Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - writing that first paragraph

It might seem like a lot of pressure... Okay, there is a lot of pressure on writers to hook the reader in with the first paragraph. Most readers need to feel an immediate interest in the protagonist and his/her story. It's a tricky feat to accomplish and even trickier to do so with paranormal romance. The stakes are raised because the reader is expecting something apart from the ordinary.

The first sentence needs to have a hook. Use humor or a surprising fact about the protagonist or his/her world. Keep it short and snappy.

Make sure your protagonist has a unique voice. Paranormal romance gives you a lot of room to create amazing characters. They do have to be human enough for the reader to relate to, but just a little tweak to the ordinary can go a long way. Also, keep in mind, something way outside the norm can turn the reader off.

Introducing danger immediately is an excellent way to hook a reader in. Paranormal romances tend to be fast paced and full of action. The tension and immediacy will set your reader on the edge of their seat.

Set the tone of your novel. A few shocking words can take the story a long way. Make it intriguing and quietly raise the questions your novel will address.

Three wonderful examples:
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Fallen by Lauren Kate

What are some of your favorite first paragraphs?

Please check out my interview with science-fiction romance author Aubrie Dionne and comment for a chance to win a copy of A Hero Rising. You still have two days to enter!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire! Blog Party

Today is the Catch Fire! Blog Party. Woo-hoo! We're celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh. The goal is to help CassaFire "catch fire" and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar. There's also a bunch of prizes being given away on Alex's blog as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. Head over to Alex's site for details.

Don't think I'm helping to promote Alex just for the prizes. (Though, they are a nice bonus!) I've read his first book, CassaStar, and it's a fantastic work of science-fiction. Sharp writing, intense drama, and gripping action. What impressed me most about Alex's writing is how wonderfully vivid the fight scenes are. It's like they come to life on the movie screen of my mind. I can't wait to get my hands on CassaFire.

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

Available today at:

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Teaser Tuesday with Outlander

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm branching out from a romance that's a little paranormal but more historical. There's been a lot of hype around Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. It's a thick book. Too thick perhaps?
Here's your teaser:
We rolled on the wet grass in a tangle of skirts and squeals. Letting go of her blouse at last, I relaxed into a dramatically spread-eagle heap, rain pattering down on my upturned face. (page 177)

Please check out my interview with science-fiction romance author Aubrie Dionne and enter for your chance to win a copy of her book, A Hero Rising.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tundra 37 Review

Aboard the Expedition, the Lifers carry on with their every day tasks as the deep space vessel speeds along to a new paradise. The regular calm order is destroyed when the ship is damaged by a comet. Unable to complete the mission, they land on Tundra 37 with the hope of settling on the frozen planet.

Gemme is the ship's Match-maker. Her life is quiet and full of numbers. When her name pops up on the screen along with the gorgeous Lieutenant Miles Brentwood's, she panics and deletes it. Yet it seems fate won't be denied. Gemme is assigned to be on Miles' team to search Tundra 37 for a fuel source the ship desperately needs. Out in the numbing cold, they face monsters, a greedy teammate, and each other.

This story is wonderfully deep and complex. Talking about Gemme and Miles' romance alone won't do it justice. Their romance is sweet and amazing. It flowed naturally with the story and tugged on my heartstrings. I cheered on Gemme against her rival and uttered dreamy sighs with Miles' tender thoughts. I adored Gemme's character. She's different from the usual warrior-like sci-fi heroine, but she's strong in her own way.

The secondary plots pulled me in just as much. I will forever have the image of the ancient Seers - the pilots of the Expedition - strung up in the ship burned into my mind. The little details Aubrie gives us are fascinating and horrifying at the same time. The glimpses of their memories of an Earth falling apart had me on the edge of my seat. (I can't wait to read A Hero Rising next!) My heart ached for them, but I loved how I couldn't figure out what they'd do next. They had their secrets just like various Lifers on the ship. Secrets passed from one generation to the next which could either save or destroy them.

You can buy Aubrie Dionne's Tundra 37 on Amazon and B&N.

A Hero Rising is now available too, on Amazon and B&N.

Aubrie is giving away a copy of A Hero Rising. Please read Saturday's interview with her right here on my blog and enter to win!

Also, please visit A Twist of Noir. My short story, "Lady Blood" is featured today. I'd love to know what you think.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First short story acceptance of 2012

My first short story acceptance of the year!
My noir story, "Lady Blood" will be on A Twist of Noir tomorrow.
It's a great site with quality dark and oneiric stories.
Please pop over and comment.
I'd love to hear what you think about my story.

Do I win some cool points for writing a noir story?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Interview and giveaway with science-fiction romance writer Aubrie Dionne

Please give a warm welcome to the wonderfully talented Aubrie Dionne.
She's celebrating the release of her newest novel, Tundra 37.
(Isn't that a spectacular cover?!)

I'm happy to have this chance to help promote her books on her blog tour and ask her a few questions.

I know you write both fantasy and sci-fi romance. What does sci-fi allow you to do that fantasy does not?

Wow, what a great question. I've never thought about this before. For me, it's the opposite: fantasy has no boundaries, but science fiction needs to be rooted in real life in some way. It's more challenging for me to write, and for some reason, more fresh. Although, I love fantasy, and when this series and the spin offs are finished, I'm going back to the dragons and the elves!

I absolutely agree. Sci-fi is more challenging to write. Do you feel compelled to follow any of the tropes and stereotypes that are prevalent in science-fiction?

Sometimes I pay homage to them: Like the sandworms in Paradise 21 are a reference to the ones in Dune. The ice world of Tundra 37 is inspired, in part, by the planet Hoth in Star Wars. I try not to copy, but invent my own worlds with hints of the past tropes in them.

Your worlds are definitely unique. Have you gotten any grief over being a sci-fi and romance author? Have you felt any pressure because of your gender in the male dominated sci-fi genre?
I've made sure to advertise my books as soft science-fiction with romantic elements, so I think the hard core sci-fi fans looking for technical explanations stay away! One male reader said something like "If this is the way women think, than that explains a lot of things..." which I thought was hilarious. Maybe it will draw the male readers into romance? Teach them a little something? Hehe.

I like the way you think! Do you think humans will travel to new worlds?
I hope so, but I don't want to be one of them! I'm so afraid of space. I think I've watched too many movies where someone rips their helmet off and their eyes bug out and explode. *shivers* Space travel = not for me.

You have such great adventures in your mind, though! Do you believe modern day humans are ready to meet aliens?
No. I think we'd torture them and have our own prejudices. That's if they didn't kill us first on the spot, or make us slaves. I used to want to be the generation that gets to meet aliens, but after watching too many of those Ancient Alien episodes on the History Channel, I'm not so sure anymore! I actually went to a talk with a man who says he's been abducted several times, and his stories creeped me out!

I feel the same way. Do you think science-fiction literature can affect social change?
I certainly hope so! We need to start thinking about our resources, wildlife preservation, and the world's population. These are reoccurring themes in The New Dawn series, and the reason why everyone has to leave Earth. I tried to make it realistic in some ways but not be too preachy.

Do you think the science-fiction industry is changing?
I'd like to think that sci-fi romance will take off in the next few years with the sequel to Avatar coming out. I think it's a great genre to explore!

I'm a big fan of the genre myself. Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
You have to be persistent and write a whole truck load of novels to be successful in today's publishing world. It took me four novels to get an agent, and I'm still counting to see how many it will take to make a decent income and turn my writing into a part time job for good.

Thank you, Aubrie! It's been so much fun having you here. Good luck with your books. I know I'll be reading.

Keep on reading. The giveaway information is at the end of the post!

Please check out Aubrie's website and blog. Join me on Monday for a review of Tundra 37!

Aubrie is an author and flutist in New England. Her stories have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, A Fly in Amber, and several print anthologies including Skulls and Crossbones by Minddancer Press, Rise of the Necromancers, by Pill Hill Press, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night by Nightbird Publishing, Dragontales and Mertales by Wyvern Publications, A Yuletide Wish by Nightwolf Publications, and Aurora Rising by Aurora Wolf Publications.  Her epic fantasy is published with Wyvern Publications, and several of her ebooks are published with Lyrical Press and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, she plays in orchestras and teaches flute at Plymouth State University and a community music school.

Tundra 37
A New Dawn, #2
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Length: 288 pages
ePub ISBN: 978-1-937044-49-7
Print ISBN: 978-1-937044-51-0

Tundra 37 Book Trailer:

A New Dawn Novel, Book Two
Gemme is a hi-tech matchmaker who pairs the next generation of Lifers aboard the Expedition, a deep space transport vessel destined for Paradise 18. When the identity of her lifemate pops up on her screen, she’s shocked that he’s the achingly gorgeous and highly sought after Lieutenant Miles Brentwood—a man oblivious to her existence. Believing everyone will think she contrived the match, she erases it from the computer’s memory.

Just as comets pummel the ship and destroy the pairing system forever. With the Expedition disabled, the colonists must crash land on the barren ice world of Tundra 37 where Gemme is reassigned to an exploratory mission, led by Lieutenant Brentwood. Only in the frozen tundra does she understand the shape of his heart and why the computer has entwined their destinies.

A Hero Rising
A New Dawn, #3
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Length: novella
ePub ISBN: 978-1-937044-83-1

Prequel to A New Dawn - Book Three
After watching his love leave on a colony ship, James Wilfred must save those left behind from a planetary apocalypse. Their salvation lies in an unfinished ship tucked away in a secret government base, and only James can break in and pilot him and his people to freedom on a nearby space station.

Skye O’Connor’s boyfriend never returns after his gang attempts an assassination of the Governor, and the State Building is destroyed. Worse, crazed moonshiners addicted to the chemical Morpheus have stormed the city, and she must find a safe place for her and her boyfriend’s daughter. When a heroic man saves her, Skye asks to accompany him on his quest to find the last colony ship left on Earth.

As the city falls around them, James and Skye must work together to build a new future, all the while rediscovering their ability to love, before the apocalypse claims them both.

Now for the giveaway!
Aubrie is generously offering one lucky commenter a free copy of A Hero Rising on either the Kindle or Nook. All you have to do is leave your name and email address in the comments section. The giveaway will run until next Friday (March 2nd). The winner will be chosen by

Friday, February 24, 2012


I've been tagged by Ruth at Ruth + Writing. I've never been a very fast runner. I'm a good hider, though! So here we go with the tag questions.

The Tag rules:
1. You must post the rules!
2. Answer the questions and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven (or how ever many  you can think of who haven't been tagged) people and link to them.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

Ruth's questions:
1. Would you rather eat ice cream or popcorn? ICE CREAM! That's a no-brainer for me.

2. Who is the biggest influence in your life right now? My son. Our kids influence us in ways beyond what we can ever imagine.

3. What do you do to relieve your frustrations? Write and clean.

4. Can you keep a secret? Yes. Do you have one to tell me?

5. When it comes to books, what is your biggest pet peeve? Whiny protagonists.

6. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? Closed. No closet monster is ever going to sneak up on me.

7. Do you have a theme song? Please share. Maybe the Wordgirl theme song.

8. Where would you bury treasure if you found some? In the most obvious spot. Disguise it as something ordinary and out in the open. No one would suspect it was treasure!

9. What book and/or movie could you read and/or watch over and over? The Harry Potter series for both the books and movies.

10. Have you ever done anything illegal? Yes. I jaywalked this week.

11. Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Yes. If it suits their skin tone.

I'm not going to tag anyone. It seems like everyone has been tagged recently. Yet if you want to answer a couple or all of my questions in the comments below, please feel free to do so and entertain me!

1. If you were a character from a TV series, which one would you be?
2. What's the strangest thing in your refrigerator right now?
3. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
4. Can you describe an atom?
5. What is the worst job you've ever had?
6. If you couldn't be a writer, what career would you choose?
7. Name five people you would most like to meet.
8. Is Elvis really dead?
9. Crayons, pencil crayons, or markers?
10. What's your favorite amusement park ride?
11. What is your ideal home? (It can be fantasy!) 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The A to Z Blogging Challenge Sign-up Blast

If you haven't signed up for April's A to Z Challenge,
get over there right now!
They're aiming for 1000 participants by March 1st.
They've almost reached 700.
You could bring them one blogger closer to their goal.

Learn Your Craft Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. If only I could afford to give you all prizes. Every one of you is deserving.

Here are the winners chosen by

Congratulations! I will be in contact with you all shortly.

Speaking of Laura Josephsen, her new ebook
Rising Book 1: Resistance
is now available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

Don't forget that Cherie Reich's new sci-fi novelette
Defying Gravity
is available on Amazon.

Goodreads is giving away a free copy of Aubrie Dionne's Tundra 37.
Aubrie will be stopping by my blog this Saturday for a chat.
Please mark it on your calendars and join us.

On Tuesday, it's the Catch Fire! Blog Party celebrating the
release of Alex J. Cavanaugh's newest book

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - adult vs. young adult

I write paranormal romances for adults. I sometimes read YA books, but most of the time, I don't relate to the teen voices. I didn't relate to them even when I was a teen. I just have a different mindset. There have been YA books that I've loved. Yet there have also been adult books I've read that should have been YA with the immaturity of the protagonist.

It's vital to know your audience. YA books are geared toward 12 to 18 year olds, and the protagonists in the books are typically between 16 and 24. Just because you're writing about someone in their early twenties doesn't automatically make the book an adult one. Sometimes adult books have young protagonists too, but the difference between the two is important to recognize.

Both YA and adult paranormal romances:
Supernatural elements. (Obvious!)
A conflict that might require the protagonist to save the world or a piece of it.
Growth in character. (The protagonist has to learn from her mistakes and become better for it.)
A romance central to the plot.

YA paranormal romances:
They're typically written in first person. (Teen readers like to get inside the protagonist's head. The world of a teen is all-consuming for them. They are the central characters.)
Though the central conflict might be to save the world, the secondary conflicts revolve around school, popularity/fitting in, pop culture, friends, and family. (Typical teen day-to-day dramas.)
They usually involve the "coming of age" story. (The protagonist doesn't have a solid identity at the beginning of the book and learns who she is. Most of the conflicts are internal.)
Romance is most often awkward and embarrassing as they fumble through the motions, and just a kiss can be a major event. (YA romance does not need to end in sexual gratification and typically does not.)

Adult paranormal romances:
They're typically written in the third person. (Adult readers tend to like a wider view of the world.)
The secondary conflicts revolve around work, finances, politics, friends, relationships, and stuff from the past coming back to haunt them. (The protagonists have a better idea of who they are and thus their identities are more inflexible. More of the conflicts are external.)
Romance covers all types. (The protagonists can be inexperienced or very experienced. Yet usually her love interest is experienced. Adult romance does not have to end in sexual gratification, but it typically does.)

What other elements are key to YA paranormal romances? To adult paranormal romances?

You have one more day to enter my Learn Your Craft Giveaway!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday with Deep Kiss of Winter

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Deep Kiss of Winter is a great story collection from two of my favorite paranormal romance writers: Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter. It's a good book to keep you warm on a cold winter's night. *wink wink nudge nudge*
Here's your teaser:
"I understand you had a reputation for being popular with women," Kristoff said as he collected Nickolai's bloody shirt from the table. "You'd better recognize that a Valkyrie is not exactly your typical woman." (page 88)

Don't forget my Learn Your Craft Giveaway! You still have a few days to enter.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Surviving Monday

Sometimes the week just looms over you and you can't see the light in its dark shadow. Monday can seem like a very long day. It's important to keep the madness at bay. Well, as writers, we need to be a little bit crazy, but we can't let the darkness overwhelm us. Here's a few tips to keep your writing focus and sanity.

1. Write every day. Even if it's just a blog post or a letter. Write something. One small productive thing is still doing something productive.
2. Don't compare yourself to others. No one has the same path. None of us have the same style. Some of us thrive in critique groups while others do not. Discover your strengths and work with them.
3. Read. Read authors you love and read out of your genre. Read for fun and read for research.
4. Connect. There's a wonderful writing community out there. You're not alone. Reach out and make connections. They'll help extinguish the Monday blahs.

Don't forget my Learn Your Craft Giveaway! There's still a few days left to enter.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Snapshot for February 18th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books
We had a bit of snow and we took full advantage of it.
That's his stop-taking-pictures-mama-and-push-me expression!

I would also like to apologize for the fact I had the word verification on for my comments. I'm so embarrassed. I had no idea it was on because when I comment on my own blog, I don't have to deal with it. I feel horrible because I complained about the new word verification on other people's blogs. I turned it off in my settings, so hopefully it really is gone. Please let me know.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finally Friday update

It's been a busy week. The Origins blogfest was so much fun. We need to start our own League of Justice Writers. I'm following a bunch of a new blogs. Welcome to my new followers too!

In case you missed the post yesterday, I'm celebrating reaching 200 followers with the Learn Your Craft Giveaway! Free books. I don't care where you live in the world. Free books because I adore you all.

I revised two and a half chapters of my current WIP this week. I'm at the point that I need to rewrite a foretelling/prophecy. I'm horrible at doing those things. Why can't mystics or oracles just bluntly say what they mean? I feel my protagonist's frustration in trying to figure out what the vague references and strange symbolism mean.

