Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! (Guest Bloggers Wanted)

Wishing you all a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2011. Thank you for following me on my blogging journey. Starting January 4, 2011, I'll be part of a group blog called Write Club. Tuesdays are my day to post. Stop by and check us out. :-)

I need guest bloggers for 2011. I have a few slots taken but the year is pretty much open. If you write dark genre, speculative fiction, let me know. This includes paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, paranormal (mainstream), steampunk, cyberpunk, fantasy, science fiction, etc. Yes, even erotica, as long as it's part of one of the genres/subgenres listed above.

Feel free to let other writers know about these guest blogging opportunities. (They can contact me at You can promote your book(s) and include a cover and excerpt. Also, if you have knowledge in an area such as writing POV, creating book trailers, establishing GMCs, you're more than welcome to post. I want this blog to be interactive. And this year proved to be successful in creating a community by and for writers. Let's keep the momentum going. :-)

I guess you're expecting me to talk about my writing goals for 2011. Don't worry. I've already touched upon them in another post. :-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Rayne Hall

“Keep Out - Danger!”
Creating Suspense

Suspense is a feeling - the feeling of excitement, of tension, of fear, the feeling of needing to know what happens next. As writers, we aim to create suspense, because our readers love it.

Here's a quick trick for increasing the suspense:  Let your protagonist walk through a doorway on her way to danger. 

Film makers use this technique frequently. Next time you watch a thriller, cop drama or horror movie, observe how the camera lingers on the door before the hero enters.  Subconsciously, the viewer perceives the door as a barrier: if the protagonist crosses it, she is entering a danger zone. The viewer screams inwardly 'Don't open that door!'. Of course, the protagonist opens it and enters. By now, the viewer is sitting on the edge of her chair, frightened on the hero's behalf, needing to find out what happens next.

You can use the same trick in your writing: Put a door between your protagonist and the danger, and linger for a moment before she or he enters. Any kind of door serves: a front door, a garden gate, a gatehouse, a trap door, a stile, a cave mouth, even  a gap in a hedge. This works whether your  heroine is  a police officer on her way to confront a serial killer, or a governess tempted to explore the mansion cellar's secrets, whether your hero accidentally stumbles into a werewolves' lair or whether he gets dragged into the torture dungeon.

Slow the story's pace for a moment and linger at the door.  Describe the door: Is dark oak, grimy glass, gleaming steel, or splintering hardwood with peeling paint?  Are there any 'Danger' clues, such as knife marks, smashed glass, ominous stains, thorny plants, perhaps even a sign 'Visitors Unwelcome' or 'Keep Out' nailed to the centre?

Describe the sound of the doorbell, or the weight of the keys in her hand. Finally, describe how the door opens: Does it creak open or screech open? Does it rattle or whisper? Does it whine inwards on its hinges?

By the time your protagonist steps through the door, the reader's  suspense is turned to high volume, intensely anticipating what happens next.

If you want to increase the suspense further still, describe the sound of the door as it closes behind her. For example:  'The door snapped shut. ' 'Behind her, the door groaned shut.' 'The door thudded closed.' 'The door clanked into its lock. '

This suggests to the reader that the protagonist has just walked into a trap, and that her escape route is blocked.

By making your protagonist walk through a door, you can add a lot of suspense to your scene with just a few words.  Try it out, and enjoy.

Hall writes dark fantasy and horror. She has published more than twenty books under different pen names in different genres, and her stories have earned Honorable Mentions in 'The Years' Best Fantasy and Horror'.  She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. She has worked as a museum guide, belly dancer, trade fair hostess, care home administrator, apple picker, development aid worker, magazine editor, publishing manager and investigative journalist.  After living in Germany, China, Mongolia, and Nepal, she has settled in a dilapidated English seaside town of former Regency grandeur. She teaches online courses: 'Writing Fight Scenes', and 'Writing about Magic and Magicians' and - her favourite - 'Scenes of Spine-Tingling Suspense and Gut-Chilling Fear'. 
For courses already scheduled for 2011, see

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Open Topic Thursday: Revising Resolutions & a Publishing Opportunity

On November 18, I blogged about reevaluating my writing goals. I mentioned the reason I wasn't seeking an agent was because I hadn't written anything of suitable length (75k to 100k).

I may have to eat my words.

This coming March, Angry Robot is opening its doors to unsolicited novel-length manuscripts. They're looking for science fiction, horror, fantasy (including urban) and the various sub-genres contained therein. And I'm thinking of submitting my current WIP, a horror/urban fantasy/paranormal, if I can get it polished in time. This is a great incentive because I don't want to wait until the last minute.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 6: Excerpt

Hi and welcome to Day 6 of my mini blog tour. :-) Today I'm posting an excerpt from my upcoming short novel, Death Sword. Enjoy! You can learn more about Death Sword here as well as read another excerpt. 
“Wait outside, human,” Samael ordered.

The door swung open. Karla looked at Xariel for confirmation. He nodded. She shrugged and left, muttering expletives loud enough for them to hear.

The door locked again. Xariel tensed. Samael moved toward him, a predatory look in his eyes. Xariel shrank back and Samael huffed in disapproval.

“Not pleased to see an old friend?”

“I wouldn’t say we’re friends,” Xariel retorted.

Samael smiled, tracing a finger up Xariel’s suit jacket sleeve. The latter trembled. “Maybe not. Still, why bring human filth here? A human as an angel of death?” Samael sneered. “Don’t tell me Metatron’s become senile.”


“What do you think?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve my orders.”

“Why not have her work with Gabriel?” Samael’s finger caressed Xariel’s nape, his touch icy.

Xariel shivered.

Samael’s smile turned into a smirk. “I forgot. You’re not on good terms with him, are you?”

Xariel glared. “You made sure of that.”

“It’s better this way.” His palm cupped Xariel’s cheek. “We could go back to those days. Remember? You were happy. Don’t deny it.”

Xariel shook his head.

“Do you think it’s over? Or have you already fallen in love with her?”

“Of course not!” Xariel’s voice choked. “We just met.” He liked Karla, but if Samael even assumed he was interested in her, his boss would see an opportunity to cause trouble. Xariel’s skin crawled as he remembered what had happened to the other women in his life.

“Then she won’t mind this, will she?” Samael caught Xariel’s wrist, pulling him into a deep kiss. One arm snaked around Xariel’s waist, holding him fast. Xariel’s eyes widened as Samael’s tongue invaded his mouth, breath hot and smelling of cinnamon mints.

Samael broke the kiss first. He spat at the floor, face twisted in disgust. “I can taste them.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and scowled. “You still choose humans over me.”

“You shouldn’t be surprised.” Xariel’s knees gave way. He gripped the edge of Samael’s desk to steady himself. “I told you we’re through.”

Samael didn’t answer. Instead, he walked to a vertical black-lacquered cabinet mounted on the wall behind his desk. Xariel swallowed as he watched Samael remove a rapier, the basket-hilted handle intricately carved with ancient scrollwork. His eyes fixed on the dark yellow substance coating the blade tip. Venom. One drop would kill a human. Even angels weren’t immune.

The sword glinted beneath the lights and Xariel thought he saw, for a brief second, Samael’s eyes blaze red and his hair fan about his face in a fiery halo. Xariel choked back a gag reflex when tiny eyes popped up over Samael’s skin and the chief of satan’s mouth twisted in a cruel grin, revealing sharp incisors.

Xariel closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened them, the illusion was gone and only Samael’s smile remained, minus the vampire impression.

“Perhaps I should make the human your partner.” Samael stroked the blade, running his tongue between his lips as he watched Xariel’s reaction. “After all, you seem to prefer their company.”

Xariel winced at the inference.

“However, if you think I’m giving you up, you’re mistaken.” Samael lowered the sword to his side. “Dismissed.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 5: Talking About Louisville

Sorry for the hiatus. Today I'm talking about why I set Death Sword in Louisville and why people leave this city yet often return.

I moved to Louisville after graduating from college. Small-town girl meets big city. After a short stay, I left for Nevada before returning to Wisconsin. But Louisville called me back. It was a siren call  I couldn't resist.

