Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Power of an Idea


Part of the reason why I love writing fantasy is because I like to create new realms. But I’ve noticed that once you start creating realms, the ideas keep coming even if you’re already engaged in another world. Four years ago if I had one idea I considered it gold. But now, it seems like I’m constantly thinking and rejecting the foundations of new realms, even if I’m in the middle of edits for a contracted book.

I started to realize I need some advice. What makes you embrace an idea and what makes you set one aside? Is it a character talking in your ear? Is it the idea itself, which might be different than some of the current trends? Or something else I’m missing?

Most recently, one new realm I thought of won’t leave me alone, but the idea doesn’t seem quite bright enough to pursue and spend the amount of time it takes to write 85,000-100,000 words. Not to mention the energy it takes to turn that idea into a series.

I’m also wondering if you have a limit to how many series you can work on. I think my limit is two. But I wish the other ideas would calm down why I focus in. Do you have any tricks?

I’d love to hear from you! And have an excellent February 29th.

Kinley Baker
@kinleybaker

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finvarra and Oonagh, High King and Queen of the Sidhe

"The king of the Sidhe will not let you go,
if you follow the music that round you flows...
...and enter the mound of the fairies."

-- Coyote Run

I write Scottish inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Sometimes I borrow from Irish folklore, justified by the migration and cultural interchange between Scotland and Ireland.

The word for the fae in Scottish Gaelic is Sithichean, in Irish Gaelic, Sidhe.

As legends are told, once upon a time the Tuatha De Danann resided in Ireland. These kings and queens and heroes of the past were thought to derive from pre-Christian deities. A magical race known as the Milesians defeated the Tuatha De Danann and drove them out of Ireland. Though some of the Tuatha stayed, and taking up residence in hollows beneath hillocks became known as the Daoine Sidhe.

Finvarra is the High King of the Daoine Sidhe. Some also believe him the King of the Dead. He is known as a benevolent monarch, ensuring plentiful harvests, horses of great strength, and riches to those he favors. Finvarra's fighting skills are legendary and he is a master at chess.

I recognize him as the womanizer of his race. He is notorious for his lust of mortal females, which he often kidnaps and whisks away to his subterranean palace. Which is so wrong. His queen, Oonagh, is reported to be beautiful beyond measure.

Oonagh appears as a secondary character in my un-contracted Garden Gate series. Centuries after banishing a halfling faerie princess—fearing the lass would attract Finvarra's attention—a fae prince convinces Oonagh to challenge the princess into making three unlikely matches. If the princess succeeds in joining the three couples, the queen will permit her, once again, to frolic in Tir-na-nog, land of 'hearts desire'.

You can read excerpts from the Garden Gate series at DawnMarieHamilton.com





Tweet me at @DawnM_Hamilton


Monday, February 27, 2012

Passion and Prose

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of riding up to Long Beach from San Diego with my friend and fellow Castles and Guns blogger, Lisa Kessler, to attend the first annual Passion & Prose event! Along with readers, there were more than fifty authors in attendance from every genre of romantic fiction. We had a blast!

Passion & Prose was designed to bring authors and readers together for a special one day event, and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. The speakers were funny and informative and the way the event was designed, every table had a least one author--often two! It was a very intimate affair. Yes, I'm an author myself, but Saturday, I was more of a fan girl. Not only did I get to see some of my favorite authors, like our speakers, Meg Cabot and Gail Carriger, but I was also able to pick up some books from new-to-me authors, like Jess Haines--a kick-ass urban fantasy writer and a super sweet lady!

For those YA fans out there, Passion & Prose even featured a YA panel with some of the year's hottest YA authors: Andrea Cremer, Sara Wilson Etienne, Marie Lu, Beth Revis, and Jessica Spotswood. It was fun to hear not only about each novel featured on their Breathless Reads tour, but also to hear about each author's journey to publication. Rejection and perseverance seems to be a common theme when it comes to bringing book babies into the world.
In the end, the two hour drive was so worth it to be able to hang out with a bunch of women who love books as much as I do. I'll definitely be attending next year, and I hope to see you there!

What about you? Do you enjoy conferences or reader events? What's the next event you plan to attend?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February Witches and Gemstones

First off, I have to apologize for not blogging on February 11th. My computer got fried in an ice storm (in the Pacific NW). Lost my contact list, Comcast Inbox Folders, and about a year and half of writing. Grrrrrr.

February's birthstone is the purple Amethyst -- The Happy Stone. Also called the Bishop and/and Bacchus stone. That means it's for saints or sinners.

Amethyst and magic have been connected for over 2,000 years. It is steeped in ancient lore, myticism and age-old magic. Roman soldiers wore it for protection when they went to war. The Crusaders carried them along with their rosaries as protective charms. If placed under a pillow or worn to bed, an amethyst is said to promote quiet peaceful sleep, pleasant dreams and it also claims to heal tired joints and muscles.

The amethyst is a stone of deep wisdom and can be used to increase psychic awareness, to sharpen one's sixth sense. Because of this, many people keep a crystal near them.

And lastly, it is one of the few stones specifically recommended for men to use for attracting wonen. I guess that means men can wear it or give amethyst to women.

For witches in February it is a time to open awareness. They call the groundhog a 'whistle-pig' because of the sounds it makes. Actually, Groundhog Day comes from the ancient custom of Imbok, sacred to the goddess Brigit of the British Isles. Imbok or Brigit's Day was a time to predict the weather. She is credited with inventing whistling as a way to warn against danger and enemies. Not that different from a groundhog.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Captive Moonlight

I'm so excited about my new release Captive Moonlight! I really enjoyed writing this story, even though I definitely had my struggles with it on occasion. What makes it so special is that it's my first (published) werewolf story, and I adore werewolves! I think my recent post on them said as much. lol

This story also marks my first time writing something historical, which I've wanted to do for a long time. I was an English/History double major before I realized I wanted to get out of college quicker than getting the double major would allow.