I critiqued three stories for my writers' group. We meet tomorrow. I submitted my Steampunk Cthulhu story to be critiqued. I wonder if any of them are familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos. Once I have their critiques, I will edit and revise again, send to my CPs, and then revise again before submitting it to the anthology.

I also revised a short noir story I wrote a while ago and submitted it to a site that features stories of that flavor. One extra submission for me this month!

I cut my son's bangs today. Toddlers don't sit still. You can imagine what it looks like. I think I ought to consider not cutting his bangs myself any more. At least he's happy not to have his bangs in his pretty long eyelashes any more.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Learn Your Craft Giveaway

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I'm excited to celebrate with my new and old followers alike. You're the ones that make blogging worthwhile. This past year has been a good one for me in terms of writing. I didn't write as much as I would've liked, but I've learned a lot about the craft of writing. As my thanks to you, I'm going to give away three books about the craft.

On Writing by Stephen King. (hardcover) The best book on the craft of writing. No need to say any more.
The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. (paperback) One of the hardest parts for me is creating a proposal. This book helps break it all down.

But wait! Reading books about the craft will help you, but you have to read fiction too.

My Zombie Valentine by Katie MacAlister, Angie Fox, Marianne Mancusi, and Lisa Cach. (paperback) A great collection of paranormal romance stories. Picked just because love is in the air this month!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. (paperback) For those of you who love the classics with a twist.
Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin. (paperback) A great sci-fi adventure. Martin is brilliant. He's one of my idols.

There will be three winners chosen by Each winner will get a book on the craft and a fiction book. Winner number one will get first choice.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with your email address and your two preferences.

The winners will be picked in one week. Thank you all so much!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - paranormal mysteries

Mystery is always somehow woven into a paranormal romance. The protagonist needs to find something out whether it be who this strange man is, shed light on a murky family history, or find out who committed a horrific crime. Sometimes all of those things. Mysteries are trickier in this genre because they usually have a paranormal twist.

Here are a few tips to writing a believable and intriguing paranormal mystery:

1. Plot is key. The reader is playing detective as they're reading. Each plot point must be plausible within the world you've created. The action must be kept going forward too. Don't go off on tangents as it will only confuse and/or bore the reader.

2. Use red herrings. There should be at least one crucial clue in the story, but you don't want the reader to figure it out right away. Red herrings will lead them off in different directions and put their suspicions on other suspects. YET don't let them continue on for too long or become too frustrating.

3. Suspense. Strange footsteps and an unanswered question. Use time constraints and keep the stakes high.

4. The protagonist should be clever enough to keep the reader intrigued, or at least, have very smart friends. *coughsHermioneGrangercoughs* A mystery requires the protagonist to investigate and that requires a certain level of skill and intelligence. The protagonist can't stumble across every answer.

5. The reader must have access to all the clues available to the protagonist and, even though it shouldn't be readily apparent, the answer to the mystery should be there before the end.

Do you have any tips on how to write a good mystery?

Also, please join me tomorrow for my 200 followers giveaway!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Defying Gravity now available

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich is now available on Amazon!
Congratulations to Cherie on her newest release. It's an awesome story.
I'll be having Cherie here on March 8th as part of her book tour.
You can read my review of Defying Gravity here.

Teaser Tuesday with Anna Dressed In Blood

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I really like Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake so far. It has a definite Supernatural feel. I could almost see Cas as one of the Winchester brothers. Sometimes when a book is similar to another book or show I love, it doesn't work well for me. Yet this book is so compelling. I can't stop reading.
Here's your teaser:
She turns her head at the noise and I can see, even from here, that she doesn't have any eyes. Just a set of gray stones where her eyes used to be, and yet we stare at each other, unblinking. (page 48)

Monday, February 13, 2012

The ORIGINS Blogfest

This awesome blogfest is hosted by DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0. He's a comic book fan. Hey, I'm a comic book fan too! I love reading about the origins of heroes and even the villains. The mythology behind it all, the dark pasts, and the freaky nuclear accidents.

Here's what DL Hammons writes about the blogfest: On Monday, February 13th, you should post your own origin story.  Tell us all where your writing dreams began.  It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog.  How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer.  It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings.


