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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MINGMEI YIP

I’m very excited that I’ll be talking about my new novel Petals from the Sky in Long and Short Review!

PFS is a poignant love story about a would-be Buddhist nun. Although there have been Buddhist nuns for 2,500 years, their stories are little known in the West.

I learned about the lives of Buddhist nuns from the inside. In my youth, I was befriended by a powerful nun in Hong Kong and groomed to be her successor because of my art and academic background.



 A few Buddhist nuns spend their lives in solitary meditation on remote mountains. Yet others are billionaire fund-raisers running multinational organizations and hobnobbing with high society -- such as the abbess portrayed in my novel, whom I refer to as a “business nun.”

Girls become Buddhist nuns for several different reasons: Some feel an intense religious calling. Others have been wounded in their love life and want to find a refuge from an uncaring world. Most unlucky are those so poor their families cannot afford the extra bowl of rice to feed them. Some parents also believe that “donating” a daughter to a monastery will bring them merit.

I had a different reason for almost becoming a nun. I just craved to enter the rich and mysterious special world within the “empty gate” as nunneries are called.

My nun mentor, an accomplished artist herself, liked me because since my youth, I’d been trained in the four literary arts of poetry, music, painting and calligraphy. When I received my PhD from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, I was deemed perfect to be a head nun. In that era, few nuns had been to college and to have studied abroad was quite rare.

It was not until my late thirties that I ran into my future American husband whom I met in a Buddhist conference.

I still remember my mentor’s words to me right after she agreed to organize a Buddhist wedding for me, the first of its kind held in Hong Kong. Smiling somewhat bitterly, she said, “Tell your husband that he’s stolen you from us!”



Petals from the Sky by Mingmei Yip


 Petals from the Sky is a moving love story about a young, aspiring Buddhist nun set in Hong Kong, Manhattan and Paris. It follows the success of my debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, story of the last Chinese Geisha. 

This poignant story is inspired by my own life growing up with Buddhist nuns. 
Watching her parents’ relationship disintegrate, even though it was based on love, Meng Ning decides to live the serene life of a nun to avoid the messiness of dealing with men.

Meng Ning spends years studying in Paris, disdaining men, and preparing to enter the nunnery. Then, a fire breaks out at her Buddhist retreat, and she is rescued by a young American doctor. The unprecedented physical contact stirs her curiosity. As their friendship grows intimate, Meng Ning must choose between the sensual and the spiritual life. 

Meng Ning’s life becomes even more complicated when her nun mentor attempts to lure her back to the temple just after Meng Ning meets the doctor’s sinister former fiancée and is nearly seduced by his gorgeous best friend.   

My hope is that after reading the book, readers will be awakened to the realization that true love, like any other worthy pursuit in life, needs constant, tireless cultivation. 


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For Mingmei’s novels, children’s book, art work and music, please visit: www.mingmeiyip.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Blog: Jacqueline Paige

This post is part of Jacqueline Paige's Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Please
check out the rest of her stops and leave a comment here for the chance to win a Mystic Perceptions tote bag stuffed with goodies.

What is your least favorite thing to do?

Oh, where do I start? There are actually three that are tied for first place there! Dishes, does anyone like doing those really? I have 5 children – so dishes are never ending. Why they need a new cup for each drink will always remain a mystery to me – and when asked no one seems to know the answer to that mystery! Mentioning my wrecking crew brings me to the next one ... laundry. Seriously, when my kids were all smaller the pile seemed like it was knee deep and the floor in the laundry room was only glimpsed once a month. I have a witness to this fact, for proof. My mother came to stay while I was in the hospital for a week and she swore she spent eighteen hours a day in the laundry room and it was a constant growing pile. Did it get better when the kids got older? No! Now it’s just larger clothes that take up more space and the only one in the bunch interested in actually doing laundry is the youngest. The newest least favourite thing is something new that I’ve recently experienced through my work. Inventory – I really, really dislike this. I manage a cafe and counting croissants, tea bags and ciabatta buns is just something I could live quite happily without ever doing again. In the last month I have been training various members of my staff to count certain sections/shelves. I’m thinking by November I won’t have to count a single thing. :-)

*crosses fingers*

If we’re talking about the thing in my writing world, I have a much shorter answer, one word in fact.

S-Y-N-O-P-S-I-S. Ugh!


When would it be appropriate for a hero to have the compulsion to sing top 40 songs in lieu of conversation to the heroine?

The scenario would be when the heroine is a witch and the hero has slighted her in an almost unforgivable way so she casts a spell to make him sing to her in a very public place in front of all his male friends.

Hmm, clearly I’m feeling a little owly after a long, long day. It was one of those days where everything needed a “do over” option. I wanted to run and hide in my office and sit under the desk and talk to myself all day. It’s after days like this that I’m able to write out all those argument or fight scenes. My poor characters get tossed into some pretty interesting events when I feel like running around the house screaming and waving my arms.


Where were you when you got your first kiss?

Is this a memory test? Uh, I think I’m going to fail.

Oh! I remembered, it was in a field, tall overgrown grass where no one could see us. (I was a farm girl way back then .) :-)

Why shouldn’t a heroine be afraid when a wolf with lavender eyes has her cornered in a cave?

The answer to this one is so obvious! The wolf is actually a sinfully sexy man. By that I mean he is six foot two when he’s not in his wolf form, with sculpted muscles, lickable abs and shoulder length thick black hair that – I forgot where I was going with this...

How would you explain a perfectly cultured and Armani dressed guy wearing a red sock and a white sock?

It is his small way of rebelling. He bored with his life. Always having to do the right thing, dress the right way, follow all the rules that his high society parents have laid out for him. Inside he is suffocating from always being in the limelight as the perfect son. Every waking hour is spent longing for a way to escape and hide, a way to be free from a life he wants nothing to do with.

OR – He has many children and all the black socks were lost in the enormous laundry pile.

Thanks so much for having me here today. The questions were fun to answer!

Jacinda Brown keeps to her safe existence doing investigative research, avoiding people and places with people. To most, it appears she has a normal life; blending completely undetected in her lonely continuation. She doesn’t investigate people; she can’t get that close. Through her hand she can feel emotions, thoughts. With a touch she can see what has been.

Unfortunately fate tosses her into a situation where her carefully guarded secret and her own conscience are at war when she finds herself working with detectives to find a killer. Jacinda clashes with the very strongly grounded detective, Reid Merritt, destiny has forced her to work with. At some point he begins to matter, making her decision harder. Will he look at her with abhorrence, like she’s some sort of freak when she’s through?

When the fifth murder happens, Jacinda makes the decision to use her gift to find the killer. She doesn’t let herself think of how she’s going to suffer afterward, the consequences that will curse her again, the chance she’ll be giving up everything and starting all over. She just thinks of finding some justice and stopping a killer.

