lays it neatly on the table between us. “Cut the deck with your left hand.”
 I do, and she lays out the first card. It’s The Devil, which can’t possibly be good. At least it’s my past card.
Her face is unhelpfully blank. “Tell me your impressions of this card. It can be the name, the artwork, whatever.”
I pick it up for a closer look. The drawing is in shades of purple. At the top, a face, featuring lazy yellow eyes and downturned lips, sprouts four horns. A web of string seems to be wound among the horns and crisscrosses to form a pentagram on the devil’s forehead. From the neck down, he appears to be submerged in water and wearing some sort of vest with intricately interlocking clasps. “It is a dark picture, but it almost appears as if the figure has an angelic halo. As though all is not lost.”
She tilts her head to the side, revealing a small black goddess tattoo under her ear. “That is interesting. The Devil represents the shadow side of things. It can be lies and illusion, but it can also remind us to focus on using our power for good—to make our fate.”
Well that certainly fits and is a whole lot better than my first impression that my past must be filled with evil. Until recently, I had repressed the little I knew of why my mother left my father and me when I was ten. Now I know she left to go back to her mother to get help. I am certain it had something to do with her having a gift, just as I can telepathically communicate with animals and shape-shifters. And that means that my gift was inherited. What I don’t know is how far back in the family tree the genes go or where these gifts come from. I’m not sure I want to know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Basic Elements of a Good Story

I found another wonderful handout that I would love to share with you. This one is by Marian Jones. It's from the 80's and not everything is true anymore so I'm going to use some of the elements she listed then put my spin on it - as usual. I think it's a good one - hope you enjoy.

1.) Begin the story on stage:  Starting a scene the way snoopy did won't work any more. He sat on his doghouse and started his book with 'it was a dark and stormy night'. People now say you need to start in the middle of a scene. One that will suck your reader in immediately and not let go.

2.) Introduce your main viewpoint character at once: Basically you bring in your main character whether it is your hero or heroine and most of us do this if we start in a middle of a scene.

3.) Introduce the opposite sex: Understand that all the handouts I have are for romance writers and as long as I've been writing I've heard this - bring the hero in immediately start that conflict on page one.

4.) Develop the story in scenes: Think of your book as a movie or play - picture the scene then convey that to your scene. It will make your story more three dimensional.

5.) Be bigger than life: Your characters need to be bigger than life. I don't like using over the top because it can be misunderstood, but think Indiana Jones. That was a bigger than life character and everybody loved him.

A lot of the other things she mentions I have already talked about. Like searching for the to be verb - was and were, never let the author intrude in the story, and use action tags.

I hope this helps you as you work through your MS. Editing is easy and hard all at the same time and hearing these things over and over helps remind you (and me) what to look for as you work on your ms,


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome Suz deMello!

I want to welcome Suz deMello! My very first guest on There's all this stuff in my head...

I'm excited to start these author interviews I always love learning something new about my favorite authors. I hope you will too!

First, I’d love you to meet Suz. I've asked her to give us her bio so you can get to know her better.

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, A.K.A. Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trail attorney, her passion is world travel. She left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
--For editing services, email her at suzswift@yahoo.com
--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift, and visit her group page at https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe
--She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun and @Suzdemello


Tell us about your latest release:
Queen’s Quest is one of my favorite books. I love the characters, the story and the setting. What’s interesting about it is that I wrote it while living in Thailand, but the settings could not be more diverse.

Here’s the blurb:
Janus is a planet which lacks both tilt and spin, and its Shadowlands are the pewter band of dusk dividing the violently hot Lightside of the planet from its Darkside, imprisoned by eternal night. Because of the peculiar conformation of the planet, birthrates are low and indiscriminate mating encouraged.

Audryn, Queen of Shadow has reached that time in her life when she must choose a King to rule with her or fail to bear an heir, casting not only her realm but all of Janus into chaos.
Despite her duty, she is reluctant to share power, even a bit distrustful. Janus’ nobles vie for Audryn’s hand. Although she enjoys trysting with all her suitors, none seize her heart.
Then Storne, the warrior Prince of Darkness, arrives to claim her as his bride.
Will his masterful ways allure or repel the willful Queen?

Now I have a few questions for you, Suz – I have found interviews to be the most fascinating to me so here we go!

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham. First off, I love Rickman. Secondly—it’s funny. It’s rare that Rickman gets a comedic role and he nailed this one. He also was so funny in Galaxy Quest.