Captive Moonlight is book 3 of the Wolves of the Wild West multi-author series, but it stands alone.

I really hope you all enjoy it! Please let me know what you think!

Genres: Paranormal, Action Adventure/ Suspense, Wildest West, Werewolves
Series: Wolves of the Wild West, Book 3 (Multi-Author series)
Length: Novella

Buy Now

A gentlewoman will do whatever it takes to rescue her captive werewolf betrothed.

When her betrothed, Joe, is taken captive by a group of men looking for werewolf laborers, it's up to Charlotte to track him down and win him back -- even if that means putting her own life in danger.

Read the Excerpt - Since it's a little too hot to post here. *winks*

Sarah Mäkelä
Dark Magical Encounters of Passion...
www.sarahmakela.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The rush of “The End”

Hi everyone!

Until I finished writing my first novel, I had no idea of the adrenaline rush you could get from typing two magical words.

“The End”

So much work goes into earning the opportunity to type those two simple words! Wow! Hours and hours of typing in front of the computer, gnashing your teeth when you lose the tension in the middle, racking your brain for a way to write yourself out of the corner you just created, and cruising through the thesaurus to find another word for “looked” since you just noticed you used it 4 times in the last paragraph.

Not to mention those days when you look over what you wrote and completely lose all confidence in your ability to tell a story. (Oh I hope I’m not the only one who has those days! LOL)

This is part of what makes writer friends a precious gift. Only another writer understands when you look at them with a wild gleam in your eyes and say, “I think I’m going to hit the end today.”

Only another writer can relate when you tell them you've only slept 4 hours in the past twenty because you couldn’t pull yourself away from the keyboard during the final push to tie up all the loose ends of your plot in an effort to type those two beautiful words…

I’m super happy to report that I reached “The End” of my novella, Night Thief, tonight!!! WOOT!!!

And now I’m too fired up to sleep! LOL Ah well…

Thanks for understanding!!! And may you all reach your own “The End”s soon…. :)

Lisa

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Author Rachel Firasek

Coach or Pumpkin?
I’ve been in a reading frenzy lately and it is my inspiration for this post. This is probably going to be a reader and writer friendly post, because I want to talk about something I’ve noticed in my recent reads.
Regardless of the genre you love, what type of heroine do you love?
Do you love the totally put together, no hair out of place, drop dead gorgeous heroine that always has her “stuff” together? Do you love the slightly awkward ugly duckling that turns into the swan? Do you love the Cinderellas?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re just like everyone else. We all love some type. (Maybe not these, but we have a comfort zone)
What I’ve noticed recently in the younger heroines is a trend to be more outspoken, or more relaxed, or more natural. The bottom line is that they are just  “more” and I love it. So, HOW DO YOU CREATE A MORE CHARACTER?
1.    You get into her head. How does she talk? How does she dress? Why? When? All of these questions are important.
2.    Think about how she reacts with her world. Hypothetically: If I throw a bucket of slime at her, how is she going to react? Will she roll around in it and cooh and sigh? Will she be completely icked out?
3.    Take a moment to feel the heroine’s feelings. I want tears when I’m writing. If I don’t have them, then I’m not giving the “more” that I’m looking for.
Can you think of a heroine you’ve read lately that has just been “more”? I just finished reading Beautiful Disaster and that heroine definitely fit the bill. Another one I can think of is Cat Crawford. Now, it’s your turn to name a few. :-) Let’s have fun!



CURSE OF THE PHOENIX - Book 3

The Last Beginning 
By Rachel Firasek

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Length: Novella 
Release Date: February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-937044-56-5


Sadie’s days fighting off greedy claim jumpers ended in 1856 when Osiris snatched her from her filthy room and placed her with a trio of phoenixes. After 150 years living a respectable life saving souls, she’s tired of playing by the god’s rules. It’s time the master of manipulation learned her creed: live hard, play for keeps, and never let the enemy see you suffer. 

Osiris never imagined the true queen he’s spent two millennia searching for would be a half-pint redhead with a mouth that makes him blush. She needs a gentle hand to breach her defenses, but living with her and keeping his natural arrogance at a simmer proves a challenge worthy of any champion.

While Osiris teaches her the wisdom needed to rule a world with fairness, the irritating god only intensifies Sadie’s belief in her creed, reinforcing the walls that keep her from happiness. If Osiris can’t win her hardened heart, Sadie’s ascension might threaten the world he’s struggled to create.


About the Author:
Rachel Firasek grew up in the south and despite the gentle pace, she harassed life at full steam. Her curiosity about mythology, human nature, and the chemical imbalance we call love led her to writing. Her stories began with macabre war poems and shifted to enchanted fairytales, before she settled on a blending of the two.
Today you’ll find her tucked on a small parcel of land, surrounded by bleating sheep and barking dogs, with her husband and children. She entertains them all with her wacky sense of humor or animated reenactments of bad 80’s dance moves.
She’s intrigued by anything unexplained and seeks the answers to this crazy thing we call life. You can find her where the heart twists the soul and lights the shadows… or at www.rachelfirasek.com .

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hooks – Good and Bad

Let’s talk about hooks. A good opening hook can, well, hook a reader and drag them into the story. That’s what a hook should do but it’s also a promise to the reader. It should set the mood of the story, introduce the protagonist, and make the genre clear. What it shouldn’t do is lie to the reader. A good hook must be related to the story, not simply be an action scene used as a ploy. If a book opens with a car chase with an exchange of bullets and a fiery crash, I’ll assume I’m digging into an action adventure. If that’s the last action and adventure I see in the book, I’m not going to be happy with the trickery. If the rest of the story is a sedate romance where nothing moves faster than a snail, I’m going to be flat out angry.