What will be the price, this time, for the ability she doesn’t want?


Monday, September 27, 2010

GUEST BLOG: M. JEAN PIKE

Confessions of a Rummage Sale Diva


My mother knew the value of a dollar.

Every Saturday morning when I was a child she'd pile my siblings and me into the back of our old brown station wagon and off we'd go for a morning of rummage sale-ing. There was nothing like the simple joy of having a crumpled dollar bill in my pocket as I sorted through bins and boxes, looking for treasure. A pretty piece of jewelry, a dog-eared Archie's comic book, most anything would qualify. I never knew what the day's search would yield. That was the fun of it.

As I grew older I got out of the rummage sale habit, stopping only at the occasional flea market, because who had the time? But in these days of economic upheaval, when every penny counts, I'm back at it with a vengeance. I'm a flea market fool. A bargain hunter extraordinaire. A rummage sale diva.

This summer I spent Friday mornings making the rummage sale circuit in my small town. Since time is as valuable as money, I've learned a few tricks of the trade. I never "sale" aimlessly. First I do a drive-by. I can usually tell at a glance if the sale is worth my time. Tables filled with baby clothes, fishing gear, and chipped coffee cups are probably not a good bet, so I “sale” on by. If I see a table full of books, it's a no-brainer. The savvy diva knows that paperbacks can be had for a quarter, and hard cover books for buck. I've found that it's a fun and inexpensive way to replenish my TBR pile.

Clothes are next on my list. I picked up some real beauties this summer, the steal of the season being a hand knit vest patterned with rust colored leaves and tiny brass buttons shaped like acorns. The price? One dollar. Growing up with two older sisters, I'm no stranger to hand-me-downs. I'm not too proud to wear some other woman's castoffs, as long as they're in terrific shape. I also like to find unusual serving dishes. When I'm invited to a holiday party or a special get together, I like to take along a fabulous party dip. I leave the serving dish behind as a gift for the hostess.

Tangible treasures aside, some of the best rummage sales I went to were those where I bought nothing at all, but came home with a headful of ideas for my stories. Truly, garage sale ladies are among the most fascinating people on earth. I have found inspiration for characters in the gum-snapping granny who literally tore a book of fairy tales out of my hands. In the young mother, down to her last ten dollars, haggling for a better price on school clothes for her children. I met a recent divorcee looking for good, solid furniture for her new apartment. Stories are like birthdays. Everyone has one. And they're usually more than happy to tell them to you, if you only take the time to listen. One sweet old lady was moving to a senior citizen home and had to sell her canning jars and her collection of Kenny Rodgers LPs. She tugged so hard on my heart strings that I broke the cardinal rule of sale-ing. I bought something I didn't need. Loading the box of records into my car, I promised to give them a good home.

Fun? You bet. But mind you, rummage sale-ing is not for the faint of heart. You have to be prepared to get your hands dirty. When it comes to bargains, you gotta know when hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. No matter how great a deal that box of tangled up Christmas lights might seem, you have to know when to walk away. And know when to run. You never count your money while you're standing at the table. For as every diva knows, there'll be time enough for counting all those wonderful rummage sale treasures when the dealing's done.

Abandoned buildings. Restless spirits. Love that lasts forever. These are a few of multi-published author M. Jean Pike's favorite things. A professional writer since 1996, Ms. Pike combines a passion for romance with a keen interest in the supernatural to bring readers unforgettable stories of life, love and the inner workings of the human heart. She writes from her home on a quiet country road in upstate New York.

Her novels include The Winds of Autumn, Waiting for the Rain (Champagne Books Novel of the Year 2007) Heatherfield, In The Shadow of the Dragonfly, Shadow Lake, and Whispers in Autumn (Black Lyon Publishing.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG: JANE TOOMBS

WHY I LEFT THE NY BIG BOYS AND SWITCHED TO EPUBS


Why would any author in her right mind do this? Several reasons. First you need to understand I was a mid-list author. I made money for the publishers, but not tons of it. I did write for more that one of them, so there are various reasons.

Reason One: I reached my limit of having to conform to “lines.” What do I mean? I’d send in a proposal, meaning a synopsis and a couple of chapters. A tentative okay would come back that they wanted it if I did thus and so. I then had to change my concept of the story. But I did so and got the contract. Then came the editing. Could I add a sex scene here and here? Occasionally the places where I was asked to do so were so totally wrong for the story I couldn’t, but I’d find another spot for the extra sex. Most of my editors were excellent and never asked me to add more sex in the wrong place, but they almost always asked for a touch more here and there. Hey, this was their job, to determine how much sex a line needed, and I never blamed them.

Reason Two: Taboos in many lines. Mostly paranormal taboos--going so far as to tell me identical twins couldn’t have mental links. Another was heroes couldn’t have certain jobs or professions. This was easier to avoid, but narrowed possibilities.

Reason Three: While other publishers didn’t have any non-negotiable no-nos in their much looser lines, there were other problems, one being if the author didn’t sell a certain amount of books, she had to change her name. (At least I had a choice of name here). With another publisher I did not. The senior editor decided my real name was “too depressing for a romance” and so simply changed it and told me this was my new name. She didn’t actually say “or else” but it was implied. For years after that I was stuck with a pseudonym I would never have chosen.

So when epublishing came along, I decided to see if that had fewer restrictions. I found none and couldn’t believe it. For awhile I straddled the fence, but then switched to totally writing ebooks. Do I make a lot of money? No. I refer to it as walking around money. Am I happier? You bet.

Reason One: I have a personal relationship with my actual publisher, not just the editor who goes over my writing. This is a real plus.

Reason Two: When an editor suggests a change, I find that almost all of them improve the story. Not one editor has ever asked me to add sex scenes or to change my name.

Reason Three: I’m able to finish a book on my own schedule, instead of having to rush to meet a deadline. This because most epubs don’t want partials, but a finished ms. And a plus I didn’t expect--I’m able to have my rights-back work accepted by epubs. An interesting sideline of this is that several of my epub editors have caught errors that NY editors missed. So don’t tell me all epubs have bad editing, because it’s certainly not true of any of mine.

Reason Four: I actually get cover input. In the past I had covers I hated among the ones that were either tolerable or really good. Did I have any say in getting a bad cover changed? No way. Marketing perceived it as an attention-grabber--end of discussion.

So, yes, now I’m older and that may be part of my getting fed up with what I was doing. While the switch hasn’t made me rich, it’s certainly made me much happier. And I enjoy reading ebooks more than print these days, because I can crank up the font for these getting-older-each-day eyes.

What’s my newest ebook? (Barring any editing or cover glitches)

Dragon’s Stone, the last book of the Darkness of Dragons Trilogy--Out from Devine Destinies September 1

Blurb: Evil’s once again leaking from the depths of the abandoned mine and only Gwen and Ellis are left to try to contain what dwells there. Though they both carry dragon blood, neither can shift for different reasons. They also need three special people, not two, and the only possible third is a Siamese cat…


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ANN TRACY MARR

Stick to your genre


Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine for the RWA, has an article, “Common Mistakes by New Authors” by Irene Goodman. I'm not precisely a new author, but I'm not old enough to ignore it. Ok, I'm old enough if you look at my birth certificate, but publishing-wise, I'm drawing lopsided hearts in kindergarten. I read the article.

The heading is “They Don't Pick a Genre and Stick to It.” Can I steal your paragraph, Irene? Nah, that's cheating. I'll paraphrase and earn my time on this blog. Here it is, the unbelievable, side-splitting, mixed genre plot Irene uses as an example of “They Don't Pick a Genre and Stick to It.”

Lady cop trips and knocks hunky doctor over during a hurricane while organizing relief effort. They joke, fall in love, debate going to Africa to save kids from malaria, but he dies. She drowns her sorrows and wakes up in a distinctly not fairy tale 12th century castle with a hidden parchment, which she just happens to find before she gets kicked out and goes to work as a wench in the local tavern. The slovenly tavern keeper is murdered, so stalking the killer, she goes toe to toe with the sheriff. They banter and fall in love, but he's a vampire, so she curls up alone with the parchment and wakes up back where she belongs. She approaches a sexy professor and between them, they decipher the magical parchment and use the information to stop an evil cult from taking over the world.

Sounds good to me. Of course, the professor is alpha, enigmatic, tall, and dark with the name Illinois Smith (don't you dare think Indiana Jones.) She falls in love with Illinois. The poor girl is on her third love. Three strikes and you're out, which can't happen, not to our lady cop, who by the way, has to have the most improbably exotic name possible. How about Isa Lora Lee? I like that.

IS <3 ILL

The only other thing I need to know before I steal this exciting plot and write the book is: sweet or erotic? Figuring out the heat level isn't as easy as it sounds. If I write a 'dirty' book, my brothers will laugh at me and I won't be able to hand my business card to anyone at church. If I write a 'sweet' book, it'll end up with a boring cover and no one will look at it. So I'll go to the middle. Sex only once a chapter and not until the third, which means I can throw in a fling in the castle with -- how about the butler? Can we have a butler in the 12th century? Butlers never have fun; it's time one did. Maybe he'll wear chaps and carry a lariat.

Keeping the heat level in mind:

With her doctor love, Isa Lora Lee will hold hands.

The butler likes to tickle.

She will have wild hot sex with the vampire since that is the only kind vamps know how to do. (I read lots of Katie MacAlister -- that's research.)

But it has to be special with the professor. I have the idea to end all ideas! Isa Lora Lee and Illinois Smith will explore the mysterious world of lesbian sex. Does that count as a surprise ending or is it just a plot twist?

Don't forget a dark moment. The evil cult is turning people who like romance novels into Miss Marple enthusiasts. Agatha Christie's heirs, whoever they are, are thrilled, but e-book publishers are folding for lack of sales. That will make every reader's heart sink. Isa Lora Lee and Illinois Smith save the day, night, and all the hours in between (if there are any left over.)

That will make my book an alternative religious time traveling western paranormal, medical historical mystery/comedy. If Isa Lora Lee is over age forty, I can hit the mature reader. I hope I didn't forget anything.

It's a bit much. So pick one genre and stick to it, ok?




Ann Tracy Marr writes award-winning paranormal Regency romance (sorry, that's two genres.) A computer consultant in the Midwest, Marr lives with her husband, two cats, and plots that don't bounce off the wall and break mirrors.

The picture provided is NOT of Marr; it's one she uses to brand her work. Her face wouldn't sell brimstone to a demon. Her books include: Thwarting Magic, Round Table Magician, and To His Mistress. For details about her series, visit her online. Hint: it is romance with a splash of magic.

www.anntracymarr.com
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GUEST BLOG: ANDREW GREY

A little over a year ago, my writer’s group hosted a guest speaker, and to my amazement, this speaker held the key to writing good romantic fiction. Leslie Kelly spoke for about an hour on the relationship between characters and conflict. In romantic fiction there are two basic types of conflict, external and internal. The dynamics of the characters determine the internal conflict and can even guide part of the external conflict. During the talk, the group developed character sheets describing the characteristics of our characters to help identify possible areas of conflict. These characteristics include things like family, education, bad habits, relationships, etc. I still do this exercise for every set of my characters. When I put my potential characters for A Shared Range through this exercise, something unusual happened, because not only did I get the internal conflict between the characters, I also got the scene of the story as well as the driver for much of the external conflict.

In A Shared Range, Dakota is a rancher who dropped out of medical school to take care of his chronically ill father, and Wally is a newly minted veterinarian from the city who hopes to be able to work on larger animals. Through a mutual friend, Wally gets the chance visit the ranch on vacation. Both Wally and Dakota find themselves attracted to one another, but they have very different views on a number of issues, including the wolves that have migrated into the area from Yellowstone National Park. Wally dreams of standing outside, hearing the calls of the wolves, while to Dakota, those cries represent a threat to his ranch and way of life. To me that sounded like an interesting source of internal conflict, but as I completed the exercise, I also got a great scene for the novel, with the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone as a backdrop, as well as one of the sources of external conflict, because much of the community feels the way Dakota does, and that causes additional trouble when Wally rescues an injured wolf. I absolutely loved writing this story and am not ashamed to say that I fell in love with my own characters.

Excerpt:

A truck pulled into the yard, and Wally saw a small pack of dogs race out of the barn to the truck and then race back to begin circling his legs. “What’s all this?” He knelt down and was mobbed by the ragtag bunch. “Are they friendly?”

“Goodness, yes.” The smallest, some sort of terrier mix, jumped into Wally’s arms and began licking his face. “The mutt giving you a bath is Max. The lab is Libby, and the boxer mix is Sparky.” At the mention of his name, Sparky made a lunge and knocked Wally on his butt before he, too, joined in the lovefest. Wally made the mistake of laughing and got a doggie tongue in his mouth, but didn’t really care too much as he handed out scratches behind ears and received lots of doggie love.

“Mario,” Dakota called, and the man from the truck walked over. “This is Wally.”

Wally tried to shake hands, but the wiggling, squirming dogs sort of got in the way.

“Wally, this is Mario, my foreman.” Dakota started to laugh as Wally tried to get up, only to be jumped again by the dogs.

Wally finally got to his feet and extended his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.” They shook hands quickly.

“Boss, we had a few problems in the north range.” Mario turned his attention to Dakota, his face serious.

“That wolf again?” Dakota’s smile faded and his voice darkened. “Did we lose anything?”

“That’s the strange thing. It was definitely him, but there’s no sign that he tried to take down any of the herd. He just stood by the edge of the wooded area and watched until I took a shot at him.”

“Maybe he wasn’t hungry.” Wally spoke up, and saw both men looking at him like he was from outer space. “Wolves don’t kill for sport. They kill because they’re hungry or to feed their mate or young, and they’re more likely to take down small game than a full-grown steer.” Wally was on a roll and hadn’t realized his strong feelings had made him raise his voice. “And you took a shot at him?” Wally glared at the foreman and felt his anger build. “Excuse me.”

Turning away, Wally walked back toward the house, muttering under his breath. He really wasn’t sure if they could hear him, but at the moment he didn’t care. “Great, if you don’t understand something, just kill it and mount it on the wall. That’ll take care of everything.” Wally opened the door and walked into the house, letting the screen bang behind him.

As soon as he reached the living room, he stopped himself and flopped on the sofa. Jesus, he’d been here less than an hour and he’d insulted his host.

“What’s going on?” Phillip sat next to him.

“I shot my mouth off and made an ass of myself.” Wally looked up and saw through the window that Dakota was on his way in and didn’t look happy.


I’ve used the exercises that we performed in that guest lecture for almost all of my novels, including Love Means… No Shame and An Unexpected Vintage, but this was the one time when everything seemed to come together. I’m very pleased with A Shared Range and I hope you enjoy it.

And to Leslie Kelley, I want to thank you for sharing your insight with our group and with me. Your talk was truly one of the most helpful and productive hours I’ve spent since I began writing.


Andrew Grey grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation. Andrew's hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Visit Andrew's web site at "http://www.andrewgreybooks.com and blog at http://andrewgreybooks.livejournal.com/.

E-mail him at andrewgrey@comcast.net
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Monday, September 20, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MINGMEI YIP

I love to write about women, especially heroines who are on the verge of drastic transformation -- their courage, struggles, and triumphs.

In my debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, story of the last Chinese courtesan, or geisha, Precious Orchid is tricked into a prostitution house after her father is executed for a crime he had not committed. The novel relates her survival and ultimate triumph: how she escaped from the prostitution house, reunited with her long lost mother, avenged her father, finally finding true love and starting a new life in America.

The Chinese courtesan was a glamorous figure in pre-communist China. Precursors to the more familiar Japanese geisha, mingji were high-class prostitutes prized for their skills in music, calligraphy, painting, poetry – and the arts of the bed chamber. Peach Blossom Pavilion, a novel seeking to revive the splendors and miseries of a way of life that has passed into history, is about the last surviving Chinese courtesan in Shanghai.

In Peach Blossom Pavilion is the poignant story of an unforgettable heroine, Precious Orchid. After Precious Orchid’s father is executed for a crime he did not commit, and her mother banished to a Buddhist nunnery, Precious Orchid finds herself abandoned in Peach Blossom Pavilion, an elite house of prostitution.

At first, life at Peach Blossom Pavilion feels like a dream to the thirteen year-old Precious Orchid. She enjoys her daily poetry, music and calligraphy lessons and feels herself thriving. But Precious Orchid all too soon discovers that this is merely a prelude to her role of pleasing customers. Though commanding the attentions of China’s most powerful men, Precious Orchid resolves that she will one day escape to find her mother, avenge her father’s death and find true love. Yet the price she must pay is beyond her imagining.

As the Chinese say that water, the softest element, is the most powerful. My heroines use their flexible, water-like yin nature to overcome whatever perils they face.

The ability of women to rise above their oppressive circumstances is celebrated in Peach Blossom Pavilion. While I was writing it, these courtesans often visited me in my dreams, making me wonder: Was I one of them in some of my countless past lives? I sensed that these women, now forever silent, wanted me, also trained in the arts of poetry, painting, calligraphy and music, to tell their stories.

Kensington author Mingmei Yip believes that one should, besides being entertained, also get something out of reading a novel. Her debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion is the story about the last Chinese Geisha and also that of courage and the determination to succeed and attain happiness. Her new novel Petals from the Sky, a poignant Buddhist love story, is also about wisdom, compassion, when to persist and when to let go.

Besides writing, Mingmei is accomplished in many other fields. A professional player of the Guqin, Chinese zither, she was recently invited by Carnegie Hall to perform in “A Festival celebrating Chinese Culture” program. She had her solo Goddess exhibition at the New York Open Center Gallery to great acclaim, taught calligraphy at the City University of New York, and Taichi at the International Women’s Writing Guild. She also lectured extensively on Chinese art and culture at Oxford University, Columbia University, Beijing University, University of Paris, Amsterdam University, Vassar College, Williams College.

Mingmei’s new novel is Song of the Silk Road, an adventure, love story between an older woman and a younger man with a three million award on the famous, dangerous Silk Road. Song of the Silk Road will come out in March, 2011 by Kensington Books.

Visit Mingmei at www.mingmeiyip.com to learn about her books, music, paintings and calligraphy.


Friday, September 17, 2010

GUEST BLOG: KARI THOMAS

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, OH MY!


Animals and Romance? What a combination! Especially when those "animals" are too-sexy-for-their-own-good-Shapeshifters! And the possibilities are limitless. Thanks to the popularity of Paranormal Romance, authors are getting the chance to use their "wild" imaginations and create heroes and heroines that are beyond the 'norm' ---preternatural beings that can survive just about anything we throw at them. And we do (LOL) throw A LOT at them!

Want a Cougar shapeshifter hero who falls in love with his enemy and then has to choose between her or the survival of his family? My first-ever book TEMPTATION UNLEASHED had the hero, Aiden, fighting his primal side and his human-male need for a mate.

In HUNTED MATE, my lion shapeshifter hero, Logan, not only had to fight off other shapeshifters to protect the heroine but also had to fight his own honor code. Fate had decreed that she belonged to someone else. Would he give her to her fiance' ...or decide to keep her for himself?

In my PREY FOR THE WOLF, Kane is an Alpha shapeshifter who sets his sights on his brother's fiance. He has to decide whether or not he kills her --- or claims her.

My favorite shapeshifter hero has to be from UNDER A SHIFTER'S MOON. Lyon Savage, an alpha jaguar has been forced to marry in order to save his Pride from distinction. But what happens when the woman he has to marry isn't the woman he loves? His choice could end in disaster and death for too many. Including the heroine's.

Give an author a primal hero and she runs with a story that has readers devouring it and wanting more. Gotta love those Shapeshifters!

What shapeshifter is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you. Contact me, any time, at: authorkari@yahoo.com And please do visit my site: www.authorkari.com.

Kari Thomas is a multi-published, award-winning Author writing mainly in the Paranormal Romance genre. She loves the endless possibilities, the magic, of creating heroes and heroines with inborn strengths that can take them through anything. When not writing, she is also a Freelance Editor for an Arizona publisher, and a Book Reviewer for the major Publishing Houses. Her Reviews can be read at her site under "Kari's Korner Reviews". She is also the Caregiver for her elderly dad, and they live in Northern Arizona.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG: JEANNIE LIN

Ten Things Many People Don’t Know About Me


Now with a blog topic like that, who can resist? So here’s the secret confessions of a Harlequin author:

1. I’m not Chinese.

I don’t really hide this fact, but I realize now that since I chose a Chinese pen name, it may be misleading. My family is from Vietnam and my great-grandmother was Chinese. I feel an affinity to Chinese culture because of its influence on Vietnamese culture and history. What’s been causing me the most anxiety is that the “other” Jeannie Lin doesn’t yet know my name isn’t really Jeannie Lin. We’ve built such a nice rapport over the internet that I feared this confession. Don’t hate me, Jeannie!

2. I used to want to be a Disney Imagineer. I thought it would be a lot of fun to do the detail work on the rides.

3. I really am this sickeningly optimistic.

Apparently when I first arrived at Romance Divas, the moderators were incredulous. “Is she really like that?” they asked one of my friends who was a mod. “Yes, she really is that positive all the time.”

You know how people start typing something snarky and then think twice and delete it? I start typing something and then I read it over and think, crikey, you sound like Yoda on an extra dose of endorphins. Delete that crap.

4. I’m a math and science girl.

I’m an extreme nerd because of this when it comes to writing and also promotion and marketing. The writing itself feels like black magic and alchemy to me, but I spend a lot of time reflecting about the how and why afterward.

5. The thing I’m most proud of doing is helping to start Animo Pat Brown Charter High School. Imagine creating a school from the ground up: creating the schedule, the uniforms, writing the rules, calling parents, signing up students. All that on top of planning your lessons.

At the end of the first day, the principal took the teachers and staff into a room after all the students had left. There were about ten of us. We were all dead tired. It had been a long year leading up to Day 1, and we all still had a hundred things to do before Day 2.

“We just opened a school today,” he said.

OMG, we just did. It was all worth it.

6. I have zombie dreams.

Recurring ones where I keep telling people to frickin’ board up the windows and don’t get bitten. I’ve had to chop off heads in one dream because people weren’t listening. I’ve gotten these for years now, before zombies were so popular. Maybe I should have listened and I’d actually have written something that wasn’t a hard sell?

7. I joined the Speech and Debate club in high school because I was so frightfully shy.

Being called on in class would tear me to pieces. It was so easy for people to tease me because I’d just shrivel up and want to disappear. I knew I had to do something about it. I didn’t win many trophies in speech, but it did help me get over some of my fears and now I actually like public speaking, but I still get very nervous every time I speak.

8. I’m really into reality TV.

It’s not just dumb entertainment for me. I get so into it. I actually get inspired by those shows and have to keep myself from referencing it so people will still take me somewhat seriously.

For example, I love Daniel Vosovic’s quote from the second season of Project Runway. When asked in the finals what he brings to the fashion world, his answer was: “All I can give is my unique point of view.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

9. I’m very proud of my writer’s callous.

Even more so that people don’t get them anymore. I used to grip my pencil really hard in elementary school. One summer, my mom put a bug in my head that if you wrote stories that were good enough, people would actually buy them. So I sat down and tried to write as much as I could because I knew books were very long.

Then one day, I woke up and my hand was swollen. I could barely move my fingers, they were so stiff. My mom took one look and said, “You’re writing too much.” She had me soak my hand in ice water and it got better.

It was only many, many years later that I realized: Hey, mum just knew because it must have happened to her in that same way.

10. Well, if it isn’t obvious by now, I’m kind of sentimental basketcase when I start typing. That’s why I figured I better write romance.

Jeannie Lin writes historical romantic adventures set in Tang Dynasty China. Her short story, "The Taming of Mei Lin" from Harlequin Historical Undone is available September 1. Her Golden Heart award-winning novel, Butterfly Swords, will be released October 1 from Harlequin Historical and received 4-stars from Romantic Times Reviews—“The action never stops, the love story is strong and the historical backdrop is fascinating.”

Join the launch celebration at http://www.butterfly-swords.com for giveaways and special features. Visit Jeannie online at: http://www.jeannielin.com

In addition to being entered into the weekly contest, one commenter will win a download of "The Taming of Mei Lin," the prequel to her upcoming Butterfly Swords.

Monday, September 13, 2010

GUEST BLOG: DELIA LATHAM

A Change of Character


Let’s talk about changes of character. No, I don’t mean becoming a “good person” through some spiritual miracle—though I’ve seen that happen and believe God changes hearts and characters every day. For now, however, I’m referring to fictional people, and when it’s time for an author to give them a makeover of one kind or another.

Here’s an example. The heroine in Destiny’s Dream, the first book in my upcoming Solomon’s Gate series, underwent a name change in the final edits. A character in the second book, Kylie’s Kiss, morphed from a saucy redhead to an equally dynamic black sistah about two-thirds of the way through the book.

Why the character changes?

I had a couple of reasons for changing the heroine’s name from Karissa to Destiny, though I am admittedly still getting used to the new moniker. After all, I thought of her as Karissa through the entire writing process. (One of my real-life friends, whom I’ve known since I was ten, legally changed her name from Judy to Julie when she reached adulthood. That’s been at least thirty years ago, and I still slip and call her Judy from time to time. Old habits really do die hard.)

In Karissa’s case, it turned out that manuscript had too many characters whose names started with the hard “K” sound: Cassie, Carrie, Carson, Claire, Karen, Cameron, Clay—and, of course, Karissa. Why on earth was I so drawn to those hard “K” names at that time? Who knows, but apparently I was. So why not change the other characters’ names? Especially since Karissa’s name was also in the book’s title, Karissa’s Dream.

Well, that’s why. The other two books in the series will have alliterative titles—Kylie’s Kiss and Gypsy’s Game. In order to make the alliteration consistent across the whole collection, my editor and I decided Karissa should get the name change. She became Destiny, and the title is now Destiny’s Dream.

Why would I give my fun little redhead in Kylie’s Kiss a complete racial makeover? Because I recognized a lack of racial mix in my overall writing. Every character in my books up to that point was Caucasian, like me. Not good! So Dayna became a beautiful black gal with plenty of attitude, but retained her role as the heroine’s best friend. I find that I rather like Dayna in her new skin—it fits.

