Monday, August 1, 2011

Author Interview: Calvin Davis

Welcome, Calvin Davis, author of the newly released novel, The Phantom Lady of Paris!

Who is the Phantom Lady, and why do readers want to get to know her?

The Phantom Lady, who is she? I made her the personification of what we all are or want to be, and that is…FREE. There is something in our nature, especially in the nature of Americans, something that detests confinement and chains, restrictions that clamp the body as well as the mind and spirit. In that sense, The Phantom Lady of Paris is a portrait of ourselves.




We, like her, strongly believe we were born to be free, or, to use The Lady’s own words, born “to fly like an eagle mountain-high,” up among clouds, where inhibiting laws of society and earthly gravity don’t exist, where we are free.

I trust that in examining The Phantom Lady of Paris the reader sees not some meaningless fictional character, but a portrait of his inner self. For after all, that’s what a good novel is about. It’s about us. We with our flaws, virtues, struggles, hopes and dreams. All of which The Phantom Lady had. With special emphasis on the latter – dreams. For she had a dream. Don’t we all?

What genre is this book?

I don’t have the faintest idea. When I penned The Lady I didn’t worry about genre, didn’t’ even think about it. There was only one thing on my mind: Can I write a good story? Nothing else was important. When you have told a good story someone smarter than you will decide what genre it is. If I had thought about genre when scribing The Phantom Lady, I probably wouldn’t/couldn’t have written it.

There’s an interesting tale of an insect asking a centipede how he was able to walk with so many legs.

“Um,” replied the centipede, “I never thought about it.”

“You should.”

“OK, I’ll give it some thought.” The multi-legged insect then started walking, tripped and killed himself.



Not wanting to end up like the centipede, I didn’t think about genre when penning The Lady. If I had, she probably would never have been born, and I’m happy I gave birth to her. She’s a good looking kid. But then again, all parents say that about their children, don’t they?


When you held your book in your hands for the very first time, how did you feel?

I felt the same way The Phantom Lady of Paris does at the end of my novel: as if I’d escaped the confines of earth’s gravity. In a word, I felt Free, and that’s with a capital “F.” Novel in hand, I suddenly glimpsed a rush of mental reruns, a few going back five and a half years, the time it took to pen The Lady.

In many of these scenes I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, filling blank sheets of paper with word sketches of a woman I was determined to breathe life into. Then more reruns. In these I was in America, slouching in a McDonald’s booth with my legal pad before me and a cup of black coffee beside it. Writing. Writing. Ever writing.



And in every one of these scenes, I heard a voice ask, “Why are you doing all this work?”

“Work? Not work. Putting words on paper may be as close to heaven I’ll get here on earth.”

“Oh. But anyway…why?”

“Because God has declared that finishing The Lady is my mission on this planet. And I must do what The Omnipotent dictates.”

“But if you finish your novel, the book may not be printed.”

“I know.”

“And if it is printed, critics may rip it to shreds.”

“Look, many critics panned Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the press the day after he delivered it. So, let critics do what critics have always done. I must do what I must do.”

“Oh, I see…ah…sorry I disturbed you. Meanwhile, keep writing.”

“That’s for sure.”

What's it like being a published author who's married to another published author?
Delightful. It’s wonderful to be around someone who is interested in the same thing you’re interested in. When we met, I was the one who was writing. Vonnie wasn’t. But she, like The Phantom Lady in my novel, had a secret dream: she longed to put to paper not one novel, but many. However, she didn’t even dare think of turning that desire into reality. She found it impossible to envision that she could.

That’s where I came in. I convinced her that novelists were not super human beings. What they did – as she could do – was sit in front of a blank computer screen and write just one good and true sentence, and make that the first sentence of a novel. Then write another and another until the writer, without giving up, finishes a novel. And once she accepted this premise, soon afterwards, voila, Vonnie Davis, the woman who “knew” she couldn’t write a novel, was writing a novel.

Writing a novel? Wrong. Writing several novels. My God, she writes them faster than I can. It’s incredible. Things it took me years through trial and error to learn about the novelist’s craft, she picked up in months. She now mentors other novelists. Editing their material. Giving internet courses in points of view, etc., etc. And all this from someone who knew she couldn’t pen a work of fiction. Not bad. All she needed in the past was to adopt this credo: “I will write a novel and nothing on this planet can stop me – period. NO, EXCLAMATION POINT!”


Vonnie finally made that her credo her own, and now she’s on her way. Me? I’m smart enough to see that the pilot gets ample flying space. To her I say the same thing the narrator said to The Phantom Lady of Paris in my novel when The Lady was emancipated, “Go! Beyond the speed of sound. Go! And, like an eagle on outstretched wings soaring mountain-high, fly on…fly on…fly on.”






Will you share an excerpt of The Phantom Lady of Paris?

Certainly, here’s the beginning --

The Phantom Lady of Paris? I knew her well. On the other hand—as I later discovered—I didn’t know her at all. The woman did everything wrong. She did nothing wrong. She was a Jezebel, deceptive in every way. I’ve never known a more honest and straightforward person. During our relationship, she kept me constantly jittery and perturbed. The happiest days of my life were those I shared with the Phantom Lady of Paris. They were the golden days, the good times, good, that is, until…


Don’t let her name mislead. She was not an apparition, nor a creation of some writer’s fantasy, a fiend-like character in, say, an Edgar Allen Poe tale or one by Stephen King or Franz Kafka. No, she was real all right and, above all, she was human, more human than anyone I’d known and, I’m sure, will ever know again. And in spite of my blundering ways, she taught me what it really means to be a human being.

The Phantom Lady was a down-to-earth mortal possessing a unique dream, one fabricated from her passion for living, some of which passion she shared with me and with others fortunate enough to have known her.

As her name suggests, she lived in Paris, lived there during the most turbulent times the city has known since the bloodletting and mayhem of the French Revolution. She resided in The City of Light during the Vietnam War and peace protests in the United States and Europe, Sorbonne student riots on the Left Bank and worldwide clashes between “The Establishment” and “The Flower Generation.” It was an era of cataclysmic social eruption and revolutionary clashes of ideas and age groups.

I was a grown man when I met the Phantom Lady. All was going well with me. My life was in balance, and I knew how to live it. In spite of that, the moment the Phantom Lady and I met marked the real beginning of my life. Everything preceding that instant was meaningless prologue. During our initial chat, which lasted about three hours—though it seemed a fleeting moment, I learned for the first time what life is all about and how I should live mine.

On the morning we met, she taught me many things about myself that were, until then, mysteries. And what did I learn about her? Very little. Basically, I learned that she was more question marks than periods, and that something mysterious lurked behind each question mark.

I wasn’t prepared for what the hidden thing turned out to be. But looking back at what happened the morning I met her and everything that ensued, I wonder, what human being could have possibly prepared for the startling revelation that developed and how it would change not only my life, but hers…and change both forever?

Who could have been prepared?

No one.

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/oaRJQ6

http://www.calscosmos.blogspot.com/

http://www.calvindavisbooks.com/

Friday, July 29, 2011

Author Interview: Vonnie Davis

A big, giant welcome to my friend and romance author, Ms. Vonnie Davis! Vonnie is here today as part of her virtual book tour to promote Storm's Interlude--a fabulous romance, complete with a sassy heroine and a muscular cowboy hero.


Enjoy the interview!!!


Your debut novel Storm's Interlude just released this month. Congratulations! Tell us a little about your journey to get to this point.

Someone asked me if my journey to publication was a walk in the park or a tiring jog over hot coals? I replied it was more like a roller-coaster ride. My family told me, when I first expressed a desire to write at the age of twelve, that I had no talent. I folded my dream and tucked it into that secret, yearning place of my heart where private dreams are warehoused. Every so often, I’d take the treasured dream out, unfold it and wonder. And like that long, slow, eerily quiet ride up the steep first hill of a giant roller-coaster, I kept asking myself could do it? Could I? Could I?

Two years ago, I finished my first book and was able to get an agent. Too bad we couldn’t get a publisher. I set the project and my wounded pride aside and started Storm’s Interlude on the 4th of July last year. The story just flowed, and I had it written in 3 months. Once my agent got around to reading it, she sent me a text saying she was “loving it.” Dawn read it in two days. We did two back-and-forth’s with Tract Changes before she felt it was ready to “shop out.”

Then the roller-coaster executed its first dip, leading to a wild ride of twists and turns. Dawn started shopping it out on a Monday to a list of publishers of varied sizes that we’d agreed upon. A small publisher sent a contract the following Monday. Dawn and I talked on the phone for over an hour about the pros and cons of their offer. I told her I was hoping we’d hear from The Wild Rose Press. Her reply? “If that’s the one you want, let me see what I can do.” Not only did she contact TWRP, but she also emailed all the publishers she queried and told them I’d been offered a contract, but that she’d hold me off from signing for two weeks to give other publishers a chance to offer. I thought at the time she was being very ballsy; I mean, I’m a nobody—and an unpublished nobody, at that. Almost all of them agreed to the two-week deadline. My nerves were a mess. What if no one wanted it? What if the first publisher got miffed because I was stalling on signing and rescinded their offer? Then I’d have nothing. I was living on Tums.

One week later, TWRP offered. So I had two contract offers in two weeks. I was ready to sign to end the angst, believe me. Dawn wanted me to wait—just to see. Calvin went to the drugstore for more Tums.

No more contracts were offered, but I did get the nicest rejection from an editor at Harlequin, who said she loved my characters and story. But since I wrote similar to Linda Lael Miller, she’d have a hard time convincing the acquisitions committee to take on another writer in the same vein. I cried. I mean, just the thought of Ms. Miller and me in the same sentence was overwhelming. I’m sure the lady was just being kind; I could never be in Ms. Miller’s league, but who wouldn’t love such a complement?

So from the time I typed “Chapter One” to the day I held the book in my hands exactly one year passed. One wild, exceptional, lovely year.

You recently had a book release party. How did that go? Any tips for writers who might be thinking about having their own event?

Our book release socials are something we do for all writers in our writers group here in Lynchburg. We have 4 published authors and several who publish in magazines. Our socials are nothing fancy. Everyone brings a dish. We eat, we laugh, we party and the author reads selections from the book. Someone from the local newspaper comes. Friends and family of the author are also invited.

Why romance?

Romance is what I read. It’s what I love. I love stories of hope, and that’s what every romance is—the hope that everyone can be loved exclusively, warts, phobias, cottage cheese thighs and all, by another person.

Any plans to write in another genre?

Have you been inside my mind lately? I’m a “what-if” kind of person. I have to see if I can write all forms of romance. Storm’s Interlude is a contemporary romance. I also write historical and romantic suspense. I’m doing research on werewolves and shapeshifters to try my hand at F,F and P’s (fantasy, futuristic and paranormal). Could I write women’s lit or young adult? I doubt it. I’ve spent so much time studying the tenets and expectations of romance, that I’d almost have to start over with studies on another genre’s form. Of course, one must never say, “Never.”

If your main characters, Rachel and Storm, could each say one thing to readers, what would it be?

Storm would tell you that dreams can come true.

Rachel would encourage you to turn every heartache and every adverse experience into an advantage. Be strong. Be a force to be reckoned with. I love strong female characters.

What's going on in your writing life right now? Anything upcoming or in the works?
This week I’m focusing on the 4 writers I mentor. Seems they’ve all sent me chapters to critique. Their timing isn’t always the greatest, but how are they to know when others need help, too. And face it, we all need help now and then.

I have a short story (38,000 words) under the critical eye of a senior editor. That one is a contemporary romance, involving a wounded vet from the Iraq War. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also have a novel going through the second layer of evaluation; an editor liked it and passed it onto her senior editor. Mona Lisa’s Room is a romantic suspense set in Paris. It’s the first of a trilogy in The Red Hand Conspiracy. The first book involves an older woman, a younger government agent and vengeful terrorists—and, of course, a few chuckles. Both editors tell us we should hear by mid-August, so, it is major nail biting time. Did I say keep your fingers crossed?

What do your kids and grandkids think of their mom/grandma being a published romance author?

My kids are proud; they know how long I’ve dreamed of doing this. I talked to my oldest son last night on the phone. “Mr-Uptight-Assistant-Middle-School-Principal” said he hadn’t worked up courage to read my book yet. Claimed that reading a sex scene written by his mother would be akin to incest. Of course I laughed. He knew I would.

Only 3 of my 6 grandchildren are old enough to read Storm’s Interlude. I did ask my twenty-one year old grandson, Mr-WildńCrazy, to read a sex scene for his opinion. He read a few paragraphs and slid his eyes to mine. “Grandma, this is a side of you I’ve never seen. Gotta tell ya, gives me the willies.” Men! Go figure. And they say women are weak and squeamish.

I’d like to share the beginning of my novel, my hook


Someone swaggered out of the moonlit night toward Rachel. Exhausted from a long day of driving, she braked and blinked. Either she was hallucinating or her sugar levels had plummeted. Maybe that accounted for the male mirage, albeit a very magnificent male mirage, trekking toward her. She peered once more into the hot July night at the image illuminated by her headlights. Sure enough, there he was, cresting the hill on foot—a naked man wearing nothing but a black cowboy hat, a pair of boots and a go-to-hell sneer.

Well, well, things really did grow bigger in Texas. The man quickly covered his privates with his black Stetson. Rachel sighed. The show was evidently over. Should she stand up in her Beetle convertible and applaud? Give a couple cat calls? Wolf whistles? Maybe not.

She turned down the music on the car’s CD player. Sounds of crickets and a lonely bullfrog in the distance created a nighttime symphony in the stillness of this isolated stretch of country road. Lightning bugs darted back and forth, blinking a display of neon yellow glow.

The naked man strode toward her car, and Rachel’s heart rate kicked up. Common sense told her to step on the gas, yet what woman wanted to drive away from such a riveting sight? Still, life had taught her to be careful. She reached into her handbag and extracted her chrome revolver. Before he reached her car, she quickly slid her gun under the folds of her skirt. Just let him try anything funny—I know how to take care of myself.

Both of his large hands clasped his hat to his groin. His face bore annoyance and a touch of chagrin. “I need a ride.” By his bearing and commanding tone of voice, she guessed the man was used to giving orders and having them followed.

Her eyes took a slow journey across his face. Even in the moonlight, she could see traces of Native heritage. His shoulder-length ebony hair, too long for her tastes, glistened against his bronzed skin. Proud arrogant eyes sparked anger.

Because Rachel believed in indulging herself, she allowed her eyes to travel over his broad shoulders, muscular chest and tight abdominal muscles. She saw a thin trail of dark hair starting below his navel, knowing full well where it ended, and fought back a groan. Her eyes slid back up to lock on his. “You need a pair of pants, too.” Knowing her voice hummed with desire, she cleared her throat, hoping the naked man hadn’t noticed.

He looked up at the sky for a beat. “Just my freakin’ luck! A birthday party gone bad, and now I’m bein’ ogled by some horny kid with damnable blue eyes.”

What the heck was wrong with her eyes? She quickly glanced in her rearview mirror and saw nothing amiss. She narrowed those “damnable blue eyes” and sneered. “Look, buster, I’m not the one prancing around Texas naked as a jaybird. I’ll have you know I’m hardly a kid.” She glanced down at the black cowboy hat. “And, furthermore, stop hiding behind that big ol’ Stetson. From what I saw, a French beret would do the job.”

There, let the arrogant fool stew on that while he strutted back to whatever rock he crawled out from under. She slammed her car in gear and sped off.

She swore she wouldn’t look in her rearview mirror. Nope, she would not look. Like a magnet emitting a powerful homing signal, her eyes slowly slid to the glass surface. He was standing where she’d left him…
what do you think? Did she go back?

Buy links:

http://amzn.to/pkkcLq -- Amazon.


http://bit.ly/pb9DQd -- Barnes and Noble, NOOK version only.

http://bit.ly/rcCIMa -- The Wild Rose Press

Visit my blog sometime. www.vintagevonnie.blogpsot.com

Website: www.vonniedavis.com

Friday, July 22, 2011

Read For A Great Cause: Disaster Relief

I would like to thank Rhiannon for hosting Sarah and I today and for helping spread the word about our charity shorts. Please take a moment to learn about each natural disaster that our books benefit and how you can help by donating and getting a great read! Thank you!



When disaster strikes, there's a moment when we forget all boundaries. Geographic, political, and socioeconomic divisions fall, and there, for some of the most painful, beautiful moments in time, we are one.


Then—hour by hour, day by day, week by week—the vast majority of us lucky enough to do so will move on. As the headlines change our focus moves elsewhere, and save for the occasional media update, many of us don't look back.

Some, however, struggle to look ahead. Here's a glimpse at the staggering numbers and the broken realities affected residents of Alabama and Japan must face every day.


ALABAMA TORNADOES – April 27, 2011

The mile-wide F5 tornado that literally sliced the state of Alabama in half stayed on the ground for an astonishing 300 miles—a record-breaking distance, according to National Geographic. It also left a path of utter devastation in its wake, and recovery hasn't been easy, as evidenced by these facts reported by blog.al.com.

• 25,081 families were denied FEMA insurance, including many whose homes had been wiped completely off their foundations. FEMA's reason? Insufficient damage.
• Following the April tornadoes, FEMA deployed 523 inspectors to the region. Together, they've inspected over 5,000 properties a day. That's a lot of destruction, folks.
• Of the $4 million in initial FEMA aid for Alabama, $3.1 million went for temporary housing alone.


JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE – March 11, 2011

A June 29 update from Red Cross Japan reveals the following sober statistics:
• 75,215 people from the three most affected prefectures are still living in shelters or other temporary housing. 7,427 are still missing, their loved ones fearing the worst.
• 119,776 claims for unemployment were filed between March 11 and June 8 in the three most affected prefectures.
• 97,183 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. 35, 514 have left the Fukushima prefecture, forced to start over with nothing.


You Can Help … Today

Authors Elaina Lee and Sarah Ballance, through the generosity of the Astraea Press charity program, are proud to announce 100% of profits from their novellas below will go toward Alabama and Japan Disaster Relief, respectively. To help raise awareness, every comment on their individual blogs or guest blog posts (including this one!) from July 12 through August 8 will double as an entry into a weekly drawing for a $10 gift e-certificate or a free e-book. Winners will be announced on their blogs and contacted via e-mail. As an additional token of appreciation for your support, if you have purchased either of their titles you are invited to contact Elaina or Sarah for a free gift (while supplies last).


TO URN HER LOVE Elaina Lee romance BUY LINK BLOG


Caylie Abrahms bad day gets worse when the teen brother she's responsible for proudly hands her a gift. Just wanting to show how much he appreciates all his sister does for him, Kyle steals what he believes is an ornate glass vase. The gift is anything but however, and now Caylie has to find the owner of an urn. Worst yet, she has to explain her dear brother stole someones loved one.

Against all odds she learns the urn belongs to Rick Marshall, her best friend from college, the man she'd poured her heart out to and been rejected by. She never thought she'd see him again, let alone have to hand him back his father in glass. Will her resolve remain strong in his presence, or will she suffer another broken heart?




HAWTHORNE Sarah Ballance mystery, romance BUY LINK BLOG


After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.


Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?



If you'd like to receive free promotional materials, please contact Elaina @ forthemusedesigns at gmail dot com or Sarah @ sarah at sarahballance dot com. Available while supplies last.




SOURCES: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/04/110428-tuscaloosa-birmingham-alabama-news-tornadoes-science-nation/ AL.BLOG.COM http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/06/alabama_tornado_recovery_fema.html RED CROSS JAPAN http://www.jrc.or.jp/vcms_lf/kokusai_290611.pdf Photos by Elaina Lee (July 9, 2011)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blog Hop/Giveaway

If you're looking for the giveaway, it's not here. Blogger was a little moody and didn't allow me to upload new posts or comment for a few days. Blogger has also made some of my past posts magically disappear. *POOF*

Sorry if what you're looking for is not here!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poem: Rebecca Roque









Mother’s Day

by Rebecca Roque








did you think when you carried me inside you that someday
you wouldn’t be the one I would ask about shaving my legs
about boys and dancing and how to curl my hair
which is so soft like yours, too soft
to hold a curl and if you had been there you could have told me that.

instead of you i got burned fingers and knots like a little rastafarian white girl.
did you think that those questions would be
the hardest, too hard maybe
because they weren’t.

the hardest was why I was asking
someone else
whose voice sort of sounded like yours if I was half asleep or crying
too hard to tell the difference
which was a lot, at first.
then it wasn’t.

did you think when you picked up that
joint or rock or man or bottle or disease
This is better than a daughter
and was it?

I think someday I might have a daughter
I might make her from smiles and touches and inside jokes
and I think about someone telling her that she isn’t worth everything you chose instead
and it makes my stomach feel like I swallowed a jar of tears

did you think when you stopped being my mother
that I wasn’t good enough for someone else to take your place?
I did
for a long time, until I saw her
with her painted arms and spiky hair and rings in things that
made me uncomfortable when I was little and scared by things like that
and how long she’d been there without me really seeing, really
knowing what she was doing and being
because that’s what a mother does.

did you think because I was safe and loved by someone
not you
that I would grow into the kind of woman who could
forgive you? because I still don’t know
if I did.

http://www.rebeccaroque.com/





Rebecca's work is slated to appear in an upcoming anthology from Harrow Press. She regularly contributes to the science fiction and fantasy blog Worlds Unimagined.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heroines of Romance: Finding a Balance


Note: I say "most" or "some" throughout this post in order to avoid making blanket statements about gender roles and/or desires. I'm speaking in general terms, not in exclusive terms.

Perhaps, of all the tasks a romance author has when writing a viable romantic fiction story, creating the heroine proves the most challenging.

While alpha-males remain popular, gone are the days of boy-rescues-girl. Wilting-flower females are not only frowned upon, but they are outright rejected amongst readers and publishers.

For me, I embrace the challenge of creating today’s heroine. My delight is deeply rooted in real life, where I love and am married to a classic alpha-male, yet have found a balance in which I’m not only protected and provided for, but also respected and equal.

In old romance, the hero is often depicted as the powerful savior who the heroine longs to serve in a multitude of ways: in the kitchen, in the bedroom…

But servitude or total submission is no longer relatable in today’s society. The heroine must take as much as she gives; she must be as powerful (in one form or another) as the man she loves. And that power isn’t solely between her legs.

Today’s heroine should have the ability to rescue herself, not simply be milling around life aimlessly until the man of her dreams swoops in and saves her from terrible misfortune. Sure, the hero can be the catalyst to the heroine’s self-rescue, but it’s almost essential that the actual saving comes from the female’s personal growth or actions.

So, if the hero isn’t actually a “hero,” what’s his role? And why must he be alpha?

Role: The hero’s role is not clearly defined beyond the friendship, sex and partnership he offers the female. It’s the writer’s goal to create an attractive male with equally attractive characteristics. Sometimes he’s rich, sometimes he’s funny. He’s always good-looking and his charm—whether he’s a badass biker or a highline executive—is his main appeal. Likability is the hero’s main job. Beyond that, it’s not necessary for him to be anything more than a good match for the heroine.

In most situations, the heroine would’ve been capable of saving herself even if the hero hadn’t come into the picture. Although she wouldn’t have had nearly the fun had he not.

Why Alpha?: I’m pretty certain women like alpha-males for the same reason men like women who challenge them. Women are getting stronger with every generation, and the roles of power have mutated into something completely unrecognizable when compared to the gender roles of fifty years ago. Women of yesterday liked alpha-males because they’d been taught to need them. Women of today like alpha-males (and demand them in their romantic fiction 99% of the time) because there’s something sexy about knowing the man you’re with is strong enough to “take care” of you if needed.

I also believe some, if not most, women have—at least subconsciously--certain fantasies of being overpowered in the bedroom. There’s something very erotic about a women’s sexual fate resting, quite literally, in the hands of a powerful man. Why? Because there’s intimacy in vulnerability.

