Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alpha, Beta...Omega?

Today we're going to talk about heroes, the good, the also good, and the.... well...other ;).

Romance used to be primarily full of Alphas, those top dogs who took their lady fair by strength, who were too gruff to love until they met that one special woman who broke through to them. Often testosterone charged, they take charge whether the woman wants it or not. Brooding, stern, powerful, these men never need nor want a woman to rescue them.

In the non-romance world this is said about these Alphas: In human societies alpha male can mean very different things. Some use the term to mean the guy who seems most at ease with women and can essentially marry or date any woman of his choice. In this sense the alpha male is often good-looking, has a great build, and may have a relatively high socioeconomic status. These distinctions may be less noticed in human groups like high school settings. Generally the alpha male (or a group of alpha males) are the cutest guys, usually muscle-bound, sometimes the “jocks,” while beta males may be less assured around females and may participate in less “male” activities.
A bit different than how romance writers/reader see them, but the core is still there- a man’s man who makes women fall at his feet.

However, over the years Beta heroes have been sneaking in. These are the "Good guys", it's not that they aren't strong, but their strength is tempered by their gentler ways. They can be just as handsome as their Alpha counterparts, but may not be as “macho” or status seeking. They also traditionally relate better to people around them. They are also technically the second to the Alpha (in animal pecking order), and are often the support guy for the Alpha.

I personally like Beta heroes better. For me I need some reason to latch on to the character- and some Alpha’s are so skewed to the dominant end I don’t feel it. This isn’t to say all Alphas are this way- but many are. And when the ONLY thing they can focus on is their woman….nice dream, but not very real. That will pull me out of a story. I also need to believe the connection between the lovers. Often times Alpha’s are TOO alpha. I like strong female characters, and having one give in to an alpha is not realistic. Now having a strong female character help the hero, and him help her- that’s realistic for me. And Betas seem to work a bit better for that ;).

And what are Omega males you may ask? They exist. I've seen them defined as either the super nice guys who always finish last, or the slacker slobs still living in their parents basements at 35, who never got a real job, and still hang out in their college bar. Funny- I can't think of any books where these guys have been the hero- but ya never know ;).

Friday, March 30, 2012

March Madness Recap II

I got my dates mixed up, so my apologies to whomever was scheduled last Friday. It's been a mad, mad two weeks. But they've been a fabulous two weeks as well. Today is the last guest post for my March Madness event. We close out with a guest post from humorous romantic suspense and YA author Christie Craig.

The two weeks flew by and I won't kid you, they were also a lot of work. I enjoyed it, though. It's been wonderful interacting with so many talented authors. I'm also very grateful for time and thought they put into each of their guest posts.

If you didn't get to see this week's posts, I've listed a brief recap below. You are welcome to stop by anytime to catch up on posts you missed.

Marcia James offers tips on Niche Marketing your novel.

Gabriella Hewitt (that's me) writes a post on Advertising Tips.

Julie Miller discusses the ins and outs of Traditional and Indie Publishing.

Christine D'Abo talks Worldbuilding and shares stories that she feels get it right.

Christie Craig discusses the Writer's Psyche.

Tomorrow, I'll be giving away a signed copy of Nalini Singh's KISS OF SNOW. Drop by tomorrow and leave a comment for a chance to win this gift.

See you!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tan or Nothing!

Other than my onward uphill battle of being an unpublished writer (a trek many can sympathize with, I'm sure) I do not have any cool news to report. No good books being read or new film trailers seen. Normally I have SOMETHING exciting on one of those fronts to gush about in a blog post, but no, not this time. I haven't gone out in search of any either. Instead, I have a new early spring project that has stolen my time and focus...

Image originally from
Getting a tan.

Getting a tan without going into the sun.

Getting a tan without going into the sun and keeping tan until October 1st.

I do not think my goal is too lofty, right? So what if I haven't successfully kept a good color since I was thirteen. So what if I inherited my Welsh great-grandmother's skin that reminds me terribly of the hue of the White Witch? So what if self-tanning is a completely new adventure for me? I am an intelligent twenty-three year old woman! I CAN DO THIS!

If I turn myself orange, I promise to post pics on Twitter before applying salt and lemon juice and whatever other magical cures there are for that predicament.

-Darcy (of the Drake variety)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Even Fantasies Need to be Rewritten – Part Two

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post like this:

Haha. Now I’m here to add to this. Because I had to rewrite the book again! I thought this would be a good time to talk about it because I just submitted the book on Saturday. I haven’t received edits back, which is fantastic. This way I can write this blog post without knowing if I need to rewrite the book again. I’m hoping no, because I really put my heart into the new draft. I suppose as authors we put our heart into every draft though. Sometimes, there are other issues. Like the technical issues.

One of my problems on the last draft was the structure. I had to go back and rearrange the scenes. This resulted in deleting a lot of words.

Before when I rewrote the story, I had time to think about it. This time, I was on a deadline and needed to get it done. Luckily, when I went back and read the original draft, I understood what my Editor was talking about. But it was still very difficult to delete some of my favorite parts.

I started to learn the key ingredients of a book.

I guess the first thing is the characters. I needed to make sure they were on the page like they were in my head. They weren’t. I think they are now though. *crosses fingers*. The second is that every major event needs to have a catalyst. Things of major importance need to have a reason. I think I fixed this, as well. *crosses fingers*. Finally, there needs to be goals for everyone, and the goals should conflict among the main characters. These are things we’ve all heard before, but it’s much harder to actually pull off in a manuscript.

The key to my rewrite was reading craft books and keeping my story and my specific characters in mind. I found it really helped. The books I read were:

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

I recommend both.

For writers, is there any key lesson you learned during edits? For readers, is there something about a book that stands out most to you? Whether it’s characterization, setting or plot?

Kinley Baker

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Faerie Flowers: Bluebells and Foxgloves

Bluebell Wood
 C&O Canal Trail, MD
Spring is blossoming and it's time to tread cautiously while visiting gardens and hiking through forests. Keep to well-worn paths, for danger lurks amongst the spring blooms.