So, we know what an opening hook is and should do and what it shouldn’t do. But that isn’t the only place to hook readers. Scene breaks need hooks to keep the reader turning pages. If the characters wrap up a scene by jumping in bed and going to sleep, I may just crawl into my own bed and go to sleep. Instead, have the character reveal something important or engage another character in conflict. Nothing like conflict to keep the pages turning.

It should be obvious that chapter and scene openings are good places for hooks. A reader who is hooked has to get free and how do they do that? They keep reading.

Do you open with a hook? Any thoughts on better ways to hook readers?


~ Nickie Asher ~

Website *** Facebook *** Twitter

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Characters need names...

I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. How could I be anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this. --Madonna

I love picking out names for my characters. I’ve always believed that names hold power and that a name must have resonance and reflect the character’s inner self somehow. Easy, right?

Looking my name up in a baby book, you find “dark one”, “dark” (Kerry Adrienne). Ok, mom, that is scary. Had me freaked out for a long time, wondering if I was cursed by my name—a writer’s mind will do that to you, right? But I grew up without visible horns, and subsequently saw my mom name my brother after a deacon in the church and my sister out of the phone book, so I don’t think mom cast any circles when she named me…

I did become obsessed with names, though. Hubby and I have three daughters, and I wanted Greek names, all A’s, all middle names derived from Catherine because that is a powerful feminine name (yet starting with K), reverse of my initials (AK instead of KA), names that had multiple nicknames…perhaps I am the one with a naming problem? (we chose Alexandria Katarina, Anastasia Kathryn, and Andromeda Katriona) Whew!

I moved on to naming cats. To me, this was not an issue. I love cats. Five or six in the house—no problem. My cats had names and multiple nicknames. One day, hubby said, “No more cats until we get rid of a kid. If you want to name something—write another story.” Indeed.

So--where are good places to find character names? Baby name books are great, of course. Now there are books with all sorts of beautiful names from around the world that weren’t readily available 15 years ago. Phone book? What is that? TV shows, your favorite books, people you meet—all are good sources for names. Of course, if you name a demon in your book the same name as your grandmother, be prepared for some backlash. Caution with the family names!

One of my favorite places to find names is a cemetery. I especially love the very old ones (who doesn’t?). Not only do you get a surname, but you get a whole family at once (and the hierarchy). The same can be said for census records and cemetery records online (and so many are online now—though I encourage you to go to cemeteries as you travel). I really like gathering names from these sources—for some reason it feels “real”. The characters, and sometimes a whole family, form at once and really get the imagination flowing.

You can find names online--there are a zillion name generators out there. You can even find fantasy name generators (just search for one—there are tons) that allow you to set the number of syllables, and/or beginning sound, apostrophes, and other options. I found one that lets you search for “evil” names (Kerry Adrienne was not on the list). I wonder who decides which names are evil (*thinking*). You can find a name generator or name list (with meanings) for just about any type of name you can think of—and you can play with the generators for a long time until you find a name that really calls out as a character.

At any rate, names *are* powerful. Here is a case in point: take the name “Homer”. It used to conjure up only the ancient Greek epic poet (or poets…). Then, a cartoon named a character “Homer” Simpson (some may argue he is an epic poet as well) came along with a long-running and used-to-be funny show. Most people now associate “Homer” with Homer Simpson. Can you see how the name has shifted and also evokes a character when we hear the name?

How do *you* come up with character names? What is your favorite name, ever (not necessarily in your own fiction---just favorite name in general)?

Kerry Adrienne (no horns, I promise)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Maybe it really is in your head...

No, I'm not talking about imagined illnesses, or even paranoia. I'm talking about writing the stories you want to read.

Why do people write? There are probably as many reasons and justifications (yes, sometimes madness does need to be justified) as there are writers. Some do so because they have a story to tell them world, vital information and insight that they feel the world will be weaker for not having. Bully for them. Not trying to be snarky, and in a few cases the author may be right. But it does sound a wee pretentious to me.

Could be because I'm not writing for the same reason they are. I write because as many wonderful, amazing books that are out there (far more than I can ever hope to read) there are some stories missing. You know how it goes. Sometimes you pick up a great sounding book, start to read, then realize the author had a completely different idea of the plot that you did. You start to think and wonder why didn't they turn left instead of right (yeah- Doctor Who reference there- go look it up ;)). A whole different story could have taken place. Eventually, in some of us folks with this odd illness, we start missing the books we think should be there. Sort of like a phantom pain of a missing limb, only these limbs never existed.

Trying to badger favorite authors into writing one of these missing tomes won't really work. Most of those fine folks have enough missing tomes in their own heads, they certainly don't need other folks dumping theirs in there as well.

The only option is to make it yourself. The idea pops in your head, prompted by other books, movies, tv shows, songs, pictures, whatever. It then kicks around, bouncing in your brain as it picks up more little bits of ideas, characters, concepts. Pretty soon you're thinking that man, you really want to read that book about the Girl and the Gadget who saved the world.

Then it hits you- it only lives in your head.

So, in self-defence of the valuable and limited space inside my head, I have to write the stories down. I need to get them out so I don't forget important things like where I live, what my name is, what I had for lunch. But also so that I can read the whole story. So that I can find out what exactly happened. Who lived, who died, who got drunk and started screaming for dancing minkies (you'll have to read my book for that one ;)).

Some writers write because they want to share their insights, some of us do so to see what exactly is lurking in our heads. What about you?


"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Richness of Language

The past two weeks I've been teaching an intensive English course to Japanese university students. The end of the course culminates with pair presentations. Since we were six classes we divided into three groups. That means two classes were combined in order to have enough of an audience to watch each presentation, since three presentations go on at the same time in the classroom.

I taught an intermediate level group of students. I had an odd number of students, so one group was composed of three students, two girls and an older gentleman. They chose onomatopoeia for their topic. It was a tough topic but very fascinating. In the first part, my student, Mr. Y., talked about a famous Japanese poet and author, Kenji Miyazawa. He pointed to the fact that this poet's works contain very rich onomatopoeia in Japanese, but when translated into English, the sounds get lost. Japanese is filled with short onomatopoeia sounds that we simply do not have an equivalent in English. For example, sura sura means slippery, kira kira means sparkly, and beta beta is sticky. I sat down with my students at lunch and sure enough their conversation was peppered with such phrases.

Another group from the other class chose to present on the topic of English idioms related to cake and dog. They used such idioms as "Every dog has his day," or "It's a piece of cake." Interestingly enough, when they asked the Japanese students if they could think of similar types of food or animal-related idioms, the students had trouble coming up with any. One of the presenters in this group is SriLankan. He stated that in his language they also have similar expressions. The students pointed out at the end of their presentation how important it is to study idioms because they really can offer insight into a country's culture and it is also a sign of how fluent a person is in a language.

I'm a teacher, but there are times, too, when I become the student. I walked away from both these presentations reminded by how rich the English language is and how critical it is for writers to really think about the word choice to convey the full meaning of whatever scene, dialogue, or setting we are trying to create. While English may not have the wide range of onomatopoeia expressions that Japanese does, it does have very colorful and varied idioms that can give added depth to a story.

Today was the last day of the course and I feel happy. My students learned from me and I learned from them. It doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loveswept + ePublishing

It was a traveling kind of weekend for this writer! I spent my Saturday in Raleigh with friends, making new ones in HCRW, and listening to the fabulous advice of Category Specialist & Editor-at-Large - Sue Grimshaw!
Though I was reluctant to hear yet another talk about epublishing, what made this one different was the source. Sue Grimshaw spent fifteen years as a romance buyer for Borders and connected directly with readers. Being an editor is a new ballgame for her and she admits to learning more about the job every day. Hearing about epublishing from a woman who knows readers as well as she does is a new side to a topic I’ve grown tired of hearing about. The program was, in a word, awesome!
 She fully admits publishing is changing every day. Her advice is to not keep your eggs in one basket. Try to spread your career out. Be in both epub and print if you can. In case digital publishing falls apart, you still have print to fall back on and vice versa. Each format expands your audience and increases your reader base. Be aware of your career and the publishing industry.
 Now some information about Random House’s Loveswept… In less than six months they have published 25 titles and sold 10,000’s of books. They publish all sub-genres of romance, including contempory, paranormal, historical, and suspense. They soon will expand with erotica.  
 Loveswept is looking for stories that are ‘…hero-centric, with strong characters, and a strong story with good pacing.’ Word count is 30k-90k+. They are actively seeking debut authors and are especially hungry for Paranormal.

-Darcy (of the Drake variety)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Once Upon a Time

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day yesterday. I know I did. I’m talking about it here. My husband knows me very well.

I figured that I should discuss an element of love today. Hopefully you’re not all hung over from romance. Specifically I want to talk about the television show Once Upon a Time. How many of you watch it? I’m a huge fan and I even convinced my husband to watch it, as well. With all the writing, editing and reading going on around here, it’s hard for me to remember to watch television shows unless my husband goes out of his way to flag down my attention.

So we started from the beginning. First of all, I love the premise. The actress that plays Snow is one of my favorites and I recognized the main actress from How I Met Your Mother. Things started out well. Quickly I realized the storylines would string me along week to week. Several times I predicted what would happen before the end of an episode, but I think that mainly has to do with being a writer and always looking for the next twist. Even my husband called a few things and he’s allergic to books. But I think it is okay that there’s predictability involved since they are based on fairytales.

There was an episode I consider the episode that didn’t happen. I won’t tell you what the writers did, but it was horrible. I even stopped watching the show until my husband convinced me to watch the recorded shows. Luckily, the show regained my loyalty. But I noticed they are bringing more romances into the storylines.

Has anyone else noticed this? Do you think that the viewers of Once Upon a Time want to see more romance? I know I do . . .  Of course when I asked my husband, he said he didn’t notice there were more romance storylines, which is exactly my point. If the romance enthusiasts want more romance and the other people don’t even realize what’s happening, I think the show should give us the romance!

What do you think? Do you think it’s smart for television writers to throw in romantic storylines to shows that might not be targeted for romance readers? It does hold my attention better.
Kinley Baker @kinleybaker

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Be My Valentine


Today is for romance—Happy Valentine's Day.


Since we're all about fantasy at Castles & Guns, I thought the Frog Prince the perfect valentine.





Rather reminds me of those boxes of cards we used to buy in grade school to hand out to ALL our classmates.

The origin of Valentine's Day is shrouded in mystery...

Check out Valentine's Day at History.com and The Dark Origins of Valentine's Day at NPR.org to learn about the history and customs of Valentine's Day.

How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Hint for our male readers: Give your love a sexy romance novel along with flowers and chocolate. I promise her pleasure will be worth the effort.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Power of Reviews

Reviews. We’ve all read them. Maybe we’ve even posted a few on Goodreads or Amazon. They can be humorous. They can be insightful. Or in rare cases, if the reviewer is having a bad day, they can even be mean and nasty. For authors, they can make you soar or bring you crashing back to earth. But all in all, reviews are amazingly helpful in choosing a new book to add to your collection.

I’m thinking a lot about reviews today because my debut novel, Slayer’s Kiss, releases tomorrow on Valentine’s Day! In preparation for this big event, I’ve been sending out ARCs and requesting reviews. Not all will be five-star, raving reviews, but every review gets the book out there and can be helpful in some way. As a matter of fact, when I’m looking for a new book to read, I tend not to look so much at the rating as the content of the review, because time and again I’ve found things that didn’t work so well for the reviewer, but that I know would be a good match for me.

It’s really freeing as an author when you have that epiphany that not everyone has to love or “get” your book. All authors can ask for is a fair review and an honest opinion. Whereas some authors feel that reading a review of one’s own work can stifle creativity, I like to use reader reviews to look for patterns. If I see something that readers widely agree is a shortcoming of the book, I’ll work on fixing that next time around. If I see something people just can’t agree on, like which hero they’re rooting for in a love triangle, I’ll just smile and be grateful I gave them something worth debating.

What about you? Do you regularly read or write reviews? And what do you find most helpful in determining what book to read next? If you like super sexy urban fantasy, may I recommend Slayer’s Kiss? If you pick up a copy, please leave a comment on Goodreads. I’d love to know what you think! And you can let me know about any other books you’ve enjoyed lately by friending me on Goodreads! http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5307736.Cassi_Carver

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are Past Characters Ever Gone?

Hello everyone! This past week I got to participate in three wonderful blog hops. During the second hop a commentor mentioned how her favorite character of mine was one from a book that was published about a year ago. That got me to thinking about all my previous characters and how all my newly written characters resemble those past ones. I try very hard to make each character unique in their own way. However, I finally realized that each hero I write has bits and pieces of my first hero. Its strange that after having five books published and writing several works in progress I realize this.

What I find even more striking is that I love that each character has a bit of Braxton Wade in him. When I wrote, Voodoo, I Do I had only written one other book. It sucked. Still sucks. However that book showed me what I want in heroes and so when I started writing Braxton and Voodoo, I Do I used that information from my first book. Knowing that I wanted a strong alpha male hero allowed me to expand on all the other pieces of the story. By knowing what would fit with that one character lead me to a plot and lots of other charcters.

Now when I write I start with my hero and herione. I get their characters detailed out and then go for a plot. Usually by knowing my characters their inner thoughts make my plot.

So is it any surprise that my heroes all resemble that first one? No, because that character and story built my writing style. As a reader does it bother you to read an authors work where the male heroes resemble? As a writer what built your writing style??

Thanks everyine,
Sayde

Oh and by the way, my daughters basketball team won! Yeah, I coached them, yeah I'm good! Lol, not really, those kids were awesome!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Author Louisa Kelley

HERE BE DRAGONS
“Statistically improbable, Dragons are the most likely impossible creature to exist, with a higher (though equally near infinite) improbability assigned to Fairies, Gnomes, Pixies, Witches, and Elves, in that order.” from Wikipedia

What is so incredibly compelling and fascinating about the dragon mythology? Certainly I’ve asked myself that many times over the years, as my obsession with all things dragon has been with me since I started reading fantasy books in my childhood. 

I am convinced the legendary powers and character aspects of dragons contain a powerful imagery that illuminates something deep in the human unconscious. There is no doubt my own creative process has been partially fueled by tales of these myth-drenched creatures.

Here’s another quote from Wikipedia:

A dragon is a symbol of the raw, primal power of life itself. Left alone, it is dormant. Awake, it can manifest as the power of chaos and destruction. Yet, with guidance and education, the dragon's manifestation of power can be constructive, liberating, illuminating. Power of good and evil all encompassed in one entity—exactly the same for us human creatures. Human capacity for good is equal only to its capacity for evil and destruction. Both powers lay within our bodies and spirits, waiting only for the proper trigger to bring them forth.

Oriental philosophies tended to portray dragons as kind, wise and in service to their enlightened masters. Occidental mythology portrays dragons as evil creatures, laying destruction where it dwells. Fire! Chaos! Death! Yet, in all cases, dragons are shown to have great power. Power that humans have difficulty taming, capturing or controlling.  Don’t humans show the same difficulty taming our own destructive natures?

Tales of dragons span cultures and centuries. Almost every religion has stories involving dragons. There is a widespread belief that earlier cartographers used the Latin phrase: “hic sunt dracones” i.e., “the dragons are here, or “here be dragons,” to denote dangerous or unexplored territories on maps.

“Here be dragons” could be used in exactly the same way to denote the unexplored territories of our personal unconscious. When we really dig deep, down into our secret, hidden places, will our findings be dangerous? Exciting? Disastrous? Painful? Full of fire or full of illuminated light? And which do we choose—the dark or the light? The mythology of dragons plays out our choices.

As a writer, I happily took dragon mythology to a whole new level. I added the shape-shifter aspect, along with romance and hot sex in my tales of the Draca. In my Daughters of Draca series, dragon shape-shifters roam Portland Oregon, having fantastical and erotic adventures. Spinning these ‘unusual tales of paranormal romance’ has proven to be an incredibly titillating experience, coming as it did from years of a crazy, secret, fantasy life. Dragons that can become human. Humans that become dragons. Dragons that can love in every possible way in all of their forms. Ahhh…yes!

For artistic inspiration, I use the fabulous dragon images created by Ciruelo Cabral.  In my opinion, he is one of the great masters of dragon art. I’ve got one of his dragons framed as my muse next to my writing desk. 

Check out this site to see what I mean: http://fantasygalleryart.com/ciruelo_cabral.html.


Photo of downtown Portland cityscape, looking west across the Willamette river. Views like this are a continuous source of inspiration for the author, whose heroines live in Portland, of course. Photo by award winning Portland photographer Ann Hubard.

And just for fun, if you’re interested in ‘Discovering Your Inner Dragon” take the quiz found at: Discover Your Inner Dragon: http://www.quiz.dmbh.org/



About the Author:
Louisa Kelley, who was born in the year of the Dragon and of course considers herself part Draca, continues her obsession with dragons while she writes the third book in her series, “ Daughters of Draca.” The second book, Cara and the Draca, was just released by Loose-Id. Louisa is a member of Romance Writers of America. She'd love you to join her in some over-the-top erotic adventures with the Draca; dragon shape-shifters of a very different kind.
She’ll be on a grand blog tour in March and one lucky commenter will win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. To find out where she is at any given time, check out: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-book-tour-daughters-of-draca.html

To learn more about Louisa, visit her website at: http://www.louisakelley.com/
Or go direct to the publisher at: http://www.loose-id.com/Daughters-of-Draca-2-Cara-and-the-Draca.aspx



Book Blurb: (Cara and the Draca)
Cara is haunted by recent memories of a warehouse explosion that took the life of her best friend and caught her in the blast. Desperate for a way to cover the burns scars on her shoulder, Cara heads for the mysterious tattoo shop in Portland everyone is talking about.
Aedhan, the gorgeous tattoo master, leaves her senses reeling and her knees weak. Just the touch of his talented hands brings welcome relief and a sense of release from her emotional pain. His charming, eccentric ways combined with his tangerine hair and odd accent create an intoxicating mix. To her delight, the incredible tattoo he expertly lays over her scar hides everything-- and makes her long for more of his healing touch.
When she inadvertently discovers him transformed to his ‘other’ nature, Cara is pulled into an erotic journey of unimagined delight, terror and transformation. Dragons? In Portland? Magical and sexy beyond belief?
Yet, something isn’t quite adding up. Is Aedhan really telling her the truth about what he’s doing in that shop? But she's so crazy in lust and wonder, it's hard to care.
Bad boy dragon shape-shifter Aedhan fully intends to follow the rules of his secret mission, number one being no sex with the human women in Portland. Then Cara shows up at his tattoo shop and her sweetness and delightful freckles almost stops his heart. When he perceives the sorrow in her life, he is consumed with the need to know more. Who has hurt her? After he gets a taste of her blood on his tattoo needles and discovers the extra special something, he decides he must see Cara again, even if it means breaking the rules. And that's when things start to go terribly wrong...or perfectly right.

Excerpt from Cara and the Draca:

Cara opened her eyes to a surreal scene. A rough, cave-like interior had replaced the pale beige walls of the massage room. Reddish rock surfaces surrounded them, and to her left lay an entrance to the outside where she caught a glimpse of an azure sky and a few drifting white clouds.
In the distance, wild flying creatures with immense wings soared above rugged cliffs, dominating the sky.
Dragons.
Her breath caught in wonder. Aedhan continued to kiss her, tracing the lines of her cheek with his mouth, whispering soft, heated words in a language she didn’t recognize. He flicked his tongue into her ear, and she nearly climaxed at the sensation. He knew her favorite erotic spots as if they had done this before. More than once.
Aedhan grasped her bottom and shifted his weight to the side, neatly flipping her to her back with him propped on his arms above her.
Gritty sand pressed against her backside. She stared in speechless wonder at his face. His skin glowed with a hint of iridescent green as he met her gaze. Arousal gleamed from his eyes.
He lowered himself so the whole of his muscular body settled on top of her, heavy and warm. Gazing over his broad back, she could see images of scales rippling down the length of his spine with the same greenish glow she’d witnessed during the massage.
“Aedhan,” Cara gasped between wild kisses, “what is happening?”
Aedhan raised his face, and something shifted. He gave a startled exclamation and ducked his head but not before she saw his eyes narrow and lengthen. The skin under her hands tensed and thickened.
In seconds he changed to something…more. Soft, foreign growls issued from his throat. He started to rise off her.
“No,” she said, tightening her arms around him. “I’m not afraid.”
A sound in the distance pulled her attention to the beautiful flying creatures again. Wonderment filled her. Was she in a fantastic, waking dream?
***

Louisa Kelley

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Magic of a Deadline

Hi everyone –

It’s still Wednesday here in San Diego, so technically my Wednesday post is still on time, right? LOL I hope so!

Apparently I forgot to add my blog posts to my google calendar for February and without it, I’m lost! So I’m sorry this wasn’t posted early this morning…

But this experience got me to thinking about deadlines.

I don’t know if it’s the same for every writer, but I’m learning that I write MUCH faster with a deadline. When I wrote my first book, Night Walker, I took months to write the first draft and then spent at least another year editing and rewriting.

My next books were written a little bit faster, but now that I’m working under contract, the deadlines seem to make the writing go even faster. Without a deadline, it’s much easier to decide to play on Twitter, or go to a movie, etc. I seem to focus better when I know how far I need to get each day in order to meet my goal.

So while a deadline can be scary, I’m starting to think they might be my friends… Sort of! LOL

What about you? And if you’re not under contract yet, have you tried setting deadlines with yourself or maybe with your crit group? Have you noticed if you write faster?

Ok I’m off to be sure I have my future blog dates on my Google calendar… More deadlines! Whee! :)

Lisa Kessler

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Author Marsha A. Moore

Hoodoo Love Spells
by
Marsha A. Moore

I write fantasy romance, so I find the interplay of the mythical/mystical with love and desire a fascinating combination. I had a fun time researching hoodoo magick while writing the second book in my Ciel’s Legacy series, Tortuga Treasure, which was just released.
Since I'm fairly sure some of you will wonder what is the difference between Hoodoo and Voodoo…
Voodoo, vodoun, or vodou (depending upon where you are geographically) is the indigenous religion of the Haitian people. In this religion, followers appeal to African spirits, called loa, to talk on their behalf to the higher god or gods.
The practice of magick used in the vodoun religion is Hoodoo. Hoodoo does not connect to spirits or gods. It is a system of African-American folk magick.
Now on to some advice I have for those of you wanting love spells. Some of the Hoodoo spells are very involved with unusual or just plain gross ingredients, while others are simple enough for everyday use. Love spells are very common in this type of magick. Here are some you may find useful or interesting.
Let me know what you think of these. Any you might try? Any you’d never, ever do?
If you are a woman:
·      As you eat the wing of a chicken bone, take the little bone near the end and drop it into the pocket of the fellow you are going with, without him knowing it, and he will ask you to marry him.
·      If you think your beau is going back on you, put a teaspoonful of your monthly in a glass of wine and let him drink it—he will not leave you. (Eeeewww!)
·      If another girl is after your boyfriend, get some of her clothing with monthly stains on it and throw the clothing in running water. When the stain fades she will fade out of his mind.
·      If you are going with a man and you want him to come back, spit on his back just as he is leaving the door. (Don’t know if he’ll be happy though!)
·      If you want a man to stay with you, take chamber lye and put it in his pancakes twice a week—he will never leave. (Safe to say, a corpse probably won’t walk out!)
·      If your man is going back on you, put a teaspoon of your urine in his coffee for several nights and he will come back. (UCK!)
·      Bury your husband’s shoes in the front yard with the toes pointed toward the door and he will never leave you.
·      Bury some hair from the top of your husband’s head under the front doorstep and he will never leave home for good.
·      If you don’t want your husband to have any nature (physical desire) for you, when he is sleeping measure his privates with a string and tie three knots in it. Hide the string in the house and he will not have any desire for you.
·      Take your first urine on Monday morning, put it in a jar and place it under the bed for nine days and it will hold your husband. (Smellie!)

If you are a man:
·      Take some hair from your woman and put it in a bottle of vinegar to make her crawl on her stomach, crazy for you.
·      If a man sees a woman he wants but does not know her, he can get her by taking a picture of her and sleeping with it face down under his head for a week. She will look for him until she finds where he lives.
·      In order to get rid of your wife, make a hole in a tree, then put her monthly rags in that hole and stop it up. It will kill both the tree and your wife.
·      Never be too quick to kiss a girl because she can hoodoo you through the lipstick on her mouth. (Wonder if the shade matters?)
·      If a woman kisses you twice on one cheek and once on the other, she is trying to hoodoo you.

There are hundreds more. I selected ones I found amusing. Did any catch your attention?


Tortuga Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy by Marsha A. Moore
Description:
When Ciel first looks into Alvaro’s eyes she finds love. Bad timing. In the next instant he’s fatally stabbed in the back by one of his pirate mates. Her girlfriends warn her it will only bring on a heap of trouble to save him. Unable to resist, she gives him the gift of a new life as one of her kind—a merman.

Will their love encourage him to embrace life as a merman? Can love survive if he wishes to return to human form? Either way, her friends speak true. No matter how much mermagic and dark vodou Ciel and her friends cast, blood-thirsty buccaneers chase them across the Caribbean until Alvaro finally decides.

Warning: This book contains a magical cock-a-too, lecherous scurvy pirate dogs, hoodoo healers, the mark of the evil Black Spot, plenty of dark Haitian vodou, and passionate encounters on tropical beaches.

Purchase links:


MuseItUp Publishing

Excerpt for Tortura Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy

“Ye damned scurvy dog, Alvaro. Give me coins back,” barked a burly seaman, glaring at his mate on the far end of the long pier. His frizzled dark hair flopped as he lunged for and missed the other man, landing closer to us.
My tail fins were splayed out wide over the dock to soak up the warmth of the late afternoon sun. I quickly tucked them closer to my torso, so they wouldn’t be tread upon.
Having a well-muscled physique, Alvaro dodged with ease, his face lit with a wide grin.  Obviously, he enjoyed the game of goading his partner, but seemed uninterested in fighting back. “I don’t have yer purse, ye black scoundrel. That new hand got lost in our cabin an’ likely lifted it.”
“Ye be a liar!” The heavyset man swung wide and hard. “An’ a good one—fooled me. Ye started as a crimp, but thought ye turned into me mate.”
Twisting away from more blows, Alvaro leaped close enough for me to get a better view. His black knee-high boots pounded the creaking wooden frame.
Curious, I remained where I sat near the edge, facing the row of gangplanks. Tall sailing ships stood proud, decorated with their pennants alongside Jolly Rogers. I’d seen enough skirmishes between buccaneers to take them as commonplace in this busy Tortuga port, good entertainment while my two mermaid friends and I chatted.
Dodging another fist, Alvaro jumped.
I leaned into my friend Omarosa. Her long, dark kinky hair away floated in front of my view. I brushed it away. “Quite the showman he is. So quick on his feet.”
“You ain’t lookin’ at his feet though, Ciel.” She giggled and gave my arm a playful slap.
I grinned and nudged her in turn, but kept my gaze fixed on the pirate named Alvaro. Most seamen were rather scraggly, reeking of body odor, missing a digit, limb, or many teeth. The captains and first mates often cleaned up smartly, wearing finery from their worldly travels, but not the crew. This man was neither a dandy nor a grubby hand. He wore well-fitting clothing, a faded black poet’s shirt, clean but frayed on the edges, as were his black trousers. His polished boots showed creases from hard wear. Straight black hair, as long as mine, hung over his broad shoulders to his hips, and swung out as he darted from side-to-side along the pier.
“The Jack o’ Coins just paid me that sum—me only earnings fer port. Hand it here, now,” the portly seaman yelled louder and faster. He backed the other against a stack of hogshead casks. “If’n ye don’t, I’ll be callin’ the buffer to give ye the keelhaul, tyin’ ye to a rope and draggin’ yer bones along the barnacles of the ship. How does that sound, matey?”
“I mean ye no harm, Tom. I don’t want to fight ye. Don’t force me to.” Alvaro paused, and then swung a hard punch into his gut.
Tom winced, bent forward, and clasped his hands to his stomach.
Immediately, Alvaro glanced down at me, intending to bound in my direction. When his dark eyes met mine, his mouth dropped open and he lost his balance, falling toward the edge of the pier.
In the next instant, while his gaze held mine, Tom lodged a dagger deep into Alvaro’s back. I saw shock, fear, and horrible pain in those dark eyes as well as a plea for help…and something else…a promise of friendship. In that moment, I measured the depth of his sincerity and warmth spread over me. The power of my mermagic latched onto the intentions his soul revealed and my body trembled with those vibrations.
He fell into the water, blade still buried in his torso. I jerked to dive after him, but Omarosa and Sesi held my shoulders. “Let me go,” I cried, straining against them.
“I know you want to help, but it doesn’t involve you,” Sesi cried, holding me down with her chunky, green flipper on top of mine.
Squirming against them, I wildly scanned the water. Alvaro didn’t rise to the surface. I couldn’t let him die. What I read in his soul promised so much I longed for. Determination surged adrenaline through my body, and I shoved Omarosa off me. I raised my flipper and dropped Sesi to the other side, all the while keeping sight of the shadowy form under the water.
Omarosa grabbed my wrist. “This is sure trouble you don’t need. Save that one and five others will be after you, and us.”
Alvaro remained below. I tore my arm free and dove in. The water tasted of minerals leaking from his bloody wound. With one forceful stoke of my flipper, I sped downward and located his body drifting motionless among the pier supports. His skin was blue and his open eyes had a distant stare, showing no recognition. Was he still alive? Powered by adrenaline, in seconds I assessed his state. I took hold of his arm to see if he gave a reflexive flinch. Nothing. No pulse throbbed against my fingers. I put my ear to his chest. His heart beat slowly and faintly, while mine thumped hard against my ribs. Contact allowed me to read his soul—dim, but still active.
           Seconds mattered. Pulling him to the surface and letting time pass while his mates decided what medical care to give would make his death certain.  There was only one hope. Could I do it?

Author Bio:
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ingredients For A Good Villain

What makes a good villain? Pure evil? A character who enjoys inflicting misery on others for the fun of it? Someone who carries out evil without purpose. Nah. No way. Characters like those are one dimensional, flat, and not worthy of the hero and/or heroine.

A good villain will elevate the hero/heroine and a badly crafted villain will detract from the hero/heroine.

So how do you make a good villain? A good villain is intelligent, and capable of performing/pulling off his (I’m using male gender but it could also be a female villain) evil of choice. He should also be capable of winning. How much suspense can you have if there is no doubt the hero or heroine is going to win over the villain?

Another important part of building a good villain involves his reasons for making the choices he does. A good villain should believe he is doing the right thing. His motives should be solid and justified, at least to him. The villain should see himself as smart and worthy of winning over the hero/heroin who is the villain of his story (remember, he is the hero of his story).

These are the qualities of a dangerous villain and one who can generate more suspense and keep readers turning pages, and we always want that.

Resist the urge to pile on over the top evil for the sake of making the villain frightening. A villain capable of being evil who is intelligent and thinks he is doing the right thing will take you a lot further. Someone who believes he is in the right is justified. A character who thinks he’s justified has motives and reasons for his actions, even if they are only logical to him. This kind of character is stronger and makes your story stronger.

Just make sure you don’t make him so justified and worthy that readers start rooting for him against your hero and/or heroine.

What makes a good villain for you? Any favorite traits or behaviors?


~ Nickie Asher ~

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

First post here at Castles & Guns…

I am so thrilled to be joined the ladies here at Castles & Guns as a regular blogger! I’ve been reading posts and enjoying topics here for a while and when I saw the call for an addition to the team, I was really excited! Thanks so much for having me!
I’m Kerry, and I am a lover of all kinds of speculative fiction (sounds like I am attending a confession here…). Like many of you, I’ve always gravitated to the unusual, the fantastic, and the weird. Who wants normal when there are so many exciting things out there to explore and read about? I can’t remember a time when normal appealed to me.
About me, hmmm. Well, an eon ago, I went off to college on a Physics’ scholarship with plans to write hard sci-fi and live in a cave with lots of cats. I ended up with a degree in Writing and Editing and a house in suburbia. And lots of cats. Oh, and a hubby and 3 daughters and bunnies and hamsters and fish. Funny how life works. (at least I got the cats from my original plan. The hubby and kids are pretty darn awesome, too!) I do still write sci-fi, but I also love to write sfr and fantasy and paranormal stuff.
Currently, I teach fiction writing classes of all sorts at a small college, work as a professional costumer, and stay home with my kids. I also am an Associate Editor at Entangled Publishing. In my spare time (cough, cough), I write. I have a time-travel 1 Night Stand coming out with Decadent Publishing this year (SENATOR, MINE) and an SFR coming out with MuseItUp Publishing (DOUBLE ECLIPSE).
Some days, when my teens are screeching at each other (not as much now since my 17yo is off to college) I do still wish I had that cave. But my home office is pretty awesome, and it is *my* space. I even have a disco ball--and I am not afraid to turn it on when I am editing. Ask my authors. If there is a day where I don’t have Green Day playing, you know it’s a bad day at my house. Thankfully, there aren’t many bad days.
Speculative fiction authors I love (and if you haven’t read them, you must…)? William Gibson, Arthur C Clarke, Asimov, Ursula K Le Guin, Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, Gwyneth Jones, Bruce Sterling, Octavia Butler, Nicola Griffith, and a ZILLION others, I assure you~ There is so much new talent out there, too—I won’t even begin to list all the exciting new things I have read this year. We are so fortunate to be seeing such great writing these days! Yay, for e-readers, too. I don’t know about you, but I am getting the chance to read more than ever before. It’s become so much more convenient.
I am really excited to be here—I’d love to have suggestions about what topics you want to hear more about. Of course I can talk about editing all day long, if that isn’t too boring. I also have some fun ideas from the Speculative Fiction class I teach—we get into all sort of interesting discussions.
Thanks again for having me!
Kerry Vail