I grew up in a small Canadian town with a troubled history. The only claims to fame we had were the great flour mill fire of '64 and the villains who clawed their way up to bigger crimes in the province's capital city. And by clawed, I mean they used their claws. Werebadgers like to live out in the country hills.

I lived on the poor side of town right beside a cemetery. The cemetery was our playground. I loved that place. It fueled my imagination for all sorts of scary stories. Sometimes the stories I wrote came true.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. All my stories weren't scary.

I wrote a poem about the moon when I was five years old. It informed the reader there were holes on the moon, but no trees or cars. It won a prize at the local fall fair. My infamous short story series about The Kingham Kids was my real beginning as a writer. I was seven and the first stories were only a few pages long in my childish handwriting. The first one was about a tornado. My brother, our two neighbors, and I managed to out-ride it on our bicycles. My stories began to grow in length, and I added in more of the kids in the neighborhood. We were a gang. A gang that went on adventures, saved babies and puppies, and banished the bad guys. All the kids would wait impatiently as I wrote the stories and then sit eagerly while I read it to them.

I always loved reading and writing. Yet it was through The Kingham Kids that I really fell in love with being a writer. It was an indescribable joy to write the stories and have my audience captivated by them. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to write books. No, I didn't just want to do it, I needed to do it.

My mutant power erupted when I hit puberty and I lost all confidence in myself. I could only turn my limbs invisible. It wasn't enough to impress Bad Horse. The werebadgers sucked out my power in one universe, and, in another, it was the secret government ray guys zapping mutant genes when they cross land borders. Or it could have been when I was battling zombie Trudeau. (Comic books. Yeah, so many different universes and reboots. Can't keep them straight.) 

I still feel that joy when I write. Some stories take more work than others, but it goes with being a writer. I still feel the need to write, and though I have always been writing, it's only in these past few years that I've gained the confidence and knowledge of how to make my dream of being a published author come true.

Hm. Perhaps something good did come out of that little town.

I want a cape and cowl now.

Please join me on Thursday for a great giveaway celebrating over 200 followers!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Auntie Tara's Short Story Prompt for February

Auntie Tara gave us a prompt fit for St. Valentine's Day this month. Write 250 to 500 words about a secret admirer.

Last month's short was great Greek fun. I'm going to go a bit silly and paranormal this time around. Enjoy!


Reanna ripped off the lid of the heart-shaped box and tossed it behind her. Her eyes went wide. "Chocolates filled with blood! However did he manage to do it?"

"I'm sure I have no idea, mistress." Wallace was an old man and his back cracked as he bent over to retrieve the lid. He straightened up with a groan and shuffled over to lay it on the table.

"Oh, virgin blood. These are divine." Reanna sucked the liquid middle from one candy and let the chocolate melt in her mouth. She licked her fingers slow enough to savor the taste and ran her tongue over her fangs to collect any morsels that might have been left behind.

"Your secret admirer knows you well." Wallace straightened his black jacket and coughed a few times. His body rattled painfully with it, reminding him he had only a few days left to live.

"And are those roses?" She ignored him as she skipped over to where a great bouquet was arranged in a vase. "I don't smell...." Reanna fondled the petals and gasped before laughing with delight. "Flowers made from the soft skin of his victims. How brilliant!" She scooped up the flowers and hugged them to her. "I'm in love with a vampire I don't even know."

Wallace's jaw hardened, but he said nothing. He merely watched her with his one good eye.

"I wonder if he'll reveal himself to me this year." Reanna heaved a great dreamy sigh and danced over to pluck another candy out of the box. "It's been twenty years. A good show for anonymous romance, but I need someone with which to share my coffin."

Popping yet another chocolate into her mouth, she strode by her manservant without a single glance. "Prepare a hot bath and an evening snack. My true love will come for me tonight."

"Yes, mistress. He'll be here." Wallace turned to let his love for her show upon his wrinkled face. She always adored his gifts, but never believed they could possibly be from him. She never even looked his way unless she was displeased.

Reanna fell to the floor in an elegant heap. He had served her since he was a young man. He had loved her from the moment he set eyes upon her, but she never considered him worthy. He thought the gifts might change her mind, but only another vampire would do for her and she never offered him the dark gift.