Lastly, alpha-males demand respect, and a strong woman simply does not feel respect toward a man who is seemingly weaker than herself. And even in cases of exception,—where the female does respect the weaker male—she doesn’t necessarily want to sleep with him.

In summary: Females are the heroic ones in romantic fiction; men provide fun and entertainment—think a court jester with rippling abs and a certain useful appendage—and, of course, a loving partnership. The hero is whatever the heroine desires and needs. It’s her story, after all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

bond•ed



bond•ed
adjective /ˈbändid/



My first romance novel was—after much painful deliberation over several title options—originally named MAID FOR HIM, which was a cute play on words and appropriate for the story. However, my editor wanted something stronger, more exotic… she suggested BONDED IN BRAZIL.

It isn’t uncommon for editors (or even agents) to suggest/require a title change. Matter of fact, the renaming of one’s book is so prevalent most writers come to expect it. I did, which was I settled on MAID FOR HIM (without being in love with it) and moved on.

When Editor Lady suggested the new title, I liked it right away, especially after I’d learned that debt bondage is a modern form of slavery that exists all over the globe, including in Brazil.

I was also a little peeved that I hadn’t thought of it myself. After all, I like titles that have multiple meanings, whether it’s a play on words (like Maid For Him) or a word/phrase that can be defined in numerous ways…


…like bonded.


--Emotionally or psychologically linked

--Bound by a legal agreement, in particular

--Obliged to work for a particular employer, often in a condition close to slavery (read:luxury and sexual bliss). What? It’s my damn story.

Each of the above meanings can be directly applied to my story. Bonded In Brazil is practically a synopsis for the book!

I wish I could take credit for it, haha, but I love the title, even if it wasn’t my idea. Many writers experience at least a mild form of trepidation at the idea that their precious title baby will be changed. Don’t. It’s no big. It might be better, anyway.

And now for a little something fun...and slightly relevant...but not really.

For your listening enjoyment, Pitbull performs a remix of “75, Brazil Street.” I’d post the original, but I have a thing for sexy bald guys…so Pitbull’s remix it is!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's New?

I’m taking a few minutes to share what’s new in my busy world.

MomsEveryday.com—My first post was published on MomsEverday.com this week, and I’ve already submitted something new to the editor. My goal is to contribute weekly, and I’ve quickly discovered this to be somewhat like book publishing on a smaller scale. I write. I edit. I submit. I worry that it sucks. I get an email from editor. I’m scared to click it. I click it. I get a YES! I relax…for about 5 minutes before plotting the next story. Repeat.

It’s stress. It’s validation. It’s every week. I guess I’m a bit of a masochist because I like it.

Amazon Blogs—I’ve submitted Whispers for publication on Amazon blogs. I have no idea what this means, but I know I can un-publish if I don’t like it. I know it’s a service whereby readers can subscribe to blogs and have new posts delivered directly to their Kindles…for a small fee. I have no control over the fee, nor do I care about making a dime off my blog, (I really, REALLY don’t) but I always pursue opportunities for exposure and to meet more people.

Blog Tour—I’ve monopolized space on several blogs for almost two weeks now. Daily. My hostesses have been gracious and amazingly supportive. It’s a fun experience, but I’m happy to be finishing the tour tomorrow with one final stop. Blog tours are a lot of work. Not that I mind a lot of work (I really, REALLY don’t) but I have other stuff to do, too. You know?

Speaking of other stuff to do…

New book—It’s that time again! I completed and signed a new contract with Agent Lady in February for Bonded In Brazil’s sequel. Since that time, I’ve taken a break from book writing, mostly to take part in promo opportunities and let my mind breathe. But my persistent muse is back…better than ever, I must say. I’m super excited about this project (one that I started and fell short at years ago) and feel that I’ve come far enough in my craft to pull it off…finally. It’s a tad ambitious, but I’m going for gold with this one.

I’m also going back to my writing roots--women’s fiction, southern setting, and with strong romantic elements.

I’m only about 2500 words into the manuscript, so don’t look for any news concerning it anytime soon. But I’m working again, so that’s pretty awesome.

Other than all that, hubby’s birthday is this weekend, and my daughter wants to make a cupcake family. My son got Cars (the movie) tighty-whities and they’re the funniest things I’ve ever seen. And I accidently discovered that my beautiful stepdaughter looks an awful lot like Britney Spears in her Baby One More Time video…which scares me a little bit. Okay, a lot. It’s also frightening because my 5-yr-old looks just like her big sis did at that age.

Excuse me while I have a preemptive heart attack.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sexy Librarian

A recent visit to author Cole Alpaugh’s blog (where this pretty picture is posted) reminded me of a suggestion I received from a writer friend. This particular friend suggested I play the part of a sexy librarian and read steamy clips from my books (in two-minute increments) to post on YouTube.

I have to admit, the idea sounded really cute and appealed to me…for about three minutes.

Then I had visions of myself wearing prop thick-rimmed glasses and a white button-down shirt that exposed a hint of cleavage.

Problem 1: I don’t have any cleavage.

Problem 2: Surely my kids would disrupt my sexy setting by stripping down and dancing like crazed leprechauns in the background.

Problem 3: I’m not overtly sexy, and I can’t contrive sexiness. I reserve that side of me for private times. Even then, if I try to do something over-the-top, I ended up looking like a moron.

Take the above picture, for example. I can imagine me attempting to recreate the pose, and it’s not pretty. My husband would walk into the room and think I’d fallen over in my chair while having a Grand Mal seizure.

The pictured lady’s hair stays neatly in place as she tilts her head seductively over the edge of the table. MY hair would fly in all directions and accumulate a layer of dust as it clumped into a messy mass over the tabletop. My neck would be bent awkwardly and produce a head-on-a-platter look which, unless my husband is the reincarnate of Henry VIII, isn’t exactly a turn-on.

The lovely gal in the above picture is doing something sexy with her mouth. Whatever this is, I can’t do it…ever. I’ve tried the sexy pucker, and it usually looks like I’m sucking spinach out of my teeth. The mouth-seductively-ajar thing leaves me looking dumbfounded, and don’t even get me started on lip-licking.

I’m not a sexy librarian. I’m a mom…with the occasional booger in her hair.

If you want sexy, steamy, sensual, and seductive out of me, you’ll have to do one of two things:

1. Marry me ;)

2. Read my books.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Carnival!


My virtual book tour starts tomorrow, so I've decided to kick things off with a fun post about Brazil. I have all this knowledge, after all, from massive amounts of research--some of which never made it into Eliana and Hale's story--or (surprise!) Bastian and Ainsley's story (let's hope it gets published)--so here's a little taste of the fun and exotic Brazil.


How appropriate that Bonded in Brazil released in the month of March, just a couple weeks after Brazil’s famous, annual street party, Carnival--or Carnaval in Portuguese.

Carnival is Brazil’s biggest and most celebrated holiday. There are floats, parades, music, dancing, bold costumes worn by beautiful women, and lots of beer drinking. So much beer drinking, in fact, that the eight days and nights of intense celebration accounts for more than 80% of Brazil’s yearly consumption. Now that’s a party.

The shows are bright in color, booming with regional rhythms and almost all are entirely interactive, where spectators don’t just watch a performance but become part of it. Carnival makes Mardi Gras look like a designer imposter.

No offense, New Orleans, but you can hardly compete with all that tan, bare flesh or the African-Brazilian beats to which intoxicated bodies pulsate while dressed in glittery, titillating costumes.

Carnival reminds me of the traditional weddings of India, only on a mass scale. Indian weddings are elaborate events, and the bride and groom are often strangers. Their families put on an extravagant several-day celebration with music, sensual food and costuming, parades, shows and Hindu rituals. The intoxicating atmosphere simulates feelings of falling in love for the newly-married strangers, and they’ll go on their honeymoon—pheromones triggered and hormones raging—strongly desiring their new life partner. I like to think of it as metaphorical gift basket filled with beer goggles and a bottle of personal lubrication.