So when I decided to write Death Sword (and the Angels of Death series) I knew I wanted it to take place in Louisville. Why? Because I love this city. It's home and I want to share it with my readers. 

Two of my favorite areas (and I know I've mentioned this before) are Old Louisville and the Highlands. Xariel lives on St. James Court, famous for the St. James Court Art Show. This court is part of Old Louisville, a neighborhood of Victorian, Italianate, and Romanesque manors. Across from St. James Court is Central Park Every summer Shakespeare in Central Park gives free performances in the Ampitheatre. Old Louisville is also home to cobblestone walks and stone lions guarding houses.

The Highlands is a mix of independent businesses and national chains as well as residential homes. When she first meets Xariel, Karla lives in an apartment in a converted Victorian. Walking along Bardstown Road is one of my favorite pastimes. There are several independent businesses, many part of the Louisville Business Alliance whose motto is "Keep Louisville Weird." Here there are bookstores, coffee shops, galleries, restaurants, and  shops catering to the diverse interests of the locals.

I mentioned how people leave Louisville only to return. I know at least five people this has happened to. What lures us back? Perhaps it's because Louisville offers so many amenities and yet is also manageable, a city with a friendly vibe. It's not a perfect city although the same can be said for any metropolis. But it's home.

As I continue to write stories, I hope to share more of Louisville and its eclectic offerings. Meantime, please feel free to browse my Flickr account and take a look around.
Victorian and Italianate Architecture 
Louisville, Kentucky
Eastern Cemetery

What U.S. cities do you enjoy reading about? For me, other cities include New Orleans, New York, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Death Sword: The Evolution of Samael's Character

This post is in reply to Rayne's comment (December 8, 2010). At first I was going to answer with a comment of my own, but decided a post would be more appropriate.

Rayne asks: "I'm fascinated by a minor character growing into a major antagonist. How did this come about, and at which stage? How did Samael take over as antagonist? Did he do this gradually, by sneakily manipulating the author, or with a quick forceful coup?"

Knowing Samael's techniques, it was sneaky manipulation. LOL Seriously, though, Samael kept insisting I give him his own story. As the series developed and I continued my research, I realized his role was much bigger than I first thought. And it wasn't just about angels of death fighting against one of their own, it was about angels fighting against their oppressors.

The idea to make Samael the antagonist came about when I realized Xariel's role as an anti-hero wasn't working. I couldn't justify his actions and have the heroine, Karla Black, admire him for what he'd done. A murderous angel of death had better have a damn good reason for what he does if the audience is going to empathize with him. And in the first draft, that wasn't happening.

Since Samael is the one who wields the venomous rapier, I decided to have him retain it. But what motive would he have for killing humans and angels? And that's when I got the idea of having him become obsessed with getting his ex-lover Xariel back and threatening to kill when Xariel refuses to return. (Xariel's sex curse doesn't help, either.)

However, Samael's role has continued to grow throughout the second and third books and the position of the antagonist has shifted from him to the Seraphim. The pitch for the Angels of Death series: "What if the Seraphim, the highest ranking archangels, viewing love as the ultimate weakness, decide they are superior to God and create a world of intolerance and fear?"

According to some, Samael's name was originally Lucifer, the greatest archangel and Seraphim before the Fall. And this inspired me to play around with the idea of what if the Seraphim, fearful of Samael's return, order him destroyed but the angels of death rebel against them?

Samael is also an angel of death as well as chief of satans. According to Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels, "Metatron is indeed the supreme angel of death, to whom God daily gives orders as to the souls to be 'taken' that day. These orders Metatron transmits to his subordinates Gabriel and Sammael." (Xariel formerly worked under Gabriel before being reassigned to Samael.)

So Samael moves from being antagonist to the role of inciting character. Antihero? Perhaps. But that's for another book.

My apologies for the long post. Also please remember this is a work of fiction and one of many ways this story can be told.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 3: Trivia

Hello everyone and welcome to Day 3 of my mini blog tour. Today I'm sharing trivia about Death Sword. The first draft was written in 2008 for NaNoWriMo and over 90% of the book was rewritten in subsequent drafts. Which only proves that no matter how happy you are with your initial draft, there's probably room for improvement. :-)

1. Death Sword was originally written in 1st person POV.

2. Karla's name was originally Kyra.

3. Samael wasn't the antagonist. Instead, he was a minor character.

4. Sariel was the antagonist, an archangel of death who stole Samael's poisonous rapier and killed angels and humans with it.