Certain flora are entangled in faerie lore.

Bluebells, whether of the Scottish or Virginia or another variety, should be avoided with alacrity. A bluebell wood is recognized by those knowledgeable in such matters to be a dangerous place of concentrated fae magic filled with enchantments. Faeries are summoned to midnight dances by the ringing of the little bluebells and while they leap and spin, they weave malicious spells.

The beautiful blue flowers are also referred to as 'Deadmen's Bells' by the Scots since it is believed if an individual hears the ring of a bluebell they are hearing their death knell.

Poisonous foxglove is also alleged to attract faeries. In Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first manuscript for my Garden Gate series, the heroine foolishly plants foxgloves near her rear garden gate. When they bloom, her life is turned inside-out.

Have you stumbled across other faerie flora?

Read excerpts from the Garden Gate series at

Tweet me at @DawnM_Hamilton

~Dawn Marie Hamilton

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sitting Down With Good Friends

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope the weekend was kind to you, and you had lots of time to curl up with a great book!

This week, I finished a book I’d been waiting a long time for. A year, in fact. And I know as a writer that there’s a good reason books takes so long to come out, but as a reader, I can be honest and say it’s hard to wait twelve months for the next installment in my favorite series.

Sitting down with an urban fantasy novel in a series that I’ve been following for years is like visiting with good friends for me. I absolutely adore it. The only down side is the post-reading blues I get when I reach the final page and know that it will be another year before the next one.

Although I’ve always enjoyed dabbling with writing, it was that very sadness that caused me to open my computer for the first time with the intent of writing a novel. It finally occurred to me one day that creating my own characters might be the best way of letting go of others—and boy, was I ever right. There is a wonderful freedom that comes from being able to create your own stories and control your own little mini universe.

I still miss my book friends and reread my favorite books to spend more time with the characters, but for me, creating my own stories is the perfect way to pass the time until the next big release.

I hope you enjoy my stories, like my current release, Slayer’s Kiss. Rest assured, I’m writing the next one as fast as I can! J

Just for fun, if you can guess what UF series I was reading this week and leave your answer in the comments, I’ll send you a free digital copy of Slayer’s Kiss! Good luck!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Gemstone

Acquamarie is the traditional gemstone for March. It's called the Gem of the Sea. This pale to medium blue beryl stone is the symbol of courage, hope and victory. It is credited with curing laziness and quickening intelligence.

Deposits of acquamarine are found in all the continents. The most important ones are in Brazil, with numerous finds in Siberia, Burma, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Rhodesia, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and the United States (Colorado, Connecticut, California, Maine and North Carolina).

There are several legends associated with acquamarine. Did you know that the pale color of an aquamarine is supposed to stir the unconscious and remind one of the Spirit? It allows one to recognize truth and be open to changes in consciousness, especially with matters of the heart. Worn as a magic charm, it ensure good thealth, halts fear, and awakens the mind. To dream of the gemstone means that you will meet new friends.

Lastly, this stone has the power to help husbands and wives work out their differences. Maybe that because the husband buys his wife an aquamarine. Prezzies are always nice.

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, March 23, 2012

March Madness Recap

March Madness began this week on my blog and it has been fantastic so far. If you haven't stopped by yet, take a look at who we've had and maybe you'll find a reason to drop by for a bit.

Monday, we had Publisher and Senior Editor of Entangled Publishing, Liz Pelletier. Liz talks about the ins and outs of Entangled and what writers should aim for when submitting to the line. You can find Liz' interview at this link:

Tuesday starred Alicia Rasley, a brilliant writing instructor, who offers up a great post on pacing and scene endings. A writer can never go wrong by having one of Alicia's writing texts on your reference bookshelf. Alicia's post is at this link:

Wednesday, we shook things up with Kayelle Allen's guest post introducing many of us to the world of Triberr. If you don't know about this social media platform, check out Kayelle's post and download her book. It's a must I think for any author or blogger out there trying to promote yourself. Read Kayelle's post at this link:

Thursday took us to the world of horror with an interview with Samhain Horror Executive Editor Don D'Auria. It's a creepy, scary world out there and it's Don's job to search out the creepiest and scariest for our reading entertainment. Don't miss out on his interview at this link:

Friday, we stick with horror and meet Frazer Lee, author of The Lamplighters. This book will keep you up all night. It's so good that Frazer is up for a Bram Stoker Award. Whether you are a horror lover or not, you will enjoy this interview. The link is here:

March Madness isn't over. There are still seven more guests to appear. Be sure to check back each day. And on the 8th day (the 31st) one lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of Nalini Singh's hardcover KISS OF SNOW.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Yikes! Sorry for the late post everyone. lol Kind of funny since I'm going to be talking about a blogging challenge that'll be starting on April 1st.

In April, I'll be participating in my second A to Z Challenge. What you do is you write a blog each day which corresponds to a letter, except for the Sundays after April 1st. For example, April 1st: A for Angels, April 2nd: B for Banshees, April 3rd: C for Characters. You can choose a topic or you can just do it on whatever you can think of as long as the letters correspond. Last year, my topic was creatures from folklore and mythology. I'm planning on doing that topic again this year.

When I did it last year, I saw it as a neat thing to try since I love challenges. It's one of the reasons why I do NaNoWriMo every year. I didn't expect to meet so many new people, and really it's a great way to do just that. People hop over to your blog and leave comments and you do the same. Plus, it makes you dedicate time to writing blogs, which I obviously struggle with sometimes. *grin*

Anyways, I'm very excited about it. I can't wait to begin since I had so much fun last year. Are you participating too?

Sarah Mäkelä

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Searching for the “Path”

Hi everyone –

I had a SUPER hard time thinking up a blog this week. Why?