The poison he had secreted into the candies would keep her unconscious for at least fifteen hours. Long enough to prepare her to watch the sunrise with him. He couldn't have a life with her, but they could die together.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Snapshot for February 11th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books

My little dragon.
There's a great place in town where parents can take their kids to play and it's free.
It's a giant room filled with toys. There's also a box full of dress-up clothes.
Yesterday was the first day my son wanted to dress up as something.
There was another cute little boy dressed as a princess,
but I didn't think his mother would appreciate a stranger taking his photo!

Yay! Thank you all for your encouragement and support.
I'll be having a giveaway some time within the next week.
Stay tuned!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'll tumble 4 ya Blogfest

I'm definitely a child of the '80's. I still have my Pound Puppy and Cabbage Patch doll. I still own a cassette player. I even have a box of mixed tapes I recorded off the radio. Including ones of the Dr. Demento show.

I was also one of those girls who plastered her walls (and ceiling) with cute teenage heart throbs... and monsters from Fangoria magazine. My favorite movie was The Lost Boys. I watched it daily. I knew every line.

I had a huge crush on Corey Haim.

And Corey Feldman.

In my fantasy world, I could have both Coreys.

It's a very good thing it was only fantasy and I grew out of my Coreys phase. They didn't handle fame very well. Just like another one of my crushes at the time: River Phoenix. Rest in peace, guys. (Yes, I know Feldman didn't die, but his career did!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tundra 37 released, blogfests and such

Aubrie Dionne's newest science-fiction romance novel, Tundra 37 is now available. It's the second book in the New Dawn series. The first one was spectacular. I can't wait to read this on my Nook! You can buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I'll be having an interview with Aubrie on the 25th. Please come join us.

There's a bunch of great blogfests going on right now:
I'll tumble 4 ya blogfest is this Friday. Tell us who you have a crush on in the '80's!
The Origins blogfest is this coming Monday. How did you become a writer?
The Critique Partner blogfest starts this Friday and goes through to Monday. If you're looking for a critique partner or beta readers, this is the place for you.
The Hook, Line & Sinker blogfest is this Monday too. Post a 500 - 1000 word hook to be critiqued and critique other participants' entries.

Don't forget the Fourth Writers' Platform Building Campaign has begun. Click now to sign up! It's an amazing experience. I did it last fall and I'll do it again this fall.

I finished the first draft of my Steampunk Cthulhu short story. I'm letting it sit a few days before I edit it. It's with my CP's already and then it will go to my writers' group to be critiqued. My short stories are really getting a workout this year.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - paranormal romance cliches

Paranormal romance is a genre with infinite possibilities. Yet we seem to see the same situations and ideas played over and over again. I've heard a lot that the market is over-saturated, but it is still doing good business. Publishers are looking for original ideas. If you're writing a new book, here's a few tips on what to avoid.

1. Predestined soulmates. We want to be loved for our intelligence, charm, and personality. Do we honestly want love to be based on some supernatural and irresistible compulsion? Apparently many people do. This is one of the most popular cliches in paranormal romance. I'm guilty of using this one on a few occasions.

2. I hate you/I love you! Yes, the extreme emotional conflict. The protagonist hates everything about that arrogant man, yet falls in love with him at the same time. It might have to do with the aforementioned compulsion, or maybe with the fact that some of the women don't seem to know their own minds. There has to be something for the protagonist to fall in love with, something for the reader to sympathize with, or else it's silly supernatural nonsense.

3. The hot man that makes the heroine speechless. It seems that too many otherwise strong women are made into drooling schoolgirls in the presence of a gorgeous guy. You would think that all the paranormal romance worlds are filled with such awe-inspiring men.

4. Vampires, werewolves, and angels/demons, oh my! There are other paranormal creatures out there. I'm a sucker for this cliche, though. Overdone as they might be, I still love a good story with any of these creatures.

5. The virgin or the whore. We usually see one extreme or the other with the protagonists. What's wrong with a woman who's had a few boyfriends over the years? She's experienced enough, but not slutty by any means.

What cliches do you hate in paranormal romance? Which ones do you love?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is another of those great YA books that had a lot of hype. With the last two big YA titles I've read, one has been a hit and the other a miss. So here's hoping that this one will leave me in awe as it has so many other readers.
Here's your teaser:
The dog needed a vet. I had no money. My parents weren't animal people. I'd stolen something from a crime scene. (page 87)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Good start to February

February is starting off well. I'm nearly done my Steampunk Cthulhu story. It's a little longer than I anticipated, but I'm not surprised. I usually end up writing more than I plan. That's okay. I have a character named Zedock who pilots an airship and he has a wicked handlebar mustache. Just the image of him in my head is worth the extra words.

I have all my Tuesday and Wednesday blog posts done for the month.

I wrote up my posts for the two great blogfests I'm participating in: I'll tumble 4 ya and Origins.

I'll have an interview with sci-fi romance author Aubrie Dionne on the 25th and the Catch Fire event for Alex J. Cavanaugh's new book, CassaFire on the 28th.

I've done my first four posts for the A to Z Challenge and I'm having so much fun with it. It's distracting me from my other writing.

I made an appointment for my son's first dentist visit on the 21st. He has another new tooth. Finally a molar!

I haven't done any more revisions on my WIP, but I'm okay with that. It's only the beginning of the month. With everything else done, I'll be able to concentrate on it alone after my short story is finished.

Time for an ice cream reward. Mm-mmm!

How's your February going so far?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Snapshot for February 4th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books

Last weekend, we went to the local lake to see the bald eagles who flock there every year
as they're migrating. We didn't see any eagles, but my son had a lot of fun throwing rocks into
the water. It will be much more fun in the summer where there's no chilly winds!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New anthologies looking for submissions

To help inspire me for this month's short story, I went to and collected some links to anthologies that are looking for submissions. I hope a couple might interest you too. The first one really popped out at me!

STEAMPUNK CTHULHU - 1-time print (Chaosium); any genre (fic). Pay: 3¢/word +3 copies & discounts. Words: 2k-8k. RT: after DL. Reprints: no. E-subs: ONLY. Brian M Sammons, Editor or, Glynn Owen Barrass, Editor. Deadline: July 31, 2012.

HORROR LIBRARY, VOL. 5 - annual print (Cutting Block Press); h (fic). Pay: from 1½¢/word to pro rates for established authors (negotiated). Words: <6k (prefers 3-4k). RT: 4-6 months. Reprints: no. E-subs: ONLY. R.J. Cavender, Editor. Deadline: when filled.

FADING LIGHT: An Anthology of the Monstrous - 1-time POD/eAntho (Damnation Books); h/df (fic). Pay: shared 25%/40% royalty. Words: 3k-5k. RT: 3-5 weeks. Reprints: no. E-subs: ONLY. Tim Marquitz, Editor. Deadline: May 15, 2012.

THE GRUFF VARIATIONS - 1-time eAntho (Writing for Charity), all proceeds go to charity; most genres (no erotica) (fic). Pay: exposure. Words: <7½k. RT: by 17Mar12. Reprints: yes. E-subs: ONLY. Eric James Stone, Editor. Deadline: February 19, 2012.

10 REASONS TO CROSS THE MOAT - 1-time print (Sam's Dot Publishing); sf/f (fic/poem). Pay: fic=$20; poem=$5. Words: fic=2k-9k; poem=<100 lines. RT: reject/holdover=1-2 months; final=after DL. Reprints: no. E-subs: ONLY. Katie Hartlove & Sylvan Bree Baker, Editors. Deadline: May 1, 2012. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - emotional conflict

There's no doubt that one of the key aspects of a paranormal romance is emotional conflict. A story can't be built around that alone, but without it, there would be no love story. Emotional conflict arises from something within a person which sometimes seems irrational and utterly insane. Okay, maybe not sometimes, but most of the time!

To create emotional conflict for the protagonist and their love interest, it must arise out of something apart from the plot. It must be something inside of each of them that would create the same conflict no matter where or how they met. Of course, it is intensified by the situation and the only way to resolve it is by working together.

Do not confuse emotional conflict with intellectual conflict. Intellectual conflict always starts in the mind. It's a conflict of ideas. A character might try to reason out their emotional conflict and make it intellectual, but it doesn't make it so. An intellectual conflict can be argued and the character can be persuaded to change their mind. Emotions aren't so reasonable. They simply are. There's no logic to them. Remember in a paranormal romance, the goal is to win the heart of one's love not the mind.

Do not confuse emotional conflict with external conflict. External conflicts arises outside of the character through plot and circumstance. Emotions make up internal conflicts and they arise within the characters themselves. Where emotional conflict make-up the heart of the novel, external conflict drives the plot. You can't have one without the other.

The key to writing a great paranormal romance is to meld the intense emotional conflict with an equally as exciting external one. If either aspect is lacking, the story will flop.

Who are your favorite authors in terms of emotional conflict?