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: