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Monday, November 29, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ANNETTE SNYDER

To me, writing is something I do-- like a pleasant chore. I can write everyday for hours and lose myself in the process. I forget to change the laundry and do the dishes. My kitchen table remains cluttered and beds unmade until I get an idea down. Readers ask where my ideas come from and I really have to admit, “Everywhere.”

My Travis Pass Series started with a short story a friend told me about her family’s migration across the US. Travis Pass grew to a seven novel series because the secondary characters in each novel had histories and I felt the need to write those too. I thought I was done with that line after the seventh, but while refinishing an old camelback trunk, Sashay, from Albert’s Rain popped into my head and someday I’ll write what happened to her.

Viveka’s War is based on my grandmothers' diverse lives. One grandma, my dad’s mom, turned ninety-nine this year and the things she’s lived through, the changes in our world that she’s seen, the stories she’s shared with me are such that I couldn’t just remember and instead had to share. Since I write fiction and not memoirs, Viveka’s War, Eureka Springs, and my current work, Respectable Affair came to life, set during the WWII era.

The Nebraska Midwest is the setting for my contemporary work. Intimate Flames begins the series with Andrew ‘Amen’ Packard, a firefighter and the youngest of the seven Packard siblings. Drive Thru, released July 2010, is Marie’s story, a single mother working to make ends meet and care for her daughter within the restraints of today’s economy. I’m not sure which Packard kid is next because I wait for the inspiration from characters to direct my work but I’ve got five more lines drafted in anticipation.

I have to admit that my very first book came to me in a dream. It’s a futuristic novel, set after an apocalyptic event. How I turned that into a happily ever after romance is beyond me but, I did. Someday, I’ll go back and rework those three stories with all the things I’ve learned over the years about writing and try and get them to bookstore shelves.

With each idea that comes to me, whether a novel, an essay or an article, my process is the same. I get an idea and write down the basics. I let the story unfold as I type. My first draft is more of an unreadable roadmap. I drive back and forth on that roadmap revising and even skipping ahead until I get my characters and their life plans. Once that’s done, I start from the beginning and refine. Sometimes, as in Drive Thru, a storm comes up and changes everything and even I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. That’s the beauty of writing fiction; the words are like puzzle pieces and I can switch them around until I get the story right-which is why supper is always late and phone calls remain unreturned.

You can learn all about my work at my website http://annettesnyder.atspace.com. While you visit, check out my blog, Fifty Authors from Fifty States, and read a few of my essays.

You can also pick up my work online at Whiskey Creek Press, at Fictionwise and its affiliates and at several local bookstores and shops throughout Nebraska. I’m also at www.growneb.com where you’ll find hundreds of Nebraska Entrepreneurs and their products.

Thanks to LASR for hosting me today. As a special treat to visitors here, I’m cluing you in on a treat. Stop by my blog tomorrow: http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com. It’s my birthday! You’ll also be able to get in on the surprise if you join the Whiskey Creek Press Readers Group at www.whiskeycreekpress.com and join with the link there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

GUEST BLOG: PAMELA S. BEASON

The Difference between Fictional PIs and Real PIs

When people find out I'm a private investigator, they inevitably say something like, "Wow, that must be fun!" I know then that these folks have been watching too much TV or reading too many PI novels. Being a private investigator can be interesting (and occasionally terrifying), but it's rarely what I would call fun. So I thought I'd write today about the difference between television PIs and real PIs.

Block Watch never interrupts fictional surveillance

During real-life surveillance, at least where I live, I am often parked for all of ten minutes before someone knocks on my car window. "Hey you! What are you up to?" Ack! A PI can't exactly tell the truth—you don't know who you're talking to and you don't want to spread tales about the neighbors. I often have to fall back on the "Oh, isn't this Oak Street? I’m supposed to meet my husband there!" dumb woman routine. This works especially well with men (sorry, guys, but it's true). I also spend a lot of time with a cell phone to my ear waving my hands around or doodling on a notepad like I pulled over to argue with the caller or to take complicated notes.

Fictional PIs can break the law with impunity

Although we might not like to admit it, PIs have no more rights than you do. We cannot trespass, we cannot invade anyone's privacy, we cannot threaten or rough up anyone, no matter how much we'd like to. If we do anything wrong, we are much more likely to be sued than the average person. In Washington State where I work, investigators are in the same insurance category as used tire recyclers—considered likely to spontaneously combust at any moment.

Fictional PIs always have noble clients

In fiction, the client who hires the PI is usually honest and has noble reasons. I wish this were always so in real life. When a client wants to hire me to find a missing person or to discover who caused him to be fired, I have to research the relationship between client and subject. I certainly don't want to help a stalker find his victim or set up a situation for a client to take violent revenge. (Now you're beginning to see why PIs are in the high-risk insurance category.)

The public tends to lump private investigators and police detectives together. While it's nice to be grouped with the law enforcement professionals I admire and respect, the truth is that real-life PIs usually work for the defense. So sometimes the subjects whose cases we are hired to work on are, frankly, sleazebags. But other times the prosecution is overzealous or on rare occasions, just plain wrong. In my experience, this is usually not the arresting officer's fault. Police generally arrive on a call having been told by a dispatcher what sort of crime is in progress, and then they are constrained by law to arrest someone. 

The job of an investigator is not to be an advocate, but to go out there and gather everyone's stories and whatever evidence exists and deliver that to the defense attorney (often a public defender) to work with. Think you'd never need a public defender? Ha! Consider that accusations are easy to make and hard to disprove, add that most attorneys charge more than $200/hour, and you can see how most of us would need a public defender if—God forbid—we were accused of a felony. For the record, most public defenders are smart, dedicated, and extremely overworked lawyers, and the investigators who work for them are even more dedicated, underpaid, and overworked. It's definitely an uneven playing field and often thankless work, but we do it because we want to see justice prevail.

Fictional PIs always look their best

I'm actually pretty cute for a woman my age, but often an investigation job requires me to be as invisible as possible. The name of the game is not to attract attention. So I don the stained baseball cap and sunglasses, the sweatshirt, the stocking cap, whatever works in the environment I need to be in. Add hours of surveillance, especially sitting in a hot car or crouching behind a bush in the pouring rain, and you do not end up looking (or smelling) like a luscious babe. I recently had a job that involved crawling all over a steep, rocky, overgrown lot to take photos from various vantage points; I ended up with leaves in my hair, scratches on my face, and hives all over my body. Definitely not glamorous.

In fiction, justice usually prevails

If only that were true in real life. I've worked on a few cases that I suspect were wrongfully judged, and I've worked on many where the perpetrator got away with the crime. This especially happens in financial cases. I recently had a very personal reminder of that. My credit card information has been stolen twice in the last six weeks, and I've been working on discovering the perpetrator because the credit card companies don't pursue criminal charges. However, since I didn’t actually suffer a financial loss, according to the law, the merchants and credit card companies are the victims, and a few thousand dollars is nothing to them, so there will probably be no criminal case even if I locate the perpetrator.

But all PIs deal with the same issues

Whether it's in fiction or in real-life, all PIs deal with the same problems. Our clients are individuals and families in trouble. We see businessmen cheated by their partners, custodial parents neglecting children, spouses having affairs and hiding assets, and teens making bad, bad decisions.

Although I can't use details too close to a real investigation case, I do use my investigation experience in my stories. All my books—both romances and mysteries—include characters in big trouble, who must investigate and solve a crime. In my current romance, On Shaky Ground, my protagonist Elisa has just inherited her family business, a plant nursery, which is plagued by vandalism and arson, and now she's being investigated by a hunky insurance investigator. 

My first mystery, Wild, is about the search for a child in a national park. The rights have been purchased by Berkley Prime Crime and the novel will be republished with a few changes and possibly a new name in 2011, but there are a few copies of the original still floating around on Amazon.

I love writing about investigations in my fiction, because I can always make justice prevail there.

Pamela S. Beason
Author of On Shaky Ground (Wild Rose Press August 2010)
and a new Sam Westin mystery series launching from Berkley Prime Crime in 2011

www.pamelasbeason.com
blogging about nature and the writing life at http://psbeason.wordpress.com
--------------------------------------------------------
BIO
Pamela S. Beason lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes novels and screenplays and works as a private investigator. When she’s not on the job, she explores the natural world on foot or cross-country skis, in her kayak, and underwater as a scuba diver.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG: AMY CORWIN

The Ghosts of Winter: The Genesis of Vampire Protector



There is nothing more pleasurable than to curl up in front of the fire on a blustery, cold winter’s eve and tell stories. And what could be better than a ghost story when the nights are long and darkness presses against the windows at your back? The tradition of telling spooky stories in front of the fire is probably as old as man, but for many of us, the combination of ghost stories and the holiday season really found its feet in the mid-19th century.

The Victorian era in England ushered in a fascination for their traditions. Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree in 1841, and a revival in customs such as carol singing were renewed. Along with those, came the interest in the creepy thrill of tales of terror, spurred on by a publication most of us know and love: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published in 1843.

The classic ghost story we know and love today arose during this time and authors such as M.R. James, Henry James, Sheridan Le Fanu and others brought to “life” tales of horror and subdued terror. These were the genesis of later horror stories including those by the masters, Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House) and Stephen King (The Shining).

While our current paranormal romances focus on the romance, they also include elements from this long tradition of stories meant to give the reader a tingle and cause her to cast a wary glance over her shoulder into the shadows behind her chair.

In my recently released paranormal, Vampire Protector, I borrow heavily from this rich tradition to add a few twists and unexpected chills to the underlying romance. Gwen has good reason to fear the dark as she sets out on a quest to understand her past and unearth the secrets hidden by her family for centuries.




Playing into the theme of ghosts and winter terrors, here is a brief excerpt from Vampire Protector.

Book: Vampire Protector
Author: Amy Corwin
Author’s website: http://www.amycorwin.com
Publisher Line: Black Rose
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Memories may help her survive, but will they help her resist her vampire protector?
Exploring Gwen's long abandoned childhood home in the company of her attractive neighbor, John, sounds like a pleasant evening, but Gwen soon realizes her mistake. John is a vampire and her house is not exactly empty. Secrets—and the dead—don’t always stay buried, and John’s extraordinary strength may be all that can withstand what awaits them in the darkness.


~*~*~


Note: In the following excerpt, Gwen has asked her neighbor, John Wright, to accompany her to her abandoned family home. But when the two of them get to the house, she’s not so sure it’s a good idea to enter…

“The moon has already risen.” A cold swirl of air brushed the back of her neck. Shivering, she rubbed her nape, glancing around.

Only the two of them stood in the 1950s-style living room. The shadows were empty. Nothing stirred and yet…

“What’s wrong?” John asked.

“Nothing. Let’s get going,” she replied, thinking about the graveyard next door.

All those professional groundskeepers riding around the smooth grass of the cemetery on their efficient lawn tractors, sucking up the spirit remnants of the dead, shredding them, and spewing them out. The workmen unknowingly created ghosts that drifted on every errant breeze and collected in the comforting solidity of her deserted stone house.

Remnants and tatters of lost souls.

John held out a hand to her. She ignored him and walked forward into the gloom. Involuntarily, her gaze brushed past the central stairway to the rooms on her left. The dining room lay in that direction and beyond that, the kitchen.

Cool air brushed her cheeks like a caress.

The dining room held only tatters and unwanted memories. She could feel the warmth slipping away from her, leaving her lethargic and unable to focus. Just like the dead mockingbird on the porch. Too drained to escape in time.

But the present faded as she stared into the dining room, transfixed. The sound of Patsy Cline drifted through the air, the singer’s voice overlaid with the pops and scratches of her mother’s much played record.

“Peaches, have you finished setting the table for dinner?” her mother’s lilting voice called, memories flaring more brightly than the shadowed present.

Through the arched doorway, she could see the big maple table in the center of the dining room. Long, white curtains with yellow ruffles hung dejectedly from the metal valances. Gray streamers of spider webs drifted down from the hems of the curtains, swaying on errant drafts.

The memories focused sharply, scrubbing away the dust and cobwebs.
She was twelve again. Through the dining room’s wide archway, the kitchen glowed with light and heat…


Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and has been writing for the last ten years, in addition to a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. She writes Regencies/historicals, mysteries, and contemporary paranormals.
Amy’s other books include: a Regency, SMUGGLED ROSE; two Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN and THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER; and a paranormal romance, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.


Website: http://www.amycorwin.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/amycorwin
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmyCorwinAuthor
Blog: http://amycorwin.blogspot.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

GUEST BLOG: KAREN WHITE


The Zzz’s of Writing


            I’ve done a lot of blog posts and written a lot on the subjects of writing, the life of an author, my career, and the ups and downs of living with teenagers.  But I’ve never written about something near and dear to an author’s heart.  No, not fame, fortune, or becoming a NYT bestselling author.  I’m talking about sleep.
            At the moment, I’m bone tired.  Deep down, mind-meltingly, brain-freezingly tired.  This isn’t because I have sleep problems.  On the contrary, all I have to do is think about my bed and I’m fast asleep until my alarm rudely awakens me at 6:15.  My family thinks I might be narcoleptic because all I have to do is be still for seven seconds and I’m out for the count.
            The truth is that I need more sleep (obviously).  But with a busy family, a husband who travels and all the hoopla of family life, combined with writing two big (100,000+ words) books per year, there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done—so I steal from those hours that most people devote to sleeping.  My bad.
            Unfortunately, I’m also one of those people who can drink a pot of caffeinated coffee and fall asleep immediately.  I know this because it’s happened before.  More than once.  How fair is that?  I’ve tried everything:  caffeinated gum, loud music, exercise, apples, hydration with water, standing on my head.  And that’s when I realized that it’s more than lack of sleep—it’s the actual activity of writing.
            I don’t know about other writers, but writing a page is more mentally exhausting than an hour of Pilates.  My books tend to be pretty emotional, so I suppose it makes sense that writing them can be emotionally draining.  Like an actress, I immerse myself into the character’s POV and “become” that person when I’m in their head.  I think it lends itself to more real emotions and dialogue.  I’m also a very visual writer and when I’m envisioning a scene, I close my eyes and, yep, sometimes I’ll wake up an hour later realizing too late that a sleepy person shouldn’t spend too much time with her eyes closed if she doesn’t want to fall asleep! 
            I have spent complete afternoons nodding over my laptop, and have the permanent crease in my forehead from the laptop lid as a result.  (My kids say it’s a wrinkle because I’m old, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
            And then:  a breakthrough.  While trying to stay awake while eating breakfast, I usually attempt to read one of my many periodicals that come in daily that I rarely get to peruse because, yes, I fall asleep if I sit down in a quiet room to read.
            I can’t remember what magazine or newspaper (sleep deprivation also interferes with memory, apparently), I read about the wonders of napping.  Now, as the mother of two teenagers who were once adorable toddlers who, thankfully, were good nappers, I already knew about the joys of napping.  But this article was talking about how famous people in history—Ghandi and Winston Churchill to name just two—recharged their brains in the middle of the day with a mere twenty minute nap.  I couldn’t believe it—two icons in world history NAPPED!  Surely, I thought, if it worked for them it could work for me.
            Luckily, I’m one of those people who can lie down anywhere and fall asleep.  So, after lunch one day, I went up to the guest room, drew the shades, put in my earplugs and set my alarm for 20 minutes.  As always, I didn’t even remember falling asleep.  All I knew was that when the alarm rang, I was a new person.  My mind was clearer, and I was no longer sleepy.  I was refreshed—something I hadn’t been in a very long time.  I was able to write with passion and clarity, really focusing on the story and characters instead of how many sentences I could get out before my eyes closed.
            The secret to the twenty minutes is that it doesn’t allow a person to get into REM sleep.  If that happens, you’re doomed to a day of grogginess.  But 20 minutes seems to do the trick without any side effects.  I’m now a huge proponent of adult napping, even contemplating a move to Spain where napping is a national past time.  OK, so I didn’t really consider it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could live in a place where you could nap and not feel guilty that you should be, well, working?
            Napping is now a daily ritual for me, and can be the highlight of my day.  Even my dog knows when it’s naptime, because he heads upstairs with me at the appointed time and settles himself either at the foot of the bed or on the floor next to it.  He’s a professional napper himself, and I’m sure he feels he deserves the credit for my new found restorative habit.
            I just looked at the clock.  I’ve been up since 6:15 and it’s time for lunch and then my favorite twenty minutes of the day.  Then it’s back to writing for me.  And I’m just left to wonder why this wrinkle in my forehead won’t go away now that I’m no longer using my laptop as a head prop.

Karen White’s love affair with the south has taken her across much
of the region, from her home in Atlanta to Savannah, Mississippi,
Louisiana, South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the mountains of
North Carolina. Her travels have provided inspiration as well as
details for the settings of her books, including her recent New York
Times bestseller, On Folly Beach. Now, in FALLING HOME, she
returns to Georgia, her home state, to recapture the small town
ambiance her Mississippi grandmother taught her to love.
FALLING HOME
Karen White
An NAL Accent Trade Paperback Original
Fiction/On sale November 2, 2010/$15.00 ($18.50 Canada)
978-0-451-23144-4
www.karen-white.com www.penguin.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

GUEST BLOG: SHELLEY MUNRO

Dressing in 1720 England
by 
Shelley Munro


Firstly, thanks to LASR for having me to visit today. My name is Shelley Munro and my most recent release is a historical romance called The Spurned Viscountess. My story is set in 1720 England. Today, I thought I'd take a look at clothes.
Dressing was a complicated business during the 18th century. I found a list on the web describing how a lady dressed, and it's no wonder ladies required the services of a maid. Here is a description of how a lady dressed in the morning.

1. Put on a pair of over-the-knee stockings. Bind them above the knee with tapes.

Stockings were knitted in either fine or coarse thread - cotton, silk or yarn - and came in many different colors: Blue, green, pink, cherry, sky and scarlet. They also came in black or white. The garters to hold them up were lengths of ribbon that were tied either above the knee or below. The garters often bore mottos and roguish gentlemen liked to collect them as souvenirs. 

2. Put on your shoes and do up the buckles.

Shoes had pointy toes, large heels (the height ranging from two to three inches) and came in varied colors such as green, yellow, salmon pink and white.

3. Put on your mid-calf length chemise, followed by a modesty skirt. 

4. Put on your stays and smooth out the chemise underneath.

The stays (or corset) are laced behind. They can be plain or have an embroidered front.

5. Tie pockets around your waist.

Pockets were not like ours. They were tied around the waist and separate from the gown or petticoats. They normally came in pairs

6. Put on your hoop.

Hoops were tied around the waist with a running string. They were made of whalebone or cane.

7. Cover the hoop with your petticoat.

8. Put on the outer petticoat.

The petticoat was pleated into a waistband and tied either behind or on the side. The fullness was achieved by the use of thick, sometimes quilted under petticoats. The petticoat was usually a different color from the gown and often embroidered. Colors included red, blue, green, yellow, cherry, cinnamon, rose, pink and scarlet. 

9. Pin the stomacher to the front of the stays, pinning through the tabs which are located at the sides of the stomacher.

A stomacher is a panel that's either pointed, rounded or scalloped below and has a straight upper border. It's stiffened with pasteboard or padding. It fills in the gaps between the robings. They were often heavily embroidered or decorated with jewels.

10. Put on your robe, pulling it on like a jacket.

An Open robe dress is as the name suggests open in the front to show off the colored petticoat.