5. Sariel's name was changed to Xariel because of the possible confusion between Samael and Sariel.

6. Samael and Xariel weren't lovers nor was Samael Xariel's boss.

7. Xariel wasn't afflicted with the sex curses.

8. Gabriel was a computer hacker.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 2

Today's the second day of my mini blog "tour" which continues throughout the month of December. For those who don't know, this is to celebrate the upcoming release of Death Sword, my first book, on January 3, 2011 from Lyrical Press.

For this segment, I'm happy to announce my website is finally live. I'm also working on a Death Sword/Angels of Death mini site which I hope to have up in the next few days.

The cover for Death Sword is up for "Best of the Best Clash of the Covers 2010" at Embrace the Shadows. I would appreciate your vote. :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

NaNo Update and a Blog "Tour"

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. I spent November participating in that little writing frenzy known as National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. While I passed the 50k mark on my project, The Devil Inside, I haven't quite finished it. It's the third book in my Angels of Death series.

The blurb: Karla Black has settled comfortably into her role as an angel of death. But old wounds reopen when her mother tries to commit suicide. Determined to stop her, Karla is interrupted by Azazel, who reveals her mother and he are not her true parents. With this new information, along with her crumbling relationship with Xariel, Karla discovers her past is still filled with secrets, one that may change her life forever.

 Yes, I know, it needs work. :-) I also put up a mock cover. Trust me, no cover artists are in danger of losing their jobs.

Anyway, I spent most of 2010 writing stories. This month I plan to finish two short novels and start the revision process. If I'm successful I will have completed five short novels and one novella. Of course the plot bunnies are vying for my attention with ideas for short stories of the macabre. I've accepted that I'm probably a dark genre writer and that's okay. But I also enjoy writing contemporary M/M romances. Oh, well, blame it on my Gemini nature. :-)

This January 3, 2011 also sees the release of my first book, Death Sword, from Lyrical Press. You can learn more about it here and read an excerpt. To celebrate its release, I'm holding my own "Blog Tour." Death Sword is set in Louisville, Kentucky and, throughout this month, I'll be sharing information about my book as well as introducing readers to the various locations here in Louisville and why I've decided to set my stories in Derby City.

Hope you enjoy the ride!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Open Topic Thursday: Reevaluating Writing Goals

2010 is almost over and it's time to reevaluate my writing goals. Needless to say, I won't meet them all. I guess I could call some of them "stretch goals,"  a term I picked up reading Dilbert (Scott Adams).

Many of these objectives will carry over into 2011. Much of the decision is based on where I am now as a writer and where I want to be in a year or so. (Longer term goals are another story.)

One thing I know is I'm not actively looking for an agent. Does this mean I'll never try to obtain one? Of course not. My current reasoning is I haven't written anything that would fall into an agent's required word count (approximately 75k to 100k, give or take).

While I work toward that goal, I'll continue to write short novels and novellas. With more e-book publishers taking submissions in various genres and small presses filling the niche markets, there are opportunities to publish manuscripts that might otherwise be overlooked by the traditional NY publishing houses. (I'm on the proverbial fence about self-publishing.)

Are there flaws with this plan? Of course. Will it take time to implement? Definitely. I won't lie and say I don't want to make money from my writing, but I'm not about to fall victim to scams if I can help it. And there's nothing wrong with being published by the small presses.

Not that my track record is anything to brag about. Not yet anyway. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Lex Valentine

For a woman who writes mostly erotic paranormal romance this has been a week of contemporary releases for me, one from MLR Press on DADT and another from Ellora’s Cave. The heroes of my story Afterburner in MLR’s Honorable Silence are strong men, Alphas, daredevils even since both were acrobatic pilots as well as test pilots. The hero of Rock My World from Ellora’s Cave is a strong man as well despite the fact that he’s younger than the heroine.  The fact is I pretty much write only strong heroes. They may be flawed and they may stumble, but they are strong and in the end they always do what’s right.