Recognizing and being willing to change that lack of racial variety will add depth and more realistic peopling of my future writing. Kylie’s Kiss boasts a loveable, loyal Hispanic character named Trina. Here again, there was a character change part way through the manuscript. Catarina (Trina) was originally named Anina, but called Nini by those who knew and loved her. Another character, Winona, went by Noni. See the problem? As much as I loved Nini, I decided I could use that name in another book someday. Noni fit the other character so well—and it is my sister’s name, so held a rather special place in my heart.

Changes of character. Changes of attitude. Changes of skin color, occupation, age, eye color—every author must make them at some point in her writing career. Reasons vary, and range from simple to complex, but when they are recognized, it’s important that the author be willing to reshape her brain children. It hurts sometimes—I did not want to change Karissa’s name, and I nearly cried when I changed Nini’s, while Dayna’s racial makeover gave me not a single moment’s pause.

I reworked those things because it was the right thing for my characters, my readers, and the book as a whole. As the creator who breathed life into these fictional people, it is my sole responsibility to change them in any way that will improve the storyline, even when doing so demands a sacrifice of some quality or characteristic that I personally love. (I’m pretty sure our Creator sometimes sheds a tear when he rids us of some characteristic that doesn’t work out for our good, or His glory.)

As a writer, have you made character changes that helped your storyline but hurt your heart? As a reader, have you come across characters you wish the writer had taken time to change?

Tell us about them. What did you change, and why? What bothers you as a reader?

We want to know—it’s a matter of character….


DELIA LATHAM is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. While she considers each of these roles important ones, she treasures most of all her role as a child of the King and an heir to the throne.

A former newspaper staff writer, Delia promised herself a novel for years, while raising her four children, working at various jobs and writing the occasional article, poem, or song. She fulfilled that promise when Vintage Romance Publishing released Goldeneyes in 2008. A Christian historical romance with a touch of the divine, Goldeneyes is set in the farm country of the author’s childhood, and therefore close to her heart. In 2010, White Rose Publishing released Yesterday’s Promise in electronic format. A children’s book, Adam’s Wings, will be available in December 2010. The Solomon’s Gate series is in the publisher’s hands and awaiting release dates.

Delia grew up in Weedpatch, a tiny agricultural community near Bakersfield, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She and her husband Johnny recently transplanted from that area to Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

Find out more at:

Website

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Friday, September 10, 2010

GUEST POST: JOYCE HENDERSON

Thank you for having me today…to discuss, "Does writing define who you are?"

Another author asked that question the other day and it puzzled me. My first thought was, no, I'm Joyce Henderson, I happen to write books. Still, it is a dilemma when you consider how writers react to certain things.

Many think, all I do is write. I don't exercise like I should. My kids are threatened within an inch of life to not disturb be when my office door is closed. We don't do much socializing. When I'm facing a deadline, my husband knows not to disturb me. He's such a jewel, he makes dinner and entertains the kids. Still, does all or some of that define who you are?

When we see friends or relatives, one of the opening gambits is, "When is your next book coming out?" Or in conversation, "I know an author!" Does that mean in her mind I'm a writer, period? Does she think of me as me? She might say, "My friend Joyce writes novels."

Working writers can't evade rejection, after rejection, after… Well, you get the idea. Even writers who can now claim to be authors because they've sold books are rejected by editors who bought prior work. Why? I don't know other than an editor may know more about trends than the author writing what s/he loves.

How do we take rejection? I'd say most if not all react on a personal level, even though we are told, "It's nothing personal." Right. Tell that to the writer or author who just opened a rejection letter. Nothing could be more personal than the evil retribution that seethes into the writer's creative mind. LOL

After one of the milder desires to kick that editor or agent in the patootie, the writer thinks, Just wait till I sell this wonderful story to another publisher and it becomes a bestseller! Or the writer seeks consolation from other writers. "I got a rejection from so 'n' so." How many writers can truly say they haven't uttered those exact words? Or when trying to console the down-in-the-mouth writer, the other says. "Oh, I've been rejected by just about all the NY publishers."

Did you notice the pronoun, I? "I was rejected…" Trust me. That's what immediately pops to the minds of 99.9 percent of writers and authors. Unless you leaped into this world with pen in hand, or tiny fingers on a keyboard, you are YOU. You may write books, you may write for newspapers or magazines, but without the sum of who you are as a person, you couldn't write the first word.

Don't you always think, Lovely-Lila is an author. Mark Do-right is a doctor. It doesn't make sense the other way. Author is Lovely-Lila. Doctor is Mark Do-right. Did you notice my bio? I write what I know. Actually, I write what I've learned or enjoyed doing over my lifetime. Without those experiences, without studying, without ongoing research that I can get lost in, I couldn't write word one of what I love to write.

So, how would you answer the question: Does writing define who we are? Taking it further: does laying bricks define who you are if you happen to be a bricklayer? Does guarding prisoners define a person as only a prison guard?

At a young age I chose to get married and be a wife, then a mother, and those two things are still a part of me. I've done office work, accounting, ran my own business and managed others, worked with my husband in his business. I've owned and rode horses, farmed avocados and several citrus fruits, bought a few houses, drive a car, danced on stage, swam on a swim team.

So, to answer the question: Does writing define who I am? I rather think I am the sum of loving many people and being loved, of enjoying how I've spent my days, of the memories and friends I cherish, and presently I, Joyce Henderson, have chosen to write novels.

Again, my thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts at LASR.

Please check out my latest release, Capture an Eagle.


Joyce Henderson is a multi-published author who writes Native American Romance set in Central Texas where she was born. Joyce writes "what she knows," horses and ranching, and she loves researching Indian lore. Her work has finalled in national contests: National Readers' Choice Award, Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie, and several others. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, Southwest Florida Romance Writers, Published Authors Special Interest Chapter, Florida Romance Writers, and Novelist, Inc.

Joyce loves to hear from her fans. www.joycehendersonauthor.com




Two years in an Eastern boarding school haven't tamed Mariah Kelly. She returns home to Texas as tempestuous as ever, still clinging to a forbidden desire for her brother's best friend. But the insufferably rude man doesn't know she cares for him, and she's not about to tell him.

Silver Eagle has longed for Mariah half his life, but if her father knew, he'd banish the young brave from working at the Broken Spur. Mariah can never know he yearns to possess her as his own.

When Silver Eagle is faced with possible prison for a crime he didn't commit, can he and Mariah find true love in a society that believes a union between a white woman and an Indian man can never be?

Or will Mariah risk all to have her heart's desire and…Capture an Eagle.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

GUEST BLOG: PATY JAGER

How Much Research is too much?


None!

Unless you're only researching and not writing or your fiction novel reads like a text book.