11. Pin the front edges to the stomacher, hiding the pins down the front under the pleats.

12. Put on your fine white linen or lace cap and cover your neck with a scarf (fichu).

In cooler weather, a mantle and headscarf may be used.

A handkerchief (actually a large square of muslin, linen, lawn or sometimes silk) was used as neckwear. It was draped around the neck and secured over the stomacher with ribbon ties.
The mantle is a long tent-like cloak and often made of velvet. Cloaks were usually waist length. Red was a common color.

Caps were normally white and made of linen or lawn or lace. They were worn toward the back of the head.

Other:

1. Wigs were sometimes worn for social occasions. They could be powdered or not. Hair was decorated with precious stones, artificial flowers, gold or silver hair pins or ribbons. A lady's own hair - the fringe or front was frizzed or curled and built up on pads. The back was coiled high into a small bun leaving a few artful curls at the nape to wear back or forward over the shoulder.

2. Makeup:  Red paint or rouge - also applied to lips and fingernails. Eyebrows were arched with scissors or tweezers or sometimes shaved off and replaced with strips of mouse skin. Patches - were made of black velvet and stuck on the face with a glue type substance.

Gloves were usually elbow length and worn outdoors. They were normally white. 

Fans were an essential part of a lady's ensemble and folded.

Keep in mind that this process would take place several times during the day as the mistress of the house changed for at home visits, riding, shopping and of course, dinner and evening engagements such as balls and the theatre. I don't know about you, but I'm tired just reading the list!

While my heroine in The Spurned Viscountess isn't big on fashion, there are a few mentions of her gowns within the story. In fact, she has a few problems with her apparel. I can't tell you without giving away too much of the story.

Here's the blurb for The Spurned Viscountess.

She must marry him.
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
He wants nothing to do with her.
Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
Dark secrets will bind them.
Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…

The Spurned Viscountess is available from Carina Press.

How do you think you'd get on dressing each day if you lived in 1720 England? What is your favorite item of clothing?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and enjoys both writing and reading historical romance. She loves to dress casually and doesn't think she'd make a very good time traveler, not if she went to 1720 England and had to don all those clothes! You can visit Shelley and learn more about her books at http://www.shelleymunro.com


 
Sources:
http://www.earthlydelights.com.au/rococo.htm
Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century by C. Willett & Phillis Cunnington

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CAROL A. STRICKLAND

A Girl Needs More Than Spangles
by Carol A. Strickland



As romance readers we all love strong heroines who find romance. Why is it, then, that the strongest of heroines can’t get any?

I’m talking Wonder Woman. She’s one of the mightiest heroes in her world, often credited in these PC times as being as powerful as Superman. The line that evokes her is “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury.”

But for the past 25-ish years (she was rebooted in 1987), she’s been a virgin with nary a serious boyfriend in sight.


Back in 1941 when WW debuted, the very first page of her story introduced the dashing spy-catching flyboy, Capt. Steve Trevor, who washed up on the shores of mysterious Paradise Island. This spurred the Amazons who lived there to select a champion, Wonder Woman, to journey back with him to “Man’s World” in order to help defeat the Axis and spread the word of love being greater than war.

But it was comics, comics were mainly for boys, and any romance to be had was rather superficial (and frustrating for Steve). Looking back on those stories today, I get the feeling that Steve’s role as romantic hero was secondary to his role of being a bridge character who was at the top of the macho scale, and yet someone who idolized and respected Wonder Woman. If she was okay with him, it was okay for boys to buy the comic.

(Steve also served a role as “beard” to soften the lesbian overtones of the book.)

The creator of WW wrote her until his death. New creative staffs appeared. Steve became loud and obnoxious. Eventually an editor killed off Steve, saying that he was boring and he hated him. Oh, how I agreed!


This being comics, eventually Steve was brought back to life a few times (having died a few more times as well along the way) and started to live with Wonder Woman in her secret ID—a short period in which her fans assume they were having sex between panels—before he died again, was reborn, and eventually married her. They had one night of married bliss before WW was rebooted.

Cue 1987 and the all-new WW appears. She’s 18 and a stranger to men. Steve is again a member of her supporting cast, but now he’s a geezer—age 40 or so. Much too ancient (!) to have a romance with Wondie! Many readers (like me) supposed that this opened her horizons to exciting and surprising new romances. They were wrong.

The mindset of the boys’ club that is comics often involves the Madonna/whore image of women. For Wonder Woman to be an icon, a symbol of female perfection, she had to be planted firmly on a high pedestal and remain untouched and unapproachable except by worshippers.

It was fine if WW’s younger sister got married (twice, if you want to be technical), became a mother, divorced, and then monogamously slept with a couple boyfriends, but poor WW couldn’t do any of that.

Once Wondie was attracted to the avatar Rama, someone who was not only married but revered by millions of real-life, present-day Hindus. Bad idea, and it ended before either could truly commit their heart. Both the two other brief, virginal romances WW has had since 1987 involved one partner who had no respect for the other and was trying to manipulate them. (Yes, one time it was WW doing the manipulating in quite an uncharacteristic fashion.) Neither situation held any of the romantic touches, emotions, or back-and-forth exploration we expect in romance fiction.


Wonder Woman seems doomed never to find her happily ever after, or as near to it as a continuing series can have. All that power and no one with whom to share…

What do you think the answers to Wondie’s romantic problems are?

I tried tackling the question from a different angle. The hero in my book, Touch of Danger, is also the most powerful being on Earth, but he’d love to have a very physical romance. He’s dashing, charismatic… and too powerful to touch anyone intimately without tearing them to shreds by accident.

So he should be ecstatic when a new weapon leaves him powerless for a couple days, even if he is on the run from an army of mercenaries out to kill him. After all, he’s running alongside a gorgeous, intriguing girl.

But she has a crippling phobia to touch.

If he should get past that, if they should have sex, maybe even fall in love… What will they do when his powers come back?

Carol A. Strickland’s Touch of Danger is available from Cerridwen Press in both e- and print form. It is the first volume of a romantic series involving superheroes, angels, galactic empires, and the odd kitchen sink. The second installment, Star-Crossed, will be out soon. “Star-Spangled Panties” is Carol’s semi-monthly WW column for ComicBookResources.com , and she also carries on an art business in her (cough) spare time after her 9-5 job. She’d be pleased if you investigated the many areas of her website at www.CarolAStrickland.com .

Monday, November 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG: NANCY LINDLEY-GAUTHIER




Why do you read?


Is it thrills, revelation…insight? Not for me, baby: it’s for the emotion. The shared experience, the tug on the heartstrings, that’s what ‘makes a story.’

It doesn’t have to be fiction.

Recently, I happened on a newspaper article that eerily mirrored my short story “Spinning the Baiji.’ The bald facts might not have been so moving – but I’d already imagined all the emotions behind the people’s motivations.

This summer, terrible drought in parts of Venezuela reduced some of the main rivers to less than half their normal size – and many a tributary shrunk down to unconnected pools. Some of those pools trapped helpless river creatures; like the legendary Boto, the pink dolphins on the Amazon. They are creatures known for their gentleness, their willingness to interact with humans…sadly stranded and quickly starving, cut off from the main river. The people might have grieved, standing on the banks, seeing animals in trouble. In China, the very last of their river dolphin (the Baiji) were recently declared extinct. You can imagine the sorrow, shared by people of a completely different nation, even continent, looking out at similar destination. They must have felt helpless and full of grief.

But wait: no, they didn’t. Didn’t grieve, I mean.

They went home for blankets and hoses and strapping, gathered friends and phoned scientists. People with next to nothing themselves set aside their lives and their chores and went to the rivers and ponds and pools. They gathered the helpless Boto and they carried them to open water.

These weren’t people trained in animal rescue – they weren’t necessarily people that fished, or had some other link to the river.

They loved the creatures they shared this planet with, and determined do what they could do to help.

Pink dolphins are one of nature's wonder: but a greater wonder is the connection people feel toward them.

Through a few terse descriptions in a mini-news blurb, I felt the love. A thousand miles away… in a world without river dolphin… I could still feel the love.

When writers write what truly moves them, readers feel the love.

For a fantastic video of the Boto:

ARKive video - Botos - physical appearance

For an updated news report on the Boto: The Daily Mail

My latest, ‘Echoes the Drum,’ revolves around the gentle Beluga Whales of the Inside Passage. To swim with the whales, click here: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615721610

I dreamed I swam beneath the surface of the sea. I spread my flippers wide like wings and glide on warm ocean currents. Soprano songs weave through the depths and I cannot help but join the chorus. Surfacing, I look at the land-bound as curiosities.

The community in the sea seems as real as any human gathering; families and cities of creatures live parallel to humanity, but significantly apart. My stories started with heartwarming ‘Flipper’ like images and have traveled toward more of a Spirit journey; in Echoes the Drum, the main character, Cori, tries to reach out and understand those ‘parallel’ lives. Compassion is her motive… Nancy Lindley-Gauthier, November, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

GUEST BLOG: A.Y. STRATTON

If At First You Don’t Succeed:

The Trail From Endless Revisions to Publication


by A. Y. Stratton


Ever since my romantic suspense novel was published, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who happen to show up at my book signings, ask me the one question I can’t answer. “How long did it take you to write Buried Heart?"

They assume I have written just one story and BINGO! Got it published. I always confess that I have written LOTS of stories--short, long and in between; mysteries, humor and romances--all rejected at least once.

My motto was: I am multiple-rejected, but poised to be an overnight success.

While I was fiddling with the first draft of Buried Heart (variously titled “Slaves of Time,” “The Last Codex,” or “Thick As Thieves”), I was still writing a monthly newspaper column and working as a volunteer for several charitable organizations. Somehow, the volunteer jobs grew to fill the hours, and “Slaves of Time” clomped along like a donkey pulling a heavy cart.

Eventually I submitted the story to some literary agents and publishers. Result: nice try, but no cigars; “At this time we are not seeking…”, etc.

About that time a friend mentioned that a colleague of his worked with authors on their manuscripts. I decided to give him a try. For six months I re-plotted, tightened, re-crafted, increased tension, heightened conflict, added and subtracted scenes (especially love scenes).

The waste basket bulged. The cost of paper went up. Trees died. I should have included the trees in my dedication.

The following June I attended the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America (WisRWA) conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin. During one of my pitch appointments, I announced the title of my romantic suspense story as “The Last Codex.”
The publisher gulped and raised her eyebrows. “The last Kotex?” she asked.
“Oh, no!” I blurted with a blush. “I guess I have to change that!”

My next pitch session was with Rhonda Penders, founder of a new, author-friendly publishing house. Switching to one of my other working titles, I gave my pitch. Like other agents and publishers had done in the past, she asked me to email her the first three chapters and a synopsis, and I did.

Three weeks later I was thrilled when Ms. Penders emailed me asking for the rest of the manuscript. Though other publishers had done the same in the past, I hoped this time could be THE time.

In late July I got an email request for the whole manuscript! As Sally Field said at the Oscars eons ago, “They liked me!”

Keeping a lid on my ecstatic effusion, I tinkered with the rest of the chapters and then shot the whole works to The Wild Rose Press. I assumed I wouldn’t hear anything for months.

In early September I got an email wondering why I hadn’t responded after they sent me a contract. Was I was still interested in publishing with them?

I replied in a panic. “Contract? OMG, I didn’t receive it!”

And the next day, there it was! A contract. Which I signed.

I had to decide on my pen name. I had to suggest ideas for a new title. I had to fill in details for the cover art. I had to get a web site going. I was expected to join the TWRP authors loop.

I needed blurbs and a bio. I needed a good head shot, something other than the cropped version of last year’s holiday card. Best of all, I had to tell every cousin, friend, neighbor, as well as all the strangers in the grocery store checkout line, that my novel, renamed Buried Heart, would be published!

What was the very best part of the process?

Holding my novel in my hands.
And seeing someone reading my novel on an airplane trip.
And signing my book for someone.
And hearing someone say: “Have you met Anne Stratton? She’s an author.”

P.S. I still don’t know exactly how long it took me to write that book, but I know how long it’s taken me to write this next one: eight months and counting.

A. Y. Stratton grew up in Glenview, Illinois, and in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. She graduated from Vassar College with a major in English Literature. As a child she had trouble sleeping, so she’d make up adventures starring herself as the heroine and imagined she’d write stories like those some day.

Inspired by her visits to Mayan dig sites, much of the action in Buried Heart, Stratton’s romantic suspense novel, takes place on a Mayan ruin in the Yucatan rain forest. She still makes up stories as she goes to sleep, but now she saves them in her computer.

Visit A.Y. at her website

Thursday, November 11, 2010

GUEST BLOG: DELANEY DIAMOND

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE


I stole this idea from Oprah Winfrey. On her website she lists things she knows for sure. The topics range from spirituality to relationships, and everything in between.

There you’ll find such statements as, “If you feel incomplete, you alone must fill yourself with love in all your empty, shattered spaces” and “Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction.” It’s all very deep, serious stuff.

She also has a list of top 20 things she knows for sure, which gave me an idea. I should create a list of things I know for sure. Except my list would be fun and lighthearted.

So here it is: Delaney Diamond’s top 20 list of Things I Know for Sure About Romance Novels.

1. It is absolutely within the realm of reality to find a husband who is a quadruple threat: tall, dark, rich, and handsome.

2. All the really hot foreign men are either sheiks, Latino, Sicilian, Greek, or Italian.

3. Regarding sexy men on American soil, there is a disproportionate number of them who are navy seals, firefighters, doctors, and cowboys.

4. Good girls finish first.

5. Bad boys finish first.

6. Opposites attract (see 4 and 5 above).

7. Men don’t mind sharing the women they love with their friends or family members in polyamorous relationships. Who knew there were so many open-minded hunks?

8. If a heroine gets pregnant by a billionaire hero, no matter how poor she is, she shouldn’t tell him about the baby. It’s the best way to ensure that when he does find out (and he will), he’ll get his “revenge” by forcing her to marry him, thereby giving her what she really wanted anyway.

9. Aliens from other planets are not little green men with large black eyes. They’re actually sexy cyborg-like creatures in human form with incredible sex drives.

10. Vampires are not scary; they’re sexy. Ditto for werewolves.

11. If the hero offers the heroine anything in exchange for sleeping with him, he is only doing so because he loves her and desires her. Instead of telling her that, he waits until near the end of the story—when he’s about to lose her.

12. There are thousands upon thousands of sheiks and European princes who need to get married to sire an heir.

13. If a man is devastatingly handsome, you can be certain he’s rich. And vice versa.

14. Race no longer matters. That’s clearly reflected in the growth of the subgenre of interracial romance, where race is seldom, if ever, an issue.

15. No matter what problems the hero and heroine experience in the novel, there will be a happy ending.

16. There is a surprising number of adult female virgins still in existence in the 21st century, despite statistics to the contrary.

17. When a man treats a heroine with cool indifference, he’s secretly in love with her and is trying to fight it.

18. The more difficult, independent, and headstrong the heroine, the more quickly the hero will fall in love with her.

19. The hero will fall in love with the heroine after a one night stand. And she will get pregnant. (refer to number 8 for how pregnancies are handled)
This next one doesn’t quite fit, but it was on Oprah’s top 20 list, it caught my eye, and so I decided to include it.

20. Find a way to get paid for doing what you love. Then every paycheck will be a bonus.

So, what things do you know for sure about romance novels that were not included on this list?

Delaney Diamond is a freelance writer and copyeditor living in Atlanta, GA. She is fortunate enough to get paid for doing what she loves (#20)—writing stories about love and passion. Her debut novel, The Arrangement, will be available November 12, 2010. It’s the story of a Brazilian millionaire (#1, #2, #13) whose African-American wife left him four months ago (#14). Now she’s in his office asking for a business loan to help her brother. He’ll give her the money, but only if she agrees to resume her role as his wife (#11). But when she finds out about his betrayal, there may be no way for them to mend their broken marriage.

Go to www.delaneydiamond.com to read an excerpt. Then get the book on November 12th to find out how they arrive at their happy ending (#15). See the video here:



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: C.L. KRAEMER

Not Another Dragon Book…

C. L. Kraemer

Wait! Wait! Wait! Before you scroll down to the next blog, hear me out.

I said the very same thing before my dragons took over my writing life. I like a good story with meaty characters and enough twists in the plot to keep me turning the pages until I’m done. My thought was, ‘What could I possibly do with dragons that hasn’t been done previously?’

A fair question. If Jane Yolen-- Pit Dragon Trilogy, Anne McCaffrey-- Dragonrider series and Mercedes Lackey-- The Griffon Series haven’t covered various mythical creatures with expertise, what could I offer they didn’t?

My own voice and those of my dragons. This series began life as a short story for an anthology, a take on Sleeping Beauty in reverse. My husband, who has issues with long books (he has ADD), was intrigued by the story and commented he thought it would make a terrific full-length book. Great! Just what I needed to add to the thirty-plus list of books I want to write.

But the story nagged at me and about 2007, I put my tukus in my office chair and began to write Dragons Among Us.

There were interruptions:  completing a mystery called Cats in the Cradle of Civilization, another mystery titled Healthy Homicide and a faerie story for an anthology called The Lending Library. But my dragons persisted. I set about to write a book that would set the stage for a trilogy—maybe. What eventually happened when the period was put on the last sentence of the last page was the base book for a series of dragon-themed stories, at last count--nine.

Dragons Among Us starts in the Northwest of the United States with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980. 

Fast forward to 2010: Aleda Sable is a grad student getting her master’s degree in journalism and paying bills by working at a local “ragsheet” newspaper in Portland, Oregon. She’s all set to take her yearly vacation to the mountains and combine camping with a little work by searching for Bigfoot, her particular specialty, when her editor drops a fuzzy photo on her desk showing the blown out Mt. St. Helens and a dark silhouette in the corner. He’s been convinced by a “source” that what he is seeing is a dragon.

Everyone knows dragons aren’t real but to keep her boss happy and get on her way, Aleda agrees to keep her eyes open for this particular species in the mountains. What ensues is a story of personal journey, archeological and biological discovery and, of course, love.

Dragons, shape shifters and humans all populate the pages of Dragons Among Us and each is trying to find a way to fit in the world and guarantee their continued survival on this third rock from the sun.

I’m currently finishing another faerie story titled Meadows of Gold for the second anthology and will be starting the second and third books in the dragon series with the hope of releasing another in June 2011. 

Dragons Among Us is available in ebook and Print on Demand from RoguePhoenixPress.com.

Healthy Homicide, The Lending Library and Meadows of Gold are also available from RoguePhoenixPress.com.

Cats in the Cradle of Civilization is available from Wingsepress.com.

C. L. Kraemer has been a gypsy all her life. From her military child beginnings to her might-not-get-this-chance-again attitude after she left home, she’s seen most of the continental United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. She hopes to travel the world but is content to stay close to her family in the Northwest in Oregon—for the moment.

For detailed information, visit her website for background on her books and to follow her travails in writing.

www.clkraemer1@gmail.com - for comments or questions

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

VBT: Problems on Eldora Prime by Sandy Lender


Click the banner for more stops on the tour and leave a comment for a chance to win a nifty dragon ornament.


We are pleased to bring you a special interview with Sandy Lender as part of her Problems on Eldora Prime Virtual Book Tour. Problems on Eldora Prime is Sandy's first YA book and she wrote it as part of the 2009 International 3-Day Novel Contest.

"I only had 72 hours to get the whole book written and edited. That meant I had to be ultra-efficient. The administrators of the competition encouraged having an outline, so I schmooshed one together before the weekend and found myself following it pretty closely. It helped on the last day as I neared the end of the manuscript. I don’t typically use an outline so it was a new experience for me, but a good experience. I recommend it."

Unlike a lot of authors, Sandy doesn't have any special process she goes through to start writing. And, especially for Problems on Eldora Prime, there wasn't time to do any special preparations.

"I set up a working area on the guest bed in my den with some alarm clocks, reference books, and the laptop. After I’d let myself have an hour nap, I’d jump back into writing—no process to it. My life overall is haphazard enough right now that my writing times are similar to that experience. Just jump in—no process to it."

In addition to her YA book, Sandy also has her Choices series from ArcheBooks Publishing. Of the three books in the series, she is most proud of the second book, Choices Meant for Kings.

"That book didn’t take very long to write, but it took total concentration and attention to the characters and what they were doing," she told me. "As a second book in a trilogy, it forced me to accomplish specific goals with characters. Certain people had to achieve certain goals. Everybody had to get to certain stages in their development and had to get 'physically' to certain places in the action to set up what happens in the third book, Choices Meant for All, which I’m finishing now."

Sandy told me that she has always wanted to be a writer.

"My great grandmother would share little stories I wrote about mice and squeaky spiders with the people in her apartment building when I was in grade school," she said. "My mother recently told a friend of mine that I wrote a story about beagles for my uncle when he was in the hospital when I was a child. For some reason, I still have a class newsletter from first grade where I have a one-sentence news story. In junior high, I wrote a sequel for To Kill a Mockingbird and won first place in the school’s competition with it. It’s definitely a passion l nurtured from a young age!"

For young writers, Sandy advises, "Practice writing often, but practice it with new techniques. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received, which could also be construed as one of the most damaging pieces of advice I ever received, was 'real writers write.' A workshop leader was telling those of us in the audience that if we didn’t sit down and write every single day, we weren’t real writers. It put an amazing amount of pressure on me! I mean, I have a day job in which I write and edit. I put in hours upon hours every week for marketing and promoting my books. The time in which I can sit down and write creatively for the fiction books is limited. Does that mean I’m not a writer anymore? Of course not.

"And just because a young writer has 2,700 homework assignments and 5 after-school 'ractices for 3 different activities competing with writing time this week doesn’t make that person 'no longer' a writer either. It just means that person will have to make time to write on the weekend or next week. But here’s where my advice comes in: Use that writing time as wisely as possible. Try something new. Participate in an online writing course with your writing time next week. Do a writing challenge from a writing group instead of your typical ideas from your mind. By stretching your writing muscles, you’re forcing yourself to grow as a writer, whether you get to do it every single day or not."

"If you weren't a writer, what would you be?" I asked.

"Severely depressed. Or a marine biologist. I work with a sea turtle conservation group called Turtle Time here in Florida, and the desire to learn more about conservation is stuck in me. If I wasn’t a magazine editor by day and a fiction writer by night, I’d be in college to get a marine biology degree so I could solve the crisis of fibropapilloma tumors in our sea turtle population."

Between her day job and her writing career, Sandy admits she doesn't have a lot of hours left for extra stuff. She has four companion parrots that demand her attention (and rule her home). You can see pictures of them on Sandy's Facebook page under the "I Have Birds" album.

"They’re adorable. The orange one, Petri, has his own Facebook page at “Petri the Parrot” and has been with me for 11 years. He’s sort of the flock leader—very smart. The lock broke on his cage (which I’m sure he had a role in) so he just lets himself in and out when he wishes now."

She also has a water turtle that's 22 years old, a pancake tortoise, and a gecko.

"I bought the gecko when I lived in this horrible apartment that had roaches," she said. "The lizard ran around and ate the roaches. Now we live in a much better place and I have to buy crickets for the lizard to eat."

Finally, I asked Sandy to tell us about Problems on Eldora Prime.

"Problems on Eldora Prime is a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There aren’t any magic-wielding wizards or things like that in it, but it has dragons in outer space. That was surprisingly easy to do and keep it realistic. The main character, Khiry, is a 17-year-old spaceship pilot who finds the dragons after her captain basically kidnaps the beasts and sneaks them onboard his ship. There’s more to how she finds them than that, but, to be brief, she finds them and has to figure out what to do with them while solving a couple other crises with the ship and stuff that’s happening.

"The story is non-stop action from start to finish. I tried to write in a few scenes of 'calm time' where the reader could kind of relax with the characters for a minute or two, but there’s too much danger and stress on Eldora Prime to sit around relaxing. The planet has an indigenous population that created zombies out of the people who landed there 20 years before, so both the original inhabitants and the bulk of the terraformers are 'bad news' for the crew of the spaceship. The good news is Khiry’s not alone. She obviously has to take on a leadership role—and fast!—but she’s got this totally gorgeous marksman from the ship named Kor who’s able to help her out without getting in her way. The sweet romance is understated in the book because this isn’t a romance novel. It’s a fast-paced sci-fi/fantasy adventure.



"Here’s the info from the back cover: When 17-year-old pilot Khiry Okerson crashes on Eldora Prime, alarms still ring in her ears. She might have solved one problem, but she courts more danger than she realizes when she liberates some unexpected hostages on a foreign planet. Will the dragons she releases become her allies? It’s more likely they’ll join the inhabitants of this unforgiving world to hunt terraformers and the Instigator’s dwindling crew. Khiry must find a way off this rock and into the United Society for Peace and Strength’s good graces. She’s got a capable marksman on her team in the handsome and renown Kor, but Khiry still wonders how her people can escape with a captain’s treason on her hands and a political leader’s sister in her care—care she can’t guarantee."

Readers will recognize Sandy Lender as the Choices series author and a leader of world-building, characterization, and revision workshops. Her degree in English and career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations, including blogging and spacecraft troll extermination.

Sandy is also a sea turtle conservationist and obsessive music fan. She got rid of an unnecessary husband and beat cancer a couple years ago so she now gives her pet parrots and fantasy characters free reign in her life. She has mastered dragon whispering and remains unaddicted but “strongly attracted” to all forms of chocolate.

http://www.authorsandylender.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ALLISON KNIGHT

SO, WHAT DID THEY EAT?
           
One of the joys, or problems, of writing historical romance is deciding how much detail you should include about the food your characters consume.  What did they eat?

The further back you go, the harder  the problem - with one exception. If you write historical romance dating long before the Christian era, and involving the Jewish peoples, you have some good indications.

Their religion prescribed what they could and could not eat. Pork was a perfect example. Pigs, and they did have them, were scavengers, eat scraps from the ground and carried disease. Nor could they eat milk products and meat from the same wooden bowls. Both products could spoil leaving bacteria behind, even though they knew nothing of bacteria.

But what about the foods of the medieval ages? Foods we think of as ordinary today were far from that to those people. For example, not until the 19th century did most people of even try the tomato. Then there's the humble potato. It came from South America. Yes, today it is a very important staple in our meals, but it wasn't until the 16th century people thought about trying it for food. There are other examples: pineapples and granulated sugar, even chocolate and tea.

So, what did they eat? With my "song" books, Heartsong and Battlesong, the stories take place during the late 13th century England, Scotland and Wales and I got to ask that question a lot.

We do have hints. For example, we have the tapestries left behind that depict elaborate meals for the titled folk. Just from a few of the recorded accounts from their 'bookkeepers', we find that they used or traded a variety of meats, flour, honey and cones of unrefined sugar, probably a coffee color. We know they hunted and the tables of the aristocrats and royals were full of game of all kinds. They also raised cattle, sheep and goats which they ate. They made bread, which again was a dirty color and often, because the flour was not strained or saved in sealed storage, it was full of dirt and bugs. Okay, time for a yuck!

Salt was a precious commodity which is where the expression 'below the salt' came from. The people of lesser rank were seated far from the cone of salt and therefore, didn't get to season their food the way the people above the salt did.

Yes, they did eat vegetables, and most are surprised to learn the medieval period was much warmer then than now. They had a much longer growing period then they did later. Remember, I'm talking 13th century here. However, a lot of the veggies we eat today were not available then. Corn, for example, and I've already mentioned potatoes and tomatoes.

When it came to drink, they made their own ale; they drank wine; they did not have coffee, tea, or chocolate until later. They used the milk they collected for cooking and cheese. And no, they didn't drink much water. It wasn't safe to drink. They didn't have the sanitation and purification systems we have today.

They used eggs, usually from game birds and their desserts were puddings, pies, and some cakes. Remember, sugar was a very costly ingredient, so it was used sparingly.

If you consider the wonderful foods we serve today, it's hard to imagine life in the middles ages. It's even harder to find references to those foods. If you read a book and a food fact is presented which doesn't quite seem to fit, don't be too harsh on the author. It's likely the author couldn't find the information to verify the prose. I still find little about what the serfs and freemen of the time ate. I have to guess.

So, as you sit down to enjoy your next holiday meal and look at the variety, you might want to pause for a moment to reflect on what your ancestors of years ago had to eat.

Award winning author, Allison Knight began her writing career like many other authors. She read a book she didn’t like and knew she could do a better job. She grabbed paper and typewriter (computers weren't available back then) and announced she was going to write a book. Her children hooted with laughter.

“Yeah, Mom, when cows fly,” her daughter declared.

She took classes, joined a critique group and RWA, and wrote, rewrote and wrote some more.

When her first book sold, she came home from her teaching job to find a stuffed toy cow rotating from the ceiling fan in the family room. It seemed  - “Cows did fly!”

Since that time, Allison has written and published seventeen romances with her latest  medieval romance released in August.  She has a Valentine novella coming out in February. Because she loves to share her knowledge and her love of romance novels she often blogs with other authors. She also loves to talk about the growing digital market.
You can find her at www.AllisonKnight.com or on her blog www.AllisonKnight.blogspot.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

GUEST BLOG: KATHY LANE


My new book, Bloodsworn: Bound by Magic, takes place partly in northern California, and partly on another world called Avalyr. A recent vacation, however, proved to me that you don’t have to leave Earth to find yourself in another world.

When People think of Las Vegas, Nevada, the first thing that pops into their mind is, of course, the fabled Strip. Crowds of people, millions of bright lights, and a cacophony of blings, tweets, beeps, and bells from the countless slot machines that are literally everywhere. But as impressive as the Luxor, Bellagio, and other casinos were, the Strip isn’t what impressed me most about Vegas. 

From the air, the area surrounding Las Vegas looks very alien. Whole sections of land resemble nothing so much as a giant’s misshapen footprint pressed into the ground. Mountains, valleys, deep cracks, wide canyons, and miles of grayish brown terrain as far as the eye can see. A world away from my home in central Florida in more ways than one. Of course, I’m sure someone who grew up surrounded by rocks, sand, and Joshua trees might think the same thing flying into the Orlando area with its lush greenery and numerous lakes. Everything is relative, right?

Everything is also not what it seems from 20,000 feet in the air. On the ground, I discovered my first impression of barren hills and lifeless terrain was completely wrong. The stark, hauntingly beautiful landscape teamed with wildlife and made me feel as if I truly were visiting another planet. Ridiculous? Maybe. But standing in the shadow of a towering mountain or walking through the gloom of a narrow slot canyon does wonders for a person’s belief in the impossible.

The heroine of Bound by Magic has her own problems believing in the unbelievable. Avera St. John is a research chemist who has lived in many different countries and experienced a wide variety of cultures. Still, moving from base to base with her Marine father never prepared her for moving to another planet.
Just like I found my first impression of the landscape surrounding Las Vegas was way off the mark, so Avera discovers her first impression of her new neighbor, Devlin Kel, falls far short of the real thing. She thinks he’s an executive in town on business, never dreaming that business is her. When she discovers he’s come to Earth to claim her for his own, she knows her safe little scientific world will never be the same.

Kidnapping Avera from her world is the last thing Devlin wants to do. He’d much rather woo his beautiful prophecy bride into accept him willingly. But when assassins show up on Earth to kill her, he knows he may not have a choice.

Read Bloodsworn: Bound by Magic, to find out what it takes for Devlin to convince his Starmate—the one woman in the universe born just for him—to exchange her world for his.

Available now in Print and Digital at: thewildrosepress.com, amazon.com, and barnes&noble.com

Kathy was born and raised in central Florida. She grew up running wild through orange groves and swamps, tagging along after her older brothers when possible or creating her own imaginary adventures. Writing fiction has always been a passion for her so it’s a mystery how she ended up working as an accountant.

When her two sons grew up and moved out, she filled her empty nest with a computer and began writing again. Bloodsworn: Bound by Magic is her third completed manuscript. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors. She is also a member of the Florida Writer’s Association and the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors.

Kathy still lives in Florida, riding herd on her three cats and getting frequent visits from her two sons, Joe and Jon.