My paranormal world the Five Dark Realms is really several intertwined worlds. Mostly, I’ve confined myself to the biggest of the realms, the Darkworld. My series Tales of the Darkworld is set in this realm, but I do have a few other books and shorts not in the series and all of them are set in the same world. But coming in the next few months, I begin bringing those other four realms to my readers, bit by bit. The first step in that direction is a short, dark tale called In the Light.

In a break from my normal Darkworld publisher, Pink Petal Books, and with that publisher’s permission, In the Light will be in an anthology from Dreamspinner Press featuring works by the friends of author Patric Michael who has cancer. Wishing on a Blue Star is filled with stories inspired by or written for Patric. In the Light has its basis in a conversation I had with Patric about doing what is right. It is neither a romance, nor erotic, but instead is a tale with dark overtones that should make you want to hug your friends.

This short story features my usually upbeat, horny werewolf Weylyn Randall.  On a timeline, this story takes place before Weylyn’s appearance in Common Ground, Tales of the Darkworld Book 5 and before his short story The Were & the Chair at Pink Chair Diaries. Weylyn receives a call from friend who asks that Wey join him at a bar called In the Light. The bar is in the Shadoworld, a realm inhabited by Fallen Angels and one of the Five Dark Realms.

Without giving away the story, I will tell you that Weylyn receives a fierce reminder from his friend Grant that strong men always do what is right even when the cost to themselves is high. Their consciences just won’t allow them to turn the other cheek or walk on by. Weylyn and Grant are pretty typical of my heroes in this instance with the notable exception of Vahid Delrey from my EPIC Award finalist Ride the Lightning, Tales of the Darkworld Book 4.

Black dragon Vahid spurns his fated mate Emily for several years causing her much pain. He hooks up with his boss’s sister even. His beginnings are not very noble in this series. But in the end, Vahid mans up and does what’s right and even makes up for his bad behavior.  In Sunstroked, Tales of the Darkworld Book 6, the most current Tales release, werewolf Seth Dylan does something very wrong and hurts his lover Corey.  It takes him some time, but Seth does apologize and the two men get back together. Seth was bad, but his reasons for doing wrong are understandable while Vahid’s just a butthead.

My Alphas all have a bit of arrogance in them, but they also know how to be humble. Well, they do at some point anyway! They may have to learn some lessons first though. I don’t have any qualms making my heroes grovel a little on the pathway to doing what’s right. I’m going to leave you with a taste of Vahid and Emily in Ride the Lightning, so you can see for yourself that even my asshole heroes do eventually get it right!

Blurb: Red dragon Emily Carrington found her mate in black dragon Vahid Delrey, but misunderstandings, painful secrets, and distrust keep them apart. Emily thinks Vahid doesn’t want her. Vahid thinks Emily is a stuck up snob who could never truly love him. Both dragons hide crippling secrets from their pasts as their pain at being apart escalates. Emily falls for the strong, sexy black dragon and hides her need of him behind an icy facade. Vahid longs for Emily to need him but can’t bring himself to mate with such a cold woman. When Emily’s secret pain fetish threatens her life, Vahid must decide whether to save her or let her self-destructive ways rid him of the mate he never thought he’d love.

Warning this book contains one asshole hero, one cold as ice heroine, mating in shifted form in a haystack, a suicide attempt, spanking, anal play, BDSM and it’s all needed to create a very happy ending.