Humor goes a long way with me.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Wow—only one? That’s tough. I write strong, intelligent women, women who are the way I’d want to be. And I always fall in love with my heroes. I feel as though you’re asking me to choose among my children!

I’d have to say Queen Audryn in Queen’s Quest. She’s able, strong and intelligent, yet is smart enough and humble enough to doubt herself. She unexpectedly must rule and she rises to the enormous challenge beautifully. She is thoughtful, poised and kind.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write erotic romance, but my journey to the sexier side of romance was a long one. After my first book was published, a sexy Regency currently entitled Lord Devere’s Ward, I made an about-face and wrote traditional, sweet romances for the now-defunct Silhouette Romance line. When the line closed, I was adrift.

The challenges in my personal life—death, divorce and menopause—brought my writing to a halt until a friend suggested I write erotic romance for the online market. Et voila! A new career.

4.) What are you working on now?
I’ve been writing historical vampire tales set in Scotland. I’ve written three novels in the series plus two short stories. I expect to produce a novella and start on another novel in the series this year. Then I’ll be done.

I don’t know in which direction I’ll go after I finish the Highland Vampire series for Ellora’s Cave, but I’m sure something will come up. Something always does.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I had always sensed a creative wellspring bubbling inside me, but didn’t know how to express it. I tried all kinds of creative outlets—I majored in art at college, sung with rock bands and concert choirs, even refinished furniture. I didn’t think I could write because at age thirteen in middle school, I was a dismal failure at the creative writing assignment set by my then-English teacher.
In 1996, while I was still practicing law as a trial attorney, I took a class called Writing for Publication taught at a local community college. I learned about those wonderful things called “Writers Guidelines,” which are put out by every publisher to tell writers what they want. I looked at the guidelines and said to myself, “I bet I could do that.”

So I did.

I focused on romance because it’s the largest fiction market, and I wasn’t interested in non-fiction. As Rita Mae Brown put it, non-fiction always smacks of a book report. I already had very analytic work, and I preferred to dream sexy dreams about romantic relationships.

Thus, a new career was born. After I sold three books, I quit practicing law. And here I am, with seventeen books out there.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
I buy them at Sears. They sell them by the dozen on the lower floor between the barbecues and the exercise machines.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Good question! I don’t consider myself out of the ordinary. Here’s a tidbit: though I write very sexy books, I live with my 84-year-old mother to keep an eye on her—she has Alzheimer’s.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Other than writing? Not really. I’m considered bright, though.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
The best piece of advice that I have ever been given about writing was delivered to me by Judy Myers, another writer who I think has retired. She was one of my first critique partners, and when she looked at the first chapter of my first manuscript, she noticed a lot of info dumps. She told me, snippets, not chunks. Weave the information that you think readers need to know—and they need less than you think—throughout the manuscript in snippets, not chunks.

Why is that important? Because a major sin in my line of work is being dull. Don’t bore the reader—that’s fatal.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’m not religious, but I’d want to talk with the Dalai Lama, Jesus or Buddha. I’m always trying to be a better, happier person, and I’d love to hear their advice.

Thanks so much for visiting Suz! I love your answers and I'll have to check out Sears next time I'm looking for a story idea ;-)

Here's an excerpt from Queen's Quest:


“My seventeenth starturn approaches. On that day, I am determined to crown my mate as king,” I told my ministers at our morning meeting. “Gather the best candidates from the Three Lands so that I may make an informed choice.”
Arrayed at a carved and polished wooden conference table facing the Golden Throne, the Ten grumbled and muttered. Their voices mingled with the crackling fire in the big stone hearth at one end of the wood-paneled and tapestry-clad room. Smoke spiced the air.
“What is it?” I asked. There were moments, I believed, that managing the elderly coterie, the Ten Ministers, was the most onerous task of my monarchy. Dispensing justice was, by comparison, easy. Running the bureaucracy in an efficient manner was also difficult, as was the collection of revenues. These were tasks allocated to the ministries, but even so, they required oversight. They needed one strong hand on the reins of government. My hand.
That I was many starturns younger than most of my ministers was only the beginning of my difficulties with them. When I ascended the Golden Throne, I had not been educated for my role. Nearly four starturns later, the Ten had become accustomed to teaching me rather than obeying my commands.
So I had designed garments which emphasized my authority. High heeled boots and shoes so I stood taller than any of them. Long sweeping skirts, some with hoops and panniers to broaden my slender silhouette. The finest silks and furs, velvet and brocades. Wherever it was moved, the Golden Throne was set on a platform above all.
Still, the Ten were knowledgeable, and had to be handled with every shred of my tact and diplomacy. “What say you, Lord Kloutt?” I asked my uncle, the Minister of the Interior, seated at my right.
He struggled to his feet, and I fancied I could hear the creaking of his arthritic bones beneath his purple and gold-embroidered doublet. Poor fellow. He said, “There are some who believe that an alliance with an aristocrat of Shadowlands would strengthen the Royal House and thereby solidify the government.”
Next to him, Lord Frayn, Minister of the Exchequer, remained silent, but I knew what he wanted.
I fixed a slight smile on my face. “That is a possibility, of course. There are many noble candidates within the Shadowlands. What say you, General Parlous?”
Parlous was my Minister of Diplomacy, and I already knew that he favored an alliance with one of the Lords of Darkness, fearing their military might. “The Royal House has long had the complete allegiance of the people, and because of the tragic deaths of Their Majesties, you are an especial favorite.” He faced the others. Middle-aged but vigorous, with iron-gray hair that curled at the collar of his black doublet, he had a sonorous, impressive voice. “The Queen is beloved already, and the Golden Throne sits on firm ground. I respect the Interior Ministry’s concerns, but there is no need to marry within, and there are many reasons to bring in fresh seed from Outside.”
“Outside,” I said. “That would mean an alliance with either the Darkness or the Light, unless we are so fortunate as to witness a visit from the long-absent Progenitors.”
Chuckles ran throughout the room, dispelling tension.
“Past alliances with the Prince-Scientists of the DesertDwellers have proven fruitful,” stated Caducia of the Health Ministry. She wore healing green, the color affected by all HealthGivers.
“Their technological prowess could also contribute to the welfare of our people.” This was the opinion of the Education Minister.
“And there are always those rumors…” Lady Mercourie, in charge of transportation and communication, said.
“I do not put stock in rumor and myth,” Frayn said. “If the Children of Light possess the secret of eternal life, they have not shared it with us during past alliances. I do not believe it.”
“Nor do I,” Caducia said. “Immortality does not exist.”
I leaned my chin on one hand, gloved today in orange satin. “But it is true that as time moves on, much is lost and forgotten, and we lack the ability to regain the knowledge of the Progenitors or to reinvent their tools and machines,” I said. “The Children of Light excel at such tasks, while we do not, and technology is at an even lower ebb on the Darkside.”
“But an alliance with the Darkside would bring us many advantages in terms of trade,” Geoman of the Elements Office said. “Their lands are abundant in natural resources that we, and the DesertDwellers, lack.”
“We cannot forget that the man selected will not only sit on the Golden Throne, sharing power with Her Majesty, but will be her mate,” Caducia said. “I do not see how a choice can be made without seeing the candidates.”
“Then it’s decided.” I stood, delighted that at least one of this hidebound group shared my opinion. “Parlous, order our emissaries to the Darkness and the Desert. Invite them to send their best. Lady Caducia, attend me.”
I swept out, and Caducia followed. Maia, who had sat silently on a stool next to the Throne, scurried in our wake.
“I wished to thank you for your wisdom and insight,” I told Caducia as we walked.
An older woman with dark hair webbed with silver, she shrugged and smiled. “It is self-evident. Our ruler’s happiness is paramount. How else can you effectively reign?”
I remained silent for a moment. “I had thought that I must subvert my own happiness for the good of the people.”
“The people’s happiness is dependent upon the Queen’s joy, for in the Shadowlands, the people and their monarchs are one. You felt that already, on your first mating day.”
“You witnessed the ceremony?”
“Yes, and your parents’ marriage and first mating as well. The people must be convinced of your contentment and security on the throne with a strong and trustworthy king, or they will lose confidence in the monarchy. And if your house trembles, the Balance will be lost. All of Shadowland, indeed all Janus, will fall, so you must choose well.”
We reached the Dining Salon, where we would take the noontime repast. “Sit with me,” I said. “Speak more of your insights, for I am greatly burdened by the significance of my task.”
“There is little more to say.” Caducia followed me to my seat, set higher than the others. She took the nearest stool, and Maia went to fetch victuals. “It is not my insight but yours which will be crucial. Permit me to speak freely.”
“Granted.”
Servants snapped open serviettes, spread them on our laps.
“Queen Audryn, you are intelligent and deeply feeling. Make no hasty decisions, but at the same time, trust your instincts.”