Apparently the Brazilian government agrees that Carnival produces a sexually arousing atmosphere, because they pass out condoms and AIDS literature prior to the happenings—which might be a bit of a mood killer, but nothing beer, wine and a few Caipirinhas (see picture) won’t cure.

And I’ve yet to mention the exotic locale with lush yet dangerous rainforests and some of the world’s most beautiful vineyards and farmlands. Everything about Brazil screams of fertility—the people, the waxes, bikinis, land, green mountains, the Amazon rainforest—the biggest rainforest on the planet, FYI—and agriculture. As ancient art and mythology clearly tells us, fertile is sexy…Brazil is sexy.

Brazil sounds like a great place to be “bonded” in, doesn’t it? Well, not really. More on this unique form of bondage later…

Note: It’s not what you think. It’s also what makes the title of my book so brilliant—thank you very much, Catherine Treadgold, aka Editor Lady.

Take a peek at my tour schedule, and don't forget to stop by one of these fabulous blogs!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tour Dates



~Online Book Tour Schedule~

3/28--Ramblings of a Chaotic Mind
3/29--The Write One
3/30--Lizzie's World
3/31--Moxie Girl Musings
4/01--Vintage Vonnie

4/04--LoveRomancePassion
4/05--Inside the Mind of a Literary Blonde
4/06--Musings from the Slush Pile
4/07--Elaina Lee
4/08--Musings of a Dilettante

To be eligible to win 1 of 4 prizes, leave a comment on at least 1 of my guest posts/interviews before 4/09/2011. Winners will be contacted via email. Losers will, too, only that won't be quite as much fun. Lots more blog stops coming soon! In the meantime, join me on my 3/28-4/08 virtual book tour. It'll be fun.

***Special stops***
4/15--BookWenches
6/02--Kelly Moran
6/20--Ramblings of a Chaotic Mind Blogaversary
6/21--Night Owl Reviews
*Links to blogs on the right------>

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cover Crazy!





Time for another Cover Crazy! post. Cover Crazy is a meme started by The Book Worms and is all about admiring cover artwork.

While seaching for a cover to show off, I ran across books by Tracie Peterson. There are 3 books in her Song of Alaska series, and the covers are so pretty that I couldn't pick just one. So here are all 3 titles for your visual enjoyment.

I love how many elements the artist used when making each cover. Each is put together nicely without appearing too cluttered.
The artist was very clever in how she used the musical instruments. In cover 3, the instrument is used as a frame. In covers 1 and 2, the instruments are art of the scenery. Also very fitting of the titles, don't you think?

I'm curious if the color theme of each cover is symbolic of the main character or general tone of the story. Dawn's Prelude is so feminine and soft. I think of eyelet lace, rose petals, and bubble baths in deep, footed tubs.

Morning's Refrain is serene, like an old wooden rocker by a peaceful lakeside. It makes me think of fresh scents and long cotton dresses.

Twilight's Serenade is rich and warm. I think of dainty teacups and cinnamon sticks, crisp autumn leaves and slow dancing by the fireplace at sunset.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dark Wolf Protector Is Released

Cobblestone Press released my paranormal romance e-book yesterday. I’m so excited! And even though I’m a writer, I can’t describe how much fun I had making Dark Wolf Protector. It started as an experiment, really. I’d read dozens and dozens of paranormal books and wanted to see if I could create a comparable dark and sexy story. And I think I did. I love DWP. It’s a great first book in the Love On The Wild Side series.

In addition to successfully experimenting with the paranormal, I threw some fantasy elements into a dream and came up with a badass (imo) ending. I love DWP’s ending. Can you say girl power?

Jaci Waters, the heroine of DWP, sits right at the top of my “favorite-heroines-I’ve-written list.” She’s half Native American, runs an animal rescue out of her home, is funny and sweet, has good old-fashioned manners…and, of course, she’s really pretty. I had a lot of fun writing her point-of-view.

Next Friday, the 25th, Bonded In Brazil releases. My virtual book tour starts soon after, so check back in for a schedule/list of stops. I’ll be giving away some free copies of BIB and DWP.

However, if you’re just hankerin’ to read Dark Wolf Protector and can’t wait a week or two to see if you’ve won a free copy…COOL! You can get your e-copy of DWP for $4.99 by clicking the cover or *here*. It’s not on Amazon.com yet, but you can download the Mobi option, and that’s supposed to be Kindle/Sony Reader compatible.
Thanks for your support and keep your eye out for the next installment of Love On The Wild Side, starring Ian Kingsley from DWP.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vlog / Webcam Hell: Starring Me!

I came up with the brilliant idea to make a vlog. I had this vision of me elegantly reading an excerpt from Bonded In Brazil, wowing you all with my on-camera charm and fabulous story telling skills. I even put a pretty plant in the background! Like so many of my ideas, Mission Vlog did not go as planned...

Here we go... ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx-O0TMD_3A )





I am not a quitter! ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvezaWy8YL4 )





Well, crap... ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbVYg3EcSXo )





Nevermind...Just watch the trailer or read an excerpt here.



Author Interview: Dutch Henry

Dutch Henry is a freelance writer and novelist who resides in Virginia with his wife of 35 years, horse, dogs, cats and chickens. He is also a staff writer for the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA). You can find Dutch on the Web at http://www.dutchhenryauthor.com/.

We'll Have The Summer: The doctors say she’ll be gone by fall, but they have one last summer. One hot summer to consummate a lifetime of love, to cry together, laugh together … remember together. When a troubled teenage girl and an injured horse turn to them for help, Mary and Sam Holt find enough room in their own large and breaking hearts to show the girl life’s glories and restore a champion’s will. We’ll Have The Summer is a magnificent story about life, love, and horses.


Welcome, Dutch! Thanks for stopping by. Everyone who has read We'll Have the Summer says the same thing--that it's a touching story and a box of tissues is required while reading it. As a male, how tough was it for you to reach deep down inside and write a compelling story about love and loss?

When I wrote We'll Have The Summer, I wanted to write a story about an uncommon love so enduring it could overcome insurmountable obstacles. I believe in the power of love. I really don't believe this is a story about loss. But it is about love. In her review Carole Herder (Owner of Horse & Rider Inc.) said, "Everyone who has felt the bitter sweet pull of love and loss should read this book."”So perhaps it is about loss as well, but I think my strength to write it came from the love between Mary and Sam.

I don't really believe the feelings about love and loss are gender specific. My love for my wife and our long wonderful life together certainly effected my thoughts as I wrote.We've had 35 years of experiences, good and bad, and I pulled from that ... And besides, I'm a very emotional guy ...

Horses play a big role in this story. Can you tell us a little about that role? And what role do horses play in your own life?

My passion for horses and the way they can enrich a person's life needed to be part of the story. People like me, who are deeply involved with horses, know the power of the spirit of the horse. There is a parallel between Mary, who is dying, and Comanche the horse she is nursing back to health. His spirit not only gives strength to Mary, but also helps the young girl to realize life is worth living. Chester, the old lesson horse, teaches Barbara that she can find challenges fun and worth pursuing.

My connection with horses started at a young age. As a foster child growing up on a dairy farm the first friends I ever remember having were the heavy work horses. As an adult I helped rehabilitate horses who had had a rough go of it. I've competed in long distance endurance racing. I currently have one mare who I ride for my own enjoyment and actually my physical therapy.

In We'll Have the Summer, one of the characters only has a short time to live. From your Facebook statuses, I know how much you love your wife, the Ravishing Robin. Was it emotionally trying for you to immerse yourself into a world where a man faces losing the great love of his life?

Well the power of our love helped me to write this story. There were times when writing this I had to stop because I couldn't see the screen for my tears. And even in the editing and revision process, those same scenes held their power over me. I never got used to them. Yes, Rhiannon it was very emotionally trying . We are all going to deal with loss. It is my hope that by sharing this story of such a powerful love readers might understand that a rich and unwavering love can see you through.

Dutch, can you tell us a little about your childhood?

As a very young boy I had a rough life. Then at the age of eight, I was Farmed Out. That is to say I was placed on a farm and worked for my keep. We had no electric or running water, but we did have a nice outhouse. There was no love, either. I fell in love with the horses. Oh I loved the cows, the chickens and my dog, too. But it was the horses who saved me. I didn't know it then, but I had been exposed to the "Spirit of the Horse."”

What did writing this book teach you?

How many wonderful folks are out there who are willing to pitch in and help! My goodness I’ve met some fabulous folks on this journey. Like yourself, Rhiannon. When I started writing my first novel, five years ago, I didn't know the difference between then and than. I thought every sentence had a quota of at least a dozen comas. I had never touched computer, still type holding a pencil, one letter at a time, but I'm up to almost twenty words a minute now. I studied agents and writer's blogs, made friends who read and critiqued my early struggles and taught me many, many things.

Writing this novel has given me other opportunities, as well. It was the constant drumbeat on blogs of, “Platform”, that caused me begin writing for the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. (ACTHA). You know, build a platform to sell your book. Because of that I contribute regularly in a column in a national magazine, and have had feature articles published in five others. I also have a page on their website ACTHA Spotlights by Dutch Henry,”with a link to my novel, where I write stories about People and Horses Helping Horses and People. You can check it out here.

http://www.actha.us/index.php?option=com_association&view=guest&area=content&id=124

What's next?

I suppose the immediate next is to try to sell books! I'm having fun right now with a lot of friends on Facebook about it. I'm going to continue to write for ACTHA, and now also Best Of America By Horseback.”

I have two novels started, one I like more than the other. I like to write about love and horses, so we'll see where these characters take me! And of course I'll spend as much time as God allows loving my sweet wife,the Ravishin' Robbie, riding my mare, Kessy and birdwatching.

THANK YOU, Rhiannon for this opportunity!

Gitty Up
Dutch

Check out Dutch's touching story about love, life and horses! Available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon, also in e-book formats on Smashwords.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cover Crazy!

In honor of my very first book cover(s), I've decided to start a new feature here at Whispers. Cover Crazy is a meme started by The Book Worms, and it's right up my alley. I LOVE (love love love) book covers. This meme is all about admiring the art, not the actual content of the book. It's purely visual... you know, like men tend to be.

My pick for this week's Cover Crazy post is The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen. Ms. Allen and I have something in common--our books are being released the same week.

What I love:

--The muted colors...

--The pretty floating blossoms...

-- The soft tendril of hair on the back of the girl's neck is romantic, but the naked tree in the distance adds intrigue...

--The cover tells a story, yet it gives nothing away...

--It's girly!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Latest News: Rhiannon and non-Rhiannon related

A lot of things that had taken root finally came to fruition this past week. It’s like spring at my house—metaphorically, of course—and despite the brrrr cold temperatures outside, things are bloomin’ in the book department.

Book Covers

My publishers finalized the covers for Bonded In Brazil and Dark Wolf Protector. This is an awesome feeling; covers add tangibility to this whole process. I don’t just have words on pages—I have real, solid books I can put a “face” to. And those faces are mighty pretty, if I say so myself.

Credit’s due to cover designers Sabrina Sun and Sable Grey.

Agent Contract

I sent my latest novel to Agent Lady recently, and she really liked it. I got a contract from her offering representation for this romance novel that will pick up where Bonded In Brazil left off--with two of the minor characters. We’ll clean it up with some editing and work on getting this one published.

Website

Once I had covers, I was able to finalize my website. I’ve spent several weeks on it, adding and tweaking, deleting and rearranging. Now my website is something I’m really proud of. It still has some space that needs filling up, but the place is guest ready.

Note: Along with the book covers, I was also able to add excerpts for Dark Wolf Protector and
Bonded In Brazil to my website.

Pre-order

Woot! Bonded In Brazil is now available on Amazon.com for pre-order. I also have it under good authority that at least one copy has been bought (thank you, my friend—you know who you are).

Pre-order is a cool option Amazon offers that allows readers to order a book prior to its release and receive the lowest price between now and the time it’s shipped. Bonded is listed at $15.95, but if that cost drops between now and March 25th, the buyer will pay the lower price.

In (mostly) non-Rhiannon related news…

The beautiful, enthusiastic, and talented Julie A. Lindsey announced the signing of her first publishing contract. Couldn’t have happened for a sweeter, more hard-working person.

Fabulous blog, Ramblings From A Chaotic Mind, hosted a giveaway last week…and I won a signed print copy of Wild Desire AND two e-books also written by Lori Brighton!

Kerry Carmichael (you don’t know him…yet) finished his 2-year-long journey of penning a most fabulous commercial science fiction novel. I know this book, folks. Think Matrix only more-likely-to-happen and with a stronger love story.

And, in future news, Dutch Henry’s novel, We’ll Have the Summer, releases this Friday.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Author Yvonne Eve Walus

Welcome Yvonne Walus, author of the Christine Chamberlain mystery series. Yvonne is making several blog stops today and giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky commenter. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing!


Hi Yvonne! Murder @ Play is the second book in the Christine Chamberlain mystery series. Tell us a little about it:

EVERY MARRIAGE NEEDS A TOUCH OF MYSTERY. OR DOES IT?

In the new free South Africa of 1994, men are still boss, women carry handguns for self-protection, and some mistakes can change your life forever.

When a body is found during their weekend away with friends, Christine Chamberlain must use her brilliant mathematical mind to prove her husband's innocence...

... whether he's innocent or not.

When it comes to your loved ones, is it possible to know too much?

What I personally love about series is getting to hang out with a beloved main character book after book. What makes Christine Chamberlain so special that readers will want to follow her around for a while?

Agreeing to marry a man literally five minutes after you’ve met him sounds like the most romantic as well as the most irresponsible thing you could ever do. Dr. Christine Chamberlain, a sober-headed somber mathematician, is neither romantic nor irresponsible.

Five minutes after meeting a nobody-artist at his painting exhibition, Christine said yes. She never looked back.

Until now.

Even after years of marriage, how well do you really know the person with whom you share bread and bed?

In “Murder @ Play”, Christine is about to find out.

Christine is a loyal person. I think readers love her chiefly for that, not for her brilliant brain or youthful idealism. She may have a doctorate in math, but she’s still the girl next door, the one you’ve always wanted to be friends with, except you were both too shy to make the first move.


What made you pick South Africa as your setting?

I lived in South Africa during my impressionable teenage years and I totally fell in love with the place. There is something about that arid air, sunburned grass and deep blue sky that gets under your skin all the way into your soul. The people of the land are like the land itself: beautiful on the surface, tough underneath.

South Africa’s history is not without its painful mistakes. I’m not ashamed of them: they make the country all the more poignantly fascinating.

You obviously have an affinity for mysteries. Do you see yourself exploring other genres in the future, or does your heart belong to the mysterious?

I love reading and writing murder mysteries, but I enjoy the realms of futuristic fiction as well. Under a pseudonym, I’ve written a number of romances. I always return to the mysteries, though.

What's next for you, Yvonne? Book 3?

Book 3 in the “Murder @” series is completed and should be published in the near future.

Interesting facts:

A Tourist Guide

South Africa in 1994

On a Wing and a Prayer

• When you go to a doctor or dentist, don't take your wallet. The bill will be sent to your home address...

• ... But if you're a woman, the bill will be addressed to your father or your husband. Women don't trouble their pretty little heads with bills.

• If you're a woman, expect to be stopped at the door to an alcohol bar: that place is for men only, and your husband is welcome to go in while you wait for him in the street.

• Even if you are a career woman earning more than your husband does, you will need his signature when opening a credit account in a supermarket or a department store.

• If you're a man, the size of your manhood is directly proportional to the size of your gun.

• Gambling is illegal.

• Sex with a person of another race has only just been made legal. The Group Areas Act, however, is still in force, preventing people of different races from living in the same suburb.

• Your car costs half as much as your mansion.

• This year, you will pay more for a security fence than you pay for your daily house cleaning.


Excerpt from Murder @ Play:

Daniel punched in Christine's number as soon as he got off the aeroplane at Johannesburg International Airport. He was aware of the looks he drew. Admiration from the women, envy from the men. All because of his cellular phone, the latest technological trump in the game of Show Off Your Business Status.

"Hi, Tom," he said into the brick-sized phone.

Damn it! He didn't want to speak to Christine's husband, not today of all days.

"Daniel." It was an acknowledgement, not an invitation. "I'll get Christine for you."

One of his fellow passengers bumped into Daniel's briefcase.

"Hello, Christine. Are we still on for lunch today?"

"You're back? I thought you'd still be in Hong Kong."

"I managed to get an earlier flight." He didn't mention he cut the trip short in order to make it to their regular lunch date. "I tried to call–"

Please don't say you have other plans.

"No problem. Same time, same place?"

Yes!

He refused to have his good mood spoilt by the you're-on-my-time look of the passport control officer.

"Your passport, please? Thank you." The official stamp fell in a sausage-machine gesture. "Welcome home. Next!"

Daniel jammed the passport into his pocket and headed towards the green customs exit. With more nonchalance than needed, he swung his overnight bag past the crowd gathered around the conveyor belt. One of the customs officials stifled a yawn, rubbed his eyes, and signalled for Daniel to stop.

"You've just arrived from…?"

"Hong Kong," Daniel kept his face calm and relaxed. It was easy, because his whole body felt awake, not only because his internal clock showed midday even though it was six A.M. South African time.

"You don't have much luggage." It was a question, even if it didn't sound like one.

"It was a business trip. No time for shopping. But you know, whenever I take a girlfriend along–"

The official laughed and waved him through.

Daniel waited until he was in the parking lot before he exhaled.

His phone rang just as he was loading the suitcase, with the contraband, into his car. Alice's number. He sent it straight into voicemail.

"Hi," he heard the throaty voice. "I hope you've had a wonderful trip." The words sounded artificial somehow, as though she had rehearsed in front of the mirror. "Please call me back when you get this." A pause, then a quick, "It's important."

Important, sure. Important to her. In her world, it was always Alice, Alice, Alice. She was the axel–what she thought, what she felt, what she wanted–and everything else revolved around her needs.

The Porsche yielded to his touch like a loving woman should. A loving woman…. It had been a while. Nobody since Alice, in fact. Why was that? Was he losing his charm? Getting old? Twenty-six already. Even without glancing in the rear-view mirror he knew his face was still that of a naughty boy, with smooth skin and sharp cheekbones. He tensed his abdomen muscles with satisfaction.

So, what is it?

Deep down, though, he knew well enough. He'd had a loving woman, once, long ago, and he had let her walk out on him. Today, though, today he was going to tell her. During their regular lunch date.

You can visit Yvonne at:
• website: http://yewalus.kiwiwebhost.net.nz/
• blog: http://yewalus.blogspot.com/
• facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yvonne.walus
• book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJpbOiFkPkU
• buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Play-ebook/dp/B003CT30GC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=A3QI763M62X7GQ&s=books&qid=1274234575&sr=1-2
• publisher: http://www.echelonpress.com/

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing is a Team Sport

If you've just sat down and started writing, you probably balked at this blog post's title. A team sport? Are you kidding me? Writing is a dark pit of solitude, requiring long, silent introspective hours in which the only parts of my body that aren't 100% sedentary are my fingers. Team, no. Sport, no.

I felt the same way when I started writing my first novel. In fact, I thought the lonely path was the only one.

So wrong.

One of the very best things about being an author is the support and camaraderie within the industry. It's amazing, and I feel compelled to give a shout-out to those who keep us writer folks company throughout our tiresome (yet exciting) journey.

Random Supporters-- They come in all forms and from even the most unlikely venues. These are the people who leave a Facebook comment to congratulate you on an accomplishment. They're folks prowling writers forums just to find the successful few and offer them a thumbs up. They retweet your tweets just to help drive traffic to your blog. They share your links and show genuine happiness for you even though you barely (or don't) know each other--because when a writer meets another writer, a special kinship is immediately formed.

Betas-- Gracious Beta, how I love thee! They sacrifice their precious time to help writers polish their manuscripts. Sometimes they are a friend or acquaintance, sometimes they are a stranger. Either way, they're givers, improvers and trusted advisors to which writers are eternally grateful.

Agents-- They are the gatekeepers. But they're much more than that. For a lot of writers, an agent gives the first form of professional validation, and it doesn't get much better than that. They're investors, believers, workers and dream builders.

Editors-- They are angels of greatness because that's what they do. No matter the writers skill level, no matter how solid the manuscript already is when it hits the editors desk, they can, and do, make it better.

Publishers-- They're door openers. They make it all happen by investing, marketing and selling your dream. They're also the ones who spend the most money on your dream, which lends their belief in your work that much more credibility.

Book Bloggers and Reviewers-- The key holders to word-of-mouth marketing, which is still the very best promotional tool at our disposal. They are the givers of visibility.

Readers-- They fulfill our book's purposes--to be bought, read, enjoyed and talked about. Without readers, there would be no books, writers, supporters, betas, agents, editors, publishers or book bloggers/reviewers.

Did I miss anyone?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Author Interview/Review: Cole Alpaugh


Cole Alpaugh's newspaper career began in the early 80s, starting with small daily papers in Maryland and Massachusetts, where his stories won national awards. His most recent job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where his "true life" essays included award-winning pieces on a traveling rodeo and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor that was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also did work for two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Thailand and Cambodia. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he also coaches his daughter's soccer team.




What inspired you to write this book? Years ago, I’d taken my oldest daughter to see a traveling circus. It was an old, broken down troupe with license plates from down south, but they had an enormous African elephant with a headdress made of pink ostrich feathers. We were walking through the maze of animal cages when we noticed a bird had landed on the elephant’s head and was picking at the feathers. The elephant was prodding it with the tip of her trunk. My six-year-old daughter was amazed by the interaction, and we stood watching the bird trying to steal feathers, perhaps for its nest, while the elephant tried gently coaxing it away. Then, one of the circus workers walked up and, for no apparent reason, cracked the elephant across the side of its head with a long wood bullhook. The bird flew away, and the elephant began to cry, as did my daughter. It made me want to tell the story.


I spent a good chunk of the 1980's and early '90's as a war correspondent for two Manhattan picture agencies. Maybe a glamorous sounding gig when trying to pick up girls in bars, but it was sweaty, awful work most of the time. For what came out to be about a buck an hour, I went on at least a hundred patrols, basically trying to get shot at on three continents. If the patrol you latched onto got into a firefight, you might make four bucks an hour from photo sales. We learned to supplement our income by shooting feature pictures during downtime. Some of the most amazing people are traveling performers in third world countries. In Asia, the circus is revered, even the ragtag bands crisscrossing the most impoverished regions of Burma, Vietnam, and Cambodia. My story -- BEAR -- is set along the New Jersey shore, but most of the roustabouts and performers were based on these people who made their way from village to village, often sending kids ahead to scout whether there'd been any recent fighting. In BEAR, I tried to convey the obvious pride carried by these folks, from the aerialists to the congenital twins in the "freaks of nature" tents. I've seen real magic, the transformation that happens when an eighty-year-old man takes off his rags and puts on a glittering, handmade costume and leads a bear in a dance.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I suppose it's a message about hope. How important hope is, yet all the dangers that come from opening yourself up to it. In
GARP, John Irving wrote about the sinister Under Toad lurking just beneath the surface. I suppose I'm just another writer who stole a bit of the Under Toad for my characters to deal with. But in every traveling circus I've encountered, sad stories easily outnumbered the good. One of my roustabouts in BEAR spent years perfecting an awesome defense against things that sneak up and cause pain. He learned to sit real quiet and still -- until he became invisible. If they can't see you, nothing can get at you.

As you know, I've had the pleasure of reading your work and feel there's a unique quality to your writing. How would you describe your writing style/voice? Thank you! Well, I had a tough time coming up with a family-friendly passage for readings. I was a little surprised when I noticed how often I used the word fuck and how often my characters fight and piss on each other. In some countries, whacking someone with your shoe is the ultimate display of contempt. I guess those people have never been pissed on.

You wear many hats--husband, father, coach, photographer, writer. Do you plan to make a long-term career out of writing novels? Would you care to buy five thousand copies of BEAR after this little talk? When my now 10-year-old was born, we moved to our vacation home full-time. My wife, Amy, left her job as a bio-chemist, and I went from staff photographer to freelance. We
simplified and downsized our lives so we could concentrate on things more important than paying a huge mortgage. Writing is incredibly satisfying and provides a daily dose of validation. It's the same feeling at the end of soccer practice, when I huddle up my eighteen girls and everyone puts a muddy hand in the middle. I hope to do both until I'm really old. Uh, oh, there's that word hope. I should edit it out.

What's next? My favorite story -- THE TURTLE-GIRL FROM EAST PUKAPUKA -- has entered the query-go-round. I'd love for it to find a home. It's about a tsunami that sweeps across a remote island in the South Pacific, the lone survivor being a young girl clinging to the back of an old sea turtle she'd been caring for. It's a story about trying to find the way back home. There's cannibalism, Fijian coke thieves, and a drunken salvage boat captain named Jesus, who hums Verdi's Rigoletto while blissfully peeing into the wind. To sum up what's next: more piss and hope, I suppose.
You can visit Cole at his website. The Bear In a Muddy Tutu is available in print, on Kindle, or ebook.

A deftly written story driven by raw and vivid characters and rich with evocative language and colorful descriptions. With every page another layer is peeled back as this fascinating, magical tale unfolds--sad or humorous, but always thoughtful. Alpaugh's writing does not rely on cheap tricks or predictable plot points, but slowly pulls you in and compels you to stick around for a while. Rest assured, in The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, you will constantly be surprised by what happens next.
--review by Rhiannon Ellis

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grammar is Sexy Saturday: Breaking The Rules


But I shouldn’t break the rules! Yet I really want to. And, sometimes, I do it just to be naughty.

See how I did that? I broke the don’t start a sentence with a conjunction rule three times. I also used some adverbs and passive phrasing, but it’s early in the a.m., so sue me.

Some grammar rules are okay to break, as long as it’s done in moderation. Using a conjunction to start a sentence…

• can add emphasis
• can eliminate a run-on
• can prevent a sentence from sounding too choppy

Examples:

Emphasis

Esther sighed and grabbed her backpack from the table before slinging it over her shoulder. Class started in twenty minutes, and she promised her mom she wouldn’t skip again. Those backstabbing girls in homeroom broke promises all the time. But that wasn’t Esther. Unlike her former friends, she kept her word.

Eliminate a run-on

A bus whizzed by as Esther started the fourteen-minute walk to her private school. Her uniform’s blazer offered little protection from the wind that whipped the lapels against her neck, but she instinctively pulled it tighter around her chest. There could’ve been a foot of snow on the ground, a blizzard, or temperatures reaching Antarctic lows and she still would’ve walked. Because the last week she rode the bus had been the worst of her life--those stupid girls! When she’d told them about the one bad thing she’d ever done, they’d promised not to tell.

Prevent choppiness

Her backpack slipped from her shoulder and fell to the floor when she saw the awful word spray-painted in red across her locker. A nun approached, glanced at the accusation, then at Esther. The teacher shook her head and kept walking. Did everyone know? There had to be someone—other than her mom--who didn’t think she was a slut for making one mistake. But who? Certainly not that self-righteous nun or Esther’s so-called friends, that much was obvious.

So go ahead and break the rules--just don't make a habit out of it. Consider it a tool you can use a limited amount of times, and pick those times wisely.

Keep Writing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Author Ami Blackwelder

Ami Blackwelder is a forbidden romance writer in the paranormal and historical romance genre. Growing up in Florida, she went to UCf and in 1997 received her BA in English and teaching credentials. She travelled overseas to teach in Thailand, Nepal, Tibet, China and Korea. Thailand is considered her second home now. She has always loved writing and wrote poems and short stores since childhood; however, her novels began when she was in Thailand.

Having won the Best Fiction Award from the University of Central Florida (Yes, The Blair Witch Project University;), her fiction From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return was published in the on campus literary magazine: Cypress Dome and remains to this day in University libraries around the country. Later, she achieved the Semi-Finals in a Laurel Hemingway contest and published a few poems in the Thailand’s Expat magazine, and an article in the Thailand’s People newspaper. Additionally, she has published poetry in the Korea’s AIM magazine, the American Poetic Monthly magazine and Twisted Dreams Magazine.


Be sure to stop by Ami's website!



Eloquent Enraptures and author Ami Blackwelder proudly presents the six part science fiction/paranormal romance saga! Like nothing you have ever experienced!

Shifters of 2040:

“I’m pregnant. Her eyes peered over the edge of the cloth and confronted her mirrored reflection with that truth. I’m pregnant…by a SHIFTER. Oh, god!”

In “The Shifters of 2040,” Scientist Melissa Marn finds her world swirling on its axis with that one revelation. Shifters — a sentient alien species of light — look to Earth for refuge. In doing so, both shifters and humans are forced to confront prejudice, betrayal, adversity and oppression.

Methodical scientist, Melissa Marn, and her coworker, Dr. Bruce Wilder, conduct experiments on the shifters. Through her pregnancy, she becomes more compassionate and humane and finds herself defending the very species she’s supposed to eradicate.

One of the hybrids, Diamond, falls in love with Keenan, a soldier trained to kill her. Between the four, the reader is led from conflict to resolution, from despair to hope, from loneliness to love.

Much of the book’s originality lies in the shifters, common characters in science fiction, but whose origins are rarely explained. In this series, their alien DNA allows them to metamorphose into not just wolves, but a variety of animals. As the plot unfolds, the shifters discover they can have children with humans — hybrids.

Strengths of the novel include the complex characters, its writing style of poetic prose and rich description, and the well developed, thought-provoking, yet highly entertaining plot.
This fast paced book will appeal to the young adult and adult market. It fits nicely into the paranormal romance and science fiction romance genres and would make a great movie, a captivating TV series and an intriguing video game.

Readers will enjoy the fresh approach and original concept of the world thirty years from now, and will find the characters come to life in their minds long after they read “The End.”







Purchase options at her website.
http://amiblackwelder.blogspot.com/











Character Interview: This interview will be conducted for the characters of the Shifters of 2040. Scientist Melissa Marn and the hybrid Diamond.

Do you always love what you can’t have?

Melissa Marn: The Smithsonian, Bruce Wilder. I guess I do. But my life is controlled by the SCM now, by my father and General Raul. They decided this fate for me. If I had my way, I’d run off with Bruce somewhere far away...
Diamond: I fell in love with the enemy on accident. I didn’t plan to love Keenan, the military soldier sworn to kill me and my kind. He didn’t plan to love me. We just happened.

If you were a quality?
Melissa Marn: The River. I am methodical like waves. I do the job needed to be done, whatever the cost of erosion, and flow continually. Close to the Earth, but I am cold, because the SCM coaxed me since fifteen, and trained me since twenty-five.
Diamond: The Hawk. This is my other half, the beast inside of me, that the humans fear. I fly above the world and watch. Silent, and steady, but strong.

If you were a flaw?
Melissa Marn: Ice. I am cold, and hard. And too easily I melt and conform to the shape I am enclosed in, that prisoner the SCM has built around my life.
Diamond: The Heart. I feel too much. Emotions explode inside of me, and I sense my heart will be the end of me one day. If I could only feel less...

Do you always walk on the moral slippery slope?
Melissa Marn: It’s my job! It’s all I know. And if I didn’t do it, someone else would. What then? I know the shifters are more than the SCM tells us they are. They must feel something. But what? My curiosity and scientific training drives me. I have to find answers to my questions. I have to perform my duty!
Diamond: But I love him! I know being with him draws danger to my kind, to my family. My sister. But he would never betray me, willingly. I know he loves me too. And though I am sworn to stay away from him, from all SCM, my heart dominates my head.

Favorite food?
Melissa Marn: The Italian restaurant Little Milan. Bruce and I have shared many discussions, heated arguments, and romantic memories there.
Diamond: Mice...I am half hawk.