He rolled to his side and pulled her into his arms, holding her close so he could nuzzle her temple. He’d made love to her, showing her how patient and thoughtful he could be, putting her pleasure before his own, cherishing her. Watching her explode twice had filled him with a satisfaction he’d never experienced before. He clearly remembered her saying that orgasms had been forced from her body in the past and that her body had been a vessel for the pleasure of others, not her own pleasure. He’d thought it odd at the time, but had forgotten it in the emotional overdose of that day. Now, he wondered just exactly what she’d meant by that remark.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a man, Em? he asked cautiously.
She stirred against him, a little shiver going through her. He reached down and pulled the coverlet over them.
Of course, I have. Dave is my best friend.
He sensed that she had begun to block some of her thoughts from him. That worried him. She could be so damned self-contained sometimes that he couldn’t get a bead on her. He needed her to be as open as possible. When he had to guess what she thought and felt, he screwed things up royally. And the gods knew there was no more room for screw ups where Emily Carrington was concerned.
Not friendships. Sexual relationships, he clarified.
She shifted again and her discomfort with the question gave him the answer long before she did.
Yes. You know I was Guerlain’s slave.  She rolled her shoulders and although he couldn’t see it at the moment, he remembered exactly what the tattoo with Guerlain’s eye looked like.
Not a Dominant/submissive relationship either. An intimate relationship - emotional, sexual, boyfriend/girlfriend kind of stuff, he explained patiently. He knew what her answer would be. He felt it in his bones. However, he needed to hear it from her own lips, or brain in this case, since they were sharing thoughts.
Not really.
Her insecurity swept over him and he instantly wanted to right all the wrongs that had been done to her in her lifetime.
Does that matter?
Worried golden eyes looked up at him, traces of fear lurking in their depths. Vahid kissed her leisurely, soft kisses without tongue, sweet kisses of love and temptation.
It matters in the sense that this is all new for you. You have no experience with intimacy, do you?
“No.” Her single word answer held more fear than her eyes did and Vahid’s heart ached for her. 
“Emily, you are my mate. The relationship I hope to have with you will be made up of many things. Yes, I’d like to be your master, but the Dominant/submissive part of our relationship can be worked out later,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “First, we need to learn to be lovers and mates. We need to learn how to be a couple. The time off Sean gave us will help us build our relationship. Trust is important and so is the truth.”
Emily sighed and rubbed her face against his chest. “I understand, but it’s new for me, and I’m afraid.”
He kissed her mouth again, loving how she tasted, loving the freedom to caress her and express his feelings for her. “Just don’t shut me out, Em. We can’t make it work if we shut each other out,” he said softly. “We have to talk about everything.”
“Okay. I’ll try. It’s hard though. I do love you, but my thoughts and emotions have been locked inside me my entire life. I don’t know how to let them out. And the pain of the last three years didn’t help,” she whispered in a forlorn voice.
“We’ll do this together, Em. I promise you we can get through this and build a life together. You just have to promise me to always try and never give up.”
He looked into her eyes and saw the fear begin to dissipate. A tentative smile curved her pink lips and love turned him into a besotted fool who thought he gazed upon the most beautiful girl in the world.
“I’m not,” she protested in a whisper.
He smiled at her, loving how unaffected she was beneath the icy exterior that she wore like armor. “You are to me.” He smoothed his hands over her back and down to cup her firm buttocks. “Gods, I love touching you. All these years you’ve looked so untouchable, so unapproachable. I can’t believe how wrong I was about you, but I am so very glad I was.”
“I wasn’t untouchable in the gazebo or against the wall,” she reminded him with a faint blush.
His heart began to thud heavily in his chest at the memory and his dragon rose from its sated stupor. “No, you weren’t. I would never have imagined such a naughty, feminine woman lay behind that executive armor of yours,” he said with a teasing chuckle. “Pink thongs, pink toenails… You know, they matched the pink of your…”
Emily clapped a hand over his mouth stopping his words. He grinned behind her fingers. Her face flamed, and he loved it. He pulled her hand down. “Let me up, I need to finish making breakfast. You need to eat something,” he told her, using his most commanding tone. “You’re way too thin. You must have weighed twenty pounds more at the lodge and I’m determined you’ll gain it back in the next two weeks.”
Vahid sat up and stared down at her. Lying flat on her back in the center of the white bed, her pale hair spilling across the pillows, her cheeks and nipples bright pink, she looked like a queen. A rather lusty and seductive queen.  He thought about forgetting breakfast again.
She made a face at him. “You have the craziest thoughts,” she protested. “You act like I’m some movie star or something. I’m not that attractive.”
“Maybe you are to me.” 