Research is the way to make a story or book come alive, take shape, and educate while entertaining your audience. At least that's the way I feel about research. I think there is never too much you can research about anything you write about. I have the first book of a trilogy released that is set in the 1700's among a band of Nez Perce. I researched their way of life, found Nez Perce who were willing to help me make the story correct, learned about shape shifting for the paranormal element, and studied the myth and legends of the Nez Perce so when I wrote the story I could make it as authentic sounding as possible.

Now you say, all well and good, that was a historical story.

I'm working on a contemporary right now, and I've put as much if not more research into making it ring true. It's set in the Guatemalan jungle. So I've had to read maps, go to online sites about the government, read newspaper articles about what is happening there, and I've made a contact who has given me information not only on the country but the people so I can make the story as authentic as possible. Knowing they are a Spanish speaking country I could have just used Spanish words here and there, but I learned all Central and South American countries have their own slang. So I'm digging into that and asking the local person what words would be used for certain things. I also have one character who is Venezuelan. I've had to do some researching on that to make him ring true.

I could have just written the story with Spanish language and a few online sites as my research, but then the story wouldn't have been accurate. As my contact in Guatemala said, "I appreciate the fact you are going to great lengths to show the real Guatemala. Many books I read, the writer doesn’t have a clue what we are about and they lose me as a reader." So while the larger populace may not have a care about the difference in the language, or the fact the rain forest has been getting smaller and smaller due to fires, those people from or who live in the countries will know I have taken the extra care to get it right.

Great research resources are your local, state, and university libraries; historical museums or societies; in the case of other countries, their government websites; or googling a certain area. For maps I like Google Earth and Mapquest. And always try to find at least two sources with the same information. Especially if you're using online information. And if you can find a person in a particular field you are using or living in a country you are writing about it makes the story come to life with tidbits that only someone in that field or that country would know.

Paty Jager

www.patyjager.net

www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager has brought her husband of thirty-one years to maturity, along with four children. Currently the empty nesters farm 130 acres. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Paty has been a member of RWA for twelve years belonging to several online chapters as well as EPIC, Women Writing the West, and Central Oregon Writers Guild.

She has five historical western romance novels, one paranormal historical, and one contemporary western available through The Wild Rose Press. Her contemporary western won the 2008 Best Contemporary Romance EPPIE. To learn more about Paty drop by her website: http://www.patyjager.net To purchase her books to go http://www.thewildrosepress.com or any e-book or print outlet.


Monday, September 6, 2010

GUEST BLOG: VIJAYA SCHARTZ

Tribulations through Sci-Fi Romance


I have loved Sci-Fi since forever. So many possibilities... My husband claims I came from the future. No wonder I was writing straight sci-fi when I joined Romance Writers of America with two completed sci-fi manuscripts. My next novel was a reincarnation love story (set in India where I studied for about a year). I found an agent and my first three novels were published by a small local print press in 2000 and 2001.

But something strange happened while I rubbed shoulders with romance writers. Love and romance started to infiltrate my sci-fi stories. I suddenly understood why my mother used to say: "I don’t like movies without women." She meant without relationships, without romance. Soon I was mixing genres and writing something no one had ever heard of before: Science-Fiction Romance!

Was it the sultry futuristic romance bordering on erotica? Hell no. We are talking hard core, save the planet and the universe, alien invasion, intergalactic prison type of adventure, with action-packed scenes and gun-toting, butt-kicking heroines. But it was much more. Despite the plot-driven action, the fully developed love story with strong conflicts, three-dimensional characters and sizzling love scenes, maintained the romantic tension throughout. The result was what reviewers later called a breathless page turner.

Everyone in the business said, "You cannot mix these two genres. Sci-fi has a male readership and romance a female readership. There is no market for such books." As if women couldn’t appreciate a little action in their novels.

But I loved what I wrote, and I wasn’t going to let nay-sayers destroy my dream. If I liked sci-fi romance, someone else would, sooner or later. It took a few years for the market to catch up. In late 2003, a brand new electronic publisher, Triskelion Publishing, made a presentation at my RWA chapter meeting. They were looking for a fresh kind of cross-genre romance, and one of their projected lines was sci-fi romance.

I saw my perfect match. It wasn’t a New York publisher, but no one in New York published what I wrote at that time. Besides, Triskelion projected to break into wide distribution mass market paperback within two years. Impressed by the quality of my previously published award-winning novels, Triskelion took me as one of their first authors. Before long, I was writing new stories on deadlines and published four novels and a novella with Triskelion Publishing. Two of these novels finalled in the Golden Quill Contest. Another was nominated for a reviewers’ choice award, and all of them gathered five star reviews.

But all is not golden when you blaze new trails. Finding contests to enter was a challenge, as they have strictly defined categories and very few include a sci-fi romance or even a futuristic category. Sci-fi romance is usually lumped together with paranormal and time travel, which are very different types of books. I found that to be detrimental to the sci-fi romance genre. Paranormal judges expecting shape-shifters, ghosts or sexy vampires do not necessarily appreciate action scenes involving aliens.

Nevertheless, the sci-fi romance genre started to find its audience. When Triskelion succumbed to its growing pains, I was left with yet unpublished novels frozen in bankruptcy court... But that’s another story.

The good news is, Triskelion opened the market for sci-fi romance. New readers come each day from generations who spent their teens playing video games and want the same kind of excitement in their romantic literature.

Since then, several New York publishers opened sci-fi romance lines. But other sci-fi romance authors still publish through strictly Sci-Fi publisher. These authors have to label themselves as writing Sci-Fi rather than Romance. Not me. I claim both.

Recently, the eBook industry with the advent of the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and all the other electronic devices, opened new markets for this particular genre. So most Sci-Fi romance is now published in eBooks.

To date, with twelve novels from four different publishers, I am still writing Science-Fiction romance for Desert Breeze Publishing, as well as some contemporary romantic suspense (including paranormal) for Sapphire Blue Publishing.

My latest series, THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK, started with the award-winning White Tiger in 2009, and continues with Red Leopard (April 2010), Black Jaguar (Nov. 2010), Blue Lioness (August 2011), and Noah’s Ark (April 2012). You can find out more about my many titles and future releases on my official website, at http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she comes from the future. Her books collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance. So, go ahead, dare to experience the magic, and she will keep you entranced, turning the pages until the last line. Find more at www.vijayaschartz.com

Friday, September 3, 2010

GUEST BLOG: VERONICA LYNCH

Over the years I've had the honor to work at a number of occupations: nurse, malpractice insurance investigator, forensic nurse examiner, victim advocate, and now―the best job ever―Nana to Meredith, Ashlin, Owen and Kieran.

Even though I sometimes wish they'd remain in the closet, the years I spent working in the Operating Room and ICU, later advocating for victims of sexual violence, have contributed significantly to the voice of my writing. You can't spend thirty years playing loyal serving maid to fast-handed surgeons, or haunting police stations, Emergency Rooms, and criminal courts without learning first hand about rampant misogyny, overwhelming apathy, or overt bigotry.

Under my primary author personality, Kat Henry Doran, I am privileged to to have Try Just Once More, a contemporary romantic suspense set in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State. For that story, I brought in my years as a nursing supervisor to give the heroine something to do besides twiddle her thumbs while the hero stormed around trying to figure out why someone wants the heroine and her children dead.

Drawing the hero was easy; I just thought about a cop I once [in my younger, much thinner years] lusted after. Plus, he helped me with a crucial scene in the book―unfortunately not the love scene [darn it]. To learn more about mounted patrol officers and their horses, this same officer connected me with an equine veterinarian who allowed me to accompany her on rounds. I spent a really fun afternoon with the mounted patrol unit of the Rochester Police Department.

For Raising Kane, one part of the “Out of the Dark” anthology from Wild Rose Press, due out later this month, I used my experience organizing marches protesting violence against women. My heroine, an award winning television journalist, is covering a protest march when it turns violent. The police, who arrived too late to stop the majority of the damage, arrest everyone still standing, figuring God will sort it all out in the end. Enter the hero, the Public Information Officer for the police department, whose job it is to put a spin on the event and make the cops look good. Fortunately, the heroine comes equipped with film at eleven.

As Veronica Lynch, my alternate writer personality, I used the same town where Raising Kane is set for Those Who Wait, a short romance scheduled to be released August 28, 2010 by the very kind folks at Decadent Publishing. Easton is a small city set on the shores of Lake Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes. I again used my time as a victim advocate to show how a vocation, no matter how selfless and worthwhile it might be, can possess the power to wreak havoc on a personal relationship if both partners aren't careful. TWW is my first success with writing shorter length fiction and I'm very grateful to Decadent for taking a chance on me.

I was raised in a religion which employed men who dressed in black suits and wore their collars backward, and women who wore long black dresses with starched bibs, and large wing-like things on their heads. We called them penguins, or sailboat sisters if the hat was large enough and, of course, aerodynamic. I like to put the clergy in my stories. I'm warped that way. Of course it helped that I had two uncles who served more than fifty years in the priesthood and a penguin cousin who gave me tons of insider information, right down to how to get around the silence of the confessional booth in Try Just Once More.

For my last bit of brilliance, I'd like to talk about setting, which I believe should be treated like another character who deserves equal care in development. Currently, I am involved in a series with WRP titled the Class of 85, as in have you ever wondered what happened to the prom queen or the class nerd or . . . the boy most likely to spend time behind bars?

I was there at ground zero when the series was in its infancy and, with the help of two other writers, invented the town where the reunion will take place. We took a historic neighborhood in Rochester which features stone and brick mansions built around the turn of the century, picked it up and dropped it on the shores of Lake Ontario, and named it Summerville. It's been a real treat watching this series take shape out of what's available to anyone who just looks around and uses what they know.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I'm glad I came on board!

I love to hear from readers and other authors.

Due to a hyperactive imagination, Veronica Lynch uses the places she's traveled to over the years for the settings of many of her stories. Currently her faves include Western New York State in general, the shores of Lake Ontario in particular.

A recent vacation to Northern New York showed her the crystal pure water of the Saint Lawrence River and the wild beauty of the Thousand Islands—which might take over top spot on her list of choice settings.

www.KatHenry
www.WildWomanAuthor.blogspot.com OR VLynchAuthor.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

GUEST BLOG: WENDI ZWADUK

Don't Fence Me In


Thought I was channeling Bob Hope or John Wayne? Not quite. I got the title by listening to my characters. Now you think I've dropped my beans. Maybe. But hey, sometimes listening rather than talking is hard--and helps you reap the biggest rewards.

Why would I first, listen to my characters and second, what does it have to do with fencing?

It's like this. Almost all of the authors I've talked to are intimately acquainted with their characters. They know, down to the lint in his or her pockets, what the character is doing/feeling/thinking. For instance, Logan Malone, from Right Where I Need to Be, always forgets his wallet in his truck but is never without a comb to fix his hair. Oh, and he has blue jean lint in his pockets. He's not sure why, but he does.

Another thing about Logan... he loves to talk. When I started work on Right, he informed me he wanted a forever kind of love, but nothing tacky. He'd been there, done that with the hinky, kinky type relationships. He wanted to settle down. So as his author, I listen.

Now you're probably wondering if I have these lengthy conversations with my characters. You'd be right. I have journal upon journal with notes and things my characters tell me. Logan gave me details as to what type of woman he wanted to settle down with. Funny, the woman he described was nothing like Cass. When I mentioned her, he scoffed...and then got real quiet.

"Well, if she's mine, then don't fence me in."

You have the exact same confused look I had when he said this. He'd been plain and blunt, but when offered a new option, the boundaries weren't so important. Stunned, I considered his reaction. And you guessed it, I listened to the things he wasn't saying. The idea of a woman who was more or less opposite of his predetermined "must have" piqued his interest.

When it came time to tell his story, I did exactly as he asked and didn't fence him in. I threw them together and sat back to watch the fireworks. And boy were there not only sparks, but fire, scorch marks, and a few burns. But the idea of not fencing him in helped when it came to the love scenes as well. I write predominantly erotic works. Right is hot, no doubt. I think my screen still has the melted spots.

What did I do? You're thinking there had to be instances where I needed to rein him in, you know and tell him, hey this isn't one of those books?

Not really. I let him run. Being with Cass and expressing his emotions were enough. I'm pretty sure he'd have run in any direction I'd let him. What man doesn't occasionally want to press the limits? I think it was that he wanted me to give him the freedom to set his own fences. Oh sure, there is that option to let him take things into erotica territory. It happens all too often in romance--make it as hot as possible, shock the reader and lose the sensuality. I'm not saying that all erotic books do, but in the case of Right, Logan wanted to keep it hot but sweet.

So, I cut him loose to do as he pleased and I'm not sorry. Logan got what he wanted in more ways than one and I got a great story out of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing Logan and Cass's story. And as I go, I leave you with this gem of wisdom: don't fence yourself or your characters in. You never know what you'll get out of it.

: Thanks for enjoying this work by Wendi Zwaduk. By day she’s a SAHM of one son, two dogs, and two cats, but at night she lets her inner muse run wild and writes tales of love won, lost, and won again. If she’s not at her computer, she can be found at her local dirt tracks cheering for the Late Model cars or haunting the local library in search of new authors. Check out her blog http://www.wendizwaduk.blogspot.com and website www.wendizwaduk.com.