Well, first off, I’m not much of a “craft” blogger. See, I have this internal non-fiction editor in my head that whispers “this is boring” and “no one cares about this”… She’s really mean and vicious!

But for some reason when I’m writing fiction, she sits back and shuts up. Maybe she enjoys going along for the ride to see where the story goes?

Now she’s over here with a raised eyebrow whispering that this has nothing to do with the topic.

But she’s wrong.

When I set out to be a published author, there was a “path” to follow, almost like a recipe. You finished your novel and started querying agents. If you were very serious, you also worked on building your publishing credits on the side with short fiction sales.

I followed the recipe with dedication.

I finished my novel, started on the next one, and sold short stories to magazines and anthologies. I collected agent rejections and watched as, to my horror, the path started to fork.


So there I was in the middle of a forest of unknown, staring at the worn places and wondering if they might be paths too. Which one do I take?

In the end, I tried a couple of them.

I gave up on agents for the moment, and self-published a too-long-for-a-short-story-anthology-but-too-short-for-a-novella, Across the Veil.

I learned a LOT. Mostly that I can’t imagine editing and formatting an entire novel on my own, so while that path definitely leads to the goal of getting my story into readers’ hands, it wasn’t going to work for novels, for me.

Backtracking, I followed the next path and submitted to a new publisher with a great new business model that I admired.

And it worked! I got the call, and my first novel was released.

In fact, in May, Night Walker will be re-released in mass-market paperback and on Barnes & Noble shelves across the country! Woot!

But wait… the story’s not over.

My problem is that my goal is to be a full-time writer.

I need more than a couple books to be out and available if I’m ever going to make enough money to write full time. Well shoot!

So now I’m staring longingly at the agent path, and I wonder if maybe they would be able to point me in the right direction.


I have another series in my back pocket. (okay on my harddrive, but I’m trying to keep this in character… LOL) The first two novels are complete with the third underway. If the ultimate goal is to write full-time, then I need them to run out into the world pronto, so that I have a backlist to build from.

But where should I send them?

See why the agent path tempts me? LOL

I do have requests from a few places to see the other series, so I opted to submit it without waiting around to find an agent.

Now we come full circle, and that mean vicious voice is whispering in my head again. “What if none of them want it? What will you do then?”


With all of the options for writers out there, the “Path” seems to get more twisted, with off-shoots that all hold promise. This is a good problem to have, but it’s also scary for those of us with a nasty voice in our heads that thrives on neurotic insecurity.

So I stumble along, unsure which path to take and very grateful that I brought some yummy trail mix to help me remember to enjoy this crazy the journey.

Which path have you chosen? Are you happy with it so far, or are you gazing longingly at another?

Hope I’m not the only one! LOL


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Author Laura Bickle

The Recalcitrant Muse
by Laura Bickle

I've always been envious of people who have good relationships with their muses. A lot of writers I know have healthy relationships with their muses. They take their muses out on coffee dates, have long conversations at the beach while holding hands. Their muses arrive when summoned, sprinkling fairy dust and waving magic wands. They whisper with gossamer voices, reassuring and gentle. They dry frustrated tears with angel feathers. Words flow on paper, inspired and brilliant.

This is not my muse.

My muse is a....well, she's difficult. I suspect that she may have been kicked out of Tooth Fairy school for raiding the cash drawer and was assigned muse duty as penance. She's surly, unpredictable, and wholly unrepentant about being AWOL.

It's not that I haven't tried. I did all the rituals suggested to make friends with my muse. I have a writing nook set up with plenty of sunshine and inspirational art. I played music. I lit candles. I bought her candy. I wrote down statements of intention. Made dream boards. Meditated on the boundlessness of the creativity in the universe.

Nada. My muse laughed at me. She used the candles to light a cigarette before setting fire to my dream board. She complained that the desk was too small and shoddily constructed. She sat on the edge of the desk in her torn fishnet stockings and bitched about the lighting. And she used up all my lipstick.

So I tried to bribe her. I bought her chocolates, made offerings of flowers. I acted like a Shakespearean actor in love, trying to woo her attentions.

She prompty informed me that she didn't like caramel and that my poetry sucked. I think that she also blew smoke in my face and told me I needed to lose weight.

Eventually, I gave up trying to be nice. I was spending a lot of time and energy courting inspiration, and she didn't want to be courted. I asked the benevolent universe for a new muse, but my request was denied. I was stuck with the surly muse who spent more time teasing her hair and sticking gum under my desk than helping me with my novel.

So...I decided to wage war on my muse.

"We are going to write this book, whether you want to or not," I told her. "I have a deadline."

"Oh, yeah?" She watched me with narrowed eyes covered in purple eyeliner. "Just try it, Chickie."

I threw a butterfly net over her, tied her to the chair, and sat on her. She yowled like an aggravated cat and got glitter all over the floor.

But her ass was in the chair. And so was mine. Lo and behold, writing occurred. And it was not bad writing.

I realized something...all this chasing inspiration was really meaningless for me. The only key to success was getting my butt in the chair and doing it, whether inspiration had struck me or not. I could be passive about it, and wait for my muse to bless me with insight...or I could just get to work.

Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010

“One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give.”
—Elizabeth Bear on

“Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.”
—M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels

“Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!”
—Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade

Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

EMBERS is available now from and Barnes & Noble.

Read an excerpt at

Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN 978-1439167687
September 2010


Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

SPARKS is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt at

Author Bio:

Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

Laura/ Alayna’s blogs and

She’s also at Facebook

Monday, March 19, 2012

Just Like A Real Book

A funny thing happened to me last week. After the launch of my dark urban fantasy, Crimson, I took treats to work and told my coworkers they were helping me celebrate an achievement. The reaction was strange and enlightening.

Before I go farther with this little story, let me first explain that I have my cube decorated with printouts of book covers and photos of characters. Now I admit that doesn’t have much, okay, anything, to do with my IT job but it helps me get through the day with the thought that there has to be more than a day job for me.

My coworkers are familiar with these printouts and what they are. Knowing that, I would assume my fellow day workers would have the understanding that I am working toward making my living, not in IT but in publishing.

But apparently that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if they thought I was deluding myself or just bull crapping, but they weren’t taking me seriously. Not until I showed up with goodies to eat and the announcement that Crimson was up for sale.

The reaction was interesting. One of them said, and I quote…”You mean it’s out like a real book?” I informed him it was a real book. Another got on Amazon and started looking. He came over quite surprised and said, “You have a lot of work out.” Why yes. Yes, I do. What did they think I’d been doing for the last six years? Then the clincher. Someone said, “There’s a side to her we didn’t know about.” Yes, he said it.

I am the only female in the department except one gal who shows up part-time. Are all men this out of the loop? Do they think that women with dreams never go beyond dreaming?

This past week they have learned something about me and I have learned a lot about them. Will their denseness show up in some of my future characters? Probably. For a bunch of smart guys, they really missed the bus.

~ Nickie Asher ~

Website *** Facebook *** Twitter

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Editing an editor...

I spend large parts of most days doing some type of editing for other people. My job at Entangled Publishing keeps me busy, but I also do some freelance work, edit for my classes at Wake Tech, and sometimes even get asked to edit by my two teen daughters. I am fortunate to work with awesome authors at Entangled--they are very patient when they get manuscripts back with lots of questions and edits. My daughters, on the other hand, will argue until midnight about a grammatical choice or rule. sigh.

Yes, I enjoy editing. I love thinking through other people's plots and wondering "what if?" and "why not" and "wtf?". Recently, I got to be on the other side of an editor and let me tell you, it was eye-opening.

I have three things publishing this year. I knew I would be getting edits on each and I totally knew there would be lots of work to do. But, wow! I look at the manuscript I sent in and the editor marks and I think, "Did I read this through before sending it?" One manuscript, I had all kind of redundancies. I mean say something, say it again, then say it a third time with thoughts. Really? I am always marking redundancies in other people's stuff--oblivious that it is one of my biggest issues. Oh, I have favorite words, like "just" and "looked" and "chocolate" (not really on the chocolate--but I am craving some Cadbury right now). I use these words a zillion times per chapter. And commas--do I just totally lose my comma-sense when I write? Apparently! Throw in a few tense shifts and POV shifts, and...I think you can get the picture. Lots of work!

What have I learned from going through a couple rounds of edits? I love my editors. Yep. I am so grateful to have an extra review of my writing. The editors I have worked with have not only cleaned up the grammatical garbage, but asked great questions that made me think about motivations and such. My books are definitely better because of them. I can't believe some of the mistakes I made--and some of the unanswered questions I left hanging out there. I am learning so much about my own writing style and my own "issues"--and I am so appreciative!

I often suggest to my authors that they do a global search for this word or that (words they overuse), or check for a certain gesture that gets used again and again (I won't mention the one I overuse...apparently, I need therapy). If they need world-building help, I suggest certain things (go through and make sure you are using all the senses, etc). If they need to work on the romance arc--go through and do a strictly "romance pass". Yes, most of these ideas are obvious, but I think it helps to have someone on your side pointing it out specifically (in a nice way, of course). There is so much involved in crafting a novel--it is difficult!

I keep my own notebook--things that keep popping up again and again in my writing. All and all, I know it will help make me a better writer. I like having a list of things to polish once I think my manuscript is submission-ready. Hey, I need all the help I can get.

What type of "writerly" crimes do you find yourself committing again and again? What tools do you use to make sure you catch them in your manuscript?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Favorite writing books

Today I thought I’d go back to basics-writing craft books.

I’m the type of person who loves information, if I am interested in something I start hoarding info like a dragon coverts gold. So, when I started writing I started hording writing books ;).

Now some have been passed on, given away, or donated. But others still linger around, looked at from time to time, just giving comfort by being there. (I am an admitted bookaholic, being surrounded by them gives me comfort ;)) .

Over the years there have been a few “heavy hitters” and today I’ll bring up three of them :).

The big Kahuna: Techniques of a Selling Writer- Dwight Swain. Ok, first off, this book has nothing to do with selling- but if you follow the techniques you will become more sellable. I call this one the big kahuna based on its size and age. This hefty boy has been around since the 60’s and when you read it you can see where sooooooooooo many other writing books got their stuff from. Honestly, there is so much information here, I can't even sum it up. I can promise you that no matter where you are in your writing- you WILL learn something from this book.

The new twist: Method Writing by Jack Grapes. I am just diving into this book after meeting Jack at the SDSU writer’s conference. Jack is also an actor, and his book is based (sort of) on the method acting school of thought…but for writers. This book (and his workshops) really takes a different approach in terms of writing craft- but it works. His first premise is that all writers need to accept that their story is boring. He even tells people to put that on their computer “MY story is boring.” His approach is different than any other writing book I’ve read, and that’s what makes it work. It’s too easy for us as writers to see our craft only one way, jack’s book goes beyond that and pushes our writing- and our thinking about writing- into new and different areas.

The idea generator: The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference- If you’re working on a fantasy or fantasy romance book- this is a great place to start. Not a craft book really, but a great place to find tidbits of assorted fantasy worlds. Because these tidbits are often small, I would suggest supplementing with a good Google search, but this is great to spark ideas.

Those are just three-I have plenty more ;).

What are some of your favorites? If you could only recommend one book to a new writer- what would you suggest? To a more experienced writer?

Thanks for dropping by!
Marie Andreas

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Madness Around the Corner!

For the second year in a row, I'm putting on a March Madness event. It's two weeks of editors, authors and agents. It's amazing how friendly and receptive people have been. Sure, I sent out a couple of invites that were never acknowledged, but those were few. Generally, everyone I asked was quite happy to take part. The result is a fantastic lineup that spans a variety of genres and topics.

March 19--Liz Pelletier, Publisher and Senior Editor, Entangled Publishing
March 20--Alicia Rasley, Editor, Writing Instructor and Author
March 21--Kayelle Allen, Author and Founder of the Author's Secret
March 22--Don D'Auria, Editor Samhain Horror, Samhain Publishing
March 23--Frazer Lee, Aware-winning writer and director of short horror films & on Final Ballot for a Bram Stoker Award for best debut novel
March 24--Sophia, Director of Fiction Vixen, Inc. & Book Reviewer
March 25--Tom Adair, Retired senior criminologist, Author, and Blogger at Forensics4Fiction
March 26--Marcia James, Author and PR specialist
March 27--Saritza Hernandez, ePub Agent, L. Perkins Agency
March 28--Julie Miller, Multi-published Author of Romantic Suspense & Sizzling Romance
March 29--Christine D'Abo, Author & self-professed sci-fi junkie
March 20--Christie Craig, Photojournalist, Author & Speaker

There will be prizes and giveaways and a wealth of information for you to read. So mark your calendar and stop by each day. You won't be disappointed.

March Madness 3/19-3/30 at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing my friend Christine Danse's latest release. After falling in love with her previous Carina title Island of Icarus, I was happy to read her second. Though werewolves are never my favorite, I am a sucker for a fairytale retelling.

The blurb on the back cover...

Journeying by steam-powered sled to London's Frost Fair to perform, Tara and three friends are trapped in a blizzard in the woods. A gruff, handsome stranger offers them shelter--and wants one thing in return. Stories. 

The travellers are glad to oblige. Their host, Rolph, is especially captivated by Tara's story of an orphaned girl raised by the Fae in the world of the spirits. Equally intrigued by Rolph, and aware of an electric pull between them, Tara encourages him to share a story of his own. When Rolph weaves a tale of a man who is doomed by his own folly to turn into a wolf at the full moon, Tara suspects there is more than a grain of truth in his words. 

When the veil between the mortal and spiritual worlds is parted, and danger threatens, will Tara make the ultimate sacrifice to save Rolph?

Rolph and Tara have spectacular chemistry, which sizzles off the page whenever they are together. Every scene when they are alone is better than the last. I only wish they could have had more! My only let down was there was no consummation of said chemistry. Nothing that goes past a kiss. Which is fine, but I was expecting more.

Though the secondary characters of Tara's fellow entertainers were amusing, there were points when they felt like filler and I wanted them to go away so Rolph and Tara could be alone! More sexy alone time please!

As in Icarus, the Steampunk blend is full of flavor, but not overwhelming. Beauty is not listed on Carina's website as Steampunk, but there are obvious tones of it in this universe. The prose of this novella won me over completely. The descriptions and emotions, such beauty and darkness seen through Tara's eyes.

One of the things (yes, advanced technical term right there) I thought was cool (yes, advanced technical term etc. and so forth) was Rolph was a hunter, excuse me, trapper. He's a trapper and in the story he's doing aspects of his career that you would expect, but usually the details don't make an appearance. These details being freshly dead carcasses, furs, blood, etc. If you feel these would overwhelm you, then this story isn't for you. The realism of it appealed to me.

This novella ranked three out of five stars for me and I would recommend it to all fans of werewolves, Fae, and Steampunk! I cannot wait to read Christine's next release.

To buy your own copy of Beauty in the Beast visit Carina Press and check out more of Christine's work on her website.

-Darcy (of the Drake variety)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing on Accident… Embracing on Purpose

Today’s blog post is inspired by my mother. My mother is an avid romance reader and she’s also working on her own writing. She read a few chapters of Denied (Ruined II) and her comments made me laugh because she said: “I can really relate to the heroine.” And my first response was . . . “So you want to be the first female guard in your kingdom, too?” She laughed, because she’s in the corporate world. I don’t see a lot of sword swinging or archery in her future. But she had a very excellent point. She said that my heroine faces a lot of opposition and what my mother could relate to was being told no and then pursuing her dreams, anyway.

And I realized that I got pretty lucky with Ruined. Readers commented that they could relate to Jessa because she’s a caretaker and does things for others. I think a lot of women can relate to that. And now, here’s Book Two, and I stumbled upon another theme. I’ll admit that some of this might have been in the back of my mind, but I think a lot of it comes from my point of view and some luck. I realized that I did a lot of things by accident with my first book. But the key is to embrace the things that accidentally worked, and apply them to future works. We’re all learning and growing.

I’m going to make it a goal to write relatable heroines. And I’m also going to make it a goal to be aware of what works and what doesn’t in my writing and to make an effort to apply the good to the future, and learn from the bad.

Perhaps the key to fantasy is writing the problems we face as humans, and setting them in a fantasy realm. Beyond the magic, these core human emotions will keep us coming back to the series we love the most.

I’ll never forget the fifth Harry Potter movie. I read the book, but I specifically remember the movie. It’s depressing! Poor Harry! He watches a horrible tragedy at the end of four, and then can it get any worse? Yes. Because it does! I think everyone can relate to Harry in those moments. The world keeps beating him up, and somehow he struggles through. That movie makes my heart ache because the side of good keeps failing and the side of bad keeps winning.

Since fiction is built on conflict, it can be very hard to write such gut wrenching scenes for our characters. But I think those are the parts readers relate to the most. Even if we occasionally do it by accident.

I used to say that you can do can nothing by accident in writing. But I’m not sure that’s true anymore, because I think I managed to do a few things by accident. Maybe I should correct myself by saying: You’re not likely to do anything by accident twice. But I’m sure I’ll prove myself wrong again.

What do you think about incorporating humanity into fantasy writing?

Kinley Baker

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tossing Cyber Confetti

I'm celebrating!

Just Once in a Very Blue Moon, the second tale in my Garden Gate series, won 1st place in the paranormal single title category of FTHRW's Wallflower contest. I'm absolutely thrilled.

Congrats to all the winners!

2011 FTHRW Wallflower Winners:


Opening Hook
4th PLACE – DON'T DOUBT THE DRAGON by Greta MacEachern


Contemporary Single Title
1st PLACE (Tie) – I LOVE LUCY by Jen Harris
1ST PLACE (Tie) – VIKING RULES by Lori Larson
1ST PLACE (Tie) – WHEN SPARROWS CRY by Heidi Luchterhand
4th PLACE – LIES THROUGH A LENS by Nikki Weston

Series Romance

Paranormal Single Title
1st PLACE – JUST ONCE IN A VERY BLUE MOON by Dawn Marie Hamilton
2nd PLACE – THE VAGRANT by Joe Fraser
3rd PLACE – THIEF OF MEMORIES by Kate MacEachern
4th PLACE - THREADS by Brenda Nelson-Davis


2nd PLACE – FATAL FASCINATION by Josie Riviera
3rd PLACE (Tie) – WISHING YOU WERE HERE by Catherine Chant
3rd PLACE (Tie) – LOVING LORD LOXLEY by Madeline Smyth

And if that news wasn't enough to get me dancing a Scottish jig, more good news hit my email box yesterday.

Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first tale in my Garden Gate series, is a semi-finalist in the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales' Recipe For Success Write-off Contest. How cool is that?

How do you celebrate those little successes that bring you closer to your ultimate goal?

You can read excerpts from the Garden Gate series at

Tweet me at @DawnM_Hamilton

~Dawn Marie Hamilton


Monday, March 12, 2012

Don't Cross that Line

I went to see a movie last night with a friend. It was a movie I’d already seen once—This Means War—and it got me thinking about stories between the pages versus stories on the screen. (Minor SPOILERS ahead!)

This Means War is a classic love triangle. I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with love triangles. I think it’s the unpredictability that does it for me. And this movie had all the key elements that draw me in. I was enthralled, looking for clues as to who really loved the heroine the most and who deserved her love in return.

As much as I love romantic tension and an unfolding love story though, Hollywood movies sometimes get away with things we’d never allow in our fiction. In this case, the heroine learns at the end that both men are spies, but there’s never a moment of reckoning where the men are held accountable for lying to her, faking their dates, bugging her home, or—gasp—allowing their sexual encounters to be filmed and watched by a team of office techies.

I don’t care what genre of fiction you write or read—I don’t think we would tolerate that in a romance novel or urban fantasy without the hero going through hell to be redeemed. We’ll allow many things in the books we read, but I think readers draw the line at two things, heroines who are too stupid to live and heroes who betray the heroine and are never held accountable for their actions before the HEA.

What do you think? What are your boundaries in the fiction you read, both things that you need from a novel and things that are a definite no-no?

Thanks for visting!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Witches

What do witches do in March?

The same as you and me. Winter is losing its grip on the world and spring is ready to announce itself with the Vernal Equinox--the night when the dark and light are equal. This day is celebrated with decorated eggs and spring flowers. Witches like to mediate to bring their life into balance. On this magical day, witches will sit and listen to the 'silence' in nature. They go outside and walk where they live, often carrying a notepad to keep a record and date of what they observe. They learn to identify plant names as they walk their neighborhood, looking around and taking note of the volunteer plants.

So, what is the theme for witches (or anyone else) in March?

Appreicate the wonders of nature. Learn the magical and sacred places near your home and those places with others around you. Share you knowledge about your landscape and gardening through storytelling and artwork. This is the season of celebration, so weave everything together and celebrate.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Recently I've had to figure out titles for a couple of new projects. One of which is going to be my next Changeling Press release coming out in a couple months as part of my Hacked Investigations cyberpunk romance series. The other is a project I turned in for a submission call.

My upcoming Changeling Press release is called Blacklist Rogue, and while I scratched my head for a while and brainstormed with my husband a little, it wasn't too hard to come up with once I figured out the pattern I'd unconsciously come up with in titling the books in the Hacked Investigations series. Techno Crazed was the first one and then Savage Bytes. I realized I could break it down into a technical term and an intense, negative adjective. Having a pattern to work from is a bit freeing in that for the fourth book, I'd just have to go back and think... technical term and adjective.

Another example of working with a pattern is Lisa Kessler's Night Walker, Night Thief, Night Demon. I can't say that coming up with titles is my strong point so that method is like a sigh of relief to me.

Where it gets difficult, for me at least, is when you're starting out a series or writing a standalone. I always put off titling my books until I can't possibly hold off anymore since it's not really an enjoyable part of writing for me, unless I have one of those flashes of inspiration where a title just hits me between the eyes.

With these titles, I try to think of the themes and characters and what's going on in the book. For instance, my latest release Captive Moonlight, I picked out that the hero is taken captive and he's a werewolf. So I thought of Captive and all the words related to a werewolf. Moon... Wolf... Moonlight... I finally decided on Captive Moonlight since I liked the way it read, and it fit the criteria for what I had thought up.

So, here are my questions for all of you, which I'm really curious about. For authors, when and how do you come up with your titles? Readers, what kinds of titles pique your curiosity when you're browsing for books?

~ Sarah Mäkelä

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Goodies & Swag

Hi everyone –

This is going to be a busy March for me… I have 3 different blog hops! Yikes!

As an author, I have a blast during blog hops! I usually meet a few new readers, gain lots of new newsletter and blog subscribers, and give away prizes…

It’s the prizes I wanted to chat about…

I participated in a small author blog hop (with a couple of authors from Castles & Guns too!) and a few have sent me some swag to include with our grand prize new kindle.

One of them made the coolest key chain from a shrinky-dink of her book cover…. GENIUS!!! I love shrink-dinks! How did I not know you could print them and shrink them???

Anyway, it made me wonder what other cool things I’m missing out of… Have you ever made or received some really cool author swag items? What were they and why did you love them?

I can’t wait to hear…

Thanks for helping a girl out! LOL

Lisa Kessler

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Author Shona Husk

Does a Vampire’s age matter?

The Vampire electric string quartet Lucinda’s Lover started with a walk on part in an unpublished urban fantasy. Once on stage they demanded more time in the spot light, and I was happy to oblige because writing about vampire rock stars is fun. Each novella is standalone but read from the start they cover the band from inception to the end (I’m writing Enchanting Absinthe at the moment).

All four guys are very different and being vampire they vary wildly in age from just over 180 years to over seven hundred years—which means their life experiences color who they have become—some more dramatically than others.

Owen (stage name Sirius) is the eldest and right from the start I knew his age was catching up with him—after all not even a Vampire can live forever. I also knew Sharing Sirius would be a ménage story full of angst and doubt as Owen’s lover Jack decided on a very risky course of action to save his lover from the ennui—a boredom with life that sucks a Vampire’s will to go on.

For me a Vampire’s age does matter as I need to place them in history and understand the things they’d have seen. What they have done and how their previous relationships have ended will effect who they have become and when playing with centuries instead of decades there’s a lot of material to work with.

Sharing Sirius

In ancient Vampires, boredom can literally kill. When Jack sees Owen beginning to succumb, he knows he is no longer enough. Owen needs the blood of another lover to survive. So Jack turns to Katya, hoping she can entice Owen into living again.

At first Katya denies her lust to her boss, even though she’s wanted him for years. With Jack promising to look the other way, she has a scorching-hot encounter Owen.

Owen doesn’t want to admit what is happening to him. He doesn’t want to cheat and break Jack’s heart, and yet he can’t resist Katya. But Katya and Jack have their own sexy plan. And neither of them intend to lose Owen.

Buy links:


A civil designer by day and an author by night, Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally.

With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and Sourcebooks. You can find out more at

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why Do Some Authors Connect on Such a Huge Scale?

I have analyzed this question over and over. Is it their dazzling plot? No, I don’t think so because I’ve read more than one best seller that, in my opinion, didn’t have that great of a plot. I wouldn’t necessarily say the plot was bad, not at all, just that it didn’t grab me by the throat and not let go.

Is it their skill with craft? Again, no. An author can have excellent skill, write perfect sentences and paragraphs and deliver a story that doesn’t move me one inch. It isn’t craft.

Is it sparking dialogue, lovely description, and plentiful use of the senses to draw me deeper into the story? No. Though getting these things right is important, they aren’t going to make me toss the book if the author still needs to work on these points.

Is it the story itself? Partially. I believe the story is the first part of what it takes to write a knock out book. There are two other critical pieces, in my opinion, to what sets some writers so far ahead of the pack.

The next piece is the characters. The characters that stick in my mind are all larger than life. I’ve never been moved, much less found a character so interesting that I remembered him or her more than a short time after I closed the book that wasn’t larger than life. Being larger than life doesn’t mean they have to be paranormal characters. Think of Captain Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Not to mention Scarlett. These characters are unforgettable.

The last part of the puzzle, in my opinion, is the author’s voice, his or her way of telling the story. There is nothing better, at least for me, than an author who has such a strong voice that I would know who they were if I was handed a book but not given the title or the author’s name. This is their sound, much like there are a few guitar players who I can identify simply by their sound. I don’t need to be told who they are. I can tell who they are by the way their guitar speaks, its voice, same with the way some authors tell a story.

I believe those are the things that make an author great. Or not.

What do you think? What elements do you believe takes a writer to that level of success?

~ Nickie Asher ~

Website *** Facebook *** Twitter

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Writing Retreat

Many of you who know me know I have been away at a writer's retreat all week. I'm at LRWA's famous Hermit Week and I have had a fabulous time. What is Hermit Week? It is pretty much just like it sounds--you go away to write and kinda become a hermit for a week. This retreat is just outside Charleston, SC and we are in a very large house right on the beach. I am on the third floor and I have a little balcony--and I can hear the waves right now as I type (and the door is closed).

We are quiet all day so all the writers can work (there are 10 of us--each has a private bedroom/bath) and then around 5:30 or so we gather for a shared dinner, wine, and lots of chat!

I came here with a word count goal. I would forge ahead and get lots of words down. Well, I did get lots of words down but many other cool things happened that I did not expect.
  • I made friends
  • I thought
  • I walked on the beach
  • I watched dolphins
  • I looked at the stars
  • I tried new wines
  • I listened to the waves
  • I walked in the water
Perhaps the biggest thing I did (that I didn't even know I still had the capacity to do) was sit and think without multi-tasking. Just think. Not move, do laundry, *anything* but sit and think. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it felt. I know I am pretty wound up most of the time with a billion things going on--but I am going to find a way to just sit quietly and think every day. Even if I can steal a few minutes--it helps so much.

Have you been to a writing retreat? If not, why not? I think you could make your own--just get out of the house/office. Even a day retreat at the park to write. Go somewhere you haven't ever been--or been in a long while. Try it! You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. I know I was. And now I have a plan!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

How do you write?

I’m starting a new project, actually, continuing my NaNoWriMo 2011 project, so I’ve been thinking of how this book will come to life.

It seems all of my books have different births, in part based on where I am mentally in my personal and writing life, as well as the book itself. But I don't usually make a conscious note of it.

But I’m taking stock on what I’ll do THIS time.

SAKARI’S WAR started life as a blurb that I created on the fly for a “call for blurbs” for a small pub. However, the blurb was for a short story and once I looked at what I had, it was clear it was too big for a short story ;). (Some things have changed since this, but this was its “birth”.)

Lady Sakari is a pirate of the New Order. A new breed of pirate without cause or county- or water. The fighting dirigible Lady Sakari commands is one of many taking to the skies on both sides of the Great War. However, unlike the military vessels on either side, Sakari doesn’t really care who wins. She also shoved the last man who used her title over board.

Sakari keeps her tiny band of pirates airborne, only touching land briefly to gather supplies. The war between the fae and the mortals has blurred former lines between nations, and her homeland of Lysteria is faring badly.

When a raid goes horribly wrong, Sakari finds herself having to help the people of the town of New Ghiern defend their land against a new wave from the fae world. In doing so she finds herself forced to escort a pampered Ghiern princeling to safer ground.

However, Lady Sakari isn’t human, and the princeling isn’t a prince at all. Together they find the war is far worse than they thought and neither side has a chance of surviving. Even worse, an attraction is starting to grow between them that could end both their worlds.

Once I decided it needed to be a full sized book, I decided to get it started through the trial by fire of NaNo. I made my 50,000 words for the month, then set it aside for a few months. The writing for NaNo is so furious and fast that I’ve found that major down time is needed before continuing on the project.

After the required cooling off period, I’m now ready to dive in- I did cut out the known dead weight, but still have a nice skeleton to start with. Each one of my books is different, like I said, and this one is as well.

It’s a romantic fantasy for one- not just a “fantasy with romantic elements” but a real (in theory anyway) fantasy romance. Secondly- it’s a stand alone. I am a series gal, and I love trilogies. But as it’s currently standing- this is a single book.

And my crafting of it is going to be a bit different too. Even though I’m a visual person, I’ve never done any sort of collage for my books. Thanks to the evilness (because it’s addicting) of Pinterest, I’ve already started “pinning” images that strike the right feel for my book on my board.

This book is also based on a bastardized version of our world…VERY bastardized. I’m making major leaps and turns from history in different areas, so I need to do way more historical research than usual. For me to change history, I need to know history (mostly Welsh and Korean – you’ll just have to read the book to see how THOSE two get combined!)

I’m also going to pre-plan each writing session. I’m a pantser by nature, but I read a great blog on increasing your word count. One of her things was knowledge- as in knowing what you’re going to write (even just a general idea) before you dive in. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but this time I will :).

It’s a great blog post so if you want to see more- go here

So, for this book I’ll have images and a map and some serious history to mess up-that’s my plan anyway. Goal is to have the rough draft done in 6 months (start time hopefully end of this month as I’m finishing another project with a deadline.)
What about you? Do you consciously change you style each time? Add new things? Or stick with the same pattern?

Have a great week-end!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Getting into the Aztec World

As the apocalyptic date of 2012 approaches, so does the release date of my latest novella, Shadow Visions. This is a darker tale filled with mystery, suspense, and a heroine mired in her own murky past. The stakes are higher, the demons more devious and the gods even more deadly.

I have to say I am completely in love with Aztec lore and the history behind these enriching tales. The best part is I am learning a whole new language! The god featured in this Shadow Warrior's book is Metztli, a duality god, who is both male and female. He represented the lowly moon that was never as bright or radiant as the sun. Metztli is considered an inferior god, who tried to become the sun but failed and upon the end of his trial by fire was slapped in the face with a rabbit that was forever to be worn as his mantle of shame. His name is unisex and means Goddess of Night/God of Night.

I really am trying to learn how to pronounce the words I write in my stories. I found a sound clip of how to pronounce the name of the deadly god in my latest novealla.

And as if I am not having enough fun with this series, I got the cover art for Shadow Visions. It is absolutely gorgeous!

I hope you join me for more fun in three weeks when I kick off March Madness with authors, editors, publishers and more. Please stop by the blog for more information!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eye-Roll-and-Sigh Moments

It may shock some to learn that I am not a fan of romantic comedy/drama films. I write Romance, so obviously I shouldn't squirm in my seat while watching a trailer for a new guy-meets-girl movie. And it has nothing to do with that so often Romance novels are fun, witty, and clever and romantic comedies/dramas are cliche-filled misery on film. No, no, that isn't fair and there are many “chick flicks” (I hate that term) that I do enjoy and champion them for their virtues.

The Full Spectrum 
One of my favorite romantic comedies is 'No Strings Attached.' I love it for many reasons, but one is they show a huge variety of relationships. The unconventional 'just sex' friends, the loving gay couple/parents, the hold-the-door-open-romantic-dinner-dancing courtship, mixed ages of partners, the girl who wants to play the field and have fun, the open relationship, and many more I am sure I am neglecting to note. Please forgive me! I applaud the variety and I wish more books and films made the same effort.

The Career Girl Keeps On Working 
At the beginning of the film, our heroine enjoys her job and has great aspirations for it. By the finish... she still enjoys her job! Maybe she doesn't think it's the only important part of her life, but she hasn't quit her fabulous job or given it up for some ridiculous reason. An example would be in 'The Accidental Husband,' the heroine has a popular radio show at the beginning and at the end of movie.

Learn Something New Everyday! 
I'm a sucker for “edutainment.” Always loved computer games that involved a mystery and learning something cool. That continued to my reading material and film choices. I love learning about other cultures and careers different from my own. While this isn't a 'must have' for me to enjoy a romantic comedy, I do love the addition, especially in the process of development for characters and the plot.

Now, some of what I have decided are cinematic sins...

The Guaranteed Death 
You just know either the hero or heroine are going to end up deceased. Something about this makes me feel grossly manipulated.

Worst Day Ever 
I am as big a fan of situational comedy as the next person. Nor do I have a problem with the heroine being made to look foolish in a story, but there is a point of ridiculousness. 'Leap Year,' 'The Back-Up Plan,' I could go on and on... It's as if the makers of said films want to punish womankind by making one in particular suffer.

“Men are like this...” and “Women are like that...” 
This rule applies to all situations. I hate being told men and women are certain kinds of things and everything is black and white. ('The Accidental Husband' is the exception to the rule as it works with the story.) For no reason whatsoever, the characters like to go into rants about men and women. I DO NOT CARE. It triggers my need to be unreasonably pretentious and go into a ten minute tirade, employing terms such as 'gender binary' and 'social pre-conditioning.'

What receives your applause in books and films and what are your own eye-roll-and-sigh traits?

-Darcy (of the Drake variety)