If you’re interested in my worlds, you can check out or You’ll find all of my books with excerpts, review information and more on my official author website at

Many thanks to Pam for having me on her blog today!  Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Lex Valentine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today is the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Even though I didn't know any of the crew, the fate that befell the 29 men never fails to move me. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: L. K. Below

World Building
by L. K. Below

When planning that science fiction or fantasy story, every author has to take some form of world-building into account. Fantasy is the portrayal of the surreal, after all. Even when the story in question isn’t set in a high fantasy or science fiction world separate from Earth, the writer has to ask herself (or himself!) -- how does this work?

For science fiction, the answer often comes from science, or in some cases, by extrapolating known theorems. But fantasy can be written in a number of ways. It can come from the author’s imagination; it can be extrapolated from known science or pseudo-science -- or it can be a combination.

In my paranormal romance short story His Familiar Touch, Rikkita Martinez is a werecougar. When deciding her (and her family’s) behavior, I thought to myself: How would a cougar act? And thus, my complex community of werecougars sprouted. Rikki doesn’t often express emotion because she assumes the other party can smell them on her. Not to mention that even though she sees herself as handicapped, unable to shift, she disdains common humans for their narrow-mindedness in refusing to believe that her species exists -- let alone that they live alongside them in San Jose. Having never known her father, same as all werecougars, she approaches Derek with the same mate-and-bail attitude and is baffled when he suggests something more lasting.

All that, I created from a simple question to myself, one that multiplied, springing more questions and more research to be done. Thanks to those questions, it was selected to be one of ten stories included in Paramourtal.

L. K. Below writes romance and speculative fiction. Under her full name, Lindsay Below, she publishes young adult fiction. Visit her at

Want to win a signed copy of Paramourtal? Comment here or on any other of L. K. Below’s blog stops for the His Familiar Touch tour. Contest closes November 15th. Itinerary and winner announced at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Open Topic Thursday: Don't Submit That NaNo Novel Yet

Today is day four of that annual phenomena known as National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I'm off to a late start, having only clocked in 3000 words so far. Not too worried, though. My chapter-by-chapter outline is ready and I can write out of sequence if necessary. It's not my typical modus operandi but sometimes the right side of the brain needs to be jolted out of its complacency from time to time.

NaNo has its supporters and its detractors. I read tweets from agents, editors, and publishers who act as if there will be a deluge of NaNo manuscripts flooding their in boxes on December 1. To them, it seems as if all NaNo novels are bad. Well they are. Because they're first drafts. And first drafts suck. Mine did. You'd be surprised if you saw the initial draft of Death Sword and the most recent one. (Death Sword was my 2008 NaNo project.)

I'm sure there are eager writers who will submit their novels too soon to beleaguered editors, agents, and publishers. If you're one of these writers (and I know you're not), or if you know someone who is, please tell them not to do this. Encourage them to revise their work and have it critiqued before submitting it. They may not like the idea of being told their baby has big ears, as a friend of mine says, but if they want to be published writers they need to acquire thick skins.

Editors, publishers, and agents have a difficult and often thankless job which is compounded by people who think they don't need to edit their manuscripts. Why make it difficult for the people who can help you become a better writer and hopefully help you sell your book? In this business we need all the allies we can get.

So get out there and write. Then revise, revise, revise and make us and yourself proud of your story.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Keena Kincaid

Author: Creator of Worlds, Designer of Destinies

Being an author is a heady, addictive experience.  When we sit down at our keyboard, we are able to build our own world, people it as we see fit, and decide the natural rules for this world. We can have magic, shifters, monsters, or nothing extraordinary.

And though world building is most often associated with paranormal and science fiction writers, every writer is a supreme being when she sits down to tell a story.

But we’re not omnipotent. If we want to woo and keep readers, we need to create and live by the rules of our world. Readers need to know and understand the rules early in the book so they can sit back and enjoy the tale, and our characters need to act and react logically within the covers of the book because few things annoy a reader more or faster than an author who breaks the rules of her own world.

I understand the temptation. Sometimes you’ve written yourself into a corner, and the only option that presents itself is to break the rules, but that’s cheating, and it could leave your readers dissatisfied.

For example, in my historical paranormal series about Druids one of the “rules” is magic comes at a cost. Sometimes the cost is relatively mild, a headache. Other times the price is steeper, such as knowing someone you love is going to die and being unable to stop it.

In ENTHRALLED, the third book in the series, my heroine, Ami, possesses the ability to “see” emotions as if they are auras. Everywhere she looks, the world is a tapestry of tangled color and passion. The downside of this gift is there’s no social cushion between her and everyone else. It’s hard for her to believe a smile when she sees the hidden anger behind it.

To create believable worlds, authors need to:
·         Identify the boundaries.  Readers need to know what to expect and what not to expect whether it’s just the unspoken rules of a small town with a big secret in a straight contemporary or a magic drenched world with almost anything is possible.
·         Use the rules to separate the heroes from the villains. Even in worlds where magic is possible, there must be rules for use. It’s only polite. Heroes don’t always follow the rules, but they always have a good reason for breaking them. Villains break them because they can.
·         Develop the yin-yang of their world. Perfection is boring and unrealistic. For example, if your world is one where magic is possible, the “good” and “bad” of that magic must equal out. In other words, the more powerful your character, the greater the risk and potential for destruction. The Force and its Dark Side are good examples of this principle at work.

As a reader, have you ever run across an author who breaks the rules of her own world? Did that change your opinion of the book?

To claim her, he must abandon home, duty, and honor—or reveal the secret of her Sidhe heritage and risk losing her forever to dark magic…

William of Ravenglas wants only one woman—his foster sister, Ami—but she is promised to another, a fate sealed by his father’s recklessness. Resolved to her forfeiture, he forges a dangerous path to bring stability to the house of Ravenglas, balancing the secret demands of the queen against loyalty to the king.

Ami, true sister to Aedan ap Owen the minstrel, refuses her fate. She wants William. But when his kiss awakens her dormant magic, it triggers cascading events that sweep her into the queen’s fiendish web and threaten William's life.

Now Ami must learn to control her fey powers or watch William die. But with a mystery lover in his past, even if she succeeds will he truly be hers?


She looked up. His eyes were heavy and dark and filled with a need that sent woozy warmth through her. She could see it in his expression, feel it in the way her heart pounded when he looked at her. He wanted her. Flames licked the back of her thighs, the skin behind her ears. She grazed her fingertips across his chest, trying to figure out how she could force a man almost twice her size to kiss her again.

She flattened her hand against his chest until she felt the distant, fast thud of his heart. Maybe this would be easier than it should be. In a swift move, she rose on her toes and brushed her mouth against his. He pushed her back, then grabbed her arms, as if to keep her away.

“I am at the edge, Ami.”

Something akin to pain blunted his voice, as if the words were forced to cut themselves free of his tongue. His eyes, though, were dark, the pupils so large only a pale ring of blue remained, and his breath came in short, shallow bursts. A brilliant purple rose between them, over them, filling her senses with the heady perfume of thyme blossoms.

His eyes turned the deep hue of bruised violets. His will wavered, then shattered.

She stilled, suddenly terrified of the thrum and churn in her blood. Her body felt insubstantial yet so heavy her knees threatened to buckle. Slowly, as if giving her time to run, he stepped her backward. Her shoulders grazed the wall, then pressed against it as he pushed closer. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t slow the frantic pounding of her heart, the desperate urge to arch her spine, to press her body against his.

“Do not move.” His whisper brushed over her cheek, his breath sweetly scented by wine. Unable to ignore the command, her nerves sizzled as he closed the distance between them. His lips brushed hers, once. Twice. Then he plundered her mouth.

Reviews for ENTHRALLED:
Kincaid does a wonderful job in the way she twists the plot of this book and how you interpret one thing and then all of sudden what you thought was going to happen doesn't and something else comes up. Wonderful job, this book just keeps you guessing on what will happen next. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys reading historical/paranormal/suspense all in one. — Happily Ever After Reviews

If you can’t journey through the ruins of a misty castle, or time travel back into medieval times, but want to intimately know the magic of it all, then Keena’s books are for you. — Novels Alive TV

About the author
Keena Kincaid is the author of four romance novels set in 12th century England. Her books are available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online as well as anywhere ebooks are sold. You can fan or friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Typos and All.  To buy a copy: